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St. Louis Family Law Blog

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.

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.

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