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Covington Area Law Blog

Divorces include elements of unpredictability

Although Kentucky state laws guide divorce proceedings, no one can predict the final terms of a divorce settlement in its entirety. Filing for divorce begins a process that could include negotiations, compromises, and court rulings on matters of property division, child custody and spousal support. When former partners cannot come to legally acceptable terms privately, a family court will intervene and rulings depend on interpretations of factors like the best interests of the child and the opinions of judges.

During a divorce, marital assets and debts will be decided. Courts attempt to make rulings that provide for an equitable outcome for both parties. When a person strongly desires possession of a business, giving up the family home during negotiations could achieve that goal and prevent a judge from making an arbitrary decision.

Alcohol education and treatment program basics

When people are convicted of driving under the influence in a Kentucky courtroom, they might possibly be ordered to attend alcohol education or assessment and treatment as part of the sentencing arrangement. The amount of time they could be ordered to attend an education or treatment program could vary, depending upon any prior convictions.

There are several different levels of alcohol education and treatment programs. For example, minors under the age of 21 and first-time offenders may be required to undergo a program that is less intense than higher level alcohol education courses. In some cases, repeat offenders may even be required to undergo therapy. The duration of these types of programs can also vary based on a variety of factors, including the person's BAC and number of prior convictions.

3 types of field sobriety tests

With summer fully underway, there is no better time to break out the grill and enjoy the company of friends and family. You might have a few drinks, too, as you enjoy a relaxing evening. If you drive home, though, you might find yourself behind bars and facing charges of a DUI. According to the Center for Disease Control, between 1.4 and 2 percent of adults in Indiana and Kentucky admit to driving after they have drunk too much.

When you get pulled over, the law enforcement officer will typically ask you to complete one or more field sobriety tests. Unfortunately, however, these tests are not always accurate. The following three are some of the most common tests and the issues with them.

Divorce myths may lead to poor planning

Kentucky residents who want to get divorced might benefit from reviewing some of the common misconceptions about the process before they simply dive in. Experts say that many couples make mistakes due to their lack of understanding about how divorces work. For instance, some try to save money by getting a single lawyer to represent both spouses. In reality, however, such arrangements can end up with only one person receiving appropriate representation.

Other common errors include the idea that people's pension benefits are automatically excluded from divorce settlements claims, but federal ERISA laws exempt these benefits from such protection in the case of divorces. Some people may try to relinquish their ownership interest in assets like homes to absolve themselves of liability and responsibility, but unless they create appropriate settlement agreements that detail the nature of such transfers and include indemnification terms, they may remain on the hook for outstanding debts.

Deportation risks may prompt custody arrangements

Kentucky parents who are undocumented immigrants and who fear that they risk being deported may be interested in learning that adults in similar situations are using custody arrangements to keep their kids safe should the worst come to pass. For families whose children were born in the U.S. and thus have a right to be here even though their parents don't, preparing custody transfer paperwork is emerging as a potentially viable means of long-term protection.

Many parents who risk deportation would prefer for their children to remain in the U.S. because their home countries are unsafe or lack employment opportunities. These families have taken to naming legal guardians in advance just in case they get deported or detained by immigration officials.

How to blend families after a divorce

When Kentucky residents who have children from a previous marriage decide to join households with a new partner, there are a number of things that must be considered. Money is a frequent source of conflicts in relationships, so a couple should talk about their attitudes toward money and how they plan to save and spend. They should talk about their long-term financial goals and what they want for their children as well. This may include discussion of how to pay for college educations. Ex-spouses and grandparents may also be a factor in these discussions.

Both people may be bringing significant assets into the relationship. For example, each person may own a home. It will be necessary to decide what to do with both homes and who will have ownership of the remaining one if one is sold. Couples will also need to consider issues such as the different needs of their children. Other considerations are whether bank accounts and investments will be kept separate or commingled.

The benefits of shared parenting

Kentucky parents who are separated or divorced might struggle when it comes to negotiating a parenting plan that all parties are comfortable with. Even in the most amicable divorces, custody might be a sensitive issue that can extend the process and make it more expensive. One plan that might address all these concerns is shared parenting.

The concept of shared parenting is a custody arrangement where the children spend about the same amount of time with each parent. Though there are many studies that have shown the benefits of shared parenting, according to data from the U.S. Census, courts still award physical custody to the mothers in 80 percent of child custody cases. However, studies have shown that shared parenting is more beneficial to children since it lowers their stress levels by allowing them to continue with stable, supportive relationships with both their parents that allow for adequate development and growth. Additionally, the data shows that children who live primarily with only one parent are more likely to get depressed, to drop out of high school, to commit suicide, become runaways, or end up in jail.

Retirement accounts at risk in divorce for older adults

More Kentucky couples might be divorcing when they are 50 and older compared to previous generations. Since 1990, the divorce rate for people 50 and older has doubled. For people 65 and older, it has tripled. This can cause serious problems for people's retirements. Retirement accounts must be divided, and this can be costly. Furthermore, older adults do not have the time to replenish their retirement accounts that younger ones would have.

One issue with costs is that for a non-IRA retirement account, a document known as a Qualified Domestic Relations Order is necessary. Without this document, a person could owe taxes on the amount transferred to the spouse. However, a QDRO can be costly as well, and it is important that it be prepared correctly. Transferring an IRA has to be done as a process in which the amount goes from one trustee to the other or there could also be penalties.

Divorcing when wives out-earn their husbands

There has been a rise in income inequality in Kentucky and the rest of the United States. This disparity also results in couples consisting of two parties of different socioeconomic statuses, which can lead to a divorce down the road.

Some sociologists have pointed out a rise in "associative mating", which is choosing a partner who is similar to oneself in terms of education, earning or other social identities. As most marriages today bring together people of similar backgrounds, this often means strong dual-career partnerships. It is still more common for husbands to earn more than wives, but many wives are beginning to earn more than their husbands as the gender pay gap shrinks.

Child custody in a non-divorce setting

Divorce is not the only source of Kentucky child custody disputes. Unmarried parents, grandparents, other relatives or even friends might have reasons to apply for visitation privileges or physical custody of a child.

For unmarried parents, they will have a chance to discuss the terms of custody between themselves and reach an agreement out of court. If they cannot overcome their differences, then a family court will need to decide the matter. Typically, an unwed mother is given sole physical custody of her child, and a father must take legal action to establish his rights. Unless the mother can be shown to be an unfit parent, a father would generally have no ability to achieve sole custody, but he might gain visitation rights or shared custody.