The deadline for filing 2019 federal and state income tax returns is right around the corner – July 15, 2020. If you were divorced in 2019, here are a few things to think about:
Filing Status – Your marital status as of December 31st controls whether you are considered married or single for purposes of filing your tax returns. Remember the Nisi period discussed in a prior post? Under Massachusetts law, a party is not considered divorced until the Nisi period expires. This means that even if the Judgment of Divorce is dated December 1, 2019, due to the Nisi period, you remained married for another 90 days. If you were still married as of December 31, 2019, you can file your 2019 tax returns as married filing jointly or married filing separately. There are risks and benefits to either filing option, so consult with your attorney. There is also an option to file as head of household where you are “considered unmarried” due to living apart from your spouse for six months or more during the tax year. To qualify as head of household, you must also have paid more than half the cost of maintaining your … Keep reading
As people scramble to purchase Powerball tickets for a chance (however small) at the 1.3 billion dollar jackpot, the largest in U.S. history, I couldn’t help but think about the practical considerations that come into play when dealing with divorce and lottery winnings, especially for those who are divorcing, or already divorced. Sure, it’s nice to fantasize about buying a second (or third, or fourth) home in the most exotic of locales, or giving thousands of dollars to charities and every person you’ve ever met, but lottery winnings could also affect property division in a divorce, or a child support and/or alimony obligation.
Can my former spouse claim any of my lottery winnings?
Have you ever wondered if a divorce is always final or whether a divorce judgment can be “undone” or “modified?” The short answer: Like everything else, it depends.
In general, divorce and divorce judgements are final. You can’t “undo” a divorce, so to speak. The finality of a divorce is critically important. Imagine the horror if your spouse was suddenly able to reverse the divorce decree and you found yourself still married!
Why would you want to undo divorce decrees in the first place? Common reasons include:
You reconciled after all
You didn’t like the trial judgement
You believe the terms of the final divorce settlement were unfair
My first exposure to military divorce came not as an attorney, but rather as a child raised on a military base for most of my formative years. Any “Army/Navy/Air Force/Marine/Coast Guard Brat” can attest that there are a number of stressors associated with “base life.” Divorce was commonplace, though never easy.
Base life comes with benefits beyond unity of purpose, a sense of community and pride. There are also some surprising financial perks as well. Reduced cost housing is a well known benefit of living on a military reservation, but base life also has reduced-cost health insurance, entertainment and shopping. Military reservations are free from most state taxation, which can result in substantial savings to military families. Interestingly, one of the more hot button topics in a military divorce is whether the divorcing spouse of a service member is able to access the perks of base life.… Keep reading
I just learned that this is National Estate Planning Awareness Week. One of our terrific attorneys, Christine Fletcher, has written a quick piece explaining the importance of having your estate planner working on a team with your other “people” when making financial decisions. Some may consider this a dry or morbid topic, but in reality it’s a hugely important one. Post-divorce, everyone should immediately change their will, change the beneficiaries on their retirement accounts and, if you haven’t already, change your health care proxies and durable powers of attorney.… Keep reading
All too often after a divorce trial, one or both parties is unhappy with the decision reached by the trial judge. It could be about property division issues, custody and parenting, support or other matters within the Judgment. Not all hope is lost, though! You have the right to appeal a final judgment of the Probate and Family Court, by filing a Notice of Appeal in the trial court within 30 days of entry of the judgment. Keep in mind that being disappointed with the terms of the judgment is not a legitimate basis for seeking an appeal.… Keep reading
I hope you all had as good a Fourth of July weekend as I did! My weekend was filled with family, horses and some extreme gardening. Just coordinating the activities of an intact three-generation family is hard. It can seem insurmountable when you’re struggling to coparent post-divorce, especially during the summer when school is out. Summer camps, baseball, ballet, sailing lessons, time with both parents, how do you keep it all straight? Many conflicts can be avoided with the use of proper planning tools.… Keep reading
If your divorce has just ended, you probably feel like you NEVER want to talk to a lawyer again. However, there are a number of financial steps you should take after you divorce, and one requires a lawyer:You need to change your estate plan, or if you don’t have one, create an estate plan.
Not only does this require good professional assistance, it costs money. Maybe money you feel you can’t spend because you are now “divorce poor.”
I get that. The divorce process drains you of energy and time and money.Regardless, you are at a new beginning and you need to get this one piece done right.
In addition, and it might not happen as part of your estate planning, you need to be sure you have dealt with the possibility that something might happen to your adult (over age 18) unmarried children as well. We tend to assume that when children leave the nest that’s it. In tragedy, it often isn’t.
Divorce is an ending, but it is also a new beginning, and with all new journeys it is good to have a road map. Here are 5 simple things that EVERYONE needs to do post-divorce.
1. Create a master list of tasks and times for actions as set forth in your divorce agreement or divorce judgement. We do this for our clients as a regular matter, but many lawyers don’t. It’s important to be mindful of when actions need to be done, as in transferring title, paying your ex, exchanging belongings, deeding property and dividing accounts. Enter into your calendar when to expect payments or when you need to make payments. If you can automate paying support by direct deposit or payroll deduction, do so.
Something to consider if you are a woman contemplating divorce (and isn’t it interesting that only women change their names?) is whether or not you wish to resume your maiden name, (and a maiden name is another medieval concept) not that I am a feminist or anything.
An associate of mine, Andrea Dunbar, has written a very useful piece about just how to do this, and even more useful – where to go to actually change all the documents. Check it out below!
Have a great weekend!
While no longer legally obligated to do so, many people take their spouse’s last name upon marriage. After divorce, this can be a life long, painful reminder of the marriage. This is why it is important to understand your rights and obligations for changing your name during or after a divorce. The simplest way to change your name upon divorce is to start the process during the divorce proceedings and plead it in your divorce complaint. The standard Massachusetts divorce complaint provides a space to request this relief from the Court. When the Court issues the divorce judgment it will make an order that the complainant spouse … Keep reading