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League City Family Law Blog

Tax law changes could make divorce more expensive

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, or TCJA, may mean lower federal tax rates and a higher limit for the Alternative Minimum Tax for some individuals in Texas, but it could also make divorce more expensive for soon-to-be-exes. This is especially true if children are involved since the TCJA eliminates the value associated with personal and dependent exemptions. Alimony payments will also be considered a simple property transfer without tax consequences for either party.

The TCJA also increases standard deductions among all tax statuses, including single filers and Head of Household. It's HOH, in particular, that may now be a significant settlement issue in any divorce that takes place after the TCJA takes full effect in 2019. The HOH parent will be able to claim an expanded $2,000 Child Tax Credit for each qualifying dependent child. This includes $1,400 that's refundable for HOH filers who owe income tax.

Health concerns after later-in-life divorce

An increasing number of older couples in Texas and across the country are choosing to divorce. While the divorce rate remains twice as high among younger couples, it has doubled since 1990 for people age 50 and older. At the same time, the rate has remained steady or even slightly declined for younger couples. People at any age can divorce successfully and move on to a happy single life, but it can be particularly important for people who divorce later in life to take care of their health.

The Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory is a tool that measures the likelihood of a stress-induced health breakdown in relation to significant life events; divorce ranks second on that scale. While stress can affect people at any age, it can be a particular concern for seniors who are already dealing with other medical issues. When people over 50 decide to divorce, especially those who have already entered retirement age, there can be some particular physical and psychological health concerns to monitor. Depression, anxiety and chronic stress are common responses to divorce. These can also affect other physical conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure or Type 2 diabetes.

Hopelessness can be a predictor of divorce

There are a number of factors that could affect whether or not a Texas couple is likely to divorce, and one of the most significant could be when one partner feels a sense of hopelessness. When people in happy relationships come home after a hard day, they can take solace and support from their partners. One couples therapist said that she looks at the level of hopelessness in a relationship to determine whether a couple is more likely to split. When people are hopeless, they feel that nothing more can be done to keep the relationship together.

When this is the case, it is important that each person be able to come to terms with the future and make important decisions about divorce. In 1992, University of Washington researchers said that disappointment and disillusionment in the marriage were the most important predictors of a split. When couples began the study without hope, they were more likely to be living separately three years after.

Divorce could be contagious

Researchers have discovered a surprising and alarming trend that is happening in Texas and around the country. Those who have close friends who get a divorce are 75 percent more likely to get divorced themselves. The study conducted by Brown University, Harvard and the University of California at San Diego found that even the divorce of a friend of a friend can have an impact on the likelihood of separation.

The basis of the family law study is that when one friend gets a divorce, other friends begin to imagine the possibilities of a life without their spouse. They take account of their lives and begin to believe if their friend could successfully go through the process of a divorce, they could as well. Researchers concluded that for many, this is simply a case of the grass looking greener on the other side.

Divorced households may struggle during retirement

Going through a divorce can cast a long financial shadow, and a study released by the Center for Retirement Research reveals that the net worth of divorced households in Texas and around the country is about 30 percent lower than married households. The Boston College-based group also says that divorced spouses are 7 percent more likely to struggle financially during their retirement years. The study, which was published in June 2018, used figures from the Federal Reserve's latest Survey of Consumer Data.

Researchers from the National Regulatory Research Institute have also been looking into the impact that the end of a marriage has on retirement, and they found that more than half of the nation's divorced men and women lack the funds needed to enjoy their golden years in comfort. While spouses who divorce early in life may still have time to prepare financially for retirement, those who end their marriages in their 50s or 60s often face uncertain futures.

How to successfully co-parent after divorce

Texas couples divorce because they no longer wish to spend their lives with each other. However, parents can't simply sign divorce papers and expect to never speak with their ex again. Instead, they must learn to co-parent together for the sake of their child. There are some steps parents can take to help the process go more smoothly.

First of all, parents should always act out of their child's best interests. This means that they should never put down their ex in front of their child or try to use the child to get back at their former spouse. These behaviors only harm the child. Second, parents should establish the same rules for both households. This helps give a child a sense of stability and consistency. Third, parents need to effectively communicate with each other about their child's needs and schedule. This can be done by creating an annual calendar and sending messages via an online co-parenting messaging system.

Talking to children about prenups

Parents in Texas who anticipate the time when their children will marry may want to consider teaching them about prenuptial agreements before they go to college. People can use a prenuptial agreement to ensure that their interests are protected should they get a divorce.

One reason parents should begin talking to their children about prenuptial agreements well before they are considering marriage is so that there is no mystery about the documents when the time comes to use them. The children have to be familiar with prenuptial agreements and know what they can do so that they are able to make informed decisions about the documents.

Why getting divorced before 2019 might be a good idea

When setting the terms of a divorce, it's important to consider how the current tax system will affect support payments and asset division. For instance, the new tax law passed by Congress in 2017 will have deep ramifications for divorcing couples in Texas one year from now. This is why plenty of couples contemplating divorce may want to get their separations finalized before 2019.

There are several reasons why getting a divorce in 2018 is more advantageous than waiting until after the law has taken effect. To start with, alimony payments will no longer be deductible for the paying spouse nor taxable for the receiving spouse. This change may not be beneficial for either party as the receiving spouse tends to fall in a smaller tax bracket than the paying spouse. Because of this, the total sum of money to be shared between both parties may be lowered, reducing everybody's share of the proverbial pie.

Child support can be affected by disability

When a parent in Texas experiences an acquired disability, it can have a major impact on their life, including their ability to work or conduct many of the same activities they have loved for years. In addition, a disability that affects a person's ability to work can also have a significant impact on their ability to pay child support. Child support orders are issued based on a statewide formula that reflects the income of the paying parent and that helps a child continue to benefit from both of their parents' standard of living.

However, just as disability itself can significantly change a parent's standard of living, it can also change their ability to pay child support. If they are no longer receiving income at their pre-disability level, they are unlikely to be able to meet the obligations of a child support order that reflected that level of income. However, becoming disabled does not cancel a parent's obligation to support their children. It can, however, lead to a modification of an existing support order if it is accompanied by a legitimate change in financial circumstances.

Understanding gray divorce

Gray divorces, or divorces on or after the age of 50, are on the rise in Texas and across the United States. Currently, around 25 percent of all divorces fall into this category.

According to experts, part of the reason gray divorces are increasing is that there are now more Americans at or over the age of 50 than ever before. In 1990, there were only 63.5 million adults in that age bracket. However, by 2010, there were 99 million. The number is expected to balloon to 158.5 million by 2050. Meanwhile, life expectancy has improved over the past few decades, with men gaining an extra 11 years and women gaining an extra 10. These statistics mean that there is now a large population of older adults who have an extra decade to contemplate divorce.