Alimony in New Hampshire on You Tube

There's a new batch of You Tube videos about divorce and family law in New Hampshire. Here is the first, a segment about alimony. 

 

Consultation Policy

I provide free consultations to prospective clients who are interested in retaining an attorney for their legal matters. The consultation is a good opportunity to get to know each other, and see if we are a good fit. After hearing about your case, I will be able to provide you with information, feedback and likely outcomes. I can explain the fee structure and the potential costs of litigation, and answer questions that you may have. A consultation is not an appointment where I will provide court documents for your use or prepare you for a hearing.

Potential clients often ask if I will provide a phone consultation, and the answer is generally no. I like to meet with potential clients face to face, and it is often important to review paperwork such as court orders, a lease, or financial records. That is a difficult task over the phone. I will consider phone consultations for clients who live outside of the state but are looking for New Hampshire counsel on a case by case basis.

Although the consultation is free, I require a credit card to secure your appointment. Unfortunately, it has been my experience that sometimes people who schedule appointments do not show up. Therefore, my policy is to have a credit card on file at the time the appointment is scheduled, and in the event that you do not show up for the appointment, a $195 missed appointment fee will be charged to your credit card. There is a 24 hour cancellation policy; however, in the event of an emergency such as illness, inclement weather, or car trouble, exceptions will be made to the 24 hour rule so long as you call prior to the appointment time.

Please feel free to call the office at 603-627-3668 to schedule an appointment.  

New Hampshire same-sex divorce: What you need to know

Please check out my recent You Tube video on the topic of same-sex divorce in New Hampshire. We'll review length of marriage considerations, parenting rights for same-sex couples, and special property distribution issues in divorces for same-sex partners.

Moving on after your divorce

As a divorce attorney, my job does not often focus on the healing or grieving aspect of the divorce process. My roll focuses on giving legal advice and representing my clients to help them achieve their goals for their case. For those cases that must be litigated, I spend a lot of time during the course of a case, sometimes years, getting to know a client and helping them get through the legal process. Eventually the court case will end though, and it will be time for the party to move on emotionally as well. But how?

While procrastinating on Facebook the other day, I came across a link to an article called Newly Divorced? Don’t Forget to Grieve written by high school classmate of mine, Mary Darling Montero. Mary is a psychotherapist in San Jose, California who specializes in relationships and life transitions.  Mary offers great advice to help grieve a relationship and move on.

Mary writes that the end of a relationship can often look similar to the grief stages an end-of-life loss might have. She explains them as follows:

• Denial-- We don't believe or accept that the relationship is over. If we initiated the split, we might feel ambivalent; we might believe that maybe our significant other is capable of change, after all. If the split was not our decision, we might believe that it's only temporary, that our significant other will realize that he or she made a mistake, and that reconciliation is possible. Denial can also be a general feeling of not believing that a relationship is over, even if we know that reconciliation isn't likely.

• Anger-- We're, well, angry. We're angry at the other person or we're angry at ourselves. We might be angry about what we perceive as wasted time, or how the other person is handling the relationship breakup. This stage can also be exacerbated and prolonged as we deal with legal issues related to divorce or child custody/support.

• Bargaining-- We might try to bargain with a higher power ("I'll never do such and such again if you bring him back to me") or literal bargaining with our ex ("I'll never do such and such again if you come back"). This could also be figurative bargaining ("I'll change this and that about my lifestyle and she'll come back when she realizes I've changed").

• Depression-- We understand that the relationship is over, and we face the reality that we have lost not only our significant other, but also the dreams attached to the relationship. Oftentimes the dreams are the hardest aspect of a relationship to let go.

• Acceptance-- We acknowledge that the relationship is over and begin to feel that we are capable of dealing with it, healing from it, and moving forward.

Most importantly, Mary notes that the grieving process at the end of a relationship will affect the couple’s children. Stay tuned into their feelings, she says, and do not pressure them to get over it quickly. Mary advises to trust your support system, try writing a journal to come to grips with your feelings, and make sure that you are taking care of yourself (eating, sleeping, exercising).

