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Charlotte Legal Blog

Why some couples might want a prenuptial agreement

Before getting married, soon-to-be spouses in Charlotte might want to consider the benefits of getting a prenuptial agreement. Despite its negative reputation, a prenup can actually open the lines of communication for a couple. For a prenup to be valid, both people must get legal counsel, and neither may conceal any financial assets.

A prenup can be particularly important for someone who owns a business, has a blended family or is getting married for the second time. The documents can protect the business from the other partner if the couple gets divorced. It can also protect any other assets either person is bringing into the marriage. Furthermore, the prenup may specify that neither spouse is responsible for the debts of the other spouse if the two get a divorce.

More older Americans choose divorce

The face of divorce for people in North Carolina and around the country may be a young couple. However, it is becoming increasingly common for couples in the baby boomer generation and older to choose divorce. Since 1990, the divorce rate among Americans aged 50 and up has doubled. In the same period, the same rate for people aged 65 and older has tripled. There is a wide range of factors that can contribute to this seemingly surprising fact about older Americans' marital relationships.

Divorce is more common and widely accepted among families and in society than it was in the past. Therefore, family members' experience with relatives' divorces can affect their likelihood of ending their own marriages. Women with divorced parents are 60 percent more likely to choose divorce themselves while the men with parents who legally split are 35 percent more apt to do the same.

Divorce rates connected to wedding date choices

People in Charlotte planning for their weddings and setting a date for the marriage rarely think about divorce during the occasion. There are a number of reasons why people may choose a particular wedding date; in some cases, it is convenient for the couple's family and friends, and in other cases, it marks an anniversary or other significant occasion. Couples may even choose a wedding date in order to save on their venue costs. However, couples who choose a romantic holiday or other particular date for their wedding may have a higher likelihood of divorce down the line. This is reflected in the findings of one study conducted by researchers at the University of Melbourne.

The researchers examined marriage and divorce records for 1 million couples, and they found some surprising information. Couples who married on Valentine's Day were the most likely to divorce, especially in the years closely following the wedding. Within five years after their marriage, 11 percent of these couples were divorced. Nine years following the wedding, 21 percent had chosen to end their marriage. Other special number days were linked to a higher likelihood of divorce as well.

Addicted parents should seek treatment to keep their kids

Charlotte has not been spared its casualties in the opioid crisis that's sweeping across the United States. In fact, here in North Carolina, almost 40 percent of the children placed into the foster care system in the past two years landed there primarily due to parental substance abuse, according to one child welfare nonprofit, NC Child.

Those statistics are, or should be, sobering. But for parents who are battling their addictions, sobriety remains an elusive state.

Tax law changes can affect divorce settlements

People in Charlotte considering divorce may wonder about the impact that tax reforms will have on the end of their marriages. Divorce can bring significant changes to people's annual tax returns, and the types of changes will soon themselves be strikingly different. Tax reforms passed into law as part of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will go into effect in 2019, reversing the way that alimony and spousal support have been treated in the U.S. tax code for almost 80 years.

While the changes will affect people who divorce on or after New Year's Day in 2019, the existing law will remain in place for everyone who finalizes their divorce before the end of 2018. As a result, some people wary of the new procedure have been rushing to conclude their divorce before the turn of the year. Currently, people who pay alimony can deduct the amount paid from their annual tax returns. In exchange, recipients pay taxes on the income at their own, usually lower, tax rate and can also invest those funds in certain retirement funds. This provides significant benefits to both parties and can encourage a generous alimony payment in a divorce settlement.

Financial assets and divorce

Some couples in North Carolina who get a divorce experience significant stress from the financial uncertainty that may result as they go through the divorce process. However, they can maintain control of their lives and lower their stress levels by taking a serious look at their financial situation. This means having a complete understanding of all of their liabilities, income, assets and expenses.

Individuals can have many different types of financial assets. They may include certificates of deposit, savings bonds, bonds, money-market accounts, stocks, savings accounts and real estate investment trusts. These financial assets may be significantly important to spouses who do not work or who earn a low income as the assets could be used to pay for everyday living expenses.

Business valuations and adjustments to divorce settlements

Business ownership in North Carolina creates many variables for married people to consider when they pursue divorce. Sometimes, both spouses own roughly equal shares. However, it's more likely that only one spouse has a controlling stake in the company. The spouse who has enough shares to exert control might try to skew the valuation of the business to influence the outcome of the divorce settlement.

Attempts to reduce a business's value on paper include hiding assets or downplaying their potential value. Another tactic pumps up expenses and liabilities. A business owner might also assign personal legal expenses to the business. An independent appraiser conducting a valuation investigation might uncover these issues, which could enable the accurate financial disclosure of business assets during divorce negotiations.

Crafting a divorce settlement later in life

Those who divorce at an older age generally don't argue over child custody or child support matters. Instead, the primary issue is how to divide assets in an equitable manner. Specifically, most older couples tend to spend most of their time determining how to divide a retirement account such as an IRA or 401(k). In some divorce cases, a couple may choose to divide the money in the account 50/50.

However, this isn't necessarily the best way to do it. Even if assets are split evenly, it must be done in accordance with a divorce decree. For a qualified plan such as a pension or 401(k), the split must be done in accordance with a qualified domestic relations order. Such an order allows for money to be transferred from one account to another without any tax consequences. If money is removed from an account, an individual avoids the 10 percent early withdrawal penalty if it applies.

Will starting a new company end your marriage?

Starting your new company has been your dream for decades. It's an idea you always loved, and you cannot wait to actually launch the business. You think it can change the industry and your life forever.

Is it also going to end your marriage? Experts warn that the breakdown of your relationship is a very real possibility.

Police lineup reform in North Carolina

North Carolina was one of the first states to respond to the introduction of DNA evidence and the miscarriages of justice it uncovered by changing the way police departments in the state perform eyewitness lineups. DNA evidence has been used to free hundreds of wrongly convicted individuals, and scrutiny of court transcripts reveals that the juries in these cases were often swayed by eyewitnesses who made mistakes.

The Eyewitness Identification Reform Act, which was signed into law in 2007, requires lineups in North Carolina to be conducted by independent administrators who do not know the identification of the suspect and are not involved in the ongoing investigation. Photo arrays also require an independent administrator whenever possible, but alternatives such as a computer program may sometimes be used. The law also requires witnesses to be told that a suspect may not even be present and the investigation will continue regardless of the outcome.

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301 South McDowell Street, Suite 130
Charlotte, NC 28204

Phone: 704-323-7833
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