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Fargo Family Law Blog

Assistance in filing child custody relocation requests

Whether child custody relocation is permissible depends upon the state in which the child custody case was initially decided. Some states, including Minnesota and North Dakota, will allow relocation if the parents have an agreement in place that contains express consent and a proposed visitation schedule.

Absent an agreement, courts in both Minnesota and North Dakota will consider the best interests of the child when determining whether to grant relocation requests. They will also consider the reasons for relocation, such as remarriage, a job opportunity or an educational opportunity. Applicable state laws also vary depending on whether the proposed move is in state, out of state and how far away the requesting parent is seeking to move. The parent requesting relocation must be able to show that the move would be in the best interests of the child.

Study shows benefits of shared custody for children of divorce

A recent study conducted by a professor of adolescent and educational psychology at Wake Forest University emphasizes the benefits of shared custody for children of divorce. The study's author intended to determine to what extent less conflict and cooperative co-parenting benefits children. She found that having a quality relationship with each parent has the most positive effect on children and that children benefit from a quality relationship with each parent, even if the parents do not have a cooperative, co-parenting relationship.

The study, published in Psychology, Public Policy and Law, a journal of the American Psychological Association, supports the notion that while conflict matters, the quality of children's relationships with their parents matters more. The study's author believes that divorcing spouses should not assume that joint custody is not a viable option simply because they have a conflict-filled relationship. Rather, parents should keep the best interests of their children in mind by developing ways to strengthen the children's relationship with each parent and reduce their exposure to conflict.

Child support plan no longer working well for you?

You love your children and want what's best for them; that's a given seeing as most North Dakota parents feel this way. However, since your divorce, you gone through many changes, including having to switch jobs and relocate. At first, everything may have been going according to plan with regard to your child custody and support agreements, but circumstances have changed and you think a modification of your existing court order needs to happen. To that end, you may wonder: What do you have to do to secure lower child support payments?

Submitting a request for lower child support payments does not in any way suggest a lack of care or commitment regarding your children's well-being. It merely shows that you are human and that life changes, and sometimes court orders need to change as well. You may only be in need of a temporary change and have every intention on raising your payments again down the line once you get back on track, financially, or you may need to ask the court for a permanent change.

Should I enter into a prenuptial agreement?

The decision of whether to enter into a prenuptial agreement is unique to every individual. North Dakota is an equitable distribution state, therefore, courts will attempt to separate marital property fairly in the event of divorce. However, certain individuals may wish to enter into prenuptial agreements to protect their financial interests and avoid judicial interference.

One of the main reasons to enter into a prenuptial agreement is to protect individual assets from creditors. Without a prenuptial agreement, one spouse may have to assume the debts of the other because creditors may attempt to satisfy debts through marital property. Another benefit of prenuptial agreements is that spouses may control how their individual property will be distributed upon death. Also, if one spouse owns a business, they may want to prevent it from being divided or controlled by the other spouse; through a prenuptial agreement, they may ensure that these business interests are protected.

Avoiding common mistakes in a high-asset divorce

A divorce is a complex process, and it can be even more complex when the divorce involves valuable assets and significant wealth. A high-asset divorce is difficult, even when the two parties are amicable, and there are many sensitive issues to consider when a lot of money and important assets are at stake.

If you are navigating a high-asset divorce in North Dakota, you would be wise not to allow your emotions to drive your decision making, but to be smart, practical and keep your focus on your future interests. By doing this, you can avoid some of the most common mistakes often committed by couples navigating this type of divorce.

Spousal support payments may be tax deductible

Couples who divorce face legal issues such as division of property, child custody, child support and spousal support. Spousal support, also called alimony, is often awarded to the spouse who earns less than the other. Its purpose is to provide financial assistance to a spouse who needs time to become self-supporting after the divorce. Alimony payments are taxable for the receiving spouse and tax deductible for the paying spouse, provided that certain requirements are met.

The IRS will consider a payment to be alimony if: the spouses do not file a joint return together; the payment is in the form of cash, check or money order; the payment is made in accordance with a divorce or separation agreement; the agreement does not state that the payment is not alimony; there is no liability to continue payment after the recipient spouse's death; and the payment is not treated as child support or a property settlement. If spouses are legally separated, then the payment must not be made when the spouses are members of the same household.

How do I request or adjust an adoption assistance agreement?

A previous blog post discussed additional forms of post-adoption support for North Dakota residents who adopt special needs children. In addition to the North Dakota state-funded adoption assistance program and the federal adoption assistance program (Title IV-E), families may also qualify for other benefits including Medicaid, public mental health services, residential treatment costs and nonrecurring fees such as court costs.

To receive such adoption assistance after a family has finalized their adoption, adoption assistance must be requested from the child placement agency that facilitated the adoption. The application will be accepted if the child is diagnosed with a congenital, genetic or predisposed condition by a qualified diagnostician. The agency will also ensure that the cost of caring for the child exceeds the family's income and ability to pay and that the applicant is not eligible for other financial benefits, such as social security.

Co-parenting begins with negotiating your parenting plan

You and your soon-to-be ex-spouse may have discussed sharing custody and co-parenting your children after the divorce. You could rely on the court to make the arrangements on your behalf, but that may defeat the purpose of continuing to share parental duties post-divorce.

A North Dakota court only has a limited number of options when it comes to entering child custody orders. Moreover, the court does not understand your family's dynamics and cannot possibly know what would work best for your family. In many cases, the court's only concern is the best interests of the children, which may not result in an order that works for all of you.

Helping you handle the challenges of military divorce

Every divorce involves challenges, such as division of property, child support and alimony. Couples involved in a military divorce face some additional issues regarding where to file for divorce and military personnel benefits and special requirements for military personnel regarding child custody.

Service members should not file for divorce overseas because those rulings may not be recognized in the United States. That risk may be avoided by filing for divorce in the state where the service member is either stationed or a legal resident, or in the state where the nonmilitary spouse lives. If divorce proceedings are initiated while a service member is deployed, the lawsuit will be delayed until the end of the deployment.

ADR offers you more control and a more peace during divorce

Divorce is a stressful, complex time for both parties. In order to minimize the complications and stress of ending a marriage, North Dakota couples may look for ways to work through disputes quicker and more easily than typically possible with a traditional divorce. For some, it is beneficial to employ one or multiple methods of alternative dispute resolution.

Not all divorces have to end up in court. In fact, it is quite possible to avoid litigation altogether and resolve all divorce disputes in a peaceful, respectful manner. Of course, this is not a reasonable option in every situation, but it could be the right choice for you if both parties are willing to commit to the process.

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Commandments of Family Law

  1. The only truth your children need to know is that you both love them unconditionally, and that this isn't their fault.
  2. Take the high road — everyone wins when you do what's best for your kids.
  3. Negotiate but don't capitulate — if you are being pushed toward something detrimental for your children, stand your ground.
  4. You can only control yourself and how you respond. Don't engage.
  5. Do set up rules and responsibilities. Kids feel better when routine is continued.
  6. You are still their parent — don't be afraid to be one.
  7. Disneyland is in California, not in your home. Don't set up unreasonable expectations.
  8. It is not their job to take care of you. Repeat that to them. Often.
  9. Yelling is for sports — not court. Good lawyers strongly advocate without being disrespectful to opposing parties.
  10. Fair is a place you go to get cheese curds. Aside from that, nothing in life is fair.

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