Archive for the ‘Support’ Category

How the 2017 Tax Law Affects Spousal Support

Thursday, February 15th, 2018

By: Jeremy Forrest

You may be aware that Congress passed sweeping changes to the tax law in December 2017. The headlines for almost all news stories about the new law focused on reductions to both personal income tax rates and business income tax rates. Perhaps lost in the mix is an important change to the tax law that affects how spousal support payments are treated on an ex-spouse’s annual income tax return.

Under prior law, when an ex-spouse pays spousal support (“alimony”) to another ex-spouse under a divorce decree or separation agreement, the paying spouse can deduct those payments and the receiving spouse includes spousal support received as income. Congress made a complete reversal of this deduction rule in the 2017 Tax Bill. The new law provides that an ex-spouse paying spousal support cannot deduct spousal support payments from his or her tax return. Further, spousal support payments received are no longer considered income from the ex-spouse receiving those payments.

There are some important things to keep in mind about this change to the law. First and foremost, any existing divorce decree or separation agreement will remain subject to the old deduction rules. So if you are currently paying or receiving spousal support and those payments are going to continue into 2019 and beyond, those spousal support payments are subject to the old rules, where the paying spouse can deduct the payments on their income tax returns and the receiving spouse must include those payments as income received. Second, the new deduction rules take affect with any divorce decree or separation agreement that takes effect after December 31, 2018. Thus, any divorce decrees or separation agreements that take effect during the 2018 calendar year will be subject to the old rules. Lastly, because spousal support can be modified, if a spousal support order or agreement is subject to the old deduction rules, but gets modified after December 31, 2018, the modification will remain subject to the old deduction rules unless the order or agreement to modify “opts-in” to the new rules.

Contact us for more information

If you have questions about this, please contact the office of Beavers Law, P.C. at 757-234-4650 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys.  You can also visit us on the web at www.BeaversLaw.com.

Will I have to pay child support?

Sunday, February 21st, 2016

If you are the legal parent of a child, then the Commonwealth of Virginia says that you have an obligation to provide support for that child.  There are actual numbers in the Code of Virginia that show the total gross family income and the amount of support that the legislature has determined is necessary for the support of up to 6 children.

Once you have that base number, that number can be increased by any work-related child care and any health insurance for the child.  This will give you the total amount of support that should be provided for that child.

In the case where one parent has the child the majority of the time and the other parent has the child for less than 90 24-hour periods, the total child support obligation is multiplied by his or her percentage of the total family income and the non-custodial parent will pay his or her percentage to the custodial parent.  For example, if the custodial parent earns 40% of the income and the non-custodial parent earns 60% of the income, then the non-custodial parent will pay 60% of the total child support obligation to the custodial parent.

In the case where the non-custodial parent has the child for more than 90 24-hour periods, there is another calculation where the amount of time the child spends with each parent is taken into account.   The first step in this process multiplies the total child support obligation by 1.4.  This higher number is then multiplied by the time each parent has the child and then multiplied by the percentage of income for each parent.  This determines the total amount of child support for each parent and the difference between the two is the amount of child support that is paid by one parent to the other.

The calculation formulas are in the code, but most people use a calculation spreadsheet formula provided by a software vendor.  Most attorneys, the courts, and the Department of Social Services, Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) all use these same software vendors.  There is also an online provider at www.SupportSolver.com that can be used for your own calculations, although the Courts or DCSE will use their own software for the actual numbers to be in the order.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at http://www.BeaversLaw.com.

Terminating Parental Rights

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

I’ve had  a few people contact me recently because they either want to voluntarily relinquish their parental rights, or they want to terminate the parental rights of an absent father.  Trust me, I’m not picking on fathers but I’ve had the same question 3 times in the past 2 weeks and they all just happened to concern absent fathers.

First of all, the Courts in Virginia will not let anyone voluntarily relinquish parental rights.  If both parents agree that the father won’t be involved in the child’s life, and the mother is able to properly provide for the child, there is no reason to have the court involvement at all.  Just do it.  Most people agree that it is better for a child to have both parents involved in their life, but it is still a personal decision.

