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Charlotte Family Law Blog

Collecting social security while single

There may be negative emotions felt by North Carolina residents and others who have gotten divorced. However, there may be one positive for those who were married for 10 years or longer. That positive is the ability to potentially claim Social Security benefits based on a former spouse's work record.

It is generally acceptable for an individual to claim a benefit from a former spouse's work record even if that former spouse has remarried. Doing so has no impact on his or her ability to collect benefits. However, the same rules apply as it relates to how long the original marriage lasted as well as the applicant remaining single. It may also be possible to collect benefits even if the former spouse has not yet applied.

Should parents talk to children before deciding custody?

One of the toughest things to determine in a divorce is child custody. Both parents will likely want some time with the children, but many parents grapple with the issue of how much input the children should have in the decision process. 

When determining child custody, the court will only consider the child's preference once he or she reaches the age of 10. This is the age of discretion in the state, but it is merely one of many factors a court will regard.

Navigating the holidays after a separation or divorce

When in the midst of a divorce or separation, the manner in which couples navigate the holidays may have a long-lasting effect on both the resolution of future issues and the wellness of the children. North Carolina couples who have recently begun their legal processes may want to remain aware that a first holiday season celebrated in separate households is likely a prelude to the many special times ahead during which a parent might be required to share the children with an ex-spouse.

While it is not best left to the children, consideration of what they want most to do is important to the parents' decision-making process. Parents might also want to think about the traditions that are a longstanding part of the holidays with their extended families and arrange a schedule that accommodates as many of these special times as possible.

Divorce later in life can carry costs

In North Carolina and across the United States, the divorce rate for people above the age of 50 has increased. Nationally, the rate of divorce for couples in this age group has escalated by 50 percent since 1987. One in four couples divorced after the age of 50; this can pose challenging and difficult questions for dealing with finances.

The impact of divorce can be different for people who have stopped working or who are close to retirement. The division of assets can include real estate, pensions, retirement savings and plans, stock options and other investments. In addition, life insurance, care insurance and other policies are often deeply intertwined, especially for long-time couples. This can make divorce later in life particularly complex with less time to recover financially.

Business and divorce can be a complex combination

Ending a marriage in North Carolina is often a difficult, complicated and emotional time for both partners. However, the challenges can rise to another level when a personal or family business is at stake in the divorce, especially in the case of a successful company with a high financial value. Beyond its role as a significant financial asset, the business can be a point of professional and emotional importance for partners who are also entrepreneurs.

The business may be the most valuable monetary asset handled in the divorce, even amid an overall high-value split, which means that a proper and accurate valuation can be critical to the divorce process and settlement. The involvement of a forensic accountant or business assessor can help to garner a full understanding of the business, including its assets, real estate and movable properties as well as its debts and other liabilities. Dividing a company isn't a simple matter of numbers on a ledger; it can evoke a severe emotional impact, especially when one or both partners have put a significant work and dedication into the building of the business over a period of years.

3 ways to prepare for a divorce in the New Year

As 2017 is coming to a close, you may be thinking about ending your marriage. After making it through the holidays, you may want to have a fresh start in 2018 and file for divorce in January. While you may wait until the new year to file, you will want to do some planning before then.

Divorce takes a lot of work, and you must get some things in order before you officially begin the process. Here are some steps you should take now so you are ready to divorce in 2018. 

Tips for splitting a retirement account

Couples in North Carolina who are getting a divorce could run into complications if they need to divide a retirement account. There could be taxes and penalties if it not done correctly. For example, a couple needs a document known as a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO, to split a 401(k) without paying taxes and penalties.

For one couple, failing to have a QDRO resulted in payments of $110,000 on a $250,000 withdrawal by the higher-earning spouse. The penalty for early distribution was $25,000, and the tax was $85,000. If the couple had obtained a QDRO and rolled the money into another retirement account, they would not have had to pay this.

Predictors of a North Carolina divorce

Although marriage is considered to be sacred, the fact is that about 50 percent of all marriages will end in divorce. There are several risk factors that scientists have determined can be predictors.

One risk factor is getting married before the age of 20 or after the age of 32. Further, the age difference between two spouses can also be a factor. Studies have found that a one-year difference in ages makes a couple 3 percent more likely to divorce. Couples with a five-year difference make couples 18 percent more likely to end the marriage. Along with age, not finishing high school can be a risk factor for divorce. The more education spouses have, the less likely they are to split.

Why you should change your estate plan if you plan to divorce

If you are in the process of divorcing your partner or waiting for the ink to dry on your decree, you must remember to update your estate plans. All too often soon-to-be divorcees in the Charlotte area think they do not have to modify their estate plans because they will no longer be married. Unfortunately, some of them learn the hard way that divorces do not change estate plans. You must do it yourself. 

If you die before your divorce is finalized, your loved ones and children may not receive their inheritances. To avoid complications with your estate that can occur when you die, review the following reasons why divorce requires you to revise your end-of-life plans. 

Answers to 3 common questions about tax consequences of divorce

As you prepare for divorce, there are probably a lot of things swirling around in your mind. With heightened emotions and so many problems overwhelming you, it can be easy to forget about or overlook some important things. For example, have you thought about how your divorce will affect your taxes?

If not, it is no reason to be ashamed – it is common to be unaware of this consequence of divorce. That is why you can find below the answers to common questions you may have about the tax implications of getting a divorce. 

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