As Halloween nears, it’s important to talk to children about staying safe during a night of trick-or-treating. Though the night is full of fun and festivity, children can be particularly vulnerable to lurking dangers on Halloween. The Tulsa Police Department would like to offer several tips to ensure that everyone has a safe celebration.
• Children should trick-or-treat with an adult
• Trick-or-treat in areas that are well lit
• Cross streets at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks where available
• Look left, right and left again when crossing
• Walk on sidewalks or paths; if there is no sidewalk, walk facing traffic as far to the left as possible
• Wear light-colored costumes decorated with reflective tape or stickers
• Carry a flashlight or glow stick to increase visibility to drivers
• Only eat treats and candy that are properly wrapped in their original packaging after being checked by an adult
• It’s also a good idea to carry a cell phone while trick-or-treating in case of an emergency.
•When possible trick-or-treat in groups

It is also important that drivers do their part to keep trick-or-treaters safe.
• Be alert in residential neighborhoods
• Drive more slowly and anticipate heavy pedestrian traffic
• Remember that costumes can limit children’s visibility and they may not be able to see a moving vehicle
• Enter and exit driveways slowly and carefully

Happy Safe Halloween Everybody!

How Parents’ Behavior Affects Children During a Divorce

Co-authored by Sara Au

If you’re divorcing, it’s very likely that your world is being rocked like no other time in your life. You may feel shell-shocked, unmoored, enraged or depressed. All of those feelings–and more–are completely normal, and you need to deal with them or find help if you cannot. It’s natural for you to want to lash out at the world, or withdraw from it, or otherwise act on your feelings, but when you’re a parent you need to consider how your actions will affect your children and their behavior.

It’s so hard to hold it all together, but here are some do’s and don’ts that will go very far in helping your child adjust to this change in their lives, and protect their positive development during a difficult time:

It’s important not to share with your children how distressed, frustrated, or depressed you are about the situation. This does not mean you can’t show emotion. Showing and managing emotions help kids learn to do the same. But intense feelings that you struggle to manage should be dealt with using your own support system. You can’t expect your children to handle the burden of being your primary emotional support.
Keep your promises. If you say you’ll be somewhere with the kids, then make sure you are there. If your children are due to spend time with your ex, make sure you’re respectful of that time. Children need both parents in their lives whenever possible. It’s important that your kids have regular contact with you both.
Give your children privacy and space to freely interact with their other parent without feeling like you’re monitoring them. Of course, you need to know they are safe, but when they are with your ex, let them be with them, and let your ex shoulder the responsibility for them. (This might be a good time to get your children a cell phone, if they don’t already have one. Even if it’s a bit earlier than planned, that gives them the freedom to contact you both, and you the opportunity to contact them if needed. Just don’t be in constant contact when they’re away from you.)

Don’t take actions that undermine the other parent. If the other parent is actively undermining you, and you don’t have a civil relationship where you can compromise, then just focus on your own home’s stability and rules. Resist the urge to retaliate or complain to your children about the situation. Don’t grill your children about your ex-spouse and his or her activities, either. You can be a good role model for behavior regardless of whether your ex-spouse is doing so.
Don’t be a victim of divorce. Strive to be a model resilience and self-reliance. This is a horribly emotional thing to go through, but it’s just as powerful of a message when your kids see you bounce back. They do need to know that terrible things can happen in life, some of which are outside of our control, but we do not let such events ruin our lives forever.

If your family life has already become acrimonious, it’s not too late to take steps to turn that around. It will take time, but it can be accomplished. An amicable relationship between divorced parties is best for all involved, but if that cannot be managed, civility and avoidance of conflict between the adults will foster the best outcomes for the children.
Your choices and behavior have far-reaching consequences when you’re parenting through a divorce. Being able to partition your feelings and your reactions to problems between you and your ex is essential, so that you can be a role model for your children. (Finding an adult outlet to vent your feelings with is also essential–for your own well-being.)

Even though divorce can be difficult, children can make it through resiliently and can even thrive in homes where each parent is happier and potentially more fulfilled in their own personal life.

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-l-stavinoha-ph-d-/how-parents-behavior-affe_1_b_8133150.html?utm_hp_ref=divorce&ir=Divorce

5 Things Divorced Parents Need to Know Before the Next Tax Season

5 Things Divorced Parents Need to Know Before the Next Tax Season by Susan Moussi

{4:20 minutes to read}  As spouses finalize their divorces, agreements are usually reached as to how the parents will account for their child on their separate individual income tax returns.

