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New Divorce Laws Take Effect Across the Country in January
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New Divorce Laws Take Effect Across the Country in January

On Behalf of | Jan 11, 2018 | Child Custody, Child Support, Divorce

Encinitas, CA – A new year means many new laws take effect across the nation. We took a look at several divorce laws that are on the books now that the ball has dropped on 2018.

Sweet Home Alimony

The notion of “til death do us part” isn’t as likely when it comes to alimony anymore. A new Alabama law “gives trial courts a clear desire to avoid ‘forever alimony,’” reports Yellow Hammer News.

The new law states that only rehabilitative alimony – spousal support that is awarded for a short time to get the person settled financially – shall be awarded for up to five years, unless the court determines that rehabilitation is not feasible.

What’s Yours is Mine

Another Alabama law new to the books addresses a trial judge’s ability to make settlements of retirement accounts when a divorcing couple has been married fewer than 10 years. Prior to this law, courts couldn’t require that retirement benefits be awarded in cases where the couple had not been married at least a decade, Yellow Hammer News reports. However, attorneys would make those sorts of deals among themselves and their clients. Now trial court judges can do the same.

On the Chopping Block

As a result of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the massive federal tax overhaul passed in December, divorced spouses who pay alimony and separate maintenance payments no longer can deduct those payments on their taxes.

Divorce Goes to the Dogs

The family dog is more than man’s best friend when it comes to divorce in Illinois. Now those four-legged fur babies are treated more like children. Divorcing spouses could be awarded partial or joint custody of their companion pets. This new law doesn’t apply to service animals.

The Swinging Pendulum of Co-parenting

Another law bandied about in the legislatures of 25 states in 2017 involved child custody during and after divorce, The Washington Post reports. Spending every other weekend with Dad once of a rite of passage among children of divorce.

These days, more lawmakers want to increase the focus on co-parenting – both parents sharing joint responsibility for raising their children.

States that considered laws in 2017 to encourage co-parenting were: Washington, Oregon, Wyoming, Montana, Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Alabama, Michigan, Indiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, South Carolina, Maryland, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

A bill that passed the Michigan House Judiciary Committee in 2017 would allow “joint custody and substantially equal parenting time” if it becomes law, Michigan Live reports.

Kentucky passed a law in 2017 to make “joint physical custody and equal parenting time standard for temporary orders while a divorce is being finalized,” according to The Washington Post.

California didn’t see any co-parenting laws introduced in 2017, but laws already on the books require that judges begin with giving both parents equal rights to custody. Ultimately determining who gets custody requires California judges to consider the children’s health, safety and welfare. One of their guiding policies in determining custody is the belief that children benefit from frequent, ongoing interaction with both parents. A California judge is likely to consider which parent is most apt to encourage regular visits with the other parent when determining custody.

We hope your new year is off to a great start, and that you don’t face any child custody issues in the near future. But if you do, feel free to call us to schedule a free consultation.

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