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Springfield Divorce & Family Law Blog

I have changed my name, what should I do now?

80978706_S.jpgFor a variety of reasons, such as a divorce, marriage, or a personal preference for a new name, people in Missouri may go through with a name change. Once this life-changing decision is fulfilled and you have a legally recognized new name, you may wonder what you should do next. To solidify your new identity, there are important steps you should take.

Per FindLaw, it is crucial to put your new name into practice. When you fill out applications and forms, put your new identity on them. When you make new acquaintances, friends, or enter into business arrangements, introduce yourself with your new name. Also let your existing friends and family know that you want them to refer to you by your new name.

The what and why of QDROs

104994456_S.jpgMissouri is an equitable distribution state, which means the family courts strive to split all marital assets fairly, if not necessarily equally. One such marital asset the courts must take into consideration is the higher earner's retirement plan. The division of many retirement plans require the help of a qualified domestic relations order.

According to the IRS, a qualified domestic relations order is a decree, judgment or order for a retirement plan to pay alimony, child support or assets to a former spouse, current spouse, child or dependent of the participant. The only assets a QDRO may award are those available under the plan. When a person receives money or other assets via a QDRO, he or she reports the payments as if he or she were a participant of the plan. What does all this essentially achieve, though? 

How high is the divorce rate in America?

44438970_S.jpgIf you are like many people in Missouri, you have probably heard references to how many marriages end in divorce. For some time now, many people have asserted that as many as one in every two couples who say, "I do" will eventually get divorced. However, this may not truly be what is happening today.

As reported by the Chicago Tribune, the reality of divorce in America may actually look different based on which generations you are factoring in. For people in their mid-60s and older, the rate of divorce had grown threefold between 1990 and 2015. Take one step down in age to those between 55 and 64 and the rate of divorce grew twofold in that same period of time. Jump back even further, however, and the story is quite different.

Authorities take custody of missing boy in noncustodial abduction

73927103_S.jpgNoncustodial parents in Missouri and elsewhere sometimes resort to drastic and illegal measures to spend more time with their children. A noncustodial father allegedly took his young son away from the child's mother in Texas in late 2017 without her knowledge and brought him to Florida. After more than a year, Florida law enforcement has now found the child and placed him in custody with Child Protective Services pending a reunion with his mother. 

For reasons that are unclear, it was only last week that Texas law enforcement filed the child's case as abduction by a noncustodial parent, despite the child's mother filing multiple reports against the father for interference with child custody beginning in January 2018. Following the father's alleged abduction of his child, a court granted the mother sole custody in February 2018.

Dealing with the marital home

10292964_S.jpgAmong the most important elements to be considered during divorce proceedings in Springfield is ownership of the marital home. One might go into a divorce case thinking that retaining ownership is an issue they will not compromise on, yet a careful analysis should be made on the reasons for such a stance. Having a practical reason (e.g., remaining close to family and friends, not wanting to uproot the kids from the community) may be justifiable, yet if the main reason is due to a lingering sense of vindictiveness towards their ex-spouse, one might want reconsider their position. 

Why? Should one spouse insist on keeping the house, then that party will likely have to refinance it in order to take the ex-spouse's name off the mortgage. This amounts to essentially taking out a completely new mortgage, and as the personal finance site NerdWallet points out, that can be difficult following a divorce. The original mortgage was likely obtained based on a couple's combined income. Qualifying for a similar amount on only one income can be difficult. 

Financial considerations for a post-50 divorce

45791375_S.jpgMost people who live in Missouri know someone personally who has gotten divorced or who may be in the midst of a divorce even now. Contrary to what some people may believe, more and more of these people are in their 50s, 60s or even older. Interestingly, in the last two decades, the number of people getting divorced after they reach the age of 50 continues to increase. In fact, according to data from Pew Research, the rate of divorce among people 50 or older is actually 109 percent higher today than it was a quarter of a century ago.

Getting divorced at any age can have a significant impact on a person financially. Getting divorced when a person is close to retirement or maybe has even already retired has a particularly significant financial impact on people. As explained by Forbes, this is a stage of life at which a person either has a reduced income, a fixed income or even a limited number of years left in which to reclaim any financial losses experienced during a divorce

Why should mothers care about establishing paternity?

30658660_S (2).jpgYou might assume that those concerns over the issue of paternity are primarily something that potential fathers have to deal with. Yet as a mother, you should also be concerned that someone is legally recognized as your child's father. Even if you do not plan on maintaining a relationship with your child's actual father, it is important that he (or another) be deemed responsible for the welfare of your child along with you. While studies show that children who have the involvement of two parents in their lives enjoy certain social benefits compared to those who do, there are other reasons why establishing the paternity of your child is important. 