However, if the parents think that they can get rid of a father who can not afford to pay child support and then apply for TANF to support the child, that won’t happen.  And while the Courts themselves can terminate parental rights when a parent has been proven to be unfit, you can’t request that the Courts do so just because a parent has not been involved in the child’s life, and/or is unable to provide financial support.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at http://www.BeaversLaw.com.

Can we just agree to change the child support amount?

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

I had a person in my office recently who said that he and the children’s mother had agreed to reduce the amount of child support he had to pay because he was laid off from his old job and his new job didn’t pay as much.  They even had a document that said the amount would be reduced, and it was notarized.  He thought their agreement would cancel the court order.

And then she took him to court for non-payment and he was charged with failure to comply with an order of the court which included a possible jail sentence of up to one year.

First of all, when the Judge issues that piece of paper telling you what to do… it is not a suggestion….it is not an example….it is not an ‘if you want to’ or ‘if you feel like it’.  It is an ORDER.  That means you have to do it or face consequences.

Secondly, having a document notarized does not make it more ‘legal’ than having a document that isn’t notarized.  Most of the time, a notarization just means that the person signing the document produced identification saying they were the person who’s name was on the document.  This may keep your girlfriend from signing your wife’s name, but it doesn’t make the document legal.

What they should have done was to go to court to file a motion to amend child support due to a material change in circumstances.  His change in employment status would probably have met the criteria for a material change, especially if both of them agreed.  Then the court would have recalculated the child support payment from the date of the petition.  You can also provide the court with a ‘Consent Order’ that says you agree to an amount even if that amount is different from the amount that would be calculated by the statutory guidelines.

Sure it takes time out of your day to go to court to get the amount changed….but it is probably worth it when you consider the amount of time you might be spending going to court on a show cause….and the possibility of going to jail!

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at http://www.BeaversLaw.com.

Were you furloughed, and can’t afford to pay child support?

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

I get a lot of questions about child support obligations and the fact that the person ordered to make the payments has had his or her income reduced because of ___________ (there are lots of reasons, including the recent furloughs).

The most common reaction is that people just decide to not pay because they don’t have the money.  This is a BAD decision.

In Virginia, if you don’t make your child support payments, you can end up in jail for up to 12 months.  That’s right, you can go to jail for not making your child support payments.   And guess what happens to your child support obligation while you’re in jail?  It just keeps on going and your past due balance keeps getting bigger and interest on that past due balance keeps accumulating.  The hole just keeps getting bigger.

You can also have any tax refunds diverted to make a payment toward child support.  And your driver’s license may be suspended.

All in all, it is not a pleasant experience.

So, what are you supposed to do if you’ve been furloughed, fired, or laid off, or you just can’t find a job and your income has been reduced?

First of all, you should know how child support is calculated to see if your reduced income will make a difference.  I wrote a post here about how to calculate child support and  here about where to find a calculator online.

If it looks like your reduced income will make a difference, you should contact the Juvenile and Domestic Relations  District (JDR)  court where the last court order was entered that told you to make child support payments.  Ask them about the procedure for submitting a petition to amend child support.

If your case was done through the Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE), then go to the office where your case is being handled and ask for a reconsideration and recalculation.

If your child support obligation was set during a divorce proceeding, you need to check the final decree of divorce to see if the matters concerning child support have been transferred to the JDR court.

It is sometimes confusing, so it might be a good idea to at least have a consultation with an attorney about what to do.  We often have people come into the office for a consultation and we are able to give them enough information for them to complete the process on their own.

You also want to be sure to make some sort of payment on your child support even if you can’t make the entire payment each month.  This shows good faith, and it will also help minimize the past due amount that is being charged interest.

What you do NOT want to do is just ignore the fact that your income has been reduced and you can not make your payments.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at http://www.BeaversLaw.com.