Can I Change an Alimony Agreement?

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Tuesday January 16th, 2023.

Alimony, also known as spousal maintenance or spousal support, is the funds a spouse is obligated to provide to the other spouse after divorce. Alimony is different from child support in many ways. The reason is that you can change the authority of the court over the amount of support you will provide. In the case of child custody, the court can make modifications to the agreement.

Requesting Alimony Modifications After Divorce

There are many situations under which a person may request a modification in alimony. Under certain circumstances, the court accepts the modification. Such circumstances can be due to any financial emergency, bankruptcy, etc. Financial emergencies can be in the form of substantial medical bills that a party has to pay because they are not covered by insurance.

Make sure that if you request a change in spousal support, you must have a legitimate reason for it. If there is no proper evidence behind your request, it will only lead to a waste of money, time, and resources. A simple complaint that you are not receiving enough funds or you suddenly feel like you are paying too much will not convince the court to follow through with the modification.

Apart from that, there are circumstances under which spousal support can be terminated. It is only possible if the receiving spouse starts living with another partner who is providing more than the previous partner. In that case, the dependent spouse no longer needs financial support from the previous spouse.

Another situation under which spousal support can be terminated is if the receiving spouse remarries. The spousal support agreement is immediately removed when the receiving spouse remarries because they are not dependent anymore. An alimony agreement also gets terminated by the court if one of the spouses dies.Change in the alimony agreement can be requested based on two conditions. Either there is a significant change in the income of the giving spouse or a significant change in the needs of the receiving spouse. Either way, proper evidence and a fact-based request are required to convince the court to proceed with the hearings.

Can I Move Out of State with My Children After the Divorce?

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Friday December 9th, 2022.

Divorce comes with many complications, and having children adds up to it. Usually, after divorce, you plan to move on with your life, but moving out of state can be tricky if you have children. The court primarily decides child custody based on the parenting plan.

It depends on whether you have sole custody, joint custody, split custody, or visitation right. It is easier to move states if you have sole custody of the children and can make decisions. Still, the terms must be decided in court.

Court Permission to Move Out of State

It is obligatory in many states to get permission from the court before moving to another state with your children. The request is accepted or rejected according to the modification order. Even if you have sole custody, you will still need the court’s permission before moving out of state.

In most cases, you need to get permission from the other parent in order to get the request accepted. If both parties agree to this decision, granting permission from the court is merely a matter of filling out the necessary documents. The agreement papers are included in the modification plan and reviewed and signed by the judge.

If the other parents object to the move, it may become difficult to convince the court. However, avoid using written agreements between both parents without court permission. If the other parent changes their mind in the future, it can cost you a whole trip back to the original state.

What to do If the Other Parent Objects?

The court grants permission for the move under different considerations.

  • It will be easier to move if the move is mandatory and due to employment purposes. Assuring the court with a better income and lifestyle for the children helps you even more.
  • If the visiting time of the other parent is less, e.g., a few times a month, the move becomes easier.
  • If the state you are moving to is near, e.g., a couple of hours away, it can also help you get permission from the court.

Can I Change a Child Custody Agreement?

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Monday November 14th, 2022.

Your life can change drastically after a divorce. The circumstances under which you are raising your children can vary considerably. Sometimes, the situation requires a change in the parenting time and child custody agreement set by the court.

To simply answer the above question, yes, the child custody agreement can be changed. It can be requested by one parent or by both parents.

You must know that once the court sets the child custody agreement, it legally bounds the parents to follow that agreement. Hence a change in that agreement should be appropriately done through court.

Requirements for Modifying the Agreements

Child custody modification is easy as long as you have solid evidence to support it. Any drastic change in your life, e.g., a long-distance move due to a job, a permanent change in your job timings, any medical condition, or due to the child’s own preference.

But make sure that the change is in the best interest of the children. 

Steps to Follow

The first step is to fill out a request form for a change in order, along with the reason for the change. If you are modifying the existing order, enter the previous case number and attach essential documents like the child custody application form, school grades, letters from the counselor, etc.

File the application form and the documents to the court, along with paying the fees. The fee is usually paid by the parent requesting the application. Once you get a hearing date, mail a copy of that document to the other parent. 

The main objective during the court should be to explain the reason for changing the timings or custody agreement and how it is best for the children.

In Case of Mutual Agreement from Both Parents

In the case of mutual agreement from both parents, the matter can also be settled without going to court. However, doing that can cause misunderstanding in the future in case one parent decides to back off on the agreement.

Hence, it is best to settle this matter through court, where parents can mutually request the change for custody.

Emancipation 101

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Tuesday October 18th, 2022.

Emancipation can generally be defined as an act in which a person usually a slave or a minor is set free from the authority of another person. It can be regarded as the liberation of the bounded individual from the duty to serve and obey their owners or parents.

Emancipation minors who are eligible to be given the same rights as adults. Most states have statutes specifically designed to govern emancipation. As much as the statutes may vary from state to state, most states allow for emancipation under the court’s review. This implies that all states have laws that define when, how, and the circumstances in which a child can be emancipated from their parents.

