Divorce considerations for long-term marriages


Featuring Attorney Michelle Barry.


Attorney Tom Olsen: It’s Tom Olsen. The name of the show is Olsen on Law. I’d like to welcome to you Attorney Michelle Barry. She is a family law attorney right here in Orlando, specializing in divorce, alimony, child support, and time sharing. Hey, Michelle, welcome to the show.

Attorney Michelle Barry: Hey there. Tom, thanks for having me today.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Hey, you’re welcome, Michelle. I got an email from a radio listener. He’s an older gentleman. He’s been married for 25 years, children are all grown. Now, he’s thinking about getting divorce. The question is, what two people who have been married for 25 or 30 years, what do they need to be thinking about when they're thinking about getting divorced these days?

Attorney Michelle Barry: Well, it’s more of a social consideration, even in a legal one. We’re taught, and we expect to marry one person until death do us apart. Sometimes, we find out several decades later that, that may not end up being the case. While we have been married for those many decades, we’ve accumulated all marital assets, marital debts, retirement plans, and the numbers just get bigger and bigger.

Those are things that all need to be divided up pursuant to equitable distribution. Also, there needs to be a determination of whether or not alimony figures into it. Usually, one spouse in longer-term marriages has perhaps given up their career to raise the family’s children. Again, it’s more of a social consideration as well. Even fearful, for instance, our monogamous. We’d like to think that we’re also monogamous and with a longtime so do we. We’d hope that our relationships last that long.

Unfortunately, that is often not the case. With regard to the legal aspects, there are so many things that have been built up over the course of a marriage that need to be basically disentangled. From the social side, I always recommend counselling just so that my clients can get his or her mind around the idea that this is going to be a totally new lifestyle post dissolution. We’re talking about people who have been together 25, 35 years and they’re making a drastic change.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Hey, Michelle. I want to remind the listeners that the new tax bill last year, traditionally alimony, would have been a tax deduction for the person who’s paying. It was assumed the husband is paying it. Starting, I think, January 1 of next year, alimony is no longer a tax deduction for the person paying, and plus the alimony, let’s say, the wife receives. It’s going to be taxable income. It’s going to be a double whammy starting, I think, next January 1.

Attorney Michelle Barry: That’s going to be an interesting consideration because up to now, that has been one of the selling points, so to speak, for the person who’s ending up paying alimony, is that at least they’re not being taxed on income that is then going to be handed to the other spouse. That may be something that ends up going for consideration in front of the Florida Bar and in front of Florida Supremes just to see if we can’t readdress that because to a lot of family attorneys, what we’re finding is that seems to be a bit of overreaching on the part of the federal government stepping into the state’s issues with regard to how we in Florida determine alimony.

It’s usually based of course on one spouse’s need and the other spouse’s ability to pay it. Once that other spouse is paying it or has paid it, then they shouldn’t be taxed on monies that they never see. That’s probably going to come up for consideration in the years to come. However, right now, it does appear that both sides would end up paying income tax on the same money.

Attorney Tom Olsen: If you’re thinking about getting divorce and you’re thinking that you may have to pay alimony, or you want to get that done by the end of 2018.

Attorney Michelle Barry: That would probably be a very good suggestion if you’re looking to get divorced and it’s been a long-term marriage. Then, the time to do it would be now.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Hey, Michelle. Tell the listeners how they can reach you.

Attorney Michelle Barry: You can contact me at my phone number 407-622-4529, but the best way to reach me is at mbarrylaw.com. That is my website. My email address is michelle@mbarrylaw.com.

Attorney Tom Olsen: Thank you, Michelle. We appreciate it. That is Attorney Michelle Barry. She is a family law, divorce attorney right here in Orlando. If you want to reach her to her office next week, you can call 407-622-4529, and her website is mbarrylaw.com. Hey, folks. My name is Tom Olsen. The name of the show is Olsen on Law, every Saturday, 11:00 AM right here in News 96.5. Remind you that next Wednesday-