${site.data.firmName}${SEMFirmNameAlt} Main Menu
Call Today: 855-805-0595

Columbia, MO Divorce and Family Law Blog

Common falsehoods about child custody

There are many misconceptions about child custody of which Missouri parents should be aware. It is important that parents who have to go to court regarding child custody issues know the facts.

One common myth is that the parent who leaves has surrendered his or her child custody rights. In reality, parents in most states actually share legal and physical custody until there is a formal court order in place that indicates otherwise. If the parent has left and his or her whereabouts are unknown, the other parent would have to file for custody and wait for the outcome to be recognized as having sole legal or physical custody.

Divorce rates among individuals older than 50

58228242_S.jpgMissouri couples who are considering divorce may be interested to learn that separation rates are increasing for married adults over the age of 50. For adults over the age of 65, the divorce rates have tripled since 1990.

Adults in the 51-to-69 age group experienced unprecedented levels of divorce while they were young adults. Some analysts believe that this instability contributed to the increase in divorce for this age group, especially since many of these individuals are going through a second divorce. In 2015, 16 out of 1,000 married adults got a divorce after a second marriage while only eight out of 1,000 married adults got a divorce after a first marriage. Studies have shown that second marriages are less stable than first marriages, meaning they are less likely to survive. Furthermore, the risk of divorce is also higher if the couple has been married for a shorter period of time.

Getting a child support order in place

A Missouri mother who has a child and who is not together with the father is likely be eligible to receive child support payments. This is the case regardless of whether or not the parents were ever married. While filing for child support should be simple, there are certain steps that a mother who has custody of the child will have to follow.

First, the mother will need to contact the local Office of Child Support Enforcement. This agency can help enforce child support orders especially if the father is hesitant to make the payments. If the mother was never married to the father but knows who he is, paternity will need to be established. If the mother does not know where the father is currently located, there are agencies that can help track him down, like the Federal Parent Locator Service.

Establishing paternity when parents are unmarried

47942553_S.jpgIn Missouri, there are two ways for a father's paternity to be established if he is not married to the mother. Both parents can sign an Affidavit of Paternity, or the mother can get an order that establishes the man as the child's father. If the mother is married to someone who is not the father of the child, there are extra steps. If the husband is willing, he can sign a Husband's Denial of Paternity along with the child's mother. If the husband is unwilling or cannot be found, child support services may be able to assist the mother in obtaining an order to name the legal father.

In some cases, a mother may not be aware of the child's paternity. The mother can go through the Family Support Division to get free paternity testing through a cheek swab test.

Paternity important for the collection of child support

When unmarried women in Missouri give birth, the fathers of the children have an opportunity to affirm their paternity. They accomplish this by signing an Acknowledgment of Paternity, which is often completed before a hospital discharges a newborn. A study published in the journal Human Nature, however, determined that each year, about 750,000 newborns nationwide go home without any legal documentation declaring who their fathers are. This lack of paternity might impeded efforts by government agencies to collect child support.

The study delved deeper into birth data about 5.4 million births collected by the National Center for Health Statistics and found demographic indicators that correlated with an increased likelihood of men quickly acknowledging their paternity. Women with private health insurance or a college education had fathers named in the birth records for their children more often. Additionally, women who were not teenagers or did not have medical issues or sexually transmitted diseases had paternity established for their children at a greater rate than other groups.

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.

2015 Top 100 Lawyers - ASLA Lead Counsel Rated Rated By Super Lawyers American Legal Institute | America's Top Attorneys 2016 Nation's Premier Top Ten Ranking 2016 | NAFLA 10 Best 2014-2016 | 3 Years Client Satisfaction | American Institute of Family Law Attorneys ™ Avvo Rating 10.0 Superb The National Trial Lawyers National Association of Distinguished Counsel | Nation's Top One Percent National Academy of Jurisprudence Rue Rating | Best Attorneys Of America | Lifetime Charter Member The National Advocates Top 100 Lawyers | America's Premier Attorneys Law Firm 500 | 2016 Honoree
Stange Law Firm, PC

Stange Law Firm, PC
120 S. Central Avenue
Suite 450
St. Louis (Clayton), Missouri 63105

Toll Free: 855-805-0595
Fax: 314-963-9191
St. Louis Law Office Map