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Kansas City Family Law Blog

Continuing child support when kids go to college

31050666_S.jpg18 is an important age for many in Jackson County. That often is the year that people graduate from high school and begin to face important decision related to their futures. Coincidentally, that also happens to be when parents paying child support believe that their children have reached the age of majority (which they then assume ends their child support obligations). Yet what happens when an 18-year-old decides to go to college? Given that the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that as recently as 2017, 66.7 high school graduates in the U.S. were enrolled in college, this is likely a question that many divorced parents will have to face. 

The term "starving student" can often be applied literally. In most cases, teens and young adults attending colleges and universities are forced to focus a majority of their time and effort on their studies (thus limiting their opportunities to work to support themselves). This leaves them needing financial assistance to help pay for tuition, books and the costs of living. Because of this, Missouri state law allows for a child support obligation to be extended to accommodate college students. 

Handling spring break with your ex

60090313_S.jpgMissouri parents who are divorced or who may have never been married to their children's other parent know that co-parenting is a continual process that requires ongoing effort and cooperation. Spring break is just one more time of the year when extra flexibility may have to be exercised in order to make things work for parents and kids alike.

Some parents may not be able to take time off of work so they may need to hire a babysitter, pay for day camps or otherwise incur additional costs to ensure proper childcare when their children are not in work. The costs for this may have been factored into an overall child support award and this should be reviewed carefully.

Is joint custody the best option for your kids?

100266737_S.jpgAs a parent contemplating a Missouri divorce, one of your biggest concerns likely is how your children will react to your divorce and how the day-to-day loss of both of their parents will affect them. If you have not yet considered joint custody, you may well wish to do so.

Whether or not joint custody will work in your situation depends on how cooperatively you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can work together in your children's best interests. If you both possess the requisite maturity, stability and determination to make joint custody work, however, your children can benefit in many ways.

What are some custody battle hurdles you may face?

84176033_S.jpgIn Missouri, couples just like you struggle to deal with child custody matters during the process of their divorce. Emotions can run wild, tensions can be high, and it can be difficult to get through without a little extra help. Stange Law Firm, PC, is here to give you that boost you need to clear the difficult hurdles of a custody battle.

When determining child custody, there are a number of issues you could come up against. The first is conflicts with the other parent. Do you both agree on what religion to raise your child? What about where they should go to school, or how they should be treated for any medical conditions they may have? If you can't agree on these vital points, a settlement may not be possible.

Identifying Missouri's grounds for divorce

25272035_S.jpgThe decision to get a divorce from your spouse is no doubt a difficult one, yet one that you typically will not arrive at without having your reasons. The question that many in Jackson County have asked us here at the Stange Law Firm is whether the state will justify those reasons. You are likely familiar with the term "grounds for divorce," which seemingly implies that you must have a valid reason to end your marriage. While that is true, that is not to say that only an egregious action by you or your ex-spouse will warrant a divorce. 

Missouri is a no-fault state when it comes to divorce, which means that neither you not your ex-spouse needs to be proven to be at fault in ending your marriage. Indeed, Section 452.320 of the state's Domestic Relations Code says that you and your spouse claiming (under oath) that your relationship is "irretrievably broken" is enough to qualify for a divorce. Yet what of your spouse disagrees to this? You can then attempt to assign fault to them by proving any of the following situations: 

  • Your spouse has committed adultery or some other action which would make it difficult for anyone to expect you to continue to live with them
  • Your spouse has abandoned you for at least six months
  • You and your spouse have lived apart (consensually) for more than 12 consecutive months
  • You and your spouse have lived apart (without mutual consent) for more than 24 consecutive months

How can you ensure custody exchanges stay safe?

36616098_S.jpgThere is an old saying that offers the hope of time healing all wounds. It was one that is certainly applicable to divorce. The hope is that the further you get from your separation, the more likely it becomes that any acrimony and animosity that exists between you and your ex-spouse will dissipate. The odds of that happening may be fairly high if no reasons exist for the two of you to continue interacting. However, if you have children together, you will need to coordinate their parenting with each other. 

Even in such a scenario, face-to-face contact between the two of you can be kept to a minimum. Yet you will need to meet together for custody exchanges. Sadly, such events can often devolve into vocal confrontations (or even worse, physical altercations) between feuding parents. Seeing you may cause whatever anger your ex-spouse may still feel to boil to the surface. If you fear that this may happen, there are a number of things you can do to help ensure your custody exchanges stay safe. 

