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Springfield Divorce & Family Law Blog

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

Estate considerations following divorce

27683591_S.jpgOften in the immediate aftermath of a divorce, people in Springfield will scamper to try and locate any financial accounts or holdings they might have shared with their ex-spouses in order to update them to reflect their new circumstances. The motivation behind this is likely the fear that if they do not (and something were to happen to them), then any properties once shared would go back to their ex-spouses (and thus not benefit their children or new spouses). Those who are among the 40 percent of people the American Association of Retired Persons reports as having already begun their estate planning might think to include their wills amongst those items that need to be updated. 

While revising one's will after his or her divorce may be a good strategy, it is technically unnecessary (if one's sole concern is to keep his or her ex-spouse from inheriting his or her money). That is because (according to Section 474.420 of Missouri's Revised Statutes), any provisions made in one's will related to his or her spouse are automatically revoked once his or her divorce becomes finalized. From a legal perspective, it would be as though the ex-spouse preceded the decedent in death. 

When is separation the right answer?

29765997_S (2).jpgFor Springfield-area couples who are struggling with their marriage but not ready to throw in the towel, a legal separation may be the right decision. Along with giving each spouse time and space to think about all the ramifications of divorce, a separation has financial benefits too.

A legal separation is different than what some may consider a "trial" separation, which may be just having one partner move to a different home for a few months, according to Forbes. A legal separation is a binding agreement that covers spousal and child support, visitation and division of debt and assets. Not having an agreement in place means you are still liable for any legal issues or debts that your partner has.

Examining your ex-spouse's claim to your business assets

70654685_S.jpgDivorce in Springfield can be a messy affair, particularly if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have considerable assets to divide amongst each other. If your business is included in those assets, then like many of those that we here at the Stange Law Firm have previously worked with, you might be worried about how much interest your ex-spouse may profit from it once your divorce becomes final. Answering this concern first requires an explanation of how Missouri handles property division proceedings. 

The state follows the philosophy of equitable division, meaning that the parties to a divorce may not necessarily receive an equal share of marital assets, but rather what the court determines will be fair. Marital assets are assets are considered to be those accrued while you and your ex-spouse were together. Thus your ownership stake in your business might not be affected by your divorce if your started the company before you were married. What may be is whatever increase in value your company experienced during your marriage. 

Judge in Trump Jr.'s divorce case praises couple's collaboration

11419850_S.jpgGiven the emotions that can go into divorce proceedings in Springfield, it may be easy for many to see how and why they can become so contentious. Particular matters (such as child custody) can become particularly nasty due to what is at stake. Yet even with the potential for discord that exist amongst a divorcing couple, the parties involved may be advised to put aside their differences and come to an amicable agreement for the best interests of the children at the center of such disputes. 

The judge presiding over the divorce case of Donald Trump Jr. and his estranged wife praised the couple in recent proceedings for being able to accomplish such a task. The couple filed for divorce earlier this year after almost 13 years of marriage. News recently surfaced that they were able to come up with their own agreement regarding the custody of their five children. Their join efforts allowed the couple to complete their initial custody hearing to be completed in just 10 minutes. The pair also appeared to be amiable towards each other during proceedings. The judge commended them for their behavior and even offered assistance in helping them to resolve any future matters. Such cooperation is also expected as the two sort through their financial affairs. 

How to create a co-parenting plan

13310191_S.jpgIf you share child custody with your ex, you likely know that co-parenting can be a real challenge. That's why it's essential for parents in Missouri to create a solid co-parenting plan, which provides guidance when making important child-rearing decisions. Psychology Today offers tips on creating a co-parenting plan that works for your whole family.

Cooperation Is a Must

Explaining Missouri's alimony laws

60726244_S.jpgWhen a couple chooses to divorce in Springfield, one (or both) sides might automatically assume that they are entitled to alimony. This is likely due to the notion that many view the rewarding of alimony or spousal support payments as some sort of punitive action. In reality, that is not the case at all. Spousal support is rather a means to help one spouse who might be economically disadvantaged compared to the other support him or herself until such point as he or she is able to secure gainful employment and regain a similar financial standing to the one enjoyed while he or she was still married. 

The decision to reward alimony, however, is not automatic. Rather, according to Section 452.335 of Missouri's Revised Statutes, the court considers a number of different factors when determining whether it is even warranted. Some of these include: 

  • The duration of a marriage (as well as the standard of living a couple enjoyed during that time)
  • The financial resources and earning capacity of each party involved
  • The obligations and debts each party assumes as part of a divorce agreement
  • The age and physical capabilities of each party
  • The amount of time needed for the party requesting maintenance to be trained or educated to the point of being able to secure employment

Judge facing discipline for intervening in custody case

53676530_S.jpgDivorce proceedings in Springfield can often become emotional given the stakes involved. However, participants in such cases rely on the fair and unbiased guidance of court professional in order to keep things on task. It is this very lack of connection between the parties involved which affords judges and other officers of the court the authority to render valid judgments. Were one such official to have ties to one side, ethical standards may require that he or she excuse him or herself from the proceedings in order to avoid the impression that one party might be privy to favorable treatment. 

A recent case involving a judge in New Jersey illustrates why this is absolutely necessary. She has become subject to professional discipline for intervening in a custody case involving a former associate. According to reports, she called a local police station claiming that she was the emergent judge on call, and that an attorney had contacted claiming that his client's ex-husband had taken custody of the children despite a court order saying they were to spend Mother's Day with their mom. It was later discovered that not only was the judge not on call, but that the court order she referenced never existed and the phone call with the attorney never occurred. Subsequent investigations revealed that the judge knew the mother in the case, and that she lied to allow the woman to retain custody during the holiday. 

What is "alienation of affection?"

36086326_S.jpgOf all of the elements that can contribute to a divorce, infidelity might be the most difficult to deal with. Your disappointment in your spouse for allowing another in Springfield to come between the two of you is understandable. Those raw feelings may be matched only by the anger that you feel towards the person with whom he or she had (or has) a relationship. This anger might even prompt you to question whether or not there might be legal recourse that allow you to hold that person responsible for contributing to the end of your marriage

A legal principle does indeed exist known as "alienation of affection." Such a claim allows people to seek damages from third parties over the loss of affection they enjoyed through their marriages. Typically, those third parties are their spouses' lovers, yet action under this principle can also be brought against in-laws, friends or even relationship therapists. 

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