Why Your Orlando Divorce Needs to Be Finalized in 2018

Most people have heard about the tax laws that will take effect in 2019, though other topics have taken over the news as of late. While some people are looking forward to the tax changes, others have been left seething.

No matter which side of the fence you find yourself on, the tax laws are here to stay, and you will be impacted in some way. You need to pay very close to attention to the new laws if you are considering a divorce.

Couples who divorce in 2018 will not be affected by the changes that are coming. Anyone who waits to divorce until next year will find that the way alimony is taxed is different. Currently, alimony payments are deductible for the person making the payments, and the spouse receiving the payments counts them as income. If you get divorced by the end of the year, this is how things will remain.

The New Tax Laws

Coming up for divorcing couples in 2019 is a major shift in how alimony payments are taxed. Here are the changes coming up:

  1. Alimony payments will no longer be deducted by the payer come tax time.
  2. Alimony payments will no longer be considered taxable income by the payee at tax time.

The new laws will be in effect for people who divorce after December 31, 2018 and for some people who modify their divorce agreement after that date. People who pay alimony may find this change to be more expensive than they believed as they will no longer reap the benefits of being able to deduct those payments from their overall tax burden.

What It Means for You

What the new tax laws mean for you will depend on whether you are the one making or receiving the payments.

If you are making the payments, it would almost certainly be in your best interest to get your divorce before the end of the year so you can still deduct your payments. If you are the person who will be receiving the payments, you may want to try to wait until next year. If you divorce this year, you’ll have to report your future payments as income.

Understanding Divorce in Florida

In Florida, a divorce is called a dissolution of marriage. A couple has two options for filing in a court: Regular dissolution and simplified dissolution. Let’s take a look at both so you can better understand the timeline.

1. Regular Dissolution of Marriage

The first thing you will do is to file a petition of dissolution of marriage with the court that has jurisdiction over your county. You can also file in the county where either of you resides if you have already split. The person who files the petition says that the marriage is broken and cannot be repaired.

Once the petition is filed, the other part has to file an answer within 20 days. The spouse must address the matters set forth in the original petition and can counter-petition if they choose.

2. Financial Disclosure

Each party will need to file a financial disclosure within 45 days. If one or the other party fails to file their financial disclosure, the court can dismiss the petition. If there are children, there must also be a child-support guidelines worksheet filed. Neither party can waive this requirement, and neither can the court.

3. Mediation

Mediation is not an attempt to have the couple work out their marriage, but an attempt to help them come to a resolution that will keep them out of a lengthy trial process. Some counties require that couples go through mediation as part of their divorce proceedings. In other counties, the process is optional. However, if you want to get divorced in 2017, mediation is the best way to expedite the process.

4. Settlement Terms

Whether you and your spouse agreed to the details of your split before you sat down for mediation, or it was mediation that got you to agree on some things, the next step will be to put your settlement into writing and have the terms of the settlement incorporated into the final judgment.

5. Final Hearing

If one or the other of the parties disagrees with something or the couple cannot come to terms regarding a division of assets, a final hearing will be had. Both sides present evidence to a judge and the court makes the final decision when it comes to those contested issues.

6. Simplified Dissolution

A simplified dissolution of marriage is very similar to a regular dissolution. There are differences in that attorneys are not required (though highly recommended), and that there are certain criteria that must be met. These include:

  • Both parties agree
  • There are no minors or dependent children
  • There are no adopted minor children
  • No one in the marriage is pregnant
  • One or both parties have lived in Florida for at least six months
  • Assets and debts are divided
  • No one is seeking alimony
  • Both parties agree that the marriage isn’t fixable

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Now that you know how a marriage works in Florida, you’ve got to decide if it makes more sense for you to file this year or wait until next year. An attorney can provide you with the information you need to make the right decision.

Speak to an Orlando Divorce Attorney Right Away

If you are considering filing divorce in Orlando, reach out to our office immediately, especially if you want to get it finalized this year. We will speak to you about your wants and needs and guide you in the right direction. Call today to schedule your free case evaluation. We are here to help you, and your spouse if necessary,make the decisions that make the most sense for you.

Andrew Nickolaou

Andrew Nickolaou, Esq., B.C.S., is a founding partner at Bernal-Mora & Nickolaou, P.A. He practices almost exclusively in divorce, marital and family law. Andrew also handles record expungements and sealings. If you have questions about this article, contact Andrew today by clicking here.