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Missoula Montana Family Law Blog

How can you effectively plan for and use child support payments?

You know that as your divorce gets closer to finalizing in Montana, you and your ex will need to negotiate the custody and care of your children. This process is critical to creating an arrangement that benefits your children and allows them to continue a relationship with both of their parents. It also allows you to have adequate financial means to provide for the necessities of your children.

If you are at all doubtful that your ex is going to be consistent, timely and cordial about paying child support, you are better off planning for the worst. Assume that you will not be receiving payments and create a budget for yourself that is independent of any money you are expecting for child support. 

Divorcing during your senior years: What do you need to know?

If you and your spouse wish to obtain a "gray divorce" in Montana, there are several considerations you both need to make before you file. Though you may not have to deal with child custody, which is often the most contested aspect of any divorce, your situation may present unique challenges with which younger divorcing couples do not have to deal. 

According to U.S. News, Bowling Green State University sociologists performed a study regarding the phenomenon that is "gray divorce." What they found was that the divorce rate for those aged 50 and older doubled between 1990 and 2010, and that 48 percent of divorcees in this category were in their first marriages. The way in which judges treat divorces after 30 to 40 years of marriage is far different than how they treat divorces after five to 10 years of matrimony.

New tax law behind push for divorces in 2018

People who live in Montana and are getting divorced know how difficult it can be to come to a final settlement agreement regardless of the circumstances. When faced with the prospect of paying even more money in taxes if a divorce is finalized in 2019 versus in 2018, one can understandably want to ensure that a final judgement is achieved this year. That is precisely what many may actually be doing in light of some significant changes afoot in the New Year.

As reported by Bloomberg, one provision of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Acts is to essentially flip flop the tax liability for spousal support payments away from the spouse who receives such funds to the spouse who makes the alimony payments. At first glance, some people might think that a spouse who would be awarded alimony could find this change favorable. However, that may not be the case for two reasons.

Should I keep my home after a divorce?

If you are facing the prospect of getting divorced in Montana, you are also likely facing the prospect of losing some of your assets or belongings. This is unfortunately an inherent part of splitting up a marital home for most people. When it comes to your actual home, you or your spouse might want to keep that rather than sell it. However, there are important facts to be aware of before you make this choice.

As explained by Bankrate, if one of you signs over their ownership in the house to the other person but the original joint mortgage remains in effect, both people will continue to be financially responsible for the property. This means that if the spouse who stays in the house eventually fails to make mortgage payments or is even late on some payments, the other person's credit may be affected. The lender may even pursue that person for the payments.

A look at how middle-aged marriages are affected by divorce

When you think about divorcing couples, chances are your attention is immediately drawn to the many people you know who are divorced early on in their marriage or before the age of 50. However, despite not happening as frequently, couples who divorce in their later years after having been married for decades does happen. If you and your spouse are considering separating despite having been married for a significant length of time, you are indeed not alone. At Cunningham Law Office, we have helped many couples in Montana to work through the dissolution of their marriage. 

While divorce has its difficulties for anyone, you may be facing a unique set of challenges if you are middle-aged or older and seeking to divorce your significant other. According to Psychology Today, although you and your spouse are getting divorced now, there is a good chance that the underlying problems that ultimately lead to your separation were brewing many years ago. Additionally, even though you may feel relief and pride that you are finally taking this step after suffering years in an unhappy relationship, it is vital that you realize that grief will most likely linger for many more years. 

Grounds for divorce in Montana

If you have been contemplating getting a divorce, then your research in to the process has likely unearthed to seemingly contradicting concepts: "grounds for divorce" and "no-fault divorce." Many in Missoula come to us here at the Cunningham Law Office confused as to what those terms in relation to each other. Yes, Montana is a no-fault divorce state, meaning that neither you or your spouse needs to be determined to be "at fault" in ending your marriage. At the same time, the term "grounds for divorce" seems to imply that one of you does indeed need to provide a reason for the other to want to end your marriage. 

While no one member of a married couple need to be deemed responsible for ending a marriage, the law still requires that there be a reason for granting a petition of divorce. Per Section 40-4-104 of Montana's Annotated Code, the state recognizes three valid reasons for a divorce. These are: 

  • Your marriage being irretrievably broken
  • You and your spouse living apart for more than 180 prior to one of you petitioning for a divorce
  • Serious marital discord exists that adversely affects your or your spouse's (or both) opinion of your marriage

Custody disputes and mediation

Working through a dispute involving child custody can certainly be difficult any married couple. Aside from worries about how much time you will be able to spend with your child once you have split up with your spouse to concerns about how these changes could affect your child, there may be various worries on your mind. As a result, you should try to resolve this situation as efficiently as possible, prioritizing your child’s best interests and carefully reviewing the details of your case. In doing so, you may be able to ease some of these concerns and for some people, turning to a mediator is a great way to resolve these issues.

If you and the other parent of your child disagree on child custody matters, you may be able to work toward a more ideal solution by moving ahead with this type of divorce. Increased communication and other benefits associated with this process can make it much easier to find a positive outcome, such as saving time and money while reducing stress associated with litigation.

Back child support and tax refunds

If you are like some parents, you look forward to receiving a tax refund from the IRS. Whether you regularly use your tax refunds to get caught up on bills, clear debt or purchase things that you have had your eyes on for a long time, there are many reasons why people count on their tax refunds. Unfortunately, some parents have had their tax refunds intercepted because they fell behind on child support due to losing their job or going through financial hardships for some other reason. If this is something you are currently struggling with, you should be aware of the potential repercussions that may lie ahead.

Having a portion of your tax refund or your entire tax refund intercepted can disrupt your daily life in various ways. Perhaps this will push you even farther into debt and leave you even more unable to pay the child support that you owe. There are other consequences that you may run into if you fall behind on child support as well, from being taken into custody to facing other types of financial setbacks. As a result, it is important to make sure that your back child support is addressed as soon as possible, whether that means setting up a payment plan or having your child support order modified.

How child support is determined and what it covers

The purpose of child support is to ensure that the child of divorcing parents maintains the same standard of living after the divorce that he or she enjoyed prior to it. Therefore, Montana courts take a number of factors into consideration when determining the amount of child support owed, including the child's age, educational and medical needs, physical/emotional condition and the financial resources of each parent, as well as those of the child. If the child requires day care, the court will also consider that cost, and if either parent is legally obligated to support any person other than the child, the court will take into account that person's needs as well.

Child support goes beyond providing for basic necessities, such as food, clothing, shelter, etc. In the interest of maintaining the child's quality of life, the custodial parent may put child support payments toward the many expenses involved in raising a child. Some of the most common expenses include the following:

  • Travel and transportation
  • Extracurricular activities and entertainment
  • Educational expenses

How are a child’s best interests defined?

If you’re involved in a child custody dispute in Montana, you’ve likely heard the term “best interests of the child” quite a bit. But how is this consideration actually defined? The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services explains how the court determines best interests when it comes child custody and other matters.

Best Interests Defined

Cunningham Law Office is a family law-focused firm in Missoula, Montana. We serve Missoula, Ravalli County, and the surrounding area.