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Montgomery Family Law Blog

Buying out a spouse's share of the home in a divorce

Couples in Alabama who are going through a divorce might own a home together. They will need to decide what they will do with it. One person might want to keep the home instead of selling it.

They will need to hire at least one appraiser. The best case scenario is an appraiser they both agree upon, but in some cases, it might be necessary for each person to have an appraiser. If the appraisers come up with very different values for the home, a third party may need to be hired to resolve it. The home's value and the mortgage help determine how much equity each person has in it.

Divorce brings unexpected changes

Divorce can be a difficult time, even when both people want the split. There are so many changes that people going through divorce experience that it can feel overwhelming at times. Although many people have experienced it, divorce can feel very isolating.

Though most people realize that divorce generally alters several facets of a person's life, there are some changes people say they didn't predict. Being prepared might make the experience easier to manage. If you're thinking about divorcing here in Alabama, there are several ways your life could change.

Parents of both genders may struggle with family law matters

Alabama parents can find it difficult to raise their children after ending their marriages. However, many claim that the legal system doesn't make it any easier to be a good parent. One man claimed that he owed $680,000 in child support that was to be repaid at an interest rate of 9%. While the man was a doctor, he was fired from his medical practice and makes only $100 a month.

As a result of being behind on child support, he had to file for bankruptcy and also spent time in jail. In the United States, 80% of custodial parents are mothers, which means that they tend to be a child's primary caregiver. Therefore, it is often fathers who are trying to gain more parenting time or other access to their sons or daughters. However, it can be difficult for noncustodial parents of either gender to get the parenting time or rights that they want.

Changed circumstances might call for child support modification

The Census Bureau reported that there were more than 5 million parents nationwide who were owed child support payments in 2015. In many cases, the parent who is behind on payments cannot afford to make them. Parents who owe child support they cannot afford to pay should begin by contacting an Alabama Child Support Enforcement Office to see about a modification of the relevant child support order.

The initial child support order determined the payment amounts based on the noncustodial parent's assets, financial obligations and income. The amount of child support payments can be changed in situations where a parent has experienced a change in circumstances. Either parent can make a request for modification. Some of the changes that may qualify for a modification include significant changes in income level, losing a job, incurring medical expenses or increased costs of child-rearing as the child gets older.

Fathers accused of abuse may still win child custody

Alabama parents may be interested in learning that some research points to the fact that fathers are favored in child custody battles, even when the father has been accused of or has been proven to have engaged in abuse. Some believe that this happens because of long-held beliefs by psychologists, judges, and attorneys regarding the prevalence or pervasiveness of parental alienation.

Parental alienation is an idea that rose to popularity in the 1980's. Basically, the theory is that a child can be pushed to hate or be ambivalent toward one of their parents by the other parent. The theory gained popularity to the point where many considered it to be gospel truth.

The role of DNA tests in child support cases

Those who are seeking child support in Alabama or any other state may need to first prove the identity of the child's father. In many cases, parentage is determined through a DNA test. This is because DNA tests are up to 99.99999% accurate. If a DNA test determines the father of the kid, he will likely be ordered to pay child support.

However, if the test says that a former partner is not the father, he likely won't need to support the child. It is important to note that if a man is married to the child's mother when the baby is born, he will be considered the legal father. Therefore, determining parentage is only a concern if the father is not married to the mother when the birth occurs. Many labs that conduct tests will examine a sample twice to further ensure its accuracy.

Divorce is declining, but for a surprising reason

Many people assume that the chance a couple will divorce is a high one. Though the rate is still significant, despite what many news reports might have you believe, divorce is actually going down. That 50% statistic you may have heard is outdated. Today, the number is around 39%.

What's behind this trend, researchers found, is that Millennials are divorcing less often. If that's your age demographic you might feel optimistic, and you should, but that's not the whole picture. Millennials divorce less often because they marry less often, and researchers are concerned about what that could mean for society in the future.

Voluntary impoverishment is taken seriously by the OCSE

It is not unheard of for noncustodial parents in Alabama and around the country to earn less than they are capable of or take off-the-books jobs in order to lower the amount of child support they are required to pay. This is referred to as voluntary impoverishment, and the Office of Child Support Enforcement takes it very seriously. When the OCSE suspects that a noncustodial parent is voluntarily impoverished, they may act in a number of ways.

One way the OCSE deals with voluntary impoverishment is by imputing a noncustodial parent's income. When this is done, child support awards are based on what the noncustodial parent should be earning instead of what he or she actually is making. The OCSE bases the imputed income figure on the noncustodial parent's level of education and previous earnings history. However, establishing that someone is intentionally unemployed, underemployed or hiding income can be difficult.

Protecting children from problems after divorce

Divorce can bring a huge number of changes into the lives of children in Alabama, but parents can help them through the process. It is important for parents to focus on what is best for their children and not on their conflict. Parents should avoid discussing one another negatively in front of the child and should instead focus on positively supporting the child's relationship with the other parent.

Parents should keep children informed about any schedule changes. A predictable schedule can be an important element of helping them adjust. Older children may want to participate in creating the plan. There may also be times when they prefer to spend time with their friends instead of parents, and parents should keep in mind that this is important for their social and emotional growth. Children should also feel free to express their love for their parents and stepparents.

Dealing with separate finances in a divorce

When people in Alabama decide to divorce, they may be deeply concerned about the effects on their finances. After all, the financial implications of divorce can linger on long after the emotional fallout settles. Many newlyweds are choosing to keep their banking accounts somewhat separate. This involves maintaining individual accounts or paying only part of an income into a joint account for the home and other bills. Younger people are more likely to opt for separate banking, perhaps due to the popularity of instant online transfer apps that make it easy to share funds.

Some people may opt for separate finances because they want to make it easier to handle their funds in case of a potential future divorce. However, keeping separate bank accounts is not sufficient to provide this kind of protection. Marital assets remain marital, even if only one person's name is on the account. Since Alabama is an equitable distribution state, finances and property accumulated during marriage are divided based on principles of fairness rather than strictly in half. However, this does not mean that simply keeping separate bank accounts is enough to have that income excluded from the marital pot.

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