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Remarriage Government Rules and Regulations

Remarriage Government Rules and Regulations

Remarriage Government Rules and Regulations

Written for Flying Solo
by Marjorie Engel

Public policies sometimes work to your detriment when you remarry. Federal and state laws may create difficulties when you are dealing with children, alimony, taxes, property ownership, credit, debt, retirement, illness, and wills.

CHILDREN

According to common law, stepparents do not usually have a direct financial responsibility for the health, education, or welfare of their stepchildren. It notes two exceptions for direct responsibility:

(1) in loco parentis
This is a voluntarily assumed obligation.
"In loco parentis is a Latin phrase which means "in lieu of a parent. Teachers, camp counselors, stepparents, and others who take responsibility for children have a duty to act in loco parentis. This means they have the same power and authority over the children as do the parents, at least during the time that the children are under their control." (Family Law Dictionary, Leonard & Elias.)

Millions of stepparents voluntarily provide financial resources for their stepchildren. According to common law, they have a right to be reimbursed by the childrens' biological father. I don't know of a case where this has been ordered by the court. Time and money bestowed on a stepchild is a gift -- of love, or necessity. And if the parent and stepparent later divorce, the stepparent is virtually never legally required to provide child support.

It is remotely possible that a stepparent could be obliged to pay in a dire emergency. The court has a primary responsibility to keep people off of public welfare. Given the choice of welfare or approaching a wealthy stepparent, the welfare department might bring this action against the stepparent on behalf of the child.

(2) the "estoppel doctrine"
This prevents a stepparent from taking a different position or going back on a promise if the other party would be harmed by the change. It is based on fairness when the following conditions occur:

Representation - stepparent offers self as the child's parent including providing financial support

* Detriment - stepparent interferes with the child's relationship with the biological parent and blocks financial support from that parent

* Reliance - child relies upon the love and financial support of the stepparent

If these three conditions exist and a divorce occurs, the court may rule that the stepparent is responsible for child support.

Do give love and financial support to your stepchildren. Just don't create a problem for yourself by:

(1) Aggressively interfering with the child's relationship with the biological parent AND

(2) Developing a pattern of paying for a child's necessary expenses when the biological parent is willing and able to do it.

IRS EXEMPTION

The exemption usually goes to the parent who has physical custody for the greater part of the year -- no matter how little either of you actually contribute toward the child's financial support. The IRS recognizes an exception when the custodial parent waives this right.

You use IRS Form 8332 to notify the IRS of this waiver. A new form must be completed each year that you want to use the waiver. It must be signed by both parents and filed by the non-custodial parent claiming the exemption.

If you have court ordered joint physical custody, the separation agreement will probably specify which parent is to claim the exemption. Even so, you and your ex may agree to one or more "waiver" years without going back to court for a change in your agreement.

The operative word is "agree." If the court order is silent on the topic of exemption, it automatically goes to the custodial parent. Or, the agreement may specify who will take the exemption. In either case, you and your ex have an opportunity to agree to "exception" years. If there is a tax savings to you as the non-custodial parent, negotiate sharing the savings with your ex.

MEDICAL EXPENSES

A child is treated as the dependent of both parents for purposes of their individual contributions toward medical expenses and reimbursements.

Provisions of insurance coverage for children in other households or for residential stepchildren is a gray area. Insurance policies may cover residential stepchildren if they are the income tax dependents of the remarried couple. Read the fine print about limitations, especially if the children are cared for in a joint physical custody arrangement.

COLLEGE EDUCATIONS

The court will generally not order a stepparent to pay expenses for a stepchild. However, it will take into consideration all resources available to the parent who is obligated to pay for support. And, a stepparent who is contributing funds for the household bills is freeing up money to use for expenses of children from a previous marriage. Practically speaking, there is no way around this logic.

In past years, divorce agreements usually dealt with the issue of college in vague terms. "Each parent will be responsible for college costs in proportion to his/her ability to pay," was a typical entry -- if it was mentioned at all!

Today, more and more states are raising the age of emancipation from the former age of 18 -- to 21, and in a few states to 23 years old -- if the child is an unmarried, full-time student. This forces parents to make specific agreements about college expenses.

This area of the law is relatively undefined. But as college expenses soar and incomes sag under the weight of a sluggish economy, many former spouses are finding themselves back in court fighting over what each is obligated to contribute toward the education of their children.

Remarriage and financial aid

The parent who is most active in helping the child get an education will bear the scrutiny and the burden for payment.

