Affording an Attorney for Your Divorce or Parenting Issue

Posted by on February 25, 2018 in Child Support, Divorce, Family Law, Parenting Rights & Custody

  Facing a divorce or parenting issue can feel daunting, especially if you feel unable to afford an attorney to help you through the process.  In New Hampshire, there are some options that can help you afford an attorney. One option that the law in New Hampshire allows is for you to use an attorney in a limited-representation capacity.  This is a process where you hire an attorney to help with the parts of the legal process with which you are less comfortable handling on your own.  The attorneys at Shanelaris & Schirch can assist with such aspects of your divorce, parenting issue, or other family law matter by preparing documents, clarifying the law, helping you make a strategy, as well as other legal services.  You handle what you want to handle and then hire one of the Shanelaris & Schirch attorneys for the rest. In New Hampshire, another option may be available to you if your income and assets are limited.  The program that can help is the NH Bar Association Modest Means program and you may qualify for reduced rates from attorneys who participate in the Modest Means program.  If you think you may qualify for reduced rates for legal help, your first step is to complete this online pre-qualification form, or you can call the Lawyer Referral Service at 603.229.0002. If you qualify, you will be referred to an attorney who accepts clients through this program.  If you hire that attorney, the attorney will provide you with legal expertise and charge you the hourly rate calculated by the program intake specialists. The attorneys at Shanelaris & Schirch can help you with your family law issues, and we can help keep those costs affordable for you by working for you on a limited basis or by helping you through the Modest Means program if you qualify....

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Big Changes In Tax Law Bring Big Changes for Divorces

Posted by on January 16, 2018 in Alimony, Collaborative Law, Divorce, Family Law, Uncategorized

  The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (the new tax law) was signed into law by President Trump on December 22, 2017. Some of the changes from the law go into effect on January 1, 2018 and will affect the tax filings for the 2018 taxable year.  Notable changes that will affect divorcing spouses and parents are as follows: No more claiming your kids as tax deductions. Effective for the 2018 tax year, parents can no long claim their children as dependents for the purpose of deducting them on their taxes.  This change will certainly modify divorce orders and agreements as parents no longer will need to agree about who will claim the children on their taxes each year.  However, while Congress has taken away the ability for parents to claim your children on their taxes, it did double the child tax credit from $1000 per child to $2000 and allow parents to alternate this deduction for children each year.  All divorce agreements and orders after January 1, 2018 should contain language for how parents will claim the child tax credit.  Congress also allows all taxpayers earning up to $400,000 to claim the child tax credit, an increase from the prior cutoff income level of $110,000. Alimony payments are no longer deductible by the payor. Beginning with the 2019 tax year, for all divorce agreements signed after December 31, 2018 and later, those who pay alimony can no longer deduct alimony as an itemized deduction.  Those receiving alimony no longer have to claim alimony as income and will not be taxed on the payment of alimony to them.  This is a significant change.  According to the United States Census Bureau, 243,000 people received alimony in 2017.  This law change will speculatively could impact divorce negotiations with couples arguing about whether alimony should be paid when there is no longer a tax benefit to the payor.  It appears that the IRS will allow all ex-spouses who modify their alimony to follow the 2017 tax law in claiming alimony as a deduction for those that pay it and having those that receive alimony claim it as income so long as their agreements or orders specifically state that they wish to follow the old tax law and the decree or agreement was made before December 31, 2018. The new tax law eliminates many itemized deductions. Starting with the 2018 tax year, the new law maintains deductions for charitable contributions, retirement and student loan interest but eliminates other deductions.  The law limits how much a taxpayer can deduct from property taxes as well. However, Congress has doubled the standard deduction for individuals from $6,350 to $12,000 and for married couples from $12,700 to $24,000. Parents can use 529 education plans in creative ways. The new law allows parents to use up to $10,000 per year per child in funds in a...

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WHAT IS A LONG TERM MARRIAGE?

