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Annapolis Maryland Family Law Blog

Money may equate to happiness in a marriage

Common wisdom suggests that couples in Maryland and throughout the country are happiest in the first few years of their marriages. As time goes on, this wisdom suggests that married couples start to lose interest in each other. However, this is not necessarily the case. According to a study of low-income couples in Los Angeles County, finances may have a role to play when it comes to marital satisfaction.

Furthermore, couples who are highly satisfied at the beginning of their marriages may be more likely to be satisfied as time goes on. Conversely, if a couple is not happy at the beginning of their marriage, they are more likely to experience a drop in satisfaction as the relationship progresses. However, the team that conducted the study found that men who weren't happy in their marriages initially became more satisfied after being married for three to five years.

Spotting missing assets during the divorce process

Maryland residents beginning the process of divorce will need to go through the discovery process, during which each spouse discloses their financial assets before beginning negotiations for a fair settlement. Some spouses attempt to hide assets in order to get an unfair advantage and access those funds post-divorce. However, there are ways a person can spot missing assets during the discovery process, and there are measures in place during the divorce process to prevent spouses from hiding assets as well.

Being vigilant during the discovery process and as the marriage ends is critical to figuring out if a spouse is attempting to hide assets. Watching for any changes in a spouse's spending habits or financial transactions can help determine if they are trying to hide assets. For example, a spouse suddenly becoming an art or antique collector and insisting on keeping the pieces in the settlement might be a sign that they have undervalued the items to sell them after the divorce. Another sign is a sudden change in payments, withdrawals or deposits. A spouse might overpay a credit card and request the refund after the divorce or begin to transfer funds to children, relatives, business partners or friends.

Anxiety, depression and gray divorce after 50

In Maryland and across the United States, depression often affects couples who divorce after 50. Divorce may be related to health problems regardless of the person's age; however, people who get divorced later in life may experience higher levels of stress. Divorce rates among couples 50 and older have doubled in the past 30 years. Ending a marriage can leave a person with serious psychological problems, particularly if the individual was previously dealing with health-related issues.

Although younger people used to get divorced more often than couples over 50, their divorce rates have decreased during the past few decades. The trend to get divorced after 50 is commonly referred to as "gray divorce." A 2012 study conducted at Bowling Green State University revealed the phenomenon. Susan Brown, a researcher involved in the study, says that gray divorce occurs for various reasons, including the fact that the life expectancy rate is longer today.

Postnuptial agreement: Protect against property division disputes

Once you tie the knot and begin your life with your spouse, it never hurts to look toward the future. As you consider starting a family and planning for retirement, you should also think about what would happen in the event of a divorce.

Remember this: Just because you discuss the potential for divorce doesn't mean you're more likely to split in the future. In fact, this can strengthen your bond, as it allows the both of you to get on the same page.

How prenuptial agreements can help business

Prenuptial agreements are becoming more common among couples throughout Maryland and the rest of the U.S. People recognize the value of having contracts in place that state how their premarital assets and business interests should be handled in the event of a divorce. Having a prenuptial agreement can be especially important for business owners.

A prenuptial agreement can help by valuing the business at the time of the marriage. This will help the couple to determine the amount of value that has been added during the marriage if they later get divorced. The premarital value of the business will remain the separate property of the spouse who owned it while the increase in the value would be marital property that is subject to division.

Paying for a child when the parents are no longer together

When parents end their marriage, they are still required to take care of their children. This means paying for food, shelter and other needs that they may have. Generally speaking, this is easier when parents in Maryland and elsewhere can communicate effectively. Ideally, they will have regular meetings to discuss their child's current and future financial needs. These meetings can occur over the phone or by email if it isn't possible to get together in person.

Creating a detailed divorce decree can minimize the opportunity for conflicts to arise in the future. It should spell out who is responsible for paying a child's medical or educational expenses or how they will be split between each parent. Computer programs can help parents keep track of a child's financial needs and who is responsible for taking care of them.

Planning for a divorce

Maryland spouses who are thinking about splitting up may be unsure about the right time to get a divorce. According to psychology and family law professionals, summer is the prime time to end a marriage. The summertime gives a couple the opportunity to decide if divorce is a wise choice for their situation. Individuals can take the time to determine exactly what they want from a divorce. It is also a good period to fully understand the complete legal ramifications.

A 2016 study conducted by researchers at the University of Washington showed that divorce filings tend to increase in August and March. If there are marriage issues, they tend to get worse when the couple spends more time together.

Student loan debt and divorce: one more hurdle

Maryland couples who are going through the divorce process are often overcome with emotions. Separating from a spouse is hard enough without the added problems associated with the need to divide assets and debts. Those who have an outstanding student loan may not know whether they will need to pay back the entire loan or if the court will also hold their spouse as a responsible party.

One way to understand the issue is that any student loan debt incurred prior to themarriage constitutes a separate and private debt. If people have a $150,000 student loan before they get married, it is their sole responsibility to pay it back. However, a debt acquired during a marriage is thought of as marital debt, meaning that both spouses are equally responsible.

Things to consider when creating a parenting agreement

Divorce is sure to shake up your life in many ways, including your relationship with your children. Fortunately, through the creation of a parenting agreement, you can ensure that your children are put in the best possible situation in the future.

The creation of a parenting agreement comes about during the divorce process, with both parents negotiating on details related to custody and visitation.

How divorce can impact business owners

Most couples are aware that divorce can impact many aspects of life, but many are surprised by the challenges that owning a business can bring. Since a business can represent the majority of marital assets and income, dividing up ownership can become a complicated aspect of the divorce proceedings. Which parts of a business qualify for division largely depends on how much business income the owner claims for his or her own tax liability, and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 may provide a guideline for making this determination.

No matter how hard a business owner decides to draw the line between the business and the personal, a certified business appraiser will need to evaluate the total worth of the company. It's also important to accurately calculate the available value. Based on this number, one spouse may decide to buy the other out of ownership. If this cannot be accomplished through a lump sum of money, promissory notes or other creatives structuring of alimony payments may be adequate.

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