It is almost tax time again. If you are divorced or separated, you need IRS Publication 504, which is now online for Tax Year 2005. All you ever wanted to know about filing status, exemptions, alimony, children and property division for divorced and separated individuals.

Pendente Lite is Latin for pending the litigation, that is during the trial. It is another way of saying temporary. It may be awarded retroactively to the date of filing the complaint. So it would run from that date until the trial. At the trial the court will make a determination about rehabilatative or indefinite alimony.

Purpose.

The purpose of pendente lite alimony is to maintain the status quo of the parties so a spouse will not suffer financial hardship pending final resolution of the divorce proceedings. Maryland Code, Family Law Article 11-102(a).

Needs and Ability to Pay.

Generally, temporary alimony is based primarily on consderations of the reasonable needs of the recipient spouse, balanced against the other spouse’s ability to pay. Maynard v. Maynard, 42 Md. App. 47, 399 A.2d 900 (1979).

But Lifestyle Counts.

The parties’ standard of living or lavish lifestyle is a consideration in determining the status quo and prevention of financial hardship. James v. James, 96 Md. App. 439, 625 A.2d 381 (1993).

If petitioner’s lack of financial recourses prevented her from maintaining any semblance of her previous lifestyle, then her situation at time of separation would not be considered “status quo“. Guarino v. Guarino, 112 Md. App. 1, 684 A.2d 23 (1996).

It is getting close to tax time. Is your alimony payment deductible? Here are guidelines based on your employment or self employment.

Alimony Payment Decreases

To prevent taxpayers from disguising non-deductible property settlements as disguised alimony, the Internal Revenue Code sets up certain rules for the first three years of alimony payments. If your alimony payment decreases significantly in the first three payments, the IRS will recapture some of it and disallow the deduction.

Test Your Alimony Settlement

Of course if you are receiving alimony based on your divorce decree, that may be a good thing because part of your alimony will not be taxed as income. The rules are hopelessly complex, but you can test your alimony settlement easily with this alimony recapture calculator.

I love stories about people who are able to turn their divorce into something postive and help others. Here is one from Nakia Herring at the Baltimore Times.

It seems that Allegra Bennett, a reporter for the Baltimore Sun and Washington Times, didn’t know anything about fixing things in her house after 23 years of marriage. After her divorce, some things needed fixing.

After speaking with her ex and some repair people, she decided to take on the projects herself.

Now she has launched Renovating Woman Magazine, which has a website, and seminars to help woman fix a hole in the wall, repair the plumbing or hang sheet rock.

It’s time to unravel the 50 divorce rate myth. It seems that it is not really true that one in two marriages end in divorce.

That statistic, widely reported, comes from the fact that there are about half as many divorces in any given year as there are marriages. But the people getting married are not the same ones that are getting divorce. So the 50 divorce rate myth is not accurate.

The true rate of the number of marriages that end in divorce in the U.S. according to this article is around 31%.

In a contested divorce case, your first court appearance is likely to be the Scheduling Conference. This is conducted in the courtroom before a Family Law Master.

The purpose is to set various dates in your trial such as Discovery Cutoff and the Pre-Trial Hearing. And in fact, if you try to argue some point in your case, the Master will usually say “I am just setting dates”.

However, there is more than that to the Scheduling Conference. This is the time you have to ask for certain things in your case:

Pendente Lite Relief (Temporary Support, Attorneys Fees, Access, Use and Possession)
Attorney for the Children
Custody Evaluation or Assessment
Alternative Dispute Resolution

We will discuss these in more detail in future articles. But if you do not ask for them at the Scheduling Conference you may not get them later. At the end of the Scheduling Conference, the Maser’s clerk will hand you your Scheduling Order and related docments. Be sure to read them carefully before you leave the courtroom. If something you asked for is missing, now is the time to ask the Master to add it to the Order.

Walk Away Wife Syndrome

After you have been a divorce lawyer for as long as I have, 30 years or so, you begin to see some patterns in your cases. One is the Walk Away Wife Syndrome.

There will be about a million divorces this year. And the majority of them will be filed by women.

Men and women handle their relationships differently. A woman monitors the relationship, and if she becomes concerned about it, she tries to fix it. To a man, this may seem like complaining. A man might react to it by withdrawing. Neither party’s needs are met.

The woman may suppress her feelings, in hopes that the man will change. Finally, the wife believes she has only one choice for happiness which is separation and divorce. This is called the Walk Away Wife Syndrome.

The man is often caught unaware by this, and even if he tries to change now, it is too late.

James. J Gross is the co-author of the e-book How to File For Divorce in Maryland, available for download today on DivorceNet.Com for $19.95.

He is also the author or co-author of the following books which are available at Amazon.com:

  • Fathers’ Rights: The Best Interest of Your Child Includes You
  • File for Divorce in Maryland, Virginia and Washington DC
  • Money and Divorce

He has been selected by Washingtonian Magazine and Maryland Superlawyers as one of the region’s top divorce lawyers.

Mr. Gross is a practicing partner in the Chevy Chase, Maryland law firm Thyden Gross and Callahan. He is the author of the blogs Maryland Divorce Legal Crier, The Daily Answer Desk, and Not Just Every Other Weekend and the e-mail newsletter In the Courts.

Mr. Gross is a seasoned and experienced divorce lawyer and eminently qualified to answer your questions, provide legal assistance, and to speak with authority on divorce, child custody issues, child support, property distribution, alimony, and family law topics.

We know that you will enjoy reading his insightful commentary and thoughtful blog postings.