Columbia Divorce Law Blog

Fate of the family pet can be a property division sticking point

Nearly two thirds of all households have a family pet. When a divorce looms, the fate of that family pet can be a sticking point in the process. While many families in Missouri do not consider the family pet property, that pet will be dealt with as part of a property division decision in all likelihood. While views over how pets are seen may be changing, the law still regards them as property, and there are some tips below for those who have a pet that will part of a divorce settlement.

Anyone dealing with a pet as part of a divorce needs to have a full picture of the costs associated with that pet. This can include the money it takes to feed, walk and attend to the health needs of the pet. The reality of the expenses can make pet ownership or custody something that needs to be negotiated. Also, emotional attachment can lead to that pet being a bargaining chip of sorts.

Property division isn't necessarily equal in Missouri

The division of property after the dissolution of a marriage can get quite complicated even for those who do not own a significant amount of property. The property division process in Missouri is a two-step process. The first step is identifying the property eligible to be split, while the second step is determining how to split it as equitably as possible.

Property typically falls into two categories during the divorce process. Those categories are "marital property" and "non-marital property." Any kind of non-marital property is that which was acquired before marriage. However, inheritances and gifts received during a marriage can also be declared non-marital property. Marital property is shared property obtained during the marriage.

Child support questions need answered in Missouri

Regardless of the state of the relationship between the parents, providing for any shared children is simply the law. Child support is initiated as a means of providing the financial stability and support to ensure basic needs are met. Both parties, the paying parent and the parent receiving child support in Missouri can benefit from knowing where to turn for guidance and just how current guidelines for child support can affect their situations.

There are set guidelines in place based on factors such as income and specific needs of the child or children. While these guidelines can be a helpful starting point for parents to understand what to expect in general, those guidelines are in no way set in stone. There are many individual factors that can impact whether child support will be less or more than the current guidelines state. Some factors may include the special needs of the child, as that can make paying more necessary to ensure proper care.

Divorce may require team approach for those in Missouri

A divorce is rarely a simple and uncomplicated endeavor for anyone. It may take Missouri residents aback to realize all of the aspects of their lives that need to be considered and dealt with during a divorce aside from just simply having a dissolution of a marriage. Because of the scope of issues typically involved, the entire divorce process may require a team approach.

The financial picture for all parties involved, including the adults and children, will be ultimately affected. This means individual factors of current finances and future monetary needs will need to be explored before child support amounts are set or spousal support is pursued. During any split, a property division settlement or agreement needs to be obtained. This means all assets will need to be appraised if a fair division is to be obtained.

Hiding money and assets during divorce leads to jail time for man

A man has just been sentenced to prison for his actions as his divorce unfolded. The man was convicted for hiding money and assets outside of the country after filing for divorce. In Missouri, courts pay careful attention to how assets are dealt with, and there are very specific laws as to what property is to be split. Just as in this case, hiding of assets during a divorce can lead to serious consequences.

The 67-year-old man in this case has been sentenced to serve four years in prison. The actions are being reported as a means of defrauding his wife of the funds and assets. The man has apparently lied in court proceedings for four years. Despite the circumstances, his wife supported him in court and stepped forward to say she is not a victim of his actions.

Missouri residents need to discuss mortgage during divorce

Of all of the decisions that need to be made during a divorce, the fate of the marital home and mortgage may be one of the biggest. Missouri homeowners may have a difficult time deciding what to do with their home during a divorce. Knowing all of the possible options may help those in the midst of a divorce decide what the best plan may be as property division decisions are underway.

One of the most common and simplest options is to sell the home and split the equity. This obviously works best if there is equity to split and both can walk away from the home with money in their pockets. Another option may be for one party to keep the home. To avoid financial ruin or disputes with the other party, the person keeping the house should refinance the mortgage to have the mortgage in just that person's name. A missed payment or other issues can affect the credit and finances of the person who gave up the home if his or her name is still on the mortgage.

Child custody can entail both physical and legal custody

Custody is about much more than where a child sleeps at night, although that is an important part of it. For many parents in Missouri, there are complicated dynamics involved and decisions that cannot be foreseen at the time a child custody decision is finalized. Most child custody agreements and decisions will ultimately address issues pertaining to both physical custody and legal custody; therefore, it is important to understand the difference between the two.

Legal custody centers on what is referred to as decision-making powers. Parents will need to plan and agree on issues related to education and health care. Regardless of the time a child spends with a parent, if a parent has legal custody rights, that parent has a say in where a child is treated medically and by whom. Furthermore, schooling and education decisions as well as religious teachings and beliefs can also be addressed in a legal custody agreement.

Understanding financial changes as part of a divorce

The impact a divorce can have on finances is very real. In fact, there is no way to go through a divorce without addressing the economic impact on both parties. Missouri residents can get a clear picture of those economic changes by knowing just how a divorce will affect their bottom line after the split is finalized.

The reality is many former couples are going from what is typically a two-income situation to a one-income household. If one person handled the bulk of the budget or financial decision making, the other person may have no idea what a post-divorce budget or lifestyle may actually look like. While a reduction in spending seems the logical solution, both parties need to know down to the dollar what they will be working with after the divorce. This can affect lifestyle, housing decisions and the outcome of property division settlements, and this is why it important to have a clear post-divorce budget.

Options for dealing with family business during divorce

The divorce process entails the split of virtually everything a couple had built together. While some assets or property may be easy to split as a divorce unfolds, other shared or marital property can be more difficult to divide. If a Missouri family's business is on the line, those involved in a divorce have a number of options for how that business will fare after the divorce.

One common option is to split the business just as other assets are split. One spouse can buy out the other's share just as what they might do with the house. This would require an appraiser to assign a current value to the business. Instead of putting down an exact dollar amount to buy out a share, an exchange of like-valued property can be a fair avenue to split the business.

Missouri parents may weigh in on child support issues

Child support guidelines provide a baseline for parents to gauge what they may owe or expect to receive. While certain factors in any family may impact the exact amount of child support a parent will owe, the guidelines are clearly set. However Missouri parents may be interested to learn that the courts may soon tackle child support issues related to the current guidelines, and public input is encouraged.

Lawmakers and others, including the Family Court Committee of the Missouri Supreme Court, recently announced that the public will have a chance to speak openly about the guidelines in place and any contemplated revisions. So far, hearings are scheduled in the following locations: Benton, Clayton, Independence, Columbia and Springfield. Comments regarding the child support guidelines can also be sent by mail.

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