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Broome County Family Law Blog

Past-due taxes and bankruptcy

The United States bankruptcy code allows consumers to have certain debts dischared. Other debts are not eligible for bankruptcy protection. It's important to know the difference prior to filing for voluntary bankruptcy in New York. Those with debts such as recent taxes,that cannot be discharged may need to make an arrangement with the IRS to pay the taxes or negotiate a settlement.

Some tax debts may be discharged through bankruptcy court. For example, tax debts that are at least three years old, filed at least two years prior to the bankruptcy filing and not associated with a fraudulent return may be discharged. Tax debts more recent than three years old are typically not eligible. An attorney that focuses on bankruptcy may help a client determine whether past-due taxes can be discharged or if it would be wise to make payment arrangements with the IRS.

Is alternative dispute resolution a possibility for my divorce?

When it comes to divorce, most people immediately think of high-stakes conflict and nasty, drawn-out courtroom battles. However, not all couples go through traumatic divorces, and many are even able to find harmonious solutions despite a fraught situation.

Alternative dispute resolution, commonly referred to as ADR, may be an option in your divorce. While ADR is not a viable option for every divorcing couple, here are some questions to ask to help you understand if your situation may be ideal for this type of solution:

How to quickly recover from bankruptcy

A bankruptcy can stay on a credit report for up to 10 years. However, those who file in New York or elsewhere can start rebuilding their credit far sooner. According to a study from LendingTree, 65 percent of those who filed for bankruptcy had a credit score of 640 or higher two years after filing. The study looked at 1 million LendingTree users who had received loan offers in 2017.

One of the most effective steps a person can take to rebuild credit after bankruptcy is to obtain a secured credit card. With a secured card, the credit limit is determined by the amount of the security deposit a cardholder puts down. This card can then be used to charge small items such as a recurring Netflix account or similar subscription that is easy to pay off. Ideally, an individual won't use more than 20 percent of his or her available credit in a given month.

Grandparents and child visitation post-divorce

Divorce is increasingly common in today's social landscape, and lots of emphasis and attention is rightfully placed upon the best interests of children. Child custody is a primary issue for divorcing couples and sometimes becomes very contentious. However, often overlooked in the child custody and visitation scenario are the children's grandparents. 

What rights do grandparents have when it comes to visitation when a couple divorces? How can grandparents assert these rights and ensure they still get to see their grandchildren even after a divorce? These are difficult questions to answer, but grandparents do have rights when it comes to visitation with their grandchildren. Here are some facts to know about grandparents and child visitation following divorce.

Financial challenges can accompany divorce over 50

Divorcing past the age of 50 can have a major impact on the economic well-being of spouses in New York and across the country. While the financial impacts of divorce can outstrip the emotional concerns for people facing the end of a marriage at any stage of life, these issues can be exacerbated among couples who make the decision to divorce later in life. This is particularly the case as the two spouses have significantly less time to stage a financial recovery from the expenses and asset division that accompany divorce. Retirement funds that were accumulated to provide for both spouses in one household will now need to be divided and support two separate lives and the mounting expenses that accompany them.

However, despite the concerns over the financial impact, an increasing number of older adults are deciding to divorce. In the past 20 years, the divorce rate among Americans over 50 has doubled, a trend that has continued to grow. The number is even higher for adults over 50 in their second or third marriages.

Tips for an uncontested divorce

The number of marriages that end in divorce is actually lower in New York than a majority of the rest of the country. As of 2016, New York's divorce rate was the lowest is has been in 35 years. 

Many couples hope for an uncontested divorce. This occurs when both partners agree on everything from child custody to asset division. It certainly makes the process simpler, but there are a few things to keep in mind even if you and your ex are still amicable toward one another. 

Planning ahead can save post-divorce finances

New York lovers headed for marriage may consider making contingency plans in case of divorce a bad omen, but the simple truth is that a substantial percentage of marriages end in divorce. Planning can limit acrimony and prove beneficial in ways unrelated to marital dissolution.

Pre-nuptial agreements are the first thing most people think of when pre-marital planning for divorce is mentioned. While both pre and post-nuptial agreements can be very beneficial to couples, they are not the only way to plan for difficult times. Maintaining separate assets and financial accounts can be very beneficial not just in divorce court, but can also protect a spouse from his or her partner's uncollected debts. Real estate can be particularly troublesome to disentangle if precautions are not made on the front end. For example, putting a spouse's name on a deed can result in a partnership with his or her heirs after an unexpected death unless proper estate planning is done. Paying for renovations from a joint account can result in property being later adjudicated as a joint asset.

Planning for post-divorce finances is key

For New Yorkers in the midst of divorce litigation, reaching the final agreement regarding property and custodial arrangements is a red-letter day that feels like a finish line. The signed divorce decree does set out how things are to be divided, but the court order doesn't actually complete the plan. The judge gives marching orders, but the parties must carry them out. In order to fully implement the plan and protect oneself financially, there are a few key steps someone must take before reaching the actual divorce finish line.

The first step for many people is to officially change their names and addresses on their drivers' licenses, passports and other government documents. Keeping a certified copy of the divorce decree handy will make this process much smoother. A critical next step is canceling all joint accounts and beginning the process of establishing personal credit. Many couples in long marriages have never had a credit account fully in their own name and may otherwise end up with limited credit access. Disinheriting the former spouse through will modifications and reconfiguring any other estate planning documents eliminates the possibility of leaving heirs with a confusing probate headache. Changing beneficiaries is also key unless someone is court-ordered to carry life insurance benefitting his or her former spouse.

Consider filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy before your divorce

Unfortunately, financial problems in your marriage may be leading to a divorce. Money problems and marital difficulties often go hand in hand. If your financial calamity is causing your marriage to end, you may be wondering about the logistics of filing for bankruptcy along with divorce. 

The truth is that divorcing will likely not make your financial issues go away. In fact, splitting up and living on your own will likely make you struggle more with your finances. Things may go more smoothly for you if you declare bankruptcy before the divorce. Here is why.

How divorce impacts a person's housing situation

Those who have just gotten a divorce may not think that where they live is a big decision. However, it can have a significant impact on a person's life. For instance, choosing to live in New York could have different financial consequences than living elsewhere. Choosing where to live immediately after a divorce could also have emotional and other consequences that an individual may need to consider.

One of the most emotional decisions a person may make is choosing whether to stay in a marital home. Those who have children may want to provide stability in their lives, which may be possible by keeping the home or allowing the other spouse to live there. However, it is important to consider the cost of paying a mortgage as well as to cover maintenance. Individuals who cannot afford to stay in their current home may be better off by looking for another place to live.

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