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Divorce Domestic Violence Family Law High Net-Worth Divorce

Heard Addresses Domestic Violence in Recent PSA

In May Amber Heard filed for divorce from actor Johnny Depp amid allegations of domestic violence.  At the time, Heard filed a temporary restraining order against Depp. The actress is now speaking out in a new PSA.

Heard Addresses Domestic Violence in PSA

Amber Heard recently recorded a PSA in part with the #GirlGaze Project that addressed violence against women and domestic abuse.

During the PSA, Heard touched on the abuse allegations she made against her estranged husband. “I guess there was a lot of shame attached to that label of ‘victim,'” she explained. “It happens to so many women. When it happens in your home, behind closed doors, with someone you love, it’s not as straightforward. If a stranger did this it would be a no-brainer.”

She concluded, “Speak up, speak up. Raise your voice, your voice is the most powerful thing and we, together, as women standing shoulder to shoulder cannot and will not any longer accept silence.”

Domestic Violence

In California, when a person is charged with spousal abuse relating to domestic violence, there are two common charges. These two charges are: corporal injury to a spouse or spousal battery. Below we outline the differences between the two.

Corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant is charged as a felony crime. This charge can be brought when a person willfully inflicts on his or her spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or on any person who is the parent of his or her child, corporal injury that results in a traumatic condition.

“Traumatic condition” is defined by the California Penal code as a condition of the body, such as a wound or injury, regardless of how serious that wound or injury is. Regardless of how slight an injury is, as long as there is an injury, an arrest will be made if police are called to the scene of a domestic violence incident.

Spousal Battery

Spousal battery is generally charged as a misdemeanor crime. California penal code defines battery as any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another. A person can be charged with spousal battery when a person commits battery against a spouse, a cohabitant, former spouse, fiancée, or a person with whom the person accused of has previously dated or are dating. Injury is not required for a person to be charged with spousal battery.

Divorce Settlement Donated to ACLU

In mid-August Amber Heard announced she would be donating the $7 million she was awarded as part of her divorce settlement from Johnny Depp to her two favorite charities – the American Civil Liberties Union, with a focus on battling violence against women, and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. The actress has volunteered at the charities for 10 years. But it seems Heard has yet to donate her settlement money because their divorce hasn’t been finalized yet.

“The settlement documents are being finalized and will be signed this week,” Heard’s lawyer explained. “Johnny is obligated by the settlement to pay Amber, and she in turn will honor her pledges to Children’s Hospital and the American Civil Liberties Union.”

O’Donnell continued, “Amber’s commitment to protecting victims of domestic violence and helping sick children is her life’s work.  Her recent PSA on domestic violence does not violate her settlement agreement with Johnny.  She will continue to lend her voice to the rising chorus of women speaking out about this terrible scourge on the American family.”

High Net-Worth Divorces33034958_s

It’s not uncommon for us to hear about high net-worth divorces coming out of Hollywood. Defined by the Securities and Exchange Commission, a “High Net-Worth Divorce” is “One in which a natural person who has individual net worth, or joint worth with the person’s spouse, that exceeds $1 million dollars at the time of purchase, excluding the value of the primary residence of such person; or a natural person with an income exceeding $200,000 in each of the two most recent years or joint income with a spouse exceeding $300,000 for those years and a reasonable expectation of the same income level in the current year.” 

For individuals who carry a significant net worth, such as Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, protecting themselves in the case of divorce is essential in order to properly secure their assets. Statistically speaking, individuals across a wide spectrum can find themselves facing the reality of divorce, no matter their socioeconomic status, ethnicity or religion, but the more assets involved and the higher the net worth, the greater the stakes when it comes to separation of finances and property.

Spousal Support Determinations

If you are getting divorced, and are seeking spousal support, or are expected to pay spousal support payments, there are some important things you’ll want to understand. A family law attorney will be able to walk you through the specifics of your case, but here we’ll provide you with a general overview of aspects of spousal support including: the awarding of spousal support, tax laws, and what can happen if spousal support payments are not made.

