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We handle numerous probate and trust administration cases, where siblings do not get along. It is better to work through issues with your siblings, prior to your parents’ passing away, as there is less stress and emotion.

There are several questions to ask your adult siblings, which may help repair and strengthen your relationships.

1.) What can I do to help us grow closer? This question opens the door to issues that you may not know exist. It may give your sibling the ability to finally open up about something that is bother them, and in turn, the ability to work through the issue.

Bermuda has passed a law this month that bans same-sex marriage and cruise ships registered in Bermuda from hosting them.

The law comes less than a year after the island’s Supreme Court made same-sex marriage legal in May. Bermuda is now the first jurisdiction to overturn the legalization of same-sex marriage.

The decision has put Bermuda tourism and some major cruise lines in a difficult situation. Carnival subsidiaries Cunard and P&O Cruises are both registered in Bermuda. Regardless of where the ships are in the world, they will no longer be allowed to host same-sex marriages. The same-sex marriage ban will force many couples to rethink their travel plans.

Getting divorced at any age creates profound stress and uncertainty. However, this is even more so for older individuals. There are several considerations to help prepare yourself from financial pitfalls.

1.) Create an inventory of all assets, before meeting with your attorney. You should know how each asset is titled (jointly or individually).

2.) Be mindful of past employment and any pension or stock options that you may have.

As a new addition to our blog, we will be highlighting certain relevant cases that are making headlines this month! We hope the highlighted cases will be able to assist our clients in seeing how a Court handles similar situations to their own.

The case of Bonk v. Bonk dealt with whether a trial court could modify parental rights and responsibilities when one parent was relocating if that issue was not expressly raised by motion and the sole motion before the court was the relocating parent’s motion to modify parent-child contact.

In Bonk v. Bonk the mother appealed a trial court decision that transferred the right to choose the children’s residence and school from her to the child’s father, and that reconfigured the parties’ existing contact schedule, reducing her time with her children from approximately 65% to 20%. The Supreme Court held the mother’s motion to modify parent-child contact and father’s motion to dismiss in response did not raise the issue of the parties’ parental rights and responsibilities. Therefore, the trial court abused its discretion by issuing an order modifying parental rights and responsibilities. Furthermore, the Court held that the trial court proceedings supported finding a sufficient change of circumstances to grant mother’s motion to modify parent-child contact. Accordingly, the Supreme Court reversed and remanded for the trial court to set a new parent-child contact schedule.

How to reconcile the valuation of a business, its potential equity distribution, and support obligations.

If you are a business owner, you want to ensure that your spouse is not able to “double dip” in receiving part of the business, and spousal support based upon your income. This would allow your spouse to receive double recovery on one asset.

The Hawaii Supreme Court is listening to arguments in a significant LGBTQ case, involving legal parenthood. The case involves a lesbian couple, where one of the women sought out a sperm donor and became pregnant while the other woman was deployed in the military. Upon returning from deployment, the non-pregnant spouse filed for divorce. The child was born before the divorce was finalized.

As a general family law principle, when a married woman gives birth to a child, the birth mother and spouse are presumed to be the child’s parents. A presumption that can be rebutted. In this case, the spouse argued that there was no way she could have been the child’s biological parent. The family court denied the spouse the right to sever her parental obligations. The spouse is claiming that the standards of presumed parentage do not apply to same-sex couples; however, to adopt such a view would be at odds with the landmark case of Obergefell v. Hodges, which set precedent that states cannot impose different terms and conditions on marriages between same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

The new tax overhaul will remove a 75-year-old tax deduction for alimony payments. The new rule will not affect anyone who divorces prior to 2019; however, it will certainly change divorce negotiations.

What’s changing? Currently, the spouse paying alimony can deduct it from their taxes and the spouse receiving the alimony pays taxes on it. The idea is that the payer is generally in a higher tax bracket. Thus, with the alimony deduction, they are paying less tax. The payee is generally in a lower tax bracket, and pays less tax on the income received. The current setup preserves more money amongst the ex-spouses. The new rules will result in alimony recipients receiving 10-15% less than what they would receive under the current law, and more money to be paid in taxes.

For more information on the consequences of the tax changes, contact SMDA, PC at (586) 264-3756.

While the overall divorce rate is decreasing, the divorce rate for people over the age of 50 has increased from 1 in 10 to 1 in 4.

MarketWatch created a checklist to help mitigate the financial risk associated with divorce over age 50. Below is a list of items to consider, prior to filing for divorce:

1.) The family home. Should either party keep the home, can one person alone take care of the costs and potential repairs?