Massucci Law Group LLC - Family Law

Columbus Ohio Family Law Blog

Mortgage issues can arise in divorce

In many Ohio divorce cases, the couple's most important and most valuable asset is the family home. There are essentially three options for dealing with the mortgage in cases where one of the spouses will keep the home. Typically, the other spouse will take other assets to compensate for the equity in the home. The three options are retaining the original mortgage, refinancing the original mortgage and assuming the original mortgage.

The primary problem with retaining the original mortgage with both spouses on it is that the spouse who keeps the home might run into financial hardship and be unable to make payments. This means the other spouse, who no longer lives in the home nor has ownership rights to it, must make mortgage payments or risk damage to his or her credit. Refinancing the mortgage into the name of the spouse who's keeping the house can be the best option, but it might also mean paying higher interest rates or significant transaction costs.

Tips for locating hidden assets in a divorce

There are a number of signs that might alert a person in Ohio to the possibility that their spouse is attempting to hide assets in a divorce. One of the most obvious signs is money disappearing from accounts or missing account statements. A person may claim that a large sum has been taken from an account to pay a tax or credit card bill, but this may be an overpayment ruse. By the time the IRS or the company gets around to refunding the overpayment, the divorce may be over, and the money might not be included in shared property that is subject to division.

Some people try to work with an employer to conceal bonuses or other compensation. This kind of compensation might be deferred until after the divorce. Familiarity with a spouse's pay structure may help protect against this deception.

The importance of preparing for divorce negotiations

Divorcing couples in Ohio and around the country often hope to get through property division and spousal support negotiations as quickly and as painlessly as possible, but going into these talks unprepared can lead to problems in later years. People who have grown accustomed to pooling their incomes to cover their monthly bills can find it difficult to maintain a comfortable lifestyle on a single paycheck, and debts that are divided may become thorny issues if payments are not made on time.

When spouses decide to divorce, they usually account for monthly costs like rent, utilities and car payments when they calculate the costs of living alone. However, they often overlook equally important obligations such as health insurance and retirement savings. Another common divorce misstep is cashing out and dividing IRA and 401(k) accounts. While doing this can provide people with cash while they transition into a new lifestyle, it can also lead to higher tax bills.

How divorcing couples might handle social media

Some unhappy spouses in Ohio might be tempted to use social media to blow off steam. However, this could be a mistake if a divorce is inevitable. Anything one posts on social media could be used against them during a divorce.

Someone who is considering a divorce may want to lock down their social media entirely. This could include updating privacy settings and deleting anyone from the friends list who might cause drama. Venting should be done offline to family and friends or a therapist if necessary. Friends and acquaintances do not need to know the details of divorce disputes or what kind of agreement the couple has reached regarding property division and child custody. If the split is relatively amicable, the couple might decide on a time that they will announce the divorce on social media.

Adopting stepchildren: The steps it takes

A stepparent adoption is similar regardless of the gender of the parent who wishes to adopt. Typically, stepparents will seek adoption if their partner's child has no second parent. For example, if their father or mother passed away or gave up their parental rights, then the stepparent would be able to seek adoption.

What's interesting about stepparent adoption is that adopting a stepchild is the most common type of adoption. It allows stepparents to take on the full responsibilities of a legal parent and revokes the rights of the noncustodial parent. This does, however, end the noncustodial parent's responsibility toward child support.

Helping children grow up emotionally healthy after divorce

Many Ohio parents who decide to seek a divorce worry about how the divorce will affect their children's emotional health. This is a valid concern as many children of divorce often struggle with issues that first develop when their parents split up. However, parents can work together to help their children lead an emotionally healthy life after divorce.

Because children of divorced parents have to make drastic adjustments in their lives rather quickly, they often have to grow up too fast, all of which can have a negative impact on their emotional wellbeing. One way an expert suggests for preventing this negative impact is to remember and respect the rights of children of divorce. First, children of divorced parents have a right to love both their parents and to continue building healthy relationships with both parents without feeling any guilt. This means that parents should not interfere in this development by speaking negatively about their ex or by blaming their ex for a variety of faults in front of their children. Second, as stepparents are introduced, the children have the right to also build healthy relationships with them.

Getting prepared for divorce in the summer

Couples in Ohio may find that the extra togetherness of the summer season makes existing problems even more apparent. This is one reason that divorces tend to go up during the summer months. Extra family time due to vacations and children being home from school may make it obvious that a marriage is not working out. Even more, the transitional period of the summer, while kids are not in school and even a move will not disrupt the educational year, may make a divorce less logistically challenging than at other times of the year.

According to one study, divorces tend to peak every year in August and March, closing the summer and following the holiday season. Other experts said that January, with the turn of the new year, is also a significant month for elevated divorce rates. However, they advise that preparation can be important for people to emerge successfully from the end of a marriage. Divorce is about ending a legal and financial relationship as well as a personal and emotional one. Therefore, it can be particularly important for both spouses to understand the couple's full financial situation when considering the impact of ending a marriage.

Dividing student loan debt in a divorce

Student loan debt is a major issue for many people in Ohio. The cost of college attendance has gone up dramatically in recent decades, and many reports have covered young people delaying marriage, children or home-buying due to their large student loan burden. Divorce can be a financial challenge for people in any situation; the long-term effects of divorce can linger for years after the practical and romantic issues have been wrapped up. As a result, many people may be concerned about how student loans will be dealt with when property is divided in a divorce.

In many cases, people came into the marriage with their student loan debt already in place. Generally, these debts will be considered separate property in a divorce, and the person who received the education will remain responsible. The situation can be more complex when people take out their student loans after they are already married. Debt accumulated after marriage is often considered shared by both parties, especially if both also received benefits from the additional education. As Ohio is an equitable distribution state, student loan debts acquired after marriage are not necessarily divided equally between the parties.

Same-sex marriage and divorce: The legal impact

If you are in a relationship with a person of the same sex, there may come a point when you consider marriage. While you may have some concerns about tying the knot, there are a variety of legal benefits associated with doing so.

Here are some of the many things to keep in mind regarding same-sex marriage and divorce:

  • Children: Your status as a couple affects your legal rights in regard to your relationship with your children. For example, if you're married, both individuals have the same rights and responsibilities. And if you divorce, issues regarding custody, visitation and support are handled in the same way as any married couple.
  • Property rights and division: As an unmarried couple, the person who acquires the property is the person who owns it. However, things change when you get married, as joint ownership of property comes into play. Comparing the pros and cons of marriage, as it pertains to property rights and property division, will help you decide what's best for your situation.
  • Impact on estate planning: Estate planning is a big part of marriage, as it allows you to address key issues such as who will receive your property upon your death and what will happen to any minor children should you and your spouse pass on. Estate planning allows you to take legal steps for dealing with any potential issues, such as those concerning parental rights or the distribution of assets.
  • Government benefits: The government provides a variety of benefits to married couples, such as those associated with Social Security. However, if you remain unmarried, these never come to light. It's not the only reason to get married, but it's something to strongly consider.

How divorce can impact a business and its owner

A divorce may have a variety of impacts on a business owner. This is partially because a company may represent an Ohio resident's biggest asset and primary source of income. During divorce settlement talks, how to divide assets and determine how much a person makes are often major points of contention. In some cases, it can be hard to differentiate between personal and corporate assets because of the company's size and ownership structure.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act allows a business owner to label some income as a return on investment as opposed to wages. This could make a business more valuable while reducing the amount used to calculate spousal and child support payments. An independent appraiser may be able to determine how much a company is worth as well as create a breakdown of its expenses. However, any documents that he or she uses to come to a conclusion should be kept confidential.

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