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St. Louis Family Law Blog

Child support cases come in different forms

When Missouri parents decide to divorce, issues like child support and custody often prove to be especially complicated. Parents may notice that different support cases are handled in different ways. For example, some parties handle child support payments privately between the custodial and non-custodial parents while others make payments through a state-mandated system. This is because there are four major types of child support categories: IV-D, IV-A, IV-E and non-IV-D.

The "IV" refers to Title IV of the Social Security Act, which was passed in 1975. This law regulates the distribution of federal funds to the states to provide assistance to needy families. An IV-D child support case is one in which the Office of Child Support Enforcement assists the custodial parent in some way, whether through formally establishing paternity or enforcing a child support order in case the non-custodial parent fails to pay. For IV-A cases, the state seeks to defray Office of Child Support Enforcement costs by collecting child support. In IV-E cases, the child is in foster care or the care of someone else besides the parents.

Student loan debts are ruining marriages

Student loans are taking a toll on marriages in Missouri and around the country, according to a study by Student Loan Hero. The website reports that the average U.S. college loan balance is $34,144, while the average loan for 2017 college graduates was nearly $40,000. Apparently, the weight of this financial burden is breaking down marital bonds.

The survey found that a third of divorced student loan borrowers at least partly blamed college debt and other financial problems for the end of their marriage. Of those, 13 percent claimed that student loans were the primary cause of their divorce. These findings back up a previous survey that found that 43 percent of student loan borrowers report having money-related fights with their spouse somewhat often. The poll also found that 24 percent of borrowers have kept their college debt a secret from their spouse, while 18 percent think it's okay to lie to their spouse about money issues.

How to know if your marriage is not worth saving

If you look back over your life, you can probably think of many difficult decisions you have made that changed the course of your life. Perhaps you struggled to decide which college to attend, what to major in, where to apply for work and where to settle down and live. If you are like many, you labor over the small decisions - like what color to paint the living room - as well as the big questions - like whether to accept a marriage proposal and how many kids to have.

Now that you are married with children, you face one of the most difficult decisions of your life. Should you file for divorce? Unlike painting the living room, no magazine article or advice from friends can make the decision for you. Instead, it may be best to examine the ways your marriage is affecting every area of your life to determine if the negative outweighs to positive.

Preparing for a divorce

The unfortunate truth is that some marriages were never meant to be. When Missouri spouses come to this realization, divorce is generally the best solution. Most couples go into the divorce process hoping for a smooth transition. However, emotions often run high when issues such as child custody and property division come into play. That's why it's important to be prepared.

If you feel that your divorce could get messy, the first step is to find a competent divorce lawyer. An experienced attorney can help ensure your rights aren't overlooked during the course of the proceedings. Ultimately, legal counsel could help you obtain a fair separation agreement.

What child custody options are there for parents in Missouri?

Whether you are going through a divorce or separating from your significant other, if you have children you likely have many questions about what will happen to them through these difficult times. Child custody is often a contentious topic, as not all parents agree on what is best for their kids.

Missouri, like every other state, offers a few different custody options to parents so they can create a custody plan that truly fits the needs of the family. What are these custody options? Do parents have a say? What happens if our custody plan doesn't work as you hoped? These are all great questions that have relatively straightforward answers.

Negotiating a summer parenting plan? Keep these things in mind

Most legal processes take time. You can't simply present your needs to a Missouri court and expect a judge to resolve your situation overnight. Thinking ahead and being proactive toward meeting your goals are key factors that may at least help expedite the family law process, especially when the issues at hand pertain to co-parenting.

When you decided to divorce, you may have stressed a bit over the impact it would have on your children. While you understood that they should spend time with both their parents, you also wanted to make sure all terms of your co-parenting plan were clearly and specifically written because you could foresee potential problems with your ex, should a plan be too vague. Now that you're nearing custody proceedings, you especially want to make sure your proposed agreement includes details regarding your children's summer breaks.

Avoiding debt, protecting assets among reasons for prenups

More millennial couples in Missouri may be getting prenuptial agreements than in the past, and it is part of an overall rise in prenups. However, attorneys say the increase in prenups among the 18-to-34 age group is a somewhat more recent phenomenon, and there are several reasons this may be the case.

One reason is that millennials may be entering marriage carrying a lot of debt. Student loan debt may be particularly high for this group, and the average student loan debt in 2017 for college graduates was over $38,000. People may fear finding themselves saddled with an ex-spouses debts after a divorce, and a prenup can be one way to avoid that.

Splitting inherited IRAs in divorce

Missouri residents who are getting a divorce may be concerned about whether they will be able to retain certain assets that they own individually. One type of assets, inherited individual retirement accounts, are being divided in divorces. Because the pretax funds may be used to offset the cancellation of the alimony deduction that becomes effective in 2019, IRAs may begin to have a more significant role in divorce settlements. The inherited IRAs are split during a divorce in situations in which the spouse that inherited an IRA wants to use a portion of the funds to fulfill an agreement made regarding the division of property.

There are no references in the tax code or regulations regarding the splitting of inherited IRAs in a divorce. This means that there are no private letter rulings, IRS guidances, court cases or other official guidelines that can be used to state definitively that inherited IRAs can be split in a divorce free of tax in the same manner in which an owned IRA can be divided.

Creating a parenting schedule that works for the family

When Missouri parents get divorced, they may end up with joint custody of the kids. For those who have this type of child custody arrangement, creating a parenting schedule can be important when it comes to a stable home life for the kids.

Going through a divorce can be just as difficult for the children as it can be for the parents. Because they are the ones who may be going back and forth between two households, parents should put themselves in their children's shoes so that they have a better understanding of how the schedule will have an impact on the kids' lives. If the children are old enough, parents may wish to get their input. While parents may overrule them on certain things, giving the kids a chance to make some decisions can make them feel like their voice is being heard.

Divorce is a good time to reconsider financial goals

Missouri couples going through divorce may use the separation process as an opportunity to reconsider financial goals and, if necessary, set new ones. While divorce is an emotionally-charged process, it is important not to forget that it will change all aspects of life, including financial stability.

The first step in reconsidering financial goals during a divorce is to evaluate and confront the reality. Each person needs to consider where they stand and how that will change once the divorce happens. This is the time to estimate what expenses will be like and how they will have to be met. During this period, it is a good idea to evaluate all accounts, including debt accounts, and outline a budget for monthly bills, including household expenses such as housing, transportation, food and insurance.