Kajko, Weisman & Colasanti, LLP

Massachusetts And New Hampshire Law Blog

Ways to keep your assets safe from a divorce

Do you fear that a divorce may end up taking away a piece of land or a vehicle you love and cherish, or deplete you of much of your financial capital? While some couples may have this concern, even Massachusetts couples who do not even think divorce is a remote possibility have avenues available to protect their assets before a separation actually does occur.  

According to a piece run in Forbes, composing a prenuptial agreement is one way to ensure your assets will be protected. However, not all prenuptials are ironclad. A judge may invalidate a prenuptial agreement if it was signed under duress, or if not all the assets owned by a spouse are disclosed. The Forbes article recommends consulting with a knowledgeable lawyer to make sure the prenup can stand up to court challenges.

Can alimony be deducted on your taxes?

If you are someone who has recently undergone a divorce in Massachusetts and are required to pay alimony under a divorce settlement, one of the important questions you may have is whether you can deduct your alimony payments on your taxes. According to Findlaw, the answer is yes. Alimony can be deducted on the payer’s taxes because the other spouse receives the money as income. However, the payments you deduct on your tax form must actually qualify as alimony, as not all payments involved in a divorce actually can be counted as alimony or can be tax deducted.

The IRS states that payment qualifies as alimony if the payment meets certain conditions. These payments must be made under a divorce arrangement, whether it is a divorce decree, a written agreement of separation or a separation decree separate from the divorce decree. If the payment is made under these conditions, there are further requirements to follow. For example, a payment made under a divorce or separation decree must be made to the divorced or separated spouse, or at least for that person.

Can an ex stop alimony payments after retirement?

Under the new Massachusetts alimony reform laws, your spousal support agreement is likely to be written in such a way that regular payments stop after the supporting spouse retires. There are, however, certain exceptions and special cases.

The first major exception to your ability to execute post-retirement termination of alimony payments under the new law concerns modified judgments. If your divorce happened before 2012, the year the legislature enacted the reforms, then it is unlikely you or your spouse would be able to modify your agreement under the terms of the new law. 

What are the types of alimony?

If you are divorcing in Massachusetts, one thing you may need to think about is alimony. There are several different kinds of alimony and different reasons it is ordered. Understanding all these details can better enable you to strike the right alimony deal during your divorce negotiations. 

Mass.gov states that alimony can be awarded to a husband or wife and may be modified even after the divorce is final. In many cases, modifications occur to end the payments or change the amount. This may be done if circumstances have changed, the person receiving the payments gets remarried or full retirement age is reached by the person making payments. 

Why buyout agreements help when business partners divorce

When Massachusetts couples go into business together, sometimes if that marital relationship ends, it can have ramifications for the business the two jointly own. In a divorce litigation, a company owned by a divorcing couple could end up dissolved or sold off if the spouses contest ownership of the business or its assets. However, high asset divorce does not have to destroy a couple’s business if the couple elects to sign a buy sell agreement.

According to Findlaw, a buy sell agreement, which is also called a buyout agreement, can be made between all of the partners of a business in which they spell out what will happen in the event their partnership is altered. Specifically, buy sell agreements establish what happens when one or more partners leave the company. In the agreement, partners can state that one partner can be bought out at an amount determined by the value of the ownership interest. The agreement may also state the circumstances that trigger buyouts, and who can buy the partnership interest. It may be one of the partners or even an outsider if the partners wish.

Alimony Reform Act--A General Overview

Massachusetts lawmakers put alimony reform laws into effect several years ago, changing the landscape of the way the state courts handled spousal support. Some of the language of the reform act is different than that of comparable laws.

WGBH published an interesting retrospective piece on the Alimony Reform Act, explaining the way legal interpretation changed over time. The retroactive effects of the act on existing alimony agreements were a significant subject of debate, with a focus on the section about retirement age and how that plays into durational limits.

Can child support take your tax refund?

The state of Massachusetts takes child support collection seriously. If you owe back child support, you should expect to see it taken out of your tax return. The state has the right to petition the Bureau of Fiscal Service, which issues the refunds, to request a deduction based on your owed back child support, according to the IRS.

When money is taken from your refund, it is called an offset. The offset is requested by the child support agency based on your child support payment records. The agency has every right under the law to take some or all of your refund to pay for back child support obligations. You may or may not be notified beforehand that this offset will occur.

Are fathers facing bias in family court?

It has long been said that fathers get treated badly in family courts in Massachusetts. There are many people who believe that dads do not get the same level of respect for their involvement in their children's lives. It is even thought that courts automatically award custody to mothers unless the fathers can prove they are unfit. These are outdated ideas and not likely what is actually happening in family court.

According to Slate, family courts in previous decades operated on the idea that families generally were structured with dad working and earning a living for the family while mom stayed home and took care of the kids. That was how things worked back then, but it is no longer true, and the courts realize that. Courts now seek to find a good balance. They now know that by awarding custody to only one parent, it is detrimental to the children. 

Why is your child support payment on hold?

Child support in Massachusetts can be tricky to understand. It gets more difficult when you realize that you have stopped getting support even though your child's other parent has been paying it. This often happens due to a hold being placed on your account. When this happens, you should be able to get information explaining why the account is on hold.

The Department of Revenue explains child support holds may occur for a few different reasons. Part or all of a payment may be put on hold if the payment is made by check and is over $5,000. Another reason could be your child's other parent paid too much support so the overage amount is then held until your next payment date. Paying through a check may also result in a hold if previous checks have not cleared. If you or the other parent is requesting an action on the account, then payments may also be placed on hold. 

Is jail the right punishment for non-payment of child support?

There are many ways Massachusetts handles parents who do not fulfill their child support obligations. In most cases, this involves extra fees and fines. Sometimes cases are handled in more serious ways, including taking the person's driver's license or putting them in jail. You may be wondering why someone would be jailed and if that really is the right way to handle this situation. 

Consider this. You have fallen behind on your child support because you have been unemployed or you have had your hours cut at work. You have not been able to ask for a review of your case or otherwise been able to get your support obligation revised to match your financial situation. This has led to you falling way behind on your support payments. You finally get a good paying job and can start to pay back the support, but it is too late. A warrant has been issued for your arrest for the back support. How would you feel?

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