Divorce and Your Children’s College Funding

Figuring out your divorce is one of the hardest things you’ll ever go through. Not only do you have to consider your and your children’s immediate needs, but you also have to plan for needs that are still years away. For example, college funding—the cost of college has risen far more quickly than pay levels in recent decades, forcing parents to save an ever-larger portion of their income to pay for their children’s education if they don’t want them to rely on student loans. Figuring out who’s responsible for what is especially hard during a divorce.

Wondering how to protect your children’s best interests as you negotiate your divorce? Choose the team at Hardy Pence for your divorce case. Give us a call at 304-345-7250 to set up a consultation with our team of Charleston divorce attorneys.

Negotiations During Divorce

A big part of your divorce is negotiating. You’ll negotiate everything from the family home and your retirement accounts to child custody and child support.

You may wonder how paying for college plays into that. Some states do require parents to fund their children’s post-secondary education as part of their divorce agreement. However, West Virginia is not one of those states. You cannot demand extra money in child support to cover college expenses, nor is either party required to contribute to their children’s college expenses.

However, this doesn’t mean you don’t have any options. Almost anything can be negotiated in divorce, and if your children’s college plans are a top priority for you, you can advocate for them. Be aware that you may have to give up other assets or make other sacrifices if you want your ex-partner to contribute to your children’s college fund. For example, you may agree to a smaller share of the marital assets or take less money in alimony to ensure that your children’s educational needs are met.

Saving for College for Your Children

There are several different ways you can contribute to your children’s college accounts. One popular option is 529 plans. These types of college savings accounts have tax benefits, and they can only be accessed for approved educational expenses. This protects both parties from unauthorized withdrawals and ensures that the child can only access the money for their college needs. In many cases, both parents make contributions throughout their little one’s childhood to get the account to where it needs to be by graduation. But if one partner outlearns the other by a significant amount, it may make sense for one parent to pay for college in its entirety.

Legal Concerns

Divorce is rarely easy, but with a little bit of planning and patience from both parties, you can navigate these issues with minimal stress. First, do your best to keep the lines of communication open. You both want what is best for your children, it’s just a matter of coming to an agreement about what that means.

It’s best to protect yourself from every possible negative outcome in scenarios like this. For example, some divorcing couples opt to create a joint savings account to which they both contribute money for their children’s college. This may make sense to you if you believe you can trust your ex-spouse not to touch it. That doesn’t change the fact that legally, both parties can withdraw from the account at any time. Right now, you trust your ex-spouse not to misuse your child’s money—but you never want to find yourself in the position of checking on your child’s college account and finding it empty. Contributing to a fund that can only be accessed by the child for educational purposes is the best way to protect everyone involved.

You should also be aware that college savings agreements require additional communication with your ex-spouse. If you’re in a high-conflict divorce and you want to limit communication as much as possible, a college savings account may just be another way for your ex to contact you.

Protect Your and Your Children’s Future with Hardy Pence

When you’re ready to move forward with your divorce, make sure you have an attorney you can trust. The team at Hardy Pence is committed to helping you plan for the next chapter of your life. Call us at 304-345-7250 or reach out online to set up a consultation now.

Dealing With the Holidays After a Divorce

The aftermath of a divorce is incredibly painful, and it’s even harder during the holidays. If this is your first holiday season since getting divorced, you may be wondering how you can navigate this time with minimal stress and sadness. Although this will likely still be a hard time of year, with a little bit of preparation you can make the most of this year.

If you’re still in the midst of figuring out your divorce, don’t tackle it alone. Let the team at Hardy Pence support you. Call us at 304-345-7250 to set up a consultation with our Charleston divorce team right away.

Preparing Yourself Emotionally

First, it’s important to prepare yourself emotionally for the roller coaster you’re likely to experience this holiday season. It’s completely normal to feel nostalgic about holiday memories with your ex-spouse, the traditions you shared as a family, and the decorations you purchased together. It’s also normal for that to swing to grief and depression as you realize that holidays won’t look like that anymore. 

What’s important is that you give yourself space to feel all of these emotions and let them pass through you naturally. Trying to force the negative emotions down or only allowing the positive emotions to come to light is a sure way to make the holidays even more painful.

Basically, the goal is to have realistic expectations for what this holiday season will look like. Recognize that it will probably not be your favorite year, but that happier years do lie ahead. All you have to do is get through this one, make it as memorable as you can for your children, and give yourself grace.

