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A common question for parents who are ending a marriage is, where will the children live? Many families want the most fair custody arrangement that is also in the best interest of the children. The two main types of child custody are legal and physical. Missouri residents will probably understand that there are a few different ways to combine the child care responsibilities within the two types of custody. 

Legal custody refers to the right and responsibility to make decisions for the child when it comes to health, education and welfare. Physical custody refers to the parent who will live with the child. A person who understands the difference between legal and physical custody may be better prepared to negotiate a custody agreement with the other parent. 

Sole custody is the arrangement that would give both legal and physical custody to one parent over the other, and typically grant visitation to the noncustodial parent. Joint custody is typically some version of sharing the custody between the two parents, although not necessarily a 50/50 split. A judge could decide on alternating, serial or even third party custody for a family, depending on the circumstances. 

Some families will do best when they make up their own version of child custody, customizing a solution that works the best for their individual lifestyles. Many people hope to co-parent after divorce and maintain the best interest of the kids. In Missouri, many people choose to hire an experienced family law attorney to help them agree upon arrangements that meet their needs. 

Source: goodmenproject.com, "Child Custody 101", Armin Brott, Jan. 30, 2018

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Raising children can be expensive, but fear of being the sole financial supporter should not deter Missouri parents from seeking divorce. In most cases, custodial parents in Missouri will usually receive child support payments from their exes. However, most judges will take more than just primary custody into account when determining an appropriate payment plan.

Income is typically the main factor that impacts the amount of child support. Since children have the right to benefit from both of their parents' incomes, a high-earning custodial parent will usually not diminish what another parent must pay. The guidelines will instead focus on the payer's income, and what he or she can afford.

A child's needs will also affect the final support amount. Judges will consider child care costs, insurance, housing, school fees and other related expenses. Individuals with similar incomes but different child-related costs might end up paying different amounts of support. A parent's debt, other child support obligations or additional financial constraints may also affect the final amount.

Child support is sometimes unfairly portrayed as little more than extra cash used to pad the wallets of custodial parents. The reality is that raising children is expensive, and these payments go towards the multitude of costs associated with that. Obtaining a court-ordered child support agreement is essential to ensuring the financial stability of children after a divorce, but navigating Missouri family law courts can be confusing and time consuming. It is important that parents have an experienced counsel on their side to provide vigorous representation for their children's best interests.

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For families who are unable to have children through conventional methods, surrogacy may be a viable option. Many Missouri parents have wonderful relationships with the women who serve as surrogates, but a good relationship does not replace the legal protections found within a surrogacy agreement. A contract between a surrogate and the soon-to-be parents is essential for protecting everyone involved.

A surrogacy agreement must include basic legal information, and may also include some wishes of those involved. Basic legal information can actually be quite involved and goes far beyond the parents' and surrogate's names. Information regarding psychological and physical health exams, use of assisted reproductive technology, health insurance information and timing of prenatal medical exams should all be included in any comprehensive surrogacy contract.

Soon-to-be parents may also choose to include a dietary agreement. Surrogates are also usually required to abstain from tobacco, alcohol and illegal substances. If both parties agree, other aspects of health and well-being can be included in the agreement, although it should be within reason for the surrogate to accomplish.

Acting as a surrogate can be a selfless act, but even acts of goodwill require protection. Missouri parents need to be certain that their surrogate is acting in a way that is in their child's best interests and that they will have full parental rights after birth. On the other hand, surrogates need tools to protect themselves from being taken advantage of or held to unreasonable standards. A surrogacy agreement addresses both sides of the situation, making sure that everyone involved has their interests and rights protected.

Source: FindLaw, "Checklist: Surrogacy Contract", Jan. 16, 2018

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Hiding assets during divorce proceedings is sadly not that uncommon. Missouri couples who are going through a high net worth divorce may understandably feel a strong urge to protect the assets that are most important to them, but some individuals take it too far. Although hidden assets are certainly nothing new, some divorcees are using newer technologies to conceal marital property.

Bitcoin is an unregulated digital currency that provides anonymity to users. It made its debut in 2009 and experienced significant growth over 2017 as many people found its claim of being untraceable appealing. For a soon-to-be ex-spouse who might be trying to hide as many assets as possible, the anonymity and inability to trace make Bitcoin an ideal place to stash money until the divorce is finalized.

