Articles Posted in Property Distribution

divorce-small-business-400-04065501d-300x194Couples rarely enter a marriage thinking that their union will one day end in divorce. Yet, it happens, and when it does the financial consequences can be catastrophic, especially for the small business owner. In this case, divorce not only impacts your immediate family, but also your business partners and employees.

A business can become part of the property battle between divorcing couples. Sole proprietors or those who are in business with their spouse potentially can lose everything. The divorce of a business owner in partnership with non-family members, on the other hand, can be financially damaging to those partners. And then there’s the drain on the company finances, not to mention the emotional toll on the divorcing owner – these can trickle down to affect everyone who works with the company. To learn more about the toll divorce can have on a small business and the strategies that might help lessen that toll, read “In owners’ divorces, businesses can become part of the fight.”

financial-documents-400-09093918d-300x225It isn’t unusual in a marriage for one spouse to assume responsibilities for managing the family finances and investments. Hopefully, that spouse has a good handle on the family’s overall financial health; the non-managing spouse, on the other hand, too often is unaware of details that could serve him or her well when catastrophic events like death or incapacity and even divorce disrupt a marriage. While the death or injury of a spouse can come without notice, divorce is usually preceded by signs. When you first notice those signs, it’s time to assess your financial situation so you can make decisions that will lead to your financial security now and in the future.

In her article, “3 Documents Women Investors Need Before a Divorce,” author Leslie Thompson discusses specific documents that can help you accomplish this. Although geared toward women, this advice is beneficial for anyone who’s headed for divorce without a clear understanding of their assets and liabilities.

credit-card-debt-400-04377239d-300x200Marriage is a partnership, therefore, it is not unusual for couples to share both assets and liabilities while they are together, but what happens in a divorce? Usually spouses, with the help of their lawyers, will work to reach agreements for the distribution of property and other assets. The court may intervene if amicable agreements can’t be reached. However, the distribution of debt, particularly credit card debt, is a different story.

Depending on the specific circumstances of a divorce, the court may make determinations on the repayment of debt. For instance, the court may rule one spouse is solely liable for the debt repayment, or it can rule on the percentage of liability each spouse holds for the satisfaction of their debt. That ruling, however, does not negate the original terms of the credit agreement. Because credit cards represent a contractual agreement between card issuer and cardholder (i.e., the person in whose name the card was issued), credit card companies hold the cardholder ultimately responsible for any and all payments due on the card. That holds true even if the charges were made by someone else, such as an authorized card user. If a court rules someone other than the cardholder is responsible for debt repayment, it is up to the cardholder to see that ruling is enforced.

To learn more about divorce and credit card obligations and the recourse you may have, read “This is how credit card debt gets split up in a divorce.”

atty-meeting-prep-400-04880101d-201x300For many people, the decision to divorce comes after months or even years of assessing their situation and giving careful consideration to all other options. But, no matter how long you have lived with the possibility of divorce, taking that first step to end your marriage is very emotional. Emotions can easily cloud your judgment and prevent you from thinking clearly so, before you meet with your divorce attorney for the very first time, it pays to be prepared.

In order for a divorce attorney to successfully defend your rights in a divorce, he or she must be aware of the facts relating to your situation and have a clear understanding of the marital assets and debts involved. Providing your attorney access to this information from the start can help you avoid delays in your divorce proceedings. For an idea of what kind of documentation would be helpful, read “What To Bring To Your First Appointment.”

 

Photo of pen lying on top of mortgage application illustrating need to refinance after divorceNegotiations have ended, your divorce is final and your ex gets the house. It’s over . . . or is it?

Couples often make the mistake of assuming that if the marital home is awarded to one spouse in the divorce negotiations, the other spouse no longer has any obligations regarding mortgage payments. That’s not quite true. Removing a name from the title and the mortgage are two different things. And as long as both names remain on the mortgage, both spouses are responsible for meeting the obligation. Rarely can one person simply assume a joint mortgage. The best solution would be to refinance the mortgage in one spouse’s name.

There are several other reasons refinancing your home after divorce could be beneficial. To learn more, read “Til The House Do Us Part: The Top Five Reasons To Refinance After Divorce.”

