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Columbia Family Law Blog

Use a prenuptial agreement to protect yourself in divorce

When you tie the knot, you don't want to think about anything going wrong in the future. However, it's better to be safe than sorry, as you never know if your marriage could take a turn for the worse.

Creating a prenuptial agreement is the perfect way for both individuals to protect themselves in the event of a divorce. This allows you to do things such as:

  • Protect yourself from debt that your spouse brings into the marriage
  • Protect the inheritance rights of children from another relationship
  • Specify ownership of specific assets

Estate planning can help you avoid federal estate taxes

Estate taxes, also called death taxes by some, only apply to estates of a certain size. There are different limits for the gross value of an estate at both the state and the federal level that impact whether heirs and beneficiaries have to pay taxes out of the estate proceeds.

Understanding state and federal estate taxes can help you determine what planning efforts are necessary for your estate to limit its potential tax liability at the time of your death. The greater the overall value of your estate, the more important planning for the tax implications becomes for your legacy and the people you love.

Who will you name as your health care agent?

Deciding who to name as your health care agent is a big decision, as it could impact you and your loved ones in the future. Fortunately, when you take all the right factors into consideration, it's easier to narrow your list with the idea of making a confident decision that will put your mind at ease.

The first thing you should do is list out anyone and everyone who initially sounds like a good candidate. You'll only choose one person, but it never hurts to start with a large list.

Change in circumstances and your child support obligation

When you first learn of your child support obligation, you may be okay with the idea of making the monthly payment. However, as time goes by, your financial situation could change. If your circumstances no longer allow for you to make your monthly payment in full, it's time to consider your options.

While not always the case, a change in financial circumstances may result in a change to your child support obligation.

Keep the future in mind when asking for a divorce

If the time has come to ask your spouse for a divorce, don't make the mistake of approaching them at a bad time. This is one of the most important and difficult conversations you'll ever have, so you need to prepare accordingly while considering the impact of your approach on the future.

The right approach to asking for divorce can put you on the path to moving through the process in the most efficient way possible. Conversely, if this conversation turns ugly, it could make for more problems than you need in the weeks and months to come.

Negotiating a commercial lease can be more complex than you think

If you are a business looking to change or expand your office or retail space in Columbia, it is important that you approach the process in the right way. As the prospective tenant, the terms of the commercial lease may not be in your favor, and it is important that you understand the terminology as well as the legal implications before you sign anything.

As a tenant, you are effectively the customer in the scenario. Because of this, you have some power over the situation. You can usually afford to take some time and to demand modifications to the lease terms when you think it is appropriate. The following are some complexities that businesses often fail to consider when signing a new commercial lease.

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.