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St. Louis Family Law Blog

Supreme Court rules in military divorce benefits case

Based 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.

Unmarried couples and property division

45139321_S.jpgIt is fairly common in Missouri for couples to be involved in lengthy relationships without getting married. When people have been living together for extended periods, they might wonder how their property will be handled if they want to end their relationships.

The property that people acquire while they are living together is considered to be separate property. If you are wanting to end your relationship with your domestic partner, you'll need to figure out how to divide the property that the two of you have acquired. It may be especially difficult for assets that you have acquired jointly and that you both have interests in.

Incarceration and the custodial parent

21473422_S.jpgMissouri custodial parents who are arrested might wonder what will become of their child. If they are going to go to jail, the child may be placed with the other parent or another family member. Child social services may be involved in the process.

Courts base their decision about which parent gets custody on what is in the best interests of the child, and they will apply the same set of criteria when they decide who to place the children with if the custodial parent can no longer care for them. This includes considering who is best able to care for the child financially and physically.

7 ways to de-stress during divorce

52507605_S.jpgIn our last post, we discussed various elements of the legal system that could be used to your advantage when it comes to divorce and managing the stress that comes with navigating the legal process.

In this post, we are going to look at some helpful things you can do to take care of yourself and manage your stress outside of the legal system. These tips can help you prioritize your well-being and minimize the toll that divorce can take on your health.

Prenuptial agreements and inheritances

38197388_S.jpgMissouri parents who want to safeguard their adult children's inheritance for them should begin by having open conversations with them about their options. This can include prenuptial agreements.

A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract that a couple completes before they get married and that classifies assets as either marital or separately owned if the marriage ends. It is a tool that can preserve a child's inheritance if he or she were to divorce. However, it requires that both parties enter the agreement voluntarily and that they both offer full financial disclosure.

Use the legal system to your advantage during a divorce

20329572_S.jpgDivorce is one of the most stressful events a person can go through, emotionally, physically and financially. To make matters worse, the legal system can be quite overwhelming for most people.

While it is natural to feel besieged by everything, take a moment and try to recognize how you can actually use the legal system to your advantage during a divorce. Below are a few elements of the law that can actually help you feel more in control and less stressed out.

Holidays can be difficult for military couples

Far too often we fall prey to ideas that have been repeatedly foisted upon us throughout our lives. One of these ideas is that the holidays are by definition a time of togetherness and celebration. And while this can be true in some instances, it is hardly a rule. In fact, the unrelenting pressure to make holidays cheerful often produces the opposite effect in many people.

How can I retain my financial autonomy while living with someone?

41317954_S.jpgOne of the reasons couples choose to forgo marriage is because they want to retain their autonomy. But the problem is, if you are not careful, you may find that over time you become far more tied to your partner than you had planned. This is all well and good if the two of you are getting along. But what happens if things don't work out and your financial entanglements prevent you from making a clean break?

Initiating a legal separation, part 2

Every marriage has its peaks and valleys as partners do their best to share their lives. And with some luck and effort, couples are often able to weather their low points and stay together. But sometimes circumstances are such that splitting becomes a very real possibility. However, prior to taking the final and serious measure of divorce, couples may legally separate to get some perspective on the viability of remaining married.

Initiating a legal separation, part 1

42400740_S.jpgVery rare is the marriage that never has conflicts. And sometimes a couple may find themselves wondering if they want to continue their life together or go their separate ways. This can be a very difficult decision that will have a long-term impact on a family. But by separating for a while, both parties can assess their relationship and make a clear-headed choice that is informed by their true feelings rather than what may be a temporary emotional state.

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