So, while your attorney will be a very important part of your divorce, so too is the professional that can help with the grieving process and emotional healing of the breakup. If you need help in the New Hampshire area, feel free to call Crusco Law Office, PLLC for a referral.

 

Here comes the Merrimack Family Division

The Merrimack Family Division is almost here! The Judicial Branch posted the following announcements on its website:

The Hillsborough South marital department will be closed to the public except for emergency filings from Monday, December 6 through Thursday, December 9. The closing will allow staff uninterrupted time to process cases in preparation for the reopening of the department on Friday December 10th as part of the Merrimack Family Division.

The Merrimack Family Division will serve the towns of Merrimack, Bedford and Litchfield. In addition, the Hillsborough South Superior Court docket, one of the last courts to make the transition into the Family Division, will transfer over to the Merrimack Family Division. The courthouse is located on Baboosic Lake Road in Merrimack, New Hampshire.

Divorce, short sales and foreclosures

A few years ago when the real estate market was booming, divorcing spouses had little issue refinancing with cash out to buy out the other or selling the marital home and dividing a tidy profit. Times have changed, and today, the issue is often what to do with a sinking ship. The Union Leader has published several articles lately about short sales and foreclosures, and the differences between the two.

First, there is a distinction between a homeowner being short and a short sale. A homeowner is short when he owes more on his mortgage to the bank than a sale can procure. A lender must agree to the sale of a property at a price that is less than what is owed. A short sale occurs when the closing of the property has happened.

A foreclosure, on the other hand, is the process where the bank takes your home when you have not been able to keep up with the mortgage payments. Foreclosure has a dramatic and lasting effect on credit scores, dropping scores by as much as 300 points.

If you are in the process of divorce, and your home has little to no equity, there are certain issues that you and your attorney need to keep in mind. If both spouses are borrowers for the mortgage, how will one spouse refinance to remove the other spouses name from the mortgage? Lenders are reasonably cautious about lending over 80% of the value of a home. If the home cannot be refinanced, and will be placed on the market for sale, what will happen if the home is short? Will the spouses need to come up with the money at the time of the sale, or will they negotiate a short sale with the lender? A carefully drafted proposed order or agreement will make sure that you are protected in the event of each possibility.

Where can I take the child impact seminar?

As discussed in a previous blog post, in New Hampshire every parent is required to take the Child Impact Seminar within 45 days of the date that the Respondent (formerly known as Defendant) is served with the divorce or parenting petition. I have received a few e-mails recently asking where to sign up, so I thought I would post the telephone numbers and websites for each local provider here. There is also additional information about the Child Impact Seminar available on the Family Division website.

BELKNAP COUNTY          Laconia 524-1100 Genesis Behavioral Health

CARROLL COUNTY          Conway 447-2111 Carroll County Mental Health Services

Wolfeboro 447-2111 Carroll County Mental Health Services

CHESHIRE COUNTY         Keene 355-3071 Cheshire Mediation

COOS COUNTY                Groveton 636-2555 Northern Human Services

GRAFTON COUNTY          Lebanon 448-0126 West Central Behavioral Health

Littleton 444-5358 Northern Human Services

Plymouth 536-1118 Genesis Behavioral Health

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY Manchester 628-7787 The Mental Health Center

Nashua 598-7155 x 3900 Community Council of Nashua

MERRIMACK COUNTY      Concord 226-7505- x 3262 Riverbend Parent Child Center

ROCKINGHAM COUNTY    Exeter 431-6703 Seacoast Mental Health Center

Portsmouth 431-6703 Seacoast Mental Health Center

Salem 434-1577 CLM Behavioral Health

STRAFFORD COUNTY      Dover 749-3244 x732 Community Partners

SULLIVAN COUNTY          Claremont 448-0126 West Central Behavioral Health

Newport 448-0126 West Central Behavioral Health

 

 

 

 