Reviewing Your Court Documents

Before you get too deep into your holiday plans, make sure you know exactly what your legal rights and obligations are this year. It’s common for ex-spouses to rotate holidays with their children, so ensure that you know whether you have odd-numbered or even-numbered years. If you have a different arrangement, go over it carefully. It can be challenging when the holidays fall on a weekend because weekend visitation can be a sore subject for newly divorced parents. However, holiday schedules generally override the standard weekend schedule. Looking this over now will prevent misunderstandings later.

Appropriate Communication with Your Ex-Partner

Try to limit communication with your ex-spouse. Even if you have an amicable relationship, you don’t want to get bogged down talking about old holiday memories that will leave you sad long after the conversation has ended. Set a standard of friendly, open communication that relates to your children. You should communicate about which gifts the children want and who will get them, as this avoids repeats. 

You can also talk about your holiday plans and ensure that the children get to participate in the events that mean the most to them. If your relationship allows for flexibility, be open to schedule changes that don’t limit your time with your children but do give them the opportunity to attend important events with their other parents.

Establishing New Traditions for Your New Life

This may not feel like a fresh start, but it truly is. This is likely the hardest holiday you’ll have for a very long time, so just do what you must to get through it. Spend some time dreaming about the holiday seasons to come, the memories you hope to make with your children, and the new opportunities that will come your way. This is an excellent time to start thinking about new family traditions you’d like to make part of your holidays moving forward. 

Perhaps a new special meal, community event, or shopping day will become the highlight of your holiday season. There’s room for your children to enjoy their previous holiday traditions, turn them into new ones, and explore fun new things to do with their parents.

Preparing for Divorce? Contact Hardy Pence

When you choose the team at Hardy Pence for your divorce, you can feel confident that we’ll advocate for you every step of the way. Explore your legal options now—call our team at 304-345-7250 or reach out online to set up a consultation at our Charleston office.

Can an IRA Be Cashed Out During a Divorce?

You’ll have to make a long list of difficult decisions as you navigate your divorce. A big part of this discussion centers on the division of assets. Retirement assets are often among the most challenging to split, thanks to the immense value they have. Retirement funds have years or even decades left to grow, so you should anticipate some negotiations when it comes to these assets. 

If you have an IRA to split or you’re considering using your IRA to pay for your divorce, here are some things to keep in mind. When you’re ready for more personalized advice regarding your divorce, call Hardy Pence at 304-345-7250 to set up a consultation.

Using Your IRA to Pay for Divorce

Some people ask this question because they’re looking for a way to pay for their divorce attorney and other fees. It can be tough when you don’t have much in the way of liquid assets—going from one household to two at the same time you’re going from two incomes to one is a huge financial change. However, you may want to explore other options before tapping into your retirement accounts. 

If you are not at least 59 1/2 years old at the time you withdraw from your IRA, it will be considered an early withdrawal. That means you’ll need to pay taxes on the withdrawn amount and a 10% penalty.

That’s a huge loss for your IRA, especially if your IRA isn’t large to begin with—those fees and taxes could wipe out years of gains. On top of that, withdrawing from your IRA to pay for your divorce could complicate the division of assets. There’s a good chance that your IRA will be considered a marital asset and need to be divided accordingly. You may then need to give your ex a greater share of what remains of your IRA to make up for the amount you already withdrew.

Of course, there are cases where you truly have no other option. Even if it means losing some of the value of your IRA, it may be worth cashing out part of it if you have an emergency or have no other funds available.

Dividing Your IRA as Part of Divorce

Like many other states, West Virginia is an equitable distribution state. The assets accrued during the marriage are to be divided in a way that is fair and equitable, which doesn’t necessarily mean splitting things up 50/50. If the division of assets involves transferring part or all of your IRA to your ex-spouse, there are ways to do it that save you from the penalties described above. You don’t want to cash out what you owe and just hand it over. You’ll incur the same taxes and fees we talked about earlier.

The right way to handle the transfer of assets is with a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. This allows you to transfer retirement funds and certain other assets without taxes or penalties. The person receiving the funds must either transfer them into their own IRA or another qualified retirement fund or risk paying taxes and penalties on what they withdrew. To transfer assets using a QDRO, the details of your division of assets must be outlined in your divorce decree. These aren’t agreements or arrangements you want to make under the table—everything must be done legally and via legally binding agreements.

