New Year Resolutions: Best Practices for Our Clients

By:  Kerri Lee Cappella

Year-end and the beginning of the New Year are good times to check in on your family law matters.  Myriad events might be triggered as the calendar switches over. A little pre-planning can avoid unpleasant surprises or unnecessary emergencies later.  We like to remind our clients of a few things, including:


  1. Save and send us your December 31 pay stubs and your Forms W-2 and 1099. Parties are required to report to the Domestic Relations Office any material changes in circumstances with their incomes. Failure to report these changes can result in sanctions at a future support hearing, depending on the impact of these changes on existing support orders.


  1. Assemble and send us documentation of joint expenditures you and the other parent might share, such as: unreimbursed medical expenses; tuition and other related academic fees; activity fees and related expenses. If we need to seek reimbursement for medical expenses, we must do so and provide the documentation before March 31. Though there is no similar rule for other shared expenses, your agreement or order might direct those arrangements.


  1. If your divorce case is still pending, please send us year-end statements from retirement, bank, and investment accounts, especially if they reflect the full year’s activity. This will help us keep up to date on the components of the marital estate.


  1. Consider or confirm what your tax filing status will be, especially if you will still be married by December 31. Some agreements or court orders may direct parties’ filing status or the child tax credit. Check in with your accountant to explain these matters with you.


  1. Determine whether alimony terminates or otherwise changes as the calendar turns. We may need to obtain an order to change a wage attachment, or we may need to notify the other party’s counsel.


  1. Check in on your custody orders – does the New Year direct changes in the holiday or vacation provisions? Does your order change the regular custody schedule rotation? Consider having a conversation with the other parent to address these changes for the New Year.


  1. Looking ahead, will there be any upcoming changes in your minor children’s education? If your child is graduating, we may need to notify the court and consider the impact on child support for any remaining minors going forward. If your child moves from elementary to middle school, or middle to high school, we may need to determine if there will be changes in expenses, tuition, or fees.


Year-end is a busy time for many families. At GHA, we hope we can help take some of the guess-work out of changes the New Year may bring. Most of all, we wish our, and clients, colleagues, and friends a Happy New Year.



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