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Family Law Articles

Be sure to have ‘the talk’ with your kids before they leave home

When children turn 18 they are adults, regardless of how mature they actually are. As parents, you’re no longer entitled to access their medical records or make legal decisions for them without their permission. It’s unlikely they will have the real-world experience at that age to handle all medical and financial decisions on their own. This can feel scary, especially if they are leaving home to go to college or to work. It might feel scary

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‘Do it yourself’ divorce is full of risk

“Do-it-yourself” divorce apps and programs for preparing and processing forms have become more popular. While DIY divorce may turn out fine in some cases, it’s full of risk. If your divorce is simple (because it doesn’t involve kids, neither side is seeking alimony or support and you basically agree on how to split property) DIY divorce apps and tools may be OK. It’s still probably not a great idea, since the products cannot predict problems. For

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Wife can’t be forced to sell off property to pay large distribution to husband

A family court judge could not require a wife to liquidate her own separate property in order to pay a large distributive award to her husband, the North Carolina Supreme Court recently decided. The couple, Andrea and William Crowell, married in 1998 and divorced in 2015. Before they married, William started several small businesses that he claimed as his own separate property. Andrea claimed she had in interest in them as marital property. The court found

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Transfer assets to trusts with extreme caution (if at all)

If there’s one thing family courts hate, it’s a spouse who plays dirty by trying to hide assets in the hopes of avoiding having to split them as part of the marital estate. Doing so can bring stiff consequences, such as having to cede a bigger share of marital property, or getting hit with a judgment of contempt, or even criminal fraud charges (for securing property under false pretenses) or perjury charges (you signed your divorce

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Divorce and bankruptcy: which should I file first?

As we all know, life often doesn’t go as planned. Nothing illustrates this more than divorce. Bankruptcy is similar. You made financial plans, but for whatever reason your debts got out of control and you realized you might need a court to protect you from creditors and grant you a fresh start. Money problems and marital problems often go hand-in-hand, so it’s no surprise that divorcing spouses may also be considering filing for bankruptcy. Which should

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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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