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Austin TX Family Law Blog

Thursday, June 11, 2015

U.S. Tax Court Rules Against Texas Payor in Complex Alimony Deduction Case

How are alimony payments treated from a tax perspective? 

For payors of alimony, there may be special tax considerations applicable to the monthly payments mandated by court order. As a general principle, alimony payments are deductible from the payor’s annual income provided several conditions are met, including: 

• The payments are mandated by court order or provided for in a written separation agreement;
• Spouses are not filing a joint tax return;
• The payor pays in cash directly to the other spouse;
• Liability to continue payments ceases upon the death of the recipient; and
• The payment is not considered a child support payment or property settlement agreement.

Moreover, non-deductible support payments include voluntary gifts/support, payments allocated to keep up the recipient’s property, and any noncash asset transfers. 

Tax court considers deductibility of wages garnished after death of recipient 

In May, 2015, the U.S. Tax Court considered a dispute between the IRS and an individual taxpayer regarding the deductibility of alimony payments that were being automatically withheld from obligor’s wages each pay period. Under typical circumstances, this arrangement would be considered a valid method for providing support and would be undoubtedly deductible from the payor’s annual adjusted gross income. 

However, in this case, the wage garnishment took place as a result of a state-sanctioned action for support arrears, and the obligor owed over $64,000 in back alimony payments. Accordingly, he was set up on a payment plan wherein the amount would be steadily deducted over time until the debt was repaid. Contrary to the IRS’s requirements, the terms of the payment plan did not allow for a suspension of liability upon the death of the recipient, and accordingly did not meet the criteria for deductibility described above. Consequently, the entirety of the obligor’s payments will not be deductible on his tax return, and the payments will continue even in the event of the recipient’s death. 

If you have a question about alimony or the tax consequences of divorce, please do not hesitate to contact the Austin, Texas divorce attorneys at Stinson Moyle right away! You can reach us by calling 512-320-9070 today. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

International Custody Battle Settled as Mexican Mother Permitted Into Houston to Reunite With Child

What are some of the complexities of an international custody dispute? 

International child custody disputes can quickly become a complex web of jurisdictional, procedural, and policy-related intercessions – making a smooth outcome something to hope for, but not expect. While custody conflicts across the Mexico-U.S. border are hardly uncommon, issues routinely arise that require difficult bureaucratic involvement and lengthy periods in limbo. 

In one recent case, a mother had to wait an entire agonizing month before reuniting with her child, all due to a snag in the system that resulted in the wrong child being sent from the United States to Mexico.
Read more . . .

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Court Finds Twins Have Different Fathers

How do paternity tests affect child support?

A New Jersey court recently ruled that a set of twins born in 2013 were fathered by two different men. The case originated when the twins' mother filed for child support payments from one of the twins' fathers. The mother admitted to sleeping with two different men in the same week the twins were conceived but only listed her romantic partner as the father on the twins’ birth certificate. The Passaic County Board of Social Services ordered a DNA test, which showed the twins had different DNA.

The occurrence of twins conceived by two different men is extremely rare as shown in about 1 in 13,000 cases in a 1997 study performed by Dr. Karl-Hanz Wurzinger who testified in this case. Although it is rare, it is possible that many of these types of cases go unnoticed unless the babies are born with easily identifiable different characteristics such as race.

The biology of these situations is interesting. A woman can produce more than one egg during a menstrual cycle, which can lead to the birth of fraternal twins. Women remain fertile for five to seven days, and if intercourse with different men occurs within that time period, the men could fertilize the different eggs producing twins as in this case.

After the DNA results were received, the court ruled that the father named in the child support case only owed support for one of the babies. This case was one of first impression for New Jersey courts. Judge Sohail Mohammed commented in the opinion that only two other cases in the United States had considered a similar situation.

If you need to file for child support or have a paternity issue, contact Stinson Moyle, PLLC. We are Texas board-certified family law attorneys with extensive experience. Contact us today at (512) 320-9070 for a consultation.

Monday, May 4, 2015

Same Sex Marriage in Texas

What is the status of same sex marriage in Texas?

Texas approved a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage in 2005, but that did not settle the issue in the state. The amendment defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman. A challenge to the ban is pending in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. While that court has heard oral argument on the case, it might not rule until the United States Supreme Court considers the issue.

The United States Supreme Court recently heard arguments on the constitutionality of same sex marriage. Even if the highest court in the land authorizes same sex marriage, Texas Rep. Cecil Bell Jr. does not want the state to follow suit. Rep. Bell introduced a bill, the Preservation of Sovereignty and Marriage Act, that would make the Texas Secretary of State solely responsible for issuing state marriage licenses. State and local employees would be barred from licensing or recognizing same sex marriages. The bill was the first of several dealing with same sex marriage this session to pass committee.

Recently, a lesbian couple successfully obtained a same sex marriage license from the Travis County Clerk after an Austin judge ordered that the two should be allowed to wed because one of the women has cancer. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton immediately asked the state Supreme Court to invalidate the marriage and block county clerks from issuing same sex marriage licenses, which the court agreed to do without addressing the women's marriage.

In another case, Travis County Probate Judge Guy Herman ruled that Texas must recognize the same sex marriage of an Austin woman seeking rights to her deceased spouse's estate.

Attorney General Paxton also has sued the U.S. Labor Department to overturn changing the definition of spouse under the Family and Medical Leave Act because it would include same sex couples. Paxton argued that the new rule would require Texas agencies to violate state law. A federal judge agreed and granted a preliminary injunction blocking enforcement of the rule in Texas and three other states that joined Paxton's lawsuit.

The family law attorneys at Stinson Moyle, PLLC, are board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Contact us today at (512)320-9070 to learn more about our skilled and effective representation in family law matters.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Welcome to Stinson Moyle, PLLC Law Blog

Welcome to our new blog. Please check back soon for family law articles and updates.

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