The Latest News

We Divorced - And Our Family Thrived

Posted On: May 07, 2019

How do you get through a divorce and have your “family” survive?  More people have begun to understand that divorce does not have to be a total destruction of a family.  There is a better way.  Navigating your divorce through mediation or the collaborative process is the first step which leads to a future that mends the family.  Collaborative divorce gives a family the additional support to make choices that will benefit everyone.

Selected excerpt(s), photo and linked article courtesy of Wendy Smith Baruc, Mother.ly

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These Are The Biggest Money Surprises When You Get Divorced

Posted On: May 06, 2019

Unfortunately, this article is correct.  There are many unforeseen and unexpected financial impacts to a dissolution of a marriage.  You should not only be cautious of capital gains implications when selling a marital home, but if the marital home is being transferred to one party, it is important to do a title search to make sure there are no Judgments and Liens, and the party is truly getting the equity that is believed to be the consideration for the transfer in equitable distribution. 

There should be no tax on the equitable distribution of certain assets, but as this article indicates, depending on cost basis and capital gains, significant tax impact consequence could be incurred.  Another good point that this article makes is the true impact of the cost of children.  Child support, although a statutory creature, only covers room and board, which obviously does not cover the myriad of expenses in raising a child, not to mention how those costs increase as the child ages and the ultimate cost of a college education. 

In addition, now that there is no deduction or tax write-off for maintenance, the tax implications are even greater and more must be considered in negotiating a settlement with respect to the tax implications and impact on the parties. 

It is very important to have a skilled attorney and tax expert review your dissolution so you know exactly what you are getting and the tax implications of your decisions.

Selected excerpt(s), photo and linked article courtesy of Chris Taylor, Considerable.com

Concetta Spirio: A compassionate and aggressive lawyer providing the highest level of legal representation for over 30 years.

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The Dread of Waiting for the Supreme Court to Rule on L.G.B.T. Rights

Posted On: April 29, 2019

Last Monday, the Supreme Court announced that it would hear three cases that seek to determine whether existing federal law bans workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity

Although marriage equality enables one to legally marry a partner of the same sex, it could get you fired - even denied housing. 

Federal courts have been divided on the question of whether Title VII bars discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Two of the cases that the Supreme Court plans to take up are cases of employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. 

As currently constituted, the Supreme Court appears likely to resolve the contradictions by ruling that the Civil Rights Act does not ban discrimination against L.G.B.T. people. 

This would be a tragic set back that could take years or possibly generations to undo.

Selected excerpt(s), photo and linked article courtesy of Masha Gessen, The New Yorker

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New Exhibit Commemorates 50 Years of Gay Rights Movement

Posted On: April 24, 2019

It’s hard to believe it’s been 50 years since Stonewall.  This is iconic for the LGBTQ community and will be a great pride celebration this year.  How wonderful that the Newseum in Washington has dedicated an exhibit to the LGBTQ rights movement that will run for the rest of the year.  Whether you were part of the movement or actively lived it, it's wonderful to see and hear about the entire history in context of all that was happing at the time.  I recently enjoyed a documentary on the LGBTQ rights movement and was surprised how much I learned.

Selected excerpt(s), linked article and photo courtesy of Julie Taboh, Arts & Culture, VOA News


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Raising An Intersex Child: 'This Is Your Body...There's Nothing To Be Ashamed Of'

Posted On: April 18, 2019

Intersex has occurred for generations, but most never knew that our trusted physicians would unilaterally make a decision for an infant and perform surgery (some would say mutilation) to assign a gender the doctor felt was best - all without consulting or advising the parents before the surgery was performed.  History has shown that the doctors' choice has, on most cases, not been good for the child.  Today more parents are being proactive and not letting doctors make that choice for their child.  It’s important that doctors be required to give parents the choice!

