Law Offices of Kristine M. Demo-Vazquez, P.C.
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How can I protect my right to my spouse's retirement account?

A couple that has spent their life together in New York has probably accumulated assets throughout their marriage. Retirement accounts are often the most valuable assets they own. Therefore, figuring out how to divide these accounts can become a contentious issue during divorce proceedings, whether they are considered high asset or not. Since there may be applicable tax implications and their division is generally a complicated issue, the handling of retirement accounts during marriage dissolution is often improperly dealt with, which is why couples going through a divorce should understand the repercussions of their financial decisions.

If one party has an employer-sponsored retirement plan such as a 401(k) or a pension plan, then the other party is legally entitled to part of the balance as long as their isn't any prenuptial or postnuptial agreement stating otherwise. But what happens if only one spouse is working? In those circumstances, how can the other spouse protect their share of a retirement account? Through a Qualified Domestic Relations Order.

Student loans contributing to divorces

Financial discussions and concerns have the ability to taint a couple's marriage. It is no secret that money issues cause tensions in marriages, but a recent study has shown that college debt is becoming a thorny issue for couples to work through, and it often results in marriage dissolution.

The survey was conducted by an online site that helps students manage their college debt. Its results showed that more than one-third of borrowers who responded said college debt and financial woes such as credit card debt contributed to their divorce. One in eight, or 13 percent of the 800 surveyed, said student loans ended their relationship. New York residents may not be aware of this, but the average outstanding balance on student loans when one graduates has gone up by more than 60 percent in the last decade. The percentage of borrowers who owe $50,000 or more has gone up over the last 10 years as well.

How vulnerable to challenges is your prenuptial agreement?

Many strong marriages begin with a well-crafted prenuptial agreement. This gives each spouse a sense of security in case of divorce, and protects the marriage from pressures that can arise out of shared debts or other liabilities. However, if a marriage dissolves, a poorly constructed prenuptial agreement can cause more problems than it prevents.

When a couple signs a prenuptial agreement, they usually have each other's interests in mind, or at least view each other more favorably than they do when divorce is on the table. By the time that divorce becomes a possibility or likelihood, each party may disagree strongly with the terms of the agreement and may challenge it.

Experienced counsel can help navigate divorce process

Making the decision to end one's marriage is often a difficult one for most New York couples. When the decision is finally made, people usually want to move on as quickly as possible to begin their new life on their own terms, which means they want to untangle their assets and finalize their child custody arrangements as soon as possible. This can be possible with the help of experienced divorce attorneys, such as those at the Law Offices of Kristene M Demo-Vazquez PC.

While it may seem tempting to rush through discussions and finalize divorce settlements just to end the process, the reality is that these decisions carry significant weight for the long-term that many people do not realize. For example, a once stay-at-home mother may struggle to suddenly find employment upon divorce, meaning she may need temporary or long-term spousal and child support. Similarly, as mentioned last week, knowing the date on which assets will be valued can better ensure that property division is carried out more equitably.

On what date are assets valued on for property division?

Dividing property during a divorce is often so complicated that disputes around it can turn am amicable divorce into a acrimonious one. Decisions such as 'who gets to keep the house' and 'who gets the stock portfolio' are important ones that can lead to hours of wrangling in a conference room, but many New York residents may not even be aware of a further complicating factor in property division-the date on which the assets will be valued.

In order to ensure assets are divided as per property division laws in the state, it is important to know to make sure they are valued accurately. For this to take place, a valuation date must be chosen-the point in time at which the asset is going to be assigned a dollar value. Seems straightforward enough-the couple picks a date and assesses an asset's value on that date. However, as with even the least complicated aspect of a divorce, even this can become a bone of contention between a divorcing couple.

Plan at the start of school year to avoid family disputes later

Back to the routines, the packed lunches, the pickup and drop-off coordination and the signup sheets-its back to school time across the country and New York residents are probably trying to ease their children as well as themselves back into the routine. One way to ease the transition is to get together with a former spouse and try to plan the next year in advance as much as possible to avoid child custody or support disputes that could soil the amicable relationship divorced parents are trying to maintain.

The school calendar is pretty much laid out for parents at the beginning of the year-breaks, early dismissals and days off are pointed out and should be planned for. Who will have the kids on which day off and who is going to manage those childcare expenses? Additionally, who will be with the children if they get sick and need to be picked off and who is going to cover those expenses? What activities is the child signing up for and who is going to transport the child to and fro these activities? These need to be sorted out as much as possible in the beginning of the school year and shared between parents.

Can I receive spousal support during my divorce proceedings?

One common worry a person going through a divorce may have is that they are not earning enough to be able to support themselves, and therefore are not financially independent. Spousal support, also known as alimony or maintenance, is one way a spouse can continue to receive financial support after their marriage ends from the spouse who earns more money, so the receiving spouse has the ability to gain the skills necessary to become self-sufficient.

Though the common belief is that maintenance begins after the divorce is finalized, in New York courts can also grant temporary maintenance while the divorce case is pending. The aim of this is to provide the receiving spouse with immediate financial assistance by taking into account the standard of living the couple was accustomed to before the marriage ended. This form of support lasts until the judge makes a final maintenance order.

Are you ready for big changes in alimony law?

Working through the complex process of divorce is rarely easy, but for those who deal with alimony, now is definitely time to pay attention to the details. On January 1, 2019, major changes in the federal tax code take effect, and the impact on future alimony payers is significant.

For many years, paying alimony has weighed heavily on the pockets of the spouses who pay it, but they could take some financial comfort in knowing that those payments were tax-deductible, giving them a bit of a break come tax season. However, under the new law, alimony payments are no longer deductible for those whose divorces finalize on or after January 1st.

The benefits of prenuptial agreements

Prenuptial agreements are often accompanied by a negative stigma and can fall victim to misconceptions. However, they really should be understood as a useful tool for couples considering marriage. A prenuptial agreement can be helpful for any couple, not just wealthy couples. Prenuptial agreements have many advantages for any couple entering marriage, so it is useful to understand them.

Prenuptial agreements serve as a tool to help couples in New York prepare for marriage and address concerns down the road if the marriage does not work out. Unfortunately, the statistics do not favor all marriages working out, which is why prenuptial agreements can be useful to help couples contemplating marriage protect their interests.

Points to keep in mind when negotiating a high asset divorce

Getting a divorce, especially a high asset divorce, can be emotionally challenging. However, it is important not to allow emotions to interfere with the high asset divorce process. High asset divorces can present challenges on top of the usual divorce process. Therefore, couples in New York with significant holdings may find it useful to know how to approach their high asset divorce.

During the high asset divorce process, divorcing spouses should understand what property they have and prioritize what they need in the divorce. One way to do that is to have a valuation expert help them with the divorce process to ensure their assets are valued accurately. Most valuation experts are financial experts, and additional experts may be needed for investment-related concerns.

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