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Columbia, MO Divorce and Family Law Blog

Issues in gray divorces

In Missouri divorce cases involving older people, there may be multiple issues that must be dealt with. People may have spent years accumulating money in their retirement accounts, but the accounts will have to be divided with their spouses.

When people are nearing retirement age and plan to divorce, they may have more difficulty when they retire because of dividing their retirement accounts with their spouses. If they have been married for more than 10 years and divorce, they may claim Social Security spousal benefits based on the incomes of their former spouses if it will be more than what they would receive on their own.

When divorce becomes necessary

38197351_S.jpgMissouri couples are usually committed to their marriages and making them work, particularly if they have children. However, there are situations in which divorce may be necessary for the safety and well-being of the entire family. The difficulty for many spouses is determining the point at which ending the marriage is the most responsible option.

One suggestion is trying to look at the marriage from a third-party perspective. For example, a spouse who is considering divorce may think about what he or she would tell a good friend who is currently experiencing similar circumstances. If the spouse would urge the friend to leave the marriage for his or her own good, or the good of the children, this suggests that a divorce may be necessary.

Preparing a prenuptial agreement

17858931_S.jpgMissouri couples who get married do so with the idea that it will be forever. However, a significant number of marriages end in divorce, which can severely change each person's life plan. One way to prepare for the possibility of a divorce is by drafting and signing a prenuptial agreement before the wedding.

The agreement should be prepared and signed well in advance of the wedding so as to preclude a later challenge by one of the parties claiming coercion. Generally, they must be written documents, signed by both parties who have retained separate legal counsel during the process. In preparation, each party must reveal all their assets and liabilities. Assets can include stocks, bonds, retirement accounts, annuities, bank accounts as well as the appraisal values for any homes or vehicles owned by each party. Liabilities include debts such as student loans, credit card debt and auto loans.

Pitfalls in property division during divorce

20774363_S.jpgMissouri couples who are getting a divorce will need to divide shared property, but there are common errors many make at this stage. For example, a person might decide to keep the home while the other person keeps an asset that has an equal value such as a brokerage or checking account. However, the upkeep of the house is likely to be much more costly than maintaining a more liquid asset. Furthermore, a person might even find that it is not possible to maintain the house on just one income.

Another error is not understanding the tax implications of certain types of property division. For example, one person may take a retirement account while the other takes a checking account of equal worth. The issue here is that the person with the retirement account cannot take out cash without penalties until reaching a certain age. It is also important to understand when there are rules around dividing a retirement account. In order to split a 401(k) without penalties, a person will need a qualified domestic relations order and must roll the distribution into an individual retirement account within a certain time frame.

Deescalating a tough divorce

9253010_S.jpgWhile some divorces are relatively quick and painless, others can be drawn out and brutal. When a toxic ex makes separation complicated, there are things that a Missouri divorcee can do to make the process easier.

People who are narcissists or have high-conflict personalities could use a divorce to make drama. They might hide marital assets, use intimidation tactics, pick pointless fights and drag out the dissolution process. It is important for the other person to stay level-headed and not take the bait when goaded as this is unlikely to solve anything.

When the nightlife is a job, there's a higher chance of divorce

36522114_S.jpgCouples in Missouri may be interested in some findings that associate certain occupations with the likelihood of divorce. Data from a 2015 survey shows that people who work in fields that involve travel or nightlife are the most likely to get divorced. Bartenders come out at the top of the list of highest divorce rate by profession.

The data from the 2015 American Community Survey was recently presented by FlowingData. While occupations involving travel, shipping and transportation have the highest divorce rates, the lowest divorce rates are associated with occupations that involve math or science.

Protecting the ability to retire after divorce

48441212_S.jpgWhen Missouri couples want to get divorced, it is important for them to think about their future abilities to retire. Retirement accounts must also be divided between the spouses in an equitable manner, but the division of the accounts may require special considerations and paperwork.

As an example, if a couple has $20,000 in a Roth IRA and $20,000 in a 401(k), it is important to remember that the contributions to the Roth IRA have already been taxed upfront. The contributions that have been made to the 401(k) will be taxed when they are withdrawn, meaning that the $20,000 balance in the 401(k) is worth less than the balance in the Roth IRA.

Celebrity child support payments

19381481_S.jpgMissouri parents who are going through the divorce process and negotiating child support might be surprised to find out just how high celebrity support payments can get. Since child support includes an attempt to maintain a lifestyle, the payment amounts can be very high for children of celebrities, who often have been living very lavish lives.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, middle-income couples who are married with two children can expect to spend about $233,610 to raise one of the children from infancy to adulthood. When a divorce happens, a lot of the activities and experiences that would have resulted in that figure must still be met, which means that even for middle-class parents, child support payments can get expensive. However, they will not get as expensive as the highest celebrity child support settlements.

What to know about spousal support

22875714_S.jpgWhen divorced Missouri couples pay alimony, it is in most cases tax-deductible. Recipients are requred to report it as income on their federal tax return. If a payment is designated as either child support or a part of a property division agreement, it cannot be considered alimony. The IRS has seven conditions that must be met to separate spousal support payments from child support or other types of payments.

A payment cannot be labeled as child support, and the payments must stop when the recipient dies. It is also important that the payments are made in cash or with a cash equivalent. Any payments that are considered alimony must be pursuant to a formal divorce decree or other formal divorce agreement between the two parties.

Closing a joint bank account

Property division can be a contentious divorce issue. Couples in Missouri who are getting a divorce and have a joint checking or saving account should know how to close a joint bank account, and if need be, without the permission of other owners of the account.

Typically, banks will require that an account holder come to the bank to close an account in person. Even though it may not be necessary to have all joint account holders present to close the account, having them there may quicken the process and can help avoid any confusion about what will happen to the proceeds of the account.

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