Archive for March, 2011

When “It’s Just No Good Anymore”

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011

When some couples, as some couples do, come to the end of the road in the marriage, the no-fault grounds - irretrievable breakdown or irreconcilable differences, depending upon the jurisdiction in which they reside - are the grounds for a no-fault divorce.

Basically, irretrievable breakdown or irreconcilable differences mean what a divorce appellant says it mean. These terms, unknown to divorce literature before the 1970s, are big enough in their interpretation, so that a couple who have come to the end of road, who have tried and failed to make a go of it, can dissolve the marriage. In effect, no fault means the marriage died, but no one killed it through his or her actions, and no one is at fault for the failure. Since no one is at fault, there is nothing to prove. In some jurisdictions, couples who reach this point may file jointly.

No-fault does not mean no pain. Very often even when one spouse agrees that the marriage has broken down, he or she may not really want the marriage to end. And many people who end a marriage often find special sadness in the popular song “One Is the Loneliest Number,” with its sad refrain “It’s just no good anymore since you went away…”

What no-fault divorce means that no two people can be forced to stay married when one of them wants out.

Relief for a Spouse Who Does No Wrong - Innocent Spouse Rule

Monday, March 14th, 2011

Sometimes a spouse who acts in good faith finds herself (it is almost always the wife) with a tax liability because of the illegal actions of her former husband. Normally, married couples filing jointly have what is known as joint and several liability, which means that the Internal Revenue Service holds each liable for taxes owed.

Many women, even in the midst of a divorce, will sign what their husbands tell them to sign. Not infrequently, these same women find themselves with tax liabilities when the I.R.S. reviews joint returns.

Section 434(c)(1) of the Internal Revenue Code, which was enacted in 1998, now protects the innocent spouse from tax liabilities when four conditions can be met. They are as follows:

A joint return contained “an understatement in tax due to an erroneous item” related to the former spouse;

> The innocent spouse had “neither actual, nor implied understanding” of the liability when she signed the return:

> Payment of the understated tax and penalties would be unfair to the innocent spouse;

> The innocent spouse elects to apply for relief within two years of the time that the I.R.S. begins collection efforts.

Good legal advice is recommended when a woman finds herself contemplating use of the Innocent Spouse Rule.

Alimony

Tuesday, March 1st, 2011

One of Four Categories

When a court awards alimony, the spousal support is generally in one of four categories. They are as follows:

Limited Duration or Term Alimony, which is paid to the dependent spouse for a fixed number of years. The term is usually based on the number of years of the marriage and the needs of the dependent spouse.

Rehabilitative Alimony, which is awarded to the dependent spouse so that she or he can study or train with an eye to rejoining the work force.

Reimbursement Alimony, which is paid to the dependent spouse who has made sacrifices for the other spouse, for example lost career or business opportunities while the other spouse went to school, for the supposed betterment of the marital union.

Permanent Alimony, which is paid to the dependent spouse who has little or no chance of reentering the workforce. This award frequently goes to an older woman who was in a long-term marriage, a person who has no or little chance of reentering the work force.

In awarding alimony, courts have latitude and, depending upon the jurisdiction and the circumstances of the divorce, consider a variety of mandatory and discretionary factions.