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Dayton Divorce Law Blog

Taxes add another layer to asset, property division

Anyone who has gone through a divorce knows that it's typically an emotionally draining experience, and for many, a financially draining one, too. And just when you think the haggling over money, property, the kids and the dog is all behind you, up comes tax time. 

This week was likely a stressful one for the multitudes of Ohio residents who divorced in 2013 -- at least those who put off filing their taxes until Tuesday. Their breakups may seem like ancient history now, but the IRS serves up some final reminders, usually in the form of complex questions that the average filer may not be prepared for. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you're getting a divorce this year: 

Is no-fault divorce under attack?

Divorce is never easy. From the couple who has simply fallen out of love and grown apart, to a marriage entangled in adultery, mistrust or abuse, each divorce has its own unique problems and challenges. In most states, like Ohio, the decision to divorce is vested in the couple, with the assumption is that they know best when to end their marriage.

Of course, the path of divorce couples is often bumpy, with issues involving the division of marital property, child custody, spousal support and child support all providing many opportunities for conflict.

Divorce getting complicated for husband and wife lobbyists

Equitable distribution is the principle by which marital property is divided in Ohio divorces. Note: "equitable" is not necessarily the equivalent of "equal." A 50-50 split may be appropriate and achievable in many cases, but in others, questions of separate property and each party's financial contribution to the marriage have to be carefully answered.

As you can imagine, these matters can be especially complex when considering assets such as retirement accounts, stock options and real estate, not to mention passive and active growth in asset values. With these issues in mind, let's consider an ongoing high-profile divorce. 

Balance in child custody can require a careful balance

In family law, there is no such thing as one size fits all. Child custody issues can be difficult to work through for parents during a divorce, because they may have such conflicting priorities and they may find it so difficult to trust or work with their former spouse.

When an Ohio family court judge considers the child custody determination, he or she uses a multi factor test. The judge is not limited by the factors enumerated in the Ohio statutes and any relevant factor may be considered. For shared parenting or joint custody, the analysis is going to be different for every situation.

Social media can undermine your credibility

It's all about credibility. During a divorce or child custody dispute, everything you do builds to create a narrative. Your life tells a story, and if you want an Ohio family court judge to believe that story, you have to be credible. Most people, in the course of their normal life, rarely have their credibility questioned. However, divorce is not normal, it is a legal proceeding and your life story becomes evidence that will be used for every determination in that legal process.

This is why, today, what you post on social media is so important. Because much of social media seems conversational, we may mistake our actions on Facebook or Twitter as being akin to speaking to a friend on the phone. This would be inaccurate. They are more like spray-painting the words on the roof of your home and car. With paint than can never be erased.

But you don't work for Beyonce

Child support is always a contentious issue. In practically every Ohio divorce, parties on each side of the issue battle back and forth as to the fairness and appropriateness of the amount. Those who have to pay always feel as if it is too much, causing them a hardship, while those who receive the child support payment no doubt feel that it is never enough.

There is one positive aspect to child support's otherwise gray aspect, and that is it can be changed. Unlike the property division, which in Ohio equability divides the assets of the couple, child support and spousal support can be modified. This is not to say that child support modifications are quick, easy or inexpensive. However, they can be done.

Physics, mathematics and a child custody schedule

Child custody issues can be complex and they tend to snowball. In addition to being embedded within the context of a divorce, which is usually not anyone's happy place, real life tends to interfere with neat, organized plans. A child or parent becomes ill, someone needs to go out of town, and suddenly trades and swaps need to be negotiated, often in an atmosphere of mistrust and a concern that modifications will be fair.

A physicist, who was twice divorced, and living with a new partner, wondered if perhaps mathematics or physics could offer a solution. If math and physics can model complex matters of fluid dynamics and subatomic particles, surely they could provide a child custody plan that could be viewed by both parents as fair and impartial.

Financial discussions before a wedding may prevent a divorce

When you fall in love, nothing seems more unimaginable than a divorce. You are not even married yet, and you adore everything about your future spouse. You would never give it a moment's thought that you would feel the need to call a divorce attorney and head off to the nearest Ohio family court in Dayton someday.

As hard as it may be to think such thoughts, it may be necessary. And if you are both young, have few assets and more debts, a prenuptial agreement may not be tremendously useful as a legal instrument, a contract, to guide a future property division in your divorce settlement that might never be.

The economic benefit of divorce

When a couple in Dayton decides to end their marriage and obtain a divorce, it extracts a price from the family. There is, of course, the emotional price; the fighting, the discomfort, the disappointment from having to leave the person you had once pledged to spend your entire life with, and now who provides a constant source of dissatisfaction. There is the emotional pain of knowing your children will have to split holidays and birthdays, dealing with a necessarily overly complicated schedule.

And there is the financial cost, taking a single family with a unitary income and dividing it into two, which with a strange, inverse synergy, whose parts seem to cost much more than the sum. The cost of attorneys  and court filings, the time and energy at numerous meetings and settlement conferences to work out the details of the property division, child custody, child support and the seemingly innumerable technicalities that must all be dealt with prior to the divorce agreement being finalized.

Do fewer divorces strengthen families?

In a divorce, as with many things, something seemingly little can mean a great deal. Many states require various grounds for granting a divorce. This is because we, as a society, believe we should not allow people to divorce for trivial reasons.

The problem becomes, then, one of determining what those valid grounds. Violence and marital infidelity, and especially violence against children, certainly. In some states, alleging a breakdown of the relationship, irreconcilable differences or incompatibility may be available.

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