The months following the holidays are generally busy for divorce attorneys as many couples spend time together and realize that they just don’t mesh anymore. This year, though, there’s a final rush right before the year ends for a whole other reason. Many couples are looking to finalize their divorces before Jan. 1 in hopes that they won’t be impacted by the changes to alimony that the new Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will bring with it.
Some attorneys polled by CBS News have reported seeing the number of clients pursuing a divorce increase by as much as 400 percent in recent weeks as the Dec. 31 filing deadline nears.
Clerks of courts have responded to this uptick in filings by expanding the hours that they’re open to receiving filings. Judges have made themselves available for hearings during the Christmas holiday when they’re normally off work.
Provided that a divorce is finalized by Dec. 31, any spouse that agrees to or is ordered to pay alimony will continue to be able to deduct the payment from their income on their annual taxes. Depending on how much in spousal support that their ex is awarded, this can greatly reduce their taxable income. Under current Internal Revenue Service codes, the recipient spouse pays taxes on what they receive.
Once the new legislation goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2019, the opposite will be the case. Those spouses paying alimony will no longer be able to write the spousal support payments off as an income deduction. This will lead to them getting taxed at a higher rate than they have for the past several decades. The recipients will no longer have to pay taxes on what they get either.
Fort Myers couples who have been considering throwing in the towel on their marriage may be more motivated than ever to file for divorce. Although Collier County judges are putting in extra time to finalize cases as fast as they can, it may be impossible for them to get to all of them during the next few days before Dec. 31. An experienced divorce attorney can advise you of your options if you’re currently facing this prospect yourself.