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Northern Virginia Law Blog

A parenting agreement makes post-divorce life much easier

As you move through the divorce process, you'll have constant worries about the impact of your split on your relationship with your children. It's impossible to know what the future will bring, but there are steps you can take to ease your stress.

A parenting agreement makes post-divorce life easier on you, your ex and your children. With this in place, there's no gray area in regard to child custody and visitation. Everything is laid out in a manner that's simple for you and your ex to follow.

Bankruptcy may be an option for struggling homeowners

Some homeowners in Virginia may find themselves facing a hefty bill after losing a tax break on forgiven mortgage debt. When a home is foreclosed upon or short sold, a portion of mortgage debt is also forgiven. For 10 years, people could exclude up to $2 million of forgiven mortgage debt from their taxable income. As a result, people who were already facing financial hard times could avoid even more debt for an unrepayable mortgage. However, this tax break was temporary, and it expired at the end of 2017. As a result, people with this kind of forgiven mortgage debt may be looking at a high tax burden.

Personal bankruptcy may provide one option for homeowners seeking to escape a massive tax bill that they cannot afford to pay. To take advantage of this option, people would usually need to file for bankruptcy before their taxes are assessed. It is much more complicated to forgive tax debts in bankruptcy than other types of bills like credit card debts, medical bills and car loans. Some advocates are urging Congress to extend the tax break to avoid unnecessary bankruptcies.

Some couples are saving money by getting a divorce

Many happily married Virginia couples would feel uncomfortable asking their spouse for a divorce in order to save some money. However, there are some who are considering a divorce on paper in order to save money, especially high-earning couples who want to avoid the so-called "marriage penalty." This applies to couples who file their taxes jointly and have taxable income in the 37% tax bracket.

In addition to saving money on taxes, there are other reasons why couples are considering strategic divorce in order to benefit financially. One reason has to do with a sick partner being able to get access to health coverage or nursing home care through Medicaid. Another financial benefit that could come from a couple divorcing is helping their children who are about to go to college receive more federal aid. With this situation, if one partner is the custodial parent and is considered to be in the lower income bracket, they are likely to walk away with more money in federal aid as opposed to a married couple where both partners are high earners.

Determining a home's value in a divorce

Estranged Virginia spouses who are seeking a divorce may be interested in retaining their marital homes. In some cases, this is done by buying out the other spouse. There are many different factors that need to be considered when determining how much a buyout could be worth. For instance, it is important to figure out how much equity is in the home. Equity is the value of the home after subtracting the balance owed on a mortgage.

Generally speaking, each spouse is entitled to half of the equity in the home. However, it may not be necessary to actually write a check to whoever is giving up their stake in the property. Instead, the person who is keeping the home could offer other valuable assets such as cash or a stock portfolio in exchange for equity in the home.

Marital problems that lead to divorce

While there is no way to look at a marriage and accurately predict whether or not the union will last, relationship experts, divorce attorneys and psychologists have combined their knowledge to make a list of potential bad habits that a couple may not be able to overcome. Virginia residents might like to know about traits often found in relationships that do not last.

If a married couple never has disagreements, this may not be a good sign. Avoiding an argument does not solve anything or make a problem go away. Ideally, sharing grievances gives both parties a chance to express themselves and feel more comfortable communicating. Moving forward as a couple can be challenging without working on problems.

What to do if you’re pulled over by a police officer

You're driving down the road in Washington, D.C., when you see police lights in your mirror. You hope the officer is going after someone else, but you're concerned that you may be the target.

If you see flashing police lights, turn on your hazard lights and safely pull to the side of the road. Even if the officer doesn't pull you over, it's the safe thing to do.

Many societal forces sending older adults to bankruptcy court

Rising health care expenses, longer lives, fewer pensions and low savings have begun to drive more older adults in Virginia to file for bankruptcy. From 1991 to 2016, data collected by the Consumer Bankruptcy Project showed a 12% rise in people 65 and older who need debt relief. As of 2016, 1 in 7 bankruptcy filers fell into this age group.

Health care inflation has burdened many of these people with medical bills that they cannot pay. Their longer lives add to the difficulty of paying for ongoing medical care. The decades-long decline in trade unions also left many retirees without access to retiree health care benefits after working for years without significant wage increases. The shift away from employer pensions has also limited the income for older adults.

Research shows courts believe parental alienation exists

In child custody cases in Virginia, as in any other state, the top priority is what is best for the children. However, according to research from George Washington University, claims of child sexual abuse are rarely substantiated when the mother makes the claim against the father. The study found that just 1 out of 51 allegations of sexual abuse that are made by the mother against the father are confirmed.

In the other situations, the courts often side with fathers who claim that they are being victimized due to parental alienation. According to a representative from Child Justice, there is a strong belief among judges and attorneys that parental alienation happens frequently. Parental alienation occurs when one person tries to manipulate his or her child into believing that the other parent is a bad or dangerous individual. However, many are skeptical of the researcher who first coined the term Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS).

Research finds emotional, psychological reasons for divorce

Virginia couples who are considering ending their marriages may be doing it because they are not emotionally fulfilled. According to a survey of 2,371 divorced people, psychological and emotional reasons may have replaced reasons such as addiction or violence as the main causes.

The study, which appeared in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, found that 47% of people surveyed said they divorced because there was no love in their marriage any longer. The second most popular reason for divorce was poor communication at 44%. This was unsurprising since this is a well-researched area of marital discord. One woman's comment was that her husband did not talk to her. In third place, people said their marriage failed because they did not trust or respect their partner. Some marriages suffered a break in trust that one or both spouses felt could not be repaired. In fourth place, people said they had grown apart. They could no longer maintain a marriage in which they did not share the same values.

Finding a way to become private in a social media world

In Virginia and across the United States, people thinking about divorce typically have active accounts on one or more social media websites. Although it is fine to maintain an account on Twitter or Facebook during and after divorce proceedings, people who want uncomplicated divorces should think twice about their online profiles. According to research, individuals with active accounts on Facebook and other social media platforms often experience problems with their marriages.

The study does not indicate that social media is responsible for failed marriages. However, data shows that marriages, divorces and social media platforms are somehow connected in important ways. A person who has several social media accounts may want to make sure their settings are private. It is difficult to change remarks about prenuptial agreements once several people make comments. Eliminating negative posts may help Twitter and Facebook account holders experience smoother sailing when they file their divorce documents.


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Bristle & Yi Law, PLLC
9200 Church Street
Suite 202
Manassas, VA 20110

Phone: 703-278-2027
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