Regele Law, LLC

Salem Oregon Family Legal Blog

Retirement and how division of marital property will affect you

Once you make the choice to file for divorce, you may then wonder how that decision will affect you as you move forward. Not only will you have to divide your marital property, you will also have to consider how this process will impact your retirement plans. Whether you are fast approaching your planned retirement date or you are new to the workforce, it's always prudent to think ahead. 

One important factor to consider as you walk through the divorce process is to think about how your choices will affect your life as years go by. What seems right in this moment may not actually be best for you in the long run. It's smart to seek guidance and consider both the short and long-term consequences of your choices while walking through the divorce process.

Advantages of prenuptial agreements

Some people in Oregon might think of a prenuptial agreement as something that is primarily for the very wealthy. While these may be the types of prenups that get the most attention in the news, couples with more modest incomes may also benefit from having one.

One element of the process of divorce is financial disclosure. This means that both individuals must release all information about their assets and debts. One advantage of a prenup is that this disclosure happens prior to the marriage. A prenup can spark a good conversation about how each person views money that can actually strengthen the relationship. This might be a particularly important step if one person in the marriage is going to handle the majority of the finances. When one person in a couple has little knowledge of the marital finances, that person may be at a disadvantage during the divorce process.

Student loan debt: complicated legal aspects to consider

In Oregon and across the United States, a married spouse who opts for divorce is bound to feel stress in one way or another. Besides the strain caused by divorce, there is anxiety about how to divide assets and properties in a fair way. Ascertaining which partner gets the house and which spouse obtains the family car is often problematic. When a spouse has a student loan debt, the natural question comes up as to who is responsible for the payments. One rule of thumb is that any debt acquired before the marriage is the spouse's private property.

Accordingly, a spouse who already had a $75,000 student loan prior to their marriage is still responsible for the debt after a divorce decree. However, the law is more complex when a student loan debt takes place during a marriage. In this situation, the student has a "marital debt." This marital debt is called community property in some states and equitable distribution in others. There are nine community property states in the United States; they include California, Nevada, Texas, Idaho, Washington, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Louisiana and Arizona.

Unemployment during a divorce can be a thorny issue

Getting laid off or fired during a divorce can make an already difficult situation even more stressful for spouses in Oregon and around the country. It can also add a layer of complexity to spousal support negotiations. Spouses who are expected to pay alimony may not be in a position to do so while searching for a new job. On the reverse side, spouses who receive spousal support could need more money to maintain their lifestyle while unemployed.

In these situations, the courts will generally look into the causes of unemployment, and spouses who were laid off through no fault of their own are likely to be treated more sympathetically than those who were fired for misconduct. A family law judge may also ask an unemployed spouse to provide details about the events leading up to their job loss and records of their efforts to find new work.

Impact of divorce on Social Security benefits

Financial concerns are among the most important issues to understand and prepare for when Oregon couples are ending their marriages. According to the Social Security Administration, as much as 96% of workers in America are covered by Social Security. People who have been married may be entitled to retirement benefits, even if they themselves have never worked or have little in terms of earnings during the course of the marriage. If one of the spouses qualifies for benefits, the other may be able to claim up to half.

If the marriage lasted for a period of at least 10 years, a person can collect benefits based on his or her ex-spouse's Social Security record. In order to claim benefits, the person must be at least 62 years old and unmarried. Additionally, the person's Social Security benefit must be less than that of his or her former spouse.

Is there a way to keep your public divorce more private?

You, like most other Oregon residents, value your privacy. When facing a serious predicament in your life, you would rather not become the topic of gossip or have others stick their noses into your business. Unfortunately, some events become more public than you may have desired.

One life-change that could quickly draw attention is getting divorced. Typically, the information revealed during divorce cases becomes part of the public record. As a result, other individuals, even strangers, could access personal information about you. Is there anything you can do to prevent that?

Parents can help children get through a divorce

When Oregon parents make the decision to divorce, they may worry about how best to help their children deal with the end of the marriage. Of course, many kids struggle to adjust, because it can bring a great deal of change and uncertainty in their lives. At the same time, kids who grow up in an unhappy, tense household due to their parents' difficult relationship may absorb far more damaging messages about adult relationships. Experts emphasize that conflict is much more harmful to children than a divorce itself. If parents plan to help their children get through the separation, they can emerge with strong relationships following the divorce.

There are some ways that parents can aim to mitigate the changes that accompany the divorce. For example, they can work to keep their children in their current school district, at least for the ongoing academic year. They can also help support their children through open conversation that allows the offspring to have as much input into their own lives as possible. Psychologists also emphasize the importance of emphasizing that the divorce is a decision of the parents and not the fault of the children. Some kids may feel like they are to blame for the divorce or worry that their parents may leave them.

How divorce may affect stay-at-home mothers

Some Oregon mothers may be among the more than 25 percent of American mothers who stay home with their children or even among the 10 percent of so-called "highly educated" mothers who do so. However, even though many Americans feel the mother is a better choice than the father in caring for a newborn, they do not necessarily agree that her contributions mean she should be entitled to an equal share of assets if the two divorce.

Like most states, Oregon requires that assets be divided equitably in a divorce. A study by two Vanderbilt University professors looked at what an equitable division of assets meant to 3,000 participants. They created a story about a couple in which the husband filed for divorce after 17 years of marriage. Both had worked outside the home until the wife quit her job five years into the marriage. From that point, the scenarios diverged. Participants were given variations in which their professions, level of education and property varied.

What to do after a divorce

After a couple in Oregon gets a divorce, they probably still have some additional tasks to complete. Couples need to separate their joint accounts and open their own individual accounts. Ex-spouses should be removed as users on credit cards and any other accounts.

Dividing some other assets is more complex. For example, if the couple owned a home and one person is keeping it, the other spouse may need to be removed from the mortgage. This could involve refinancing. A quit claim deed may remove one spouse from the title. A document called a qualified domestic relations order is necessary to split any retirement accounts that are not IRAs. An IRA does not require a QDRO, but the distribution should be rolled into a new IRA.

How to deal with a mortgage after a divorce

After a divorce, there is a critical question to answer about who gets to keep the marital home. In most cases, only one person is going to keep the property while the other is going to leave. However, it is wrong to assume that it is possible to assume the mortgage after a marriage comes to an end. Generally speaking, mortgage products initiated after 2008 do not allow for this to happen.

In the event that a mortgage can be assumed, a lender is going to want to do a credit check of the person assuming it. If a person is allowed to assume a mortgage, it isn't always the best decision to do so. This is because there may be fees to pay, and whoever keeps the property will need to pay for its upkeep. Depending on how much it costs to pay a mortgage and other associated expenses related to owning a home, it may be best to simply sell it.

What Will Your Relationships Be Like After This Is All Over?

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Regele Law, LLC
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Salem, OR 97301

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