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St. Louis Family Law Blog

The difference between legal separation and divorce

While 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.

Learning about parenting agreements

14351898_S.jpgMissouri parents who are going through a divorce may be able to come to a child custody resolution without having to resort to litigation and having a judge make the decision. This can result from engaging in informal negotiations with or without the assistance of their respective attorneys or by using alternative dispute resolution methods like mediation.

Regardless of which method is used to resolve custody disputes, all of the terms should be detailed in a written document and submitted to the court for its approval. It is frequently referred to as a parenting agreement.

Deciding whether to get a prenuptial agreement

17858916_S.jpgSome Missouri couples who are planning on getting married might want to consider a prenuptial agreement. In 2010, a Harris Interactive poll found that 15 percent of people who were divorced regretted the lack of a prenup. Furthermore, there have been high-profile celebrity cases in which people have paid out a considerable amount of their estate in a divorce.

A prenup can cover how property will be divided in the event the marriage ends. However, it cannot contain provisions that violate state law, such as child support. Furthermore, if one person fails to disclose some assets, the prenup may be invalidated. This may also be the case if appears that either person was coerced into making the agreement.

Blending families means blended finances

54898560_S.jpgWhen Missouri residents are remarrying and creating a blended family, there can be a range of concerns in their minds. This has become a fact of life, and many children are living in blended families that include step- and half-siblings or step-parents.

Children are resilient and flexible, and an abundance of love is always central to making a blended family successful. There are also financial planning goals and objectives to keep in mind when taking the next step toward bringing families together. Each parent in the situation should share their priorities, especially relating to the children.

Modifying a child support order after changing jobs

46803250_S.jpgFor Missouri parents who are required to pay child support, the laws can be complex and difficult to understand. If a non-custodial parent has a change in their financial situation, such as a new job, they may have to pay more or be allowed to pay less child support.

If a non-custodial parent changes jobs and is paid less, they will have to petition the court to get the child support order changed. Before the modification request is approved, however, the court will consider a variety of factors to determine if the change in the amount of child support is warranted. For example, the non-custodial parent must have a substantial change in circumstances before the modification is approved. Two parents can also make an agreement out of court as long as the new amount of support is within the state's child support guidelines.

Mary J. Blige ordered to pay spousal support despite prenup

54898560_S.jpgMissouri residents likely know Mary J. Bilge best for her genre-defining rhythm and blues albums including the Grammy Award-winning 'The Breakthrough", but they may not know that the 46-year-old singer, songwriter and actress is currently mired in a contentious divorce. Bilge filed for divorce in July 2016 after more than a decade of marriage, and celebrity gossip websites have speculated that it was her husband's philandering that prompted her to take legal action.

Bilge and her husband Martin Isaacs entered into a prenuptial agreement before walking down the aisle in 2003, and Bilge claims that the document includes a provision that waives any right toalimony. However, this did not prevent a judge ordering Bilge to pay Isaacs $30,000 per month in temporary support. The multi-platinum performer was also ordered to pay Isaacs' legal fees.

How celebrity couples get divorced

22393654_S.jpgFor many Missouri couples going through divorce, the process can be very complex and time-consuming. As such, they may wonder how celebrity couples manage to go through their own divorces while continuing to work and staying in the spotlight.

Celebrity couples getting ready to divorce have several strategies and tricks that they use to smooth out the separation process. For example, many stars agree on a divorce settlement before they ever file the paperwork. This helps stifle excessive media coverage over the details. Because the divorce settlement has already been agreed upon, the former couple can choose when exactly they file. Some file on Friday afternoon, which also lessens the amount of media attention. Others file right before major holidays when people are more likely to be away from televisions and computers.

Guiding children through divorce

29272423_S.jpgAs Missouri parents whose marriages are ending know, one of the more complicated aspects of a divorce is helping their children through the process. Even before the parents start custody and support negotiations, there are things they can do to support their children as they enter this new stage in their family life.

While parents might think that keeping everything from the children is a good idea, being honest with them about the divorce is important. To do this, parents should still keep their children's ages and maturity level in mind, and they should avoid certain details, but they should let their children know what is going on before they can come up with their own conclusions, which might be erroneous. Additionally, during the process, parents should listen to their children and their concerns and thoughts, and offer them comfort, assuring them that even though the parents are getting divorced, they will remain a family and they will remain their parents.

Political arguments are affecting couples

12556985_S.jpgSome Missouri couples might be arguing more than ever, but it could be over a fairly new conflict according to a study by the polling firm Wakefield Research. The firm conducted a survey of 1,000 people in April and found that 24 percent of couples said they were having more fights than ever before about politics since the election of President Trump.

One divorce attorney in New York with 35 years of experience says she is seeing an unprecedented number of marriages ending because of politics. The survey appeared to support this anecdote, reporting that more than one-fifth of people said they knew a couple whose relationship was directly and negatively affected by the 2016 presidential election.

Supreme Court rules in military divorce benefits case

46176271_S.jpgBased on a Supreme Court ruling on May 15, an ex-spouse of a Missouri veteran might have his or her share of that veteran's retirement pay cut if that veteran's retirement pay is reduced because of a waiver to receive disability benefits. In the case that reached the nation's highest court, a couple divorced in 1991 and agreed that the wife would receive half of the husband's retirement benefits. After the man's retirement in 1992, they both collected retirement pay.

In 2005, the Department of Veteran Affairs approved a claim from the man dealing with a degenerative joint disease in his shoulder that he said was a result of his military service. He began receiving monthly disability payments from the VA, but this meant his retirement pay was reduced by an equal amount. Therefore, both the man and his former spouse began receiving $127 less each month. In 2013, the woman filed a motion to try and get the money reinstated. Both the family court and the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that under state law, her ex-husband's disability payments should not deprive her of the full amount of the retirement pay that she was due.

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