Divorced Spouse Gets to Keep Ill-Gotten OPM Benefits

Keep the Money, and Run! In a recent case, the Virginia Supreme Court allowed a divorced wife to keep almost $63,000 worth of survivor benefits wrongfully paid to her by OPM. Read more. Read the opinion here: Emond v. Office of Personnel Management (CAFC No. 2016-1227 (nonprecedential), 4/8/16

Child Support and Imputation of Income

What happens to child support when one parent switches careers or quits their job? Guideline Child Support Every parent has a duty to support their children, whether or not they are employed. When parents divorce or separate, one or both may petition the court for child support. The court will order both parents to provide income information, including paystubs and tax returns, in order to calculate the presumptive amount of child support. The guidelines can be found in 20-108.2 of the Code of Virginia. The guidelines will apply unless they are somehow unfair or inappropriate. If a parent chooses a lower-paying job or quits working altogether, he or she should not be allowed to avoid their obligation to pay child support. One solution is to impute income to a parent that chooses not to work or switches to a lower-paying profession. Imputation of Income Virginia courts have consistently held that a parent cannot avoid or reduce their child support obligation merely by switching careers or quitting their job. Under 20-108.1(B)(3) income may be imputed to a parent who is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. The court will look at the parent’s earning capacity, training, and prior earning history in determining whether to impute income. A parent cannot voluntarily pursue low-paying employment to the detriment of support obligations to a child. Niemiec vs. Commonwealth, 27 Va. App. 446. In order to show voluntary conduct, the court will consider the parent’s reasons for leaving a position, their earning capacity, education level, and work history. The court held in Antonelli vs. Antonelli, 242 Va. 152 (1991) that the risk of success at a father’s new position “was upon the father, and not upon the children.” In that case the father left a salaried position as a stockbroker for a commissioned position in the same field. When his income was drastically reduced, he requested modification of his support obligation. The court held that his conduct in choosing a different job was made in good faith for legitimate business reasons, however, it was still voluntary and his child support would not be reduced. Other Grounds for Adjustment The court can also adjust the presumptive amount of child support if any of the following circumstances apply: 1) a parent provides support to other family members, 2) costs related to visitation with the children, including travel expenses, 3) debts incurred for the child’s benefit, 4) special needs of the child, 5) standard of living established during the marriage, 6) earning ability and needs of each parent, 7) tax consequences, 8) any other factors that impact the fairness of the child support award, Anytime there is a material change in circumstnaces, the court may revisit and adjust child support accordingly. If you believe you have special circumstances affecting your child support case, you should contact an attorney to discuss your options.

Melone Law P.C. Welcomes Priti Khanna, Of Counsel

PKhanna PictureMelone Law, P.C. is pleased to announce the addition of Priti Khanna to the firm as Of Counsel. Ms. Khanna brings years of experience in the areas of immigration law, bankruptcy, and family law. Ms. Khanna is passionate about getting the best results for her clients while maintaining a high level of customer service.

Legal Advice for When You Win the Lottery

Now that the lottery has reached a record $1.4 billion, many people are rushing to buy tickets and, better yet, make plans for what to do with all of their winnings. But the dreaded “lottery curse” exists for a reason (read more here). Many lotto players may not consider the financial responsibility, and better yet, estate planning options they could have at their disposal with the record winnings. Here are a few handy tips to avoid the dreaded curse: 1) Safeguard your ticket: As soon as you find out your ticket is a winner, you should sign the back of it, scan yourself a copy, and move it to a secure location. 2) Remain anonymous (if permitted): Some states allow lotto winners to remain anonymous, even for a short period of time. Use this time to your advantage and begin talking with a financial planner and attorney to make sure you are protected moving forward. Some states allow trust recipients or LLC recipients to remain anonymous, so find out all your options before going public. Remaining anonymous has the obvious benefit of avoiding those unwanted calls from family, friends, acquaintances, and even strangers who are looking for hand-outs. 3) Keep your eyes on the prize: Just because you’ve claimed your earnings and remained semi-anonymous doesn’t mean your work is over. Even a large jackpot will require smart management in order to maximize your profits. You should keep in touch with your financial planner, attorney, and CPA to ensure you (and your descendants) stay rich for a long time. These experts will help you navigate risk and avoid unnecessary tax liability. 4) Review your estate plan: Most likely that Will you hand-wrote on the back of a napkin that one time won’t cut it anymore. The federal estate tax kicks in for estates valued over $5 million dollars, and could be a hefty hit to your beneficiaries. Establishing a trust, or several trusts, will help ensure privacy of your estate and avoid that large tax penalty.

