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St. Louis Family Law Blog

Prenuptial agreements can be a good option for career couples

As 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

Some 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.

Reporting domestic violence in the military

Thumbnail image for 38002573_S.jpgMissouri residents who are in relationships with military service members and who are suffering from domestic violence may choose to report the abuse to either the military system or the civilian court system. The military handles these types of reports differently than the state courts do and has several options available to it.

State courts deal with domestic abuse according to the state's laws. In the military, the commanding officer may use his or her full discretion in determining the most appropriate way to handle domestic violence, including judicial or administrative means. Spouses who are being abused may report their abuse confidentially to victim advocates, chaplains or medical professionals. These people must report the abuse if they believe that it is necessary to prevent something worse from happening, however.

Health insurance battle leads to delayed divorce plans

54580584_S.jpgMany Missouri residents likely remember what the health care industry was like prior to the introduction of the Affordable Care Act. Those who were not married or otherwise part of an employer plan often faced high premiums and the possibility of being denied coverage for having a pre-existing condition. Republicans in Congress are looking at ways to repeal the ACA and replace it with a new plan.

However, various versions of the bill will likely allow insurance companies to offer plans that provide less coverage. This is because the legislation lets states narrow the list of required services that must be provided. The uncertainty of what type of coverage an individual may qualify for in the future has led some to put off getting divorced. Instead, some have chosen to draft divorce papers but not sign them.

The difference between legal separation and divorce

10783413_S.jpgWhile some Missouri spouses might be ready to end their marriages, others may just want to spend time away from their partners. In cases when divorce may seem like a step too far, couples can file for legal separation instead.

A divorce effectively ends a marriage. With a legal separation, however, spouses are still married but live apart. Similar to what happens in a divorce, a court order details the duties and rights of each spouse. The court may make determinations about child custody and visitation, separation maintenance and property division during this time.

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