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Elizabethtown, Kentucky, Law Blog

Do you know what counts as your marital property?

Until a marriage begins to fall apart, many spouses see no reason to concern themselves with which of them legally owns what. After all, part of the appeal of marriage is the "what's mine is yours and what's yours is mine" aspect of the relationship. Unfortunately, this often makes things much more difficult when it comes time to separate property in a divorce.

If you have concerns about protecting your property in a divorce, it is wise to familiarize yourself with Kentucky's laws governing marital property. In general, the law considers property used, bought or maintained with both spouse's money to be marital property, unless it is specifically protected as non-marital property. Marital property is the property that the law considers mutually owned by both spouses, and therefore both spouses can rightfully claim a portion of it during divorce.

A temporary child custody order may help your divorce

Sometimes, when a couple reaches the point of divorce, it is very difficult to reach a fair agreement about how each parent will share and contribute to child care throughout the divorce. Until the court approves a child custody plan near the end of the divorce process, some parents need help playing fair with each and the child's needs. In some cases, one parent may even claim that the other parent is guilty of parental kidnapping.

If you and your spouse are facing divorce and your interpersonal conflicts are already keeping you from reaching fair agreements while you work through your divorce, you may benefit greatly from a temporary custody order. Temporary custody orders carry the same weight as traditional custody orders, allowing children to maintain stability and giving parents guidelines for how to behave and share parental privileges and duties while a divorce proceeds.

Can my ex alter our custody order through an out-of-state court?

After parents split up, their lives may drift from each other considerably, even if they continue to share some custody or visitation privileges. In many instances, parents are no longer living in the same state. In some instances, a parent may attempt to go to a court in a new state and petition to the court to alter a custody arrangement.

In many instances, this action will simply be denied. Courts in almost every state abide by the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) which sets out uniform standards courts observe when making child custody decisions. The act also lays out guidelines that indicate when a court should defer to another court's order from another state. Currently, only the states of Vermont and Massachusetts decline to recognize the UCCJEA.

Devising a parenting plan to prevent conflict

When you look at your children, you may realize they are one important reason to be grateful for your marriage, even if the marriage didn't last. Now that you are facing divorce, the last thing you want is for those children to suffer through arguments and disagreements while you and your ex struggle to parent them from separate households.

One way to preempt many of the conflicts that commonly arise during co-parenting is to establish a detailed parenting plan. In fact, many parents find that working out a plan of their own is much better for their situations than allowing a Kentucky family court make those crucial decisions for them.

Keeping your pet in the divorce

If you own a pet, you understand that they are as much a part of the family as you or your spouse or your children. In fact, to many spouses, pets are the de facto children in the marriage. This can make divorces especially difficult when it comes time to decide who should keep the pet in a divorce.

Generally speaking, the court tends to view pets as property, which can make resolving this issue quite frustrating. While we pet owners understand that our pets are anything but property, the law generally does not hold this view.

Restraining orders and divorce

Divorce can occur many ways, but sometimes a spouse realizes that they must leave a relationship because it is not a safe place to stay. If you believe that your spouse is dangerous, especially if they have acted violently toward you in the past, you may consider a restraining order. A restraining order does not always solve every domestic violence issue, but it can go a long way toward helping you avoid dangerous situations.

Not all restraining orders are created the same way. Depending on the severity of your need and the length of time you anticipate needing some extra legal muscle to keep yourself safe, your restraining order might look differently than others.

Shared credit can make a mess post-divorce

When it comes time to split up marital property in a divorce, the reality of the matter is often far more complex than people realize. One of the most common pitfalls for divorcing couples is what to do with debt that they jointly accrued. Many couples forget that liabilities are also a part of marital property and must be divided up just like assets.

If you're facing a divorce and you have some credit card debt to address, you would be wise to do everything you can to separate yourself financially from your soon-to-be ex-spouse. Imagine, for instance, that you and your spouse both have a number of credit cards with balances totaling about $25,000 total. As a part of your property division agreement, your spouse agrees to pay the balances down on the cards. Here's where things can get ugly.

Can I object to the state of the other parent's home?

It's not always easy to let your child's other parent exercise his or her rights as a parent, especially if you don't approve of his or her style of parenting. This is exceptionally true when a child is still an infant and considerably more vulnerable than older children. For many parents, this conflict arises around the safety and security of the place where the child stays when visiting the other parent.

Consider this relatively common scenario. A young mother retains primary custody of a young child, but the father enjoys custody on weekends. The father lives in a very small, poorly-kept apartment, and when the child stays with the father, the mother worries about the conditions of the apartment and the safety of the child staying there. Does the father need to improve his housing situation to continue enjoying his custody rights? Can the mother object to the custody on the grounds of unsafe or undesirable housing?

Misconceptions concerning divorce may add unnecessary stress

If you are considering divorce, a great deal of factors could be influencing your decision. The outcome of dissolving a marriage will inherently have an impact on your financial future, and if you and your spouse have children together, you likely have concerns about how the news of a divorce might affect them.

With numerous crucial aspects to mull over, you could be feeling somewhat overwhelmed and in need of guidance. However, there may be additional aspects that could be causing you a great deal of stress, and with numerous misconceptions about the process, the added worry could be completely unnecessary.

What legal authority do I have over my stepchild?

As a stepparent, you face a very difficult task when it comes to helping to raise the children of your spouse. Legally speaking, you may face difficulty asserting your rights to make parenting decisions, even if the child in question lives in your home most or all of the time. If you have concerns about how to navigate this delicate issue, don't hesitate to reach out to an experienced attorney to review your circumstances and identify a strong strategy for moving forward.

Kentucky is not currently one of the few states that recognizes third-parent adoption. If you do wish to adopt your spouse's child and the child's other biological parent is still alive, you probably have to get the other parent to give up his or her legal claim to the child. This is a difficult and lengthy process, and one that may cause more strain on your relationship than is wise. If you do want to pursue this option, be sure to do so carefully and cautiously.