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Jennifer McCaskill
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Red Bank New Jersey Family Law Blog

Holiday tips for same-sex couples going through divorce

The first few holidays after a divorce are never easy, but there are steps that can make this time of year far more manageable and enjoyable. That's especially true for same-sex couples in New Jersey who share children. The holidays should always be focused on the children in any family, even when the parents are coming to terms with a new relationship as co-parents. 

One way to make things easier is to take the time to sit down and create a list of what makes the holidays special and meaningful. The list will differ from one person to the next but might include gratitude, service to others, religious expressions, time with loved ones, or even things like seeing a big light display, visiting Santa or decorating the house. Once that list is in place, think about how the traditions and practices the family used to share can be reinvented to keep those values in place, even with an altered family structure. 

High asset divorce cases often come with complications

Ending a marriage is no easy feat. Even if it is the best decision for the circumstances, it can still be a stressful experience. When New Jersey residents are going through high asset divorce cases, their predicaments often become much more complex. Fortunately, these complexities do not mean that an agreeable outcome cannot be reached.

When facing this type of case, it is wise for individuals to understand the assets at stake and where those assets are located. That often means finding the proper documents relating to bank accounts, property deeds and titles, and other information. If parties do not know where to find their money, it is possible for even further complications -- like hidden assets -- to occur. Of course, it can be difficult to find this information without already knowing where to look, but luckily, legal counsel can help.

Nesting is an option for same sex parents dealing with divorce

For same sex couples in New Jersey who share children, working out the details of a divorce can be challenging. One option is called nesting, and involves leaving the children in the family home with the parents rotating in and out on a schedule. That isn't a good fit for every divorcing couple, but it can be an option for some. 

One way to handle nesting is for parents to share a temporary apartment when they aren't staying in the family home. Sort of like having a roommate, only one you never spend any actual time with. The benefits of this approach is that kids get to stay in the environment they're comfortable in, without the need to change schools, make new friends, or carry their belongings from one parent's home to the other. 

Making wise choices when considering alimony

New Jersey spouses who are considering divorce may want to think carefully about the role that spousal support will play in their future budgets. That's especially true now that the tax deduction for alimony will no longer be in effect after the end of 2018. Making wise choices that are in line with one's long-term planning is an important part of moving forward. 

For those faced with a substantial alimony payment, it might be tempting to take some time off from work in order to cut the amount of  spousal support. That move, however, is almost never a good idea. The other party is unlikely to take that change as inevitable, and the matter could very well go before a court.

The retirement implications of upcoming alimony changes

Most New Jersey residents are aware that 2019 will bring new changes in the way that spousal support is handled during a divorce. Once this year comes to a close, the party tasked with making alimony payments will no longer be able to claim those expenses as deductions on his or her tax return. The party receiving those payments will no longer have to claim them as income. However, these changes are prospective only and do not affect divorces that have already be finalized.

That might seem like a good deal for the recipient, but that's not always the case. Consider, for example, a spouse who is nearing retirement age but hasn't been in the workforce for many years, having chosen to manage the household and raise the kids during the marriage. Even if that spouse gets a decent alimony settlement, he or she cannot use those funds to contribute to retirement savings like an IRA or Roth account. 

Helpful ways to tell children about a divorce

When parents decide it is time to divorce, one central worry is about the wellbeing and happiness of the children from the marriage. Breaking the news of a divorce can feel like a daunting or even insurmountable challenge for parents in New Jersey. It’s important to find a compassionate yet straightforward strategy to have this conversation with the children.

As you prepare to tell children about an upcoming divorce, consider some tips to do so in an effective yet gentle manner. Children need to be a top priority as parents navigate a separation and divorce. Here are some general reminders for parents as you begin to plan how you will break the news of a divorce to the children.

Why would a new credit card play a role in alimony planning?

Charting out one's anticipated income and expenses is a critical part of a New Jersey divorce. For spouses who expect to receive alimony or child support, it's critical to understand that those payments might not begin coming in as quickly as anticipated. In fact, it's not uncommon for the paying spouse to balk at making those payments, especially in the weeks and months after a filing. Having a plan in place can make it easier to cover living expenses during this period of time. 

A new credit card can act as a type of financial security blanket as a spouse prepares to file for divorce. Having a line of credit available ensures that it will be possible to pay for deposits on new living arrangements, cover initial legal expenses, and generally just cover one's need in the weeks and months after filing for divorce. It can also help spouses feel more secure as they move forward into a process filled with uncertainties. 

Alimony might not be the best focus in late life divorce

As they near the end of a lengthy marriage, many New Jersey residents focus on negotiating spousal support. While alimony may be an important part of addressing financial needs after a divorce, older spouses may want to think about other options when it comes to working out the financial details. That's because alimony is only a viable option while the paying spouse is still alive, while certain other assets could continue to bring in income regardless of the lifespan of one's soon-to-be ex. 

In many cases, assets like retirement savings, real estate and investments could have more value than alimony payments. Accepting a greater share of those assets at the time of divorce provides a more certain outcome. The recipient can determine how best to use those assets to meet his or her needs. 

Adhere to prenup to simplify a high asset divorce

Many New Jersey residents consider prenuptial agreements to be static, one-time documents that are drafted, signed and subsequently stored away, hopefully never to be needed. In reality, the decisions a spouse makes throughout his or her marriage can have a huge impact on whether a prenup can be called into action in the event of a high asset divorce. If the wrong choices are made, the document may be at risk of being thrown out of court. 

When a prenuptial agreement is initially drafted, both parties make a full disclosure of all of their assets and debt. They also agree on terms regarding how assets would be divided in the event of a divorce. If those spouses go on to make choices that fly in the face of those agreements, however, a court could rule that the initial provisions are no longer valid. 

Student loans can increase the cost of same-sex divorce

Lots of New Jersey residents have student loan debt, and many struggle to get those loans paid off. For some same-sex couples, student loan debt can even factor into divorce timing and expense. Understanding how to avoid that outcome is an important part of moving beyond a same-sex divorce and toward a happier, more financially stable future. 

According to a recent survey, couples with student loan debt spent more on their divorce than those without the same financial burdens. In fact, 13 percent of survey participants even went so far as to blame their student loan debt for the demise of their marriage. On average, divorces that included student loans cost around $2,000 more than those where student loans were not present. 

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