This can be scary for those who are worried that their spouse might conceal assets and financial interests. However, finding Bitcoins purchased by an ex might be difficult or even impossible. Instead, it is a good idea to watch out for warning signs that a partner might be trying to hide money. Overpaying taxes, purchasing an excessive number of gift cards or constantly buying and returning items are all indicators that someone is hiding important financial assets from the division process.

Divorce is an emotional time that can unfortunately bring out the worst in some people. Since there are usually significant personal interests on the line in a high net worth divorce, individuals should be certain that they remain vigilant when approaching asset division. Many people in Missouri find that it can be helpful to do so under the guidance of experienced counsel, who may be well-versed in spotting the signs of hidden assets.

Source: Bloomberg BNA, "Bitcoin the New Mattress Full of Cash for Divorce Cheats", David McAfee, Dec. 28, 2017

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When Missouri parents decide to divorce, there are a number of factors that need to be considered. In addition to who gets what and who is responsible for what, decisions regarding the care and upbringing of the child or children must be considered. Child custody is an essential part of the equation.

In many instances, the parents are able to work out custody arrangements. An agreement is reached and becomes a part of the divorce decree if the parents are married. In other instances, the parents are unable to reach an agreement, and the courts must decide the issues. When this happens, the judge must make a final determination based upon what he or she believes to be in the best interest of the child.

While one parent may be granted physical custody, many times, both parents are granted joint legal custody. Joint legal custody allows both parents to make decisions regarding the child's health, education, religion and more. In addition to allowing both parents to have input in the child's upbringing, joint legal custody allows both parents to seek medical treatment for the child and to have access to the child's medical and educational records.

Physical custody refers to which parent the child will live with. In some cases, one parent retains physical custody while the other has stated visitation rights. In other cases, the parents share joint physical custody. When this occurs, the child spends time equally with both parents.

The type of child custody granted to Missouri parents depends upon what is considered to be in the best interest of the child. In a perfect situation, the parents will be able to reach an agreement and work together throughout the child's life. In reality, each parent will want to discuss his or her options and concerns with experienced legal counsel prior to making any final decision.

Source: family.findlaw.com, "Child Custody Basics", Accessed on Dec. 26, 2017

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A home is one of the biggest purchases that a person will ever make. However, a home can also be one of the most difficult marital assets to divide during a divorce. When considering who -- if anyone -- will maintain ownership of a marital home, it is important to consider all of the possible implications.

Missouri is an equitable division state, which means that each spouse has the right to a fair share of the marital assets, even if that share is not an even 50 percent of shared property. Since a home is usually one of the most valuable assets that married couples share, this may take up a significant portion of a person's distributed assets. This is particularly true if a family law judge determines that a person's equitable portion is only about one-third.

Parents, however, might have more sentimental interests than financial ones. Parents with physical custody of their children often keep the home as a way to provide a sense of stability and normalcy. However, there are still financial implications to consider, including the cost of upkeep, taxes and affording the mortgage on a reduced income.

Dividing marital assets can be much more complicated in situations where both couples want the house. Homes represent many an array of different things to people, including stability or financial success, and it can be difficult to part with these feelings. When asset division involves high-value assets or complex marital property, divorcees are usually well-advised to work under the guidance of a counsel who is well-versed in Missouri family law.

Source: FindLaw, "Divorce Property Division FAQ", Accessed on Dec. 20, 2017

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Unlike their parents, millennials in Missouri tend to put off marriage, prioritizing other aspects of life. However, this does not mean that millennials are swearing off marriage altogether. Many people in this generation want to establish themselves in their career or build a more solid financial foundation before saying "I do." A carefully worded prenuptial agreement may be essential for protecting assets accrued before marriage.

In the past, prenups have largely been used by those of considerable wealth, but high-value inheritances are no longer the main driving force behind these documents. A person's hard-earned business interests, careers and other personal assets are still important and worthy of protection in the vent of a divorce. A study revealed that most people agree, with the top item covered by prenuptial agreements listed as separate property, and the third being future asset division.

Prenups not only protect a person's separate property, they also protect spouses from one another. Many millennials shoulder hefty amounts of debt. Student loans, credit card bills and other debts may all be included during asset division, even if some of that debt was taken on by only one person or before the start of the marriage. Using a prenup to carefully outline which party is responsible for which debts can ensure that no one takes on an unnecessary load. It is not uncommon for prenups to state that only the person who took on the debt will be responsible for paying it off.

