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Happy 2019 . . . Now About Alimony

Meghan was on WTIC radio to talk about this:

The new tax code that takes effect this year changes the way alimony is treated for tax purposes. As you can see from the flow chart (left) released by the IRS, alimony will . . .

. . . okay, that’s the quadratic equation from Algebra II days past. The IRS hasn’t released a flow chart, there’s not much need for them to do so, the change is, on surface, simple: the person paying alimony can no longer deduct it. The person receiving alimony no longer has to claim it as income.  A complete reversal of the way alimony was treated, seemingly forever.

There was a siren call by family law attorneys over the last months of 2018 advising “if you’re thinking about divorce, better get it done before January 1st, because …” well, various ominous warnings.

As Meghan told WTIC (you can hear her by clicking on her picture) it quite simply isn’t the end of the word for either divorcing spouse.

She’s quite confident because here’s the thing: alimony in Connecticut has always been a bit complicated. Or very complicated, depending on a passel of variables that do, indeed, occasionally resemble the quadratic equation.

Connecticut courts do not maintain statutory alimony guidelines, as they do for child support. There are no established baselines making estimates of what the court may or may not accept hard if not impossible to predict.

As you would expect income(s) play a factor in the determination of alimony, it’s just that in Connecticut, the courts factor in many other elements. Income is important, it is not the controlling factor.  Income is just one variable, the others are length of marriage, cause(s) of the divorce, present (and perhaps future) earning capacities of the spouses, prenuptial agreements, health – physical and mental – factors, and more.

Put all those things together and, assuming the spouses can’t settle on a number themselves, the judge weighs them and decides.

After the tax change, just add taxes to the pile of variables. Another variable to be considered, another variable to be planned for. A great place to have a team approach and bring a tax expert into the process.

Here’s the bottom line: just as the new alimony tax rules weren’t a reason to get divorced in 2018, they’re not the reason to not get divorced in 2019.

Written by Freed Marcroft