GOP Tax Proposal could eliminate alimony exclusion starting 2018

Click here for the  article from Forbes.  If passed, this could affect any maintenance agreements which start in 2018. Once that started before 2018 would not be affected.  Those that were negotiated in 2017 but not scheduled to start until 2018 may need to be revised to have the intended after-tax impact.

I am hopeful that the Senate will block it, but we need to keep tabs on it.

Think before you speak…

what to sayDivorce is hard.  So hard that we often forget that our words are powerful and can shape the outcome in an unintended way.  Often we are hurt, angry or grieving, and it is difficult for us not to be hurtful when we speak to our spouse during the divorce process.  I have found that it is helpful to remember this saying, and to meditate on it for a bit before we speak.   We will often have a better outcome overall if we do this.

It is from the book “The Healing Garden: A Place of Peace” by Gwen Nyhus Stewart. The quote: “Eknath Easwarden wrote, “The Sufis advise us to speak only after our words have managed to pass through three gates.  At the first gate, we ask ourselves, Are these words true?  If so, we let them pass on; if not, back they go.  At the second gate we ask, Are they necessary?  If so, we let them pass on; if not, back thy go.  At the third gate, we ask, Are they kind?  If so, we let them pass on.  If not, back they go.”

The Dalai Lama says, “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”

Saving Money During the Divorce Process

There are ways you can save money in the divorce process.  However, you must be careful that if you save too much money in the short term (by not getting good advice), it may cost you dearly in the long term.
1.  Use your brain.  Don’t let your hurt and disappointment drive you to take rash decisions in retaliation.
2.  When advised to do things that will upset or damage your spouse at the beginning or during the divorce process, ask, “how will this affect my ability to achieve my desired outcomes?” and “what will it cost, both in financial and emotional terms, for me to do this?”  For example, does it really make sense to file a temporary injunction against your spouse if there are no real grounds to do so?  Do you really need to take $10,000 from the joint bank account and put it into your own account without getting agreement.
3.  As one attorney told me, if someone tells you something about the law that does not make sense, then it is probably not true.  For example, if you move out of the house where your spouse and children are, but are still keeping contact with your children, you will not be charged with abandonment.
4.  If you can settle your case without retaining attorneys to represent you, you will save a lot of money in professional fees.  You should at least consult with an attorney (sometimes called unbundled legal services) so that you know what your rights and obligations are.
5.  If you get advice from a family law attorney or a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst so that you understand the short and long term financial implications of your potential agreement, then you should be able to make better, more informed decisions and not have nasty surprises one, two or more years down the road.
6.  Get all of the documentation together early  that you are required to provide by the court and have it organized.  If you believe you have a claim for non marital, separate property, then get the evidence you need to support your claim, unless you spouse agrees with your claim without the documentation.
7.  Don’t try to hide assets, or “forget about them”.  It will cost you a lot of money in “discovery” for the attorneys to uncover them.  If it is not found during the course of the divorce, but is suspected later, your spouse can reopen the case – more attorney fees!
8.  You have learned during the course of your marriage how to “push the buttons” of your spouse.  This is not the time to do it.  Think before you speak.   The kinder that you are to each other during the process, the less money you will spend on professional fees and the more likely you will come out with an agreement that you both think is fair. Before you speak, ask yourself these questions.  If the answer is No to any of them, STOP.    Is it truth?  Is it necessary?  Is it kind?
9.  If you need cash, you can often get money from your retirement funds after the divorce without paying the 10% penalty in addition to the normal income tax on the early withdrawal.
10.  Alimony is normally tax deductible to the payor and taxable to the recipient. Child Support is tax neutral.  By increasing alimony you can sometimes save taxes overall and reduce child support.  Both of you could be better off.  Because Child Support is always modifiable by the Court, when alimony ends or reduces, then child support may go up.

Who is Steve McBride?

Greetings!
I am a Divorce Mediator and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (sometimes known as a divorce financial planner).  I am also building a mediation practice focusing on elder care and other senior issues.

While most of my divorce work involves helping couples work through their divorce settlement (both financial and parenting) in a dignified way, I also act as the financial neutral on collaborative divorce cases and as the financial expert on litigation cases.  For more information, see www.divorcefinancecolorado.com.

The development of my elder care mediation practice derives from personal experience as a caregiver for my mother-in-law when she had Alzheimer’s, as well as dealing with a difficult sibling dispute about the care of my mother after her stroke. This area of my practice deals with a wide range of elder issues, including housing and living arrangements, caregiver arrangements, financial management, estate planning, guardianship, elder care transitions and disputes with nursing homes and residential care facilities.  For more information, see my web site www.eldercaremediation-colorado.com.I am a Professional Mediator recognized by the Colorado Council of Mediators and Mediation Organizations (CCMO), a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, Member (and former board member) of Colorado Collaborative Law Professionals, Member of the International Academy of Collaborative Professionals, a board member of Colorado CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) and a member of the Denver and Boulder collaborative law practice groups.

I am a husband, father to Ian and Katie, “bonus dad” to Emily and Annie, grandfather, musician, and artist.

My wife, Jennifer, is a Vice President of Horan and McConaty (www.horancares.com) where she is Director of Grief Support and Community Education.  She is also the Founder of the Heartlight Center, a 501(c)(3) focusing on grief support and professional grief education (www.heartlightcenter.org).

I played rugby for many years in the UK, and upon returning to the US coached the Denver Harlequins men’s team and Cherry Creek high school girl’s team.

Before working in the mediation field, I has a successful career in management consulting, where I was fortunate to help organizations such as Black and Decker, International Paper Company, American Greetings, J. Walter Thompson Advertising, British Gas, Singapore Telecom, BAT, Sun Microsystems, National Westminster Bank, Allied Irish Banks, and the University of Essex. I started my management consulting career with Pittsburgh-based H.B Maynard & Co (one of the oldest management consulting firms in the US, if not the world), and was a consulting partner with Robson Rhodes Chartered Accountants and CEO of Aspen Management Consultants, both in the UK. Most of my work focused on how to improve the performance and productivity of people in organizations through better people management. When I returned to the US in 1999, I worked with what is now DeNargo Capital, a private equity firm owned by my good friends Tom Heule and Pal Berg.
Feel free to contact me at 303 867 1400 or at steve@stevemcbrideconsulting.com.
Thanks for visiting my blog.
Steve