College aid offices always ask to see the financial statement of the custodial parent. They have their own forms for you to complete as well as requiring a copy of the front page of your IRS tax return.

If the custodial parent has remarried, they will ask to see the new spouse's financials too, even though they already know that a stepparent has no legal financial obligation. You can certainly refuse to comply. That's not a problem for the colleges. They simply refuse to process the child's financial aid application without the requested information.

For students who are already in college on financial aid, be aware that their aid awards will be reevaluated each year. I know of many children who lost their financial aid when the custodial parent remarried and the stepparent's income increased the overall family income level. "Married -- Filing Separately" does not resolve this problem.

I think matters such as this would be far less complicated if the country instituted a system in which we all filed separate tax returns. Then, information for biological children could be obtained easily and clearly from each of the biological parents. It would not be necessary to distinguish children from different marriages -- the moral and financial obligations would be the same for each of our children.

It would also eliminate the "penalty" when the custodial parent remarries. Have you noticed that "blame" for the financial problem is heaped on the custodial parent -- the one whose remarriage changes the financial picture for aid applications?

Emancipation

Children can apply for financial aid on their own, under certain circumstances:

(1) The child is over 18.
(2) You have provided less than half of the support.
(3) You have not claimed the child as a dependent within the past two years on
your IRS filings.

This requires planning ahead and is difficult to adequately document. For all practical purposes, if the child has lived at home, you are considered to have provided over half of the support. Most financial aid forms are completed in the fall prior to the academic year under discussion. To produce front pages of IRS tax returns, you must go to the two years prior to the current year that is almost over -- which means three years ago. A real catch-22 situation.

IRS Refunds

The IRS frowns on parents who fall behind in their child support payments and assists custodial parents in the collection process. Federal and state tax refunds can be intercepted. If your current spouse is delinquent and you filed a joint tax return, your portion of the refund will also be snagged.

You may be able to get your portion of the refund check by filing the "Injured Spouse Claim and Allocation Form #8379." To get a copy of this form, call (800) TAX-FORM. Needless to say, it will probably be some time before you see your money.

If you live in a community property state (Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and possibly Wisconsin with it's Uniform Marital Property Act), refunds are divided according to state law, not according to who earned them. According to instructions on the current form, "Generally, claims from [community property states] California, Idaho, Louisiana, and Texas will result in no refund for the injured spouse."

GUARDIANSHIP

Unfortunately, family law does not presently provide clear rules defining the responsibilities or rights of parties to the stepparent-stepchild relationship. To date, results to clarify the legal aspects have had inconsistent results at both the state and federal levels.

At the present time, the only way stepparents can assure themselves of the same rights as biological parents is through adoption. Adoption requires the legally approved form of consent by the biological parent who is waiving legal rights (and responsibilities).

After adoption, the stepparent is recognized legally and can sign medical release forms, driver's license forms for minor children, etc., and inheritance questions are solved for once and for all. Otherwise, stepparents wishing to maintain contact with their stepchildren following divorce or death of the biological parent spouse face substantial legal and procedural difficulties.

When courts grant visitation privileges, they typically do so to protect the "best interests of the child" and not because of any legal rights held by the stepparents themselves. They do this based on the philosophy of in loco parentis. On the other hand, they can also refuse a stepparent visitation rights because the stepchild is not "a child of the marriage."

Potential legal options

Many of the day-to-day difficulties that stepparents encounter while they are acting in loco parentis can be avoided. The most frequently encountered are:

(1) Medical treatment is unnecessarily delayed if the stepparent cannot authorize emergency medical procedures.

(2) School teachers and counselors refuse to talk with stepparents about ways they can provide academic and emotional support for residential stepchildren.


Biological parents should look into providing the stepparent with a limited power of attorney for the child. Another possibility is signing a notarized letter authorizing the stepparent to represent the parent under certain situations.

While the benefits to the children are obvious, adding a stepparent as a recognized authority figure for children is often more complicated than it sounds. Anger between the parents may be expressed by refusal to sign the necessary papers.

As the parents and stepparents of minor children, you need to be aware of the necessity for such an authorization. It is necessary for the overall health, education, and welfare of your children.

Wills and guardianship

When you are preparing your will, your divorce agreement may have you locked into naming the other parent as guardian. If the child's contact with that parent is limited and there is a long and close relationship with the stepparent, talk with your attorney about appropriate wording in your will.

