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The impact of student debt on marriages and divorces

Anyone entering into a marriage in Florida after having completed a college education probably has a lot of student loan debt. If both spouses have significant loan debt, it could become a source of stress during the marriage. A third of the borrowers who responded to a recent study conducted by Student Loan Hero cited college loan debt and other money-related issues as major factors that contributed to their divorces.

Nearly 15 percent of the respondents specifically mentioned student loan debt as the main reason why their marriages ended in divorce. While there are many family law issues that can stress a relationship, financial issues consistently top the list. In regard to student loans, outstanding balances have increased more than 60 percent over the past decade. And the percentage of borrowers owing $50,000 or more in debt tripled within the same period.

Why Would A Happily Married Couple Get Divorced?

When most people think of divorce, they assume it is the result of something going wrong in a marriage: perhaps one of the spouses had an affair or became abusive, or perhaps the couple just fell out of love. In reality, the reasons for divorce are not always so clear cut.

Every situation is different and it is possible for a happily married couple to come to the conclusion that they need to get a divorce. This is the case described in an article from Today about married parents who may divorce to ensure the best life for their child. 

Healthy co-parenting for divorced parents

Florida parents are often so committed to their children's best interests and emotional well-being that they put off divorce for a long time, hoping to stay together for the kids. However, putting the children first doesn't mean staying in a marriage that isn't working. Developing a positive co-parenting relationship can help children thrive and feel supported after their parents' divorce with two loving homes that welcome them.

There are a few tips to keep in mind that can help improve the co-parenting experience and make the transition process easier and less stressful for all the members of the family. In the first place, the divorce is taking place between the adults, not the children. This means that it's important for each person to nurture the children's relationship with the other co-parent and support his or her parenting time and communication. In addition, while honesty is always critically important, children do not need to know the details of the issues between their parents. In most cases, they love both of their parents, and they never need to take sides in the divorce.

Attorneys report rise in prenuptial agreements

People in Florida in the 18-to-34 age group who are getting married might be more likely to get a prenuptial agreement compared to previous generations. According to the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers, prenuptial agreements are on the rise in general. However, the growth in prenups among millennials is more recent.

Millennials are marrying later in life than previous generations did, and this means they might be bringing more assets into the marriage. Concern about protecting hard-earned stock options, 401(k)s and real estate in a divorce has led some to seek a prenup. Debt is a concern for other millennials. College tuition, in particular, has skyrocketed, and the average college graduate in 2017 had a debt of more than $38,000. In a divorce, one spouse could end up saddled with part of the other spouse's debt if there is no prenup specifying that will not happen.

Both parents must commit to raising a child after a divorce

For parents in Florida and throughout the country, the key to raising a child after a divorce is for parents to communicate well and respect the other person in the child's life. Parents should also respect the fact that the child needs both parents in his or her life.

Maintaining a focus on the children can serve as motivation to work through disagreements as they arise. Disagreements may involve being flexible to make a parenting plan or determining when a parent is within his or her rights to attend events outside of the approved visitation schedule. Ideally, decisions as to how parents interact with their children will be made based on what is best for the children.

How to find the best parents to adopt your baby

Finding out you are unexpectedly pregnant can be extremely stressful. Perhaps you feel unprepared to become a mother, are facing financial difficulties or never planned to have children. Whatever your situation, you have several options. If you are considering adoption, your biggest concern is likely finding the right parents for your unborn child.

Creating a parenting schedule that works for everyone

Florida parents who are getting a divorce need to create a parenting schedule that outlines when the child will stay with each parent. By doing this in a way that prioritizes the child's needs, parents can indicate to their children that they care what happens to them.

As part of putting children first, parents need to think about how their children will feel. They should consider logistics such as how children will get to and from school. If the children have a regular child care provider, parents should think about whether they can keep that person. They also need to keep children's activities in mind. Older children may want to offer their input, and parents may need to make accommodations for children with special needs.

Alimony changes coming after 2018

Couples in Florida who are planning to divorce in 2018 may have a strong incentive to act quickly to avoid changes that will go into effect when the new year dawns. Changes to the way that alimony or spousal support is taxed are going into effect on January 1, 2019, and those changes can have serious consequences for both parties in a marital split. The changes will only affect couples who divorce after the beginning of 2019. Individuals who have finalized their divorces prior to that date will operate under the current taxation system.

These changes can be particularly concerning for couples with significant wealth who are going through a high-asset divorce. Currently, alimony payments are tax-deductible for the paying spouse. Meanwhile, the recipient pays taxes on the alimony as income. In many ways, this structure benefits both parties. The higher-earning ex-spouse can significantly reduce his or her tax burden while the lower-earning spouse pays taxes at a lower rate and can put his or her spousal support payments into an IRA.

Payroll deductions key to child support collection

Payroll professionals can be a particularly critical part of the child support enforcement process for companies in Florida and across the country. Nationwide, direct payroll deductions are one of the most common forms by which parents meet their child support obligation. These deductions can include both voluntary withdrawals and also enforcement actions when a parent has failed to meet their child support obligations in the past. Of the $32.4 billion in child support payments tracked by the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement in 2017, $24.4 billion of those were made through payroll withholdings at the parents' workplaces.

Addressing the American Payroll Association's conference, the federal agency's commissioner urged greater use of electronic portals and systems to manage child support collections. He noted that the agency received over 67 million reports of new hires in 2017 alone. These reports are mandatory and must be filed by an employer whenever they bring someone new on board. When the reports are filed, states can identify people with outstanding child support obligations and transfer the payroll deduction obligation to their new employment. There, payroll professionals can set up the automatic deduction to handle the support payments.

Holding parents accountable for voluntary impoverishment

To avoid paying child support, Florida parents and others may engage in something called voluntary impoverishment. Generally speaking, a parent will either fail to report his or her true income or will intentionally make less money than he or she is capable of earning. Those who are owed child support may take a variety of steps to get the support that they need.

First, it may be possible to contact the Office of Child Support Enforcement. This will result in a formal child support order being created if none currently exists. After a review, the OSCE can impute income to a parent who is found to be making less than he or she could make by choice. During this review period, it may be possible to look at a noncustodial parent's employment history as well as financial records such as bank or credit card statements.

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