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July 2013 Archives

Splitting Real Estate Outside of a Divorce

A Partition Action is the type of legal proceeding needed to divide property amongst unmarried individuals that cannot agree what to do with the property. There are two options in a partition action. One option involves physically splitting the property, if possible. The alternative option, and more likely occurrence, involves the home being sold with the proceeds divided. As far as procedure, a complaint for partition should be brought in the county where the property is located and must include all co-tenants as parties. The complaint must also include a description of the property along with each co-tenant's interest in the property. 

Same-Sex Marriage & Divorce

Last month the U.S. Supreme Court found that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional as it violates the Fifth Amendment in failing to provide due process for all. DOMA was initially enacted in 1996 and provided that the federal government could refuse to recognize same-sex marriages granted under state laws. This resulted in same-sex couples being denied federal marriage benefits available to heterosexual couples including, but not limited to, insurance benefits for government employees, social security survivors' benefits, evaluating financial aid eligibility and filing joint tax returns. 

Tax Consequences

Many clients going through family law matters will have questions regarding how they can/should file their taxes as well as what tax consequences may arise in their situation and the answers vary depending on if it's a divorce, custody, or support matter. To start with divorce, while married parties can choose between married filing jointly and married filing separately. Generally speaking, it is more beneficial to file jointly. If the divorce finalizes by December 31st, parties can then opt to file single or head of household for that year. The head of household status may also be available while still considered married if you've been separated for at least six months, have paid at least half the cost of maintaining your own residence, and can rightfully claim any dependent children. In dividing property as part of a divorce, it is possible to rollover some assets (namely retirement accounts) to avoid immediate tax penalty. Also, certain transfers in the context of a divorce matter are exempt from being taxed such as transfer of real property.

Post-Divorce Issues

Finally receiving the divorce decree is an accomplishment for divorcing parties, however, it does not always mean the end of the matter. If custody and support were issues were raised as part of the divorce, even though an initial resolution may have been met, both are issues which can be revisited based on change of circumstances. Additionally, in either a court order on equitable distribution or a settlement agreement reached between the parties, there may be provisions which carry additional obligations to be fulfilled even after the divorce has concluded. Support and custody issues always carry a continuing obligation to either pay a certain amount per month or follow a certain custody schedule. There are also several scenarios when dealing with marital property that can create a continuing obligation. 

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