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St. Louis Missouri Legal Blog

Fathers' rights and the battle for child custody

What happens to the children is often the most contentious issue in any Missouri divorce. Child custody is not an easy subject for parents, whether they are ending their marriage or they were never married after having children together. This legal issue can be particularly complex and difficult for fathers, and often, they find they must tenaciously fight to protect their interests and their parental rights.

Most courts agree that it is in the best interests of the children to maintain strong relationships with both parents. However, mothers are often favored, and in some cases, custody orders can be quite inequitable, leaving fathers with little time with their children. There have also been many cases in which fathers are left with child support orders they cannot pay, ultimately resulting in missed payments, ruined credit and even the threat of jail time.

Social media and divorce: 3 things to consider

Social media has become a prominent part of everyday life. It has become second nature for people to share intimate details of life with followers. What happens when a blissful marriage becomes a difficult divorce? Does social media just shut down?

During a divorce, posting sensitive details may wind up hurting your case. It is a good idea to take some time to re-evaluate your social media use, before and during divorce.

Alex Rodriguez locked in child support battle

The end of a marriage is never easy for most people in Missouri. When two people have children together, they will never likely be able to completely sever their relationship. Unfortunately, questions involving the care of children -- including child support payments -- could continue to be a source of conflict even years down the road. In fact, Alex Rodriguez is currently involved in a disagreement over the necessary and appropriate amount of support his ex-wife needs for their two children.

The couple were married from 2002 to 2008 and reportedly went through a contentious divorce. He has reportedly been paying $115,000 a month to his ex-wife in both spousal and child support. However, he claims that they originally came to that agreement when he was still playing baseball; he has since retired, reducing his annual income to $3 million a year in 2016, in comparison to the $30 million he was making previously.

Avoid the common financial pitfalls associated with divorce

Family law practitioners who assist persons in a divorce often observe certain common financial pitfalls that people may fall into. For example, one may want to maintain a Scrooge-like exterior when looking at new spending, especially for splurging and luxuries that can no longer be afforded. It is a common fact in Missouri and elsewhere that after divorce one does not have the buying power of two full incomes. The sacrifice both during and after the divorce may be a great relief in the future when an extra financial push is needed. 

One should not rush to cash in investments to pay bills. It is best to conserve early on, realizing that things will get better but it may take some time. Another thing to be careful about is the filing of tax returns and the claiming of exemptions. New laws have changed the way the IRS treats alimony, support and other financial issues.

Divorce strategies will evolve to meet new tax rules on alimony

Missouri and all other states will contend with a new federal tax law, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, that has many of its provisions becoming effective on Jan. 1, 2019. One change that has not been generally welcomed by matrimonial lawyers is the provision that takes away the alimony deduction from those who pay that kind of post-divorce spousal support. The law will also relieve alimony recipients from owing federal tax on this incoming monetary support.

Surveys reveal that most matrimonial lawyers predict that settlements will become much tougher to negotiate and that divorces will become more expensive. It is expected that wealthier spouses will refuse to pay alimony or will drastically reduce the amount that would have been paid with the benefit of the deduction. One important factor for those contemplating a divorce is that a settlement agreement signed on or before Dec. 31, 2018 will "grandfather" in the old tax rules going forward for a couple.

A clean break or a slow transition to a final divorce?

Relationship therapists in Missouri and elsewhere generally see two points of view on whether a quick break or a gradual one is best in a pending separation matter. There can be some obvious drawbacks of rushing a divorce situation in a time of great stress just to get it done and out of the way. When children are involved, that attitude will likely be harmful and uncaring.

Sometimes a couple must put aside their own needs to look at others, especially minor children. Where the couple is able to more deliberately and objectively approach all of the decisions made in a separation scenario the outcome will be far more supportive of the needs of the children. It is not an obvious remedy, but some people now view relationship counseling as useful for separating as well as for the normal purpose of reconciliation.

No one anticipates a divorce, but a prenup can ease the process

Most, if not all, Missouri couples who commit to marriage do so with the "until death do us part" bit in mind. However, when they consider reality, they might realize that prenuptial agreements are crucial for providing both spouses peace of mind. Drafting marital contracts before the marriage, when both parties genuinely want the best for their spouses, makes more sense than fighting over issues later. Once a couple has filed for divorce, each spouse wants what is best for him- or herself.

It is said that communication and money matters are two of the top reasons for divorce filings. Sitting down and having open discussions about financial issues could be the ideal way to address those two reasons for divorce even before the marriage. Open discussions and full disclosure by both parties can form a firm foundation for any marriage.

The divorce rate is declining drastically, thanks to millennials

There are many factors that contribute to divorce, including financial disagreements, lack of communication, infidelity and unrealistic expectations. However, one of the most notable factors is age. According to a new study, millennials are better at marriage than older age groups, which is causing the divorce rate to take a plunge. The divorce rate went down 18 percent between 2008 and 2016.

But why are younger couples not separating as much? Here is a closer look at the study to help us understand.

Child custody laws must target dangers of domestic violence

State legislatures in Missouri and other states continue to look for ways to improve the administration of child custody laws to make them even more supportive of the needs of the children. Although child custody law is guided by the all-encompassing mandate of deciding what is in the best interest of the children it doesn't always work out that way. Better legislation may involve a clarification of the goals of child custody law and more accurate wording of the provisions contained in the law.

Some child advocates, including those from a group called Child USA, are encouraging state legislatures to help to find laws that will better identify the warning signs of child abuse and domestic violence that may be occurring within a family or that may be indicated by prior histories of mental problems. There is also a call for legislation requiring the courts to hire trained mental health professionals to testify in custody cases. It is asserted that these witnesses must receive certain training in recognizing the dynamics of domestic violence.

The 2 months in which divorce is more likely to happen

A study out of Washington University suggests that there are two months out of the year in which more marital splits occur. It seems that March and August hold the distinctions as being divorce months. It may be because many American couples, including those living in Missouri, don't want to file for divorce around holidays.

The study was not initially aimed at finding that information, it simply surfaced from all the data collected. Experts reason that many couples don't want to file for divorce around certain times of year like Christmas because they may deem it to be socially unacceptable. Some may also try to give their marriages one more try by going on vacation, thinking that time away may heal old wounds. Holidays are generally times when moods are uplifted and many people are more relaxed and can think more clearly.

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