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Belleville and Edwardsville Divorce Law Blog

Allegations of abuse in child custody cases

32436541_S.jpgFamily law judges in Missouri and around the country place the welfare of any children involved above all other considerations in a divorce situation, which is why they take petitions filed by divorced parents who claim that their children are in danger very seriously. However, it is not unknown for people who harbor lingering resentment toward their former husbands or wives to make baseless allegations of emotional, physical or even sexual abuse.

This is why courts generally conduct thorough investigations into abuse claims before modifying child custody or visitation arrangements. During these investigations, officers from the Department of Social Services may interview family members, neighbors and teachers to determine the veracity of the claims. While the investigation is ongoing, judges may order supervised visitation based on the best interests doctrine. When custodial parents are accused of abuse, the children involved may be temporarily placed in a care facility.

What to know before filing for divorce

42425594_S.jpgIndividuals who are contemplating a divorce in Missouri or anywhere else should understand how it could impact their financial situation. Ideally, they will know their current expenses and earnings. In addition, it is important to understand how a divorce could impact future expenses. For instance, a divorcing couple may need to determine how to pay for a child's current education needs or if either person will be responsible for child support payments.

It may be necessary for parents to pay for some or all of a child's college tuition. In some cases, this may be done by contributing to a 529 account. Current expenses could include the cost of daycare while a parent is at work or the cost of a private tutor. A child's medical and entertainment expenses could be included in a child support order as well as money for basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter.

Rights of a father when he's not married

31276729_S.jpgThere are many situations where unmarried fathers in Maryland are in committed, unmarried relationships with the mother of their children. However, there are just as many instances of children growing up without a father in the home. In fact, 40% of children today are born to unmarried parents, and many unmarried dads are unaware of their legal rights.

For an unmarried father, there is no legal assumption of paternity when a child is born. A simple way for a dad to be eligible for visitation rights, shared custody and the ability to have a say in child's upbringing and welfare is to have his name included on the birth certificate. If this doesn't happen, another option is for a father to fill out a Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity form after the child is born.

Man must pay half of lottery winnings to former spouse

9394125_S.jpgWhen people in Missouri get a divorce, they may wonder how they will be expected to divide property with a spouse. A man in Michigan who won an $80 million lottery jackpot in 2013 after two years of separation from his wife was ordered to pay her half of his winnings as part of the divorce settlement. After taxes, the man took home more than $38 million.

An arbitrator informed the man that he had to split the winnings with his spouse. The man's attorney filed an appeal, but the court agreed with the arbitrator. In the arbitrator's judgment, these winnings constituted part of the shared assets. He also argued that it was probably not the first time the man had bought a lottery ticket. The man's attorney argued that it was the man's luck and not the luck of his wife that resulted in the winnings.

Depictions of noncustodial parents are often misleading

31002607_S.jpgNoncustodial parents in Boone County, MO, and around the country are often portrayed by the media as either deadbeat dads who do not pay child support or uncaring fathers who put their careers ahead of their children. While such depictions may be appropriate for some noncustodial parents, they are largely based on pervasive myths. The majority of noncustodial parents care greatly about their children and relish the time they are able to spend with them.

The deadbeat dad stereotype is especially pernicious. Most noncustodial parents who are expected to make child support payments do so conscientiously. Many of these parents are struggling to make ends meet themselves, but they willingly make sacrifices to see that their children are properly cared for.

How a woman can prepare for a divorce

38197351_S (1).jpgMissouri women who are considering filing for a divorce should first obtain several documents that will help them get a better picture of what their financial futures will be like. These documents include tax returns for the past three years, a net worth statement and a comprehensive lifestyle analysis. Women who are considering divorce should not wait until it is nearly time to file before gathering these documents as it may take time to get everything together. After all, women are often left in the dark by their husbands when it comes to financial issues such as investments and assets.

Tax returns are likely the most vital source of information when someone needs to get a picture of a family's financial situation. Tax returns for the most recent three years should be obtained either through the family's tax preparer or an IRS Form 4506. A woman who is considering filing for a divorce should also obtain the documents used to prepare the tax returns, including 1099 and W-2 forms.

Misconceptions about child support

46651051_S.jpgSome Missouri parents may resent paying child support, but there are strategies parents can take to protect themselves financially. There are also some misunderstandings about how child support works. It is important for parents to keep in mind that however angry they are at an ex-spouse, child support is not for the benefit of their ex-spouse. It is for the benefit of their children.

Some angry ex-spouses who were higher earners in the marriage may complain that they were taken advantage of financially during the divorce. It is important for people to understand their financial obligations and rights during a divorce. While they may be required to pay child support and alimony, these are based on income among other factors. Divorce may sometimes have a negative financial impact on people, but the aim of the court is not to leave either parent destitute.

Dads can be custodial parents too

31375552_S.jpgFathers in Missouri and throughout the country have an opportunity to win custody of their children. Part of winning custody is making a good impression in the courtroom. Therefore, it is important to dress appropriately and avoid any outbursts toward the judge or anyone else who is taking part in a hearing. Another key step for a parent in the quest to obtain custody is showcasing a relationship with the child.

Ideally, a father will show proof that he has interacted with the child and has helped to meet a son or daughter's financial needs. However, other parties may have a say in how a custody order is put together. For instance, the child's mother may express a preference to not share custody, and the child may also express a desire to be with his or her mother.

Child custody and living accommodations

35895192_S.jpgMissouri residents may be interested in learning about a few of the factors that are taken into consideration when determining living accommodations for children after a divorce. The considerations vary by state and even judges.

Judges usually take into consideration each parent's unique circumstances and make reasonable decisions based on this. One thing they will look at is the gender of the child. If a child is a girl and the father is seeking custody or visitation, the judge may want the child to have her own bedroom and bathroom. The opposite will likely be true. The age of the child will also be considered. Older children usually need more space. So a judge may look more favorably on a situation if a teenager has his or her own room as opposed to sharing with younger siblings.

Child custody orders aren't set in stone

118204179_S.jpgMissouri residents may be able to have a child custody order modified if events warrant a change being made. Generally speaking, a change will be made if a parent is putting the child's safety in danger. The same could be true if the child doesn't want to spend time with the parent or if a parent is ignoring the terms of the order. If a parent relocates or dies, it may also be necessary to make changes to a child custody arrangement.

If there is reason to believe that a child is in danger, a court will have to determine if the danger is immediate. A court will also likely want to determine if the child is in danger of abuse or if another member of the household is the direct target. If a parent relocates, a judge will likely want to know why the move is taking place and if it is still possible to operate under the terms of the current agreement.

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  • Saint Louis County: 120 S. Central Ave., Suite 450, Clayton, MO 63105: Clayton Office
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  • St. Louis City: 100 S. 4th St., #549, St. Louis, MO 63102 (by appt. only): St. Louis Office
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