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Kansas City Family Law Blog

Is the divorce rate really falling?

If you are like a lot of people in Missouri, you may have long heard others talk about the divorce rate in America. Most people today know someone who has been divorced and may either have experienced a parental divorce or a divorce of their own. While not an uncommon experience, some recent research may point to a reduction in the divorce rate in America.

As reported by The Atlantic, a sociologist at the University of Maryland published findings that at first glance seemed to indicate a drop by as much as 18 percent in the rate of divorces in the United States between 2008 and 2016. However, the final data shows a drop by eight percent. This number takes into account other demographical shifts as well as the number of people who actually got married to start with.

Child support obligations for disabled children

38133389_S.jpgWhile it may be reasonable to expect that tensions exist between you and your ex-spouse immediately following your divorce in Jackson County, the passage of time should help ease those, especially if your ex-spouse remains compliant to any support obligations they may have (such as child support). It is well known that (in most cases) parents paying child support are no longer required to do so once a child reaches the age of majority. Yet what if you have a disabled child? Many in your situation come to us here at the Stange Law Firm concerned that once their ex-spouses' child support obligations end, they will struggle to meet their disabled children's needs on their own. 

The hope is that your ex-spouse will understand the need to continue to offer financial support for your disabled child into adulthood. Yet if they express an unwillingness to, you should know that the law does provide a method to extend a child support obligation past the age of 18 for disabled persons. Per Section 452.340 of Missouri's Revised Statutes, your ex-spouse may be ordered to continue to pay child support for your disabled child if the following elements exist in your case: 

  • Your child's physical or mental handicap makes them unable to support themselves
  • Your child has no realistic prospect of ever being financially solvent
  • Your child remains unmarried

Breaking news of a divorce to your child

Missouri parents who have decided to divorce have a lot of worries to handle. One of the top concerns involves parents trying to decide how they're going to break the news to their children. While the options vary depending on the child's age and temperament, there are still some general rules of thumb that can be applied to most situations.

Psychology Today puts a strong emphasis on remaining mature and keeping the child from feeling any blame for the impending divorce. It should be made clear that the divorce is not happening because of them. Rather, it's happening because the parents feel as if it's the best decision, and it's one they made entirely on their own. Additionally, studies have shown that children react better when parents present a unified front. This means parents should avoid blaming each other for the divorce or anything leading up to it.

Should you consider a postnuptial agreement?

27898590_S.jpgFamily law experts in Jackson County will often recommend that you and your spouse enter into a prenuptial agreement prior to your marriage in order to protect each of your existing financial interests should your marriage end. Yet even the experts may agree that not every marriage may need a prenup. Neither of you may have brought significant assets into your marriage, or even if you did, you may have decided that you ultimately did not care how they might be divided should you separate (which likely seemed to be an impossibility at the time). 

Now, for whatever reason, you may be questioning that decision. If so, you should know that postnuptial agreement can be just as good at protecting your assets from being divided or lost in a divorce settlement. A cynic might say that your wanting a postnuptial agreement is a sure sign of you believing that your marriage is already on its way to failing. Yet there are indeed circumstances where considering postnuptial agreement might be the best option for you and your spouse. 

Terminating parental rights in Missouri

43028026_S.jpgAfter your divorce proceedings have been completed in Jackson County, the hope is that you and your now ex-spouse will be able to work together on those ongoing issues which require collaboration (namely, the custody of your kids). Such a task may not be easy, as evidenced by many of those that have worked with us here at the Stange Law Firm eventually seeking to have the parental rights of their former spouses terminated. The law may support your decision if you indeed feel that such a step would be the best option in your case. However, completing such an action can often be difficult. 

Per information shared by Missouri's Judicial Branch, the law allows for the termination of parental rights based on consent. For this to happen, your ex-spouse must agree to it. Even with his or her consent, however, the court must still find that taking such action is in the best interest of your children before approving it. 

