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Rochester New York Family Law Blog

Tips to help divorced parents with their children

When parents in New York get a divorce, they might be worried about its effects on their children. There are certain actions they can take and avoid to help their children through this time. For example, parents should offer their children distractions and monitor them for signs of depression.

Parents should protect their children from whatever conflict they may be having with one another. This includes not using children to carry messages back and forth and not questioning children about the other parent's actions. Children should be encouraged to maintain a relationship with the other parent. If the child speaks negatively about the other parent, a parent should remain neutral and talk through the child's issues. Parents should not engage if children express a desire to live with the other parent and should not relax discipline or buy gifts for children because they feel guilty.

Study finds that fighting over housework can lead to divorce

Household chores may be sending some New York couples to divorce court, according to a new report. The survey, which was conducted by Harvard Business School, involved 3,000 divorcing couples. Roughly 25 percent of them blamed arguments over housework as the top reason for parting ways.

The study also found that couples who paid for a cleaning service or hired other forms of outside help for their homes were less likely to sign divorce papers. The results back up a 2017 study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that found that couples who spent between $100 and $200 a month to outsource household chores had healthier relationships.

Managing finances during a divorce

The financial challenges involved with divorce are often some of the most difficult to deal with for people in New York who decide to end their marriage. From disentangling complex marital assets to attempting to make a new start with solo finances, dealing with property and funds during divorce can be some of the most contentious issues. However, there are several actions that people can take in order to help protect their assets during this time.

When people go through a divorce, opening personal bank accounts is a useful first step toward establishing an independent financial identity. Many couples have only joint accounts, and by creating personal checking and savings accounts, both parties can begin to separate their finances. These accounts must not be used to hide marital assets but rather to openly begin separating them. Similarly, it is very important to close joint credit accounts, including credit cards and lines of credit. All marital debts will need to be separated during the divorce settlement, and the process will be made easier if the two parties begin to divide the accounts among themselves. In addition, it is important that these joint accounts not accumulate further debt before marital assets are divided.

What are grey divorces?

Do you know of a person in their 50’s or above who has divorced a long-time spouse? If you don’t, you probably will soon. That is because the divorce rate for older Americans has risen exponentially in the last several years. Grey divorce is the name for this phenomenon, which describes married couples splitting up after over 20 years together.

These couples, realizing that they will live well into their retirement years, don’t want to continue the poor relationship they settled with for years when busy building a career and raising children. For some couples, the split happens after the reality of retirement hits, and there is suddenly the ability to spend more time together.

Divorcing parents can divide child custody and visitation

For many New York parents going through a divorce, planning for a future of co-parenting can be very difficult. The process often involves dealing with child custody and visitation. While both refer to parenting time with a minor child, the two are distinct and separate. Child custody is not only about physical presence but also the right to make important legal, medical or educational decisions for a child.

In general, the child will live with the custodial parent most of the time. In cases of joint custody, the child switches homes on a regular basis. On the other hand, visitation refers to scheduled parent-child time, whether in the child's home, the parent's home or elsewhere. Visitation can be accompanied by a type of custody, however. While one parent may have primary physical custody, the two parents could share joint legal custody. This gives both the right to make decisions about important issues in the child's life. In other cases, the parent who has primary or sole physical custody can also have sole legal custody over the child.

Probate challenges can arise after death

Avoiding probate because of its expense and potential for conflict is a priority for many people in New York who are engaged in the estate planning process, leading to a preference for non-probate transfers, life insurance and other types of bequests that can pass without probate. Nevertheless, most estates will still need to go through an often-substantial probate process. If someone has an issue with the execution of the will after a loved one's death, filing a probate claim is the major way to seek a resolution.

Once the deceased's estate has officially entered probate, the person making a claim can file a statement-of-claim form with the court that is in charge of the estate administration and probate process. In general, this document will need to be filed in the location where the deceased person lived even if the claimant lives elsewhere. The probate process is generally handled where the deceased lived during his or her lifetime. The executor of the will, or, in some cases, another party as determined by the court, will be officially appointed the personal representative for the estate and sworn in. This person is required to announce the death in a public notice placed in a local newspaper.

How to properly divide a 401(k) in divorce

When a couple in New York chooses to get a divorce, marital property must generally be divided. If the assets include 401(k) plans, proper steps must be taken to ensure that everything is divided properly. Failure to do so could result in penalties and taxes owed. A 401(k) or other qualified workplace retirement plan will be divided in accordance with a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO).

It may be necessary to hire an attorney who specializes in drafting such agreements. This advocate could be part of the legal team in addition to a divorce attorney. Whoever is handling this process will ideally be in touch with the 401(k) plan administrator to make sure that the QDRO is drafted properly. Separate orders will be required for each account that is subject to division.

Tips for financial planning in case of divorce

Divorce might not be on the minds of couples in New York who are getting married, but there are reasons that individuals might want to think about creating a prenuptial agreement. Just as most people put on seat belts when they get into a car although they do not expect to crash, taking financial precautions in case of a divorce can also protect people.

Married couples can create a postnuptial agreement. Like prenups, these agreements can be used to identify which property people want to keep as separate and how they want to divide the assets and debts they share if they get a divorce. Before the marriage, if people have any assets that are difficult to valuate, they may want to get them appraised.

What is QDRO and what does it have to do with taxes?

A qualified domestic relations order, (QDRO) is part of the asset dividing process during a divorce. As a judicial order, it legally stipulates how retirement and pension plans get divided.

Only private sector investments and pensions under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) qualify to use the QDRO as part of an asset split due to divorce. Military and other state and federal government retirements have their legal processes for dividing retirement and pension assets.

Later-in-life divorces require strong financial recordkeeping

Divorce later in life, even after a lengthy marriage, has become increasingly common in New York and across the United States. In fact, the divorce rate for Americans over 50 has more than doubled since 1993 and continues to rise. Separation is accompanied by a number of challenges for both young and old couples. However, there can be some particular financial considerations that go along with a divorce after age 50.

Many couples who make the decision to divorce later in their lives have accumulated a significant amount of marital property over the years. This could lead to a high-asset divorce that's difficult to navigate. One of the first steps toward reaching a just settlement will be developing a comprehensive knowledge of the divorcing couple's finances. This can start with establishing an inventory of all of the property of the couple, including both individual assets like inheritances and joint assets like real estate.

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