WHEN VISITING YOUR GRANDKIDS ISN’T ENOUGH

World champion gymnast Simone Biles wowed the world at the 2016 Rio Olympics. As she tumbled, flew, danced and spun her way through her routines, television announcers told the heartwarming story of how her grandparents adopted her and her sister because their birth mother is hopelessly addicted to drugs and alcohol and wasn’t capable of caring for them. At end of her routine, Biles’ maternal grandfather and his wife were shown in the stands watching their daughter shine and cheering her on.

Biles’ story with its heartbreaking beginning and triumphant ending is undoubtedly a best case scenario. But, setting aside the Olympic backdrop, the situation is far from unusual: The adoption of a grandchild or other family member happens thousands of times each year in Kentucky. Although reasons for adoption under these circumstances vary, it’s typical that the biological parents are incapable of taking care of their children. Rather than letting kids end up in foster homes, relatives legally adopt them.

Five things grandparents should consider when adopting grandchildren:

  • You must file a petition for adoption with the clerk of the probate court in the town you live, the town of the adoption agency, or the town where the child currently resides. A child does not need to be officially placed for adotion for a relative to initiate the process.
  • You will need to obtain consent from the birth parents whenever possible – it’s required by the state if they are still living. You may also need permission from the adoption agency in charge of the child as well.
  • There will be a number of fees. There are modest ones like adoption history and father registry that you need to pay along with court fees. There will be larger fees if you use an attorney, but it is usually money well spent.
  • Home studies are a common part of any adoption and you must complete the Family Preparation Assessment Program in Kentucky. During this process a representative from the county office of Health and Family Services will visit your home to evaluate your fitness to take on the responsibility of raising a child. Take it seriously.
  • There will be a period of supervision once the child is brought home. It is like the home study but now with the family together. The court determines for how long and whether it is a state or private agency that runs the supervision.

You may also want to talk to someone who has already gone through the process because no amount of research can replace the wisdom of someone who has been there. Look online for a list of grandparent support groups in Kentucky. As mentioned above, an attorney well-versed in adoption can help you through this challenging and sometimes unnerving process as well.

 

IMPORTANT FINANCIAL CONSIDERATIONS DURING DIVORCE

As Kentucky readers know, divorce is a complicated process that requires a person to consider and decide on many important financial matters. In the midst of this potentially overwhelming process, it is important to pursue the protection of certain savings accounts. College savings, set aside for future educational needs of the parties’ children, can be protected during divorce in order to ensure that these funds are distributed appropriately.

If a parent has put money into an account to pay for college education in the future, a financial agreement can ensure that the other spouse cannot use this money for any future children he or she may have. While there are various options in these situations, parents may find it easier to leave the money where it is, but take intentional steps to ensure that non-qualified withdrawals cannot be made. Specific options depend on the type of financial account in question. 

When putting protections in place, a parent can specify who may make a qualified withdrawal, consider state tax benefits, request duplicate statements and outline successor ownership. In some cases, an account can be divided or money can be placed in a trust. These savings are an important part of a marital estate and should be appropriately and thoughtfully addressed. 

When it comes to a child’s future, a parent cannot be too careful. Working with an experienced Kentucky lawyer is an excellent way to ensure that all rights and interests are protected during a divorce. A legal ally can also ensure that the end of a marriage does not have to disrupt or derail a child’s future education plans. 

Source: Forbes, “How To Protect Your College Savings During A Divorce“, Brian Boswell, Aug. 28, 2016

INCREASE IN DIVORCE FILINGS TYPICAL FOR AUGUST

When a Kentucky couple or individual has decided to move forward with the legal process of ending a marriage, the timing of the actual filing is often based on the time of year. It is common for divorce filings to increase immediately after the holidays are over, but studies have found that there is also an increase during the month of August. This is likely due to many Americans traveling in the months of June and July.

This late-summer increase in divorce seems to indicate that like the holidays, family vacations are important, and people may wait until they are over to formally separate or begin the legal process of divorce. Vacations can also be stressful and frustrating and may serve as confirmation that a divorce is needed. It is quite common for people to schedule a divorce around a big trip or planned time with family.

As August brings the beginning of school for many children, parents must consider how a divorce will impact their kids and their education. This process can be hard for children, and they tend to adjust better when they can maintain a strong relationship with both parents. Consideration of their needs and stability is a key component to protecting their long-term interests.

The timing of a divorce is important for many reasons. A Kentucky family law attorney can help an individual understand what lies ahead and plan for the future, even if he or she is not ready to file. By seeking a case evaluation, a person can better understand what to expect from the divorce process.

Source: The Atlantic, “The Months When Most People Get Divorced“, Olga Khazan, Aug. 23, 2016

HOW A HIGH ASSET DIVORCE IMPACTS RETIREMENT

The rate at which aging baby boomers are choosing to end their marriages continues to grow, impacting retirement and other significant financial matters. Many older couples have valuable assets and/or have set aside funds for retirement, but a divorce can significantly alter such plans. For many of these individuals, a high asset divorce is a complex process to navigate.

When baby boomers divorce, the most common disputes involve retirement, business interests and alimony. It is critical to know how to protect one’s financial interests when retirement is on the horizon. The complexity of these issues necessitates the assistance of a Kentucky attorney who is experienced in these matters, particularly pertaining to the long-term well-being of an older divorced individual.

Divorce proceedings typically involved the division of retirement savings, including pensions and 401(k) accounts. This, in addition to any spousal support that must be paid to a dependant spouse, can alter a person’s retirement timeline. Negotiation is key when it comes to finding a solution that allows a person to retire on time while still meeting his or her financial obligations. Of course, the details of these arrangements are based on the financial capabilities of the couple at the time of their divorce.

Any Kentucky divorce can be complicated, but it can be especially complex for people who have been married for decades. The financial intricacies of a high asset divorce can be daunting, but this process does not have to be faced alone. A baby boomer considering this step would be wise to seek legal counsel regarding the protection of his or her financial interests.

Source: Fox Business, “Can You Lose Your 401k in a Divorce?“, Casey Dowd, Aug. 11, 2016

SOLVING PROBLEMS IN A HIGH-ASSET DIVORCE

There are often business and tax consequences associated with a divorce that includes high-valued assets. It may be crucial to determine the effects a divorce might have on tax liability before proceeding to court. An experienced family law attorney would be able to review a situation and explain any options that might be available toward a positive settlement. Some people also choose to enlist the aid of a certified financial planner in addition to acting alongside experienced legal guidance.

 

Many couples who divorce wish to avoid lengthy litigation and contentious courtroom debates. Some have had great success using alternative methods of dispute resolution. Mediation or collaborative law has proved beneficial in many cases, while others have found that such means were not appropriate to their situations. Determining what form of conflict resolution best suits the particular needs of an individual circumstance may be easier when assistance is sought from an experienced attorney who has addressed such issues and helped others accomplish their immediate- and long-term goals.

When high-asset divorce disputes are unable to be resolved outside a Kentucky courtroom, it is often necessary to seek intervention through litigation. It is advisable for anyone considering this form of resolution to first speak with an attorney who has handled other high-asset situations. This may increase one’s chances of achieving a favorable outcome.