Getting Married or Divorced? No More Taxes on your Marital Home!

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By Dane Leitner

In its last spring session the Florida Legislature revised a law for inter-spousal transfers of homestead property.  Section 201.02, Florida Statutes imposes documentary stamp tax on most conveyances between spouses if there is an underlying mortgage.  So, in Florida, when you get married and want to transfer property (add your spouse’s name to your home), a documentary stamp tax or “real estate transfer fee” is applied to the unpaid balance of the mortgage.  The Florida documentary stamp tax rate is $0.70 per $100 paid for the property, in all counties except Miami-Dade.

For example, if the husband owned the property prior to the marriage, then added his wife once married, and there was a mortgage balance of $400,000.00, the Department of Revenue would collect documentary stamp tax on half of the mortgage balance.  In this example the taxes would be around $2,800.00.

Previously, there was an exemption for the conveyance of the marital home when the parties divorced and the property was transferred.  However, there was no such exception if you wanted to add your spouse once married.  In 2018, the Florida Legislature amended the statute providing an exception for inter-spousal conveyance of homestead property if the conveyance was completed within one year of marriage.  While this was a good change, it only applied to parties that were getting married in the future, and as long as they conveyed the property within one year of the marriage. Continue reading

Alimony Reform Fails Yet Again in Florida…What’s the Solution?

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By Eddie Stephens, B.C.S.

In 2019, the Florida Legislature attempted for a FOURTH time to pass alimony reform legislation.  The previous three versions passed the legislation, but were vetoed by former Governor Rick Scott.

On March 1, 2019, SB 1596 was filed in the Florida Senate.  The bill eliminated permanent alimony, changed the definition of a long-term marriage, and capped alimony awards.  SB 1596 also contained a provision that would create a presumption for equal time-sharing (custody) for parents…assuming that 50/50 time-sharing between the child and his/her two divorced parents is in the child’s best interest…which has nothing to do with alimony!

Governor Scott explained in the past that the presumption for equal time-sharing is a reason he vetoed the bill in the past as this provision would severely limit the ability of courts to create parenting plans that meet the individual needs of a family. Continue reading

How Tax Changes to Alimony Could Affect You

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By Dane Leitner

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“Act”) signed by President Trump on December 22, 2017 made many significant changes to the tax code.  One of the significant changes made was to the deductibility of spousal support, otherwise known as alimony.  Alimony payments used to be deductible; however, as of January 1, 2019, alimony payments are no longer deductible to the payor.   Further, the alimony received by the recipient is no longer considered income, thus it is not taxable to the recipient.  Any divorce decrees entered prior to December 31, 2018 are grandfathered.

So how does this affect a new divorce case?  It will likely result in less money for the divided family, and more money to the IRS.

Previously, the payor could deduct the alimony, and the recipient would pay taxes on the alimony received.  Generally, the payor is in a higher tax bracket than the receiving ex-spouse. So the prior law resulted in the payor’s shifting of income to a lower tax bracket, thereby resulting in a reduction in the amount of taxes paid on the amount of alimony.

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Social Media: The Dangers of Posting First and Asking Questions Later

By Caryn A. Stevens

According to a 2018 Pew Research Study, 68% of adults that are online engage in the use of social media and networking sites, many on a daily basis. For some, checking social media is the first thing they do every morning when they wake up, and something they do a dozen more times throughout the day.

The Popularity of Social Media

Social media has quickly become a platform for adults to share their lives, activities, events, travels, and day-to-day experiences with family and friends at all hours of the day and night. We can simply log on and instantly connect with hundreds or thousands of other users in the social media world. When something happens in our lives, we are quick to jump on social media and share our latest “news,” and then wait for the instant gratification of “likes” and “loves” to come rolling in from our extended network of social media “friends.” We feel loved. Accomplished.  Well-liked. And for some—less alone. We seek this attention.

For individuals going through a divorce, the social media world can be a sounding board to receive support from our friends, get advice on what to do, or simply vent about what a jerk our ex is. We love to post first and ask questions later.

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4 Factors to Help You Value a Business During a Divorce

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By Dane E. Leitner

Generally, people in Florida have an understanding that if you get divorced, there is a premise that the marital assets and liabilities will be distributed equally unless there is a valid basis for an unequal distribution.

However, a common question is:

What is my equal value of a business that was formed by only one spouse during the marriage?

If only one spouse is involved in the business, the other spouse likely thinks that the business is worth a lot more than it really is.  And the spouse that is involved in the business is most likely proud of its financial stability any other day, but come time for divorce, all of a sudden it’s a business that is worth nothing.

Below are four common factors to consider that may help in calculating your business valuation or come into play during your divorce proceedings:

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