Selected excerpt(s), linked article and photo courtesy of Daniella Emanuel, CNN

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The Top 3 Reasons Couples Get Divorced, According To Experts

Posted On: April 12, 2019

Marriage is hard work.  How you handle arguments, growing apart with divergent interests, and the intense emotions of such a relationship will determine if yours succeeds or fails.

Despite the differences of individual couples, and notwithstanding an unhealthy and potentially irrevocably broken relationship, there are ways to navigate a divorce that yield a healthier outcome...and that is what Collaborative Divorce is all about.

The Collaborative Process helps couples navigate even the most contentious or bitter divorce to a healthier result after the divorce.

No Court Divorce:  Collaborative Divorce & Mediation - The Alternative to Litigation.

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Who I Am, What I Do & How I Can Help You

Posted On: April 09, 2019

Every so often I take the time to sit down and think about how I can better connect with my colleagues, clients (and potential clients).

The bio on my website is just part of the picture, it’s what I do.

You know I'm a trusted, compassionate and aggressive lawyer who has been practicing law for over 31 years in all types of areas including real estate, litigations, small wills, trusts and estates and collections.  I have represented the LGBT community for many years, and represented parties in litigated divorce as well as being trained for many years in the alternatives to litigation:  collaborative law and mediation of divorce.

Who I am, though, is the other part…the part that helped shape my thinking, my beliefs, and my passions.

From a young age I had a good mouthpiece and a knack for advocating for what was right and what I believed in, so it’s fitting that I found the law.  I absolutely love what I do as an attorney, advocating and working with my clients.  I have always been a people person and a good listener, so counseling is very much who I am at the core.

While the bio on my website will give you a strong idea of my history and experience, I wanted to delve a little deeper and share a few things that you might not know about me...

  • When I was a child, I wanted to be a gym teacher.
  • I’ve had a love of horses from a very young age.
  • I’ve enjoyed many a good game of golf over the years.
  • My original undergraduate degree was in social work.
  • Civil Rights and Civil Liberties were (and continue to be) a passion of mine.
  • I was part of the first gay Student Union for my University and spoke to classes about being gay.
  • In my post college years, at one point, I was part at least 5 different softball teams.
  • A devastating personal experience helped me seek out alternatives to divorce litigation, and since then I have been dedicated and committed to the processes of Mediation and Collaborative Law.
  • I have a great love of good food and good cooking.
  • My strong family traditions were instilled from both sides of my family.

I welcome the opportunity to meet with you.

Thank you.

Concetta

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TAX SEASON IS NEAR

Posted On: March 19, 2019

DO YOU KNOW HOW THE NEW TAX LAW EFFECTS YOUR CURRENT OR PAST DIVORCE SETTLEMENT?


The new tax law, Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA)  significantly impact changes to the tax consequences of the payment of maintenance (formally known as alimony).  Maintenance/Alimony are the payments that may be required by one spouse to pay for the support of an ex-spouse.  There is now a statute or law that sets forth how maintenance/alimony should be calculated, not only for the amount to be paid but the duration or length of payment.  However, the law does not provide for any adjustment or consideration for the new tax law that changes the taxable effect and consequence to the payor and the payee of maintenance. 

Under the old law which applies to any divorce insturment, either a Stipulation of Settlement or a Separation Agreement or Divorce Decree, that was duly signed and executed on or before December 31, 2018, the payment of maintenance would be a tax deduction for the payor and taxable income to the payee.  Caution, and Important Note: notwithstanding the forgoing, if an Agreement or Decree that would qualify under the old tax law, is modified or changed after December 31, 2018, then that change, or modification would bring that Divorce under the new tax law.  Therefore, the existing tax deductions would be erased.  It is unclear yet whether the modifications must concern maintenance only.

For individuals that are required to pay maintenance, the change in the tax law can be very expensive, since the tax savings that were previously available, permitting a deduction of maintenance payments, can be substantial. 

