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Columbia Family Law Blog

Understanding the benefits of a revocable living trust

With so much to consider, creating a comprehensive estate plan is easier said than done. Even if you have an idea of what you want to accomplish, there's typically more than one way to reach your end goal.

Many people assume that a will is all they need to feel confident in their estate plan. While it's a good place to start, it would be in your best interest to learn more about a revocable living trust.

Simple tips to help you prepare for the divorce process

When you tie the knot, you never assume you'll one day be discussing divorce with your spouse. Unfortunately, a good marriage can take a turn for the worse at some point, thus putting you in a difficult spot.

If you've discussed divorce with your spouse and realize that it's time to push forward, it's imperative to get in the right frame of mind. The steps you take from start to finish will dictate your success to a certain degree.

5 things to consider when choosing a guardian

If you have children under the age of 18, you must take this into consideration when creating an estate plan. You want to know that your children will be taken care of in the event that you pass on.

Even if you have an idea of whom you want to choose as the guardian of your minor children, it doesn't mean you can make a quick decision. There is a lot to think about, including the following details:

  • Who is willing to take on the responsibility: Just because you want to name a person as guardian of your children doesn't mean they agree. You must discuss this with the person before adding them into your estate plan.
  • Parenting style: If something happens to you, your children will face many changes in their life. This is why it's so important to choose a guardian with a parenting style that matches yours. It helps to maintain some level of stability during a very difficult time.
  • You can choose multiple guardians: It's not ideal for everyone, but you have the right to choose a different guardian for different children. This may make sense if you have a large family and don't want to place the burden of multiple children on one person.
  • Health and finances: The guardian you choose should be in good health. Also, you want to select someone who has their finances in order, as raising a child or children is not cheap.
  • Talk about it: Discuss the pros and cons with each person you're considering with your spouse. Also, once you make a final choice, sit down with the proposed guardian to get their thoughts. The more you talk about this, the more you'll understand if you're making the right decision.

Co-parenting arguments: 5 to avoid

When it comes to co-parenting, you want nothing more than to get along with the other parent to provide your children with a stable environment. Even if this is your goal, there are times when arguments come to light.

Fortunately, knowledge of the most common co-parenting arguments can go a long way in helping you avoid bad situations. Here are five common arguments to prepare for and protect against:

  • Scheduling conflicts: The best way to avoid scheduling conflicts is to follow the parenting agreement whenever possible. Furthermore, discuss pick up and drop off times in advance, to ensure that the both of you are on the same page.
  • Holidays, vacations and other special events: Throughout the year, there are many special occasions that both parents want to spend with their children. Christmas morning is an example of this. The same holds true for birthdays. Planning as far in advance as possible is the best way to avoid an argument. Also, implement a system for "rotating" events every year.
  • You're the fun parent: Do you ever find yourself saying this to your ex-spouse? When your children consider your ex the fun parent, they may want to spend more time with them. It's not your children's fault, but it's definitely something to discuss with your ex. The key word here is discuss, not argue.
  • Lack of communication: It's hard to communicate with your ex, especially if you've just gone through a nasty divorce. The best way to avoid this argument is to find a communication strategy that works for the both of you. For instance, if you can't talk in person without fighting, stick to emails or text messages.
  • Different house rules: You have one set of rules at your house, but your ex has something completely different in mind. This is a common argument because it can lead to confusion when your children go from one house to the next.

Estate planning with children has special considerations

Your estate plan is a tool that you can use to help care for loved ones who are left behind when you pass away. For young parents, having this plan can provide for their children. There are many components that must be accounted for in order for it to be effective.

As you work to get everything set up, you need to find out how various aspects can help to protect your kids. Making sure you understand how all of these work together can ensure you have your wishes clearly outlined.

Tips for better co-parenting during the holiday season

The holiday season is supposed to be one of the most exciting and enjoyable times of the year, especially for children. If you've gone through a divorce, you know that co-parenting is not always as simple as it sounds. This is particularly true during the holidays.

Even if you've run into trouble in past years, there are tips you can follow for a better co-parenting experience this holiday season.

  • Plan in advance: Discuss the holidays with the other parent as soon as possible, as this gives you time to work through any disagreements and scheduling conflicts. It's natural to put this off, as you don't want to get into an argument, but you can only hide from the conversation for so long.
  • Remain flexible: When both parents remain flexible, it's much easier for everyone to get what they want during the holiday season. For example, if your ex-spouse requests a few extra hours with your children on Christmas Eve, consider if you can make it happen.
  • Start new traditions: The traditions you held during your marriage may not work for you and your children now that you're divorced, and that's okay. There is no better time than this holiday season to start new traditions.
  • Don't compete with your ex-spouse: You don't need to buy your children gifts you can't afford just to "show up" the other parent. You don't need to provide your children with every holiday experience imaginable, so you can tell yourself that you're better than the other parent.

Things to understand about a parenting agreement

When moving through the divorce process, you may find yourself negotiating the terms and conditions of a parenting agreement. As difficult as it sounds, if you keep an open mind, you should be able to settle on something that works well for you, the other parent and your children.

A parenting agreement is designed to provide structure in the future. With this court-approved document in place, both parents have a clear idea of their legal rights and what's expected of them as a parent. This is much better than hoping for the best.

How to select your health care agent

There is no shortage of questions and challenges when creating a medical power of attorney. While you're doing this for the peace of mind it will provide, you also realize that it can stress you out for the time being.

In short, a medical power of attorney comes into play in the event of your incapacitation. If this happens, your health care agent will step in and make key medical decisions on your behalf.

7 estate planning mistakes you can avoid with the right approach

When it comes to estate planning it's not always easy to make the right decisions at the right time. In addition to federal and state laws, you're staffed with the responsibility of making choices that are best for you and your family.

Even though there are many potential estate planning mistakes hanging over your head, you can avoid all of these with the right approach. Just the same, even if you make a mistake you can always rectify the situation in some way, shape or form.

There are several ways to fight a traffic ticket

If you receive a traffic ticket, it's important to fully understand why this happened and what you can do to protect your legal rights in the future. You may decide to pay the traffic ticket and move on, but this isn't always in your best interest.

If you have reason to believe you can fight back and win, you should learn more about the many traffic ticket defense strategies you can use to your advantage.

  • Dispute the officer's opinion: If you received a traffic ticket as a result of an officer's opinion, such as that you were driving unsafely, you may be able to successfully dispute their claim. Subjective tickets leave a lot to interpretation, which puts you in better position to fight back.
  • Use evidence to your advantage: If your traffic ticket is more clear cut, and less based on the officer's opinion, you should consider if there is any evidence you can use to strengthen your case. For example, the use of a diagram can explain your thoughts on the situation, thus giving the judge a clear idea of what exactly happened. Also, eyewitness statements can work in your favor. The more evidence you present the better.
  • Argue that you had a reason for breaking the law: This sounds silly, but you may be able to argue that your driving was justified. For example, you could argue that you were driving in excess of the speed limit to move your vehicle away from a trucker who was swerving all over the road. If you're going to use this defense strategy, collect and present as much evidence as possible.