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St. Louis Family Law Blog

Deciding how to claim children as dependents after divorce

Some divorced parents in Missouri who do not discuss which one of them will claim the child as a dependent on their taxes may end up in conflict. The IRS accepts the dependent child on the return of the parent who files first and rejects the other.

In a dispute, the agency applies several criteria to determine who is eligible. Parents take precedence over anyone else in claiming the child. The parent with whom the child lives most of the time is supposed to be able to claim the child as a dependent, but if the parents share custody and do not agree on who claims the child, the IRS looks at income. The assumption is that the higher-income parent contributes more to the child's care, so that parent is usually chosen to make the claim. This is also the criteria used for claimants who are not the parents.

Military members face certain divorce stressors

48266318_S.jpgPeople in Missouri who have high-stress jobs may be more vulnerable to divorce than people with lower-stress jobs, and military members may be particularly at risk. The career website Zippia examined U.S. census data and found that people who worked at certain professions had a higher risk of getting a divorce by the age of 30. First-line enlisted military supervisors were in first place, with a 30 percent higher rate of divorce, followed by logisticians and automotive service technicians.

Military jobs were in 3 of the top 10 spots. Furthermore, all military workers tended to have a higher rate of divorce by the time they reached 30. Among the stressors for people in the military are long deployments that take them away from their families, low pay and life-threatening situations. Another study, which appeared in the "Journal of Population Economics," found a spike in divorce rates linked to couples who spent time apart.

About marital separation

41611243_S.jpgMarried couples in Missouri who want to work on repairing their marriage may decide to physically separate for a while. Physical separation can be helpful in these situations, as it can provide both parties with space and time to fully analyze their situation. However, there are some financial concerns that can arise if a physical separation lasts for more than a few months. In order for both parties to be protected financially, it is important that they know exactly what they should and should not do during a separation.

It is very important to have a clear understanding of the state of the marital finances. If one spouse has been completely responsible for managing the finances in the marriage, the other spouse may have no idea about what is being spent, earned, sold, invested or purchased, which can place that spouse in a very compromising situation.

Why parents are required to pay child support

37064094_S.jpgA noncustodial parent in Missouri may be required to pay child support to the custodial parent. Generally, the child spends most of their time living with the custodial parent. This is referred to as physical custody. Legal custody, which pertains to making decisions about the child's education, schooling and other important matters, is separate and may be shared when physical custody is not.

Child support is calculated based on several factors, including income and standards of living. It is intended to cover basic expenses, which may include school costs, extracurricular activities, food, shelter, toys, medical care and furniture the child uses. A parent can use child support payments for utilities and rent since these are part of the child's shelter. However, the recipient parent is not permitted to use the money for vacations or personal items. If there is child support money left at the end of the month, the parent should put it away in case it is needed.

Prenuptial agreements serve many purposes

89981514_S.jpgFor Missouri couples about to get married, a prenuptial agreement can be a powerful tool. However, it can be used as a financial planning tool as much as to account for what happens in the event of a divorce. Such an agreement can be helpful for any couple regardless of how old each party is or how much wealth they may have.

In addition to determining how to split assets, it can also determine how to account for debt either person brings into the relationship. As individuals get married later in life, it isn't uncommon for them to owe money to creditors prior to getting married. On average, a woman gets married for the first time at age 27 while a man gets married for the first time at age 30. During prenuptial discussions, couples should consider their current and long-term goals such as how to fund a child's college education.

Following separation, Usher files for divorce from wife

Entertainers in Missouri and all over the country aren't alone in experiencing marital stresses and strains that can lead to the end of a marriage. Case in point: Usher and his estranged wife. The singer, songwriter and actor is divorcing from his wife several months after the couple announced their separation. After six years of dating, Usher married the woman who had previously worked as his manager in 2015.

The singer dealt with previous family law matters of this nature when he divorced his previous wife. While that legal battle involved a custody dispute, Usher's most recent marriage produced no children although the singer is reportedly using the same attorney for this case. The couple legally separated in December 2017 but formerly announced it to the public in March 2018 by saying that they remained "deeply connected" to one another.

The process of child support modification

There are circumstances in which a child support order created in a Missouri court may be altered. For instance, if an individual experiences a change in income, it may result in a change in the amount paid to a custodial parent each month. A child support order could also be altered if one or more children are no longer eligible to receive financial assistance. This could occur if a child turns 18 or gets married prior to reaching the age of majority.

When considering a request to modify a child support order, a judge will take the child's best interests into account. Therefore, it may be necessary for a parent to continue to pay child support even after a son or daughter reaches the age of majority. For instance, a person with special needs may not be able to work or otherwise support him or herself without help.

Handling the holidays after divorce

112553491_S.jpgFor people in Missouri, the winter holidays can be an especially challenging time to deal with divorce. Even people who are satisfied in their relationships may experience extra emotional stress during the holidays, but families who are separated or divorced might find it particularly difficult to divide time with the children. When people are newly divorced, these uncomfortable feelings can be overwhelming for people facing these issues during the holiday season for the first time.

Both parents and children will need to adjust to emotional changes during family holidays after a divorce. While families can develop a routine to share co-parenting during this period over the years, it can be a challenge to adjust to this new situation. There are several ways in which divorced parents can help to make these holiday changes more tolerable for their children and even for themselves.

Nesting and co-parenting during a divorce in Missouri

32843753_S.jpgCo-parenting effectively can be a difficult responsibility when a marriage is breaking up. Parents naturally want a separation or divorce to cause the least amount of stress possible for their kids, and with some careful planning, it can happen.

If everyone is able to work together amicably, nesting is a concept that a couple may want to try. According to family therapists, the concept can work well for a brief time with up to six months at the very most being recommended. The idea is that children stay put in their home, and the parents take turns staying in the house with them. While one parent is at home with the kids, the other stays in an apartment that the pair share.

Important financial aspects of divorce

There are a number of financial elements Missouri couples need to keep in mind when they are ending their marriage. For example, since alimony payments for divorces finalized after the end of 2018 will no longer be tax-deductible by the payer or counted as taxable income by the recipient, some couples may want to try to wrap up their divorces quickly. However, people should not rush to meet this deadline since the cost of not taking enough time could be even higher.

Older people who are getting a divorce may be concerned about dividing their retirement accounts, and this can be a complex process. To divide a 401(k), they will need a qualified domestic relations order to avoid penalties, and the distribution needs to be rolled into a recipient's IRA. Some couples may decide to skip this altogether and have one keep the retirement account while the other keeps the home, but in this case, it is important for the person keeping the home to make sure it is affordable.

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  • Saint Louis County: 120 S. Central Ave., Suite 450, Clayton, MO 63105: Clayton Office
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