How to Avoid Common Wisconsin Divorce Mistakes
As an experienced divorce lawyer in Racine, Wisconsin, I have seen a number of common Wisconsin divorce mistakes. Listed below are two of the most common mistakes I see and how to avoid them.
Mistake #1: Losing Thousands of Dollars by Not Knowing the Tax Implications for Child Support and Maintenance.
a. What is Child Support?
Child support is money paid by one parent to another to cover the cost of food and clothing for the child.
b. What is Maintenance?
Maintenance, also called alimony or spousal support, is money paid by one spouse to financially support the other spouse.
c. Who Pays Taxes on Child Support and Maintenance Payments?
1. Child support and maintenance are treated different when it comes to taxes. Taxes on child support are paid by the payor. This means the person receiving child support does not pay taxes on the money received. Therefore, child support is tax-free for the person receiving it.
2. For maintenance, the party receiving maintenance pays taxes on it. In other words, maintenance is treated like income for the person receiving maintenance and therefore the person receiving the maintenance must pay taxes on it.
Tip to Avoid this Common Wisconsin Divorce Mistake: For tax purposes, child support is better for the person receiving it. Maintenance is better for the person paying it. If you have the option of receiving either child support or maintenance, you are usually better off choosing to receive child support. If you have the option of paying either child support or maintenance, you are usually better of paying maintenance. Knowing the difference in tax consequences for child support and maintenance can save you thousands of dollars in the long
Mistake #2: Being Cut Out of Your Children’s Lives by Planning to Agree on Custody and Placement in the Future.
a. What are Custody and Placement?
Custody and placement of children is a major part of a Wisconsin divorce. Custody refers to the right to make decisions for the child regarding religion, schooling, etc. Placement refers to which parent the child will be living with.
b. Tip to Avoid this Common Wisconsin Divorce Mistake: Decide on Custody and Placement Right Now
I frequently hear a prospective client say something like the following: “We have agreed that the children will live with the other parent but I will be allowed to see the children whenever I want.” This type of arrangement is fine so long as both parents are getting along. However, more often than not, the parents will not always get along or be cooperative in the future, especially once one or both parents have a significant other (e.g., boyfriend or girlfriend) in their life.
No matter what the court order dictates regarding custody and placement, the parents can always agree to some other placement arrangement. However, if the parents cannot agree on a placement arrangement, then placement is dictated by the court order. Therefore, it is best to have a court order that allows you a substantial amount of placement time with your child or children just in case you and the other parent cannot agree in the future.
c. If My Spouse and I Can’t Agree on Custody and Placement in the Future We Can Go Back to Court, Right?
Not necessarily. Once a court order is in place regarding custody and placement, it is not easy to change. Going back to court and saying “we thought we could work it out but now realize that we cannot” will generally not result in the court modifying custody and placement. Thus, having a court order that allows you a substantial amount of placement time will save you the time and expense of having to return to court in the future and will ensure that your spouse cannot cut you out of your child’s life in the future.
Attorney Christopher Glinski is an experienced divorce lawyer in Racine, Wisconsin who is skilled at helping clients avoid common Wisconsin divorce mistakes. Call (262) 632-1555 to schedule a consultation.
For more information on Wisconsin divorces and avoiding common Wisconsin divorce mistakes, check out:
- What you need to know when filing for divorce in Wisconsin
- Five things you need to know about divorce in Wisconsin
- Wisconsin divorce questions