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Columbus Ohio Family Legal Blog

Dragging your feet through divorce? Here's why you should hurry

By now you probably already know that significant changes are coming to the tax code in 2019. But did you know that those changes can affect your upcoming divorce?

If you are waiting to file divorce papers or are already slowly moving through the process of ending your marriage, it might be a good idea to speed things up. If you finalize your divorce before the end of the year, you can protect yourself from some big changes coming this way.

Waiting to file bankruptcy? You may need to rethink your plans

Most people in Ohio spend much of their lives waiting for that big break around the corner -- that new job, a well-earned raise or the promotion they never even applied for. For those facing the potential of bankruptcy the hope of a big break can lull them into false certainty that better times are soon ahead, even if all evidence points to the contrary. When facing insurmountable debts, these breaks rarely -- if ever -- come, and debtors often end up in even worse financial straits.

Wait-and-see is a common tactic when facing any problem. After all, things could get better! Unfortunately they can also get much worse. Individuals who wait two years or longer to file for bankruptcy have far fewer assets when compared to those who filed sooner. They also have a ratio of debt-to-income that is 40 percent more than debtors who sought bankruptcy protection early on in their financial troubles.

Will I have to give up my dog during property division?

Whether couples carefully selected a breeder and the pick of the litter or went down to their local animal shelter to bring home a pet on the short list for euthanasia, there is little denying how much pets mean to their owners. Unfortunately, this deep love of pets complicates divorce. In fact, many divorcing couples in Ohio are surprised to learn that their animals are handled during property division and not in a process similar to child custody.

No matter how much a person loves a dog or treats it like a child, this does not change how the law views the animal -- as property. And like any other type of property, a beloved cat or dog is subject to property division in divorce proceedings. One person might ask for ownership of the dog and the other party could agree. Another might end up going to war over who should retain ownership of the animal. In some cases, feuding couples may even be ordered to sell their pet and split the profits.

Lack of credit card education could play role in bankruptcy

Credit cards are a ubiquitous part of American financial culture. These financial tools are so readily available that many stores in Ohio even offer consumers that opportunity to sign up for a new line of credit while checking out. For how common these little rectangles are, few people are rarely taught the proper way to use them. Unfortunately, this could potentially be a contributing factor in many bankruptcy filings.

Nearly half of all Americans owe between $1,000 and $5,000 on their credit cards. How quickly can these consumers expect to pay back their debts? There's a good chance that they are not sure. A recent survey found that 45 percent of people never received education regarding credit cards. Of those who were educated on these tools, 8 percent learned about them in middle school and 22 percent in high school, meaning that they may not have retained the information by the time they were old enough to receive their own credit card.

Women increasingly responsible for post-divorce payments

Alimony and child support payments are common payments that one partner takes on after the marriage ends. Historically, Ohio men have largely shouldered this financial responsibility. However, as society continues to change, many women find themselves responsible for these payments after a divorce.

The Pew Research Center reports that mothers are either the sole or primary financial provider in about 40 percent of families in the United States. This increase in female breadwinners seems to be responsible for the 45 percent of lawyers who say they have witnessed a significant uptick in the number of female divorcees shelling out alimony. Another 54 percent note that the number of mothers responsible for child support is also on the rise.

Keep this in mind when seeking child support modifications

When an Ohio judge issued your divorce decree, it may have included orders for you to pay child support. Like most good parents, you always have your children's best interests in mind, and you were more than willing to do your part to help provide for their financial needs following your divorce. If the process leading up to a court order was challenging due to disagreements between you and your former spouse, it's understandable you'd be nervous about seeking a modification of your existing court order. 

Life is ever changing, and you definitely would not be the first parent in this or any other state to become unable to meet your current child support payments due to unforeseen circumstances. If you know your rights and understand the steps you must take to seek the court's approval for payment modification, you may be able to continue providing for your children without incurring legal penalties, which would be likely if you were to simply stop making payments. 

4 tips that can make shared parenting arrangements easier

Sharing custody of a child is not easy, especially when parents are also dealing with the breakup of their marriage.

Often, people find that it gets easier as time goes on and as parents get used to a shared parenting arrangement, but there are steps you can take proactively to alleviate some of the challenges of sharing custody.

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