Published on:

Whether you are a working parent or stay-at-home mom or dad, each role comes with a huge set of responsibilities. Being a family lawyer, I can only offer one perspective centered around achieving that work/family balance everyone always talks about. I’m not sure the perfect balance exists and have quickly learned that for me, it’s more of a day by day approach, kind of like March Madness – survive and advance. Below are some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

Be present. Whether you’re at work or at home, maximize your time at each by being present in the moment. When you’re at the office, try not to think of the disaster that is your house. When you’re at home, focus on enjoying family time and do your best to leave work at work.

There’s no place for guilt. Feeling guilty for missing time with your kids or feeling guilty for not being able to work late does nothing but cause more stress. There are so many things in life that cause us worry; this should not be one of them. Trust in yourself! It doesn’t matter if you work or stay home, your children look to you as their role model. They watch every move you make and listen to every word you say. Do not feel guilty for the role you have chosen as both provide your children with positive learning experiences!

Published on:

Forget it!

Forget about the alimony deduction for all new decrees or instruments post-2019. (See Part I for modification of pre-2019 alimony orders and agreement, as modification has a separate set of rules.) The deduction is gone absent a congressional miracle. That means on December 31, 2018, or before you must have alimony that qualifies under IRC Section 71 before it is repealed. The alimony must meet the terms of Section 71, pre-TCJA and pre-2019, which are as follows:

a. You must have a qualifying decree or instrument;

Published on:

Previously, we examined the paragraph and subparagraphs defining “divorce or separation instruments.” Now let’s take a look at which sections of TCJA incorporate these subparagraphs.

Sections incorporating all three subparagraphs of the definition of divorce or separation instrument Post-2018.

The two sections of TCJA that adopt all three subparagraphs of the definition of divorce or separation instrument post-2018 are as follows:

Published on:

The repeal of the alimony tax sections for the inclusion of income and deduction has an ancillary impact on other divorce tax issues. The effective date for all ancillary issues discussed in this article is December 31, 2018, the same as the alimony repeal. These December 31, 2018, changes shall be referred to herein as “post-2018” changes.

The law before TCJA will be referred to as “pre-2019.”

In this first section, we’ll look at what a divorce or separation instrument is.

Published on:

Tip #16 – Take yourself on a date and learn to love your own company.Divorce Recovery Tip 16

Dates are a way of spending quality time with the person you love, which reinforces your bond with that person. When we go on a date with someone, we learn new things about them, create shared memories, and cultivate our love for one another. Why shouldn’t we do the same with ourselves?

Going on a date with yourself is a solitary activity – it gives you time to be who you are on your own, to pursue your interests, and to get back in touch with your innermost thoughts and desires. You might be picturing yourself alone at a candlelit table, but it doesn’t need to be anything that cheesy. Try going to an art museum, taking a scenic hike, or watching the sunset. Any activity is fine, so long as it leaves room for contemplation – put your phone away just like you would on any other date!

Published on:

Tip #11 – Take time to enjoy the little things.

Divorce Recovery Tip 11
We often get bogged down by our worries, fears, and responsibilities. Remind yourself to take a moment to get out of your head – to breathe and really experience the life you’re living. Don’t allow your stress to rob you of simple pleasures.

Practicing mindfulness can be a valuable tool in reducing this stress and enabling you to truly live. You can start practicing anywhere – just take a moment to refocus yourself on the present. Pay attention to your senses and the information they give you, and allow yourself to observe the world around you without needing to react. It’s ok to go back to autopilot afterward, but try to switch it off every now and then.

Published on:

The United States, as a whole, has only allowed same-sex marriage for just over two and a half years. It is law that same-sex couples have the right to marry in the United States of America, but there are some who still struggle with the question of what exactly that entails. Certainly, same-sex couples can be married now, but are they afforded the same rights as heteronormative marriages? My answer is yes; if same-sex couples can legally marry, they should not have some cheap imitation of it. The law should give them the equal rights to their heteronormative counterparts, including hospital visitation, joint taxes, inheritance, and all other areas of the law. However, there are those who see same-sex marriages as inherently different from heteronormative marriages, and as such, believe they should not be treated the same or offered the same services. One such service, which is still heavily fought over, is the adoption of children.

