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Waukesha Law Blog

Dealing with student loans in a divorce

Student loan debt is a major financial burden for many people in Wisconsin, especially as the cost of college attendance continues to rise. For many people, student loan debt may cause them to put off marriage, buying a home or having children. Others who are married with student loan debt may be concerned about how a divorce will affect their debt burden. The financial impact of divorce can be significant, as marital assets and liabilities are divided between the couple. The long-term effects of a divorce can linger even after the emotional issues have been settled.

In most cases, if people acquired their student loan debt before they married, it will remain separate in the divorce as well. They leave the marriage with the debt they had when they entered it. On the other hand, the situation can be more complicated for people who attend college and accumulate their student loan debt after they marry. Because Wisconsin is a community property state, student loan obligations that are acquired during the marriage are generally considered to be marital debt and are equally divided between the parties. While there may be some potential exceptions for extremely short marriages or clear proof of bad faith, student loans are generally considered to be a joint marital responsibility.

Estate planning tips for the information age

As the Internet becomes more of a part of everyday life for people in Wisconsin and the rest of the world, families have to think differently about how they plan for the future. Everything from online bank accounts to social media profiles make have significant value, and making sure these assets are passed down to the right people presents a lot of challenges.

There are a few basic components to estate planning in the digital world. The first priority is to make sure that all assets are carefully managed and tracked while still alive. The next is to ensure those assets are distributed according to the person's specific objectives. Each estate plan will be unique depending on the person's age, wealth, family, and a variety of other factors.

A written agreement is essential for your partnership

Working with someone else often leads to disagreements, no matter how compatible and single-minded you both may be. You may remember trying to get along with your siblings, working with a partner on a high school or college project, and even in your marriage.

People can't agree on everything all the time, and this is true for the partner with whom you want to start a Wisconsin business. This is why creating a partnership agreement is a wise idea.

USDA urges states to consider custody agreements for benefits

The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants to help single parents in Wisconsin and other states get the assistance they need by encouraging states to use child support cooperation requirements as a helpful tool. The agency sent a memo to the director of each state's Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, to require custodial and non-custodial parents applying for benefits to submit details from their child support agreements as part of the process.

The reason for the recommendation to tie SNAP benefits to child support agreements is because a sizeable chunk of the 40 million Americans receiving such benefits are single parents with children under their care. Also, nearly 40% of children with a parent who doesn't live in the same home live in poverty, a figure much higher than what's seen with children in two-parent homes. Part of the reason for situations like this is a failure of some non-custodial parents to meet their child support payment obligations on a regular basis.

Financial paperwork to organize in a divorce

Not all married partners in Wisconsin are equally familiar with family finances. If divorce is inevitable, it can be important for these spouses to gather certain financial documents. This will help ensure that they fully understand their finances and the effects that divorce will have.

First, a soon-to-be ex should get copies of tax returns for the past three years and the W-2s or other paperwork that were used to prepare them. If there is a family business, try to get financial information on these assets. It's also wise to gather three years of bank statements and credit card statements. With all of this information, a spouse can begin to understand spending habits up to this point and to put together a budget for after the divorce.

Augmented reality could change commercial real estate

By 2020, there could be up to 100 million people in Wisconsin and throughout America shopping with the help of augmented reality technology, or AR. While virtual reality technology has millions of users itself, AR is easier to use because it only requires a smartphone to do so. Instead of creating a totally immersive experience like VR technology does, AR technology simply adds features to whatever a person already sees.

There are many ways in which retailers can use AR to improve a customer's experience. For example, they could show a customer how furniture could look in their home or how a piece of clothing could look on them. In addition to retailers, the commercial real estate industry may be able to make use of AR. For instance, it may be possible to put interactive advertisements in malls or other retail spaces.

Factors for child and spousal support calculations

Wisconsin residents who are required to pay alimony or child support should not try to manipulate their income to get their payments lowered. Courts generally look closely at all sources of compensation as well as lifestyle. However, the payor may want to take certain favorable measures. For example, if the person expects a large one-time bonus in the year ahead, it may be a good idea to complete the divorce beforehand.

Another option is to offer the spouse a larger share of assets in lieu of more support. This could be a solution for a payor who is concerned about cash flow. Divorcing spouses may also decide whether they want to make the support modifiable. This would mean that the support amount could be altered if there is a significant change in income. However, one potential drawback is that it requires the payor to continue sharing financial information with an ex-spouse.

Studies indicate a higher risk of divorce when wife earns more

In Wisconsin and elsewhere, women are earning more than their spouses at a greater rate than in the past. Nationally, women earn at least the same income as their spouses in nearly 38% of marriages. The change in the traditional breadwinner scenario is not a problem for most marriages in which it occurs, but for others, when the wife out-earns her husband, marital discord can ensue.

In a recent survey of more than 6,000 married couples, the risk of divorce can be a third higher when the wife makes more than her husband. One factor that may cause a higher divorce risk is found in traditional views of support, according to the study. Most people in society view the husband as the primary means of support. When he is not, peer pressure and internal resentment can follow. One 2017 report concluded that society continues to place a higher value of the male as the primary source of financial support for the marriage.

Do you know everything you should about a power of attorney?

Caring for an aging loved one can be a difficult and emotional process. There are many important legal and financial decisions your Wisconsin family will have to make on behalf of a parent or other person who needs assistance, and it's important to have the right documents to do this. Power of attorney is critical if you are caring for someone else.

A power of attorney is a type of estate planning document that can grant someone the authority to make certain types of decisions on behalf of someone else. There is a general power of attorney, which covers many financial and legal matters. There is also a more limited power of attorney, which only covers specifically mentioned issues, such as medical decisions. It's smart to take the time to completely understand what a power of attorney can and cannot do.

Blended families may have unique estate planning concerns

Blended families in Wisconsin often have a number of complicated decisions to make over the years. In some cases, these complications arise when people come together with small children from previous relationships. In other cases, the issues can manifest when people with adult children who are already outside the home marry later in life, leading to a far more distant version of a blended family. One of the areas where issues can come up is estate planning, where it can be important for both parents to separate the interests of their children from the interests of their spouse.

After all, many people write wills in order to leave all their belongings to their spouses. Therefore, the spouse will then control the distribution of all the assets as part of his or her own estate plan. When blended families are involved, this can be a complex question. The surviving spouse may well favor his or her own children over stepchildren. This can lead to family conflicts, resentment and children being cut out of their inheritance. Therefore, this kind of simple will may not be appropriate for a blended family.

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