Defining Spousal Support

Spousal support (also known as alimony) is financial assistance that is only available to those who were legally married. It recognizes a partner’s contribution to the marriage and its goal is to help the recipient achieve financial independence. Rules regarding alimony vary state by state.

Calculating Spousal Support

When a court presides over a spousal support hearing, it weighs a number of factors including: the length of the marriage, the needs of each spouse, the standard of living that was created and maintained during the marriage, any assets, the age of the spouses, numerous other factors, and state specific laws. Your divorce attorney will build your case for spousal support based on your own specific circumstances.

Length of Spousal Support

The duration of spousal support payments is set by the court after it weighs the arguments that have been made. Typically, the length of payments lasts for half the length of a less than 10 years long marriage. For example: a marriage of six years means the spousal support payments will need to be paid for three years.

In longer marriages, a court might not set an a duration for the alimony payments. In that case, it is up to your divorce attorney to prove your side of the case and the duration. You should work with your divorce attorney to establish your side, regardless of if you are paying or receiving payments, and also determine the amount of time you seek. The court will then listen to both arguments, and using common law, decide upon the duration.

Permanent or Lifetime Spousal Support

“Permanent” or “Lifetime” spousal support means support will be paid to the recipient until the death of the one paying, or sometimes until the recipient remarries. While remarriage has been a reason for the end of spousal support payments, that is not always the case, and sometimes a court will rule that a remarriage does not mean the end of the support payments.

As women became a stronger component of the workforce, permanent support began to be rewarded less and less. And now courts rarely award permanent support. One appellate court stated:

“As recognized by our Supreme Court, the public policy of this state has progressed from one which entitled some women to lifelong alimony as a condition of the marital contract of support, to one that entitles either spouse to post-dissolution support for only so long as is necessary to become self-supporting.”

A court will usually require the higher earner, regardless of if they are husband or wife, to assist the lower earner with maintaining the standard of living, at least for a period of time.

“Standard of Living”

42028258_s

Heard is seeking $50,000 a month in spousal support, an amount that is reportedly based on their “marital lifestyle.” This “marital lifestyle” will be based on what is called a “standard of living,” which is often used as a sort of guidebook for how much money a spouse will receive.

Spousal support’s main purpose is to assist a supported spouse in maintaining a standard of living that was close to that which was attained during the marriage. But the goal is for the spouse receiving the payments to eventually become self-supporting to the greatest extent possible. A court will take the following into account:

  • marketable skills of the supported spouse,
  • job market for those skills,
  • any time or expense the supported spouse will need to acquire education or training for employment or enhanced employability, and
  • the extent to which periods of unemployment (due to domestic duties) during the marriage have impaired the supported spouse’s present or future earning capacity.

The court will also consider any other factors, including:

  • extent to which the supported spouse contributed to the other spouse’s attainment of education, training, professional licensing or career advancement (this can also mean the extent to which the supported spouse provided and maintained home life while the other spouse was advancing his or her career)
  • ability of the supporting spouse to pay support. A court will take into account earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living,
  • needs of each party based on what the marital standard of living was,
  • each spouse’s obligations and assets, including separate property,
  • duration of the marriage,
  • ability of a spouse who is also a custodial parent to engage in employment without interfering with the interests of dependent children,
  • each spouse’s age and health,
  • documented history of domestic violence by either spouse*,
  • immediate and specific tax consequences to each spouse (often times tax agreements are figured out during the awarding of spousal support and child support agreements),
  • balance of the hardships to each spouse, and
  • the goal that the supported spouse will be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. This follows a general rule of thumb presumed to be one-half the length of a marriage (unless the marriage was longer than 10 years).

*California courts do not ordinarily consider conduct when making spousal support determinations. But often times, a court will not award support to a spouse that has a proven history of violence toward the other spouse.

While a history of violence might factor into Depp and Heard’s case, it will be up to a judge to determine if that is a factor in the two’s divorce case, or if, as Depp’s lawyer’s allege that Heard is just using the restraining order as a means to secure her future financial footing.