Raising a child on your own can be difficult, especially if you have only your income to rely on. If another has been legally designated as your child's father, he can then also be held responsible for supporting your child. One does not have to be your child's biological father to be assigned paternity, either. If your spouse has claimed paternity of your child despite not being their biological father, then they can still be made to pay child support for them if you choose to divorce. 

How can I tell my preschooler about my divorce?

46166147_S.jpgIf you and your spouse in Missouri have made the hard decision to end your marriage and you have children together, one of the hardest things you will be faced with is telling your kids about the divorce and then subsequently supporting them as they adjust to the changes that are sure to come. There is no one way to do this in part because children need different things at different ages. If you have a preschool-aged child, you will want to keep things simple and be prepared for repeat conversations.

As explained by Today's Parent, the world of a three-year-old is a relatively self-centered and concrete one. When you initially share with your child that you and their other parent are not going to be living together anymore, you should be ready to discuss the child's everyday life. For example, you should let your child know who will take them to school, who will read them a bedtime story and if you are still going to a grandparent's house for dinner every Sunday.

Tax changes create challenges, opportunities in divorces

111418711_S.jpgPeople in Missouri who are starting 2019 facing an upcoming divorce will have no shortage of issues to contend with. Among these issues may well be how to navigate the new tax laws and the impact these laws are no doubt set to have on divorce settlements for countless couples.

As explained by CNBC, alimony payments have historically been treated as taxable earned income for the spouse who received the money. This has changed now and instead, it will be the spouse who makes alimony payments who is required to also pay income tax on the funds. This might seem like a benefit to the receiving spouse but, it may have a potential downside for that person.

Modifying your custody arrangement

97054374_S.jpgSpringfield clients often come to us here at the Stange Law Firm PC with a similar question: How can I modify my custody agreement? At the time of your divorce, the court likely handed down a custodial arrangement that, while taking yours and your ex-spouse's feelings into account, was deemed to be in the best interests of your children. That arrangement likely took some getting used to, but the hope is that eventually you were able to collectively make it work. Circumstances do change, however, and now you may be discovering that what did accommodate you before no longer does. You likely now share the aforementioned question. 

According to the website for the Judicial Branch of Missouri's state government, custody orders can be modified by petition. It is recommended that you work with your ex-spouse to come up with a new arrangement that is acceptable to the both of you. You then must submit a "Motion to Modify Child Custody" (state form CAFC101) to the court that has jurisdiction over your case. If both you and your ex-spouse are in agreement about the proposed modifications, the court can approve your petition without needing to have a hearing (the only exception to this may be when major modifications are proposed, such as changing the children's primary residence). 

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Other Office Locations

  • Saint Louis County: 120 S. Central Ave., Suite 450, Clayton, MO 63105: Clayton Office
  • West County: 16024 Manchester Rd., Suite 103, Ellisville, MO 63011: Ellisville Office
  • Jackson County: 256 NE Tudor Rd., Lee's Summit, Missouri 64086: Lee's Summit Office
  • Jefferson County: 16 Municipal Drive, Suite C, Arnold, MO 63010: Arnold Office
  • St. Charles County: 2268 Bluestone Drive, St. Charles, MO 63303: St. Charles Office
  • Franklin County: 5 S. Oak St. Union, MO 63084: Union Office
  • Lincoln County: 20 Centerline Drive, Troy, Missouri 63379: Troy Office
  • Boone County: 1506 Chapel Hill Rd., Suite H, Columbia, MO 65203: Columbia Office
  • Greene County: 901 E. St. Louis, Suite 404, Springfield, Missouri 65806: Springfield, MO Office
  • St. Clair County: 115 Lincoln Place Ct., Ste. 101, Belleville, IL 62221: Belleville Office
  • Madison County: 5 Club Centre Ct., Suite A, Edwardsville, Illinois 62025: Edwardsville Office
  • Sangamon County: 400 S. 9th St., Suite 100, Springfield, IL 62701: Springfield Office
  • McLean County: 1012 Ekstam Drive, Suite 4, Bloomington, IL 61704: Bloomington Office
  • Johnson County: 7300 West 110th Street, Suite 560, Overland Park, KS 62210: Overland Park Office
  • Sedgwick County: 2024 N. Woodlawn Street, Suite 407, Wichita, Kansas 67208: Wichita Office
  • Shawnee County: 800 SW Jackson Street, Suite 812, Topeka, Kansas 66612: Topeka Office
  • Monroe County: 116 W. Mill St., Waterloo, IL 62298 (by appt. only): Waterloo Office
  • St. Louis City: 100 S. 4th St., #549, St. Louis, MO 63102 (by appt. only): St. Louis Office
  • Jackson County: 2300 Main St., #948, Kansas City, MO 64108 (by appt. only): Kansas City Office

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