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St. Charles Family Law Blog

Are you financially prepared for divorce?

If you’re contemplating a divorce, it’s a good idea to understand your financial standing before you begin the process. A divorce is not only emotionally draining but financially complex as well.

The process of disentangling your assets and property can get complicated. Thankfully, there are things you can do to help pave a smoother path forward financially.

What is a petition for child custody?

There are some situations where a Missouri court may establish child support orders but not establish custody orders. Another common situation is when you have established paternity but custody was never set by the court. If you are in either situation, then you may need to file a petition for child custody, which according to the Missouri Courts, is a petition requesting a hearing for custody of your child.

This petition allows you to create a parenting plan, which you include with the petition. This plan outlines the details of custody and visitation. You will explain what your rights are and what the other parent's rights are when it comes to parenting and taking care of your child.

Navigating court proceedings for fathers who want full custody

In most divorce cases that involve children, the court prefers a parenting plan that includes both parents actively participating in their offspring’s upbringing. Missouri is no different. However, there are times when it is in the best interest of the child for you, as their father, to have sole custody. At Turken & Porzenski, L.L.C. our experienced attorneys work with clients to ensure the best possible outcome for them and their children.

According to Verywell Family, sole custody, and sometimes even joint custody for fathers, is difficult to obtain. Here are a few tips that can help the court view giving you custody in a more positive light.

  • Make sure child support is up-to-date and on-time. Make sure you have records proving payments, even in informal arrangements. The court views a good track record favorably.
  • Maintain close ties and a good relationship with your child. Active participation in your child’s life is crucial. Attend school functions, touch base with your child’s teachers and be there for them when they need you.
  • Have a regular visitation schedule and stick to it. Keep a record of past visit dates and develop a parenting plan that can be submitted when the court decides on child custody arrangements.
  • Be realistic about your capabilities. If you have multiple responsibilities outside family obligations, can you handle full custody of your child?

Equitable distribution of property in complex divorces

Regardless of whether your Missouri divorce proceedings are amicable or contentious, disentangling the finances and ensuring asset division is equitable can be challenging. This is especially true when the process involves a business, children and high-value assets. Turken & Porzenski, L.L.C, often represents clients who need experience navigating complex divorce proceedings.

Dulin, Ward & Dewald, Inc report that forensic accountants can help determine an appropriate settlement by using discovery techniques designed to find concealed assets. In situations where your spouse controls the marital assets or owns a business, there is the potential for understatement of income, property values and assets.

How are dogs handled in a divorce?

If you are like many people in Missouri, your dog is a valued member of your family. For some people, a dog is much like a child. You love it and do anything to ensure it is safe and happy. If you and your spouse decide to divorce, it can create a situation concerning the dog. Perhaps you both want to keep it and it becomes a point of contention during the divorce proceedings. At this point, the court will weigh in.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, courts see dog custody disputes often. There are a few different ways a court may handle your case depending on the situation. If either of you can prove you owned the dog before you got married, then that person is most likely to get awarded the dog. However, if you got the dog during your marriage and you have children, the court may set up a visitation schedule that mirrors the schedule of the children. For example, if you have your children on the weekdays and your ex-spouse gets them on the weekends, then you have the dog on the weekdays and the dog goes with them to the other parent's house on the weekends.

Understand the basics of spousal support

When you and your spouse divorce in Missouri, you may wonder if you will receive spousal support and if so, how much these payments might be. Sometimes alimony is not as straightforward as child support, though. At Turken and Porzenski, L.L.C., we understand that you have many questions and are ready to help you find the answers.

You may receive alimony if your circumstances meet key requirements. According to FindLaw, a court may award spousal support if you cannot support yourself with the salary you receive from your current job or if you do not have the means to earn a living. Additionally, you might receive alimony if you cannot work because you have a child who needs constant care.

Who gets the ring in a divorce?

When you are in love and decide to get married, one partner typically buys a ring for the other to propose marriage. Engagement rings are often expensive or sentimental in nature. They become a symbol of the love between you as a couple. However, when the marriage ends in divorce, the engagement ring can be a disputed piece of property.

According to the Huffington Post, most courts consider engagement rings gifts. It could rule is as a conditional gift that is given on the condition of marriage, which if you break up before you marry, the court could issue returned to the buyer. However, if you did marry, you met the condition. It can also be considered absolute, which means it is a gift without strings attached. So, even if you don't marry, you can keep it. When it comes to returning the ring after you have married and divorced, though, courts are usually in agreement that does not have to be returned, regardless of how much it cost.

What to do with your business during divorce

Going into business with your spouse seemed like a good idea at first, but then your marriage fell apart and now your company might be at risk, too. However, just because your marriage did not work, that does not mean your business will fail, too.

But now that your marriage is over, what happens to the company you ran together? Fortunately, you have a number of options.

Keeping your relationship with your child despite your divorce

You and your spouse are in the throes of divorcing each other and you are noticing that this significant change in your life is beginning to affect your relationship with your children. As soon as you recognize tension beginning to surface, it is imperative that you address your concerns in a manner that is mature, respectful and genuine as you strive to maintain a healthy relationship with your offspring. At T&P, we have helped many families in Missouri to cope with the unsettling changes of divorce. 

While you may be tempted to unload your sorrows and concerns about your failed relationship or unleash a barrage of negative commentary about your former spouse's wrongdoings, participating in these types of conversations with your children around can be incredibly damaging. One of the most important things to remember is to never speak ill about your children's other parent while they are around. 

Proving your ex is in a supportive relationship

As you are well aware of, marriage involves quite a bit of sacrifice by both parties involved. Your spouse may have sacrificed their career pursuits in St. Charles to stay home and run your household while you pursued yours. Knowing this, you may have little issue in paying them spousal maintenance until they are able to support themselves. Your obligation to pay maintenance also ends if your ex-spouse remarries. Yet many of those that we here at Turken & Porzesnski LLC have worked with have come to us with concerns that their ex-spouses may be purposely cohabitating in order to retain their maintenance. If you share the same fears, then you should also know how to address them. 

Missouri state court rulings have established the following standard when it comes to continuing a maintenance obligation in cases of cohabitation: "Where the relationship has achieved a permanence sufficient for the trial court to conclude that it has become a substitute for marriage, equitable principles warrant a conclusion that the spouse has abandoned his or her rights to support from the prior marriage and is looking to the new relationship in that regard." 

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