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What happens on social networking sites stays in the public domain, which more and more divorcing couples are experiencing to their detriment. Evidence found on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter is increasingly used in family law courts. Judges take information gleaned from these sites as a factor in child custody decisions, alimony awards and property division.

Even dating sites, like Match.com have been used by Judges in deciding incomes for support purposes. If you think it is a good idea to inflate your income to look more attractive to prospective partners, you might want to reconsider doing that unless you are prepared to be held to that income for purposes of support. Remember, Judges have the power to decide credibility and if they don’t believe the income you present on paper and you are self-employed, they can and do hold you to a higher income, especially if you boast about how much you make on dating websites.

One ex-spouse’s claim that she could not work because of injuries sustained in a car accident was repudiated by her posts regarding her belly dancing activities, which prompted a New York Judge to deny her claim for spousal support. Parents seeking custody of their children can have their hopes crushed when posting photos online involving alcohol or drug use. Claims that one spouse cannot afford a certain level of alimony ring hollow when he or she “tweets” about buying a brand-new car or about vacations they are taking with others.

PRIVACY FEATURES MAY NOT MATTER
Many social networking sites have privacy features, but this does not always protect such information from being used in court. Judges are increasingly allowing access to online photos, posts and other information, even if protected or reserved for “friends,” by the opposing party in discovery (the legal process of obtaining evidence in a court case). In addition, many people unfamiliar with various privacy settings do not use those features, meaning anyone can access that information, including opposing attorneys.

TIPS FOR ONLINE POSTINGS DURING DIVORCE
Many experienced divorce lawyers urge their clients to practice caution when posting online, especially when in the middle of a contested divorce. While it can be tempting to vent online, negative posts about the ex-spouse or the divorce process, for example, can actually harm the poster. Generally, it is best simply to stay away from social networking sites altogether when going through divorce; if that seems too extreme, at least be aware that what is posted may very well end up in court. If inappropriate to say in front of a Judge, chances are posting it online isn’t a good idea either.

If you are facing divorce, contact a knowledgeable family law attorney who can advise you on property division, child custody and potential alimony.

Some people going through a divorce in New Jersey may attempt to hide assets to prevent a spouse from receiving them in the split.

Any divorce in New Jersey presents a myriad of decisions that must be made: perhaps it has to do with how property may be divided or who will have custody of the children. Though the details of each case may differ, there is one constant: each party should be honest in disclosing any information that would be pertinent to making these decisions.

In fact, New Jersey laws require parties to complete and submit a “family case information statement” within a timeframe set by the court. The statement details family information, employment and income.

When it comes to property division, having a complete picture of each spouse’s assets is critical to ensuring the equitable distribution of those assets. Unfortunately, some people attempt to obscure items in an effort to prevent the loss of them. Here are some signs that this may be occurring:

Large purchases

Cash tends to be king, as it has a concrete value and is easily divided. However, cash is easily spent. When one spouse starts making large purchases – such as with expensive artwork, cars or taking big trips – it may be in an effort to prevent the other spouse from getting that cash. In other words, the cash is being converted into physical assets – and the spouse could even attempt to underreport the actual value of those assets.

Another way to minimize the amount of cash available in a divorce is to overpay a credit card or other debt. Perhaps one spouse decides to start putting extra money into the house payment. Sometimes, people create “fake” debts, such as money owed to a friend, in order to “pay off” the debt so the person essentially holds on to the cash until the divorce is final. This should raise a red flag.

Questionable statements

It is always critical to monitor statements from credit card companies and investments. But what happens if those statements suddenly go missing? Or perhaps have unexpected transactions on them? It could indicate that a spouse is trying to keep his or her other half from accessing assets.

People going through a divorce should also keep an eye out for new statements from banks or credit card companies that may be new. While it is not illegal for someone to open a new account during this time, it is essential that they disclose that information during the divorce proceedings.

Underreported income

Even with the financial disclosure statement is submitted, both parties should thoroughly review it for accuracy. Some people may try to underreport what they make. Though a W-2 or other tax form could easily dispute this, it is not always as easy with people who are paid in cash.

Uncovering assets

Fortunately, with a little work, these hidden assets may be uncovered. Experts suggest hiring a forensic accountant or other specialist who can do a deep dive into a couple’s assets. This process may require providing names, addresses and Social Security numbers of family members.

Anyone who has concerns about this issue should speak with a family law attorney in New Jersey.

National statistics show that very few alimony recipients are men, even though a rising number of men may be eligible to receive this financial support.

