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October 14, 2004

Consequences of Hostility Toward Other Parent

In re Marriage of Simms discusses the ramifications of "hostile conduct" by one parent (or his/her extended family) against the other in the context of a custody dispute:

We, as did the district court, find that Marianne and her family impede Joel’s relationship with the children. Where one parent seeks to portray another in an unfavorable light, that fact is considered in assessing who should have primary physical care. See In re Marriage of Udelhofen, 444 N.W.2d 473, 474-76 (Iowa 1989); In re Marriage of Leyda, 355 N.W.2d 862, 865-67 (Iowa 1984); In re Marriage of Wedemeyer, 475 N.W.2d 657, 659-60 (Iowa Ct. App. 1991). The hostile conduct need not come only from the custodial parent. See In re Marriage of Crotty, 584 N.W.2d 714, 716-717 (Iowa Ct. App. 1998) (conduct of mother’s parents considered); In re Marriage of Rosenfeld, 524 N.W.2d 212, 215-16 (Iowa Ct. App. 1994) (conduct of stepmother considered). Marianne has a responsibility to assure her parents and siblings will not interfere with Joel’s relationship with the children. See Crotty, 584 N.W.2d at 717. We consider the fact that she seems unable to exercise this responsibility. We affirm the custody decision of the district court.

The decision also discusses the negative consequences that can occur as a result of "orchestrated" claims of domestic abuse in custody litigation.

Posted on October 14, 2004 in Custody |

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College Support/Subsidy and Pre-1997 Decrees

Today's decision of In re Marriage of Mullen-Funderburk lays out the procedure for determining post-secondary tuition subsidy (a/k/a "college support") in decrees that pre-date the 1997 college support amendment to Chapter 598:

"Where the amount of post-secondary child support is not fixed by a pre-1997 dissolution decree, “those [post-secondary support] obligations, if they arise, should be determined pursuant to Iowa Code section 598.21(5A).” In re Marriage of Rosenfeld, 668 N.W.2d 840, 849 (Iowa 2003). The district court had no discretion to order Marilyn to pay child support for a non-disabled adult child outside the strictures of section 598.21(5A)."

The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded the district court's order that the appellant pay $745/month directly to the student-child, as this amount exceeded the one-third cap that a parent can be obligated to pay under existing section 598.21(5A). Determination of the proper amount was remanded to the district court.

Posted on October 14, 2004 in Post-Secondary (College) Subsidy |

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October 07, 2004

Changes to Federal Tax Law re. Child Rerlated Tax Benefits

Recent changes to federal tax law create a "Uniform Definition of Child" that is effective beginning in tax year 2005. The new law creates a uniform definition of qualifying child for the tax benefits that relate to children. Under the new law, a qualifying child must meet only three tests, relationship, residence, and age:

1. Relationship: The child must be the taxpayer's son, daughter, stepchild, sibling, stepsibling, or a descendant of such individuals. Foster children placed with the taxpayer by authorized placement agencies would satisfy the relationship test. If the child is the taxpayer's sibling or stepsibling or a descendant of any such individual, the taxpayer must care for the child as if the child were his or her own child.

2. Residence: The child must live with the taxpayer in the same principal place of abode in the United States for over half the year. Military personnel on extended active duty outside the United States would be considered to be residing in the United States. As under current law, the taxpayer and child are considered to live together even if one or both are temporarily absent due to special circumstances such as illness, education, business, vacation, or military service.

3. Age: The child must be under the age of 19, a full-time student if over age 18 and under age 24, or totally and permanently disabled. However, as under current law, qualifying children (who are not disabled) must be under age 13 for purposes of the child and dependent care tax credit and under 17 (whether or not disabled) to qualify for the child tax credit.

A tie-breaker rule similar to the current EITC tie-breaker applies if more than one qualifying taxpayer claims a benefit for the same child.

This new rule affects the following tax benefits.

* The dependency exemption.

* The child tax credit.

* The earned income credit.

* The dependent care credit.

* Head of household filing status.

Posted on October 07, 2004 in Federal Laws-Cases, Tax |

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