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What is Spousal Support, Also Known as Alimony?

If you’ve made more money than your spouse and are considering filing for divorce, brace yourself. You may be required to make alimony, also known as spousal support, payments. This includes spouses who worked while the other took care of the home. The payments are usually done monthly until:

  • One of you dies or some other type of significant life event occurs:
  • Your former spouse remarries
  • The judge decides on a court date years into the future or if the judge decides enough time has passed for your spouse to be able to take care of themselves
  • Your child no longer needs to be taken care of by a full-time parent.

State law has placed guidelines on how alimony payments are calculated but those calculations are dependent on the accuracy of the information provided to the court. It is recommended to meet with an experienced spousal support attorney to ensure your payments are being calculates accurately and fairly.

There are two types of spousal support: temporary and permanent support. Temporary support can be granted while the divorce is pending. Payment amounts are determined by county laws. After the division of property is settled, the court can then decide to end the temporary spousal support or order long-term support if necessary. There are 13 factors that determine where long-term support, also known as permanent spousal support, will be ordered by a California court. These include:

  • duration of the marriage;
  • the standard of living established during the marriage;
  • any history of domestic violence;
  • and other factors.

Should the circumstances surrounding your spouse change such as them remarrying or getting a job, it is possible to petition the court to change the spousal support agreement. Before doing so, however, make sure to speak to a spousal support lawyer knowledgeable in spousal support law to advise you accordingly. The spousal support lawyers at Hoover Krepelka, LLP are prepared to give you appropriate counsel regarding your alimony case.

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What Are Grandparents’ Visitation Rights?

What Are Grandparents’ Visitation Rights?

A grandparent would never think that their right to see their grandkids could be taken away. Unfortunately, life-changing events such as death, divorce, or estrangement can force separation between grandparents and grandchildren. This breaking of families can cause desperate grandmothers and fathers seek legal action to retain their grandparent rights. All 50 states in the US have some type of grandparent visitation statute. This means that grandparents can ask to be granted the legal right to maintain a relationship with their grandchild. Each state, however, varies in who can visit and how visitation will be carried out. Only about 20 states have restrictive visitation statutes. This means that grandparents can get a court-ordered visitation only if the parents are divorcing or if both parents died. The circumstances of carrying this restrictive visitation out is also dependent on the state.

In the state of California, a grandparent can ask for reasonable visitation with a grandchild. The court must find that visitation between grandparent and grandchild is in the best interest of the grandchild. Further, the court must find that the visitation is balanced with the parent’s rights to make decisions about the child. Grandparents cannot ask for visitation rights if the parents are married. Exceptions include but are not limited to:

  • The parents are living separately;
  • The child does not live with either of his or her parents; or
  • The grandchild has been adopted by a stepparent.

If at any point the above circumstances change, parents are legally allowed to remove grandparent visitation rights. However, before filing a petition with the court to grant these rights, make sure you are well-informed regarding the details in California’s law. In some cases, mediation between parents and grandparents could help in reaching a compromise regarding visitation with the child. It is possible to hire a mediator to assist in this process. Even if you do decide to go to court, a mediator will be required to meet with you.

It is recommended that an experienced lawyer assist in navigating you through laws regarding grandparent visitation rights. Parents can file against grandparent visitation statutes. The court has further been known to make controversial and contradictory decisions in the past. Before filing your petition, contact a family law attorney. Certified family law specialist Julia McDowell is familiar with navigating these complex child custody laws and can offer appropriate guidance to your case. Contact us at Hoover Krepelka, LLP today.

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One Billion Rising to End Violence Against Women

One Billion Rising to End Violence Against Women

This Valentine’s Day will also be the day of One Billion Rising, a worldwide movement aiming to end all forms of violence against women. One in three women will be raped or beaten in their lifetime, usually by someone they know. Partners engaged in domestic violence can extend their violence beyond physical and sexual abuse however. This can include:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Extortion or control of finances
  • Use of technology to spy, track, or stalk the victim
  • Using religion or religious teachings to exert control over the victim

Domestic violence can happen to anyone and the abuse can put victims in life-threatening situations. The One Billion Rising movement encourages domestic violence victims to hold their predators accountable for the violence committed against them. Victims across the globe are speaking up through marches, social media, and protests. From the #MeToo movement to Hollywood celebrities speaking out against corrupt people in their social circles, people are becoming more and more aware of violence against women.

However, some victims may still feel that they have no support or not place to go. While One Billion Rising hopes to connect victims and have them support one another in their journey of recovery, some extra resources could go a long way. If you are a domestic violence victim living in the Bay Area, WomenSV could help you find resources to leave your violent situation. If you need legal help such as help filing for divorce or battling for child custody, make sure to contact an attorney. The lawyers at Hoover ♦ Krepelka have years of experience handling family law cases. Contact us today.

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Hoover ♦ Krepelka, LLP Makes the List of Best Child Support Lawyers in San Jose 2018

Hoover ♦ Krepelka, LLP Makes the List of Best Child Support Lawyers in San Jose 2018

Expertise, a leading company that helps customers find qualified professionals in their area, has recently selected the San Diego Divorce and Family Law Attorneys of Hoover Krepelka as part of their “Top 20 Best Child Support Lawyers in San Jose 2018” list. The Top 20 were selected based on their:

  • Reputation or history of happy customers and amazing service;
  • Credibility, licensing, and awards;
  • Expertise or mastery of their craft based on years of experience;
  • And professionalism, such as providing service in an honest and respectful manner.