Wills generally should not violate anything you have already agreed to in a separation or prenuptial agreement. And there is no guarantee that the court would decide against a biological parent in favor of a stepparent. However, it does not hurt to document extenuating circumstances.

ALIMONY

If you are the recipient, in almost all cases, alimony payments permanently cease when you remarry. Although you certainly hope that your new marriage will last forever, you must consider the possibility that this marriage will end in divorce.

There is no guarantee that you will be granted alimony from -- or have to pay to -- your new spouse if this marriage ends in divorce. The focus now is on short-term rehabilitative
alimony, if you were married "long enough." And, the timing is subjective.

Withholding alimony payments

Alimony is tax deductible to the payor and taxable income to the recipient. If you are withholding alimony payments for any reason, and still deducting the court-ordered alimony amount on the tax return, the IRS can go after back tax, penalties, and interest from both of you in this marriage -- if you filed a joint return.

I see this happening when alimony payments are being held as ransom until property is returned or legally transferred per divorce agreements. And, I understand that the IRS receives more leads about tax irregularities from angry ex-spouses than any other source.

FILING TAXES

You may have heard accountants say that it makes "tax sense" to live together without marrying. Your right to file as Head of Household does end with your remarriage. However, the Tax Reform Act of 1986 eliminated the big tax advantage to single people. Nowadays, marriage doesn't affect taxes nearly as much.

And, since married women can be recognized as property owners in their own right, you can address responsibility through legal measures.

Your primary decision is whether or not to file a "Joint" tax return or to go with the "Married, Filing Separately" status.

If one partner has significantly less taxable income (and therefore a lower tax rate than the other), a joint filing may reap a small saving. However, this advantage often disappears if you have a combined taxable income of over $40,000.

When one spouse earns considerably more than the other and you file jointly, there are a couple of ways to handle the tax payments and distribute the refund.

(1) The simplest would be to apply a ratio of your income to your share of the taxes. However, the income tax system is progressive so a simple proportion may not be equitable.

(2) Another arrangement is to agree that the spouse with the lower income will not pay more taxes than he/she would have paid as before when using the "Head of Household" status.

The risk factor

Many tax preparers advise people who bring assets to a marriage to use the "Married, Filing Separately" format to protect each of them from unexpected tax liabilities.

Your signature on a joint tax return exposes you to serious consequences if the IRS challenges information that you OR your spouse provide on the return. Once you sign a joint return, you assume responsibility for the accuracy of all the information, not just your portion. This includes items such as:

(1) Under-reported income
(2) Unjustified deductions

While you may be able to demonstrate that you are an "innocent spouse" and had no knowledge of the irregularities, it is not easy. You may face additional taxes plus penalties and interest, right along with your spouse.

By the way, if the discrepancy is less than 20%, the IRS tends to view it as an honest error and the statute of limitations is three (3) years. The IRS automatically regards anything over 20% as possible fraud, in which case the statute of limitations is six (6) years.

Remarriage does not eliminate potential problems with the IRS and your former spouse. If you filed a joint tax return, the IRS can come after you and whatever assets you hold individually or with your new spouse years later.

MAYBE A NICE TAX SURPRISE

"You can deduct your moving expenses, subject to certain dollar limits, if your move is closely related to the start of work and if you meet the distance test and the time test." So says the IRS Publication 521, Moving Expenses.

When, as a result of remarriage, you move and change jobs, this tax deduction might be available to the spouse who makes these home and career moves. In broad terms, if you find a new job within one year of the move and it is at least 35 miles farther from your former home than your old main job location was, it is probably a valid deduction.

There are some detailed hurdles to pass but the potential savings make this worth looking into.

TAXES ON PROPERTY

If you're 55 or over, you may exclude up to $125,000 of gain from the sale of a principal residence, as long as you owned and lived in this home for at least three (3) years out of the five (5)-year period ending on the date of the sale.

This is a once in a lifetime deal. You can change your mind about excluding or including the gain from profits from the sale -- but at most, the window of opportunity is three years.

The rule seems simple -- until you remarry. Then it becomes complicated.

If either of you has already filed a tax return, single or joint, in which the house tax exclusion has been taken, it cannot be taken again by you or your new spouse. The spouse who has already participated in the exclusion taints the new spouse.

Married is the operative word. Your spouse may be eligible in his or her own right but the legal connection to someone who has already taken the exclusion eliminates the option. That is why accountants advise clients who are eligible for the house tax exclusion to postpone the wedding until the property is sold.