Spouses getting divorced in Langhorne may be awarded alimony and/or spousal support, to address financial inequalities during and after divorce. State family law courts use various factors to determine how much spousal support should be awarded and how long this support should continue. These considerations are gender-neutral, so support is equally available to divorcing men and women. However, statistics suggest that many men do not receive the support that they may be entitled to.

MEN AND SPOUSAL SUPPORT
According to Forbes, Census data shows that about 400,000 Americans receive alimony. However, just 3 percent of those people – or about 12,000 individuals – are men. This seems to reflect a gap between the number of men who receive alimony and the number of men who are eligible for it. According to the same data, women act as primary breadwinners in about 40 percent of U.S. households.

Less formal data suggests that the number of men receiving alimony might be increasing. According to Reuters, in 2012, an American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers survey focused on the number of women paying alimony. About 47 percent of the AAML members who responded stated that more women were paying spousal support to their ex-husbands. Still, a large number of men may go without spousal support that they could benefit from.

QUALIFYING FOR ALIMONY
In Pennsylvania, many men may be eligible to receive support. When awarding support and alimony, family law judges in the state consider various financial factors, including inheritances, current property, income, retirement accounts and future earning potential. Men with limited personal assets, income or earning opportunities may qualify for support.

The court may also assess less easily quantified factors. These include one spouse’s contribution to the other’s education or career; the marital standard of living; and the liabilities each spouse will incur while caring for the couple’s children. When these variables are weighed in, many men might be eligible for at least limited support.

POTENTIAL BARRIERS
Unfortunately, statistics indicate that many men do not receive the support that they may be entitled to. Forbes notes that there may be various explanations for this pattern, including the following:

Traditional stereotypes about gender roles may make some men reluctant to seek financial assistance.
For similar reasons, divorcing women may be more inclined to fight against paying support or alimony.
Unconscious biases may make judges more likely to award men limited support or decline to award it.
Despite these potential barriers, men should strongly consider exercising their rights to pursue support before divorce proceedings are complete. After a settlement has been finalized, spouses cannot change their minds about choosing to seek alimony.

For this reason, divorcing men may benefit from consulting with a family law attorney with experience in high-income divorce and support/alimony awards. An attorney may be able to offer advice on a spouse’s rights or assist the spouse in seeking needed support.

Alimony in Pennsylvania is usually awarded as rehabilitative or reimbursement alimony. As it sounds, reimbursement alimony helps to pay back a spouse for helping with some major expense of the ex-spouse, often education. Rehabilitative alimony is generally awarded for a fixed time period to give the receiving spouse time to receive training or otherwise become self-supporting.

However, there are times when the possibility of a spouse becoming self-supporting is unlikely. In these circumstances, a ruling of permanent alimony is possible.

The awarding of alimony depends on 17 factors defined by law. In summary, those factors include matters of standard of living during the marriage, income level or income potential of each spouse, and various available financial resources weighed against financial need. Also considered are marital misconduct, each spouse’s contribution to the care of minor children, the length of the marriage, and the health of each spouse.

The factors that weigh most heavily on the question of permanent alimony include:

  • The presence of long-term or permanent physical or mental disability or illness
  • The length of the marriage
  • The age of the spouse and the lack of marketable skills that would allow a spouse to be reasonably expected to attain self-support

The word “permanent” is somewhat misleading, because such alimony can in actuality be stopped if the payer or recipient dies or if the recipient either remarries or co-habits with a member of the opposite sex who is not a relative.

Permanent alimony can also be modified, if the circumstances of either spouse change substantially and are expected to be long-term.

When couples negotiate an agreement, they may be able to determine a fair alimony payment that takes into consideration their standard of living, budgeted expenses and income, and the financial opportunities of each spouse. Since the rules governing the awarding of alimony in Pennsylvania are not distinctly defined and there is no set calculation, the amount and duration of alimony awarded is entirely at the discretion of the judge, and therefore sometimes a surprise to both spouses.

An experienced divorce lawyer can help you negotiate an agreement that is fair to both parties, or when necessary, help you present your best possible position in court. Reach out to us here at Ulmer Law to discuss how we can help you.


A change in marital status means many changes to your tax situation. It’s important to inform the IRS of these changes and review the effects of your different options in order to get the most beneficial tax results.

If you have changed your legal address, the IRS has to be officially informed by filing Form 8822. If you change your name, you need to inform the Social Security Administration, using Form SS-5.

