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Family Law Articles

Visitation terms for couple’s dogs enforceable as written

The terms of a visitation agreement for a divorcing couple’s dogs was enforceable as written, even if the husband did a poor job caring for the pets, a state supreme court recently ruled. Before Diane and Paul Giarrusso divorced in 2017, they entered a marital settlement giving ownership and control of their greyhound and their chihuahua to Diane but giving Paul the right to have them every week from Tuesday morning to Thursday morning. The agreement

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Mom gets years of unpaid support for 52-year-old daughter

States have gotten increasingly strict in enforcing child-support obligations. If you’re a deadbeat dad (or mom) and think you can outrun your child-support debt by simply waiting until your kids are independent adults, think again. If you spent years struggling to support a now-grown child without your ex’s much-needed support payments and you think it’s now too late to do anything about it, think again as well. As a California case shows, while diamonds may not

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Divorce agreements vague about college costs create risks later on

One of the most contentious issues in a divorce can be kids’ college education. For example, what percentage must each parent contribute? How will the college plan be funded? Will the parents be responsible for just tuition, or for room, board and expenses, too? How much say will each parent have on the choice of school? What if one parent’s financial circumstances change for the better or worse? Divorce clearly can have a significant impact on

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Can you divide retirement accounts in divorce without suffering tax penalties?

There is a common perception that divorcing spouses must liquidate retirement accounts for the purpose of splitting up property, and consequently accept the tax consequences for early withdrawal, which robs account owners of the tax advantages that make things like individual retirement account (IRAs), 401(k)s and other accounts popular vehicles for retirement savings in the first place. But don’t assume this is the case. Talk to a family lawyer. Because of the penalties, as well as

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Pre-marriage business becomes marital property

Generally, marital property is property acquired by either spouse during the marriage. On the other hand, premarital property, owned by a spouse before the marriage, is considered separate property and isn’t split up during a divorce. Sometimes the lines get blurred, especially if you don’t keep your separate property truly separate, as a South Carolina case demonstrates. In that case, a husband formed a business before marrying his wife. Several years before they got married, the

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Judge can enforce marriage pact despite religious element

It’s generally understood that U.S. courts can’t decide questions of religious law. After all, the 1st Amendment forbids the government from getting involved in religious affairs. A recent Michigan case shows, though, that courts can enforce valid marriage agreements even if those contracts have a religious aspect to them. In that case, a man named Khaja Syed asked another man, Mohammed Ali, for permission to marry his daughter Nausheen. Ali gave his blessing, so long as

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Case shows ‘do-it-yourself’prenups are dangerous option

A lot of us like to save money, and a good way to do that is by learning how to do something yourself instead of paying a professional a premium. That’s why you might go on YouTube to find a good how-to video for changing out a light switch, replacing your brake pads and rotors, making a hockey rink in your backyard, or installing a ceiling fan. That same instinct might lead you to draft an

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New tax implications to consider in divorce

When Congress passed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, there was a lot of hubbub about parts of the law that would affect divorces. Most significantly, the new tax law made it so that alimony and maintenance would no longer be tax-deductible for the paying spouse or taxable to the person receiving the payment. This made settling pending divorce cases more complicated. Another part of the law didn’t generate as much attention but may

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Grandparent visitation can be complicated issue for families

If you’re a grandparent who dotes on your grandchildren, it would no doubt be devastating if you were denied access to them. Nonetheless, this gut-wrenching scenario plays out all the time. For example, let’s say your adult child passes away, leaving kids behind, and his or her surviving spouse decides it’s time to move on and stops responding to your attempts to see the kids. Similarly, maybe your child got divorced, his or her ex has

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Changes to military retirement may affect family law

Recent changes to the military retirement system could impact family law issues, particularly division of marital property in a divorce. If you or your spouse are retired military or will be in that category in the future, it’s probably a smart idea to talk to a family lawyer to see how you could be affected by these changes. Historically, retired military personnel participated in what’s now known as the “legacy” retirement system. This is a defined

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