Subway Settles Suit Over Sandwich Length

“On October 21, 2015, U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman of the Eastern District of Wisconsin preliminarily approved a settlement in the lawsuit against Subway involving allegations that the fast food giant’s six-inch and footlong sandwiches did not measure as advertised…” Read More

Spousal Support in Virginia

Spousal support is a form of monetary support paid to the more financially dependent spouse and is based on a number of factors, including length of the marriage and financial ability of each party. The terms “spousal support” and “alimony” (also “maintenance”) are generally used interchangeably. While the court may or may not award spousal support, parties are able to enter into agreements that provide for different combinations of support, payment methods, or durations. The parties can even waive their rights to spousal support by agreement, which the court cannot modify down the line. The Role of “Fault” on Spousal Support Before it may order support, a court first determines whether the spouse seeking support is barred from getting it. Generally, if a court finds a spouse is guilty of adultery, that spouse will be barred from receiving support, barring special findings. Even then, if a denial of spousal support “would constitute a manifest injustice,” a spouse who committed adultery may be eligible to receive support. Spousal Support Factors When deciding whether to award spousal support and how much, the court will consider the following factors:
  • obligations, needs and financial resources of the spouses, including income from pension, profit-sharing or retirement plans
  • standard of living established during the marriage
  • duration of the marriage
  • age and physical and mental condition of the spouses, and any special family circumstances
  • each spouse’s contributions, monetary and nonmonetary, to the well-being of the family
  • each spouse’s financial assets
  • provisions made with regard to distribution of the marital property
  • extent to which age, condition of special circumstances of any child of the spouses would make it appropriate for one spouse to stay home
  • the extent to which either spouse contributed to the other’s education, training, career position or profession
  • the spouses’ earning capacity and the current employment opportunities for people with that earning capacity
  • opportunity for and ability of the spouses to get education and training to enhance earning ability
  • decisions regarding work and parenting that the spouses made during the marriage, and their effect on earning potential, including the length of time either spouse has been out of the job market
  • provisions made with regard to distribution of the marital property, and
  • any other factors, including the tax consequences to each spouse, necessary to arrive at a fair result.
(Va. Code Section 20-107.1.) Spousal Support Guidelines In setting temporary or permanent support, the court will take into consideration the local guidleines. The Fairfax guidelines are frequently used to set temporary spousal support throughout the Northern Virginia Area. The calculation for support is as follows; WITHOUT CHILD SUPPORT: 30% Higher-earning spouse’s gross income MINUS 50% Lower-earning spouse’s gross income WITH CHILD SUPPORT: 28% Higher-earning spouse’s gross income MINUS 58% Lower-earning spouse’s gross income However, the calculations are not strictly adhered to, especially when the court is faced with a high-income family. For purposes of temporary spousal support cases, “high-income” is defined as parties with a combined gross monthly income of over $10,000. In those cases, the court will often consider the actual needs of the recipient in setting the spousal support award.

Melone Law is Proud to Sponsor the 2015 Wounded Warrior Golf Classic

WWGC_Logo_2015_Fnl   Each year, members of the Wounded Warriors Golf Classic tee off with members of the military to raise awareness of the difficult challenges the wounded warriors face each day at home and at work, and promote volunteerism and become a part of their support network. This event is designed to raise funds for legitimate organizations which provide direct and meaningful support for wounded veterans and their families. This year’s event will take place on September 12, 2015 at Hidden Creek Country Club in Reston, Virginia. To learn more or sign up click here.  

Recall: Lululemon Tops May Cause Injury

Several women’s tops from Lululemon are under recall due to the following hazard: “When the elastic draw cord with a hard tip in the hood or around the neck area is pulled or caught on something and released, it can snap back, impact the face area and result in injury.” Read more Here

Lawsuit: Boeing Endangered Passengers and Attendants with Toxic Cabin Air

Four flight attendants from Alaska Airlines filed suit claiming they were exposed to toxic air in airline cabins. The suit further claims that Boeing was aware of the danger and knowingly put passengers and crew members at risk of exposure. The claim arose from a 2013 flight from Boston to San Diego that was forced to make an emergency landing in Chicago after three of the attendants on board lost consciousness and required hospitalization. All four attendants on board claim they are still suffering health effects as a result of the exposure. They allege that Boeing has attempted to conceal several occurrences where toxic chemicals from the jet engine oil mixes with air from the plane’s cabin, causing a “fume event.” Read the complaint. Boeing denies the allegations and claims their cabin air is safe based on years of air quality research showing that health and safety standards are always met.

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