License suspensions for child support arrears

87531199_S.jpgOftentimes, married parents in Jackson County might have difficulties supporting themselves and their children. One can only imagine how much more difficult such as task becomes if and when such a couple chooses to divorce. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that as recently as 2015, over $33.7 billion was owed in child support. With such a large sum of money at stake (along with the well-being of those that are owed it), it should come as little surprise that family courts take the issue of child support enforcement so seriously. 

One effective method in resolving child support arrears has been to restrict the privileges of those that owe them. Many states will even suspend the driver's licenses of obligor parents in such situations; Missouri is among them. Per Section 454.1003 of the state's Revised Statutes, one subject to a child support obligation can have his or her driver's license suspended in any of the following situations: 

  • He or she owes an amount in child support arrears equaling either the sum of three months worth of payments or $2500
  • He or she fails to comply with a subpoena from the court concerning the modification of an existing child support order
  • He or she fails to comply with a subpoena from the court concerning the establishment of paternity
  • He or she fails to comply with a subpoena from the court over matters related to genetic testing

What does the tax cut act mean for divorces?

9627606_S.jpgThe president's Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, slated to take effect Dec. 31 of this year, has added a new wrinkle to divorce proceedings in Missouri. Spouses headed for divorce and the attorneys representing them may be already either trying to rush proceedings or slow them down, depending on which one earns more money, according to the American Bar Association.

The ABA explains that the new laws have injected uncertainty into the alimony calculation process and, by extension, the entire divorce process. The new law removes the ability of the payer to deduct alimony checks from his or her annual income, while at the same time eliminating the requirement that the recipient reports them as income. Legal experts expect divorce negotiations to be much more difficult because of it.

Remember to revisit your will after your divorce

25095774_S.jpgAfter your divorce in Jackson County becomes final, you may feel a certain sense of finality. That feeling, however, may be fleeting, as you quickly realize just how much your now ex-spouse was involved in the many different facets of your life. Thus begins the process of removing him or her from the many pertinent personal records he or she might still be found on. Many clients come to us here at the Stange Law Firm asking for assistance in doing this, and one of the documents we remind them to revisit is their wills. The reason for this reminder is that many may often forget to do it. 

If you have created a will in which you now ex-spouse was named as a beneficiary, what happens if you never get around to amending it? Section 461.051 of the Revised Statutes of Missouri states that the moment your divorce is finalized, any provisions naming him or her as a beneficiary are automatically revoked. This law does not apply, however, if you stipulated in the document that said provisions were irrevocable. It is for this reason that you are encouraged to review your will after your divorce even with the aforementioned law in place. 

How do I file for child custody?

14972192_S.jpgIf you are in a situation where you want custody of a child that you currently do not have legal custody of, then you have to go through the Missouri court system to gain those legal rights. According to the Missouri Courts, gaining custody begins by filing a petition with the court. You need to have established paternity and not have a current custody order for the child to file this petition.

Do note that even if you are paying or being paid child support that alone does not establish custody. Custody is a separate legal issue. You can petition for custody even if you are the one paying child support and the child does not currently live with you.

Music producer asked to increase child support payments

40871282_S.jpgVery often, the rewarding if child support payments in a divorce case in Jackson Count is often viewed as a punitive action. In reality, it is not designed to be so. Ex-spouses bickering over the amount of child support required may fail to realize that those amounts are determined by the court and are designed to not impose any unfair financial burdens on either party involved (nor to reward any of those involved for perceived slights they may have suffered). However, the idea of child support as punishment might persist due to the way that people present it. 

A recent case involving a music producer and the mother of his son illustrates this point. The boy's mother approached the father threatening to reveal information about him unless he agreed to increase his child support payments. The man was hesitant to do so for fear that the extra was not meant to benefit his son, but rather the many other children and grandchildren who were also living with the mother. Eventually, the two met through mediation proceedings and were able to come to a compomise that was endorsed by the court. 

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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
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  • 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
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  • 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
  • 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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