A Family Law Attorney

But when it comes to the actual legal process of a divorce, you’ll want to work with a skilled family law attorney There are a number of things that need to be considered during a divorce: child support, spousal support, marital property division, and other things. Working with a skilled attorney can help ensure you get a fair case.  For advice on divorce, child custody determinations, setting up a co-parenting agreement, dividing marital property, and spousal support you need the expert law firm of Divorce Law LA. Schedule a consultation today.

Divorce Law LA, Esq.

Divorce Law LA

33 S. Catalina Ave. Ste. 202

Pasadena, Ca. 91106

(626) 478-3550

https://bestdivorcelawyer.co

Categories
Collaborative Law Divorce Domestic Violence Family Law High Net-Worth Divorce Marital Property Division

Depp and Heard Agreement: The Saga Continues

In mid-August Amber Heard announced she would be donating the $7 million she was awarded as part of her divorce settlement from Johnny Depp to her two favorite charities – the American Civil Liberties Union, with a focus on battling violence against women, and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. The actress has volunteered at the charities for 10 years. But it seems that Depp is looking to avoid the middle man, and has sine decided to donate the settlement money directly to the charities in a series of installments.

Depp and Heard Agreement: The Saga Continues

In response to Depp’s announcement, Heard’s legal team responded, saying that while the actress “appreciates Johnny Depp’s novel interest in supporting two of her favorite charities,” the act is in violation of the terms of the settlement the couple had arrived at.

“If Johnny wishes to change the settlement agreement, we must insist that he honor the full amount by donating $14M to charity, which, after accounting for his tax deduction, is equal to his $7M payment obligation to Amber,” the statement continued.

“Anything less would be a transparent attempt by Johnny’s counsel, Laura Wasser and Patti Glaser, to reduce their client’s true payment by half under the guise of newfound concern for charities that he has never previously supported,” the statement concluded.

Meanwhile, the ACLU has confirmed that it has already received the funds, while the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles “has received the first installment and we are grateful to Mr. Depp,” according to DeAnn S. Marshall, senior vice president, chief development and marketing officer of the hospital.

Divorce Settlements

No one has ever said that divorce is a cheap process. For the most part, if you and your spouse are unable to come to a decision on things, divorce can be an expensive process with an expensive aftermath.

To Consider

If you are unhappy and unable to continue your marriage, then divorce might be the best option for you. There are some financial considerations you will need to make. Here’s a little of what you can expect:

  • Living as a single person costs more. This can be increasingly true for couples that share children.
  • Your standard of living might drop because of increased living costs that are no longer being shared.

But there are ways to minimize the financial damage. You’ll want to review these steps if divorce is in your future.

Minimize Financial Pain During Divorce

Work with a Lawyer

Negotiation versus Litigation in a Slip and Fall Case

Even if you have decided that you don’t want to work with an attorney, at least consult one so that you are aware of your rights and options. You need to protect yourself. Even the most amicable of divorces can get sticky when it comes to ironing out the legal ramifications and you’ll want to do the best you can when it comes to protecting yourself. Remember that bitterness can cause people to do things they wouldn’t normally. Most lawyers offer a free first consultation.

Look at Your Credit Reports

You are able to pull free credit reports three times a year. These reports show all of the credit accounts that exist in your name, in addition to those you share with others. You’ll want to look for new accounts opened in your name and any changes that are unexpected. Your credit score can be damaged by a spouse that fails to pay joint bills.

Close and Monitor Your Joint Accounts

A lot of times divorcing spouses will move money from joint accounts to individual accounts so that the other spouse is unable to recover the cash. A lot of times this leads to large amounts of debt on joint credit cards, for which the innocent spouse is also responsible for.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says:

When you have a joint account, each account holder is responsible for the full amount of the balance. The card issuer can seek to collect the amount due from either account holder.

