Making the decision to contact a family law attorney to address your legal issues is understandably stressful, and can add anxiety to the already painful concerns that have prompted your need for representation and legal advice. Whether your matter is related to divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, alimony pendente lite, alimony, or equitable distribution matters, knowing in advance what to expect can help you be prepared and raise your comfort level. The information provided here will hopefully take some of the mystery and worry out of taking that first step: the consultation.

Once you have contacted the law firm and have confirmed that there are no existing conflicts, you will be scheduled for a consultation with a family law attorney. Consultations generally last for an hour but could be longer depending on the circumstances of your case. Prior to your consultation you should gather documents for the family law attorney to review. You should bring your important financial documents to the initial consultation, including tax returns, bank statements, retirement account statements, 401(k) statements, and mortgage statements. You should also bring any statements as to liabilities such as credit card statements, loan documentation and the like. If you have been served any legal documents, such as complaints for child support or spousal support, petitions for child custody, complaints in divorce, notices of any hearings or conferences, you should bring those for the attorney to review during the consultation. Likewise, if there are existing court orders in your matter, such as child custody orders, child support orders, spousal support or alimony pendente lite orders, marital settlement agreements, or any other order, you should bring those documents as well.

When you contact a family law attorney to schedule a consultation, you may already have a lot of questions. Write those questions down and bring them to the consultation so they can be addressed during your initial meeting. In the beginning of the consultation, the attorney will ask about the specific circumstances of your case. Some of these questions may seem very personal or irrelevant but please understand it is necessary. You will also be advised of the applicable laws in Pennsylvania or New Jersey. The family law attorney needs to have a complete understanding as to your facts and circumstances in order to provide quality information. This may be overwhelming, but you will have the opportunity to have your questions answered.

Pursuing a family law matter can be difficult and stressful, but understanding what the first step entails and coming to the consultation prepared will lower your anxiety and result in a more productive experience.

Without a doubt, the financial issues arising from the Coronavirus Pandemic and the resulting shutdown of businesses and “stay-at-home” order issued in Pennsylvania by Governor Wolf have had a major impact for many, including those with Support obligations,  as well as those who rely on those payments.

As everyone has heard by now, the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed on December 22, 2017, and is now law.  While the name may be confusing, what it means for taxpayers is that many tax laws are changing.  Attorneys and accountants are still figuring out what the impact of the Act  will be, and more direction will be provided by the IRS in the coming months and years.  This is the first in a series of blogs designed to demystify the new tax laws that may impact those who are divorced or currently in the process of getting divorced.

Alimony has long been tax deductible to the payor (person paying alimony) and added to taxable income to the recipient (the person receiving alimony), as long as specific requirements set forth by the IRS are followed.  The result has been an income shift from the party that pays a higher tax rate to the party that pays a lower tax rate.  In the end, both parties under this scenario end up with more money than if alimony were not taxable or deductible.  This treatment has applied to spousal support, alimony pendente lite and alimony.

With the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, such treatment of alimony will change, but not right away.   As of now, the change is only for tax years 2019 through 2025, and specifically will only apply to agreements signed after December 31, 2018.  It remains to be seen what will happen after 2025, or possibly before if there are additional changes to the tax code.  There is an exception made, however, for those who have already entered into an agreement on or before December 31, 2018.  The law changes for all agreements entered after December 31, 2018, so that the alimony will no longer be deductible for the payor, or count as income to the recipient.  It remains to be seen if there are any changes to how the amount of spousal support, alimony pendente lite or alimony are calculated given the change in the tax law.  If there are no changes to the calculations, the result will be a loss of tax advantage for the party paying support, while the party receiving support will receive the benefit.  If there are changes to the support calculations, I would anticipate that we will know by the end of this year.  Stay tuned.

Blogger Bios

  • Alan Wandalowski Alan Wandalowski
    Alan concentrates his practice in Estate Planning, Estate Administration, Elder Law, Estate…
  • Bill MacMinn Bill MacMinn
    Bill concentrates his practice in the area of litigation, including Commercial Litigation,…
  • Christopher D. Wagner Christopher D. Wagner
    Christopher Wagner is an experienced and results-driven business law attorney with a comprehensive understanding…
  • Elaine T. Yandrisevits Elaine T. Yandrisevits
    As an estate planning attorney, Elaine Yandrisevits is committed to guiding individuals…
  • Elizabeth J. Fineman Elizabeth J. Fineman
    Elizabeth Fineman concentrates her practice on domestic relations matters and handles a…
  • Gabriel Montemuro Gabriel Montemuro
    Gabe’s practice focuses on litigation, including commercial litigation, personal injury, estate and…
  • Jennifer Dickerson Jennifer Dickerson
    Jennifer Dickerson is committed to a career focused on helping individuals and…
  • Jessica A. Pritchard Jessica A. Pritchard
    Jessica A. Pritchard, focuses her practice exclusively in the area of family…
  • Joanne Murray Joanne Murray
    Joanne concentrates her practice in the areas of Business Law, Business Transactions,…
  • Lisa A. Bothwell Lisa A. Bothwell
    Lisa Bothwell counsels corporate/business clients on the formation, operation, acquisition, and sale…
  • Lynelle Gleason Lynelle Gleason
    Lynelle A. Gleason has spent her legal career in Bucks County, representing…
  • Melanie J. Wender Melanie J. Wender
    Melanie J. Wender is a dedicated and supportive advocate for individuals and families…
  • Michael Klimpl Michael Klimpl
    Michael’s practice areas include Real Estate, Municipal Law, Zoning and Land Use, Employment…
  • Michael W. Mills Michael W. Mills
    Mike is devoted to helping businesses build value and improve working capital,…
  • Patricia Collins Patricia Collins
    Patty has been practicing law since 1996 in the areas of Employment…
  • Peter J. Smith Peter J. Smith
    Pete is a business lawyer and trusted partner to his corporate clients…
  • Stephanie M. Shortall Stephanie M. Shortall
    Throughout her career, Stephanie has developed a practice focused on advising closely…
  • Susan Maslow Susan Maslow
    Sue concentrates her practice primarily in general corporate transactional work and finance…
  • Thomas P. Donnelly Thomas P. Donnelly
    Tom’s practice focuses on commercial litigation and transactions. In litigation, Tom represents…