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Be sure to clarify child tax exemptions before tax filing

As the tax filing deadline approaches, unmarried individuals with a minor child in Maryland must consider who can take the exemption for the child. The IRS has rules regarding who can claim the child, so without communication between the parents, one party risks having a return rejected.

Despite recent federal tax law changes, there is still an advantage to claiming a minor child as a dependent. The Child Tax Credit has doubled under the new laws. The Dependent Care Credit remains available for those who have daycare expenses. Finally, the difference in the standard deduction between single and head of household is $6,000 for 2018. Without a qualifying dependent, a person cannot claim head of household.

Dividing business assets in a divorce

Running a business in Maryland can be a very lucrative prospect for entrepreneurs. When an owner's marriage is headed for divorce, however, valuable business assets could be put in jeopardy. These assets, along with income derived from a business, may be considered marital property in a divorce.

It's wise for entrepreneurs to have some type of contractual agreement in place to keep business relationships and assets separate from the marriage. This is to avoid property division disputes and to ensure that each spouse receives what is legally theirs during the divorce process. A formal contract should clearly state things like percentages of investments from both spouses, roles and responsibilities in running the business. Furthermore, the parties must agree on the terms that will go into effect if the marriage is dissolved or the business relationship ends.

Tips for high-asset couples getting a divorce

One of the first steps people in Maryland who are going through a high-asset divorce may want to take is assembling a legal and financial team. They may also want to consider whether they want to pursue litigation. Litigation is not inevitable even if there is a lot of conflict, and some couples may be able to resolve discord and reach an agreement through mediation or collaborative divorce.

It is important to prioritize professional and personal ties during the divorce. This means keeping the divorce out of the workplace and working to minimize its effect on children.

Are retirement accounts divided during divorce?

Even though divorce rates are slowly decreasing over time, Americans see a rise in “grey divorce,” or divorce amongst baby boomers or older generations. With the increase of grey divorce, more mature couples consider how divorce affects personal property, especially retirement accounts.

In Maryland, retirement benefits are the most substantial assets couples share, and in the case of divorce, it’s one of the largest holdings for property division. Unfortunately, since the benefits are not physical possessions, it makes the division process more challenging for most partners.

What happens if you do not pay child support?

Child support continues to be an issue around the country as many parents refuse to make payments. Statistics have shown that less than 50 percent of custodial parents who are owed child support regularly receive their full payment. Because the failure to pay support has become such a wide-spread problem, the government considers it to be a federal offense with substantial penalties.

When a parent fails to make child support payments, repercussions go into effect headed by the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE). With a goal to make sure that children are properly taken care of, the non-custodial parent who owes the child support payment can face the following consequences:

Is January the best time of the year for a divorce?

If you're struggling to keep your marriage alive, there may come a point when you decide to learn more about the divorce process. Regardless of the time of year, if divorce is on your mind, it's something to strongly consider.

However, January is historically one of the busiest times of the year for divorce filings. Here are some of the reasons why:

  • A new year leads to new beginnings. If you want to start the new year off on the right foot, you may decide that ending your marriage is critical. Many people have a New Year's resolution to either fix their marriages or file for divorce.
  • The prior financial year is in the books. Now that the prior year has come to an end, everything is already in the books regarding your finances. For example, your spouse received all their earnings for the year, including bonuses, thus making it part of the property division process.
  • A new tax year is here. Divorce impacts your tax situation in many ways, so ending your marriage in January allows you to more easily plan for the rest of the year.

What’s the best way to ask for a prenuptial agreement?

Asking for a prenuptial agreement may not be something that excites you, but it could be a conversation that you want to have before tying the knot. Once you lay out your thoughts, it's much easier to get on the same page as your partner.

Your goal is to ask your partner for a prenuptial agreement without ruffling any feathers. Since this is easier said than done, here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Don't issue a demand: Telling your partner to sign the prenuptial agreement "or else" is not a good way to maintain a strong relationship. You should discuss your reasons for wanting a prenuptial agreement, as opposed to issuing a demand.
  • Keep calm: Discussing a prenuptial agreement has a way of bringing out a variety of emotions. If you become upset and angry, it could lead to more harm than good. So, keep your cool and do your best to calmly move the conversation forward.
  • Listen and ask questions: Even though you have an idea of what you want to happen, you must listen and ask questions. This ensures that you understand your partner and vice versa. An open mind can do wonders for this process.

What to do if you can’t make your child support payments

Even though you take pride in making child support payments in full and on time, you never know what could happen in the future. If you run into financial trouble, you may find it difficult to keep up with these payments.

If you're unable to make your child support payments, here are five steps to take:

  • Take action now: Any back child support that you owe must be paid in the future. This is why you should take immediate action the second you realize that you can no longer afford to make the payments.
  • Understand the law: Focus on the laws that govern how much child support you pay, as well as the protections in place for you.
  • Talk to the other parent: Let them know what you're up against, make a suggestion and see if you can work something out. They may agree to accept smaller payments until you get back on your feet.
  • Document all changes to your finances: You need to prove to the court that you can no longer make child support payments, such as by showing that you are out of work or unable to work as the result of an illness.
  • File your request quickly: File your request for a child support modification with the same court that issued the order in the first place.

Are you experiencing these signs of divorce?

Married couples go through rough spots every now and again. While some people are able to get back on track, others turn their attention to divorce.

If you begin to experience some of the common signs of divorce, it's time to examine your situation with an eye toward making the right decision at the right time. Here are five signs to watch for:

  • You are no longer happy: If you're generally unhappy in your marriage, you need to find out why. If there's no answer, divorce may be a consideration.
  • You avoid one another: You should want to spend time with your spouse. Looking for reasons to avoid them, such as staying at work late, signifies a problem.
  • You don't talk to one another: Over time, some couples grow apart to the point of not having much discussion throughout the day. An open line of communication is important to every strong marriage.
  • Everything is a fight: Even the most minor details in your life turn into an argument.
  • Your priorities are no longer the same: It's okay to have different goals, but your priorities in life should align. If they don't, it's easier for the two of you to grow apart.

Are you prepared for the emotional stages of divorce?

Once you decide to divorce, your outlook on the future may never be the same. While you're going through a rough patch, it's important to remember that you control your own destiny.

Preparing for the emotional stages of divorce will help you deal with everything that comes your way. Here are some feelings to expect:

  • Denial: This is a natural way to protect yourself; however, it's not a long-term solution. It's okay to find yourself in denial, but you also need to face reality at some point.
  • Anger: You should expect to have feelings of anger throughout the divorce process, especially if you blame the other person for your failed marriage.
  • Bargaining: This occurs when you're ready to come to terms with your divorce. It's important to be honest with yourself during this stage of the divorce process.
  • Depression: This sets in at different times for every person. Some people become depressed early in the process, while others face this once their divorce is complete and they're on their own.
  • Acceptance: Typically, the last emotional stage of divorce is when you finally realize that you can't change the past but that you have full control over your future.
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Law Office of Dawn M. Green
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Annapolis, MD 21401

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