Because of this, it’s advised that you close or freeze your shared financial accounts, including credit cards, joint bank accounts, and lines of credit. You will then need to open lines of credit under your own name. You might consider moving to new institutions to avoid confusion. If your spouse is resistant to this, try to do it on your own by consulting the account rules in the contract you signed when opening the account. You can also ask your bank to help.

Remember to also remove your spouse’s name as an authorized user from your personal accounts.

If you must retain a shared account because of costs related to children, try to limit it to one. Make sure to monitor the activity on the car by requesting balances and records of the most recent transactions. You can do this from an ATM, bank branch, or online.

Document Your Money — All of It

Try to locate every single marital financial resource, including:

  • All accounts and assets held jointly and individually. Record the balance, date, account number, authorized users, and contact information for each bank or creditor.
  • Incomes, property, retirement plans and all other assets owned jointly and individually. This should include vehicles, homes, jewelry, furniture, brokerage accounts, and insurance policies.

Make sure you keep everything in one place. Regardless of if you work with a lawyer or not, the court will need statements and documents pertaining to all accounts, assets, bills and debts. Organize everything in a file cabinet. Include:

  • 401(k) statements
  • Insurance policies
  • Real estate purchases
  • Mortgages and refinances
  • House appraisals
  • Brokerage accounts
  • Money market accounts
  • Tax returns

Work with a Divorce Financial Analyst

You might consider working with a divorce financial analyst that can help with your settlement by:

  • Locating assets. This also includes hidden assets.
  • Ensuring information about family finances is accurate and complete.
  • Developing a long-term forecast of how your divorce will affect your finances when it comes to retirement needs, tax liabilities, and benefits.
  • Developing a realistic household budget so that you know where you stand in terms of life insurance, health insurance, and cost-of-living increases.
  • Appraising and/or valuing assets.
  • Preparing financial affidavits that describe your financial and tax implications when it comes to various divorce settlement options.
  • Mediating a financial agreement between you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse.

Get Your Name on the Deed

Regardless of if you are getting divorced or not, make sure your name is on titles and deeds of property you own together. This is important for all spouses, and can become an issue in cases of a spouse passing away.

This property is considered marital property in the state of California, and will need to be divided should you divorce your spouse.

When it comes to dividing assets during a divorce there are various concerns you will need to deal with when it comes to dividing the marital property.

What State do you Live in?

Keep a Journal in Your Personal Injury Case

State laws govern how the marital property will be divided. You will need to do your research and check with an attorney to see if you live in an equitable distribution state or a community property state.

Other Considerations

There are four other steps that need to be considered when diving marital property:

  1. Identify the assets owned by you and your spouse
  2. Categorize all assets as marital or non-marital property
  3. A value will need to be assigned to the assets
  4. Devise a plan for the division of assets that is in accordance with state laws

No Fault Divorce Laws

Though most states separate the division of marital property from grounds for divorce due to no fault divorce laws, most states do consider any financial misconduct when it comes to dividing marital property. What this means is if you or your spouse has foolishly spent money then you or your spouse will most likely be penalized when it comes to dividing marital property.

Separate Join Financial Obligations

If you feel the division of marital assets might be a contentious point between you are your spouse, you might want to consider separating financial obligations prior to starting the divorce process. Marital property does not only mean furniture and household items, but also joint credit accounts. Each spouse should have access to a complete set of all financial documents. You’ll also want to close all joint credit card accounts. If you’re not able to fully separate the accounts, draft a formal written agreement outlining the activity on the remaining joint accounts. Freeze any investment assets – this will ensure neither spouse misuses funds until everything has been agreed upon. You might also want to consider changing the title on your home to read “tenants in common” until the final agreement regarding marital property has been decided upon.

Change Beneficiaries & Rewrite Your Will

After your divorce you will need to change the beneficiary on your assets, including  insurance or stocks, bank accounts or retirement accounts. You’ll also want to update your will too if it lists your spouse’s name.

Have a Financial Plan

You’ll need to know how to budget according to your new income amount. Putting this together before entering the divorce process will help you understand your needs following the divorce so you can come to a settlement that works.