To avoid withholding too much or too little from your paychecks now that your family size and/or family income has changed, ask your HR department for a new W-4 form and make the necessary changes.

Filing Status

There are five tax-filing statuses: single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household, and qualified widow(er) with dependent child. While the last option is not available to you, which of the other options you use depends on multiple variables.

The IRS considers your marital status as of midnight on December 31. If your divorce was finalized on December 30, you cannot file with either of the “married” options. If you don’t get divorced until January 1, you cannot file as “single,” even if you did not live together, because you were still married as of December 31.

If, however, you were separated for more than six months, you were paying the majority of household expenses, and you have at least one dependent, you can file as “head of household.”

Before determining your tax filing status, consider the tax effects of each of your options. While married filing jointly has a higher standard deduction, you are then both liable for whatever taxes are incurred. If your income is significantly lower than your spouse’s, you may be better off filing as married filing separately or as head of household, if that is an option. Remember, however, you cannot file as single if you are still legally married on December 31.

Claiming Dependents

If the divorce decree does not dictate who claims the children, the IRS rules that the parent with whom the children stay for the majority of the year (usually the custodial parent) can claim them as dependents. In the unlikely event that they stay with each parent the exact number of days in a year, the parent with the higher adjusted gross income can claim them.

The parent who claims the children is then eligible for other tax benefits: an increase in Earned Income Credit, possible Child Tax Credit, Child and Dependent Care Credit, and educational or medical deductions.

Alimony and Child Support

Child support is neither tax deductible by the payer nor needs to be reported by the receiver. The thought is that if the parents had not divorced, they would be paying for their children’s food, clothing, and housing, none of which is tax deductible, therefore child support is not tax deductible.

Alimony is handled differently, depending on whether your divorce took place before or after December 31, 2018.


For divorces prior to 12/31/18, the payer is able to deduct alimony from taxable income, and the receiver has to report the alimony as taxable income. For divorces after 12/31/18, the payer may not deduct alimony from taxable income, and the receiver does not report the alimony as taxable income.

This significant change is due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which went into effect for alimony as of January 1, 2019. Divorces prior to that date are grandfathered into the old tax law unless modifications are made to the divorce agreement.

 

Given the many changes that can take place in the first year or two after divorce, it’s best to work with a tax advisor who is familiar with the tax challenges associated with divorce. A good divorce lawyer should be able to recommend a tax professional who can help you.


Some people going through a divorce in New Jersey may attempt to hide assets to prevent a spouse from receiving them in the split.

Any divorce in New Jersey presents a myriad of decisions that must be made: perhaps it has to do with how property may be divided or who will have custody of the children. Though the details of each case may differ, there is one constant: each party should be honest in disclosing any information that would be pertinent to making these decisions.

In fact, New Jersey laws require parties to complete and submit a “family case information statement” within a timeframe set by the court. The statement details family information, employment and income.

When it comes to property division, having a complete picture of each spouse’s assets is critical to ensuring the equitable distribution of those assets. Unfortunately, some people attempt to obscure items in an effort to prevent the loss of them. Here are some signs that this may be occurring:

Large purchases

Cash tends to be king, as it has a concrete value and is easily divided. However, cash is easily spent. When one spouse starts making large purchases – such as with expensive artwork, cars or taking big trips – it may be in an effort to prevent the other spouse from getting that cash. In other words, the cash is being converted into physical assets – and the spouse could even attempt to underreport the actual value of those assets.

Another way to minimize the amount of cash available in a divorce is to overpay a credit card or other debt. Perhaps one spouse decides to start putting extra money into the house payment. Sometimes, people create “fake” debts, such as money owed to a friend, in order to “pay off” the debt so the person essentially holds on to the cash until the divorce is final. This should raise a red flag.

Questionable statements

It is always critical to monitor statements from credit card companies and investments. But what happens if those statements suddenly go missing? Or perhaps have unexpected transactions on them? It could indicate that a spouse is trying to keep his or her other half from accessing assets.

People going through a divorce should also keep an eye out for new statements from banks or credit card companies that may be new. While it is not illegal for someone to open a new account during this time, it is essential that they disclose that information during the divorce proceedings.

Underreported income

Even with the financial disclosure statement is submitted, both parties should thoroughly review it for accuracy. Some people may try to underreport what they make. Though a W-2 or other tax form could easily dispute this, it is not always as easy with people who are paid in cash.

Uncovering assets

Fortunately, with a little work, these hidden assets may be uncovered. Experts suggest hiring a forensic accountant or other specialist who can do a deep dive into a couple’s assets. This process may require providing names, addresses and Social Security numbers of family members.