Our neighboring state, Georgia, has recently had this argument enflamed in the form of Senate Bill 130. The bill would have been a major update to the state’s adoption laws, of which had not been updated in such a manner in 27 years. The bill stalled, neither passing or failing, at the end of last year after a provision was added by their state Senate Judiciary Committee which would allow private adoption agencies, including those that receive public funds, to refuse to place children in homes based on familial, cultural, or religious reasons.

Champions of LGBT+ advocacy argue the provision would allow the private agencies to discriminate against LGBT+ homes and cite any number differences between the children and the potential families. Sponsors of the amendment adversely claim that the added language in the bill would give agencies the power to find what they deem to homes more aligned in the interests of the children. It’s not hard to see both sides of this argument, as there is some truth to both sides. Certainly, agencies should consider the best interests of children, but it is also possible that such a provision could allow agencies to push their private agendas of what they believe families should be like, discriminating against not just LGBT+ families, but any family they do not want to place children with for any familial, cultural, or religious reason, rather than seeking out fit homes for children. A private agency could refuse to place a child in the home of divorcees, single parents, families of different ethnicities than a child, and families of different religions than a child even if the prospective families have the means and desire to care for a child.

Published on:

Today is the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., a figure who needs no introduction. Fifty-five years since his famous speech, we are continuing to move towards King’s dream of “a nation where [we] will not be judged by the colour of [our] skin but by the content of [our] character.”

It isn’t just the speech that makes King stand out, however. In addition to being a powerful speaker, King was a champion of nonviolent activism. Tactics such as sit-ins sought to capture the public’s attention and force them to be aware of the discrimination occurring in racially-segregated restaurants. One of the strengths of a non-violent approach is that any retaliatory action on the government’s part just makes the protestors easier to support – they appear as underdogs suffering under the iron fist of big brother. Perhaps the best summary of nonviolent activism is simply Marc Riboud’s photograph of an anti-war protestor offering a flower to a soldier.


Marc Ribaud, “Jeune fille à la fleur (variante),” October 21, 1967.

Published on:

Tip #6 – Exercise boosts your mood. Go for a jog or bike ride when you feel overwhelmed.

Exercise isn’t just for getting in shape – it also can help you to regulate your mood better. When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins, which are chemicals that trigger pleasant feelings in the body and reduce sensations of pain. Endorphins also can help combat depression, anxiety, and stress – all things you may be struggling with after a divorce.

If you’re really exercise-averse, you can find ways to be active that aren’t traditional exercises. Go for a walk downtown, explore a natural park, or try out a dance class.

Published on:

Divorce was hard enough, and now alimony tax reform. Do you feel good or bad about alimony? No matter your answer, this alimony tax reform revolutionizes the divorce arena, and you need to know how it may affect you and your clients. Judges need to know how it might affect those whose appear before them as litigants. So let’s dig in.

This article is Part I of three parts. Part I deals with the basics of the alimony taxation changes under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (“TCJA”), referred to herein as the “new Alimony Statute.” Multiple sections of the Internal Revenue Code related to alimony are changed under the TCJA. The new Alimony Statute is contained in Section 110151 named “Repeal of Deduction for Alimony Payments” in PL 115-97, HR1, December 22, 2017, 131 Stat 2054.  When I refer from now on to the “old Alimony Statute,” I am referring mainly to Internal Revenue Codes Sections 71 and 215 as they existed before the TCJA.

Part II will deal with ancillary federal tax considerations of the new Alimony Statute, of which there are many.  Part III will discuss considerations of the new Alimony Statute under North Carolina domestic relations law and explore creative possibilities for the use of the new Alimony Statute.