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Family Law Articles

Protecting an inheritance in the event of a divorce

If you receive an inheritance during marriage and later get divorced, does your spouse get to share in it? The answer varies depending on the circumstances. As a recent New Jersey case tells us, a key factor is how you treated the inheritance when you received it. In that case, a married woman received an inheritance when her daughter from a prior marriage passed away. The inheritance consisted of $162,000 in life insurance proceeds and assorted

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Should you file your taxes jointly or separately during a divorce?

One of the benefits of marriage is being able to file your taxes jointly. That’s because you get the benefit of certain tax breaks, such as the child and dependent care tax credit, deductions for college tuition expenses and student loan interest, the deduction of net capital losses and various IRA deductions. But what if you’re in the process of getting divorced? In that case, you need to determine first whether you’re actually eligible to file

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Temporarily delegating your parental authority

Imagine you’re headed off with your spouse for a weeklong vacation in Europe or the Caribbean. You can’t even remember the last time you and your spouse had some adult time away from the kids, and you’ve never left them for this long before. You know they’re in good hands with your good friends. But even when you leave your kids with people you trust, things can come up that only a parent is permitted to

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When should I modify my custody order?

Custody agreements consider factors such as vacation schedules, holidays, monthly or weekly visitation schedules, as well as details related to children’s education, religious activities, extracurricular activities and even sports, based on everybody’s needs at the time of the divorce. However, needs can change, so you might consider modifying your custody order. In most states, custody orders can be modified if there’s been a significant “change in circumstances” and if the current arrangement is no longer in

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Relocating with kids after divorce

How hard would it be for you, as a divorced parent, to relocate with your children? In some states, a parent with custody must give the other parent (whether that parent has shared custody or not) written notice of his or her plans. If the other parent objects, a family court will decide the issue. Elsewhere, the parent seeking to relocate has to petition the court directly for its blessing. In most states, a court looks

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Be sure to have ‘the talk’ with your kids before they leave home

When children turn 18 they are adults, regardless of how mature they actually are. As parents, you’re no longer entitled to access their medical records or make legal decisions for them without their permission. It’s unlikely they will have the real-world experience at that age to handle all medical and financial decisions on their own. This can feel scary, especially if they are leaving home to go to college or to work. It might feel scary

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‘Do it yourself’ divorce is full of risk

“Do-it-yourself” divorce apps and programs for preparing and processing forms have become more popular. While DIY divorce may turn out fine in some cases, it’s full of risk. If your divorce is simple (because it doesn’t involve kids, neither side is seeking alimony or support and you basically agree on how to split property) DIY divorce apps and tools may be OK. It’s still probably not a great idea, since the products cannot predict problems. For

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Wife can’t be forced to sell off property to pay large distribution to husband

A family court judge could not require a wife to liquidate her own separate property in order to pay a large distributive award to her husband, the North Carolina Supreme Court recently decided. The couple, Andrea and William Crowell, married in 1998 and divorced in 2015. Before they married, William started several small businesses that he claimed as his own separate property. Andrea claimed she had in interest in them as marital property. The court found

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Transfer assets to trusts with extreme caution (if at all)

If there’s one thing family courts hate, it’s a spouse who plays dirty by trying to hide assets in the hopes of avoiding having to split them as part of the marital estate. Doing so can bring stiff consequences, such as having to cede a bigger share of marital property, or getting hit with a judgment of contempt, or even criminal fraud charges (for securing property under false pretenses) or perjury charges (you signed your divorce

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Divorce and bankruptcy: which should I file first?

As we all know, life often doesn’t go as planned. Nothing illustrates this more than divorce. Bankruptcy is similar. You made financial plans, but for whatever reason your debts got out of control and you realized you might need a court to protect you from creditors and grant you a fresh start. Money problems and marital problems often go hand-in-hand, so it’s no surprise that divorcing spouses may also be considering filing for bankruptcy. Which should

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