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Springfield Divorce & Family Law Blog

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). 

Spotlighting supportive relationships

11140671_S.jpgIt may be widely understood amongst divorcees in Springfield that an award of spousal maintenance is typically only meant to last as long as is needed for the one receiving it to support a standard of living similar to that which they had while married. Yet many spousal maintenance obligees may come to view such payments as a portion of their income, and thus may be hesitant to end them. Remarrying would automatically end an alimony agreement, so those receiving may believe that simply by not remarrying, the obligation for their ex-spouses to continue paying remains in place. 

Section 452.370 of Missouri's Domestic Relations Code states that a substantial an continuing change in one's circumstances may necessitate a modification of their divorce agreement. This includes the payment of spousal maintenance. Entering into a new supportive relationship may constitute such a change. Most, however, only view marriage as being a supportive relationship. Yet what about cohabitation? 

Managing custody during the holidays

113602612_S.jpgThe holidays are meant to be filled with feelings of warmth and happiness, not contention. Yet as you work your way through your divorce proceedings in Springfield, you may see such future discord as being unavoidable. One of the primary sources of contention amongst divorce parents is how to allocate custody time during the holiday season. Many come to us here at the Stange Law Firm PC questioning what the law mandates in terms of holiday custody time. Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut legal standard. However, you and your ex-spouse will be expected to address the issue of special custody cases in your parenting plan. 

It is understandable that both you and your ex-spouse want to spend the entire holiday season with your kids, yet that may not be possible. At the same time, family courts recognize the special circumstances of the season and thus do not expect you and your ex-spouse to follow your routine custody and visitation schedule. A mandate is made, then, to come up with a plan that is amenable to you both as part of your parenting plan. 

Understanding the importance of valuation dates

14867213_S.jpgUpon choosing to get a divorce, there are many things that one Springfield has to consider. The date on which their marital assets are to be valued likely is not one point that immediately stands out. Yet the valuation date of marital assets can often become a point of contention. A great deal of emotion goes into a divorce case, which can often prompt those involved to take measures to negatively impact how their soon-to-be ex-spouses come out of the proceedings. Purposely devaluing property may be one of them. 

Typically, one of the more significant assets a couple will jointly own is their home. Say that a couple separates and one moves out of the home. The other (knowing that the home may be sold during the divorce proceedings and the proceeds be split equally) may choose to let the home fall into disrepair in order to impact the profit that may be made from it. Of course, this would also lessen the amount that they would get from the sale, yet some may actually be willing to do this as a way of getting back at their ex-spouses. 

Filing for divorce due to incompatibility

78818017_S.jpgPeople end their marriages because of affairs, financial issues and many other reasons. Sometimes, a couple finds out that they are incompatible, whether they have been married for a very brief period of time or they have been married for decades. Some couples are able to work through their differences by successfully pursuing therapy and counseling, while others are able to address their incompatibility through mutual understanding and time. However, others are never able to happily continue their marriage and simply do not get along with each other.

If you and your marital partner have been fighting a lot, or you are no longer interested in being married to this person, it is important to explore various options. If you have already tried counseling with no success, you may believe that the only option at this point is to file a divorce petition. You should not hesitate to move ahead with a divorce if you know that it is best for you and your kids (if you are a parent). Moreover, some people may feel that they are stuck in an incompatible marriage because their partner refuses to cooperate or consider the idea of divorce.

What to do when a parent does not want to be involved?

35065566_S.jpgIf you have gotten a divorce in Missouri or otherwise are no longer together with your child's other parent, you may run into times when that parent does not want to be involved in your child's life. This might include not wanting to have visitation, not engaging with the child on any level or foregoing responsibilities and leaving parenting completely up to you. This is a difficult situation for you and your child. How you handle it has a huge impact and could define the parent-child relationship between you and your child and the other parent and your child. However, there are some things you can try to do to remedy the situation and make it easier.

The main thing to do, according to Very Well Family, is to communicate about visitation issues. This means talking to the other parent. Find out why he or she is not involved. Be open and try to not be combative. If you are accusing and negative, the other parent may not want to talk to you. You need to get information so you can see if you can fix whatever is wrong. For example, sometimes a parent may have scheduling issues. Perhaps the other parent has had a change in hours at work and just cannot get your child at the designated times.

Examining Missouri's child support termination guidelines

28076903_S.jpgChild support serves as an enormous benefit to those who retain custody of their children following a divorce in Springfield, helping to soften the financial blow left from no longer being able to rely on the income of their former spouses. Indeed, the fact that (according to information shared by the U.S. Census Bureau) $33.7 billion was paid out in child support in 2015 alone reinforces how great a need it is. Those obliged to pay it likely little quarrel with doing so (they too want to ensure that their kids have all they need). However, the fear that those receiving this benefit may try to abuse it is also ever-present. 

Because of this, the guidelines regarding to the termination of a child support agreement have been made very clear. According to Section 452.340 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri, a child support obligation automatically terminates in any of the following scenarios: 

  • The supported child dies
  • The supported child marries
  • The supported child enters into military active duty
  • The supported child is otherwise able to become self-supporting 

Understanding how the length of your marriage affects divorce

33720475_S.jpgWhile divorce can be a complicated process for many people, it can be exponentially more difficult and time consuming if you and your spouse have been married for a long time. Often, the longer your marriage lasts, the more there is to untangle in terms of finances, shared assets and belongings that may hold sentimental value to both of you. At Stange Law Firm, PC, we have helped many divorcing couples in Missouri to work through the legal process of divorce as quickly as possible. 

If you and your spouse have been married for a significant length of time, you will undoubtedly face a much different and more extensive list of issues to work through than a couple that has only been married for five years or less. According to U.S. News, if your marriage has been long, some of the factors that will require time, resources and negotiation to work through include the following:

  • Alimony
  • Child custody
  • Dating
  • Retirement accounts
  • Shared assets
  • Shared real estate

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