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Brooklyn Family Law Blog

How to setup and stop wage garnishments for child support

When parents in New York pay child support, they may wonder about the process behind setting up and stopping wage garnishments. According to the Office of Child Support Enforcement, setting up child support garnishments is the job of an employer for an employee or a company that is able to withhold income on behalf of an independent contractor.

Income withholding orders typically come from child support agencies, state and local governments, tribes and even attorneys. However, individuals may notify withholders as well. In fact, anyone may send an IWO. When an employer or equivalent honors an IWO, it must prioritize child support over all other garnishments.

Retirement savings can be affected by new alimony tax rule

Unless couples are older when divorcing in New York, retirement is probably the last thing on their minds. For a long time, this may have been just fine. However, the new tax reform that took effect in 2019, made changes that could cause spousal support to affect retirement plans.

CNBC notes that the ex-spouse paying spousal support can no longer deduct this amount from their taxable income. The spouse receiving the income may no longer pay taxes on the income provided. In the past, divorcees had to pay spousal support in cash. However, the new rules allow people to make transfers from their retirement account.

How can online media reveal my financial status?

When it comes to high asset divorces, financial honesty is the name of the game. Spouses that misrepresent how much they earn or possess in assets can end up with a stiffer asset division or increased child support or alimony payments. While some New York spouses try their best to conceal their wealth, sometimes it can slip out on social media, not just on Facebook or Instagram, but through other modes of digital communication.

According to the Huffington Post, people who claim a modest income to avoid child support or asset division may be in for a rude surprise if they reveal their true financial status through pictures on their social sites. Taking a vacation picture at a luxurious locale may invite questions about how the spouse paid for the trip. Pictures of expensive purchases can also be a tipoff that a spouse is richer than he or she is letting on.

Should your custody agreement address social media?

Social media has become a phenomenon in recent years. If your son or daughter has not created an online identity, he or she is likely to do so soon. In fact, according to some estimates, roughly 56% of kids in the United States use some type of social media. 

While you may not be able to prevent your children from engaging online, you can work to foster a family culture of safety and responsibility. If you are co-parenting in a post-divorce family, using your parenting plan or custody agreement to set reasonable expectations may be a good idea. 

New York is one of the best states to be a custodial parent

There is no one set amount of child support payments that all states adhere to. Because of this, if a custodial parent moves from New York to another state, it may lead to lower child support payments. It may even make it more difficult to enforce child support orders, based on the infrastructure available in the area they move to.

CBS proves this point by comparing Massachusetts to Vermont. If the custodial parent moved from the former to the latter, they could see child support payments reduced by half. Moving to Virginia could cause a reduction of up to two-thirds. Meanwhile, remaining in New York or moving to the state from anywhere else in America may lead to an increase in child support payments.

Is divorce mediation the right choice?

Couples who decide to go through divorce proceedings in New York have a lot of decisions to make regarding asset and debt division, living situations, child custody and support. Another decision they must make is whether to use litigation or mediation. Some couples choose divorce mediation because it is typically less emotionally stressful, more affordable and it is usually a faster process. However, it is also important to understand when mediation may not be the best choice. People who do choose this method should know what to expect so they can prepare correctly. 

Family Education outlines some circumstances in which couples should avoid mediation. There are some general questions that couples should ask themselves before choosing mediation. These include:

  • Are we good at communicating, even about tough topics?
  • Is divorce something we both want?
  • Are we able to be flexible and negotiate? 

How to avoid a messy high-net worth divorce

While not always the case in New York, high-asset divorces often coincide with very public separations. Wealthy couples often play key roles as community leaders from a commercial, political or entertainment standpoint. Because there is so much at stake, these divorces are arguably far more likely to be messy.

Even when angry with each other, making a joint and amicable announcement to end the marriage may be wise. A celebrity’s announcement to the media may come to mind here, but for lower profile high-asset couples, this may be an announcement to friends, family and colleagues. If both spouses share investments or a business, this is especially important due to a shared source of income.

Is my spouse having a cyber affair?

Social media is supposed to bring people together. While this is true in some case, many married couples experience a great deal of stress over social media. Unfortunately, it gives cheating spouses an easy and convenient way to carry out affairs, which can quickly lead to divorce. Very Well Mind explains some of the more common indications that a spouse is having an online affair. 

The biggest indication is more time spent on the computer or phone. While many people are quite attached to their mobile device, with an online affair the behavior often changes suddenly. You may also find that your spouse is password-protecting devices or deleting browsing history frequently. Again, this isn't always an indication of infidelity. But these behaviors raise red flags when they seemingly come out of nowhere. 

The new tax law affects divorce and spousal support

Couples divorcing this year in New York may be surprised to learn that the new tax laws affect divorce and spousal support. According to CNBC, the changes reverse tax laws put in place almost 80 years ago that made it easier for ex-spouses to make and receive alimony payments. In the past, the spouse receiving alimony paid taxes on the amount received, while the paying spouse took a tax cut. The new laws allow the receiving party to exclude it from their taxable income, while the payer must now pay taxes.

At a first glance, this may seem like a much better opportunity for people who were not the breadwinners in the marriage to receive non-taxable income. However, the fact that the former breadwinners have to include alimony payments in their taxable income may make it more of a financial burden. This may lead to difficulties securing alimony payments going forward. Child support payments may also be affected as these are often calculated alongside spousal support payments.

How New York determines the “best interests of the child”

When New York’s court system has to make decisions regarding child custody or visitation, the people tasked with doing so will typically consider the child’s best interests before making any determinations. There are many different aspects that the courts will consider when determining a child’s best interests, and, as you might imagine, these factors vary to some degree based on a child’s age.

Maybe your child’s other parent is looking to gain custody, or partial custody, over your son or daughter, or maybe you are a grandparent, and you would like to establish formal visitation or custody rights due to extenuating circumstances. Regardless of your reasoning for requesting a custody change, you can count on the "best interests of the child” factoring into the final decision.

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