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Splitting an IRA can be complicated

The divorce rate for individuals 50 and older has gone up in recent decades even as divorce rates overall have dropped. While any adult can have an IRA, older individuals in Wisconsin and throughout the country are more likely to have them. Therefore, it is important to understand that an IRA can be split in a divorce and that there is a process that needs to be followed to do so. That process may be more complicated if a person is taking 72(t) distributions.

These annual distributions allow individuals to obtain money in their IRAs without penalty before they reach age 59 1/2. Generally speaking, people opt to take a 72(t) distribution because of cash flow issues or because they chose to retire early. However, there is no clear guidance from the IRS as it relates to splitting these distributions in a divorce.

Miranda rights protect people against self-incrimination

Miranda warnings are well-known to many people in Wisconsin, especially as they have become famous as the indication of an arrest in movie and television police dramas. When people face an arrest themselves, however, they may not be sure how these warnings protect their rights. The Miranda warnings have been widely used since 1966 when a Supreme Court decision found that police have an obligation to notify people being arrested of their rights under the Fifth Amendment, which protects people against obligatory self-incrimination.

Specifically, people are warned that they have the right to stay silent, that their words will be used against them in court, that they have the right to a lawyer and that one will be appointed if they cannot afford one. No matter the other tactics used by police in an interrogation in order to extract a confession or other statements, the Miranda warnings are designed to inform people that they have no obligation to talk to the police and that they can, instead, ask for a lawyer. When people are not informed of their Miranda rights after being arrested on criminal charges, their confession may be considered coerced and therefore unlawful.

What types of money issues are common in divorces?

They say money makes the world go 'round, and they have a point. It's needed for everything you do. Without it, you probably wouldn't have a roof over your head, food in your pantry and clothes on your back. For these reasons, it's no wonder that money troubles cause a great deal of stress.

If you are married, then you already know that money can be a source of contention for couples. These concerns don't discriminate based on income, socioeconomic status or any other factor for that matter. Couples who seem to have it all financially may argue about money more than couples who live paycheck to paycheck, and vice versa. The question is, what kinds of money issues cause some couples to consider divorce?

Tracking a child's schedule and expenses using an old calendar

When parents in Wisconsin get a divorce, they need to come up with a good estimate of child-related expenses. This can be important in determining child support obligations. Unfortunately, people often forget about many of these expenses, particularly when trying to recollect their children's schedules and other information during the stress of a divorce.

In some cases, looking back at a calendar provides the answer. It could provide information on when the child may have visited a doctor or therapist as well as easy-to-forget expenses such as traveling out of town for a child's sporting event or buying birthday presents throughout the year for the child's friends. A calendar might also give information on parenting time, which is one factor used to calculate child support. If parents disagree about a particular expense or part of the child's schedule, reviewing the calendar for the past year may be the key.

Research identifies hidden benefits of no-fault divorce

Married people in Wisconsin may take advantage of no-fault divorce laws, which grant either spouse the ability to end a marriage. Although divorce typically represents a challenging time in people's lives, a data researcher at the U.S. Census Bureau has brought attention to a study that identified a link between access to divorce and positive societal benefits. In 2004, the country of Chile legalized divorce and created a chance for researchers to study the results of the law change.

Within two years, the introduction of no-fault divorce laws in that country reduced the number of women murdered by their spouses by 10%. Female suicides after the law change fell 8% to 16%. Reports of domestic violence went down by 30%. The study concluded that no-fault divorce gave endangered partners, particularly women, a legal avenue to escape from dangerous relationships.

How to negotiate a prenuptial agreement

There may be good reasons for a Wisconsin couple to create a prenuptial agreement. It can protect both of them financially in case of a divorce, but it is important that they both participate in its creation and that it is fair to both of them.

One woman was given a cohabitation agreement by her boyfriend before moving into his home. He had purchased the home with help from his mother, and he and his girlfriend had agreed that she would pay him a reduced amount in rent. However, the agreement stated that if they got married, she would not be entitled to any financial compensation linked to the home no matter how much money she put into it. In addition, the document said that neither person would owe alimony.

How engaged couples can benefit from discussing prenups

Finances may be the last thing that Wisconsin couples want to discuss after getting engaged. However, discussing financial matters will ensure that they are on the same page if issues arise during their marriage or in case of a divorce. A prenuptial agreement will protect both parties and save them a lot of frustration and expense.

A prenup is a legally binding contract that is tailored to the specific needs of each individual entering the marriage. It typically includes which assets will be viewed as personal property and which ones will be viewed as shared property, like inheritances and family trusts. It is especially important for individuals who own their own business and who are engaged to have a prenuptial agreement in place. This will protect the business and anyone who shares ownership of it. The agreement could also include matters of confidentiality, preventing a future ex-spouse from sharing personal information with the public, friends or family.

When your soon-to-be ex accuses you of abuse

Couples fight. That isn't news. The problem comes when one partner accuses the other of abuse. Sadly, this is something that often tried by some Wisconsin residents who want to get more out of their divorce settlements.

If your spouse is accusing you of domestic abuse, it can take a lot to clear your name. More than likely, your spouse will get a restraining order, which, once on your record, can affect you personally and professionally.

Racial disparity in prisons persists despite positive trends

While racial disparities in the criminal justice system have declined in the past 16 years, black men in Wisconsin and nationwide are still likelier to be imprisoned and receive longer sentences. These statistics come according to a study by the Council on Criminal Justice, a think tank that brings together concerned voices from both major political parties, law enforcement and criminal justice reform campaigns. The report notes that racial divisions in imprisonment for different types of crimes declined in local jails and state prisons as well as in the parole and probation systems.

Most significantly, racial disparities declined when drug offenses were considered. Drug cases have received a significant amount of scrutiny due to extensive sentencing disparity and racial bias in enforcement as well as the fact that many people serving significant prison sentences were convicted of nonviolent crimes or even simple possession. In 2000, black people were over 15 times more likely than white people to be imprisoned due to drug convictions. In 2016, that disparity had dropped to a five-fold likelihood, which still presents a significant gap that outstrips other types of criminal charges.

Some post-divorce issues impact women more than men

Many Wisconsin couples begin marriage with the concept that it's a 50-50 proposition. Most soon learn the give and take and perhaps seeming inequity in living together. Those who decide they would be better off apart and seek a divorce look to the laws of the state and the family court system for a level playing field to divide the marital property equally and begin their new lives fairly. Although the courts do what they can, women often face greater financial challenges post-divorce than men do.

There are some compelling reasons why, even though courts and the law strive for equality, women are impacted by divorce differently than men. Wealth and financial studies have revealed that women, on average, earn 81% of what men do for similar work and are awarded primary care of children in a divorce almost 90% of the time. These two factors are fundamental in understanding why women face post-divorce struggles when it comes to money, children and housing. These issues are inexorably intertwined, and proper care is impossible without adequate resources.

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