Somewhere in this country, there is probably a lawyer/accountant duo that has figured out a way to transfer property, get the exclusion, and keep the house. For instance, could a man sell the house to his girlfriend, take the deduction, marry her, and have her deed all or part of the property back to him in a marital distribution that would have no tax consequences?

In any event, if you are already remarried and have become ineligible because your spouse has already taken the exclusion, there are two circumstances that will regain your right to the exclusion:

(1) you outlive your ineligible spouse
or
(2) you are divorced.

Capital gains and your former spouse

Under the law, if you and your former spouse sold your home and each of you reinvested your share of the money from the sale in a primary residence of equal or greater value within two (2) years, neither of you would owe tax on the capital gain. It would be deferred and become part of the tax basis of your new home.

If you filed a joint tax return with your former spouse for the year the home was sold, you and your former spouse are at risk for tax adjustments if either of you fail to reinvest the proceeds in a new primary residence within the two year period. As a matter of fact, either of you can be technically liable for the full amount in the event of a default.

Husbands and wives can fail to reinvest in a home for a number of reasons. Bad investments may need to be covered. An entrepreneurial business may require additional capital.

The IRS does not care why. And, they'll go after the deepest pockets to collect their money. Spouses in a remarriage may find a lien put on their new home until the bill is paid.

Accountants will tell you that this kind of problem can be avoided if you file separately. That way, all of your collective property and assets will not be involved; just those of the spouse who signed the joint return.

In our current economic climate, the government has made one exception to the two year reinvestment rule. A lost job may mean that the money must be used for daily living expenses. As part of the package in an unemployment bill, Congress has provided the opportunity for an extension to the two year rule if you lose your job. If this is your situation, get specific instructions from your attorney or accountant.

Miscellaneous notes about property

Combining two households worth of financial records can result in a rather large pile of papers. If you've sold a home and reported the sale on IRS tax form #2119, generally all you need to keep are the settlement statements, a copy of IRS form #2119, and receipts for home improvements that were used to adjust your cost basis.

Reminder: If you want to transfer ownership of real property, in part or total, to your new spouse, it must be conveyed in a legal fashion. This means recording the transaction with government authorities. Transfers done between spouses, after marriage, avoid taxes.

CREDIT AND DEBT

Divorce financial settlements are not binding on creditors. If you and a former spouse continue to have both of your names on a loan or account, you are at risk for each other's financial behavior.

A typical example is continued responsibility for a house mortgage. The divorce judgement may have transferred the deed to your spouse. However, unless the mortgage was paid off or refinanced without you as a co-borrower, you continue to be liable for the timely and in-full mortgage payments.

I also see this continued financial connection to an ex-spouse with automobile loans and, to a lesser extent, credit cards.

Take an inventory of your financial obligations! I'll show you a good system for doing this in the segment on "Second Helpings."

It is a good idea to keep accounts separate. Those in one partner's name alone cannot be attached by the other spouse's creditors.

The current state of our economy has given us an unprecedented rate of bankruptcy filings. Bankruptcy is governed by both federal and state laws. There is a misconception that bankruptcy dissolves all debts. It doesn't. Debtors still have bills to pay. Typically, they must still contend with car payments, house payments, and federal taxes. In many states, student loans, alimony, and child support must also be paid.

Horror stories abound of ex-spouses wiggling out of financial obligations by declaring bankruptcy. Divorce decisions that are most vulnerable come under the heading of property distribution, not alimony or child support. A carefully drafted divorce agreement -- one that includes adequate provisions for additional collateral for property not yet distributed -- is your best protection.

RETIREMENT

IRA's

If you have been eligible to make pre-tax contributions into an IRA account, remarriage may affect this. Even if you continue to be eligible for a tax-deductible IRA and you've been doing it for years, if your new spouse isn't eligible, you aren't either.

Once you're married, if you and your spouse file jointly, the only way you can continue to claim an IRA deduction is if neither of you are an active participant in a qualified retirement plan. As always, there are exceptions and, in some cases, you may be eligible if your adjusted gross income doesn't exceed $50,000.

When I remarried, I lost my pre-tax contribution option because my husband's bank had a qualified retirement plan. Actually, I could have continued making IRA contributions with after-tax dollars. But it would have involved so much additional paperwork and accountant bills at tax time that it didn't make much sense. When the bank failed, so did my right to share in the retirement "protection" that had kept me from making my own contributions.

