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Birmingham Divorce Law Blog

Rethinking common beliefs about divorce and what follows

One of the most harmful things that spouses can do to themselves at the end of their marriage is to fall into the trap of believing misconceptions about what their single life might look like. In reality, no one knows what the future holds, which underscores how futile it is to obsessively worry about one's post-divorce life. A far better investment of that time would be to turn one's attention to the legal aspects of his or her Alabama divorce.

One of the biggest fears that people have when approaching a divorce is the concept that being single will be a terrible experience. They may fear being alone, or they may hate the thought of having to make new social connections and forge their way in the world as a single person rather than as part of a couple. These fears are rarely based in fact, and they only serve to make spouses anxious and unsettled about their future. For many people, being single turns out to be far more fulfilling than they may have suspected.

Father loses child custody rights after leaving town

When parents are unable to see eye to eye concerning the care and custody of their shared child, things can quickly get out of hand. Child custody is an emotional state of affairs, and parents in Alabama and across the nation struggle to come to terms with having to share time with a former spouse or partner. It is easy to make child custody decisions that are based on emotion rather than reason, but doing so can have long-term detrimental effects to a parent's child custody rights.

An example is found in a West Coast case that has made headlines across the nation. With the consent of the child's mother, a father took his seven-year-old daughter for an out-of-state trip. When the time came to return the child, the father decided that he wanted to keep the girl in his care. At the time, there was no child custody agreement in place between the parents.

Gaining professional financial advice during an Alabama divorce

Understanding the ins and outs of property division options can be a challenge. For many in Alabama, that aspect of divorce is the most difficult to weather. Fortunately, help is available from professionals who are trained in the financial aspects of divorce. Known as certified divorce financial analysts (CDFAs), these advisors can help guide spouses toward the choices that are best suited to their unique needs and goals.  

A CDFA begins by meeting with their client to discuss their current financial standing, their projected financial needs and long-term goals. Next, various property division options will be discussed, with the pros and cons of each explained in detail. Whether it is the cost of maintaining and eventually selling the family home, the tax ramifications of cashing out retirement accounts or the division of marital debt, each decision can be weighed in light of the spouse's financial goals.

Adoption challenged in unique child custody case

When it comes to virtually any legal matter, jurisdiction is everything. This is especially true in family law matters, where the laws can vary from one state to another, and where there could be a clear advantage to having a case heard in Alabama versus a different jurisdiction. An example is found in a child custody case in which an adoption was challenged and eventually overturned.

The case centers on a little girl born to an unmarried couple. Shortly after her birth, the couple had paperwork drawn up to establish the man's paternity. However, within a year the mother decided to place the child for adoption. The father was notified and refused to give his consent.

2 tax issues to consider during an Alabama divorce

Dividing a family's assets is one of the biggest challenges for a divorcing couple. There are multiple approaches that can be taken, and each Alabama couple has a set of goals when it comes to splitting up their accumulated assets. When it comes to brokerage accounts, there are also serious tax consequences associated with various divorce choices. Couples should be aware of the tax obligations that accompany each option and make decisions that preserve the greatest possible share of wealth.

One mistake that many couples make is dividing shares of stock by simply splitting them down the middle. This approach ignores the fact that shares are often bought at different prices. When the time comes to sell those stocks, capital gains tax will be computed based on the difference between the purchase price and the sales price. This means that a spouse who walks away with stocks that were purchased for lower prices could incur a larger tax bill than the spouse who received the higher cost shares, even though the face value of the shares is the same at the time of property division.

New loan type could ease divorce concerns for some spouses

For many divorcing spouses, the primary concern is keeping the family home. Many people have a great deal of time, effort and money invested in their houses, and there are some who are willing to do almost anything to retain the properties during divorce. Unfortunately, retention might not be an option for some in Alabama. A new type of lending product currently being considered by British lenders could change that reality, and many American spouses are waiting to see if the "divorce mortgage" seems likely to cross the Atlantic.

When a couple has built up a significant degree of equity in a home, that equity must be divided during the property division process. This is usually accomplished when the retaining spouse cedes his or her interest in other assets to the departing spouse. However, when there are few assets other than the home, the party who wishes to retain the family home is placed in a difficult financial position.

Child custody and tax ramifications: Tips for parents

Once a family has gone through a divorce and settled matters of custody, most Alabama parents believe that the issue of who can claim a child for tax purposes has also been effectively settled. In reality, however, there are ways that a non-custodial parent can still benefit from tax breaks tied to his or her child. This is an issue that should be considered during divorce and child custody negotiations, as the outcome can have a significant impact on one's taxes.

In order for a non-custodial parent to claim tax breaks based on one or more children, the custodial parent must formally cede his or her right to claim those dependents for that tax year. This can be accomplished by IRS Form 8332. In addition, the parents must be divorced at the end of the applicable tax year, or must have lived apart for at least six months of that year.

A different approach to child custody scheduling

Virtually all Alabama parents, whether divorced or not, are familiar with the basic outline of how divorced parents share custody of their kids. The child or children usually move between the homes of both parents, spending most of their time with one parent while the other receives liberal visitation time on weekends and school holidays. While this child custody arrangement is the most common, it is not the only way that parents can divide their parenting time and responsibilities.

A new trend among divorced parents is known as "birdnesting." This approach flips the traditional model outlined above on its head: the child stays put in one home and the parents rotate in and out of that household. This arrangement allows the child to have all of the stability and security of living within one home (similar to how things were when the family was intact.)

Maintaining good credit during and after an Alabama divorce

One of the most distressing aspects of any divorce is the manner in which the change in family status might affect one's credit standing. Alabama residents need good credit scores to buy homes, purchase vehicles and even to establish utility accounts in their own names. Without the proper degrees of attention and effort, divorce can cause a drop in one's credit score.

One of the most important things for any divorcing spouse to consider is the degree to which he or she is financially entangled with his or her soon-to-be-ex. Many couples share credit cards, bank accounts and loans. Under those circumstances, the financial habits of one spouse can have a significant impact on the credit score of the other. It should also be said that everyone reacts differently to the end of a marriage, and a spouse who has always been careful with money could lash out at his or her partner by making a series of poor credit decisions during the divorce.

How a mortgage is affected by a couple's divorce

One of the primary concerns of any Alabama couple going through divorce is how to divide marital wealth in a manner that is fair and balanced. Often, the family home represents a significant investment during the marriage, and spouses may be at odds over how to handle the disposition of this valuable asset during divorce. Unless both spouses agree to sell the home and divide the proceeds, the mortgage on the home will pose a challenge for both parties.

If one spouse wants to keep the home and the other is willing to walk away, then the retaining spouse will have to come up with some other item(s) of value to make up for the equity that the departing spouse will lose. Even when that hurdle can be crossed, the fact remains that both spouses will still be listed on the mortgage until such time as the loan can be refinanced by in the sole name of the retaining spouse. This can leave the spouse who departs from the home with no ownership interest in the property, but still on the hook from the perspective of the lender if payments are missed.

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