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Fayettville Family Law Blog

Setting firm rules and expectations makes co-parenting easier

Working together with your ex to raise your children isn't always easy. After all, you both probably have some unresolved issues from your marriage and divorce. However, you should work to set aside your complicated personal history in favor of doing the best thing for your children.

In the vast majority of divorce cases in North Carolina, the courts will order shared custody between the parents. Both parents will need to do their best to make decisions that focus on their children and attempt to minimize the impact of the divorce on the social and emotional well-being of the children.

Guidelines parents should understand about raising children

Trying to raise a child after divorce or outside of traditional marriage may be a challenge for some parents in North Carolina. However, it can be easier when both parents acknowledge that they are acting on behalf of the children and not themselves. Ideally, adults will work together to overcome their issues whether they are related to the children or not. Furthermore, those issues should be resolved in private and not when the kids are around.

Those who are in the middle of a dispute may want to learn how to walk away when the tension is too much to take. This can be better than saying or doing something that an individual may regret in the future. Furthermore, parents should not be afraid to set boundaries for their children that are enforced consistently. Saying no to a child creates a teaching moment that can be beneficial both in the moment and later in his or her life.

Assets, debts and other financial considerations in divorce

People in North Carolina who are getting a divorce will need to take some financial issues into account. In addition to an attorney, they may also want to work with a financial professional, such as a certified divorce financial analyst, to help guide them through some of the more complex aspects of property division.

It is important that the value of assets is assessed accurately, particularly for the spouse who is not working or who earns less since those assets could help ensure that person's financial security after divorce. Taxes can make some assets worth less than they initially appear. For example, people often must pay taxes on retirement accounts when they make withdrawals, so a money market account of equal value might actually be worth more.

Divorced households often struggle during retirement

Divorced households in North Carolina and around the country have about 30 percent lower net worth than married households according to a study from the Center for Retirement Research, and they are also are less likely to have enough money to live comfortably during retirement. The study, which is based on data gathered from the U.S. Federal Reserve's Survey of Consumer Data, was published online in June.

Figures from the National Regulatory Research Institute are equally grim. The Maryland-based organization says that 53 percent of divorced individuals are likely to struggle financially during their retirement years. Spouses who divorce in their 20s, 30s or even 40s still have plenty of time to rebuild their retirement savings according to financial experts, but those who are going through what is known as a gray divorce may be wise to approach property division negotiations with great care.

When marriage ends, parenting continues

As some North Carolina residents know, divorce is a complex process that can become even more complicated when children are involved. Having children means that the divorce negotiations will not just focus on the division of property. The final agreements must address custody issues and support payments as well. Once the divorce is finalized, then the work of co-parenting begins.

When negotiating child custody, parents should already be thinking about how they will work together to raise the children. As they design their parenting plan, they might also consider how they will communicate with each other when it comes to children-related issues. To avoid serious confrontations, they might choose to use technology such as email, text messaging and apps designed to help families communicate.

Dividing credit card debt in divorce: Have a plan

As you inch closer and closer to the divorce process, you'll spend a greater amount of time focused on property and debt division. Through the creation of a property division and debt checklist, you'll have a clear understanding of where things stand and what you're up against in the near future.

Credit card debt can be a sticking point, as neither party wants to get stuck paying out more money than they should. Here are some tips you can follow when dealing with the division of credit card debt in divorce:

  • Have a plan for leaving your marriage without joint debt: If you're able to accomplish this, you don't have to worry about having this tie to your ex-spouse after your divorce is finalized.
  • Pay off joint credit card debt together: There are many ways of doing so, such as by using money from a joint savings account to eliminate the debt. It may not be something you want to do, but, for the sake of a better financial future, it makes sense.
  • Divide the debt: If you don't have the money or desire to pay off the debt in full, each individual can transfer half the debt onto a credit card in his or her respective name. At this point, you're responsible for your portion and your ex-spouse is responsible for his or hers.
  • Cancel all joint credit cards with a zero balance: You don't want to leave one of these hanging out there, as you never know if the other person will use the credit card and leave you on the hook for half the balance.
  • Keep records: If you're using a joint credit card for any reason, you should keep records of what you purchased. It's good practice to stop using joint accounts the second you decide to divorce.
  • Consider bankruptcy: If you're still married and your financial situation is a mess, you may be able to use bankruptcy to your advantage. This can help eliminate your joint debt, thus giving you a fresh start in the future.

Including inherited IRAs in divorce property division

Dealing with property division can be a major concern when North Carolina couples decide to divorce. The asset division process that accompanies the end of a marriage can lead to substantial changes in both parties' standard of living or the loss of certain long-time assets. Some of the most significant types of accounts typically divided in a divorce are retirement funds. While property division is complex for couples of all ages and means, it can be particularly so when a couple has been married for many years or has substantial amounts of property to divide.

While regular IRAs have long been a part of the property division process during a divorce, in an increasing number of cases, inherited IRAs are being used during property division as well. The tax code provides for the distribution of an IRA without a tax penalty during a divorce, once a court order has been issued. However, inherited IRAs are not considered to be covered under the law; while it is an unexplored area, it is becoming a reality in many courtrooms across the country.

Smart homes and domestic violence concerns

Smart home technology is becoming increasingly common here in America. The list of smart home devices out there is continually growing. It includes things such as internet- connected cameras, lights, locks, speakers and thermostats. According to one estimate, 29 million U.S. homes had some degree of smart technology in them in 2017. The same report found that the number of American homes with such technology is growing at a rate of around 31 percent a year.

There are some safety concerns that arise with this trend. This includes domestic abuse concerns. Smart homes could present new vulnerabilities for domestic violence victims.

Toddler tantrums: Helping a young child through divorce

There is no question that divorce is hard on the parties involved, but what about children who have little experience in handling stress or anxiety? How can a child understand and cope with the changes that are happening?

It all comes down to how you and your spouse react to the divorce. Your child relies on you to learn how to respond to life's changes, so the way you treat each other now or react privately to the divorce will make a difference. Here are a few tips for helping your young child understand and adjust to the divorce.

Tax law changes affect alimony after 2019

Spouses in North Carolina considering divorce may wish to learn about the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on their future plans for spousal support and alimony. In the past, the recipient paid taxes on the alimony while the payer could deduct the sum. This situation will be reversed for newly concluded divorces starting in 2019.

Spouses who conclude their divorces in 2018 will continue to pay taxes according to the existing system, a procedure which incentivizes spousal support payments by reducing the tax burden of the higher earner. For divorces in 2019 or later, however, the recipients will no longer pay taxes on the alimony income. While some have promoted this as a positive for spousal support recipients, this is an unlikely outcome. By including the alimony amount in the higher-earning spouse's higher tax bracket, there is less incentive to agree to generous payments.

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Hardin Law Firm PLLC

Hardin Law Firm PLLC
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Fayetteville, NC 28305

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