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Jefferson County, West Virginia, Family Law Blog

Separate bank accounts do not equal separate property

Married couples in West Virginia usually share much more than their last names. From homes to groceries to favorite TV shows, much of marriage seems to be based on shared assets and activities. However, after witnessing their parents and friends' parents go through sometimes bitter divorce proceedings, many millennials are much more cautious when it comes to marriage. These young adults are doing things a little differently than past generations in order to protect their financial assets. Unfortunately, these efforts may not be as effective during property division as some might think.

A recent study from Bank of America determined that 28% of married millennial couples are choosing to keep their money apart in separate bank accounts. This is more than twice the number of baby boomer and Gen X couples who do the same. The increased use of separate bank accounts could be partially due to new technology that makes it easier to quickly and immediately transfer money. This does not tell the whole story, though.

Does joint custody improve men's parenting?

For fathers, divorce can pose a set of unique concerns. These men often worry about how often they will see their children or whether they will be able to effectively parent without the help of their soon-to-be exes. Despite these worries, fathers in West Virginia and across the rest of the country are coming to a surprising conclusion -- sharing joint custody may make them better fathers.

The role of fatherhood is changing in today's society. Social scientists are beginning to argue that the idea of an unengaged, weekends-only dad who would rather spend time with his various girlfriends is not only inaccurate but is a product of unfair custody agreements. According to these scientists, both fathers and children have been starved of important relationships because of long-held beliefs that regarded mothers as better at raising children.

Is property division complicated during gray divorce?

Just like there is no wrong age for marrying, there is no wrong age for getting a divorce. However, depending on a couple's age or the stage of life they are in, there may be unique hurdles to overcome. For West Virginia couples who are over the age of 50, dealing with property division and retirement can be a challenge.

The rise in divorce over the age of 50 -- which is referred to as gray divorce -- is the result of many baby boomers realizing that they do not have to simply bear through unhappy marriages. These individuals want to make their remaining years as happy and satisfying as possible. Divorce can help with this goal, but it can also make retirement more complicated. The money a couple saved to support a married household usually will not go as far when it is split and used to support two separate households.

Strange situations can complicate alimony

Spousal support is an important part of securing financial stability after a divorce. However, in a great many cases, spousal support -- also called alimony -- is not indefinite. There are often time limits on how long a person may receive support, and their actions may even mean that support could end early. For West Virginia residents currently receiving support, getting married often means that they no longer qualify to receive support from their ex-spouse.

An out-of-state woman may have found a way around this problem. After 29 years of marriage, she and her husband divorced back in 2014. Her ex-husband was ordered to pay $10,000 per month as alimony for a period of 10 years. If she remarries before the 10 years is up, her ex can stop paying spousal support. About a year or so after finalizing the divorce, the woman had a wedding ceremony with another man and told others that she was married; as a result, her ex stopped paying.

Preparation helps protect your business during divorce

Divorce can cause major upheaval in anyone's personal and professional life, particularly if one or both spouses come to the negotiation table without a clear understanding of their priorities. This is doubly true for business owners who may see their divorce sink their business if they don't protect it.

If you are a business owner in West Virginia with divorce in your future, now is the time to begin building your divorce strategy. Keeping your business intact may require significant sacrifices in other areas. You must determine how valuable the business is to your life after divorce and what you are willing to do to keep it off the property division table.

Protect your retirement assets during divorce

Getting divorced can be difficult no matter a person's age or the length of the marriage. However, couples who are closer to retirement may have to deal with issues that are specific to their ages and unique circumstances. Specifically, how to secure financial stability for retirement after a divorce is often a central focus in these situations.

Most people in West Virginia begin saving for retirement early on in their careers. But what happens to the years or even decades worth of savings when a married couple decides to divorce? Like other marital assets, couples must divide their retirement savings. Doing so can be tricky though, particularly if one person started saving through a specific account before marriage and then continued contributing to it after tying the knot. The type of account can also impact how a couple divides their assets.

Financial infidelity can make divorce difficult

Financial troubles can be a significant point of stress for anyone in West Virginia, and at some point in their relationships most couples will argue over money. But how can couples differentiate between normal financial stressors and something more? Sometimes people do not realize that their significant others have a money disorder until years or even decades into their relationship, or until they file for divorce.

A Northwestern Mutual study found that money is the most common cause of stress for 44% of all adults. Money contributes to more feelings of stress than work or personal relationships, and over 24% of study participants said that financial worries caused them to feel depressed at least once a month. For some people, this is just a normal response to an extremely stressful financial position. For others, it is an actual disorder.

Child support important for stability after divorce

Most parents in West Virginia just want was is best for their children. Securing things like financial support after a divorce is often key to that hope. However, child support is not necessarily as cut and dried as some parents might think.

Figuring out the correct amount of child support takes time and a bit of flexibility. Judges generally consider things like parents' incomes and earning potential as well as parenting time and the child's standard of living. Judges also have the discretion to consider other factors that they deem relevant to the situation.

The other driver doesn’t have insurance. Now what?

Even if there are no injuries, car accidents can be painful. There may be mounds of paperwork to handle, repairs to deal with and often some sort of financial loss. If you’re hit by an uninsured driver, things get even more complicated.

Remaining calm and following a few important steps can make sure the process goes as smoothly as it can.

Don't leave property division up to chance

Untangling years or even decades of shared marital property is not a small undertaking. Aside from the financial interests that both you and your ex have, there are probably also significant emotional investments involved. This means that dealing with property division is more complicated than most people in West Virginia might think.

It is possible that despite these complicating factors, you and your ex could reach an amicable agreement on your own. However, more likely than not, you will hit a few roadblocks during the process. Whether you are fighting for an asset important to your financial and emotional well-being or your ex is trying to complicate matters, property division can quickly go south.

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