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Richmond Virginia Family Law Blog

Splitting IRAs and other retirement plans

When people in Virginia get a divorce, a retirement account may be one of the main assets they have to divide. How this is done depends on the type of account it is.

If an account is considered to be what is known as a "qualified plan," which includes a 401(k) or defined benefit, it may require a document called a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO. Without a QDRO, a person would have to pay taxes on the amount he or she withdraws from the retirement account. Furthermore, there would be a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty without this order in place.

Things to consider before divorcing near retirement age

The types of issues that Virginians face when they get divorced may be more complex for people who are older. While the divorce rate among younger people has fallen, the rate of divorce for people who are over 50 has steadily climbed during the last couple of decades. Older people who are thinking about getting divorced should carefully consider their options before they file.

People who get divorced near their retirement may find themselves working for far longer than they intended. While they may have saved substantial amounts of money in their retirement accounts over the course of their careers, they will have to divide those accounts with their spouses in their divorces. This may leave people with insufficient retirement account balances and not enough time to accumulate more savings.

How to buy a home after bankruptcy

People in Virginia who have filed for bankruptcy or who are considering filing for bankruptcy might wonder if they can still buy a house afterward. It is possible to purchase a home after bankruptcy, although certain conditions must be in place for this to happen.

The first thing a lender will look at is what type of bankruptcy a person has filed. A Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows a person to be free of any obligation to pay back debt. With a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, debt is restructured so that a person pays it back over a few years. Lenders look more favorably upon a Chapter 13 bankruptcy since those consumers are repaying a debt.

When divorce is better for the children

Virginia parents who are concerned about how separation will affect their children might wonder if they should postpone a divorce. In some cases, it might be better for the children if the parents stay together. In other cases, however, divorce is still the best choice.

Parents may decide to postpone the divorce if they feel that they need to spend more time in counseling trying to repair the relationship. They might also look at the divorce drawbacks and decide that they are greater than the advantages. According to some studies, divorce can increase the likelihood that a child will later get a divorce as well. It can also lead to emotional problems for children and reduce the likelihood that the child will attend college. These may all be reasons for the parents to stay together.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy and 401(k) deductions

Virginia residents who are filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy can exclude 401(k) deductions when they are calculating their disposable income for their bankruptcy payment plan, even if the contributions were not made during the six months preceding the bankruptcy. This is according to an Oct. 30 ruling by an Illinois bankruptcy court.

In its decision, the court said that it was guided by the decisions made by most of the courts that had to rule on a similar case. It found that unless there was demonstrable bad intent, the bankruptcy filers could include their retirement plan deductions as one of their expenses.

How immigration status impacts abuse victims

Domestic abuse victims may feel like they are unable to speak out about their experiences. For victims in Virginia or elsewhere who are immigrants, they may feel even more apprehensive about reporting their abuse. This is because they may not understand how the legal system works or have any family in the country. They may also come from countries where cultural attitudes about abuse cause them to stay quiet.

However, the Violence Against Women Act offers protection for abuse victims. One of the key parts of that act is protection from immigration laws for those who may be undocumented. This is crucial because abusers may threaten to report their victims in an effort to keep them from talking. The law also provides incentives for victims to work with law enforcement to hold their abusers accountable for what they have done.

Age, education and employment all factors in divorce risk

Virginia couples who have a 10-year age gap may be more vulnerable to divorce than spouses who are closer in age. This is one of many findings of studies that examine the likelihood of divorce. Couples who marry as teenagers or after the age of 32 are also more likely to divorce than those who marry in their late 20s.

People who dropped out of high school have an increased divorce rate than those who have more education, and this could be related to a lower income and the stress it creates in a marriage. However, husbands who only work part-time have a slightly higher divorce rate even if the wife is in a higher income bracket.

Getting married in one's 20s may result in divorce

Some Virginian residents choose to marry while they are young. People who get married when they are in their 20s may end up getting divorced before they reach age 30. People who are young might want to take time to make certain that they are ready for marriage before doing so.

Zippia, a career guidance website, recently looked at data from the American Community Survey about divorce rates for people in their 20s. The company found that the divorce rates for this age group varied across the states just like other characteristics, such as obesity rates. Zippia found that states in the northeastern part of the U.S. had the lowest divorce rates among people who were younger than 30 while those in the Deep South had the highest rates of divorce in this age group.

The cycles of bankruptcy

The patterns of people filing for bankruptcy in Virginia and around the country often correlate with economic trends. An expanding economy and lowered unemployment rate may lead to fewer bankruptcies while downturns or higher interest rates may force more debtors to seek relief through the courts.

Recent reports indicate that bankruptcy filings in the U.S. have been on a downturn. In fact, the number of people filing for bankruptcy in 2017 has been the lowest since 2007. For many analysts, this is good news, indicating that people are less stressed economically and are better able to manage their finances.

Elements that may increase the likelihood of divorce

Virginia couples that married in their late 20s or early 30s might be more likely to have marriages that last than those that married at earlier or younger ages. Studies have found that the age at which one marries and several other factors might predict a couple's likelihood of getting a divorce. Education level is another determinant of divorce. People who have earned at least a bachelor's degree are less likely to divorce than those who did not complete college.

Couples who have a child within seven months of the wedding have a higher divorce rate than those who wait. If the firstborn child is a girl, the marriage also is more likely to fail. Individuals who have been married before or have divorced parents also are more likely to have failed marriages.

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