Factors to Consider

If you will be transferring part or all of your IRA as part of your divorce agreement, there are some factors to consider. First, think about meeting with a financial professional to account for the amount you’re losing. You may need to change your saving or investing strategy to get back on track with your retirement goals. Second, consider alternatives—you may be able to give your spouse another asset of equal value in exchange for keeping your IRA. It all depends on how flexible you are with your retirement accounts.

Discuss Your Legal Options with Hardy Pence

When you’re facing divorce in Charleston, it’s important to have a strong legal team on your side. Hardy Pence is here to support you every step of the way. Schedule your free consultation now by calling us at 304-345-7250 or reaching out online.

Adopted Children Might Need Extra Support During Divorce

If you’re facing divorce and trying to figure out what’s best for your children, it’s important to think about the specific needs of each child. When you and your spouse share an adopted child, it’s likely that your child will struggle quite a bit throughout this process. The loss that comes with adoption can often be awakened through the loss of the divorce, and both you and your ex should be prepared to support your child through this time.

There are many factors that may influence how your child responds to your divorce. As you navigate this difficult time, make sure you have the legal support and guidance you need. Call Hardy Pence at 304-345-7250.

Unique Challenges for Adopted Children

There are several challenges that divorce often brings up for adopted children:

  • Loss and abandonment: Adopted children often have a fear of abandonment and loss, due to the loss of their biological family early in life. Unfortunately, the upheaval of divorce can bring these feelings back to the surface.
  • Instability: Children, and adopted children, in particular, thrive in a stable environment. Divorce is the epitome of an unstable environment. You know that it’s temporary, but to a child, it can feel like their entire world is over. You may see your child act out, regress, or even withdraw from you as they try to process what’s happening.
  • Difficulty with attachment and trust: If the adoption is relatively recent and your child is still figuring out their place in your family, they may experience serious issues with attachment and trust during a divorce. A child who was previously securely attached may suddenly show an anxious attachment style or an avoidant attachment style, making it harder for both parents to bond with them. The child may also stop trusting their parents, making it harder for them to provide support during the divorce.
  • Confusion over loyalty: Children may feel like they have to declare loyalty to one parent during a divorce. This is often seen among adopted children, who may naturally be closer to one parent than the other. It’s crucial to avoid any hint of parental alienation, as the child must be encouraged to maintain a strong relationship with both parents.

Emotionally Supporting Your Adopted Child

Understanding the issues your child may face during this time can put you in a better position to support them as they grieve and heal. Emphasize the need for open communication and allow your child to open up to you—even if what they have to say may be painful or hurtful to hear. Remember that they have no say over what is happening, and it’s natural to feel angry or betrayed.

Protect your child’s routine as much as you can. Even if you’re in a different home, you can allow them to keep their same extracurricular activities, take them to spend time with friends and uphold the traditions you have always shared. Any consistency you can give them during this time can give them a sense of security.

Do your best to reassure your child of your love for them and your ex’s love for them. It may be difficult to talk about your ex in positive terms, but supporting their relationship with your child is truly putting your child’s best interests first. Don’t be surprised if your little one needs more reassurance, cuddles, or affection than usual.

Using Your Resources

You may want to have a therapist lined up before you even tell your child about the divorce. They will undoubtedly have things to work through in the months to come and providing them with support right away will benefit everyone. You may want to look for a therapist with specialized training in working with adopted children and navigating divorce trauma.

Keep learning throughout this time. Learn more about adoption-related trauma, the unique ways divorce can affect adopted children, and the best ways to support your adopted child’s growth and healing.

Facing Divorce? Contact Hardy Pence Now

With the team at Hardy Pence, you can work through divorce while giving your children the guidance and help they need. Let us handle the legal aspects of your divorce while you support your family. Set up a consultation with our team of Charleston divorce attorneys by calling us at 304-345-7250 or sending us a message online.

Taking Control of Your Finances After a Divorce

Divorce is a major life event that can derail every aspect of your life while you get it sorted out. Your finances will likely take a significant hit while you work through your split, but that’s temporary. By planning ahead and being honest about your finances, you can take control of your financial situation and plan for life after divorce.