Whether an individual has significant personal assets that he or she would like protected, or is concerned about the amount of debt a future spouse is bringing into a marriage, a prenup can help. The protections afforded by a prenuptial agreement are invaluable to virtually everyone in Missouri. However, since family law can be a complicated matter, it is important to ensure that all prenuptial agreements are carefully and thoroughly worded so that they are enforceable.

Source: refinery29.com, "Prenuptial Agreement Popularity Rise Among Millennials", Sarah Midkiff, Dec. 5, 2017

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Working parents in Missouri likely already understand just how complicated day care matters can be. From finding the right facility to dealing with day care-related illnesses, one of the biggest issues parents face is paying the hefty bill. For divorced parents, this payment can usually be addressed and included in their child support order.

Day care tends to be one of the biggest expenses for working parents, and that expense can be an even greater burden for those who are divorced and living on only one income. However, since child support calculations can be incredibly complicated, few parents are aware that they can include the cost of day care. Many parents find this an easier approach than attempting to split the day care bill.

Whether the primary caregiver was not initially working or if day care costs were left out of the initial child support calculations in error, parents can petition the court for a modification. However, just because a person has gone through the process before does not mean that requesting a modification will be easy. Any time that someone must go through the family law court can be understandably overwhelming and confusing, and is usually best done with experienced guidance.

The cost of a quality day care in Missouri can be seemingly outrageous, and many parents feel the burden of shelling out for care for their children. However, divorced parents -- especially those who act as primary caregivers -- do not have to shoulder these costs alone. We have guided countless parents through the process of ensuring that day care costs are correctly calculated as part of child support payments.

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Keegan-Michael Key might be most well-known in Missouri for his comedy work, but he has more recently made headlines for the end of his marriage. His high net worth divorce from Cynthia Blaise was finalized several years after the initial filing. The couple did not have any children, and although they did not have to deal with custody or child support matters, Peele's high net-worth likely complicated the process.

The couple married in Dec. 1998, and separated in Nov. 2015. Although Blaise works as both a dialect coach and an actress, Peele seems to have greatly out-earned his ex-wife. With a gross annual income of over $2 million, the divorce settlement included an order for him to pay alimony to Blaise.

Most spousal support orders are temporary, but certain factors can necessitate a longer or permanent plan. In this instance, Blaise will receive support until either her or Peele's death, or unless she remarries. The current support order requires that Peele pay $34,000 each month, and he must also make a one-time payment of approximately $655,650. This payment, along with a timeshare, vehicle and likely other assets, apparently comprise the bulk of the property division issues.

Being involved in a high net worth divorce can be understandably stressful. Both parties likely understand what is at stake and how marital assets of significant value can impact their futures. In most instances, it is a good idea for Missouri couples to take a measured approach to the divorce process. By proceeding with caution and taking the time to fully understand each asset involved in the division process, individuals can make sure that their financial future after divorce is as secure as possible.

Source: People, "Keegan-Michael Key and Cynthia Blaise Finalize Divorce Days Before He Announces Engagement", Natalie Stone, Nov. 16, 2017

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Missouri residents going through divorce likely understand that change is an inevitable part of life. In many instances -- such as in an unhappy marriage that ends in divorce -- change can be a good thing. However, almost all change should usually be considered carefully for how it may impact a person's future. With potential tax reform on the horizon, those going through a high asset divorce should be aware of the possible changes to alimony.

Alimony -- also called spousal support -- are payments made from one ex-spouse to another following their divorce. These payments are usually temporary, and they are typically required when one spouse greatly out-earned the other. Currently, individuals who pay alimony can deduct those expenses on their taxes, and the receiving party must claim their alimony as part of their taxable income.

The proposed changes to alimony in the current tax reform bill would change the current setup. Alimony recipients would no longer claim their spousal support as taxable income, making it tax-free income. However, those who make alimony payments would no longer be able to deduct these payments on their federal taxes. If passed into law, the bill would not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2018, and all divorces completed before that time would remain unaffected.

Taxes are often a huge consideration during high asset divorce proceedings. Missouri individuals who pay alimony tend to be in higher tax brackets than their ex-spouses, and the deducting and claiming of spousal support usually provides certain benefits to both. Divorces that will be completed before the end of the year do not need to consider the possible implications of this change, but contentious divorces that may be ongoing should take into account how tax reform could potentially impact their financial futures.

Source: Forbes, "How Tax Reform Could Radically Change Divorce", Nov. 9, 2017

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