Securing health insurance for the kids

34404933_S.jpgWhen defining "child support," many in Jackson County may state that it is money paid to help cover a kid's basic needs. Yet exactly what are those needs? Food, shelter and clothing are the basic ones that immediately come to mind, yet what about health care? It is easy to forget about the need for health care (or more specifically, health insurance) because people tend to only value it when it is needed. Given the high cost of care, however, it is easy to understand why the cost of health insurance is also considered when determining a child support obligation

Many obtain their health insurance through group plans offered through their employers. While enrolling in such plans may be optional, it can become mandatory if and when one becomes involved in a child support dispute with their ex-spouse. Family courts will typically mandate that parents take advantage of any health insurance coverage available to them in order to insure their kids. They may also bypass the parents altogether with this mandate and go straight to their employers. Indeed, per the Missouri Department of Social Services, state law authorizes family courts to require employers to enroll an employee's child in its group health plan (if said employee is obliged to do so through their child support agreement) and withhold the cost to cover insurance premiums from the employee's wages. 

The rise of rehabilitative alimony

90160463_S.jpgAlimony has long been viewed by many in Jackson County as almost being a punitive obligation placed on a person for being more financially successful than their ex-spouse. It is also almost universally assumed that the one obliged to pay alimony will be the husband (due to the fact that, until recently, societal norms have been that the husband serves as the provider for the family). This assumption is supported by the fact that, according to Forbes Magazine, of the 400,000 people recorded has receiving alimony in the U.S. in 2014, only 3 percent were men. 

The American Bar Association states that many of the fundamental concepts behind individual states' alimony laws are based on the idea developed by the American Law Institute that the end of a marriage brings with it inherent losses, and that those losses should be shared (to the extent that it is possible) by both spouses. However, those losses are also often viewed as being temporary, which is why recent years have seen states move away from awarding permanent alimony and instead emphasizing support meant to be rehabilitative. 

Raising a child, key decisions and custody

68088579_S.jpgIn this post, we will take a close look at some of the challenges that are unique to parents. Raising a child can be tough for many reasons, from financial demands to daily stressors that surface in parents' lives. Sometimes, life as a parent can be particularly tough, such as instances where a couple cannot come to an agreement on a key decision in their child's life. For example, a couple may disagree about sending their child to a particular college for various reasons. In some cases, these disputes can even result in the end of a married couple's relationship.

Parents can disagree on many different key issues when it comes to the best interests of their child. Some may believe that a child should not be vaccinated or allowed to date at a certain age. A parent may be opposed to their child attending a certain college because they are worried about the school's reputation, the cost of tuition or their child moving so far away from home. Unfortunately, this can lead to a divorce, which may be particularly challenging for a child to deal with during a chaotic time in their life.

How can single parents save money this Christmas?

113613248_S.jpgIf you're a single parent in Missouri, chances are you're on a tight budget this Christmas. While you want to make sure the holiday is special for your children, you also don't want to spend yourself into financial instability. Whether you're concerned about making child support payments or trying to stretch them as far as they'll go, U.S. News & World Report offers the following advice to keep your finances on track this holiday season.

Set a budget and stick to it

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  • Saint Louis County: 120 S. Central Ave., Suite 450, Clayton, MO 63105: Clayton Office
  • West County: 16024 Manchester Rd., Suite 103, Ellisville, MO 63011: Ellisville Office
  • Jackson County: 256 NE Tudor Rd., Lee's Summit, Missouri 64086: Lee's Summit Office
  • Jefferson County: 16 Municipal Drive, Suite C, Arnold, MO 63010: Arnold Office
  • St. Charles County: 2268 Bluestone Drive, St. Charles, MO 63303: St. Charles Office
  • Franklin County: 5 S. Oak St. Union, MO 63084: Union Office
  • Lincoln County: 20 Centerline Drive, Troy, Missouri 63379: Troy Office
  • Boone County: 1506 Chapel Hill Rd., Suite H, Columbia, MO 65203: Columbia Office
  • Greene County: 901 E. St. Louis, Suite 404, Springfield, Missouri 65806 Springfield, MO Office
  • St. Clair County: 115 Lincoln Place Ct., Ste. 101, Belleville, IL 62221: Belleville Office
  • Madison County: 5 Club Centre Ct., Suite A, Edwardsville, Illinois 62025: Edwardsville Office
  • Sangamon County: 400 S. 9th St., Suite 100, Springfield, IL 62701: Springfield Office
  • McLean County: 1012 Ekstam Drive, Suite 4, Bloomington, IL 61704: Bloomington Office
  • Johnson County: 7300 West 110th Street, Suite 560, Overland Park, KS 62210: Overland Park Office
  • Sedgwick County: 2024 N. Woodlawn Street, Suite 407, Wichita, Kansas 67208: Wichita Office
  • Shawnee County: 800 SW Jackson Street, Suite 812, Topeka, Kansas 66612: Topeka Office
  • Monroe County: 116 W. Mill St., Waterloo, IL 62298 (by appt. only): Waterloo Office
  • St. Louis City: 100 S. 4th St., #549, St. Louis, MO 63102 (by appt. only): St. Louis Office
  • Jackson County: 2300 Main St., #948, Kansas City, MO 64108 (by appt. only): Kansas City Office

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