If you’re still reeling from the decision to divorce and you’re not sure what your next step is, it’s time to talk to an attorney who can advocate for you along the way. Call Hardy Pence at 304-345-7250 to set up a time to talk with one of our experienced attorneys.

Get a Full Picture of Your Financial Situation

This part may be painful, but it is unavoidable if you want to get your money under control. You need an unbiased view of what’s going out, what’s coming in, and what you have left over at the end of each month.

You can start by calculating your sources of income for each month. This obviously includes any income from employment, but may also include child support, alimony, or side gig work. This is where it’s important to be honest—if your ex-spouse is ordered to pay $1,000 in child support but has only made two payments in the last six months, it’s wise not to count on that money coming in each month.

You can also keep track of fixed and flexible expenses. Fixed expenses include rent, mortgage, student loans, and other payments that are the same every month. Flexible expenses may include groceries, gas, utilities, and fun money.

In addition to looking at the monthly payments you have to make, create a list of your debts, how much is owed on each account, and your current estimated payoff date. This will be important if you want to pay off your debts more quickly.

Develop a Realistic Budget

You already have the framework for a budget with your list of income sources and expenses. Now you can tweak it to fit your life a little better. Perhaps you have three streaming services on your expenses list and you know for a fact you only watch one. You can cut the other two and trim them from your budget. 

Maybe looking at the numbers made you realize that you’ve been dipping into savings every month and you need to cut back on discretionary spending. Your budget should account for monthly expenses, as well as those that pop up occasionally or annually—for example, vehicle registration, vehicle repairs, home repairs, and vet visits. Ensure that you are making contributions to savings, so you have an emergency fund.

Leverage Assets and Account for Liabilities

If you were granted a share of marital assets in the divorce, you may have what you need to improve your financial situation. If you took ownership of an investment property, consider finding ways to make more money from it—perhaps your ex-spouse hadn’t increased rent in five years, and the current rent is far below market value. Maybe making a few small updates would drastically increase what you bring in each month.

This is also a good time to look into insurance policies. Your needs as a divorced person may not be quite the same as the needs of a married person. You might be able to trim back some of your policies and add the money you save to your monthly budget.

Take some time to plan for the debts you were left with after the divorce. While you can make minimum payments until everything is paid off, you may want to come up with a more aggressive repayment plan.

Think About Future Plans

Whether your goals are preparing for retirement, funding your children’s college accounts, or starting a new business, don’t put those plans off for “someday.” If you’re already in the middle of financial planning, make space for those goals in your current plans.

Navigate Your Divorce with the Help of Hardy Pence

Divorce is never easy, but having a compassionate and experienced attorney by your side can help you minimize the stress you face. Schedule a consultation with our team now by contacting us online or calling us at 304-345-7250.

Navigating the Transfer of Real Estate During a High Asset Divorce

Real estate transfers are a crucial component in many divorces, and they often play an even bigger role in high-asset divorces. High-asset couples often own multiple pieces of property, with some serving as family or vacation homes and others serving as income streams. For this reason, it’s common for the division of assets to be a time-consuming and intense part of the divorce process.

Learn more about what to expect during real estate transfers and how to get what you need out of your split. For more personalized advice as you work through divorce, call Hardy Pence at 304-345-7250.

Proper Valuation and Assessment of the Property

Proper valuation of every piece of real estate is crucial when you’re going through a divorce. This is especially true in today’s market, which seems to change dramatically on a near-weekly basis. The market has driven home prices upward, which may influence both parties’ decisions regarding selling or keeping the property. 

Investing in a qualified real estate appraiser is crucial, particularly in high-asset divorces that may involve valuable real estate. If both parties cannot agree on an appraiser, you may want to ask your attorney for recommendations or consider getting insight from two appraisers.

This step also involves considering the debts tied to each piece of property. Unless you own each piece of real estate outright, it’s important to consider the amount of debt tied to each property and how much equity is in each property. Again, the current market makes this even more important. If you bought one or more homes when interest rates were low, requiring one party to refinance into their name alone could lead to an unpleasant surprise.

Understanding Equitable Distribution Laws

Once you know what you’re working with in terms of debt, equity, and home value, you’ll have to talk to your attorney about how West Virginia’s equitable distribution laws may affect how the homes are split. West Virginia, like many other states, is an equitable distribution state. This means that assets should be split in a way that is fair, not necessarily in a way that is equal. Rather than both sides getting 50%, the courts consider a range of factors while deciding how each asset should be split up.