Posted by on November 1, 2016 in Divorce, Family Law, Property Division

In New Hampshire, a court will make decisions about how assets will be divided, or whether alimony will be awarded by looking at a number of factors that is set forth in the statute. Generally, the Court will equitably divide the couple’s marital assets, but how to determine what is equitable depends upon the statutory factors.  One of those factors is whether or not the marriage is a long term marriage or a short term marriage.  Often in a “short term” marriage the Court will try to return the parties to their economic positions prior to the marriage.  Until recently, the Court did not specifically indicate whether it was appropriate to consider a period of cohabitation when determining how to equitably divide assets.  In August, 2016 the New Hampshire Supreme Court issued a decision, In the matter of Deborah Munson and Coralee Beal that makes clear that the Court does have the authority to consider a period of cohabitation prior to the marriage when determining how to divide assets.  The Court did clarify that “duration of marriage” only refers to the period of time of an actual marriage and does not include any periods of cohabitation.  However, the Court can consider a period of premarital cohabitation when making an equitable distribution of marital assets.  For instance the Court recognized that when a divorcing couple’s relationship has included “years of economically interdependent cohabitation followed by a ‘short’ marriage, the notion of returning the parties to their original pre-marital position is unrealistic.”  For those individuals involved in relationships that included lengthy periods of cohabitation, this decision is good news that the Court will in fact consider those years when making its division of...

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Parenting in the Holiday Season

Posted by on December 23, 2014 in Collaborative Law, Divorce, Family Law, Parenting Rights & Custody

As we approach the holidays, tensions can run high amongst family members; that may be especially true for divorced or separated parents.  As parents we want the holiday season to be filled with joy for our children as well as for ourselves.  We reflect back on our holidays during our own childhood and strive to replicate the joy or replace what may be our own difficult memories with beautiful memories for our own children.  For parents that are newly divorced or separated this time of year may be even more stressful as the pain of loss of the once intact family feels ever present.  One of the best gifts that divorced parents can give their children is a peaceful holiday season.  As difficult as it may be for you, the parent, it is more difficult for your children.  They feel the painful loss as well, and want nothing more than to be able to spend time with both parents as well as extended family and friends.  Those events and activities that make up our holiday traditions are important to them as well.  So, while it may be difficult it is likely best if you are able to negotiate the holiday schedule well in advance of the holiday itself.  Respect both families and extended families and their traditions, and above all, remember that your children are a piece of both parents and an appreciation and respect for all family members will show your children how to negotiate and resolve conflict in the most positive way. A Lesson from Dickens for Co-Parents this Holiday...

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“Spying” on your spouse: Privacy & Consequences

Posted by on November 21, 2014 in Criminal Law, Divorce, Family Law, General Law

Divorce and separation can be a difficult process for spouses to endure, particularly given that it uniquely requires true bravery, but also restraint.  In cases where a spouse suspects infidelity, addiction or other dishonesties, it is not uncommon they feel they want or need to get proof of their spouse’s wrongdoing.  All potential clients should heed this warning: the truth may not outweigh the risks, especially when those risks include possible state and federal criminal charges. When considering recording telephone calls, attaching a GPS monitoring device to a vehicle, or perusing another’s email inbox, it should be stressed that even if a spouse is able to “catch” the other person in their wrongdoing, the evidence of that wrong doing may not be admissible in court if it was obtained illegally.  In general, in order to record telephone or in-person conversations, there must be consent.  Under federal wiretapping laws, at least one party to the conversation must consent.  This one party can include you, the person recording.  But, this State has gone one step further, and require “two-party consent” under our wiretapping laws.  This means that all parties must consent to the recording of the conversation.  There are some intricate caveats and nuances, but generally speaking, to discretely record a telephone conversation of other parties without their knowledge and consent will likely not be admissible in court to prove the very thing you are attempting to prove.  Furthermore, by violating these privacy and wiretapping laws you could face criminal prosecution and expose you to a civil lawsuit for damages. Lastly, even if a spouse is successful on proving adultery, the family courts in New Hampshire are unlikely to deviate so far from an equal split in assets/debts that would make the trouble of potential criminal prosecution, worthwhile in the long run.  Reference the wiretapping and privacy laws applicable to you, for more specific information on the...

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