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Kansas City Legal Blog

A stepparent's rights to involvement with their stepchildren

When a Kansas stepparent is involved in the daily life and raising of their stepchildren, they may want to take certain steps to make the relationship work. Around 40 percent of married couples with kids are blended families. The stepparent's involvement in their stepchildren's lives can be positive, negative or even complex at times. That's why it's important to understand their legal rights.

Stepparents often have to deal with practical daily issues like discipline, health care and communication with teachers. While the divorce or custody decree may lay out specific guidelines for how certain matters are to be decided by the parents, a stepparent may still be responsible for making sure that the children follow their curfew, do chores around the house and take care of their homework.

Some experts say tax law will make divorce costlier

Kansas couples who are getting a divorce should be aware that the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, passed at the end of 2017, may affect their tax situation after the marriage ends. This will apply to parents and people who will be paying or receiving alimony.

There is no longer an exemption for children that parents can alternate taking after they divorce. Instead, the single parent who has the child living in the home more than half the time and who pays more than half of the household expenses can claim a deduction as head of household. This parent can also claim the child tax credit. The IRS has not clarified whether the tax credit is tradable, but couples can include in the divorce agreement a provision that changes may be made if regulations change. This could allow parents to share these benefits.

Researchers look at link between workplace and divorce

People in Kansas who work in the hotel and restaurant industries might be more prone to divorce than those in other lines of work while librarians and farmers may have a much lower risk of their marriage ending. These were among the findings of a study conducted by researchers at Stockholm University.

Researchers were primarily looking at whether there was a connection for people in opposite-sex marriages between divorce and working in environments that were dominated by the opposite sex. They found that women who worked in male-dominated professions were less likely to divorce than men who worked in female-dominated professions, but in both cases, people in workplaces dominated by the opposite sex had higher rates of divorce than those in other types of workplaces.

A contract can protect your business

Contracts are the backbone of a business. Kansas entrepreneurs who attempt to transact business without the security of a contract may soon find themselves struggling to get paid or haggling over the details of a verbal agreement. Without a contract, you may soon find that your customers and clients are taking advantage of you, or that you are wasting valuable resources dealing with disputes.

Not only does a contract provide a written memory of your agreement, but it gives you a legal leg to stand on if a customer complains that you did not fulfill your part of the agreement. Creating a solid contract that will benefit your business means including some key elements.

How divorce affects older adults' lives

Divorce is on the rise for older adults. Older people in Kansas who get a divorce should be careful about potentially adverse health effects of divorce. The chronic stress and depression associated with divorce can exacerbate health problems such as Parkinson's disease, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure, and it can weaken the immune system overall.

People also need to make sure that divorce does not leave them without social outlets. They should make an effort to join clubs or organizations and leave the house daily after divorce. Men may be particularly affected by isolation since women tend to be the social organizers. Older women who divorce are more likely than men to have financial concerns.

Contracts as tools to limit costs

A cost overrun could make a construction project in Kansas less profitable. Therefore, it is essential that the involved parties take steps to control costs. This may be done through language in the construction contract itself. For example, the contract could state that multiple bids be sought in an effort to obtain lower prices through competition.

It can be a good idea to add a clause defining what is considered to be unallowable labor. This is important because any action that is not allowed by the contract would need to be approved before it happens. Ultimately, this clause can help to avoid unexpected overruns or other disputes during a project. There is a good chance that a change order will occur at some point during a construction project. Therefore, there should be a system of reporting the changes and verifying the costs associated with them.

Divorce, older adults and finances

Some older adults in Kansas who divorce may find themselves struggling financially. Divorce is on the rise in this age group, with people 50 and older divorcing at a rate that is twice as high as it was in 1990. The rate is three times higher for those 65 and older.

There are a few risk factors that make these divorces more likely. Second marriages and nuptials of shorter duration are more vulnerable to divorce than first or longer-lasting marriages. Men whose parents were divorced are 35 percent more likely to get a divorce themselves; for women, that rate is 60 percent. However, while some may think older people are more prone to divorce due to a feeling of unfulfillment after retirement or struggle with empty nest syndrome, research shows that this is not the case. In general, older couples tend to divorce because they are no longer happy with the quality of the relationship.

Getting past the roadblock in stepparent adoption

If your spouse already had a child when you married, you may have had to work hard to gain the respect and acceptance you desired from the child. Now that you are solidly part of the child's life, you may be thinking of taking it to the next level by adopting your spouse's child as your own.

Adopting your stepchild may seem like the most natural thing to do. After all, you are already family, and your desire to make your bond official and legal is understandable. However, achieving this goal is not always easy. As important as it may for you and your spouse to take this step, there may be one challenging hurdle to cross.

The importance of property division for retirees

When it comes to divorce in Kansas, ex-wives may be worse off financially and have difficulty retiring. However, single women who are divorced are better off financially than single women who have never been married, according to a recent study.

Researchers at Boston College's Center for Retirement Research surveyed women and found that single women who were previously married were financially more secure than single females who had never married. One of the primary differences between the two groups was homeownership. Women who had previously been married were much more likely to own their own homes.

When plans for amicable divorce turn into a child custody battle

If you're among Kansas parents who are currently navigating divorce proceedings, you may relate to those who are facing challenging child custody problems. Like most good parents, you want what is best for your kids and perhaps your main goal was to simply negotiate a fair and agreeable divorce settlement and co-parenting plan, then move on in life with your children, leaving the past (and your marital problems) behind.  

If you were unable to achieve that goal because your ex is fighting for custody of your kids, it is critical that you understand state laws and know where to turn for support if you hope to obtain a favorable result in court. There are several things to keep in mind when battling over child custody. If you remain proactive, you cannot only protect your parental rights but your children's best interests as well.  

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