As of January 1, 2019, maintenance payments are no longer tax deductible by the payor and recipients no longer have to include them as taxable income.  This applies to all divorce Agreements that are executed after December 31, 2018.  Important note, as previously mentioned, this also applies to any divorce Agreement that is modified after December 31, 2018.  So, if your maintenance was tax deductible in your original Agreement and the Agreement is thereafter modified after December 31, 2018, you may no longer have the benefit of that tax deduction due to the modification of that Agreement.  As a point of information, child support payments and the division or distribution of marital assets, known as Equitable Distribution, are treated as non-deductible personal expenses for the payor and tax-free payments for the recipient.  Therefore, there is no tax consequence for either party, with respect to equitable distribution of marital assets or the transfer or receipt of a distribution of monies, property, etc., that were marital and now have been distributed between the two parties or the payment of child support for the support of children of the marriage.

Keep in mind, even if your Agreement qualifies under the old tax law, there are requirements to be met for maintenance to be tax deductible.  So, first your Agreement must be either a written Divorce or Separation Agreement/Instrument or an actual Divorce Decree or Separation Decree that was executed and/or entered on or before December 31, 2018.  Second, in order for maintenance to be tax deductible, it must meet the following requirements:

  1. The payments are made pursuant to a written Divorce or Separation Agreement.
  2. The payments must be made in cash or cash equivalent.
  3. Payments must be to or on behalf of your spouse or ex-spouse, not a third party. Therefore, payments to third parties, such as an attorney or mortgage lender are permitted if they are made on behalf of a spouse or ex-spouse and pursuant to a written Divorce or Separation Agreement, or a written request of the spouse or ex-spouse. 
  4. The ex-spouses cannot live in the same household or file joint tax returns. If the ex-spouses are sharing or living in the same household or if they choose to file a joint tax return for tax benefits, then these events will disallow a tax deduction for the payment of maintenance. 
  5. The payment cannot be child support. To preserve the deductible maintenance payment(s) cannot be classified as or deemed to be child support under the maintenance tax rules.  What constitutes child support or what may be “deemed” child support and the rules regarding these classifications are complicated and can create a nasty trap for an uneducated tax payer.  It is important to consult a tax professional when considering the tax ramifications of your existing or current Divorce Agreement with respect to the taxable impact of maintenance and when trying to sort out the rules regarding child support or what may be “deemed” child support in your Agreement
  6. No obligation for the payment of maintenance are to continue after the recipient’s death. In other words, your Agreement must provide that any obligation to make payments for maintenance (other than payments of delinquent amounts that may be due pursuant to the Agreement) must cease upon the payee or recipient’s death.  If your Divorce Agreement or Divorce Decrees are unclear about whether or not the payments must continue, applicable state law controls.  So, the payment obligations must cease in the event of the recipient’s death in order for the payments to qualify as tax deductible maintenance.  This oversight is the most common reason for lost maintenance deductions

Based upon the current law, maintenance can be extremely impactful, not only in the  monetary amount to be paid but the duration, how long maintenance is paid.  The duration of the marriage will determine the length of or how many years maintenance must be paid.  So, for tax purposes, this is an incredibly significant financial loss with the eraser of this tax deduction. This will also impact how future divorce settlements are negotiated and implemented. 

The new tax law makes significant changes not only to the deductibility of maintenance but personal injury law suit recoveries.  For a personal injury law suit recovery, there is no longer a write off for legal fees or the cost of the personal injury law suit.  The person receiving a significant Personal Injury award, will now be taxed on all of their award.  This might not seem like a big issue, but when you consider it includes lawsuits related to various issues, such as privacy, deformation of character, divorce, child custody, wrongful imprisonment, malpractice, punitive damages and other common legal problems, the impact is likely to be much more widespread among tax payers. 

These significant changes to the deductibility of these items can add up to significant liability on your tax return.  Therefore, it is always important to make sure you discuss your personal legal situation and tax implications with a tax professional to make sure the decisions you make are tax prudent.

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