CREDITORS ARE NOT BOUND BY YOUR DIVORCE SETTLEMENT

During a marriage, many Kentucky couples take out debts such as car loans, mortgages and credit cards together. While there may be combined financial resources to cover these debts, this may not be an issue. However, in a divorce, those joint debts can have significant impact on each party’s future.

Whether a Kentucky couple decides to use collaborative divorce, mediation or the courts to come to an agreement regarding a divorce settlement, each party may be assigned certain debts to pay. Each former spouse may be under the impression that this contract is enough to alleviate his or her responsibility for a particular debt. After all, the divorce settlement was approved by the court, which makes it an order that each of them must follow.

That may be true, but that does not mean that creditors are bound by the agreement, or even care about it. What creditors care about is that both parties agreed to pay the debt. If a spouse takes on a debt in the divorce but fails to pay it, the creditor can, and more than likely will, look to the other spouse for payment. It will take more than just making the agreement to relieve each spouse from paying the debts assumed by the other.

Proper division of debts is just one of the many reasons why going it alone in a divorce could be hazardous to a party’s post-divorce financial health. Without the appropriate understanding of the additional steps that need to be taken in order to protect each individual’s financial future, disaster could be around any corner. Instead, it may be a good idea to seek out some advice and assistance regarding how to deal with the marital debts in a way that allows each party the best opportunity of achieving some financial security in the future.

Source: fool.com, “You Could Get Stuck With Your Spouse’s Debt in Divorce“, Christy Bieber, Nov. 16, 2017

 

PATERNITY LAWS GIVE UNWED MEN A CHANCE

Lots of Kentucky couples do not feel the need to get married to solidify their relationships. As time goes by, they may have a child. While the relationship is going strong, the fact that the couple failed to legally establish the paternity of their child. However, if the relationship sours and the couple decides to go their separate ways, it could quickly become an issue.

Kentucky law does not recognize an unwed, biological father as the legal father of a child. This means that you would not have any legal rights to your child. This means that a Kentucky court will not entertain your requests for visitation or joint custody. On the other hand, the mother of your child cannot ask the court for child support.

In order to rectify the situation, it will be necessary to file a paternity action. This proceeding legally solidifies your place as the father of your child. Once this happens, you can then ask the court to determine matters including custody, visitation and child support. You will also enjoy all of the other rights and responsibilities that come with being legally recognized as a father.

In order to make sure that everything goes right, you may want to talk to a family law attorney. Any court proceeding requires filing documents and meeting deadlines. A mistake during the process could mean unnecessary delays or end up getting the case dismissed. In addition, once paternity is established, an attorney could help with making sure that you can be in your child’s life and that child support is ordered in the correct amount.

PLANNING TO SPLIT A RETIREMENT ACCOUNT IN A DIVORCE? READ ON

Planning for retirement is often a main focus for many Kentucky couples. Not only do they dream of days when they can travel, spend more time with family or just stop working, but they also focus on how they will get there. This is where building retirement funds comes in, and during the marriage, both parties may concentrate on building this nest egg. However, in a divorce, that nest egg can become a point of contention.

Partly due to the costs associated with a traditional divorce, many couples are avoiding the courtroom like the plague. Instead, they are working out their issues on their own. This may be admirable to many, but there are also significant financial risks in doing so, especially when it comes to retirement accounts.

There is often more to dividing retirement funds than just transferring or withdrawing money from the account. If not done properly, the parties could end up with high tax bills that put them in a precarious financial position. What many Kentucky couples may not know is that there are ways to avoid paying the taxes and penalties associated with dividing these accounts. Internet research only takes people so far since many of the documents necessary to appropriately divide retirement accounts requires particular language.

Any upfront costs will more than likely be worth it when the parties find out what the tax bill would be without documents such a qualified domestic relations orders, which are needed to avoid the tax ramifications of dividing a 401(k), for example. This is just one area where attempting a “do-it-yourself” divorce can end up being more costly in the future. Hesitating to hire a divorce attorney due to the cost could easily backfire when it comes to the division of retirement accounts and other assets.

Source: USA Today, “Your Money: Splitting retirement accounts is tricky for DIY divorce“, Beth Pinsker, Nov. 6, 2017

GETTING THROUGH THE HOLIDAYS AFTER A DIVORCE

The holiday season is once again on the horizon. Ordinarily, this is a time of parties, family gatherings and presents. For Kentucky parents who are entering the holidays for the first time after a divorce, it could take some work and adjustments to make the season enjoyable, especially for the children.

When Kentucky couples negotiated their parenting plans, they more than likely accounted for the holidays. Now would be a good time for them to review what they agreed to and make sure that it remains feasible. It may be necessary to tweak those arrangements because the reality may not exactly fit. The sooner any discrepancies are addressed and adjustments are made, the more pleasant the holiday season could be for everyone.

This is also the time of year when keeping the children’s best interests in mind may present more of a challenge. For instance, if a child asks to buy presents for the other parent and his or her new partner, handling that situation may require some delicacy. In addition, the first holidays without the children can be difficult for many parents. Once each parent knows when the children will be with the other parent, he or she can makes plans for those times.

Depending on the arrangements made during the divorce, the parents may be able to focus on making new traditions for the holidays and even enjoying them. However, if disagreements or issues with a parenting plan arise, figuring that out in advance could still allow the holidays to be saved. Addressing any issues right away may mean discussing the matter with an attorney to help determine the best course of action to resolve any issues.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Divorce and the Holidays“, Debbie Martinez, Nov. 6, 2017

SERVICEMEMBERS HAVE SPECIAL CONCERNS REGARDING CHILD CUSTODY

Being a member of the U.S. armed services is likely a source of pride for you. However, it may also be a source of contention in your family, especially if it means you spend long periods of time away from home. Like many marriages of servicemembers, yours may not have survived the challenges of military life, and now how your divorce will affect your relationship with your children concerns you.

The best-case scenario is that you and your spouse arrived at an agreeable arrangement for custody that provides generous time with your children, while you are not unavailable because of your military duties. However, you certainly want a thorough understanding of your rights and the protections you have under the law.

Protecting your custody rights

Many of the issues that concern servicemembers are different from those of co-parents in other lines of work. Your deployment or relocation may significantly affect your child custody arrangements, and having a family care plan in place is something that family advocates recommend. This plan outlines the financial and medical arrangements you make for your children while you are away. It may also go into detail about the normal routines you have established with your children so that others can work to maintain those rituals.

If your service obligates you to relocate, or if your ex-spouse attempts to relocate, you may require legal assistance to protect your rights. In Kentucky and other states, the following may be true:

  • Family courts make the final decision about whether a parent can relocate with a child.
  • You may have to prove to the court that your child will benefit from your planned move.
  • Seeking assistance from an attorney is wise if you wish to relocate or if you suspect your co-parent is attempting to relocate with your child.

Because of your special circumstances, the law protects you from many civil actions that may take place while you are on active duty. In other words, if your spouse attempts to move forward with efforts to modify your child custody rights or relocate with your child while you are unable to participate because of your military duties, the law may grant a stay or postponement if you request one in writing. This is typically 90 days, but you may receive an extension.

Your child will likely benefit from a strong and solid relationship with you. Your service to this country should not jeopardize that relationship. Knowing your rights and finding a dedicated legal ally will provide you with a definite advantage.