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Columbia, MO Divorce and Family Law Blog

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.

Why remote parents should buckle down and negotiate responsibly

39482247_S.jpgAfter a marriage ends in Missouri, the couple may not live in the same city forever. Although it's possible to raise children responsibly when former spouses live in separate regions, experts say that doing so requires additional diligence, effort and planning. Some of these divorced parents even find it beneficial to go through mediation.

When parents move, the challenges of long-distance travel might make it more difficult for one or both adults to stick to their prior visitation schedules. In some cases, parents actively resist changing the way they raise their children. For instance, the parent who stays in the original home may decide that they shouldn't be obligated to drive their children all the way to their ex's new place. On the other hand, the parent who moved might fail to understand that their desire to retain the same amount of parenting time unfairly cuts into the other parent's time.

Splitting up and how to help the children of the family

41621163_S.jpgAs Missouri parents who have terminated a marriage may know, divorce can be an especially difficult time for the children involved. Knowing how to talk to your children about a separation may help to ease them into the transition to a new life without both parents residing in the home.

According to a report published by the medical journal Pediatrics, behavioral changes may occur in children because of a marriage termination. This may be due to to the parents themselves, self-blame or the circumstances surrounding the breakup. Because parents may have a difficult time dealing with it themselves, professional help or support groups may help individuals through the situation.

Marriages increase as divorce rates fall

Divorce rates in Missouri and around the country fell to a near 40-year low in 2015 according to a report released Nov. 17 by Bowling Green University's National Center for Family and Marriage Research. Another NCFMR report reveals that the number of marriages for each 1,000 unmarried women increased from 31.9 in 2014 to 32.2 in 2015. The researchers say these findings suggest that marriage rates could be stabilizing after years of decline.

Divorce rates for every 1,000 married women fell from 17.6 in 2014 to 16.9 in 2015 according to the NCFMR data. Divorce rates have been falling steadily since peaking in 1980, and most experts believe that this reflects a shift in societal views on cohabitation. They say that fewer couples are getting divorced because fewer are getting married in the first place, and they point out that the odds of staying together have not really changed much for couples who do decide to walk down the aisle.

Ongoing custody battle between Nicole Curtis, child's father

Missouri fans of the HGTV show "Rehab Addict" may have followed the custody battle of its star, Nicole Curtis, with her ex-boyfriend Shane Maguire. The two have a 1-year-old child together, Harper, and their court battle began with a paternity complaint from Maguire after Harper's birth. Curtis had sole custody at the time. She asked for birthing expenses, child care costs and child support.

Although Maguire said he earned $3,744 per week, Curtis countered that his income was actually $20,000 weekly. Maguire was required to pay support and some of the birth expenses. After Christmas, Maguire was also granted visitation on weekends. Curtis filed to keep the case sealed, alleging her celebrity status and problems with a stalker, but Maguire said she did not have any stalkers. Curtis also claimed that Maguire did not use a car seat for Harper and took him out in cold weather dressed improperly.

Appealing or modifying a divorce settlement

44354718_S.jpgWhen Missouri couples go through an uncontested divorce, the divorce decree will incorporate orders that have been made by the judge on such matters as child custody and visitation, alimony, child support and property division. If one of the parties is dissatisfied with the order, an appeal can be filed to the next highest court in the state.

The appeal will have to be based upon the assertion that the judge incorrectly applied state law when making the decision, and it will have to be supported by a brief containing relevant statute and case law citations. These decisions turn on a written record of what transpired at the trial court level. Accordingly, new evidence usually cannot be introduced.

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