Who Gets The Tax Refund?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

If you are going through a divorce, chances are you filed your taxes married filing separately.  This could cost one or the other of you some money.  If you filed married filing jointly, you may be getting a refund.  The refund check will be made out to the both of you, but your spouse can put it into a joint account and then abscond with the funds.

Other things to watch out for is who takes the child exemptions and head of household.  If you are living separately and apart, but are still married, whoever has the children will probably take these exemptions, even if the other spouse is still paying all the bills. 

There are many underhanded things a devious spouse can do with the IRS obligations and refund monies, so be sure to talk to your lawyer and tax advisor in advance.  A written agreement between the parties is the best case alternative regarding tax issues and the IRS.

For more information call one of the divorce lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561 835 9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at www.familylawwpb.com for more information.

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Taxes And Same Sex Couples

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

It’s tax time and refunds are not yet in the mail.  We are still doing our taxes or asking for extensions.  For same sex couples, the issues are a bit different because they are not viewed under the law as a traditional family. 

Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships give some couples the tax benefits of families, but they are tricky.  Health insurance issues, what is deductible and what is not, head of household deductions, dependent deductions, at state and federal levels all add to the murky waters of tax law. 

Also, when same sex relationships end, property division can have serious tax ramifications.  It is important to realize that same sex couples are not afforded the same discounts and advantages as married couples.  But they are benefitted by having a skilled lawyer and accountant in drafting cohabitation agreements at the beginning of a relationship and in drafting division of property and benefits at the end of a relationship.  For more information, call one of the lawyers at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561 835 9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at www.familylawwpb.com.

Tax Issues in Divorce.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

There are many ramifications of a divorce settlement, and one that can have enormous effect… is taxes.  Present value of future monies, businesses, income, child credits, and more, need to be considered in a settlement proposal for the actual effects of the settlement.

Divorce lawyers generally do not have a tax law background and in fact there are usually disclaimers to that effect.   Issues to consider include: 

 1.  head of household exemptions 

2. child tax credits

3. business valuations  

4. medical and dental expenses for dependents  

5. alimony as taxable to the recipient, and child support as taxable to the payor     

6. property transfers incidental to a divorce  

7.  professional fees paid  

 8.  tax credits  

9.whether or not to file joint tax returns

Most lawyers work with forensic CPAs and tell clients to consult with their tax advisors prior to signing any divorce settlement agreement.  This is because the tax ramifications can have different effects on the equalization of assets and debts than what they actually appear to be.  For more information about this or other divorce topics, consult with one of the attorneys at ROBIN ROSHKIND, P.A. at 561-835-9091 or click on the Firm’s web site at www.familylawwpb.com.

Divorce and taxes…things you need to know.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

If you are contemplating divorce as well as bankruptcy, there are three things that cannot be discharged in bankruptcy court, that being alimony, child support and taxes due the IRS.

While divorce lawyers are not tax advisors, there are many tax ramifications of divorce.  It is helpful, almost imperative, to get an accountant on your side.  Certainly where children are involved, there are the child exemptions as well as head of household tax credits.  Usually the parent with whom the children reside most of the time gets the head of household exemption.

By agreement of the parents, or by court order, the child exemptions can be shared.  This can occur in several ways.  Each parent can take one child  exemption per year if there are just two children.  Or they can rotate total exemptions every other year. 

There are also tax ramifications in valuing assets of the marriage.  For example, if a marital home has equity of $100,000 and there is also a bank account for $100,000, depending upon other circumstances, they may not be of equal value after the tax considerations.  What might seem a fair split on its face, may not be after taxes.  So it is important where there are substantial assets of the marriage to consult a tax advisor as well as your attorney. 

For more information on this or other divorce proceedings, click on the Robin Roshkind, P.A. website at www.familylawwpb.com or set an appointment to consult with one of the attorneys at the Firm by calling 561-835-9091.

Divorcing before the end of the year…why and why not?

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Timing of a divorce often includes many customized factors.  People may wait until the marital home sells before they divorce.  They may wait to divorce when the youngest child goes off to college and is out of the house.  They may wait until just after Christmas???  Yes, often couples decide to divorce at this time of year for tax reasons…or a fresh start to the new year.   It makes life a little simpler for marrieds and singles.

If you are married until December 31, 2008, you must file your 2008 taxes as a married person.  You spent the year married.  You can still file as a couple or as a married filing separately, but you are married in the eyes of the IRS.  If you divorce before the year is out, you must file as a married for 2008, but the good news is in 2009 you can file as a single.  You may also have head of household deductions for children living with you.  And you can tap the child tax exemptions for 2009 if you are the custodial parent, that is the parent with whom the children live for a majority of time. 

