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St. Louis Family Law Blog

The impact of pets on domestic violence victims

Domestic violence victims living in St. Louis and around the country face unique challenges. Many would like to leave their current situation but face numerous obstacles, including fear of their abusers, financial problems and even concern about what will happen to their pets.

Recent studies have shown that domestic abusers will often abuse or threaten companion animals as a way of controlling their human victims. For example, an abuser might threaten to harm a victim's pet if the victim does not comply with the abuser's demands. In other cases, the abuser may harm the pet as a way of further terrorizing the partner.

Pitfalls for older couples facing divorce

39458626_S.jpgOlder Missouri couples who are facing divorce may be concerned about their retirement savings. The divorce rate for people 50 and older has gone up about twice as much compared to the 1990s, but older people may also be particularly vulnerable financially. They may have fewer employment opportunities and less time to rebuild assets lost during the divorce.

There are also certain financial mistakes some people make that can worsen the situation. For example, some of the decisions people make during property division are driven by emotion. One of those decisions might be to keep the family home in lieu of other assets. The problem is that it could decline in value. This happened to a woman who gave up her 401(k) and had a good job but developed a health problem. She had to retire early and eventually lost the home. However, couples who decide to sell their home will face obstacles as well. Inspections and upgrades necessary for the sale can be expensive.

Divorcing: don't forget the tax implications

39056435_S.jpgWith all the changes a divorce brings, Missouri residents who are going through this process might forget that the end of a marriage also results in important new tax implications. Remembering that these changes are imminent is important in planning for the post-divorce future.

After divorce, the filing status of each person will change. "Married filing jointly" and "married filing separately" can no longer be used as filing statuses. Instead, divorcees will need to file as single or as head of household (if there are dependents who live at home with them). Additionally, the new filing statuses also mean that the tax brackets they use will be different.

Prenuptial agreements can be a good option for career couples

33143949_S.jpgAs Missouri couples approach marriage at a later age and with more developed career paths, prenuptial agreements can be an appealing option to protect both parties' interests. The thought of disentangling personal businesses, investments and retirement funds upon divorce can be particularly troubling for couples consisting of two high-powered career achievers.

For others, matters of inheritance can lead people to consider prenuptial agreements, especially in the cases of future inheritances which involve family properties, businesses or heirlooms that are expected to stay within the family circle. In any case, prenuptial agreements can be an important part of marriage planning for many couples.

People of all economic levels may be domestic violence victims

21924131_S.jpgSome Missourians have the misconception that domestic violence only happens to people in lower socioeconomic levels. This is not true. It happens to people no matter how much or how little money that they might have.

A recent murder-suicide case that happened in Springfield illustrates that domestic violence happens at all income levels. In the case, a 66-year-old affluent man shot his 27-year-old girlfriend in the head before shooting himself. The murder-suicide happened inside the man's 4,800-square foot home that overlooked a golf course. The home was located in an upscale gated community and shocked the city.

Creating consistency for children after divorce

40580363_S.jpgWhen parents get divorced, their children may be faced with the prospect of living in two different households. This may mean that they live under two sets of rules. However, Missouri parents should realize that a child tends to do better when a consistent set of rules is enforced. Regardless of how parents feel about each other, they should overlook their differences and focus on the best interests of the child.

This may mean getting together to determine a unified set of house rules for a child to follow. In some cases, the child may be allowed to have a say in what will be expected from him or her. Parents should be ready to compromise in an effort to come to an agreement that they both feel comfortable with. Those who cannot compromise with their child's other parent may wish to seek out the services of a mediator.

How to divide assets and debt in divorce

64818708_S.jpgIdeally, Missouri residents or others who are going through a divorce will end their marriage in a civil and equitable manner. However, what one person thinks is equitable may not be what the other party to the divorce thinks is equitable. Therefore, it may be a good idea to make a list of all debts that a couple may have and all assets that a couple may have.

If a debt was incurred by one person before the marriage, he or she would ideally be responsible for paying that debt. If an asset was obtained before the marriage, its owner would ideally retain that asset in a divorce. Dividing communal assets may be trickier as their values may change over time. For instance, a house worth $100,000 may not have the same value as a retirement plan with $100,000 in it.

Divorce arbitration as an alternative to litigation

54519499_S.jpgWhen many Missouri couples think about divorce, they often think about handling it through litigation. This can be an expensive and difficult way to end a marriage due to the fact that it pits former couples against each other when arguing their views on property division and other divorce legal issues in front of a judge. However, there are alternatives, such as divorce arbitration.

Divorce arbitration is similar to litigation in that it is still structured and usually involves family law attorneys. Unlike litigation, however, the parties can determine the structure of the arbitration, where the arbitration will take place and when they will meet. They also get to have a say in who the arbitrator is. Before the divorce arbitration hearings begin, the estranged couple will have to agree in advance as to what issues will be discussed and how the proceedings will be recorded.

When mediation will not work for a divorcing couple

20501341_S.jpgFor some Missouri couples whose marriages are coming to an end, getting a divorce through mediation instead of battling the case out in court is appealing. For example, mediation is usually more affordable than litigation and it allows the couple to work together to reach an agreement instead of putting the ultimate decision in the hands of the judge. However, mediation is not for everyone, especially if the couple has a violent history.

When going through the mediation process, both individuals have to be able to advocate for themselves to the neutral trained third party. This can be difficult if not impossible if the relationship was violent or abusive. An abusive person often uses manipulation or threats, and this usually is not in the best interests of the other person.

Why prenuptial agreements might be a good idea

8725749_S.jpgIn Missouri, it is not uncommon for people who are preparing to get married to be asked by their fiancés to sign prenuptial agreements. While this may be viewed as unseemly by some, prenuptial agreements may be important and help the marriages to be stronger.

People who marry enter into contracts with each other, and protecting the rights of both of the contracting parties is smart. Prenuptial agreements can help the parties to protect their individual interests while also clearly outlining the rights and responsibilities of both during their marriages. When people draft agreements that define their responsibilities and rights, they may be less likely to experience conflict about their finances.

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