Make sure you plan for college tuition, child care, children’s lessons, sports and activities, and your own retirement, taxes, transportation and housing.

Financial Future

Considering your financial situation after your divorce can feel daunting and overwhelming, but if you take the right steps, you can be sure to set yourself up for financial freedom. It might take some tweaks, but consider the fact that you are now completely in charge and able to make your own decisions regarding how your money will be spent. Embrace it, and embrace the freedom you now have.

A Family Law Attorney

When it comes to the actual legal process of a divorce, you’ll want to work with a skilled family law attorney There are a number of things that need to be considered during a divorce: child support, spousal support, marital property division, and other things. Working with a skilled attorney can help ensure you get a fair case.  For advice on divorce, child custody determinations, setting up a co-parenting agreement, dividing marital property, and spousal support you need the expert law firm of Divorce Law LA. Schedule a consultation today.

Divorce Law LA

33 S. Catalina Ave. Ste. 202

Pasadena, Ca. 91106

(626) 478-3550

https://bestdivorcelawyer.co

Categories
Divorce Domestic Violence Family Law High Net-Worth Divorce Marital Property Division Spousal Support

Is Amber Heard Just Seeking Spousal Support?

Since Amber Heard’s filing for divorce from Johnny Depp at the end of May Heard has charged the Pirates of the Caribbean star with a temporary restraining order. But is the order just one way for the actress to secure a solid financial footing for her future?

Is Amber Heard Just Seeking Spousal Support?

While Amber Heard,30, might have obtained a temporary domestic violence restraining order against Depp, 52, Depp’s attorneys aren’t buying it.  In fact, Depp’s attorney feels Heard is “attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse,” that the two actors and the court have no “financial information upon which to grant such relief” and that “as a successful actress with significant income of her own, there is no question Amber can support herself” until both Depp and Heard “have had a reasonable amount of time to assess their finances” with their attorneys and potentially negotiate a “mutually agreeable resolution.”

While the two did not sign a prenuptial agreement, Heard is seeking $50,000 a month in spousal support, an amount that is reportedly based on their “marital lifestyle.” Depp requested that amount be denied in his response papers to her divorce filing.

High Net-Worth Divorces33034958_s

It’s not uncommon for us to hear about high net-worth divorces coming out of Hollywood. Defined by the Securities and Exchange Commission, a “High Net-Worth Divorce” is “One in which a natural person who has individual net worth, or joint worth with the person’s spouse, that exceeds $1 million dollars at the time of purchase, excluding the value of the primary residence of such person; or a natural person with an income exceeding $200,000 in each of the two most recent years or joint income with a spouse exceeding $300,000 for those years and a reasonable expectation of the same income level in the current year.” 

For individuals who carry a significant net worth, such as Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, protecting themselves in the case of divorce is essential in order to properly secure their assets. Statistically speaking, individuals across a wide spectrum can find themselves facing the reality of divorce, no matter their socioeconomic status, ethnicity or religion, but the more assets involved and the higher the net worth, the greater the stakes when it comes to separation of finances and property.

Since Depp has made a considerable amount of money – but Heard has as well in her own acting career. Additionally, the fact that the two were only married for 15 months will no doubt be considered when the judge reviews Heard’s request for spousal support.

Spousal Support Determinations

If you are getting divorced, and are seeking spousal support, or are expected to pay spousal support payments, there are some important things you’ll want to understand. A family law attorney will be able to walk you through the specifics of your case, but here we’ll provide you with a general overview of aspects of spousal support including: the awarding of spousal support, tax laws, and what can happen if spousal support payments are not made.

Defining Spousal Support

Spousal support (also known as alimony) is financial assistance that is only available to those who were legally married. It recognizes a partner’s contribution to the marriage and its goal is to help the recipient achieve financial independence. Rules regarding alimony vary state by state.

