Articles Posted in Marriage

Couple with house key walking up to white home with window flower boxes.Married life may not be for everyone, but living with your significant other comes with its own set of financial challenges. Sure, cohabitating couples enjoy some of the same financial benefits their married friends do, namely shared living expenses: one mortgage or rent, shared utilities, combined grocery bills, etc. However, this type of living arrangement has some economic drawbacks.

Did you know that if you aren’t married but open a joint bank account with your partner, half of all deposits you make to that account are considered a gift to your partner? And, if over a certain dollar amount, those “gifts” must be declared as such on your partner’s tax return? Also, despite your commitment to each other, you are not considered family when it comes to medical matters, nor will you be each other’s default beneficiary. Before committing to not tying the knot, be sure you have the right legal documents in place to protect your financial interests. To learn more, read the Forbes article, “Unmarried and Living Together? Be Aware of These Financial Challenges.”

Divorce-Tax-Returns-FL-blog-300x200It’s that time of year again when most of us are sitting down to prepare our income tax returns, or at least thinking about it. If you are newly divorced, don’t neglect to consider the impact that change may have on your tax returns.

One of the biggest changes may be in your filing status. Don’t be in too much of a hurry to check the ‘filing single’ box, though. Filing status is determined largely by your marital status as of December 31 of the tax year you are filing for. So, unless your divorce was finalized in 2022, you still need to select one of the married options when filling out your returns this year.

Filing status isn’t your only consideration. There may be changes in reportable income and deductions that you should be aware of, as well. To learn more, read “Do You Know How Divorce Will Affect Your Taxes?

virus-family-400-07327825d-300x200During these unsettling times, now is when you need to focus on your family and to make sure we all are doing everything we can to stay healthy. For information on how you can best protect your family from the Coronavirus, please visit the CDC website.

Please visit our website page for more information about Kearns Rotolo Law’s response to the Coronavirus.

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wedding-costs-400-04628844d-300x199If your dreams of the perfect wedding include lavish venues, exclusive designer gowns, gourmet food and star-studded entertainment, your marriage could be in trouble before it even starts.

A recent survey found that almost half of those couples who went into debt to finance a lavish wedding eventually considered divorce, citing money as the reason. That’s in sharp contrast to their more frugal counterparts who managed to keep their wedding plans within budget; less than 10% of the couples in this group later considered divorce. Why would the cost of a wedding have any affect on the longevity of the marriage? Read “Couples who go into wedding debt are more likely to consider divorce” to find out.

Photo of "To Do" list written in black ink on white paper with green markerYoung New Jerseyans are waiting longer to walk down the aisle, get married and start families, according to the 2011-2015 American Community Survey. And that’s if they get married at all.

Data from the survey indicated that the median age of New Jerseyans getting married for the first time increased by about one year since the last survey was conducted and that the number of residents that have never married has increased by about 5%.  Read “The slow death of marriage in New Jersey” to learn about the factors contributing to this trend as well as the future financial implications it can have.

naem-change-400-04417572dChanging your name in New Jersey requires court approval following a process designed to ensure the name change isn’t being requested for unlawful or deceptive purposes. The exception to this is a name change due to marriage and/or divorce.

Adopting your spouse’s name after marriage or resuming your maiden name after divorce can be effected socially simply by using your new name. Officially, however, there are certain agencies, such as the Social Security Administration and the Motor Vehicle Commission, you must notify in order to change your name. Your certified marriage license serves as proof of your right to use your spouse’s name if you so choose. In relation to divorce, your desire to resume use of your maiden name should be stated in the divorce decree. This document can then be used when applying to the appropriate agencies for your name change.

Planning a wedding or negotiating a divorce are complex, emotional events, so it would be easy to overlook an agency or institution you should notify about your pending name change. This name change checklist can help.

prenuptials-400-08291531dThere was a time when prenuptial agreements were associated mostly with celebrities and the very wealthy. Today, however, couples frequently wait longer to marry. They enter these unions after first building careers and accumulating financial assets independently. Conversely, they also bring individual financial liabilities to the relationship as well. As a result, prenuptial agreements have become more commonplace now than they were with previous generations.

Discussions about money can be uncomfortable for even the most compatible couples, yet financial issues are often cited as at least a contributing factor in relationship break-ups. The time to discuss who owns what and how money should be handled during the marriage is before the couple says, “I do.”

What should be included in a prenuptial agreement depends not only on the terms the couple has agreed upon, but also on the laws governing marital property, divorce and alimony in the state where the couple resides. Jamie Schoen’s article, “5 Things to Think About When Considering a Prenup,” poses questions couples should ask themselves before drawing up this legal agreement.

children of same-sex marriage; photo of young girl kneeling on park benchWhen the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision that paved the way for legally-sanctioned, same-sex marriages, it granted couples in those unions equal accessibility to some of the same rights traditional married couples enjoyed. These rights include, but are not limited to, such things health insurance coverage under family plans, social security and insurance survivor’s benefits, and involvement in end-of-life medical decisions. While the Court’s ruling did protect spouses in same-sex relationships, it seems to have failed to go far enough to protect children of those relationships.

In traditional relationships, there is such a thing as marital presumption. This presumption means that with children born into a marriage, a legal parent-child relationship is recognized between the children and their mothers’ husbands regardless of the existence of any biological relationship between the two. This same presumption does not exist for children of same-sex marriages.

Beyond denying certain financial and health benefits to children of same-sex marriage, the lack of this presumption could prove disruptive to the child’s family life as well. In traditional marriages, if something were to happen to a child’s biological mother, the father would still be considered a legal parent. That is not the case in same-sex marriages where the non-biological parent has no marital presumption. Adoption is not always the answer either since a number of states fail to recognize adoptions by same-sex spouses.

marriage-waiting-periodCouples looking to marry in the State of New Jersey must apply for a marriage license and sit out the 72-hour mandatory waiting period before the license is issued. For most couples, that three-day waiting period is a minor interruption in their quest to begin their new life together as a family. However, there are certain emergency situations, such as illness or military assignment, where the delay can be a major hindrance. Under circumstances such as these, the waiting period can be waived by a Superior Court Judge.

The process for applying for a waiver is feasible under most conditions, but if one of the partners is suffering a terminal illness, the time it takes the other partner to seek the waiver can be significant. That may soon change as a result of a new bill, approved earlier this month by a State Assembly panel, that would make it easier for a couple dealing with a terminal illness to obtain a waiver. Read Matt Friedman’s story, “Don’t make terminally ill patients wait to get married, N.J. Assembly panel says” for details.

pre-nupsA pre-nuptial agreement may not conjure up the most romantic thoughts, but in today’s world of career-oriented couples who wait later in life to marry, it can be a very reasonable and even responsible step to take before the wedding. Pre-nuptial agreements, if properly drawn up and executed, can provide protection for the assets of both parties. Like with any legal agreement, however, it isn’t a good idea to blindly sign on the dotted line; make sure you understand what is being asked and offered in the agreement. For an idea of what to do if your significant other asks you to sign a prenuptial agreement, read Jillian Kramer’s article,  “He Asked You to Sign a Pre-Nup … Now What?” appearing in the online edition of Brides magazine.

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