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St. Charles Divorce Law Blog

Can you protect your assets in a long-term relationship?

It is becoming more and more common for couples to live together before they get married. It allows Missouri couples to get to know one another well and determine if their relationship has a chance to survive in the long run. it has the added benefit of allowing couples to split electricity, gas and cable bills and share vehicles and invest in property together. The big mistake couples make when living together is not considering what will happen to their assets and debts if they do not end up together.

Engaged people are encouraged to enter into prenuptial agreements before getting married as a way to finalize property division should the couple end up divorced but cohabiting people rarely consider coming to an agreement about how to divide the property, assets and debts they have racked up over a number of years.

Millenials approach to divorce different from earlier generations

With all the discussion regarding high divorce rates across the country, Missouri residents may be surprised to learn that it is actually the lowest it has been since 1980s. This could be explained by the fact that marriage rates are also very late - only 26 percent of millennials are married, according to the Pew Research Center. The approach to marriage has also evolved over time, according to experts.

Though millennials are waiting to get married, they do not place any less value on the tradition - it is just as important to them as their earlier generations. The difference though is that when a millennial couple determines their marriage isn't working for them, they don't wait around as long as their parents did before getting a divorce. Though open to more diversity in a marriage, they don't waste their time if they think their marriage is ending.

Working with clients to get an equitable distribution of property

A Missouri prenuptial agreement is one way that couples determine the distribution of their assets -- they divide up property, income and debt before getting married to ensure there will be little to contest, if the marriage ends. Another way couples separate their assets and debts is while they are married, by entering into a post-nuptial agreement. However, for various reasons, not everyone enters into these types of agreements and leave themselves open for legal disputes, if they end up divorcing.

Courts first have to determine marital property and separate property. As mentioned previously, one of the factors to consider the separation date. Similarly, debts must be separated as well.

Why is the date of separation important?

As was mentioned previously on the St. Charles Divorce Law Blog, the date on which assets are valued for property division in a divorce is am important decision-the value can change depending on the date chosen. The two options generally available to couples are either the date of separation or the date of the trial. Building on this, it is important to understand the importance of the date of separation in the context of family law decisions during the divorce.

So what is the date of separation? Different states define it in different ways. Some use the date one spouse physically relocates from the marital place of residence or from the marital bedroom to a spare bedroom in the house. It could even be the date one spouse informs the other about their intention to get a divorce. Other states consider the date of the separation as the date the final separation agreement is signed or the divorce papers are filed in court. Unfortunately, when the divorce is not amicable, a couple may not be able to agree on what the DOS is-one spouse may say they physically relocated but did not change their address or that they did not know the declaration of the intention to divorce was a serious statement.

Age, number of marriages, genetics factors in divorce

Most people know that a marriage is never easy- it takes hard work on part of both of the spouses to make it work. This is perhaps why individuals who have been divorced before or have divorced parents hesitate to tie the knot, and others wait until they are much older before getting married. But could they be setting themselves up for failure? According to experts, these same reasons could be factors that could increase their likelihood of getting divorced.

According to data obtained by the CDC, first marriages are 35 percent likely to end in divorce within 10 years, whereas 40 percent of second marriages are likely to end within the same period. Similarly, age could play a role in how long the marriage lasts-though many people know that getting married young is a mistake, waiting too long to get married could be equally risky. Couples who got married after the age of 32 were more likely to end up divorced than those between late twenties and early thirties.

Why does it matter when assets are valued?

Divorce brings with it many complicated family law issues and property division is one of them. When a couple separates, their marital assets are divided amongst them depending on the property divisions laws of that state. In order to ensure that asset division takes place property, it is essential that those assets be valued. This seems like a straightforward process-the parties choose a date and the assets are valued as of that date. Unfortunately, it is not as straightforward at all and in fact can end up being quite complex.

Missouri residents may not be aware that the valuation date poses the biggest challenge in the valuation process. What does this mean? The valuation date is the point in time on which the asset will be given a specific dollar amount. The value of the asset can differ greatly based on the valuation date. It can be either the date of separation or the date of the trial and since there can be a long delay between these two dates, the value of the asset can vary greatly.

Criminal convictions and their effect on child custody

Many Missouri residents may not know that as of 2000, six percent of adults were convicted felons and if the trend remains the same, one in every 15 persons will have spent some time in prison. The repercussions of felonies are not unheard of but one aspect many may not realize is how it affects child custody decisions in the event of a divorce.

Custody refers to the right of parents to participate in making important daily decisions with regards to their children-this includes those about religious training, schooling, healthcare and education. Courts often make custody decisions based on the best interests of the child and this includes looking at many factors, including felony convictions. When considering convictions, the court looks at the nature of the crime, prior history, victim of the offense and nature of the sentence.

Establish paternity to help your children get what they deserve

When it comes to family, nothing is more important than your children. Watching them grow into full adults is a rewarding experience for many. You help them shape their values, get through difficulty and support them in their successes and their failures. They are your legacy.

Unfortunately, some fathers can be denied a hand in raising their child in various circumstances. It is becoming more and more common for a father to want to support the child financially or get visitation rights. If this is the case, a father deserves a chance to prove himself ready and able to help out his child.

What will happen to my business in the divorce?

Starting up a new business takes a toll on a person's health and can eventually even affect their marriage. While a Missouri resident is working hard to start up their business, their spouse may be on the way out of their marriage, leaving the other person confused, emotionally distraught and financially vulnerable. With between 40 and 50 percent of all first marriages ending in divorce in the country, the end of a marriage is not so out of the question that one should not take precautions to protect the business they have worked so hard to create.

If a divorce seems imminent, then one of the most important steps spouses should take is keeping good records and keeping the family finances separate from the business ones. This means not to borrow from the family account to pay for the business fuel. In addition to this, it might be beneficial to pay oneself a good salary from the onset-the more assets available, the more there are to split.

What is an unconscionable prenuptial agreement?

The period between an engagement and the wedding ceremony is perhaps the most romantic time for a couple-the anticipation, excitement and elation that one feels before getting married is unparalleled and simply talking to one's future spouse is a delightful experience. But when the conversation turns to a prenuptial agreement, all the romance goes out of the equation. Discussing how to divide property and debt in the event of a divorce, before the couple even gets married, is a damper on all joyful emotion.

Even though marriage is a financial partnership in addition to a romantic one, many couples avoid the topic because they don't want to taint the occasion with discussions of the marriage ending. However, confronting these issues head-on early, before they crop up during a disagreement later or cause family law issues in the event of a divorce, is a sound decision. And getting an experienced attorney on one's side to handle the intricate details can ensure the couple doesn't have to get into it with one another. Without a prenuptial agreement, the courts in Missouri will decide how to divide the marital property according to what they consider is just.

Joseph J. Porzenski
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