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California family lawyerThe Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was passed by the States Congress last December, resulting in the most major federal tax reform of the last 30 years. This law affects nearly everyone in the U.S., and discussion of some of its changes, such as a lowered corporate tax rate and an increased standard deduction, have filled the news as financial experts examine its impact. However, one lesser-known aspect of the law is important for divorcing couples to understand, since it will affect how spousal support (which is traditionally called alimony) will be taxed.

How Alimony Is Taxed

Previously, when a spouse who earned a larger income paid spousal support to their former partner, they would be able to deduct this amount from their taxable income, and the payments would be considered taxable income for the spouse receiving them. However, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act changes this, so that alimony will now be treated like child support. For divorces finalized after December 31, 2018, spousal support will not be tax-deductible for the payor or taxable for the payee.

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California divorce lawyer, California mediation attorneyThere are certain situations under California law where one spouse may be entitled to receive spousal support from the other spouse after a divorce. The point of spousal support – also referred to as alimony or spousal maintenance – is to provide income for a spouse who either does not work or was earning a much lower wage than the other spouse, such as where one spouse gave up their career to be a stay-at-home parent and raise the children.

Another purpose of alimony is to assist the lower-earning spouse in maintaining the standard of living they were accustomed to during the marriage until they are in a better financial position. In order to determine if support is warranted, the court will look at several different factors. The first factor is the gross income of the marriage. Under the California Family Code, income can include:

  • Wages;
  • Salary;
  • Bonuses;
  • Commissions;
  • Dividends;
  • Royalties; and
  • Trust income.

Once the income of each spouse is determined, those figures are entered into an alimony calculator. The calculator also requires input of the length of the marriage. Under the law, if a couple has been married for less than 10 years, support will not be ordered for any longer than half the amount of years the couple were married. For marriages over 10 years, the amount of time spousal support may be an extended period, if not indefinite.

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California divorce attorney, California family law attorneyMarriage is as much a legal contract as it is a romantic union. Together, you make a sacred vow that is intended to last a lifetime. In many marriages, sexual exclusivity is a significant portion of that agreement. One partner choosing to stray beyond the boundaries of the union jeopardizes the deal. In other legal controversies, a breach of contract may result in restitution. In the realm of divorce and family law, does infidelity mean that the victim in the situation is owed damages through the form of spousal support?

Even Ground

California understands that not everyone will agree on everything, which is why lawmakers made divorce possible even if one side refuses to let go of the marriage. The state is also a “no-fault” state, which means that you do not need to have a reason other than irreconcilable differences with your spouse to leave. Based on this arrangement, everyone is equal regardless of any perceived transgressions, including cheating. Therefore, if taken to court for alimony payments, the judge will not take behavior into consideration. Factors that do influence the awarded permanent spousal support are:

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Posted on in Divorce

California divorce judge, California divorce attorneyIf you choose to proceed with court litigation in your divorce matter, the judge assigned to your case will make the decisions pertaining to your divorce matter. While it is true that judges do not have the sentimental connection to the items in question, there is still a responsibility to make the wisest decision possible given the information at hand. Let us discuss what some of the elements are that are used in a divorce decision-making process.

Child Custody and Visitation

First and foremost, a judge will determine what is in the best interest of the child. The default solution for “best interest” is often joint legal custody, meaning that both parents must still make the legal decisions together. It is most commonly in the best interest to have involvement from both parents, so they will also generally lean towards joint physical custody. Some of the reasons that a judge may choose to do sole custody are:

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Posted on in Family Law

California divorce attorney, California family law attorneyDivorce can be extremely stressful. It can feel like the world has been removed from your shoulders once the divorce has been settled and a judgment has been filed. Everything is set, from the child support, to the alimony, and the visitation. Nevertheless, circumstances change with the passage of time.  Some of the orders you obtained in your judgment may no longer be appropriate to your family situation.  You may wish to proceed with post-judgment modifications to address these concerns.

What Can Be Altered

Although generally property division cannot be revisited post-judgment (except on statutorily-enumerated grounds), some of the orders contained in the judgment can be modified:

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