Tax considerations for divorcing couples

During a divorce, the tax consquences of a settlement often take a backseat to heated issues such as parenting rights and asset division. However, tax consquences can have a very big impact on the outcome of a case and are an important factor to consider.  Attorney Jason C. Brown of Brown Law Offices, P.A. posted an informative piece on his Minnesota Divorce and Family Law Blog with tax tips for divorcing couples. Attorney Brown suggested the following issues to consider during a divorce:

  1. Child Support. Child support is not income to the recipient and is not deductible for the payer. Keep this in mind if your spouse is seeking alimony. Child support payments that they receive are not taxable and, as a result, increase their net income each month dollar for dollar. As a result, the "need" of your spouse will be diminished and you may be able to argue that their imputed gross income exceeds their gross pay coupled with untaxed child support.
  2. Alimony. Alimony is income to the recipient and is deductible for the payer. High income earners can reduce their taxable income by paying alimony. If your spouse's tax bracket is low, the government winds up picking up the tab for a good share of the alimony obligation.
  3. Sale of Homestead. The sale of the marital homestead usually does not involve a taxable event. Capital gains (up to $500,000) from the sale of your marital homestead are not taxable if you've lived there for two of the last five years. Nor is a transfer of title to the residence, allowing your spouse to keep some or all of the equity. Many couples opt to forego alimony payments in, instead, pay a disproportionate property settlement to their spouse. In other words, they "buy off" alimony by giving a larger share of home sale proceeds, or equity, to their spouse. The result? No tax implications for either. Ideal for alimony recipients in a high tax bracket.
  4. Filing Status. The status of your marriage on December 31 of the relevant year determines whether you file as single or married. If you are divorced by that date, you file as single for the entire year. If your case appears to be coming to a close near the end of the year, best to speak with a tax preparer about the consequence of holding up at bit or expediting matters. We find that courts are usually willing to facilitate bringing matters to a close by the end of the year if tax implications in doing so are substantial.
  5. Dependents. While the law provides that the custodial parent is entitled to claim the relevant dependency exemptions, most couples agree to share them. Offering a non-custodial parent the right to claim the dependency exemption under the condition that their child support is current at the end of the relevant tax year provides them with incentive to keep current with payments.
  6. Child Care Credit. Custodial parents who incur work-related child care costs can deduct up to 30% of the cost. It is for that reason that the child support guidelines usually require a custodial parent to assume responsibility for a greater share of daycare expense.
  7. Liabilities and Refunds. Taxes owed, or refunds received, are usually treated as "marital" and are, therefore, split equally among the parties. In the heat of the moment, some spouses will intercept a tax refund and cash it without the other's knowledge. All funds must be accounted for and it is likely that if they do so their share of the final property settlement will be reduced proportionately. Because income is "marital," a tax liability is a shared responsibility.
  8. Attorney Fees. Any fees paid to a lawyer for tax advice are deductible. Ask your attorney for to break out all billable time devoted to tax issues and you can save big.

A good family law attorney will point out these and other issues to consider during your divorce. It is also important to discuss your divorce and the tax consquences of any settlement with a knowledgeable accountant.

Alabama Family Law Blog: The lamb, the pitbull and the fox

I found a great post by Michael Sherman of the Alabama Family Law Blog titled The Style of Your Divorce Lawyer: The Lamb, the Pitbull and the Fox. As Attorney Sherman discusses in his blog, I am also frequently asked by prospective clients if I will be aggressive or act like a tiger. The better question to pose is what is your style of lawyering and how will that impact my case? Attorney Sherman identifies three types or attorneys: the lamb, the pitbullI, and the fox. I prefer the fox:

The fox is wise and cunning.  He sees the big picture.  The fox is assertive when he needs to be, compromising when it benefits his clients’ long-term best interests, and always aware of the many different consequences his actions have on his clients.  He stands on principle. Yet, he is a strong advocate for his client when it promotes his client’s long-term best interests.  He recognizes that reaching a fair settlement is always preferable to trying the case and leaving it up to the judge.  Yet, he also knows that if a fair settlement is not forthcoming, then he must be willing and able to prepare to effectively litigate the case in court.