Calculating Spousal Support

When a court presides over a spousal support hearing, it weighs a number of factors including: the length of the marriage, the needs of each spouse, the standard of living that was created and maintained during the marriage, any assets, the age of the spouses, numerous other factors, and state specific laws. Your divorce attorney will build your case for spousal support based on your own specific circumstances.

Length of Spousal Support

The duration of spousal support payments is set by the court after it weighs the arguments that have been made. Typically, the length of payments lasts for half the length of a less than 10 years long marriage. For example: a marriage of six years means the spousal support payments will need to be paid for three years.

In longer marriages, a court might not set an a duration for the alimony payments. In that case, it is up to your divorce attorney to prove your side of the case and the duration. You should work with your divorce attorney to establish your side, regardless of if you are paying or receiving payments, and also determine the amount of time you seek. The court will then listen to both arguments, and using common law, decide upon the duration.

Permanent or Lifetime Spousal Support

“Permanent” or “Lifetime” spousal support means support will be paid to the recipient until the death of the one paying, or sometimes until the recipient remarries. While remarriage has been a reason for the end of spousal support payments, that is not always the case, and sometimes a court will rule that a remarriage does not mean the end of the support payments.

As women became a stronger component of the workforce, permanent support began to be rewarded less and less. And now courts rarely award permanent support. One appellate court stated:

“As recognized by our Supreme Court, the public policy of this state has progressed from one which entitled some women to lifelong alimony as a condition of the marital contract of support, to one that entitles either spouse to post-dissolution support for only so long as is necessary to become self-supporting.”

A court will usually require the higher earner, regardless of if they are husband or wife, to assist the lower earner with maintaining the standard of living, at least for a period of time.

“Standard of Living”

42028258_s

Heard is seeking $50,000 a month in spousal support, an amount that is reportedly based on their “marital lifestyle.” This “marital lifestyle” will be based on what is called a “standard of living,” which is often used as a sort of guidebook for how much money a spouse will receive.

Spousal support’s main purpose is to assist a supported spouse in maintaining a standard of living that was close to that which was attained during the marriage. But the goal is for the spouse receiving the payments to eventually become self-supporting to the greatest extent possible. A court will take the following into account:

  • marketable skills of the supported spouse,
  • job market for those skills,
  • any time or expense the supported spouse will need to acquire education or training for employment or enhanced employability, and
  • the extent to which periods of unemployment (due to domestic duties) during the marriage have impaired the supported spouse’s present or future earning capacity.

The court will also consider any other factors, including:

  • extent to which the supported spouse contributed to the other spouse’s attainment of education, training, professional licensing or career advancement (this can also mean the extent to which the supported spouse provided and maintained home life while the other spouse was advancing his or her career)
  • ability of the supporting spouse to pay support. A court will take into account earning capacity, earned and unearned income, assets, and standard of living,
  • needs of each party based on what the marital standard of living was,
  • each spouse’s obligations and assets, including separate property,
  • duration of the marriage,
  • ability of a spouse who is also a custodial parent to engage in employment without interfering with the interests of dependent children,
  • each spouse’s age and health,
  • documented history of domestic violence by either spouse*,
  • immediate and specific tax consequences to each spouse (often times tax agreements are figured out during the awarding of spousal support and child support agreements),
  • balance of the hardships to each spouse, and
  • the goal that the supported spouse will be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. This follows a general rule of thumb presumed to be one-half the length of a marriage (unless the marriage was longer than 10 years).

*California courts do not ordinarily consider conduct when making spousal support determinations. But often times, a court will not award support to a spouse that has a proven history of violence toward the other spouse.

While a history of violence might factor into Depp and Heard’s case, it will be up to a judge to determine if that is a factor in the two’s divorce case, or if, as Depp’s lawyer’s allege that Heard is just using the restraining order as a means to secure her future financial footing.

A Family Law Attorney

But when it comes to the actual legal process of a divorce, you’ll want to work with a skilled family law attorney There are a number of things that need to be considered during a divorce: child support, spousal support, marital property division, and other things. Working with a skilled attorney can help ensure you get a fair case.  For advice on divorce, child custody determinations, setting up a co-parenting agreement, dividing marital property, and spousal support you need the expert law firm of Divorce Law LA. Schedule a consultation today.