Oftentimes, couples rush to divorce court to execute the divorce papers before the year is out.  This also gives a fresh start for the new year.  On the other hand, many couples wait it out…hoping to stay together for the holidays to celebrate as a family, and for the sake of the children.  This puts the marriage into the next year, and couples must file as marrieds even if they are only married for a small portion of the new year.  There are many reasons to divorce before the year is out.  Talk to your tax advisor before you call in the lawyers.  For more information, click on the website of Robin Roshkind, P.A. at www.familylawwpb.com or consult with one of the attorneys at the Firm by calling 561-835-9091.

Custody, Child Support and other Children’s Issues in Divorce.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire, West Palm Beach, Florida

Many issues in divorce situations can be settled by the husband and wife, who agree to split assets and debts of the marriage.  But one issue that almost never settles, and therefore, has to be litigated, is CUSTODY.  The question becomes, “Where are the children going to live?” “Which parent is going to have day to day responsibility for the children?”  What about parenting styles?  If there are two good parents, this becomes a very difficult question.  In other cases, where one of the parents is an alcoholic, drug addict, neglects the children, or otherwise is an inferior parent for mental health reasons, or whatever, these cases are clearer.  But in cases where there are two decent parents fighting for custody of the children, it is the job of the judge to decide where the best interests of the children best lie.   Custody, as a term of art, is being replaced in new laws using the term “parental time sharing” or “parenting plan”.  However, the children must live somewhere, and that is usually where the custodial parent resides, for all intents and purposes.

Aside from custody, child support is paid to that custodial parent by the other parent. The amount is statutory, calculated in Florida by using the combined monthly incomes of the husband and the wife.  Florida Statute Chapter 61.30 is for your reference, the child support statute. Lawyers have special softward to determine the amount of child support in a case, taking into consideration all other deductions.

Speaking of deductions, here are the other issues in a divorce case involving children.  Who gets the head of household tax deduction yearly?  Who takes the dependency exemptions on their tax returns?  Which parent gets the child care tax credit?  Which parent covers the children’s health insurance for a credit?  What about uncovered medical expenses for the children?  Who pays for private school or sleepaway summer camp?  What about other activties like tennis lessons or piano lessons?  What happens if one parent wants to move far away?  What if the “custodial parent” wants to move away WITH the children?

If the husband and wife cannot agree to these ongoing concerns of the children, then the judge will decide the family’s future.  For more information about children’s issues in divorce, call the law firm of Robin Roshkind, P.A. for a consultation with one of our attorneys at 561-835-9091.  Or view the web site at www.familylawwpb.com.

DOMESTIC PARTNER AGREEMENTS…What they mean to you.

By Robin Roshkind, Esquire – West Palm Beach, Florida

There are many reasons to legally marry.  But there are also many legal reasons to live together under one roof and not marry.

One reason to not marry is if one partner is getting alimony payments.  Generally, by operation of law, alimony ceases upon remarriage of the recipient.   Another reason not to marry is to be able to continue to collect social security benefits.  A third reason is that marriage is prohibited among gay and lesbian couples in the state of Florida.  They can’t marry, at least not yet and until the laws change.

Whether the relationship is heterosexual or homosexual, in addition to the emotional bonds between unmarrieds, this segment of the population CAN still protect their legal rights by executing a domestic partnership agreement.

These legal documents are contracts that set forth in legal terms, the close relationship that takes place under one roof.  They are used as proof for health insurance coverage and other company benefits of one partner to the other.  They allow for beneficiary designations, visits in the hospital, property rights, and also responsibilities of one partner to the other and the household.  They are wholly recognized and enforcable in a court of law.  They are for life partners who are in a long term relationship but choose not to marry or cannot marry. 

Issues that need to be addressed by this segment of society also include power of attorney, which allows one partner to legally stand in the shoes of the other, to sign contracts, collect rent, write checks and pay bills, open and close bank accounts, credit card accounts, purchase insurance, buy or sell property, etc.

Health care surrogacy agreements provide for health care decision making should one partner be incapacitated, unconscious or unable to make medical decisions for themselves. 

Pre need guardianship agreements are legal documents that establish one partner as legal guardian over the other and his or her property, in advance.  These agreements go into effect when and if the need arises.

Living wills are legal documents that designate who should make the decision and when to “pull the plug” should one partner become in a vegitative state.   Oftentimes a partner designates the other partner and the treating physician/s to make this decision jointly.

Cohabitation agreements set forth in a legal contract, who pays for what in the household, and how the assets and debts are to be split should the relationship fail.  There can be no divorce if there is no marriage, so cohabitation agreements serve the purpose of the prenuptial agreements for unmarrieds.

The BIG POINT is this:  IF YOU ARE LIVING WITH A PARTNER IN A CLOSE RELATIONSHIP AND ARE NOT GOING TO MARRY, THERE ARE STEPS YOU CAN TAKE AND SHOULD TAKE TO PROTECT YOURSELF AND YOUR PARTNER UNDER THE LAW.  For more information go to the web site of Robin Roshkind, P.A. at www.familylawwpb.com or consult with one of our attorneys by calling for an appointment today.  561-835-9091.