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St. Louis Family Law Blog

Is a legal separation just a practice divorce?

Divorce can seem like a scary option when your marriage starts to get difficult. Just like any relationship, there are any number of reasons why a marriage can go from amazing to terrible over the years. People and circumstances change and what was once adorable can become the thing that pushes you over the edge.

Many people will make the progression from married to separated to divorced on their own, without making any formal agreement. The separation period becomes something of a “wait and see” time where you try to figure out what to do. A legal separation, however, can be valuable in some circumstance.

Yes, child custody agreements can be modified

When creating a child custody agreement, you hope that the terms will work for your family long term. Unfortunately, it does not always work out that way and you may find you need the terms modified. If you do, that is okay. The state of Missouri does allow for the modification of child custody agreements under certain circumstances.

Achieving a custody modification can take some effort. At the end of the day, any changes made need to serve the best interests of your children.

Can a wedding date affect the likelihood of divorce?

When people in Missouri choose a date for their wedding, they may think it has little relevance to their likelihood of divorce. However, according to some researchers at the University of Melbourne, choosing certain dates for a wedding is linked to a higher probability of divorce. In a study of 1 million couples, the researchers said that Valentine's Day, Feb. 14, was the worst day to get married; of couples who married on that date, 11 percent divorced within 5 years of the wedding. Even more, 9 years later, over 20 percent had ended their marriage.

Valentine's Day was not the only date that the researchers identified as problematic. People who married on "special number days," like Sept. 9, 1999, or Dec. 12, 2012, were more likely to divorce. While this could be attributed to a number of factors, the researchers said it could indicate that the couples involved were more concerned with the wedding itself than the marriage to come. They may also be younger or less experienced with relationships. In addition, couples may choose these dates on the spur of the moment and opt for a quick wedding despite the length of their own relationships. Others may have excessively romantic expectations for marriage and be disappointed in the practical reality.

Divorcing parents can help kids with back-to-school plans

For Missouri parents and kids, back-to-school time can be an exciting and anxious time of year as students look forward to new teachers, classes and friends. When parents have recently divorced, they may be even more concerned about how to make the school year successful. This is especially true when children are starting their first academic year while splitting time between their parents' homes. However, by keeping a few key tips in mind, divorced parents can help make their children's experience positive, supportive and full of achievements.

While it may be uncomfortable for parents to come together shortly after a divorce, it is important to talk together with the children about the upcoming academic year. By going over some key goals and concerns for the year to come, parents can provide strong support for their children's social and scholastic needs. In addition, kids will feel supported by both of their parents as they go off to face the new year. In some cases, this may be too difficult to do in person; however, kids can have the same conversation with each parent and share their results with the other.

Tax treatment of alimony to change

The rules governing taxation of alimony payments are set to change in 2019. Some of the biggest consequences of the new tax rules have to do with who pays taxes on the alimony. For people who are approaching or going through divorce in Missouri, it's important to be aware of the ramifications. The law will apply to divorce agreements that are entered into after New Year's Day 2019.

People who entered into divorce agreements including alimony or spousal support payments prior to the change will continue to apply the current tax rules going forward. The law that is being replaced allows the paying spouse to claim a deduction for alimony payments and requires the recipient to pay taxes on the money. Under the new rule, the person who pays alimony cannot deduct it, and the recipient doesn't owe taxes on alimony received.

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.

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