Divorce Law LA, Esq.

Divorce Law LA

33 S. Catalina Ave. Ste. 202

Pasadena, Ca. 91106

(626) 478-3550

https://bestdivorcelawyer.co

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Divorce Family Law High Net-Worth Divorce Spousal Support

Depp’s Marriage Ends After One Year of Marriage

After just one year of marriage, Amber Heard and Johnny Depp have filed for divorce.

Depp’s Marriage Ends After One Year of Marriage

Amber Heard, 30,  has filed for divorce from Johnny Depp, 52, and is seeking spousal support, according to court documents.

The two met on the set of The Rum Diary in 2009 and married in February 2015 in two ceremonies – one on Depp’s private island in the Bahamas, and one at Depp’s West Hollywood, California home.

Depp thanked Heard during an acceptance speech for an achievement award at the annual Palm Springs Film Festival gala, saying, “I also have to thank my wife Amber for putting up with me, for living with all these characters, which can’t be easy. It’s hard for me—it’s got to be hard for her.”

Heard cited “irreconcilable differences” in the court papers and is seeking spousal support.

Spousal Support

31217149_m

If you are getting divorced, and are seeking spousal support, or are expected to pay spousal support payments, there are some important things you’ll want to understand. A family law attorney will be able to walk you through the specifics of your case, but here we’ll provide you with a general overview of aspects of spousal support including: the awarding of spousal support, tax laws, and what can happen if spousal support payments are not made.

Spousal support (also known as alimony) is financial assistance that is only available to those who were legally married. It recognizes a partner’s contribution to the marriage and its goal is to help the recipient achieve financial independence. Rules regarding alimony vary state by state.

Calculating Spousal Support

When a court presides over a spousal support hearing, it weighs a number of factors including: the length of the marriage, the needs of each spouse, the standard of living that was created and maintained during the marriage, any assets, the age of the spouses, numerous other factors, and state specific laws. Your divorce attorney will build your case for spousal support based on your own specific circumstances.

Length of Spousal Support

The duration of spousal support payments is set by the court after it weighs the arguments that have been made. Typically, the length of payments lasts for half the length of a less than 10 years long marriage. For example: a marriage of six years means the spousal support payments will need to be paid for three years.

In longer marriages, a court might not set an a duration for the alimony payments. In that case, it is up to your divorce attorney to prove your side of the case and the duration. You should work with your divorce attorney to establish your side, regardless of if you are paying or receiving payments, and also determine the amount of time you seek. The court will then listen to both arguments, and using common law, decide upon the duration.

Permanent or Lifetime Spousal Support

“Permanent” or “Lifetime” spousal support means support will be paid to the recipient until the death of the one paying, or sometimes until the recipient remarries. While remarriage has been a reason for the end of spousal support payments, that is not always the case, and sometimes a court will rule that a remarriage does not mean the end of the support payments.

As women became a stronger component of the workforce, permanent support began to be rewarded less and less. And now courts rarely award permanent support. One appellate court stated:

“As recognized by our Supreme Court, the public policy of this state has progressed from one which entitled some women to lifelong alimony as a condition of the marital contract of support, to one that entitles either spouse to post-dissolution support for only so long as is necessary to become self-supporting.”

A court will usually require the higher earner, regardless of if they are husband or wife, to assist the lower earner with maintaining the standard of living, at least for a period of time.

Changes in Financial Situation

The duration of spousal support payments can also be dependent on if the spouse receiving the support has a change in their financial standing (as the result of beginning a new job or higher pay). The purpose of spousal support is to ensure financial safeguards for the person receiving them. Therefore, if they no longer need to receive money to help them maintain financial footing, then a court can rule that they are able to support themselves and no longer need the support they have been receiving.

