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St. Charles Divorce & Family Law Blog by Stange Law Firm, PC

Protecting fathers' rights protects children too

Becoming a parent can feel a bit overwhelming sometimes. There is a lot to know about raising a child, and expectant parents may not know where to turn. Across Missouri, in addition to pregnancy outreach programs for expectant mothers, special programs just for dads are available too. These programs can help new dads learn the ropes and become educated about fathers' rights.

According to the volunteers who provide these critical programs, many new dads are not aware of their rights as the biological father of a child. If a man is uncertain about his legal rights as a parent, he may be tempted to allow the mother to do all the decision-making, under the assumption that she is more knowledgeable about what might be best for a child. This can lead to contention between a child's parents later in life, and dads are a crucial part of a child's life. 

Prenuptial agreement can prevent future marriage trouble

115334749_s.jpgPlanning a wedding can be both stressful and exciting, and as the big day approaches, couples try to make sure everything is in order so that the ceremony can go off without a hitch. The ceremony is just the first step in what will hopefully be a long and happy marriage, and Missouri couples may want to do some preparation for the long haul. One way to prevent future marriage trouble is to have a prenuptial agreement in place before a couple says "I do."

Though recent trends suggest that millennials are utilizing prenuptial agreements in a higher percentage than previous generations, people may not be fully informed of the benefits of these agreements, often referred to as prenups. Most people know that a prenup is a legally binding document that provides stipulations for what happens to certain assets like money or property in the event of divorce. That is really only one possible aspect of a prenup, and at least a quarter of recently divorced people admit they wish they had known more and looked into one before tying the knot.

You may not want to delay high asset divorce

16969999_s.jpgMissouri couples have faced unprecedented stress over the past several weeks. Schools, businesses, and even courts have been closed due to the state's response to a global health crisis. For couples that were considering ending a marriage, unexpected circumstances like unemployment or other financial matters may have put divorce plans on the back burner as households entered survival mode. Experts predict a surge in divorces in the coming months, and for people going through a high asset divorce, it may make good sense to act sooner rather than later. 

High asset divorces often entail weeks, months or sometimes even years of legal process. Many people facing similar circumstances may feel stuck in their current marriage because most courts are only hearing emergency cases and remain closed to the public. Many people are also stuck in the house with the spouse they plan to divorce, so talking about an upcoming split may cause even more stress. 

Timely action key amid child support woes

34690105_s (1).jpgMissouri parents that feel overwhelmed or apprehensive about financial matters are not alone. Thousands of hard-working adults suddenly found themselves facing loss of employment amid business closures and shutdowns. Parents with a child support obligation may feel frustrated and worried that they may be unable to pay the amount ordered without their regular paycheck. 

Fortunately, a parent can take steps to remedy the situation. A person who is ordered to pay child support, called an obliger, can request to have his or her financial situation re-evaluated immediately. Just like when the original order was put into place, the court will consider the income and expenses of both parties and other determining factors to update the order to an amount that is more manageable under the current circumstances. 

Will your spouse's back child support affect you?

70448784_s (3).jpgEach family is unique, and in many households, one or both spouses have children from a previous relationship. In many marriages, a spouse may have child support obligations to another party. Some Missouri couples report frustration with the stimulus payments that were recently issued by the federal government because if one spouse owes back child support, the other spouse may not get a payment either. 

The stimulus checks have a stipulation that states that the payment will be applied to back any child support balance if a person is in arrears. The back balance clause kicks in at a certain amount which varies by state, but in Missouri, a person must only be behind by $500 before the stimulus is affected. Some residents feel that the guidelines are unclear, and express concern that they do not know if they should expect a stimulus payment or not. 

High asset divorce and your stimulus check

81386394_s.jpgMillions of Americans are receiving a stimulus check from the government, meant to help offset financial struggles many adults are facing due to business closures and loss of wages brought on by the spread of the coronavirus. While this is certainly a relief for people that are struggling to stay on top of household bills and other necessary expenses, the distribution process may be flawed. For Missouri residents that have gone through a high asset divorce in the last tax year, receiving the stimulus money may be a headache. 

The stimulus checks are being deposited based on information from a person's 2019 tax return. If 2019 tax information is not available because a return has not been processed or a person had not yet filed, the 2018 tax information for an individual will be used. If a person has not yet completed his or her 2019 taxes and was divorced in the past year, the stimulus check may very well land in the account of a former spouse. 

Covid-19 and child support

141367207_s.jpgMissouri parents are facing new challenges during the national response to the COVID-19 pandemic. A previous post ("Is your parenting plan ready for COVID-19?," March 18, 2020) provided information about handling custody issues while kids are home instead of in school. Now, many parents face another issue that affects thousands of families. Child support payments ensure that parents provide financial support, but the public health crisis has many parents in a bind. 

One Missouri father made headlines when he expressed concerns that he would fall behind on child support payments while he is unable to work. Many businesses are closed, and employees are either working less hours or not at all. The man explained that he may not be able to afford his regular payments, but did not want his child to suffer due to his own financial hardships. Currently, there is no relief for parents facing similar circumstances. 

Visitation in the age of social distancing

142579751_s.jpgMissouri parents may be feeling especially stressed lately. We are are living in unprecedented times, and families may feel like each day there are new restrictions and guidelines that can affect daily life. For parents that have a visitation order, spending time with a child may suddenly be a difficult decision. 

In many places, the courts are closed except for emergency situations. Many households have had to change the weekly routine on the fly, particularly where schools are closed and parents may be working from home. If a parent is still working outside the home, child care arrangements may be necessary for a child who is suddenly home all day. 

Stimulus check may be withheld for late child support

143969228_s.jpgFor many Missouri families, the past few weeks have been a bit chaotic. Parents that try to keep up with national news have found that the headlines are changing quickly, and it has become difficult to stay abreast of the latest legislation. Congress recently approved a stimulus package to help taxpaying citizens while many schools and businesses are closed, but parents that owe back child support may not be eligible to receive these funds. 

At last calculation, nearly six million American parents are owed child support, but less than half have received the full amount owed. This indicates that millions of custodial parents must find other ways to provide basic necessities for their children. Missouri courts calculate child support on a case by case basis, and when a parent fails to fulfill his or her obligation, a child may not have access to the important things the payments are supposed to be used for. 

Child custody bill does not pass state senate

143477452_s.jpgMissouri parents may have heard that pending legislation may affect their families. A bill proposing changes to child custody laws within the state made headlines as lawmakers in support of the bill explained why in most cases, 50/50 custody should be the norm. Some parents may have postponed legal action to see if the law would pass. 

When it came time for the senate to vote, the bill was met with opposition. Those against the changes said that granting equal custody to both parents may increase arguments between the two. Others felt like children in such situations may feel as if they do not have a permanent home, and are merely staying with one parent or the other depending on the day. 

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