At What Age Can One Be Emancipated 

There is no fixed age for emancipation. However, some states such as California require that you must be at least 14, to apply for emancipation while in other states such as Mississippi there is no minimum age requirement. However, a minor is normally assumed to have been emancipated when to the age of either 18 or 21, this is dependent on the state.

What Happens If the State Does Not Have Specific Laws That Govern Emancipation? 

The court may act as an arbitrator of emancipation claims if the state does not have particular laws that govern emancipation. One will need a petition to be emancipated under the judicial decree. The petition can be done by either the person seeking emancipation, the guardian of a minor, or an acquaintance. The petition is filed at a county court. It must be accompanied by evidence of the conduct of both the minor or guardian that violates the rights and responsibilities of the guardian to the child and the child to the guardian.

Implicit Vs Explicit Emancipation 

Emancipation can either be thought of as implicit or explicit. Implicit emancipation occurs when one marries, is convicted of a felony, joins the armed forces, reaches the age of majority which is majorly 18 or 21 in most states, or permanently moves away from the parents. Implicit emancipation does not require a court order to be valid. Explicit emancipation cannot occur without a court order from a judge. It involves the liberating entity’s declaration before witnesses and a public officer that they intend to set the bound individual free.

Invalidating a Prenup

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Tuesday September 13th, 2022.

Prenuptial agreements are typically created with participation from both spouses and can be very advantageous for all parties. Prenuptial agreements can occasionally be made in bad faith, with one spouse solely considering their own interests. 

What is a Prenup?

An engaged couple may enter into a prenuptial agreement or prenup before they get married. The agreement specifies each party’s assets and property. When deciding who receives what assets in the event of a divorce, the couple will consult the prenuptial agreement. 

What Makes a Prenup Invalid?

A court may invalidate the terms of an agreement if it finds that something illegal occurred during the filing or creation of the document.

Here are four reasons a judge may invalidate your prenup:

Failure to disclose assets:  One spouse’s failure to reveal the full extent of their assets prior to signing the prenuptial agreement is a frequent reason why prenuptial agreements are declared illegal. If neither spouse waives their right to review, the other must be informed of all assets and obligations for the disclosure to be deemed valid. The financial details cannot be purposely hidden, such as a prospective spouse transferring assets or giving them as gifts.

Signing without representation: Some states demand that both parties’ legal representatives be present when the agreement is signed. Without a lawyer present at the signing, the agreement can be wholly void unless one party explicitly relinquishes their right to legal counsel.

Coercion: A prenuptial agreement that was signed under duress or under the influence of a future spouse may be void. Threats or physical force used to compel someone to sign a document are referred to as duress and coercion. Duress and coercion include demanding someone sign a prenuptial agreement before they walk down the aisle and denying them the chance to evaluate the terms or obtain independent legal counsel. 

Improperly filed paperwork: A prenup should always be handled by an attorney that is well-versed in the process. A poorly drafted agreement or improperly filed paperwork can be all it takes for a judge to invalidate the document.

Please contact our office today for a consultation if you need help drafting a prenuptial agreement. 

Can I Date Other People Before My Divorce Is Final?

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Wednesday August 10th, 2022.

After a divorce, dating can be challenging. If you recently separated and are now returning to the dating world, you may be wondering “can I date someone new before my divorce is final?”

The Short Answer

Yes. 

There is no legal prohibition against beginning a romantic relationship before a divorce is final. In any jurisdiction, it is not necessary to prove one party’s fault for a couple to obtain a divorce. The new person you are dating doesn’t have to be concerned about being accused of adultery in the divorce proceeding.

Will It Complicate Your Proceedings?

It might. 

Dating is defined by law as one-on-one social interaction with another person. There is technically no difference between platonic and romantic or sexual contact. However, romantic or sexual relationships are the ones that garner attention and could complicate your divorce case, practically speaking.

Even if you are formally separated, divorce attorneys advise against dating during the divorce process. There is a possibility that it might raise the cost and stress of the divorce trial. If you’re still married, you shouldn’t date anyone else. However, once a person has physically and legally separated their spouse, judges rarely penalize them for starting a new relationship—sexual or otherwise.

Remember, it can be quite challenging to date while a divorce is still pending. It’s possible that dating someone new won’t impact the divorce process, but consider if it’s truly worth the risk. Before starting a new relationship, speak with your lawyer if you genuinely want to end your marriage. You can get legal advice regarding the repercussions of dating while your divorce is still pending. You may be advised to keep your connection private and try not to be seen together in public if you are dating someone. Definitely do not introduce your children to a new partner before the final divorce decree.

Get All of Your Divorce Questions Answered

The staff at Wickersham and Bowers is accessible right now to respond to your inquiries if you’re considering sacking your marriage. Our attorneys are skilled, competent, and sympathetic experts with years of combined legal expertise. We’ll work hard to get you the best result while assisting you in understanding your legal rights. 

Myths about Collaborative Divorce

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Tuesday July 12th, 2022.

The benefits of collaborative divorce are numerous. It enables you and your spouse to control the process and make all crucial choices. You can decide where and with whom your children will reside as well as how the marital estate will be divided. The outcome is a customized divorce agreement made by you and your spouse — not a judge.

