Christopherson, Anderson Paulson & Fideler, LLP Attorneys at Law Christopherson, Anderson Paulson & Fideler, LLP Attorneys at Law
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Sioux Falls Family Law Blog

Your age might place you at higher risk for divorce

In South Dakota and across the country, millennials are getting married later in life and are subsequently getting divorced at lower rates than those in older age groups. If you're age 50 or beyond, you may be one of many spouses who are considering or have taken steps to file for divorce in a civil court. In fact, the divorce rate for baby boomers has more than doubled in the past 20 years.

Divorcing later in life has significant emotional, financial and logistical implications. Many older spouses have stayed home full-time for decades because they sacrificed careers to raise their children. It can present tremendous challenges when it comes to obtaining gainful employment, which, in turn, can greatly affect your post-divorce finances. Understanding issues that often prompt gray divorce and how to overcome obstacles that may arise can help you move on in life if you're severing ties.

Getting your fair share of marital property

As an equitable distribution state, South Dakota may seem like the place where you would obtain a fair division of assets during your divorce. Equitable distribution means that the courts split your joint assets and debts, accounting for many factors so that each spouse receives a portion of the estate that is fair. The court may consider your salaries, the value of any personal assets, your individual debts and the length of your marriage, among other details.

However, despite the efforts to make the split fair, not every divorcing spouse in South Dakota ends up with the portion of assets he or she deserves. Those spouses may struggle financially in the years following the divorce. If this is a concern of yours, there are steps you can take to improve your chances of obtaining a truly equitable share of assets.

New Year's resolution: Update your estate plan

Winding down the year, you may be thinking of making resolutions and setting goals for 2019. Instead of the ones you make each year, like losing weight and saving money, perhaps you would like to do more to demonstrate your love for your family. One easy way to do this is to make sure your estate plan is up-to-date and relevant.

Hardly a year goes by that doesn't bring some change in a person's life. Over the past year, you may have had fluctuations in the makeup of your family, your finances or your opinions. Even amendments in tax laws can affect your estate plan. These kinds of changes can render the most solid estate plan obsolete, leaving your loved ones with frustration and potential legal disputes. Taking steps from time to time to review your plan can relieve your family of these heartaches.

Understanding the utility of a parenting plan

During your marriage, you probably didn't have a written agreement with your spouse regarding how you would divide the parenting duties. You just naturally fell into taking care of certain things when it came to the children. For example, you may have been the primary breadwinner while your spouse took care of a large portion of the children's daily needs and activities.

This does not mean that, now that you are going through a divorce, you must relegate yourself to paying child support and spending less time with the children than the other parent. During your divorce, you can work out a parenting plan that provides each of you with a more equitable division of time with the children.

What should you consider when appointing an executor?

After your death, many steps will still need attending to, and most of those go far beyond ensuring that your funeral takes place in the manner you deemed appropriate. Rather, your estate will need closing in the proper manner, and because you will not be around to ensure that takes place, you may want to utilize your estate plan to instruct how certain duties should be handled and who should handle them.

The person in charge of closing your estate is your personal representative. If you create a will, this individual will take on the role of executor, and you can indicate who you want to act in that position. Of course, because the person in this position has much power and responsibility, you will certainly want to choose carefully.

How does child custody work in South Dakota?

When preparing to go through the divorce process, parents in South Dakota may have a lot of questions regarding how their split will affect their time with their children. Will one parent get the kids full time? Will you and your soon-to-be ex be able to work out a joint custody agreement? Every case is different. What works for one family may not work for another.

There are specific child custody guidelines offered by the state. Anymore, though, courts are willing to accept all sorts of custody arrangements and parenting plans -- as long as they serve the best interests of the affected children.

DO YOU "NEED" A TRUST?

As an estate planning attorney, I often meet with clients who tell me they "need" a revocable trust. When I ask why, the most common answer is because they heard Dave Ramsey, Suze Orman or some other television or radio personality state that everyone needs a revocable trust. Although revocable trusts can be very beneficial, not everyone needs a revocable trust.

A prenuptial agreement is probably right for you

Prenuptial agreements might be one of the most unnecessarily controversial planning tools available. Many people in South Dakota form opinions about prenups without actually knowing much about them. Unfortunately, this means that a significant number of soon-to-be married couples miss out on valuable protections.

While wealthy South Dakota residents might have more interests to protect than others, this does not mean that you cannot utilize prenuptial agreements if you have fewer assets. In reality, prenups can benefit most couples in the event of a divorce.

Who should you trust with your family's future?

You may spend a significant amount of time determining the best way to provide for your family members after you pass away. Figuring out the type of plan that provides the most benefit possible from your assets may require some significant thought.

You decide that your estate plan will include a trust. It could be a (revocable or irrevocable) living trust, a South Dakota special spousal trust or a decanting trust, among others, that may suit your needs. Regardless of the type of trust you choose, it will need a trustee. Deciding who should care for your family's future may be the most difficult and thought provoking part of the whole process.

Divorce: What age child has the hardest time coping?

Divorce is not easy for any child; however, research shows that your child's age affects how difficult the divorce will be for them to handle.

You may think that teens would have the hardest time dealing with parental separation - after all, teens are emotional, hormonal and have spent years with both parents in the home. However, a study published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin argues that very young children actually have the hardest time with divorce.

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Christopherson, Anderson, Paulson & Fideler, LLP
509 S Dakota Avenue
Sioux Falls, SD 57104

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