Answers to Common Questions
What do we do with the #@!! Court Financial Statement form?
1. Each of you has to fill out your own as part of the process of filing for a divorce.
2. You should fill it out NEATLY. You can type your answers on the form available on my website www.mediate.com/fiske under “How to File for a No-Fault Divorce or by googling “Mass Probate Court” and going to “Self Help.” Instructions are available through the website, or by googling :Mass Probate Court” and going to their forms section.
3. You should fill out the form as of the date you are filling it out. Copy it onto pink paper.
4. Do NOT agonize over this form. If you spend more than an hour on it, that’s too long. If you’re filing a joint petition, you should estimate your weekly expenses as best you can. Income and assets can be defined relatively accurately without a lot of time spent
5. Here’s a letter I received on my website from a wife getting divorced. “The main thing that overwhelms us (aside from the emotional aspects) is putting together the financial statements.” When I called her she said they had been struggling with it for seven months. You don’t have to.
6. Just remember NEATLY.
What does child support cover?
1. All ordinary costs of raising children including food, shelter, transportation,
routine uninsured medical and dental costs and, yes, clothes.
2. Child support does NOT cover extraordinary costs of children such as summer
camp, private school, college, lessons and extracurricular activities.
Couples usually agree to share these costs in some defined proportion
AFTER the activity or need has been agreed upon in advance.
What is a QDRO?
1. The only time married couples can divide an IRA or retirement plan is when they get divorced. They may need a court order called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order to divide any retirement plan covered by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (“ERISA”), such as a pension, annuity, 401(k) or other retirement plan.
2. An Individual Retirement Account or IRA is not covered by ERISA and
does not need a QDRO. The court order approving the Separation Agreement is sufficient for the plan administrator to divide an IRA as you wish.
3. How do we get a QDRO? If it is simple (ie, “H will give W 50% of his 401(k)
on the date of the transfer,” etc), the plan administrator may have a form you
can fill in yourself. If you want help, there are professionals who write them,
including financial planners and lawyers. The internet is a place to start, or the
website of the Mass Council on Family Mediation (www.mcfm.org), or me as
A Simple (!?) Explanation of Child Support and Alimony
1. Google "Mass. Child Support Guidelines Calculation Worksheet" and select the "calculation" link
2. Fill in 5 numbers in the correct squares, all WEEKLY
1a Income for recipient and for payor
1b Child care costs
1c Health insurance costs, etc
2b Number of children
3. The form tells you the amount of weekly child support
4. IF your combined income is less than $250,000, you are done, with one important exception.
You can call child support alimony, thereby gaining the benefit of the wondrous
alimony deduction, as long as the recipient receives, after paying tax on the alimony,
what the child support number would have been. To get this magic number, divide
the child support by .77, which assumes an effective tax rate of 23%.
CAUTION: please please consult an accountant, financial planner, lawyer, mediator
or other knowledgeable expert to make sure you did it right and avoid alimony traps, such as
changing the amount because of an event in the life or a child, a tricky no-no.
5. IF your combined income is over $250,000, alimony is usually about 33% of the difference in
your incomes over the combined $250,000. It has to end on the death of the payee. It also
usually ends on the death of the payor or the remarriage of the payee or according to a time
limit based on the length of the marriage under 20 years. See the last CAUTION.
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