Hoover Krepelka was placed into the top 20, out of 222 total considerations, for embodying these qualities. With over 100 years of family law experience, Expertise was impressed with our extensive years of customer confidence and satisfaction. In addition to child support, our law office can also assist in divorce, child custody, grandparent right’s and alimony cases, to name a few. In addition, our law office helps customers of different backgrounds who may even speak different languages. Our attorneys speak multiple languages including:

  • English
  • Russian
  • Spanish
  • Hebrew
  • Mandarin

Family law cases can be difficult and very stressful for the people involved. If you need assistance in a child support or other family law case, contact the attorneys at Hoover Krepelka, LLP. Our lawyers will work to protect your rights in court.

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The New Tax Bill and its Impact on Divorcing Couples

The New Tax Bill and its Impact on Divorcing Couples

Shortly before year-end, President Trump signed the “2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” into law. As is so often the case in law and government, the text of this 1,000-page law is intimidating. I cannot begin to pretend to be able to fully understand all its ins and outs, nor to explain those to anyone else. I am in particular a family law attorney, not a tax attorney or CPA. Nothing herein should be construed as tax advice, nor as specific legal advice for any one person’s exact situation. This is a template, global overview, which is hopefully helpful to many.

What I can do is offer my best analysis and projection on the most significant impact this will have on divorcing couples, and that is its effect on the tax deductibility of spousal support, also sometimes called “alimony” in some states.

Under Section 11051 of this Act, the Bill includes language eliminating the tax deductibility of spousal support by the payor, and corresponding requirement that it be reported as income by the payee. This had been the tax treatment of spousal support for the last approximately 75 years. This new law does not affect any divorce or separation instrument executed by 12/31/2018. So, we all have this year to figure this out.

Internal Revenue Code Section 71(2) defines a “divorce or separation instrument” as “(A) a decree of divorce or separate maintenance or a written instrument incident to such a decree, (B) a written separation agreement, or (C) a decree requiring a spouse to make payments for the support or maintenance of the other spouse.” The law also provides that orders executed before 12/31/2018, which are modified thereafter, will remain under the old taxability rules unless the modification order specifically states that the new rules will apply to it.

I read the law as intended to apply to any spousal support order executed by 12/31/2018, whether so-called “temporary” or “permanent.” I do, however, see some, slight wiggle-room, and would not be shocked if a court ruled that the order had to be part of a Judgment, as opposed to a temporary order only, to preserve the old taxability rules. Again, I believe such a ruling would be in error, but it would not surprise me. If we start to receive any such errant rulings, they will come in early 2019; someone will have to take them up on appeal, and we may not have appellate guidance on that question until late 2019 or early 2020. The court and legal system is invariably slow to catch up with the times.

So, in theory, any order executed before 12/31/2018 can remain under old taxability rules throughout its life, even if modified later. Although, a complete unknown is how trial courts handling modifications will respond. Will the judges as a matter of course from 1/01/2019 forward start shifting modified orders to the new rules? Parties stipulating to modify their pre-2019 orders may well specifically preserve the tax deductible for payor, taxable to payee rules, in order to maintain what they’re used to. But judges presented with modification requests might change the numbers, and the taxability. Not that my opinion matters, but that’s probably what I would do as a judge.

What is certain is that spousal support analyses in the world of family law must adjust in the months and years to come. The bottom line effect of the changes is that spousal support will become like child support – a non-tax event. This means spousal support will have to be paid out of after-tax monies available to the payor, and then will not be taxable income to the payee. Obviously, someone is always paying the taxes. So, what the new law does is shift the tax burden for spousal support from the payee over to the payor. Invariably, a payor is the higher earner, and most the time will therefore also be in a higher tax bracket.

This means that since payors will have to cover the tax burden on spousal support under the new law, they will have less after-tax income available to do so. Therefore, we can expect spousal support awards to be less. Payees can expect to receive smaller checks. Spousal support is a divvying up of two people’s income available after taxes. With the payor paying the taxes on the support, instead of the payee, there is less in that overall pool to share.

One thing that is certain is that if there exists on file at least some kind of spousal support order before 12/31/2018, there should be more options going forward.

From an abundance of caution, we are proposing language like the following in newly drafted support orders, to try to protect against future changes and uncertainties:

“The payment of spousal support from Payor to Payee shall be tax deductible to the Payor and shall be included as taxable income by the Payee on his/her Federal and State personal income tax returns. This is a critical and material provision, and, is part of each party’s expectations in entering the spousal support order set forth herein. In the event the tax treatment of spousal support contemplated herein is disallowed by any taxing authority, and thereby the parties’ expectations regarding their respective net disposable incomes are not met, this shall be a material change of circumstances warranting modification of this spousal support order. Any such modification, whether by stipulation or contested before a judge, shall be retroactive to whatever extent necessary to address the unmet expectations. Additionally, the Payee shall reimburse the Payor an amount to be determined to fairly adjust any support paid during a period of time for which tax deductibility for the Payor was later disallowed by any taxing authority. The parties shall meet and confer to determine the appropriate adjustment and amount of reimbursement should these circumstances arise, as well as the timing (i.e., lump sum or installments) of reimbursement. The Court reserves jurisdiction to effectuate the terms of this Provision.”

I do advise that you speak with your tax preparer or other tax expert about the foregoing, for tax planning purposes and specific tax advice. If you do not have such a person, please let me know and I’d be happy to refer you to someone who can assist you. Contact me at the San Jose Divorce and Family Law Attorneys of Hoover ♦ Krepelka, LLP.

Written by Travis I. Krepelka

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