Here are five things you need to know about child-related deductions and tax credits:

1. It doesn’t matter which parent provides the greater amount of financial support. In recent years, the support test has been replaced by what is called the “place-of-abode” test. The child must still receive more than half of his or her support from the parents in order to qualify as an exemption, but the parent with whom the child resides with most of the year will be the parent who may claim the child, assuming that all other qualifications are met.

2. The non-custodial parent may claim a child. The qualifying non-custodial parent may claim the dependency exemption if the divorcing couple is in agreement, but that parent must attach a Form 8332 to their federal tax return. The form will include the signature of the custodial parent releasing their right to claim the child. Reliance on the agreement itself without the signed form may result in a denial of the deduction and related child tax credit.

3. The parent who qualifies as head of household does not need to claim the dependent child to file as head of household.

4. Credits and benefits are still available to the custodial parent who releases the dependency exemption. Therefore, the parent who is considered the custodial parent by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) still may claim the credits for child care expenses and the earned income credit, even if they do not claim the child on their return.

5. The agreements do not apply once the child reaches the age of majority. When a child reaches the age where he/she is considered to be an adult, then he/she is no longer considered in custody of either parent. Facts and circumstances of the previous year will determine whether that child may be considered a dependent for tax purposes, but the child is no longer under the rules of the divorce agreement.

The most common misconception that I hear is from the parent who says, “I pay child support; so I can claim him on my taxes.” And that statement is not necessarily true. Once again, because the support test was replaced by the “place of abode” test, it no longer matters which parent provides the larger amount of support, but rather, where the child lives most of the time.

These days many parents have “shared parenting time,” which is a 50-50 arrangement. But, because there are 365 days in a year, it could be argued that one parent, or the other, had physical custody of the child for one additional night.

A divorce financial professional can help you make informed decisions about child-related deductions before tax season arrives. How will you and your ex-spouse decide who will claim the child(ren) as exemptions on their tax returns?



Susan A. Moussi, CPA, CFP®, CDFA
SMD Tax & Divorce Financial Planning Consultants, Inc.
Phone: 614.429.4172

How Will Marijuana Use Affect Your Child Custody Case

How Will Marijuana Use Affect Your Child Custody Case in New York State?

How Will Marijuana Use Affect Your Child Custody Case in New York State by Joshua Katz

A lot of people don’t realize that New York State became the 23rd state to legalize the medical use of marijuana. We still don’t know – and probably won’t know for a couple of years – who will be allowed to prescribe it and for what illnesses. Medical marijuana will only be prescribed as a pill or through vaporization, and will not be legal to smoke.

A proposal was made by Senator Liz Krueger earlier this year to legalize recreational marijuana in New York. This would mean you could:

  • enjoy marijuana;
  • grow up to six marijuana plants at home for personal use; and
  • possess up to two ounces of marijuana.

The reason this is important is that marijuana has been prohibited in New York for over forty years – prohibition lasted only thirteen years – and over those forty years, the use of marijuana has not declined. It has resulted in 20 million arrests, costing the state tremendous tax dollars and losing the taxes which could have been charged, like the taxes charged on liquor.

So people are smoking marijuana, and it’s not a big deal to the point that the state may legalize it. So then, what’s the big deal if a mother or a father tests positive for marijuana while going through a custody dispute?

The answer: “It’s really not a big deal.” Marijuana is now treated very similarly to alcohol. A positive test is insufficient proof of any sort of neglect.

Brooklyn Family Court recently dismissed a child neglect case filed by ACS. Despite a positive drug test for marijuana, the court ruled that there was no proof of intoxication and no proof of any danger to the child. Therefore, the neglect was dismissed.

If you’re going through a custody dispute, and marijuana use is alleged, in order to be important, you must prove that the other party smokes, ingests or vaporizes marijuana to the point of intoxication; and that they do so while the child or children are entrusted in their care.

** Joshua Katz does not endorse the use of marijuana or any other recreational drugs.

Tax Time 2015

For all of you who do your own accounting here is a link from the IRS explaining the most commonly asked questions for divorcing parents during tax season.


Disclaimer: This is not tax advice and we never give tax advice.  Contact your accountant for important filing information.


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