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St. Louis Divorce Law Blog

Dividing investment assets during a divorce: Proceed with caution

When Missouri women go through a high net worth divorce, they have many things to consider. Some of those considerations are easy, while others can be a good deal trickier. One common trouble spot is retirement and investment accounts. Often Missourians think all they have to do with their retirement and investment accounts is add them up and split them down the middle. That can be a mistake.

It can be a mistake because not every account is worth what the account seems to be at face value. Often, this is the product of tax consequences. Take, for instance, a stock purchased for $10,000 years ago that has matured into $40,000. In reality, although the stock is ostensibly worth $40,000, the money a person can collect on it will be much less once the government has taken its cut through the capital-gains tax. On the other hand, a stock purchased at $50,000 that is now worth $40,000 is likely worth more than $40,000 because the capital loss may reduce its owner's tax bill.

Charlie Sheen refuses to pay child support

Charlie Sheen is no stranger to newspaper headlines. His most recent foray revolves around child support. According to reports, Sheen is three months behind on his child support payments to his second ex-wife Denise Richards. In total, Sheen reportedly owes over $150,000 in back-child support.

Sheen and Richards, along with Sheen’s lawyer and a private judge, were supposed to meet last week to discuss the issue, but Sheen did not show because he was working. The meeting has been rescheduled.

Getting a fair share of stock during the divorce

Once a Missouri woman decides to get a divorce, one of the next issues is how to divide the marital assets. Property division can be particularly tricky and contentious in high net worth divorces. In working through property division, some of the easier assets to overlook are stock options and restricted stock. Fortunately, these assets can be valued if proper care is taken.

The first step for Missouri women to get their fair share is to know what these assets are. A stock option is the right to buy company stock in the future at a predetermined price. The idea is that the stock will have grown far more valuable than the predetermined price, so that the person can sell the stock option for a healthy profit. Meanwhile, restricted stock is stock given to an employee that can only be transferred after the employee meets certain requirements, typically involving length of employment.

New study challenges thinking on U.S. divorce rate

The standard explanation of the change in the American divorce rate goes something like this: After generations of low divorce rates, the sexual revolution and women's liberation movements drove the divorce rate to 50 percent or more. After that, so the explanation goes, the rate dropped again in the 1980s as people started going into marriage with more realistic expectations than had the newlyweds of previous generations. St. Louis residents have probably heard this explanation many times. However, a new study suggests that the standard explanation may be wrong.

According to researchers at the University of Minnesota, the divorce rate has actually risen by as much as 40 percent since 1980. The main difference in their study is that they attempted to tie the divorce rate in with statistics about age groups.

Low financial literacy dangerous during a divorce

When Missourians think about divorce, many focus on the drama and emotion. They are separating from someone they have been married to, possibly, for years. That separation causes a kaleidoscope of issues. But the rollercoaster of potential emotions should not hide the fact that a divorce is also a business decision. To ace the business side of the split, Missourians may want to brush up on their financial literacy.

Financial literacy, according to the President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy, is "the ability to use knowledge and skills to manage financial resources effectively for a lifetime of financial well-being." Missourians should take at least one thing away from the definition: financial well-being is not about luck, it is about knowledge. Developing that knowledge before or during such a critical financial event like divorce is essential.

Marc Anthony embroiled in child support litigation

Many Missourians enjoy the music of Marc Anthony. But now, he is in the news for an altogether different reason: Anthony's ex-wife is seeking an increase in the child support Anthony pays for the couple's two kids. She has asked a court to increase Anthony's child support payments from $13,000 a month to $113,000 a month.

Anthony is contesting the request. According to leaked court documents, he is claiming that children raised in the entertainment industry, particularly those with nearly unlimited money, have a high risk for dangerous behavior. They are more likely to use drugs, abuse alcohol and live a fast-paced lifestyle that they are not equipped to handle. In short, the increase would spoil the kids. On the other hand, Anthony's ex-wife argues that $13,000 a month is not as big as it seems. In fact, she has had to sell her house and move into an apartment.

Ludacris wants child custody

Many Missourians likely know Ludacris, who shot to fame as a rapper and has since become a mainstay in the "Fast and Furious" movies. Ludacris recently found himself in the news for a different reason: he is in the midst of a child custody battle with the mother of his two-month-old child.

The child custody battle actually started as a child support dispute. Ludacris is required to pay the mother of his child $15,000 per month in child support. But Ludacris failed to do so because he claims the stoppage in filming of "Fast and Furious 7" following Paul Walker's untimely death wrecked his finances.

Plan ahead: draft a pre-nup

For many Missourians, getting engaged is an exciting time, a time of joy, a time of promise, a time of contemplating the future. One thing engaged couples should contemplate, but typically do not, is what will happen if the marriage sours. Engaged couples, especially young ones, assume marriage will last forever. The reality is far different, however, with nearly half of all marriages ending in divorce.

Because of that reality, engaged couples should draft a prenuptial agreement. Doing so can make divorce far simpler if the marriage goes awry. This is particularly true for older couples, especially those where one partner has more money. When one partner brings far more money into the marriage, the prenuptial agreement can serve as a way to ensure the marriage is built on love rather than money.

Missouri man fled country to avoid child support

For many Missouri mothers, having children is a joyous, life-altering occasion. With the promise of life, however, also come challenges. For separated mothers, one of those challenges can be child support. Kids need food, clothing and shelter. All of those things take money, and, often, a lot of it.

Not all dads want to help with their end of that deal. For example, a Springfield man recently pleaded guilty to fleeing to Thailand to avoid paying child support. The man worked as a senior vice president of development for a chain of hotels based in Hong Kong and the Philippines. As part of the plea, the man admitted that he had failed to make eight years' worth of court-ordered child support. In all, he owed more than $160,000.

Divorce rate connected to the economy?

As many Missourians know, the national divorce rate has hovered around fifty percent in recent decades. That rate dropped sharply during the great recession. But the drop appears to be temporary. As the economy has bounced back, so too has the divorce rate.

The link might seem strange. After all, according to experts, financial strain is a common reason for divorce. If financial strain is a common source of divorce, then one would expect the recent recession to have increased the divorce rate, not reduced it.

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