This second article from attorney and mediator Rosalyn A. Metzger on Mediation focuses on how the process addresses financial issues involved in divorce. To read the first article, see “The ABC’s of Mediation – Part I: The Process.”

Negotiating Financial Issues

Mediation Financial Issues - photo of notebooks labeled "assets", eyeglasses, pens, and laptop on a tablePart of divorce mediation involves financial issues. Although you won’t need any documents for the first session, you will need to begin assembling financial statements, preferably from the same end date so that the values come from the same time frame. This way, when you reach the financial issues that are part of every divorce, you are prepared. It often can take a while to obtain all of the financial information necessary.

Tax-implications-400-07978565d-300x200Filing for divorce in New Jersey is not complicated, but negotiating financial matters and property distribution issues in the  divorce proceedings can be. As couples simultaneously close the door on one stage of their life and work toward building the next stage, they face a number of decisions that, if not handled correctly, could have significant consequences later. One of the biggest problems is couples often make these decisions based on emotional reactions rather than a full understanding of future implications. This is especially true when it comes to tax matters.

Tax planning should play a prominent role in the divorce process. Unfortunately, the tax implications of many divorce-related decisions are often misunderstood, if not overlooked, by emotionally wrought couples. A recent Forbes magazine article, “Taxes and Family Law: A Cheat Sheet of What You Need To Know” just scratches the surface of some of the things you should understand about taxes and their impact on your divorce process. After reading the article, it’s easy to understand why some people choose to add a tax professional to their divorce team.

gray-divorce-400-05339652d-300x201Gray divorce — the term given to couples age 50 and older who terminate their marriages — seems to be a growing trend.

The National Center for Health Statistics reported that in 2015 there were 10 divorced people for every 1,000 married people age 50 and older in the U.S., compared with 5 divorced people for every 1,000 married people in that age group in 1990. In the 65+ age group, the 2015 divorce rate was 6 for every 1,000 married persons, which was 3 times the 1990 rate. See “A costly ‘gray divorce’ can upend your retirement plans.”

While couples at this stage of life may not have to worry about such issues as child custody and support, divorce still takes an emotional toll and can endanger the couple’s retirement funds. If these funds are not properly divided and transferred, the couple risks tax consequences and possible penalties that can be devastating to their financial well-being. To learn about important steps to take to protect your retirement funds in the event of a gray divorce, read “5 Retirement Moves for Recently Divorced Couples.”

Protecting family-owned business from divorce - photo of couple standing outside storefront of grocery businessFamily-owned or controlled businesses are an important segment of the American economy. They account for about 90% of all American businesses, from large retailers like Walmart to small mom-and-pop shops, and produce more than half of the country’s gross domestic product. These businesses face all the same risks as publicly-owned businesses do – growing competition, changing technology, increasing costs of supplies, and the like. On top of that they face one more risk that their publicly-owned counterparts do not – divorce.

What happens to a business that is owned by a couple facing divorce depends largely on the steps the couple took, if any, to protect the business before their marital troubles began. Often the family has the majority of its assets tied up in the business, so one spouse buying the other out is not always an option. A recent MarketWatch article, “How to protect your family business during a divorce,” discusses different options available to couples who want to protect the businesses they worked so hard to create.

photos of two pet dogs standing next to owner's legs, all wearing bright green rain bootsFor an animal lover, a pet is more than a possession – it’s a member of the family, and a beloved one at that. But what happens to that “family member” when the family unit dissolves through divorce?

Most courts don’t share the sentiment that pets are family but rather view pets as property. However, this “property” is not as easy to distribute as say a house or a car. When it comes to deciding the post-divorce fate of a pet, courts consider the people involved rather than the animal: Who paid for the pet? Who cares for the pet? If children are involved, should the animal stay with them? That’s about to change, however, for one state.

Alaska recently became the first state to amend its divorce statutes so that courts are now required to consider the well-being of the animal in divorce cases (read, “In a first, Alaska divorce courts will now treat pets like children”). The amendments will even allow judges to award joint custody of a pet, if that arrangement is in best interest of the animal, and to include pets when issuing protective orders in cases of domestic violence. Time will tell if more states will follow this lead.