Anyone who has concerns about this issue should speak with a family law attorney in New Jersey.

Prenuptial agreements offer blended families a way of estate planning as well as protecting spouses in the event of a future divorce.

Anyone in Pennsylvania who has been prematurely widowed or divorced at least once knows that sometimes a marriage does not last as long as originally hoped or planned. Many people choose to get remarried and often question whether they need a prenuptial agreement for various reasons.

The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers noted in a 2016 survey that the prior three years had seen a jump in the number of prenups created.

Protection in the event of another divorce

The possibility of a divorce always exists and that can spell financial disaster for some. In addition to salvaging some assets, U.S. News and World Report notes that a prenup might even help protect one spouse from getting stuck with the other person’s debt.

Many people go into second or third marriages with children (or grandchildren) from previous relationships whom the parents or grandparents want to protect financially in case remarriage ends in divorce.

In divorce, separate property that belongs only to one spouse because he or she owned it prior to the marriage or received it as a gift or inheritance that continues to be held in that person’s name alone normally remains the property of that spouse, however, the increase in value becomes marital. This can be sheltered by a prenuptial agreement so that the increase in value can also be protected. Marital property, meaning assets accumulated during marriage by either spouse or by them jointly, is divided equitably or fairly in divorce unless a prenuptial agreement determines what assets are distributed and in what percentage. A prenuptial agreement also may be used to determine the level of spousal support or alimony or if there is a payment at all to the other spouse.

In a prenuptial agreement, the parent of a child from a prior relationship could negotiate that part of future marital property go to that child. For example, the parent might want to direct the marital part of his or her retirement accounts or part of the equity in other accounts or assets go to support or benefit the child, rather than becoming part of the marital property subject to division.

If the child has disabilities, the parent might want certain assets of the marriage to go into a special needs trust to protect the child’s future.

A prenuptial agreement entered into before the marriage can set forth the course of what will happen in a divorce and eliminate doubts on motives of the spouse.

Lifestyle provisions

Trying to include some lifestyle provisions might not be reasonable, such as how one spouse should wear their hair. Other matters may well be included in a marital contract. According to Time, use of social media is a topic often referenced in these documents nowadays to prevent one person from publicly humiliating or denigrating the other during or after a divorce.

A prenuptial agreement might also designate who will get the family’s pets if the couple divorces.

Estate planning assistance

Fidelity Investments explains that a prenuptial agreement can aid in a couple’s estate planning, especially when one or both spouses has children from prior marriages.

People may understandably want to take care of their spouses after they die. They also might want to make sure that their children or grandchildren from previous relationships receive certain assets or family heirlooms.

With no prenup directing assets to people outside the marriage, a spouse might automatically inherit certain assets when the other person dies even if there is a will in place as a spouse can elect to take against a will. The surviving spouse could live for quite some time longer in which case there may be little to nothing left of the estate to pass on to the deceased spouse’s children. The surviving spouse might also leave remaining assets to their biological children only and not the children of the spouse who died first. A prenuptial agreement can be used to waive that elective share and allow the will to control in the event of death.

Family businesses

Oftentimes there may be a family business that a spouse wishes to keep separate in the event of death or divorce. The spouse and his or her family may desire to keep the business intact and in the hands of family members or other owners or to avoid expensive and intrusive evaluations of their records. A prenuptial agreement can aid in easing the mind of other family members and creating a better family environment without the threats that may otherwise occur.

Otherwise, if the other spouse has an interest in the business in divorce or as an heir, the business might have to be sold or take on significant debt to pay the other spouse his or her share. In addition, if the business becomes embroiled in a court proceeding, the discovery process to determine its size, value and ownership can be expensive.

Legal assistance

Anyone contemplating remarriage should contact an experienced attorney prior to walking down the aisle for the second time. This will give him or her the insight of a professional to help make decisions about a prenuptial agreement. At a minimum, no potential spouse should sign a prenup before talking to a lawyer about its implications.

The family lawyers at Karen Ann Ulmer, P.C, represent people approaching remarriage in Eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including providing advice about, reviewing, drafting and negotiating prenuptial agreements. The are available for consultations by phone prior to coming in to the office to determine if you would benefit from a prenuptial agreement.

Spousal support and alimony are calculated based on a complex combination of factors including income, age, health, length of marriage, and expenses. These calculations vary from state to state, but the assumption is usually that the spouse receiving support from the ex (and statistically, it’s usually the wife) does not have another adult partner helping to provide financial support.


