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Can Divorce Make You a Better Parent?It is hard to see much bright side to your divorce when it comes to your children. They are justifiably upset about the breakup of your marriage and how that will change their lives. It is difficult to adjust to a shared parenting agreement that requires them to travel between two homes. On an emotional level, they have experienced the dissolution of your marriage first hand and may question the permanence of any relationship, including their relationship with you. If there is a positive for the children, it is that they no longer live in a home environment rife with conflict and tension. There is also a chance that you may become a better parent to them as a result of your divorce.

Attention

Your marriage may have distracted you from your parenting in ways that you did not realize. It is difficult to concentrate on your children when you are worried about your relationship with your spouse and what that may mean for your future. Being a single parent is more work, but you could be a more attentive parent as a result because:

  • Your spouse is no longer competing with your children for your attention;
  • You are responsible for all of the parental responsibilities when the children are with you; and
  • Parenting time is more cherished when it is limited.

Your responsibilities as a single adult may demand your attention at times. You will learn how to manage your time so that you are available to your children when it is their time to be with you.

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Your Options Without the Alimony Tax DeductionStarting with divorce agreements created this year, people who pay spousal maintenance as part of a divorce can no longer claim those payments as a deduction on their federal income taxes. The alimony tax deduction was used as an incentive for a spouse to pay more maintenance after the divorce. Maintenance recipients will save on taxes because the payments are no longer part of their taxable income. However, they may have more difficulty negotiating a maintenance agreement with their spouses and may not receive as much maintenance as they would have when the deduction existed. There are financial strategies available during divorce that you can use as an alternative to spousal maintenance or that could replicate some of the benefits of the alimony deduction.

  1. Property Division: You could forgo spousal maintenance and give the recipient spouse more marital properties instead. There is more certainty in the value of properties than in what you might pay or receive in spousal maintenance over several years. The transfer of money or assets between spouses during a divorce is non-taxable.
  2. Lump-Sum Payment: The spousal maintenance could be paid as a lump sum as part of the divorce. You would be free of continuous maintenance payments and any financial ties to each other once your children are adults. However, you must determine what a fair lump-sum payment would be and have the money available to make that payment.
  3. Retirement Benefits: You could use the money that you would have paid towards spousal maintenance and invest it in a retirement fund, which your spouse would receive payments from. In some situations, contributions to retirement plans can be tax-deductible. The recipient spouse would pay taxes on the money they receive from the fund but may collect more money than they would have from spousal maintenance. This plan is most effective if you are both near retirement age, so you can avoid early withdrawal penalties.
  4. Charitable Remainder Trust: If you have philanthropic interests, you could create a charitable remainder trust with your spouse as the beneficiary. The fund would pay to the beneficiary for a set period of time, and the remaining money would be donated to a charity. As with the alimony deduction, the payor could receive tax deductions for the contributions, and the recipient would be taxed for the payments.

Contact a St. Charles Divorce Attorney

The changes to the federal tax law have made reaching a spousal maintenance agreement more complicated. A Kane County divorce lawyer at Goostree Law Group can help you negotiate a reasonable maintenance agreement. To schedule a free consultation, call 630-584-4800.

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Why a Prenuptial Agreement Is Worth the CostThere is a misconception amongst some newlyweds that a prenuptial agreement is not necessary unless you are rich. It is true that a prenuptial agreement is helpful when spouses have substantial assets. Those with fewer assets may believe that creating a prenuptial agreement is unnecessary or not worth the cost. However, you should not discount the benefits of having a prenuptial agreement, even if your premarital assets seem meager. In the event of a divorce, you may be thankful that you took the time to prepare one.

Need

People think of prenuptial agreements as a tool of the rich because they are most likely to hear about prenups in the media when celebrities get divorced. Owning valuable assets is only one reason to create a prenuptial agreement. Others include:

  • Identifying premarital assets;
  • Determining how to divide assets that may grow in value; and
  • Settling potential property disputes while you and your spouse have an amicable relationship.

It is common sense to want to know all of a person’s assets before you marry them. You should be suspicious if they refuse to divulge them. Some assets, such as a business, are likely to become more valuable in the future. If you created and are running the business, you may want to protect your ownership while also acknowledging that your spouse would deserve compensation for the value of your business. You could wait until a divorce to settle issues such as this, but your spouse may be less open to compromise during the divorce.

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Why Parental Alienation Is Controversial in Family LawWhen arguing over the allocation of parental responsibilities, one parent may accuse the other of creating parental alienation. The concept, which is sometimes called parental alienation syndrome, is that one parent is encouraging the children to not have a relationship with the other parent for reasons that are illogical or selfish. Parental alienation can be viewed as a form of child abuse, and some parents have used the claim to gain greater or complete responsibility for the children. However, parental alienation is a controversial subject because an abusive parent could use it to gain access to their children.

Potential for Abuse

The professional psychology community is divided on parental alienation syndrome, including:

  • Whether it is a psychological condition:
  • How it can be identified and proven; and
  • How prevalent it is in parenting relationships.

These doubts lead some to believe that parental alienation should not be a major consideration in family courts. Parental alienation has helped decide parental responsibilities in real cases. In some cases, allegedly abusive parents have gained full child custody by accusing the other parent of unreasonably withholding the children. Critics of parental alienation claim that abusive parents are taking advantage of the concept to control their children and punish their co-parents.

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Repairing and Building Your Credit After DivorceHaving good credit helps when you are responsible for supporting yourself after a divorce. It gives you the option of borrowing money to finance your immediate needs, such as purchasing a new home. Bad credit history or no credit history are obstacles to your financial stability but can be overcome with proper planning. Two of your goals during your divorce should be to protect or repair your credit and to work on building your individual credit.

Existing Credit

You need a current credit report to understand your financial situation, which you can purchase from a major credit bureau. Your current credit rating is likely based on:

  • Marital debts;
  • Business debts; and
  • Debts from before your marriage. 

Equitably dividing your marital debts is part of the divorce process. Marital debts are personal debts created during the marriage. With business debts, both spouses may be liable if they co-signed on the debt agreement or the business is not a limited liability company. Debts that predate a marriage are not shared during the divorce unless the spouse agreed to assume liability for the debt.

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