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Tax law brings major changes to divorce and alimony

Signed into law in December, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 will have impacts on nearly everyone in McLean, depending on income and other factors. One group of people that will feel its impact more profoundly than most others: those who get divorced next year.

Starting on New Year's Day of 2019, the tax implications for alimony (also known as spousal maintenance) are going to undergo a major transformation. Beginning that day, alimony will no longer be deductible for the payer.

Another big change: alimony will not be taxable for those who receive it.

These enormous changes are likely to affect property division agreements in divorce across the nation.

A Colorado family law attorney writing about the changes says she expects the negative impact on those who expect to rely on spousal maintenance to be immediate. The lawyer says that many spouses are going to argue that with the tax changes, they can no longer afford to pay alimony.

She writes that those who need this form of support might suffer more than anyone from the changes. Some of them, she thinks, are going to get significantly less than what they might have previously.

She also points out that alimony is not "free money," as some mistakenly believe and it is not punitive. Its purpose is to ensure that both people can live independently and without government assistance after their divorce.

The change will undoubtedly put pressure on some people to get a divorce and financial agreement in place before the tax changes alter the landscape of family law.

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