Social Security

Some people are concerned that remarriage will mean that, as a couple, you will receive less Social Security than you would if you lived together as an unmarried couple. But that's not always the case.

When you're eligible for Social Security, you and your spouse will independently receive benefits based on how long each of you worked and how much each of you paid into the system. When you're married, you have the option of receiving benefits based on what you paid into the system, or one-half of your spouse's benefits, whichever is greater.

If you have a limited earnings record, yourself, but are eligible to collect approximately the same amount:

(1) as a single person on your former spouse's earning record, or
(2) as a married person on your "new" spouse's earning record

it doesn't make any difference. You only need to think long and hard about this if your former spouse earned a lot of money and your intended spouse only earned a little bit.

If you are remarried, don't expect to share in your former spouse's retirement benefits. You are only eligible for those benefits if you were divorced after 10 years of marriage and you are single.

If your second marriage ends in divorce in less than 10 years, you will not be eligible to collect Social Security through your second spouse. Ten years is the key. As a single person once again, you will have two options:

(1) Collect the benefits that you qualify for because of your own earnings record, or

(2) Collect benefits available through the earnings of your former spouse.

You can ask the Social Security Administration to clarify application details. (800) 772-
1213.

While married to your second spouse, you can collect on your new spouse's earnings record as long as you are over 62 and the marriage has lasted at least one year before you apply for benefits.

A former marriage can impact Social Security benefits because if your spouse is receiving Social Security, these checks may be garnished to satisfy support obligations to a former wife or children.

That's the bad news. The good news is that Social Security benefits can be paid to multiple spouses. For example, this may occur when a former wife has not remarried and becomes eligible to collect on her former husband's earnings record. When the current wife becomes eligible, she also collects her share. Social Security pays double, it does not split the wife benefit between two women.

Death benefits are paid in the following order:

(1) Surviving spouse (as long as the marriage lasted over nine months)

(2) Minor child(ren)

(3)Disabled adult child (if the disability occurred prior to age 22 and is already part of the Social Security records)

Contact the Social Security Administration for a copy of your Personal Earnings Benefits Estimate Statement (PEBES), Form SSA-7004. It will indicate your earnings history, the amount of money you have paid in Social Security taxes, and an estimate of your future benefits. Call (800) 772-1213 for information.

Pension Benefits

If you receive a survivor's benefit from a private pension, you may well lose it if you remarry. Although Social Security and a few government plans permit remarriage after a certain age, there is no requirement that plans offer that protection, so they rarely do.

This is a holdover from the days when pensions were considered the sole property of the worker and the survivor's benefit a mere gratuity to a grateful widow. Today, many state marital property laws confirm that pensions are properly considered the property of both members of this economic partnership called marriage. However, many pension plans have not been amended to reflect this.


Typical examples are that:

(1) A benefit that ends upon the remarriage of one partner but not the other.

(2) If you marry after your husband has retired, most plans will not permit him to amend his single-life annuity to leave you a survivor's benefit.

And the news gets worse if the pension plan "goes under." ERISA (Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974) does provide some insurance for employees who belong to a pension plan funded by a now-bankrupt business. However, coverage is limited:

(1) Maximum benefit is $28,000 (regardless of the amount you may have "earned")

(2) Spousal death benefits are eliminated

(3) Minimum age for retirement is 65 (even if your plan made provisions for early retirement at 62)

This loss hits hardest:

(1) Dependent spouses

(2) Workers who had accumulated retirement nest eggs of considerably more than $28,000 in the plan

(3) Individuals who have already retired -- under provisions for larger distribution amounts

Joint and survivor annuity

This is a lifetime monthly payment for the plan participant and, after death, a survivor annuity of at least 50 % of the monthly amount for the spouse. A recent law covering pensions required all qualified retirement plans to include the joint and survivor annuity. It also requires that the spouse be named as beneficiary. The spouse can waive the benefit but only by written consent in front of a notary public or possibly a plan official.

The Retirement Equity Act is part of the Tax Reform Act of 1984. It required the spouse to be named as beneficiary to eliminate frequently occurring bad surprises. Too many wives had been lulled into false security by the fact that husbands had been paying into hefty pension plans -- only to learn upon widowhood that the death benefit had been assigned to a mistress.

Since many, but not all, retirement plans fall under the Retirement Equity Act, have your attorney or accountant take a look at your plan. For instance, profit sharing, employee stock ownership, and 401K plans are exempt from the annuity requirement but not the spousal waiver provision.

