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Dealing with taxes during a divorce

Spouses in Texas who are thinking about divorce should consider the financial issues linked to the end of their marriage. Financial concerns often keep people in an unhappy relationship long after they first want a divorce. However, some of the most important financial issues that come with the dissolution of a marriage aren't about which spouse walks away with which assets. Divorce can have a significant effect on taxes, so it is important to consider tax issues when going through the asset division process.

Tax laws are changing for people who finalize their divorces after the new year begins in 2019. Under the current tax structure, people who pay alimony can deduct that sum from their annual return while recipients of spousal support must pay taxes on the income. This will all change; instead, payors will no longer be able to deduct their support payments, and the recipient will receive the income tax-free. However, it's not a boon to recipients; the tax deductions were a strong incentive to achieve a generous settlement in terms of spousal support. As a result, many couples are working to reach a final settlement before Dec. 31.

Can I represent myself in my own divorce?

When divorce comes knocking on your door, you may find it tempting to get the whole thing over with and file for dissolution of your marriage using forms from the internet, or by otherwise representing yourself in your divorce case. After all, your friend's brother did it, and everything turned out fine for him, right? How complicated can getting divorced be?

Technically speaking, you can represent yourself in your divorce, whether you use downloaded forms or not. However, just because this is technically permissible does not mean it is wise, especially in Texas. Texas divorce laws are substantially different from divorce laws in many other states, and those differences do not make the process easier to navigate.

Child custody after parents are deported

Kinship caregiving is becoming more common for children in Texas and across the country. There are a number of factors that have led to the placement of kids with grandparents, aunts, uncles and other extended family members. Compared to foster homes, children generally have better outcomes and stronger support when placed within family networks. While some of these situations are formalized through the state's child custody system, many informal kinship care agreements also exist outside state documentation.

Across the country, the opioid epidemic has been responsible for a significant rise in the number of children being placed with grandparents or other extended family members. One study indicated that there has been a 9 percent rise in the number of kids being raised by their grandparents in the past decade. Now, another situation could affect the number of kids in kinship care -- the Trump administration's immigration enforcement policies. Deportations rose 9 percent in June 2018 compared to one year before, and many deported parents have children who are American citizens. These kids may remain behind with grandparents or other family members to protect them from persecution or allow them to enjoy better opportunities.

How tax law changes could affect gray divorces

Retirement accounts often become a primary asset when individuals aged 50 and older in Texas choose to end a marriage, even more so than the marital home and other commonly sought-after assets. For older individuals planning to untie the knot in 2019 or beyond, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will change how certain assets are handled. The most noticeable change is with alimony payments, which will no longer be deductible for the payer and claimable as income for the recipient.

In a high-asset divorce involving an older couple, negotiating the amount of alimony is still considered a relatively easy process even when tax law changes are considered. The biggest point of contention with divorce settlements of this nature is from where the money will come. It's common in later-in-life divorces for the spouse who stayed home to raise the children to seek the marital home. However, some older individuals may benefit more from selling the home and putting the funds into an appropriate retirement account.

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