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Birmingham Divorce Law Blog

Working with a real estate agent during a divorce

For many Alabama couples, the end of a marriage means that their family home will need to be sold. Selling a home allows both parties to share in the accumulated equity, which can help both spouses achieve financial stability after a divorce. Even so, placing one's home on the market can be an incredibly emotional time. Fortunately, working with a real estate professional can make the process far easier to manage.

One of the best ways to leverage the expertise of a real estate agent is to sit down and determine the best timing for selling a home. Real estate markets fluctuate depending on the time of year and overall market conditions. In many cases, placing the home on the market during the peak selling period can lead to a better outcome. It is important that both spouses are willing to work together to maximize their eventual profit from the sale of their home.

Former prostitute wins child custody case

Each and every year, thousands of Alabama parents face challenges to their child custody rights. Some cases are more complicated than others, although no parent enjoys having his or her rights questioned in a court of law. For one woman in a southern state, a recent win has restored her child custody rights after a court took issue with her former employment as a prostitute.

The mother and father were in a relationship and had two children together prior to breaking up in 2010. They shared physical custody of the children, although the mother retained primary custody. However, when the father found out that his former partner was working at an established brothel in a state where prostitution is legal, he went to court seeking primary custody.

Recent statistics on retirement and divorce

For many Alabama spouses, one of the most pressing concerns about ending their marriages involves how their decisions will impact retirement plans. This is an understandable concern, as statistics show that divorce can have a number of consequences for an individual's ability to retire as planned. Understanding how the financial aspects of a divorce may play out in the years to come can help spouses make wise financial decisions during and after divorce.

Research suggests that the divorce rate among young Americans has declined. However, when it comes to people over the age of 50, divorce rates are double what they were in 1990. Overall, it is estimated that around half of all marriages will end in divorce. When an individual is at or nearing retirement age, the financial repercussions of a divorce can be far more difficult to overcome than when someone is in their 20s or 30s.

Beware of moving assets during or just prior to divorce

For many Alabama spouses, the timeframe leading up to a divorce is one filled with planning. Taking a proactive approach to structuring one's post-divorce life can make a world of difference in the months and years to follow and is a great idea. When making preparations, however, it is important to avoid taking any financial action that could be interpreted as depleting marital wealth.

This can be more complicated than it seems. Many actions that are perfectly reasonable can be construed as an intentional act, if and when one's spouse decides to paint things in those strokes. For example, a wife who spends her yearly bonus to furnish the apartment that she is moving into at the beginning of the divorce process likely does so in the belief that it was her earned bonus and not money that came from the family's savings account or other assets. However, the court is not likely to view things in the same light. Up until the time of separation, most income and assets are viewed as marital wealth and cannot be used for the purposes of one individual.

A prenuptial agreement is not the only means of protection

Virtually every Alabama resident is aware of the power of a prenup in protecting against financial loss. For those who have not tied the knot but are simply living together, it is easy to assume that a similar level of protection is not available. In reality, however, cohabitation agreements can provide many of the same protections that a prenuptial agreement offers, especially in regard to purchasing a home.

When an unmarried couple buys a house, they are not protected under the set of laws that govern divorce and property division. That means that if they end their romantic relationship and cannot come to terms on how to divide the value of the home, serious legal trouble can result. If one party can make a stronger claim on the home than the other, it is possible that an unfair division of equity can result.

Same-sex couples still face child custody obstacles

Many Alabama readers are aware of the recent legal changes that have paved the way for same-sex couples to marry. Even though the United States Supreme Court has addressed the matter and concluded that same-sex couples are entitled to marry, nontraditional families still face significant legal challenges. In regard to child custody cases, spouses who live in certain states can face an uphill battle when it comes to gaining rights to their children.

An example is found in a southern family that consisted of two women and two children. When the couple made the decision to expand their family, it was decided that one of the women would adopt a child on her own. This was prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage, which left the couple with few options. Years later, the couple decided that the same woman would conceive and carry a child through in vitro fertilization.

Father distressed over child custody modification outcome

In a case that reached one state's highest judicial level, a man has been denied primary custody of his children, who are residing with a convicted sex offender. The matter has sparked debate across the country, as few parents in Alabama or elsewhere can imagine living in a scenario in which they are left feeling helpless to protect their children from harm. The child custody case may prompt legislative action in the state where the family resides.

At the center of the matter is a father who became concerned when he learned that the mother of his two teenage daughters had married a man with a prior conviction for molesting a child. Even more distressing was the fact that the child in question was the man's 15-year-old stepdaughter at the time the crime took place. Because the man's daughters are now 15 and 17 years old, the father felt that they were at risk by living in the same home with their new stepfather.

Rethinking common beliefs about divorce and what follows

One of the most harmful things that spouses can do to themselves at the end of their marriage is to fall into the trap of believing misconceptions about what their single life might look like. In reality, no one knows what the future holds, which underscores how futile it is to obsessively worry about one's post-divorce life. A far better investment of that time would be to turn one's attention to the legal aspects of his or her Alabama divorce.

One of the biggest fears that people have when approaching a divorce is the concept that being single will be a terrible experience. They may fear being alone, or they may hate the thought of having to make new social connections and forge their way in the world as a single person rather than as part of a couple. These fears are rarely based in fact, and they only serve to make spouses anxious and unsettled about their future. For many people, being single turns out to be far more fulfilling than they may have suspected.

Father loses child custody rights after leaving town

When parents are unable to see eye to eye concerning the care and custody of their shared child, things can quickly get out of hand. Child custody is an emotional state of affairs, and parents in Alabama and across the nation struggle to come to terms with having to share time with a former spouse or partner. It is easy to make child custody decisions that are based on emotion rather than reason, but doing so can have long-term detrimental effects to a parent's child custody rights.

An example is found in a West Coast case that has made headlines across the nation. With the consent of the child's mother, a father took his seven-year-old daughter for an out-of-state trip. When the time came to return the child, the father decided that he wanted to keep the girl in his care. At the time, there was no child custody agreement in place between the parents.

Gaining professional financial advice during an Alabama divorce

Understanding the ins and outs of property division options can be a challenge. For many in Alabama, that aspect of divorce is the most difficult to weather. Fortunately, help is available from professionals who are trained in the financial aspects of divorce. Known as certified divorce financial analysts (CDFAs), these advisors can help guide spouses toward the choices that are best suited to their unique needs and goals.  

A CDFA begins by meeting with their client to discuss their current financial standing, their projected financial needs and long-term goals. Next, various property division options will be discussed, with the pros and cons of each explained in detail. Whether it is the cost of maintaining and eventually selling the family home, the tax ramifications of cashing out retirement accounts or the division of marital debt, each decision can be weighed in light of the spouse's financial goals.

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