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Kansas City Family Law Blog

What do child support payments cover?

Missouri parents still have a lot of work to do post-divorce. Your child still depends on both of you for financial resources, so figuring out a child support plan that works for all parties is crucial. Stange Law Firm is here not only to help get the ball rolling, but to aid you if you find yourself facing difficulties collecting support payments.

Child support payments are important for many reasons. They help cover basic necessities. This can include food, clothing, shelter, and educational fees. Medical expenses can also be covered partially by child support payments, though a parent's medical coverage will still extend to their child even after a divorce. After all, child support is meant to make up for the financial gap that the non-custodial parent leaves behind.

Arranging custody during the summer months

45903154_S.jpgWith the arrival of spring in Jackson County, parents inevitably look forward to the summertime to plan for when their children will be out of school. As a recently divorced parent, you may be looking forward to your kids' summer break with extra anticipation this year given that it will allow you to spend more time with them. You may want to include an extended vacation as part of that time, yet would such a venture work with your custody schedule? We here at the Stange Law Firm have worked with countless clients in the same position, and are happy to tell you that the law allows for extended custody periods exclusively during your children's summer break. 

When developing your parenting plan, you and your ex-spouse are offered two options to split custodial time during summer break. According to the Missouri State Judiciary, these options are to continue with your normal custody schedule, or to allow you both to rotate custody every week. If you were to choose the latter, this temporary agreement would begin three days after school ends and end three days prior to classes resuming. 

Modifying a child support obligation

37314719_S (1).jpgWhen divorce divides a family in Jackson County, almost everything changes. Perhaps the one thing that does not is the love and affection the parents feel for their kids (and, by extension, the desire they have to care for them). It is for this exact reason why child support is such a pressing issue when it comes to divorce. Per the U.S. Census Bureau, over $33.7 billion was owed in child support as recently as 2015. In a perfect world, those who owe such a support would never have issues paying it. However, the fact that unpaid child support is an issue family courts are perpetually dealing shows that does not always happen. 

Those obliged to pay child support may see their financial circumstances change. Such changes may include: 

  • The loss of a job (or a reduction in work hours)
  • The need to support a new family 
  • Changes in children's needs

What are some ways my spouse may be hiding money?

8100099_S.jpgIt has been said that money changes people, which holds true in Missouri and elsewhere. Whether or not you believe that money is the root of all evil, you must admit that the pursuit of it causes people to do things they may not have done otherwise. Things like hiding assets from your spouse. Do it during a marriage and you may wind up in divorce court; do it during divorce and it is illegal.

HuffPost shows that, among people with combined finances, three in 10 have hidden money or purchases from their spouse or partner. In fact, 7.2 million people in the U.S. own up to hiding banking and credit-card accounts. Here are some of the ways your partner may attempt to hide assets.

Child custody and unfit parents

49949771_S.jpgChild custody is a common point of contention between separating Missouri parents. Although one parent may deem the other unfit for child custody, courts generally prioritize the child's best interest by looking at the entire picture: a parent's financial situation and mental stability are often points of focus. However, when a parent has lost child custody in the past, or has inflicted abuse toward a child, legal action may be the next step.

In the unfortunate recent case of Savannah Leckie, an Ozark County girl murdered by her mother, child custody appeared in the wrong hands. Originally having lived most of her life with adoptive parents in Minnesota, the 16-year-old with Asperger's syndrome then went to live with her biological mother, Rebecca Ruud, in Missouri. The teenager then suffered months of torture and abuse from her mother, who used extreme methods of punishment to control the child. Ruud faces charges of first- and second-degree murder, among other crimes in relation to her daughter's abuse. 

Paternity testing and the steps at hand

92054050_S.jpgNo matter the situation, determining child custody can invite a world of stress for Missouri parents. After the obstacles of separation fade to the background, the court's decisions on parenting arrangements can create entirely new challenges. When there is uncertainty surrounding the identity of a child's biological father altogether, this stress can seem magnified.

Missouri law, like other states, requires that all parties agree to legal DNA testing, but does not require an initial DNA test. As Kctv5 News reported last year, one local father never received the paternity testing he had sought for years, only to later discover that his daughter was not biologically his own. Because his ex-partner denied his efforts to carry out testing, he paid child support dating back to the child's birth in 1988. While this was a shock to all involved, an added whirlwind was the accumulation of child support payments that amounted to $36,000 -- all of which had been garnished despite the DNA proof to Missouri Child Support enforcement. 

Do I have to pay my ex-spouse's student loans?

13044479_S.jpgIf you are one of the many people in Missouri who is facing the end of your marriage this year, you are no doubt concerned about the financial ramifications you may experience from a divorce. Many people focus on the division of assets when they first think of a property division settlement. While splitting assets is definitely a component of this, it is debts also that must be divided between spouses.

As Forbes explains, student loan debt may be one type of debt that ends up being shared by both spouses. Like other debts or assets, a determination of who will be responsible for paying student loan debt during a divorce may be influenced by many factors. One of these factors is likely to be whether or not the spouse who took out the loans used them solely for tuition and potentially books or other school fees or if the money was also used to pay for basic living expenses.

QDROs and divorce decrees

10180323_S.jpgDivorcing spouses in Missouri can find many elements of getting divorced difficult to accept, including the financial blow that can accompany a divorce. Losing significant assets is never easy but when it comes time to split a 401K or another type of retirement plan sponsored by an employer, there may well be a way for people to minimize what they have to let go of. 

It is often believed that a divorce decree is the one document in which the parameters of any property division are to be spelled out. While certainly all agreements should be documented here, when it comes to splitting 401K accounts, the United States Department of Labor explains that a qualified domestic relations order will also be needed. The QDRO allows a retirement plan to make payments to a person other than the owner of the account.

Spousal support taxation to change in 2019

39435811_S.jpgIf you are one of the many people in Missouri who is considering getting a divorce in this calendar year or perhaps after that, you will want to educate yourself about how the recently passed tax bill may impact the decisions you make along the way. When working through the details of a divorce settlement in which assets and debts must be assigned to each spouse, the assignment of child support or spousal support may well come into play.

For some time now, people who have made child support payments have been responsible for taxes on that money. In contrast, the people who have made spousal support payments have been able to deduce this amount from their income tax returns. It has been the responsibility of the spouse who receives alimony payments to pay income tax on these funds. While this has not necessarily made making spousal support payments something people want to do, it can ease the financial burden to some degree.

Finding happiness after divorce

11132370_S.jpgAs any Missouri resident who has gone through a divorce is aware, the stress from the process does not end when paperwork is finalized. Instead, the pain from recovering and moving on can persist for months and even years afterward. The important aspect to keep in mind, however, is that the struggle after a separation is common. It can be challenging to restructure everyday life activities, social circles and traditions. After the dust settles, contentment can be found once again.

The Kansas City Star reported last year that reevaluating all aspects of life after a divorce can be beneficial. By letting the pain of separation run its course, individuals can take a clear look at the more technical sides of the process, including finances. One common misstep that many make, according to the Star, is hiding assets -- the article encourages those in this situation to examine documents such as checking account statements, expense accounts and tax returns to ensure all aspects of the process are on the table. On a more literal level, the Star also urges readers who have recently gone through a divorce to pay attention to basic necessities and overall self-care. Cleaning out a house after a marriage can work wonders for personal health. 

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Stange Law Firm, PC

Stange Law Firm, PC
256 NE Tudor Rd.
Lee's Summit, Missouri 64086

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