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Alimony contingency acceptable to court

Sometimes, alimony or child support payments come with a contingency, and Massachusetts families may be interested in a recent alimony case that had a contingency related to homeschooling. The father had agreed to pay the mother additional alimony if she homeschooled the children following their divorce. The rationale was that the mother could not earn an income outside the home if she homeschooled full-time.

The mother in the reported case started homeschooling the children and received monthly payments of $3800. She asked for increased payments, but her ex-husband did not provide more money. The mother stopped homeschooling, went back to work and the husband dropped the monthly amount to $1900 as had been agreed. Typically, the alimony payment is a tax deduction for the paying parent and reportable income for the receiving parent. The IRS questioned the father's deduction for the full amount of alimony paid, $3800 per month, stating that only the lesser amount of $1900, which was only paid when the mother was working outside the home, was all that was required and, therefore, the only amount that was deductible.

The father successfully argued that he was entitled to the larger deduction for the months that the mother homeschooled the children. In similar cases, such as when a child receives a monetary reward from a parent for staying in or completing school, the IRS viewed the payment as child support and not alimony. In a summary opinion, the Tax Court agreed with the father's deduction.

Child custody and spousal support are often difficult issues to resolve when parents decide to divorce. Many parents seek the input of a family law attorney to help ensure that a workable and enforceable arrangement is negotiated and accepted by the court.

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