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Kansas City Legal Blog

Working together for a negotiated divorce

Many people in Kansas think of popular media portrayals of divorce, and it may hold some people back from taking action to move forward from an unhealthy or unhappy relationship. Divorce is often associated with drawn-out court battles or scorched-earth custody disputes, but the end of a marriage does not have to be so traumatic. Of course, a separation always comes with serious emotional, practical and financial consequences. However, it does not need to be accompanied with bitterness or years of legal disputes.

For some couples, a more collaborative divorce process is a better fit. Both spouses and their lawyers work together to reach a resolution on key issues through a negotiated settlement. There are some key points that people can keep in mind to help them reach an agreement and complete their divorce successfully.

Nystagmus test gives controversial sobriety results

A nystagmus test is a common sobriety test that is used in the field to determine if an individual is under the influence of alcohol. The test is formally referred to as the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test. The term "nystagmus" is an involuntary movement of the eye, such as a jerking or jiggling motion.

In the field, the test is typically performed by an officer asking a detained individual to follow an object, such as a pen, with his or her eyes as it moves across the face horizontally. If the person's eyes make involuntary movements or they cannot follow the object, he or she may be placed under arrest for drunk driving. Some researches say that the nystagmus test can help determine sobriety in the field because when under the influence of alcohol the brain has a difficult time controlling eye movements. Many experts, however, argue with the use of the nystagmus test as many medical conditions can cause nystagmus to occur.

Paying for college after a divorce

Paying for college can be tough whether a student goes to a school in Kansas or outside of the state. It can be even harder to do after a divorce. In 2017-2018, the average cost for a year at a private school was $46,950. The cost to attend a public school for one year was $20,770 in 2017-2018, according to the College Board. However, it can be possible to provide a child with an education by planning for it in advance.

One way to accrue funds for a child's college education is to invest in a 529 savings plan. The money grows in the account tax-free and is not taxed when it is taken out, assuming it goes to qualified educational expenses. Parents should define how the money will be used when a divorce occurs. This is because the owner of the account, as well as the beneficiary, can be changed.

The first step in contract litigation: Do you have a contract?

Running a business here in Kansas City means that you probably enter into agreements with other companies and individuals who benefit your endeavors. You rely on these agreements to make sure that you receive the payment, goods or services expected from the other party.

When those relationships do not go as planned, you may look to your agreements in an attempt to resolve the dispute. Unfortunately, you could come across a party who refuses to live up to the deal you made, and now you believe your only recourse is to take the other party to court.

Why divorce can be serious business

When couples in Kansas divorce, negotiating financial issues are typically a top priority. If the couple has a high-net-worth, there could be a lot at stake in the final agreement.

While most people may marry for love, the truth is that marriage involves a contract between two people. When one or both parties decide to end that contract, negotiations over wealth accumulated within the marriage, and in some cases after the end of the union, must begin. Just as former business partners need to protect themselves after ending their partnerships, the same holds true for spouses.

Kansas teen accused of DUI after driving recklessly

Following a hit-and-run collision on Jan. 12, a Kansas teen was accused by police of driving under the influence. The teen's pickup truck was heading north on a street in Cowley County when it struck a parked pickup truck on the same stretch of roadway. After the accident, the 17-year-old driver was taken into custody.

The alleged drunk driving episode took place early in the morning in Arkansas City. Police became involved when they were alerted about other types of property damage that had occurred in the same area. When police arrived, they noticed damage that appeared to be caused by a vehicle having collided with a trash can, a picnic table and a grill at a local park. There was a light fixture attached to a pole that had been damaged. The vehicle subsequently left the scene of the damage, according to reports of the incident.

Securing father's rights in divorce

When parents in Kansas divorce, child custody is often a significant concern. Parents generally place a high priority on their relationships with their children, and they may be very concerned about losing these relationships after a divorce. Fathers, in particular, may have fears of being cut off from their kids.

In some cases, these fears are justified. Through much of the 20th and early 21st centuries, courts often assumed that mothers were best suited to providing full-time care for children. While there have been significant changes in social attitudes as well as in the opinions of child development specialists, many men still feel as though their rights are being ignored in family courts.

The process of adopting a stepchild

Kansas residents generally have the ability to become the legal parent of their spouse's children. If the adoption becomes official, a stepparent is now legally and financially responsible for the child he or she adopted. The current noncustodial parent is no longer responsible for paying child support or otherwise obligated to provide for a son or daughter.

In some cases, this type of adoption is eligible for an expedited process. This means that there is no need for a home study, but other requirements may apply in a given case. Depending on the circumstances of the adoption, the consent of the noncustodial parent may be necessary. To begin the adoption process, a stepparent should first find out which court will handle the matter. Cases may be heard in family court or juvenile court, and the court clerk can usually provide a stepparent with information about the adoption process.

Real estate and property division during divorce

The marital home can be one of the most highly valued assets by Kansas couples making the decision to divorce. Unlike purely financial assets, real estate cannot simply be divided in two. In addition, many spouses feel a deep personal connection to the house. However, the financial priorities lead many couples to deal with the family home by selling it as part of the divorce.

By selling the home, the couple can pay off remaining mortgage obligations before dividing the proceeds equitably between them as part of the divorce settlement. When one spouse wants to keep the home, however, the process can become more complicated. It is often difficult for one spouse to afford the home, even if it was previously affordable for the couple as a family unit. Even if the remaining spouse can pay the mortgage and other bills, he or she will often need to buy out the other spouse's interest in the property's equity. Depending on the value of the couple's equity stake and the other assets involved in the divorce, this could be a challenging task.

Do you believe it is time to seek guardianship over your parent?

In many cases, watching a parent age can be difficult. Though some individuals may age gracefully and maintain many of their mental and physical abilities, you have noticed that is not the case for your parent. While the concerns you first had may have been minor, you may now feel that your parent no longer has the ability to properly handle his or her affairs due to mental decline.

If your parent did not take the time to create a power of attorney document, it is likely that your father or mother did not legally appoint someone to act on his or her behalf in the event of incapacitation. As a result, you may have to take certain legal steps to take on this role. Specifically, you may need to pursue guardianship.

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