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Melissa A. Featherston

St. Louis Family Law Blog

Dilemmas of marital property division

If you are concerned about the division of marital property — as well as other repercussions — in a divorce, you need to understand some basic facts.

Generally, when a couple has built up equity in the family home or other properties, they have a couple of options available when dividing these assets. One spouse can buy the other out, or the property can be sold to a third party and any proceeds split between the divorcing partners.

Qualifying for alimony in Missouri

In Missouri, alimony is viewed as a measure upon which the less financially solvent spouse can rely to give both spouses more of an equitable foundation post-divorce. In cases where one spouse sacrificed a career to stay home and raise the kids or take care of the home, alimony can help a spouse cover housing and necessities until they are able to do so on their own.

In Missouri, spousal support orders can be modified. For example, a spouse can petition the court to lengthen the time frame that they receive alimony if financial circumstances change.

Things to consider about property division during divorce

Many people assume that being married automatically entitles them to receive half of their partners’ assets. They fail to realize that Missouri is an equitable distribution state. The courts do not have to award former partners 50 percent of their spouse's assets. Instead, the courts do what they deem is fair but not necessarily equal, which can result in some people receiving more than what their spouses think is fair. 

People who are in the process of splitting their marital assets should consider the following factors before they make any final decisions. 

Set a good example for your children during child custody cases

We recently discussed two new bills that might improve the child custody process. It is imperative that you fully understand what rights and responsibilities you have if you are facing a child custody issue. The fact of the matter is that your children are counting on both parents to act like adults so that they can have the best life possible.

It isn't always easy to work with your ex; however, if you can put up with the discomfort for a bit, you will likely find that your child custody agreement works out a bit better. You and your ex can work out an agreement that puts your child's needs and interests first if you can work as a team.

2 new bills could help child custody case outcomes

Missouri laws regarding child custody are in a state of upheaval lately, and it seems as though the children are truly the ones who are going to benefit from this. Historically, Missouri favored the older model of child custody where there was a breadwinner and a caregiver. Oftentimes, this meant that the mother was the clear winner for child custody.

Two bills going before the legislature, SB 377 and HB 724, are working to strengthen the new shared parenting model of child custody that was introduced last year into Missouri's child custody guidelines. These bills would take the focus off of favoring one parent over the other and instead encourage the court to have the parents work together to raise the child.

How do you break up the business when you break up the marriage?

Dividing up the family business can sometimes be tougher and more emotional than getting a divorce. The odds are good that by the time you get to the place where you want the divorce, you care more about the business than the marriage.

What are your options when your business partner is the spouse you're divorcing?

The role of a forensic accountant in a high profile divorce

Most divorces are relatively painless to settle and merely involve the division of assets such as cars, houses, and bank accounts. Others, especially those involving more considerable financial holdings, are much more complex. Even in amicable divorces, it may be necessary to bring in a forensic accountant to make sense of how to handle the splitting up of such things as insurance policies, trust assets, property holdings across state lines, and splitting up collectibles.

In bringing this specially-trained type of accountant into the mix, it can not only serve to help with the valuation of unique or rare items, but can help ex-spouses make prudent long-term financial decisions as well. As the selling off or changing of beneficiaries can carry with them certain fiduciary responsibilities and tax implications, having a forensic accountant in the mix can help a former couple avoid these at all costs.

Learn about how alimony can impact your finances

Alimony payments are often a part of high-asset divorce cases and cases that involve a spouse who opted to remain home to raise the children. When these payments are one of the factors in the divorce settlement, things can turn contentious quickly. It is imperative to understand how Missouri laws cover alimony payments so that you can be prepared for what might happen if alimony is likely to come up in your divorce.

In our previous blog post, we discussed how alimony payments are determined. If you recall, there are several things the court considers when deciding whether alimony is appropriate or not, what kind of alimony must be paid and for how long. You should make note of any point related to these that you know your situation contains so that you can make sure those are addressed.

Moving out of the marital home

Now that you are finally separating from your spouse in St. Louis, you may find yourself thinking about moving out of your marital home. This may seem like a good move for you to make because it allows you to establish your own household. However, doing so may cause complications with your divorce situation. Before you move into your new place, learn how your decision affects you.

Can you afford it?

Know how alimony is factored in Missouri divorces

People who are going through a divorce in Missouri might wonder if alimony is going to play a part in the divorce. The answer to this is that it depends on a host of factors. Not all divorces will end with alimony orders being issued.

The financial resources of both people has an impact on the suitability of alimony payments. The ability of each spouse to earn a living and the difference in earning capacity of each spouse matters. The length of the marriage and the age of each spouse also comes into the picture.

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