Archive for Family Law

Will the New Tax Law Affect Your Divorce?

           By now everyone is aware that the White House Administration has revamped the tax laws. While we may not know exactly how those changes will affect us, one change stands out that could have an affect on the amount of divorces taking place between now and 2019.

            One new tax law wipes out the previous alimony deduction that has been in the tax code since 1942. The new law states, in effect, that spouses who pay alimony will not be able to take a deduction for those payments, while spouses receiving alimony will not have to claim the monies received as income. This could lead the spouse who would have to pay alimony to negotiate-or attempt to negotiate-for a much lower payment since it will no longer be tax deductible. This could have a major effect on the spouse that receives alimony, as that spouse generally relies on those payments to maintain their standard of living. These negotiations could also have an effect on the length of the divorce process as well as the cost.

            These changes could also push couples that are on the brink of separating into a divorce to avoid having to be under the new tax law. Another aspect that could be affected by this new change are prenuptial agreements that would or already have a set amount of alimony laid out in the agreement.

            If you have divorce questions, or questions about how this new law could affect your current situation, contact Hodges Trial Lawyers.

Grandparent Visitation Rights

Hodges Trial Lawyers is experienced in trying cases dealing with grandparent visitation petitions. Whether defending or suing on your behalf our talented domestic relations specialist Kourtney Ballew will fight for you. We understand that it is important to protect your children from hazardous relationships as well as support and fight for the healthy relationships within the family. After the passage of House Bill 334 grandparents have a higher burden of proof in order to win visitation rights. Considering this it is important to hire a law firm that understands the new law and is willing to fight for you and your family. In both Madison and Limestone county Hodges Trial Lawyers is prepared to represent you.

Why Common Law Marriage is Being Abolished and What You Need to Know About It

Common Law Marriage going away
A new law passed the Alabama legislature and was signed by Governor Bentley on May 10th of this year that abolished Common law marriage in Alabama. If you are currently in a common law marriage do not fear, the new law ensures that existing marriages will be recognized. Alabama will consider any marriages to be valid if they are entered into by January 1st of 2017. After January 1, 2017, people will no longer be able to be married under the common law rules.

A common law marriage is a partnership in which each partner has the “capacity to be married” meaning they 1) are not currently married, 2) must be 19 or older, and 3) must be of sound mind. The couple must also have intent to marry meaning that the partnership is intended by both the husband and wife. The final requirement for a common law marriage is that the couple must hold themselves out as married to their family, friends, and community. Evidence of this could be that the couple casually refers to each other as husband and wife. The wife taking her husband’s last name, jointly filed tax return, joint bank accounts, or testimony given by friends and family that the couple are considered to be married are all considered evidence of a common law marriage.

The common law system of marriage is being abolished because it is inefficient, confusing, and can product a thicket of costly litigation in the event of a divorce. The system creates a great deal of uncertainty and can be very expensive to determine the status of a couple with so many variables of proof. This law had its merits in the past when it presented a great difficulty to travel to the court house or when the average person could not read a document. However, today it is relatively inexpensive to go to the court house and obtain a marriage license.

Grandparents’ visitation rights

Alabama lawmakers have approved a new bill which gives grandparents the right to petition for visitation rights with their grandchild.  Prior to this legislation, grandparents were unable to petition for visitation with their grandchildren if the parent(s) refused to allow visitation.  The new law states that a grandparent may file for reasonable visitation with their grandchild if any of the following circumstances exist: (1) an action for a divorce or legal separation has been filed or the marital relationship between the parents of the child has been severed by death or divorce, (2) the child was born out of wedlock and the petitioner is a maternal grandparent of the child, (3) the child was born out of wedlock, the petitioner is a paternal grandparent of the child, and paternity has been legally established, or (4)  an action to terminate the parental rights of a parent or parents has been filed or the parental rights of a parent has been terminated by court order.

 Since a parent has the right to deny or limit visitation with grandparents, the grandparent seeking visitation must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the grandparent has established a significant and viable relationship with the child and visitation with the grandparent is in the child’s best interest.  In order to establish a significant and viable relationship with the child for purposes of visitation, the grandparent must meet certain criteria under the new law.  The attorneys at Hodges Trial Lawyers will be happy to discuss your legal options regarding grandparent’s rights and visitation.

Divorce-Default Proceedings

You may need to enter into a default proceeding if your spouse refuses to sign the paperwork for your divorce. Regardless of your spouse’s reasons for refusing to sign, they cannot legally prevent you from getting a divorce. A default proceeding is like a forfeiture. The Court will assume that if your spouse had any disagreement regarding the documents, your spouse would have made them known. Since your spouse has not cooperated, the Judge is now forced to rule in your favor. If your spouse is refusing to sign, or being uncooperative, our attorneys can assist you with your divorce.