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St. Louis County & Midwest Family Law Blog

Emergency military service may modify child support order

For noncustodial parents, a child support obligation can take a financial toll. Even those parents who agree to a certain amount of child support, the weekly payments can quickly eat into savings and make it difficult to build a financial safety net. This is especially true when changed circumstances reduce a noncustodial parent's income. Whether on account of reduced hours or decreased pay, noncustodial parents who see their income drop may be able to successfully seek a child support modification, which would reduce their weekly obligation.

One group of people may be able to secure this modification relatively quickly: those who are called into emergency military service. Under Missouri law, an individual is called into emergency military service when he or she is a member of the National Guard or some sort of other reserve unit and is called up to active military duty for a period of time in excess of 30 days. If this occurs, then the individual needs to secure a notarized letter from his or her commanding officer. This letter must specify when the emergency military service commenced as well as the noncustodial parent's income.

The different names for spousal support and how it works

There are several different names that may be used to refer to the support one former spouse may pay to the other following a divorce. Terms such as spousal support, spousal maintenance and alimony all may be used to refer to generally the same thing which can be a major concern for divorcing spouses to understand.

Spousal support may be requested during divorce by one spouse and it can either be negotiated and agreed upon by the spouses or if one of the spouses contests spousal support or they cannot agree, the family law court can help determine spousal support. Each state follows certain guidelines to calculate spousal support. Spousal support may be appropriate, for instance, for the spouse that remained in the home to care for it and the children.

Steps working parents can take to protect child custody interests

116956621_s.jpgMany parents in the Midwest struggle to find an appropriate work-life balance. While many people want to work as hard as they can to get ahead in life and support their families, this can come at the expense of strong familial relationships. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the child custody context.

For the longest time, family courts tended to favor parents who were able to spend the most amount of time caring for their children. This meant that many working parents were left in a noncustodial role with limited visitation. Fortunately, times have changed, and so, too, have the courts' views. However, while working parents are now much more likely to play an integral role in their children's lives, they must be diligent in their efforts to appropriately address any child custody and visitation issues that they face.

International child abduction and the Hague Convention

16259734_s.jpgFamily law matters are not easy to address not matter the situation. Child custody matters can get complicated quickly, and this is especially true when a parent fails to abide by a court ordered custody arrangement. Parents who choose to relocate with their children without the other parent's consent and without court authorization, for example, can damage the child's relationship with his or her parent. Previously, this blog discussed the UCCJEA and how it can be utilized to address child custody matters when a child has been taken to another state, but this week, cases of international abduction will be assessed.

When a child is taken out of the country in violation of a court order, a parent wants nothing more than their child's safe return. This can be a difficult task in international cases for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that each country has its own laws and legal approaches, and they may not recognize orders issued by other countries. This is where the Hague Convention proves beneficial.

How is child support enforced?

113045147_S.jpgChild support enforcement is helpful for parents receiving child support and, likewise, parents paying child support to understand. Child support is also important for children receiving it which is why the legal process provides options for child support enforcement to ensure it is paid.

Methods of enforcing child support include withholding federal and state tax refunds; wage garnishment; seizure of property; suspension of an occupational or business license; suspension or revocation of a driver's license; or denial of a passport. In some circumstances, jail time may also be possible for the failure to pay child support. There are different methods of enforcing child support orders because of the importance of child support for the care of the child receiving the support.

How to address the topic of divorce with your children

119153881_S.jpgMarriage can have its obstacles and even an ending. Divorce is rarely an easy endeavor. After all, the parties involved have to entirely untangle their physical, emotional, and financial lives. This requires engaging in property division, discussing alimony and figuring out a child custody and visitation arrangement that furthers the best interests of any children involved.

Dealing with these matters can be challenging on one's own, but it can be even more complicated when children are involved. Yet, fear of how your children will react to news of divorce shouldn't stop you from pursuing marriage dissolution if it's right for you and your children. Hopefully the tips listed below will help you discuss divorce with your children so that their lives are disrupted as minimally as possible.

Child custody and medical expenses

80116502_S.jpgThe cost of raising a child is quite expensive. Daycare costs alone are enough to rock the financial stability of even those with well-paying jobs, but there are a whole host of other expenses that can be difficult to tackle. This is especially true when one parent has to go at it alone. Whether a child is born out of wedlock or his or her parents are divorced, divvying up the costs associated with raising a child can be of the utmost importance for all parties involved. However, each parent may have his or her own ideas as to the best arrangement.

One major area that needs to be addressed in a child support dispute is medical expenses pertaining to the child. Ideally, the custodial parent would insure the child so that most, if not all, medical expenses would be covered. The cost of that insurance could then be taken into account when a court orders child support. Yet, far too many families are being hit with medical bills that exceed insurance maximums or are not covered by insurance. In some instances the families simply don't have insurance. Who pays for these extraordinary medical expenses?

The basics of commingled assets

28342750_S.jpgAs this blog has discussed before, marital property is subject to the property division process when a couple divorces. This means that separate property is not subject to the property division process but there is a third category of property that can come up during divorce and property division that divorcing couples should be familiar with which is commingled property.

It can be helpful to look at the various definitions of property the family law court uses when dividing property. Marital property is divided during divorce according to property division rules. Marital property generally refers to property and assets acquired by the divorcing couple during marriage. Separate property, which is commonly not subject to the property division process, includes property one of the spouses entered the marriage with, inheritances, gifts and personal injury awards.

A brief look at legal custody

104081046_S.jpgFamily law matters can be complex. As we've discussed previously on this blog, child custody disputes can be highly confrontational when parent can't agree on what type of custody and visitation arrangement is best for their kid. In most cases, the focus of these disputes is on physical custody, which means where the child will live. However, physical custody is half of the child custody puzzle that must be addressed with care.

The other piece of the puzzle is legal custody. Legal custody is about having the right to make important life decisions on your child's behalf. So, a parent with legal custody is able to decide where a child will go to school, the medical care he or she will receive and even which religion the child will adhere to, if any. Of course, these decisions have a profound impact on the shape of a child's life, but they can also be meaningful to parents because they can reflect cultural and religious customs.

What is the collaborative divorce process?

114074844_S.jpgIt can be challenging to go through the ending of a marriage. Those individuals who are going through a divorce may feel uneasy airing their grievances in court. This is understandable given the fact that very personal details of each party's life may be exposed in open court so that a judge, who knows nothing about the family other than what is presented to him or her in court, can make important divorce decisions that may reshape both individuals' lives. Those who are deterred by this process may want to consider other options that are available to them.

Collaborative divorce is one of those options. As its name implies, this type of divorce relies on the parties to work together to resolve the divorce legal issues confronting them, whether they be regarding property division, alimony, child custody or child support. In most cases, both parties obtain their own attorney and then sit down together to hash out these issues. Unlike divorce mediation, there is no third-party in the room to help spur negotiations. Therefore, it is really up to the parties and their attorneys to be open, honest and somewhat flexible in their talks.

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