However, because collaborative divorce is relatively new, a few myths are circulating about the process. This article will bust some of the three biggest ones:

Myth: I need a “bulldog” lawyer

Most people think of divorce as a nasty process and think they need an attorney that is ready to get dirty.

The truth is, you don’t need to pit yourself against your former spouse during the divorce process. While defending you, your collaborative lawyer won’t disparage your spouse. Instead, you, your spouse, and both your lawyers collaborate to find solutions to the problems brought on by your separation.

Myth: We need to be in complete agreement

Like any other divorcing people, couples that go through the collaborative process have arguments and problems in their marriage. Throughout the process, a group of experts will collaborate with you and your spouse to identify practical answers to those issues. The only requirements are your honesty, trustworthiness, and willingness to bargain in good faith to discover solutions that benefit your family.

Myth: Collaborative divorce is expensive

Although a collaborative divorce will cost you money, a contested divorce will cost more. Each spouse typically hires a lawyer and a divorce coach in a collaborative divorce. A financial expert and a child evaluator are two examples of impartial experts that the parties jointly hire. If necessary, mediation sessions can be planned and are also beneficial. While that may sound like a large and expensive team, a collaborative divorce avoids the costs of going to trial.

Is collaborative divorce right for you?

Collaborative divorce can assist you and your spouse with respectfully resolving any differences. You will collectively divide the family’s assets in a way that both parties find acceptable and establish a custody schedule that will pave the way for a successful co-parenting relationship. 

Contact us for a consultation if you would like to discuss the collaborative divorce process further.

Who Decides Where The Kids Will Go to School?

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Thursday June 9th, 2022.

Who Decides Where The Kids Will Go to School?

School-age children are required to get an education in a public, private, or home school setting. If a child attends a public school, the residential living area determines where the child will attend. However, knowing where the kids will attend school becomes slightly more complicated if you and your spouse are divorced.

If one parent has custody of the child for the majority of the time, the kid will most likely attend school in that parent’s school district. However, if both parents share 50/50 custody, a decision must be made. 

If you and the other parent cannot reach an amicable decision on where your child should attend school, you may need to seek legal assistance. A skilled child custody attorney can help, especially if the court will be involved in the decision.

Factors the court will consider:

  • if the parent exhibits school system knowledge and has looked into the alternatives
  • if the custodial parent shows cooperation with the non-custodial parent in decision-making processes
  • the logistics of getting the children back and forth to school 
  • the ability to express the reasons why the school is the best choice for the child

What If I Am Left Out of School Decisions?

You can give the court order showing your parental rights to the school. The teachers and administration must involve you if you have a court order that provides you access to your child’s school information and gives you decision-making power.

Will the School Correspond with Both Parents?

In most cases, it is the responsibility of each parent to contact the school and establish communication channels. The custodial parent is not responsible for ensuring the non-custodial parent is kept informed.

Does the Non-custodial Parent Have to be Listed as an Emergency Contact?

When one parent has sole physical and legal custody, the other parent does not have to be listed as an emergency contact unless the court order mandates otherwise. 

If you and your former partner need assistance making school decisions for your children, you should consult with an attorney that is well-versed in these decisions. Making decisions regarding schooling should be handled efficiently in order to have the most negligible negative impact on the children.

Reasons You Need a Prenuptial Agreement

On behalf of The Law Office of Wickersham and Bowers posted in Family Law on Monday May 19h, 2022.

A prenuptial agreement defines the parameters of your finances before marriage, including property rights and more. A lawyer should thoroughly review every prenuptial agreement, with one attorney representing you and the other representing your future spouse.

You may think prenups are only for people with substantial financial resources. However, if any of the following apply to you or your situation, a prenuptial agreement should be discussed.

One (Or Both) of You Has Children

A prenuptial agreement should be considered if one of you had children from a previous marriage or relationship.

Prenuptial agreements can be written to protect your children’s assets and future earnings. This property or income might ordinarily be considered part of the marital estate and so be divided. A premarital agreement ensures that children’s inheritance and future maintenance are not entangled in the divorce process.

There is Substantial Debt

Debt is an unfortunate aspect of life, and people can carry their debt into the marriage. The non-burdened party is unlikely to want to be saddled with an enormous bill should the marriage go sour. 

A prenuptial agreement can help limit one partner’s exposure to the debts of the other. Any agreement should spell out each partner’s individual debts and assets prior to the marriage, allowing for a clear distinction between those debts and debts incurred by the couple during the marriage.

Someone Plans to be a Stay At Home Parent

In the event of a divorce, it might be difficult or impossible for one party to re-establish their profession or financial footing after pausing or giving up their work to raise their children. A prenuptial agreement protects stay-at-home parents’ interests in marital assets. It ensures that these agreements are documented in the event that the marriage breaks and their profession is put on hold. 

One of You Has Pets

Including pets in your prenuptial agreement is normal, especially if the pets are costly. This will ensure that any animals you share with your spouse are returned to their rightful owners if the marriage ends in divorce. Although pet ownership is rarely a point of contention in divorce proceedings, some people do use it as a negotiating tool.