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Lexington Kentucky Family Legal Blog

Splitting up with your spouse on good terms

When people think of the divorce process, many picture courtroom drama and intense bitterness. People may envision a great deal of hostility and a very time-consuming and costly process. However, divorce does not always have to be so tough and there are a number of techniques that can streamline the end of a couple’s marriage. For example, people who are on good terms with each other may have an easier time working through their divorce, which underlines the importance of trying to maintain a positive connection with your ex as you work through your divorce.

If you have kids, staying on good terms can be especially helpful. From child support payments to deciding how custody will be divided and taking turns with the kids, parents who are able to work together may not only have an easier time during and after their divorce, but the impact on their kids may be lessened as well. Moreover, even couples that do not have children can benefit from an amicable divorce. For example, some can work with a mediator to make the entire situation less complex and challenging.

Can you move out and still get custody?

Kentucky residents like you have your plate full when going through the divorce process. It's a lot of emotional stress, heavy baggage, and decision-making that can change the course of your life. Some of these decisions can even impact your ability to gain custody of your children.

FindLaw features a frequently asked questions segment on divorce, with one portion in particular talking about things that can hurt your chances of gaining custody of your children. Unfortunately, custody can be a tricky situation and almost anything you say or do can end up being scrutinized heavily by your peers and the courts alike.

What are signs your spouse is hiding assets?

Kentucky couples like you who are on the high earning side of the spectrum will have a lot to deal with during your divorce. High asset divorces can be tricky for multiple reasons, not limited to the fact that having so many assets to keep track of can make it easier for certain pieces to be hidden.

Trustify takes a look at 15 different signs that your partner might be hiding assets from you. Hiding assets is when someone isn't reporting the full amount of the money they make because it would be added to their total net worth. That would therefore result in higher alimony payments, or having to give you a higher cut of their assets.

How does an unmarried father seek custody or visitation?

Family courts throughout the United States, including Kentucky, generally presume that children benefit from the involvement of both parents in their upbringing unless there is specific evidence to the contrary. This means that, as the biological father of a child, you have the right to seek custody or visitation after a split from the child's mother regardless of whether you and she were ever married. 

According to FindLaw, one of the first steps in making child custody or visitation arrangements is for you and the child's mother to negotiate a parental agreement. This can occur while another legal process related to the split is in motion or before it has begun. Either you or the child's mother may contest custody or visitation arrangements in court if you cannot agree to terms. However, many couples are able to resolve their differences outside of court via a process of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation.

Stay-at-home parents affected by divorce

If you are divorcing and are a stay-at-home parent, it's important that you understand the rights that you have when dividing your marital property.

Some stay-at-home parents abandoned lucrative careers when the children were born, preferring to care for their offspring themselves rather than send them off to daycare every day. But regardless of your motivation for remaining at home with the children, your lack of employment doesn't mean that you give up any rights to a fair division of the marital spoils.

What rules apply to dividing different retirement accounts?

Division of retirement accounts is often a significant concern for couples in Kentucky going through a divorce. In fact, according to CNBC, a 2016 survey of matrimonial lawyers found that pensions and retirement accounts were number two on the list of top contentious issues in a divorce, second only to alimony. Further complicating the matter is the fact that the rules that govern the division of retirement accounts differ depending on what kind of account(s) you have. The divorce decree may specify the division of an individual retirement account, while a court must order the division of a workplace retirement plan, such as a 401(k).

You must be careful and ensure that you handle the division of your IRA properly, or you could end up paying a hefty price. If you simply withdraw the funds and hand them over to your ex-spouse, you could incur an early withdrawal penalty of 10 percent, depending on your age, as well as having to pay taxes on the amount that you withdraw. To divide an IRA properly and without penalty, you need to submit paperwork, including a copy of the divorce agreement that clearly spells out when the division is to occur and for what amount, to the custodian of the IRA, i.e., a financial institution.

What happens when divorcing couples own expensive art?

Works of art can hold so much value that they can even be more valuable than the homes that contain them. That is why when Kentucky couples that own high priced paintings seek a divorce, the battles over who gets the artwork can be fierce, almost as acrimonious as some child custody fights. A successful division of art in a divorce rests upon taking key steps.

According to The Huffington Post, couples planning to divorce should document every piece of art bought before and during the marriage. If spouses purchased art before tying the knot, the artwork is considered separate property and is not subject to division. The same applies to art that spouses buy after filing for divorce or separating, though jurisdictional law may affect whether this is the case.

How is paternity legally established?

You may already know why it is important to legally establish paternity of a child in Kentucky. If you are the father of a child, you have parental rights with regard to custody and/or visitation as well as a responsibility to support the child financially in the event of a split between you and the child's mother. Your rights and responsibilities as a parent are the same regardless of whether or not you and the child's mother were ever married. Establishing paternity cements you as the legal father of the child.

According to FindLaw, a paternity lawsuit is one way of legally establishing paternity, but in many cases, it is not necessary. In fact, if you already have a child and you were present at his or her birth, it is possible that you have already legally established paternity. When parents are not married at the time of a child's birth, they will often sign a form while still in the hospital called a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity. If your name appears on your child's birth certificate, it means the state has accepted your voluntary acknowledgment of paternity, your rights as a parent are secure and you do not need to take further action to establish your paternity. If you did not voluntarily acknowledge paternity of your child at his or her birth, you may still legally establish paternity by filling out the form if the child's mother agrees. 

What happens to my family business when I divorce?

If you and your spouse own a family business in Kentucky, it likely will become a huge factor in your property settlement agreement should the two of you divorce. As you probably know, Kentucky law mandates that you and your spouse divide your marital property, including your business, in a fair and equitable manner when you divorce.

As reported by Forbes, you and your spouse have the following three basic options when it comes to dividing up your business in a divorce:

  1. Sale and split of proceeds
  2. Buyout of one spouse’s interest by the other
  3. Continued joint ownership after the divorce

Important divorce mediation questions to answer

If you decide to divorce, you should immediately begin to prepare for mediation. The more you learn about the process the easier it is to make sound decisions that allow you to push forward in a timely and efficient manner.

Here are several important divorce mediation questions to answer:

  • Can it really work? Many people assume that divorce mediation is a waste of time since they're unable to get along with the other person. Even if you're on bad terms, you can still use mediation to work through all divorce-related issues, such as property division and child custody.
  • What does the mediator do to help? This person isn't a judge, so they can't make decisions for you. What a mediator can do, however, is act as a neutral party to help move the process forward.
  • How long does divorce mediation take to complete? There is no single answer to this question, as it depends on factors such as the types of disputes, number of disputes and the willingness of both parties to negotiate and compromise. Generally speaking, most divorce mediation sessions last anywhere between one and two hours.
  • Will you spend any time in court? As long as you work everything out in mediation, you are not required to make a court appearance. Instead, the mediator, if the person is an attorney, can file all the necessary paperwork with the court.
  • Is divorce mediation really cheaper than litigation? There is no way of saying for sure, but it's generally cheaper to divorce through mediation than to spend a lot of time in the court system.
  • Is it possible for your case to be too complicated? Mediation can assist with even the most complex divorce cases, so it's always worth it to learn more and give the process your all.
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