It’s important to identify which pieces of real estate are separate property and which are marital property. Even if a property is considered separate, it could still affect how assets are divided. If one party owns five homes on their own and the other spouse owns nothing on their own, the court would likely find it unfair to give each spouse half of the marital home.

One of the most important factors used in equitable distribution is both parties’ financial and non-financial contributions to the marriage and property. This is especially important in marriages involving one high-earner and one spouse who works as a homemaker or stay-at-home parent. It’s common to think about the working spouse’s financial contributions, but the non-financial contributions are also crucial and carry significant weight.

Negotiating the Division

Before you and your attorney begin negotiating with your ex, you should fully understand what is at stake and which outcomes are possible. If you don’t care about the real estate, you can use that to gain some leverage and fight for a greater share of other assets in exchange for giving up your share of the real estate. If you want the family home but are uninterested in the investment properties, that may also guide your negotiations. Perhaps you want to keep one investment property as a passive stream of income but do not want the baggage associated with the marital home. It all depends on your priorities.

Tax Implications

The good news is that property transfers between spouses during divorce are usually non-taxable. However, owning property does come with some tax benefits, so keep that in mind if you plan on signing away your rights to the family real estate. Additionally, if you get one or more pieces of real estate in the divorce and sell them later on, you could be hit with a capital gains tax.

Facing Divorce? Choose Hardy Pence for Your Legal Needs

We know that divorce leaves you with more questions than answers, and that’s why we’re here to support you every step of the way. Let us help you navigate your divorce and prepare for a new chapter in life. Schedule a consultation now by calling us at 304-345-7250 or contacting us online.

How Prenuptial Agreements Protect Children in a Second Marriage

Getting a second chance at true love is exhilarating. However, second marriages also bring a variety of complex financial situations and different family dynamics. When both parties have established themselves in their careers and acquired assets from their previous marriages, it can be difficult to figure out how to protect those assets should something happen. If one or both spouses have children from their previous marriages, it’s even more important to protect separate assets for the benefit of the children.

Wondering if you need a prenuptial agreement? Learn more about how prenuptial agreements can protect your children when you remarry. When you’re ready to discuss your prenup, call Hardy Pence at 304-345-7250.

Protecting Your Children’s Assets and Inheritances

One of the main reasons you may seek a prenuptial agreement before you remarry is to protect your children’s assets and inheritances. You may think you’re in the clear if you own certain assets before marriage, but it’s not always that easy. 

Separate assets may become marital assets if commingled, making them subject to division. This means that the assets you intended for your children could end up split in a future divorce. Your prenuptial agreement will specify which assets should be considered separate in a divorce, safeguarding everything you’ve built for your children.

Your prenuptial agreement can also specify how your assets should be handled if you pass during the course of your marriage. This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of a prenup in a second marriage. Without a clear division of assets, intestacy rules may leave your new spouse with the lion’s share of your assets, forcing your children to go without.

A clear and legally enforceable prenuptial agreement can also protect your children from the pain of a drawn-out inheritance dispute if you pass away. Without legal protection, it’s possible for your spouse to lay claim to assets you’d intended for your children. Fighting this could cost your children thousands in legal fees.

Clarifying Financial Responsibilities

A strong prenuptial agreement can open a discussion about financial responsibilities and your obligations to each other’s children. While the agreements you come to may not be legally enforceable, these discussions have saved many people from unintentionally entering a second marriage that would not have served them. 

For example, imagine finding out that your spouse-to-be expects you to financially support your children and their children from a previous marriage—even though you earn the same amount of money. Or, think about how stressful it would be to find out that your new spouse wants you to step fully into a parental role, even though it would mean stepping on the toes of the child’s other involved parent.

On the legal side, these conversations can lead to agreements that you can include in your prenup. You may specify how property acquired during the marriage is to be split should you divorce or come to an agreement regarding alimony, which is especially important if there’s a significant earning disparity.

Creating a Safe and Secure Environment for Children

While this isn’t necessarily a legal benefit of a prenuptial agreement, creating a prenup can help you build an environment where your children feel safe and secure. The discussions that lead to a prenuptial agreement also give you plenty of opportunities to discuss the role that both parents will have in the children’s lives, the division of household labor, discipline, and parenting strategies, and communication techniques. Starting a marriage on the right foot like this is beneficial for both the couple and their children, giving everyone the space they need to voice their concerns and advocate for themselves.

