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How do you find your way through a difficult divorce?

Some divorces are actually amicable, and the parties work as a team to arrive at a mutually acceptable settlement agreement. However, many divorces are difficult from the very beginning.

In a contentious situation, there are emotions and a variety of attitudes to manage. Here are four suggestions to help you remain sane and in control of yourself if you face a difficult divorce.

Dividing assets in a Missouri divorce

Over the course of their years together, married couples in Missouri and across the country tend to accumulate assets. While assets such as real estate and retirement funds are typically some of their most valuable ones, others -- such as investment accounts, vehicles and frequent flyer miles -- can be significant. Couples who choose to divorce must work to divide both these assets and their liabilities as part of the path to the next stage of their lives.

The state of Missouri is an equitable distribution state. This means that assets are divided equitably, though not necessarily equally. For many people going through a divorce, having an experienced family law attorney on their side can help them identify assets subject to equitable division. These assets are typically those obtained between the date of the marriage and the date of filing for a divorce.

Seeking a child support or custody modification in Missouri

There are a variety of different reasons why a couple in Missouri might decide that it is in the best interests of their families to seek a divorce. Regardless of the specific reasoning, once that decision has been made, there are multiple others that must follow, including those involving child support or custody. However, as people's circumstances change, these agreements might also need modification.

When a couple chooses to split and there are children involved, decisions regarding the best interest of the children -- specifically their living arrangements and how they will be supported -- must be made. Some couples may be able to come to an agreement regarding these issues. However, others ultimately ask a judge to step in and make a decision.

Divorce case: Kevin Garnett ordered to pay $100,000 in support

When a couple chooses to end their marriage in Missouri and other areas of the country, there are multiple decisions that must be made. When one member of the couple was a high-profile professional basketball player, the case -- including the rulings that a court may make -- could garner a significant amount of media attention. Additionally, when there are more assets involved, the process of creating a divorce agreement can be even more complicated.

In fact, a recent ruling in one former NBA player's divorce case has recently received media attention. Kevin Garnett's now estranged wife reportedly filed for divorce at the beginning of the year. In her filing, she asked for physical custody of their two children; his response requested joint physical and legal custody.

Reducing some of the conflict associated with a Missouri divorce

When people marry, they do so with the intention of spending the rest of their lives together. However, as life events occur, people change, and so does the nature of their relationships. For some couples, this could leave them carefully evaluating whether to stay in their marriage. Though the divorce process can be an emotionally difficult one, there are ways to transition into a new life in Missouri, and reduce the stress associated with it for all parties, including any children of the relationship.

There are often many negative emotions associated with the end of a marriage that could ultimately color how both people approach the process. One part of the process that often creates conflict is through asset division. While there are going to be assets or possessions to which one person may feel strongly attached, approaching the process with a spirit of compromise can help. 

Church attendance questioned in family law case

Parents in Missouri who remain in a loving and committed relationship often struggle to agree on how their children should be raised. While parenting styles can differ, so can ideals regarding in what religion the children should participate. These struggles to agree are often even more difficult when parents are no longer in a romantic relationship. In fact, questions regarding church attendance were recently raised in a family law case in another state.

The case involved two parents and their children. The parents' divorce decree included provisions that required the children to "participate" in the Catholic religion. Specifically, the decree mentioned participation in First Communion, Confirmation and weekly education classes. However, the father learned that the children's mother had attended a church of a different religion with the children during her parenting time.

What matters can you address in a parenting plan?

Chances are, partnering with your ex on just about anything can put a sour taste in your mouth. If the two of you share children you plan to co-parent, you will need to figure out how you can work together. The co-parenting relationship can be a tough one to develop and establish, but once you have some ground rules in place, it can do wonders for the two of you working together without incident.

So, how can you go about laying the groundwork for a successful co-parenting relationship? A great way to start the process involves drafting an agreed-upon parenting plan.

Social Security benefits after divorce

For many people in Missouri, questions regarding how they will support themselves in their retirement is something that keeps them up at night. This is likely especially true for those who have recently gone through or are contemplating a divorce. However, even if the marriage is legally over, a spouse may still be entitled to a larger amount of Social Security benefits based on the former spouse's work history.

If a person is divorced but is receiving -- or entitled to -- less each month in Social Security benefits than their former spouse, he or she could be entitled to additional benefits. If this is the case, there are several other criteria that must be met. That is, the couple must have been married for at least 10 years and the lesser-earning spouse must be currently unmarried and 62 years old or older. The person is still entitled to these benefits even if their higher-earning spouse has remarried.

Joint credit card debt and divorce

Getting a divorce requires you and your spouse to figure out a variety of complex issues. One complication that can haunt you even long after your divorce decree is joint credit card debt. Breaking up with your spouse is difficult, but it may be even harder to break ties with your creditors. 

Jointly-held debt can have significant consequences on your newly single life. Your creditors may go after you if your ex fails to pay back the debt or files for bankruptcy. 

Divorce: Belief that separate accounts protect assets is myth

Even though people who are opting to marry have the expectation of living happily ever after, many still have a realistic view on the potential outcomes. That is, many people getting married are aware that as life events occur and changes them, they may no longer be as compatible as they once were. As such, some in Missouri will take precautions before they say their vows to protect their assets in the event their marriage should end in divorce.

Reports indicate that some couples are choosing to keep their bank accounts separate in an attempt to ease asset division in the event of a divorce. In some instances, adults who are children of divorce may be interested in taking measures to protect themselves. However,  while there could be psychological benefits of keeping separate accounts by potentially reducing conflict on how money is spent on personal expenses, there is likely little legal benefit.

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