Tax Strategy During Divorce Decisions

33034958_s

If you’re paying or receiving spousal support there are some basic tax laws you need to know and remember both during your divorce proceedings and after.

Bottom line: If you receive spousal support, you must declare it as taxable income . If you’re paying spousal support, you can deduct it. This differs from child support, as child support is not taxable and not deductible.

During the Ruling

You’ll want to remember this rule while you and your spouse are working out alimony agreements, as it does impact your bottom line when it comes to your finances. The final ruling and decision should reflect the intentions you have going into tax time. You might decide to have the paying spouse agree to pay the recipient spouse’s tax liability. A family law attorney should advise you on this during your alimony hearing. 

A Helpful Tip

If you’re able to negotiate with your spouse, it might be helpful to try and work out the best tax deal that works for both of you. If you’re in the middle of a litigious divorce and alimony decision, this type of negotiation may be difficult, but it might save you a lot of time and headaches around tax season.

If you receive alimony: plan for the potential tax impact. Your former spouse is not be able to withhold taxes from the support check you receive. That means you will need to account for that when you calculate how much you’ll be paying in taxes. For this reason you might want to consider paying quarterly taxes. That will save you from getting hit at one time come April 15th.

If you are paying alimony: remember you are able to deduct the support payments on your income tax return, but not child support or distribution of property. The IRS often scrutinizes payments made during the first three years you make payments to ensure that you have not disguised your alimony payments as property distribution or other post divorce

Family Law Attorney

Working with a lawyer that understands the ins and outs of the tax repercussions of divorce can help mitigate the confusion both during the agreement hearings and after (once you are actually making the payments).

Falling Behind on Alimony

It’s not an uncommon story: a man or woman falls behind on their alimony payments. This can happen for a number of reasons: loss of job, inability to get a job, or negligence. If you’re the one not receiving the payments, it can have a damaging effect on your entire life. Here’s some information on if your ex fails to make alimony payments.

What’s the Reason?

If you are not receiving court-ordered alimony payments try to find out why. Did your ex recently lose his or her job? Were they injured and are no unable to work? If this is the case, you might want to consider working out a plan to make up lost payments or to make future payments. Working with an attorney on something like this is a great idea as they will be able to provide an unbiased opinion on the situation. You will also have legal proof should you need to take the un-paying spouse to court.

Avoiding Alimony Payment

If your spouse is able to make the payments, and has not suffered a loss or job, or an injury that is keeping them from work, and rather just avoiding their court-ordered obligation, you’ll need to seek legal help. You will need to file a motion with the court asking a judge to order your spouse to pay any past-due past payments. This motion will also include an agreement to keep up with the future payments. You’ll want to work with an experienced family law attorney to draft a persuasive legal motion for this. An attorney will also being able to serve as your representative in court.

Consequences of Not Paying Alimony

Courts have a number punishments or fines for delinquent spouses. While the laws governing the consequences vary from state to state, generally a court will allow the following:

  • Holding a spouse in contempt. This can lead to fines and possible jail time.
  • Withholding income from the spouse. During this the delinquent spouse’s employer is required to withhold the spousal support amount from the delinquent spouse’s paycheck. That money is then sent directly to the spouse that is supposed to be receiving spousal support.
  • Writ of Execution = when a judge awards a portion of the delinquent spouse’s bank accounts and other assets to the receiver spouse.
  • If the amount owed is substantial, you are able to ask the court to issue a money judgment for the total amount owed along with interest.

Contact a family law attorney that can help you file a legal action to enforce alimony. A lawyer will be able to ensure you receive the money that is owed to you.

Working with a Family Law Attorney

There are a number of things that need to be considered during a divorce and during a spousal support decision. Working with a skilled attorney can help ensure you get a fair case.  For advice on divorce and spousal support you need the expert law firm of Divorce Law LA. Schedule a consultation today.

Divorce Law LA, Esq.

Divorce Law LA

33 S. Catalina Ave. Ste. 202

Pasadena, Ca. 91106

(626) 478-3550

https://bestdivorcelawyer.co