State and federal military pensions are exempt from both. Examples:

(1) Under the military retirement system, the survivor benefit is called the "Survivor Benefit Plan (SBP) annuity." It can be paid to a wife or former wife, whichever the member selected, but not both at the same time.

(2) Usually, the State Department will only pay out an amount equal to one survivor annuity, whether it is paid all to the worker's current wife or all to the former wife, or divided between two wives.

While you're asking questions, find out about rules for borrowing money from the pension plan and what happens if employment terminates. In some cases, the employee can take the pension out in one lump sum without spousal consent.

Most of the confusion about eligibility comes from the large number of different plans. Once you have found out which plans apply to your family, you can focus on the specific options that are and are not available to you.

Of course, stepfamilies might have the added confusion of rights and benefits having been assigned to a previous family.

Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRO's)

There may be some great benefits in your pension plan but they may have already been given to someone else. That someone else is most likely to be an ex-spouse or the children from a previous marriage.

Pensions are an important marital asset. In some cases, they may be the largest asset. Divorce settlements that include a QDRO assign a portion of the benefits, earned during the marriage, to be paid out as part of the financial settlement. Funds may go directly into a separate account or be attached for payment at a future date. Once awarded, they cannot be taken back. A subsequent spouse is out of luck.

If a QDRO exists, you will need to check the divorce agreement to find it. Details about the terms will not be part of the pension plan documents.

In this remarriage, it may be appropriate to arrange some form of security compensation. In any event, double check the listed beneficiary for benefits from vested pension plans, annuities, and other assets to make sure they agree with current laws and your current intention.

MEDICAL CARE

Being sure that both of you are protected by health insurance should be one of your top priorities. In addition, coverage for your children is important, whether or not you are the custodial parent.

There are two issues to recognize in remarriage: the effect of catastrophic illness and health care proxies.

If you or your new spouse is hit by a catastrophic illness requiring a nursing home, you will most likely be wiped out financially. Not even a prenuptial agreement, no matter how carefully drafted, will protect the assets of either spouse. All assets, no matter whose name is on them or who brought them to the marriage, are lumped together and all are considered joint and subject to being spent on a nursing home.

You may want to consider long-term care coverage because nursing homes cost anywhere from $35-60,000 per year. How long can you afford this kind of additional expense?

A health care proxy, also called an advance medical directive, deals with the kinds of life-sustaining measures that are acceptable to you. This legal document can relieve your spouse and other relatives of a terrible burden and give you the peace of mind of knowing that you will be able to die with dignity.

If you already have a health care proxy:

(1) Is it written for the state in which you currently reside?

(2) Who is the person designated to act as your proxy?

Not all states automatically remove legal powers, previously designated to a spouse, upon completion of a divorce. If you do not want a former spouse to continue with health care proxy authority, power of attorney, or as the beneficiary of financial benefits, make sure that authority previously given is properly revoked.

WILLS

You must know what the laws of your state specify about your financial rights in a marriage. Remember that marriage is now recognized as an emotional relationship and an economic partnership. Each state has slightly different rulings about the distribution of the things you own and the things you owe when you get a divorce -- or one of you dies. To find out how your state decides these matters, you can:

(1) Read your state statutes in the library.
(2) Ask a lawyer or the local Legal Aid Society.
(3) Visit a family law clinic at a nearby law school.

If the results of your state rules are pretty much the way you would like your property and debts handled, you do not need to make special arrangements. If you want something different, you will need a well thought out and legally enforceable prenuptial agreement. This will require full financial disclosure of all of your assets and liabilities.

This issue is not as simple as it seems on the surface. The element called time is a critical factor. State rules about distributions when the deceased did not have a will (intestate) apply whether the marriage was 2 days or 20 years in duration.

20 years and it may be appropriate for your spouse to receive maximum benefits allowable. Two weeks and children from a prior marriage may be more than a little appalled by the substantial loss of family money, property, and heirlooms.

We have limited ability to plan death and accidents do happen. Consider the time factor.

NOTICE

This material was developed with experienced professionals to give you basic information which is not intended either as a substitute for advice from an attorney or as an attempt to answer all questions about situations you may encounter. Because all situations are different, because the law of each state varies, and because you may have questions that are not covered in this material, we urge you not to rely on this material as legal advice and not to make decisions without the advice of a family lawyer whom you should consult for appropriate advice about your specific legal problems. This material is sold as is, without warranty of any kind, either expressed or implied.

© 1997 Flying Solo™. All rights reserved. Legal Notices



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