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Columbia, MO Divorce and Family Law Blog

Protecting a trust during a divorce

46931102_S.jpgWhen Missouri couples start planning to get married, it is recommended that their parents take steps to protect any assets that they intend to leave for their family member. If those assets are in a trust, taking precautions can ensure that the trust can only be accessed by the family member and not by the other spouse, especially if the couple ends up getting divorced later on.

One of the most important ways that a trust can be protected is to ensure that the terms are ironclad. The terms are generally honored as written as long as they do not contradict any state or federal laws. For example, the individuals who set up the trust may be able to state in the terms that the trust should not be considered marital property. In order to further protect the trust, however, the beneficiary must be careful to never commingle the funds nor make joint purchases with the money.

Frozen embryos and divorce

3226260_S.jpgDuring a divorce, addressing issues related to children can be difficult. Making decisions regarding embryos that were created by in-vitro fertilization is one of the more unique ones that some estranged Missouri couples may have to resolve.

The parents are generally required to sign documents at the beginning of their IVF journey regarding the preservation of their embryos. However, these agreements do not provide much details about what would happen to the embryos should the relationship of the parents change, other than providing the options of donating the embryos to someone else, destroying them, giving them to medical researchers or allow them to remain frozen.

Splitting the home after a divorce

40497056_S.jpgDivorcing couples in Missouri who don't plan for their separation can make many costly mistakes. In order to make the best choices about their homes, it is important that separating spouses think objectively and make decisions based on logic rather than emotions.

When divorcing, individuals generally have just a few housing options, each of which has certain financial implications. They can decide to retain ownership, the house can be sold and the proceeds be divided or one spouse's ownership can be purchased by the other spouse.

Understanding fees related to a QDRO

20673216_S.jpgMissouri residents may have heard of a qualified domestic relations order. A QDRO is what allows assets in certain retirement plans to be transferred without penalty. However, companies such as Vanguard or Fidelity may charge a QDRO fee of up to $1,200 or more. This is in addition to any fees that a lawyer may charge to prepare and process the order.

These fees have been described by some as a way for plan sponsors to enhance their profit margins. While some think that these fees are excessive, it can be difficult to prove that that they are not reasonable for keeping records. Therefore, plan sponsors are generally able to charge whatever they want with few consequences. According to a representative for the Plan Sponsor Council of America, a fee of between $500 and $1,000 is reasonable.

About interstate child custody

28402965_S.jpgMissouri divorced parents who have children whose other parent resides outside of the state should be aware of the interstate child custody issues that could arise. They should first know of the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act that establishes the standards courts use to make determinations regarding custody and when to defer to an existing ruling from another state. The only state that as of early 2017 has not adopted the law is Massachusetts.

According to the statute, a state court can make decisions regarding a child custody arrangement if the state making the ruling is the home state of the child, the child has significant relationships with individuals, such as grandparents, doctors and teachers, living in the state, if the child is residing in the state to avoid abandonment, abuse or neglect in the other state or if there is no state that can qualify based on one of the previously mentioned conditions.

Involuntary termination of parental rights

47873077_S.jpgRegardless of their marital status, Missouri parents both have the right to care for their child and in most cases make certain decisions regarding their child's health care, education and religion. However, there are certain instances when a court may take away these rights.

One reason a court may terminate a person's parental rights if there is evidence of abuse. This includes sexual or chronic abuse and neglect. If the parent abandons the child or suffers from a long-term mental illness that prevents the provision of proper care of the child, the court may remove the parent's responsibilities. Additionally, these rights may also be terminated when a parent commits a violent crime against the child or another family member.

Mistakes people make when filing for divorce

54027632_S (1).jpgIt may interest Missouri residents to learn that the number of divorce filings increases in January. According to one attorney, the spike in divorce filings often raises by as much as 25 to 30 percent. Some of the reasons can include the additional stress caused by the holidays. With that being said, this is also the time of year when individuals looking to file for divorce can easily make mistakes.

It is recommended that those looking to get a divorce should avoid filing out of anger. Making decisions based on emotions can cause an adverse situation, especially if the person enters into the divorce proceeding with an aggressive attitude. This could increase the cost of the divorce process significantly for both parties. As such, individuals should avoid rushing to file for the divorce. However, they can begin formulating a strategy for when they do decide to file.

Online activity and divorce

46640061_S.jpgWhen a Missouri couple decides to get a divorce, there is always a chance that things could get messy. While finances and marital property will be scrutinized, it is becoming increasingly more likely that electronic data may also be assessed. This electronic data may include tweets, texts, emails and social media posts.

Because online activity and electronic communications can have an impact on a marriage, it is not uncommon for these activities to be analyzed. In some cases, what is found can even have an impact on the divorce settlement negotiations. However, there is not necessarily much a person can do as deleting any posts, emails and pictures can be suspicious. They can also potentially be recovered, so deleting them in the first place often does not do much good.

More older people getting a divorce

53958391_S.jpgOlder couples in Missouri may be getting divorced at a higher rate than they were in earlier decades. In 2014, it was twice as common for people at or over the age of 50 to get a divorce than it was 24 years earlier. The rate was even higher for people older than 65. Experts theorize that divorce is more socially acceptable than it was in the past, so when children grow up and leave home and couples find they have little in common, it may be the next step.

However, divorce for older people might be particularly complicated simply because after so many years together, it can be difficult to separate deeply entwined lives and finances. People who divorce after retirement may be facing higher expenses on a fixed income. One person may want to keep the home but might not be able to afford it.

Investment accounts in a divorce

48966679_S.jpgWhen couples in Missouri divorce, finances are often a primary consideration. As they prepare for starting new lives as individuals, they have to find ways to separate their finances and divide their property. In some cases, this may seem easier than it actually is.

Many people limit the way they think about their personal finances to the accounts and property that they deal with on an everyday basis, such as savings and checking accounts, the home they live in and their credit cards. Investments, particularly more complex retirement accounts, may not be an area of consideration when negotiating a divorce settlement.

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