But what if you suspect your ex-wife is living with someone and getting help paying the bills? This doesn’t have to be a romantic relationship. The issue is primarily whether or not she’s getting financial help. If that’s the case, your support or alimony would likely be reduced or terminated. So how can you prove it?


1. Surveillance: This can be done by you or by a private investigator. A private investigator may be pricey, but you will avoid the possibility of being accused of stalking or harassment. In addition, a private eye can testify in court. One thing to look for is car activity. Is your ex-spouse’s car at another address overnight on a regular basis, or is someone else’s car at her house overnight frequently? Get pictures of the car there late at night and still there early the next morning. Getting pictures of your spouse or the other person coming or going is also helpful.


2. Look for evidence: You’ll want to interview neighbors and friends. Ask questions that may lead to information about the living arrangements or recent behavior of your ex. You should also watch social media. Are there lots of posts that mention a significant other? Images of them together? Take screenshots.


3. Get subpoenas: Cell tower location data will tell you where your spouse has been. Records from the landlord, utility companies, and banks that hold loans or the mortgage can help determine who’s writing the checks. A records request from local law enforcement can tell you who has listed that address as their address. It will also tell you if there’s been any police activity there.


This information may be particularly valuable if children are involved. Cohabitation may affect child custody arrangements, especially if any police activity has taken place at the residence where your spouse lives.


Again, rules change from state to state, and some require remarriage to terminate alimony. Look into the rules of your state on this matter, and if necessary, take some of the steps listed above to find out once and for all if your spouse is getting significant financial help.

Alimony is support paid to an ex-spouse following the divorce decree. The amount of alimony is based on the incomes of the parties but may also be affected by the distribution of other marital assets, if any. The length of alimony is directly attributable to the length of the marriage. For example, a party may expect approximately 1 year of alimony for every 3 years married. For marriages of over 25 years, an indefinite term of alimony may be appropriate. Unless otherwise stated by agreement, alimony may be subsequently modified due the changed circumstances of either party. The changes must be substantial and of a continuing nature. Parties to a private agreement may stipulate that alimony is non-modifiable in amount, duration, or both.

If a court is making a decision on an alimony award they must consider the factors listed in Section 3701 of the Domestic Relations statue. The factors to be considered by the court include: (1) The relative earnings and earning capacities of the parties; (2) The ages, and the physical, mental and emotional conditions of the parties; (3) The sources of income of both parties including but not limited to medical, retirement, insurance of other benefits; (4) The expectancies and inheritances of the parties; (5) The duration of the marriage; (6) The contribution by one party to the education, training or increased earning power of the other party; (7) The extent to which it would be inappropriate for a party, because said party will be custodian of a minor child, to seek employment outside the home; (8) The standard of living of the parties established during the marriage; (9) The relative education of the parties and the time necessary to acquire sufficient education or training to enable the party seeking alimony to find appropriate employment; (10) The relative assets and liabilities of the parties; (11) The property brought to the marriage by either party; (12) The contribution of a spouse as homemaker; (13) The relative needs of the parties; (14) The marital misconduct of either of the parties during the marriage; however, the marital misconduct of either of the parties during separation subsequent to the filing of a divorce complaint shall not be considered by the court in its determinations relative to alimony. Adultery can serve as a bar to alimony.

Allocation is the identification of separate portions of a support award where a party receives both child support and some form of spousal support simultaneously. Child support and alimony payments have different tax consequences. Child support is not tax deductible by the payor or taxed as income to the payee. The exact opposite is true of alimony. Alimony can be claimed as a tax deduction for the payor and must be claimed as income by the payee. Parties can reach a mutual agreement to allocate a support award however they see fit. Where support is calculated pursuant to the guidelines, the Order will spell out what portion of the support award is child support versus what portion of the support award is alimony.

Child support is payable to the custodial parent until the child is 18 or graduates high school, whichever is later. Child support is subject to modification based on a change in circumstances such as different income for the parents, different expenses for the child or a different custody schedule. Alimony is support paid to an ex-spouse following the divorce decree. The amount of alimony is largely based on the incomes of the parties but may also be affected by the distribution of the other assets, if any. Unless otherwise stated by agreement, alimony may be subsequently modified due the changed circumstances of either party. The changes must be substantial and of a continuing nature. As previously alluded to, an alimony provision within an agreement between the parties may not be modified in the absence of a specific provision allowing such a modification within the agreement.