Frequently Asked Questions About Family Law
Learn About Divorce from Our Manchester Family Lawyers
At Sekella Law, PLLC, we believe that our clients deserve the utmost in service and support. Part of building a successful case involves client education, and that is why we have included answers to some frequently asked questions on our website. View the information below, or feel free to ask our team of Manchester family law attorneys any additional questions by contacting us at any time.
How Does the New Tax Bill Affect Alimony?
Currently, alimony payments are tax deductible for paying spouses and are taxable as income for receiving spouses. However, this will be altered with the new tax bill. Once the bill goes into effect in January, 2019, alimony payments in agreements or orders approved after that date will no longer be tax deductible. They will also no longer be taxable to the receiving spouses.
This means, if you get divorced on or after January 1, 2019, from a tax standpoint alimony payments made by the payor could be less appealing in an overall property settlement. On the other hand, if you are a recipient of alimony, you won’t have to pay any taxes. This bill is designed to create new tax revenue for the government, and it may make alimony negotiations harder. Our Manchester divorce lawyers can discuss your financial situation and help you seek a reasonable outcome based on this new information.
Can I Use Mediation If My Spouse and I Are Fighting?
Mediation is a helpful tool for couples seeking divorce. It allows you to avoid the expensive, time-consuming and emotional court process. It provides you with an opportunity to sit down with a neutral party and your spouse, ideally with the assistance of a lawyer, to discuss and reach a creative solution regarding the division of assets and property, spousal support, and other issues.
While the concept of mediation is commonly used in collaborative divorce, it is also available to parties that are already involved in the court process and litigation has begun. An impartial mediator can even place you in separate rooms and conduct “shuttle” mediation by acting as a “go-between.” This can help you reach an agreement on important issues without having to endure the stress of a face-to-face interaction with your spouse. If you and your spouse are divorcing, and you want to try mediation, our Manchester mediation attorneys can represent you during the mediation process to look out for you and advise you on which outcome would be in your best interest.
How Do Courts Make Decisions Regarding Child Custody?
Custody (formerly known as physical custody and legal custody, now known as parenting rights and responsibilities) takes two different forms. Physical custody is now the actual schedule you are designated to parent your child, the “Routine Schedule.” Legal custody is now decision-making authority, either joint or sole. Be aware that joint decision-making authority is presumed to be in the best interest of the child and sole is awarded in rare instances, typically with history of proven abuse and/or neglect. In New Hampshire, the courts will make decisions regarding parenting rights and responsibilities (formerly child custody) based on the child’s best interests. This involves a variety of factors, and the child may also be allowed to request a custody arrangement, if evidence shows that the child is reasonably mature.
The court will consider:
- The age, physical and mental health of the child
- The relationship of the child with both parents
- The ability of both parents to support the relationship between the child and other parent
- The ability of each parent to care for the child
- Any history of domestic violence or abuse
The court will also consider other factors specific to each case, like other siblings, proximity of both parties to each residence and the child’s school, and any special needs of the child. These considerations are in place to ensure the child’s physical, mental, social, and emotional needs are protected throughout the process and beyond.
If I Leave the House Can My Spouse Claim Abandonment?
If you have decided to leave the home because of volatility or tension, or some other reason that negatively affects how you and your spouse co-parent, co-exist, and/or communicate, abandonment is an unlikely finding under RSA 458:7. To prove any fault ground, one must prove that the fault ground occurred during the marriage and that it caused the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage.
Under RSA 458:7 VI, when either party has been absent for 2 years and has not been heard of, or when either party, without sufficient cause, and without the consent of the other, has abandoned and refused to cohabit together with the other for 2 years (RSA:7 IX), there are fault grounds associated with abandonment in a divorce process.
Who Pays Child Support If I Share Custody of My Children?
To be clear, an equal or approximately-equal parenting schedule does not necessarily eliminate an award of child support, per RSA 458-C:5(h)(1). In a shared parenting schedule, the courts analyze various factors when considering a request for an adjustment to the application of guideline child support.
Factors that they may take into account when calculating child support include:
- How many expenses you have agreed to share in regards to the child’s life, including costs related to education, health care, clothing, day care, and more.
- If the child’s living situation will significantly reduce costs for the obligor parent.
- The income levels of both parents and how they compare to the costs of raising the child.
Who Gets to Stay in the House & Who Has to Pay for It?
Customarily, if one parent has already vacated the marital home, the party remaining, especially if there are children in the home, most likely would be awarded temporary exclusive use and possession of the home, except in rare circumstances. The courts do not like to make such decisions any more than separating parties do.
In the event the parties have already begun to take steps to separate, such decisions may be officially implemented by the court on a temporary basis. Payment for the mortgage, taxes, insurance, maintenance, and repairs on the home will be assessed by the court on a case-by-case basis. The court will consider any child support and/or alimony awards, as well as which party has the benefit of staying in the home, when determining who will pay the housing costs.
Will I Be Held Responsible for My Spouse’s Debts?
Since it is difficult for the court to determine on a temporary basis which party shall be responsible for which credit cards, loans, lines of credit etc., the court may establish a Temporary Order. This would require both parties to contribute to the “household” debts, unless such an Order is deemed unreasonable or unjust. Each party’s respective income and expenses also play a part in how the court will assess a fair allocation of payment of debts/expenses while the case is pending. As always, you can discuss the matter further with our Manchester divorce lawyers about how your spouse's assets may be divided.
Does NH Have Alimony, & How Does it Work?
Alimony, or spousal support, is available in New Hampshire under RSA 458:19. Unlike child support, where there is a formula by which the obligation is determined, alimony is determined based upon a legal argument; that is to say, one party has a need and the other party has the ability to pay. More specifically, the party in need has to show that he/she lacks sufficient income, property, or both to provide for his/her reasonable needs.
This must take into consideration the standard of living during the marriage. The party seeking alimony must prove that the other party has the ability to pay and would be able to meet his/her own reasonable needs (i.e. living expenses). Once alimony is established, the paying party would have to provide for his/her spouse’s reasonable needs, taking into consideration the standard of living during the marriage.
Do You Offer Preliminary Case Reviews?
Yes! If you would like to request a case review, please reach out to Sekella Law and share the details of what you are going through with our Manchester family law attorneys. We can offer you informative advice on how to proceed in a way that sets you up for success.
Call (603) 686-7229 now to speak to a member of our firm.