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Kansas City Family Law Blog

Detailing a stepparent's financial obligations

36828838_S.jpgParents in Jackson County who separate are encouraged to not only help their child adjust to their break-up, but to move on with their own lives as well. This will often mean remarriage, which introduces an entirely new dynamic into what might already be a complex family relationship: a stepparent. Stepfamilies are certainly not an uncommon phenomenon in the U.S.; according to the Pew Research Center, four out of every 10 American adults have a step-relative. Yet when a divorced or separated parent remarries, the question of what responsibility a stepparent assumes will almost inevitably come up. 

Section 453.400 of Missouri's Domestic Relations Code states that stepparents have a legal obligation to provide for their stepchildren when those stepchildren reside in the same residence. This responsibility does not, however, end the obligation that the children's natural or adoptive parents (who are not living with them) have to continue to fulfill the terms of their child support agreement. If a natural or adoptive parent who is under a legal obligation to pay child support fails to do so (forcing the stepparent to compensate for that support), then the stepparent can seek to be compensated for whatever support the natural or adopted parent's neglect failed to cover. 

How should I mentally prepare for collaborative divorce?

32761117_S.jpgCollaborative divorce is not the same as a typical court proceeding where divorce issues are hashed out in front of a Missouri judge. To go through collaborative divorce is a much different process, and requires the right mindset in order to succeed. These mindsets include how you approach your collaborative divorce and the kind of legal representation you look for to help you in the process.

As you would in a divorce trial, you need your own attorney for collaborative divorce. However, FindLaw points out that the kind of legal representation you would need for a divorce trial is not the same that should be employed in collaborative divorce. Divorce trials are often adversarial and require attorneys to zealously advocate for their clients. However, a collaborative divorce is supposed to foster negotiation and cooperation, which necessitates attorneys who understand how to negotiate without unnecessary belligerence.

Keeping the full value of a 401k

56033680_S.jpgOne going into divorce proceedings in Jackson County may have no issue in dividing up their marital property between themselves and their ex-spouse. Where they may be hesitant to share are those assets that they view as being the results of their own individual efforts. These may include one's workplace retirement accounts (like a 401k). Their hesitancy to part with even a portion of such an asset is understandable; at the same time, as 401k account contributions comes directly from their income (of which that which was earned during their marriage is considered marital property), one can see why 401k contributions are considered a shared asset. 

Ultimately, one may simply fear that the money they worked so hard to earn towards their retirement will simply go to waste. Such a fear may not be unfounded; according to information shared by CNBC, a divorce is one of the few cases where early withdrawals may be made from a 401k account without incurring the standard 10 percent tax penalty. However, leaving the money in the account gives it the opportunity to grow through investments and earned interest. Thus, 401k account owners may want to consider trying to retain their account's full value in their divorce proceedings. 

How should I develop a summer co-parenting plan?

54047616_S.jpgIf you and your children's other parent have gotten divorced since last summer, you will now be facing a very different type of summer schedule planning than what you have been used to in the past. Many other Missouri parents are in the same situation as yourself and hopefully you can learn a bit about how to navigate this situation from their experiences.

As explained by Coparently, the summer will naturally force some changes to your regular parenting time and child custody schedule as the school schedule does not dictate your children's lives. Summer camps and vacations can throw quite the monkey wrenches in a parent's ability to maintain some semblance of structure and order. You and your former spouse should work together before school is out to identify when each of you will be able to take vacation days with your kids so there is no overlap or arguments about this later on.

Sleep problems during a custody dispute

32559585_S.jpgIn a recent blog post, we discussed how family law issues can be problematic with regard to blood pressure. There are other ways in which family law matters, especially custody disputes, can have an adverse impact on one's health. For example, if you are in the middle of a difficult custody dispute, you may have difficulty sleeping at night. Whether you are losing sleep due to court-related stressors or you are worried about how your child's future will be affected by the outcome of the dispute, this can be a very troubling time, and sleep problems can make things worse.

Some people do not pay attention to issues such as difficulty sleeping, which can be very problematic not only in terms of their health but with their ability to secure a favorable custody outcome as well. Those who are deprived of sleep may have difficulty reviewing the details of their case and putting their best foot forward throughout the custody process and there are other challenges that may arise as well. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to potentially combat this problem, such as consulting with a medical professional and gaining some peace of mind by carefully going over the details of the dispute.

Family law matters and high blood pressure

25320429_S.jpgThose who struggle with high blood pressure may face a myriad of challenges in daily life, whether they have difficulty in the workplace, or they are worried about some of the health risks associated with their condition. Moreover, there are certain periods in life when stress and high blood pressure can become especially problematic, even for those who may not have noticed these issues in the past. For example, when a marriage comes to an end, this can be a very difficult time for many reasons, and people may even run into these difficulties following a divorce due to family law matters such as child support and custody.

If you have high blood pressure, it is important to do everything you can to move through the family law issues you are facing as smoothly as possible, while minimizing the impact that these issues can have on your health. If you find that certain family law matters raise your blood pressure, it is important to approach them in a careful manner. Moreover, you may find that reviewing your options is helpful in this regard and it could benefit you to find healthy activities that can distract you from the hurdles you are dealing with, such as spending time with friends and loved ones or going on hikes.

Will you pay manimony after your divorce?

37960916_S.jpgIf you are a Missouri woman who has successfully climbed the corporate ladder to the point where you earn a significant salary, this is a good thing. But if you earn more than your husband does, it may not be such a good thing if the two of you divorce. Why? Because you may have to pay him manimony after the divorce.

If you have never run across the word manimony before, Wife.org explains that this is the nickname given to spousal support payments made by a woman to her former husband. While fewer than 15% of today's divorces nationwide result in manimony payments, nevertheless it is a growing phenomenon as ever more women achieve high-paying jobs. Actually, in roughly 40% of today's American households, the woman brings home the larger or only paycheck.

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.

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