We are delighted to announce that our physical office is re-opening to our existing and new clients. To provide safety to both our clients and staff, we are adapting the CDC guidelines for social distancing while we are in the yellow phase. Rest assured, that we have and will continue to regularly clean all areas of the office especially the high-traffic areas. All attorneys and staff will have their temperature taken daily and will be wearing masks when interacting with clients. Any attorneys and staff with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will work remotely. They will then be required to follow CDCrecommended steps, including not returning to work until the CDC criteria to discontinue home isolation are met.

As the health and safety of our clients and their families is our top priority, we are asking that our clients follow the procedures below during the yellow phase:

  1. Upon entering the building, we ask that all persons wash their hands or hand-sanitize. We will be providing access to soap, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
  2. We will also be taking temperatures with non-contact thermometers upon entering the office.
  3. Our office is set-up to comply with social distancing of six feet. In the conference and mediation rooms we are asking that each person sit a minimum of one chair apart from attorneys and/or staff at all times.
  4. Masks are available and will be provided open request.
  5. Teleconferences Zoom meetings, and FaceTime are available in lieu of inperson meetings if requested.
  6. We will continue to have the drop-box available for delivery of documents.

In the event that anyone is sick or have been exposed to COVID-19, we ask that you reschedule your appointment or utilize the electronic forums listed above.

As each county determines the procedures that will be followed, please ask your attorney of the specific procedures regarding the county in which your case in pending.

Please note that we will also continue to accommodate the needs of new clients, who are welcome, and as always we encourage and appreciate referrals. During this uncertain and unprecedented time, please stay safe and remember that Sweeney Law Office, LLC will remain by your side for all of your family’s legal needs. We ask that you have patience during this challenging time.

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How will tax rules affect your finances after divorce?

Divorces and separations are governed by specific tax code rules that may have a significant impact on the finances of Pennsylvania residents, especially if there are children involved. It may be appropriate to obtain the relative information when settlement discussions take place. With the guidance of an experienced divorce attorney, settlement can be structured in a way that will benefit all parties.

A custodial parent is allowed to claim a dependency exemption, which is a predetermined amount per child. However, the custodial parent may give consent for the non-custodial parent to claim this exemption. There are specific IRS forms to be filled out by the custodial parent to confirm his or her consent. These release forms have to be attached to the non-custodial parent’s tax return. Even if the custodial parent releases the dependency exemption, he or she may still be put in a lower bracket of tax liability by filing under the Head of Household status.

Additional benefits that the parent with custody may qualify for include Child Care Credit, Earned Income Credit, and Exclusion for Child Care Benefits. It is not uncommon for a non-custodial parent to claim dependency exemption without prior consent of the custodial parent, and resolving this afterward may be tricky. To avoid that, it is recommended that the custodial parent who wants to claim the exemption does not delay filing his or her tax return. If a second claim is submitted, it will be rejected by the IRS.

Child support has no impact on taxes, as it is not classified as taxable income to the parent receiving it, and it is not deductible to the paying parent. However, alimony or spousal support is regarded as income and subject to normal tax rates, and the person who pays alimony may record the payment as a deductible expense. There are specific rules to comply with, as the IRS will compare the respective income and expense recorded by the two parties. In fact, all these elements may be best discussed with an experienced professional to ensure proper procedures are followed. Our Pennsylvania divorce website may provide additional information on tax rules for divorce.

Source: Fox Business, “Taxes and Divorce, What You Need to Know”, Bonnie Lee, Dec. 16, 2014

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