Additionally, if your children are older, they may be worried about the financial ramifications of your remarriage. Knowing their inheritances and assets are safe can help them accept your new spouse more readily.

Ready to Draft Your Prenup? Call Hardy Pence

When you’re ready to start working on your prenuptial agreement, the team at Hardy Pence is here to help. We will explain your options, how different choices may play out, and our recommendations. Get started now by reaching out online or calling us at 304-345-7250 to set up a consultation with our team of Charleston family law attorneys.

Pet Custody Battles in a Divorce

Whether your family pet is a dog, cat, or a more unique animal, you consider them family. Getting a pet is a lifelong commitment, even when you face challenges like moving, changing career paths, adding to the family, or divorcing. Unfortunately, disputes over pet ownership can make the already difficult divorce process even harder on everyone involved. If you and your ex are arguing over who will take ownership of your shared pets when you split, learn about your rights and options.

The right legal support can make your divorce easier and less stressful. Let us support you as you prepare for the next step in life. Call Hardy Pence at 304-345-7250 to set up a consultation now.

Understanding Pet Custody

The topic of pet custody has gained significant traction in recent years, with news agencies sharing stories of ex-spouses trading their pets on alternating weekends or allowing visits. This has led some couples to explore options beyond all-or-nothing agreements, much like they would discuss child custody.

However, this is very different from child custody in several ways. First, it’s usually not legally required. This means that it requires an enormous amount of patience, cooperation, and communication between both parties—and that can be challenging if the marriage ends on bad terms. Additionally, many divorced people “co-parenting” a shared pet often find it difficult to explain the arrangement to new partners. While new partners are likely to understand the need for co-parenting human children, they aren’t always quite as flexible regarding pets.

As a result, some people prefer to go the traditional route and have one spouse completely surrender ownership of the pet to the other.

What the Law Says

Each state has its own laws regarding pet custody. A growing number of states now allow the courts to consider the pet’s best interests when determining custody arrangements—and that may include joint custody, an arrangement that requires the ex-spouses to share ownership and legal responsibility for the pet.

However, West Virginia is not one of those states. In West Virginia, family pets are considered property, much like any other marital asset to be divided. This means that the circumstances of your pet’s adoption or purchase may matter. If one party owned the pet prior to the marriage, they may retain full ownership when they divorce. 

If the pet was purchased or adopted during the marriage, it will likely be considered marital property and be subject to division. Obviously, a pet is far more than just property to a divorcing couple, but just means the court wants to ensure that each party gets a fair share of the pet’s financial value.

Factors Influencing This Issue

While West Virginia does not have a law ordering that pets’ needs be taken into account when determining where they go in a divorce, it’s likely that their needs will be considered. No one wants to put an animal into a situation where they are likely to be mistreated or neglected. Furthermore, if one spouse has put more time and money into the pet than the other, the court will weigh those investments in their decision.

Since West Virginia does not have a law regarding pet custody, don’t expect an arrangement that allows you and your ex-partner to share custody of them. Any arrangement made will be informal and revocable at any time.

Fighting for Your Pet

If your pet is one of your main priorities in your divorce, it is important to talk to an attorney about your next steps. We can help you gather relevant documentation proving that you deserve full pet ownership and can best care for them. We will also lead the way in negotiations, striving to come to an agreement that allows you to keep your pet without leaving it up to the court.

Discuss Your Concerns with the Team at Hardy Pence

We know divorce can be overwhelming and confusing, but we’re here to help you every step of the way. Set up a consultation with our team of experienced divorce attorneys in Charleston now—just call us at 304-345-7250 to set up a consultation now. Whatever matters to you most in your divorce, we will help you fight for it.

Protecting Intellectual Property Rights During High Asset Divorces

When you get divorced, some assets are easier to divide than others. While retirement funds, bank accounts, and vehicles are relatively easy to split, those with unclear financial value are much more complex. Enter intellectual property: it is incredibly valuable in the right hands, but valuation is a complicated process. If you own intellectual property and are getting divorced, it is crucial to work with an attorney with experience in this area. Call Hardy Pence at 304-407-7852 to set up a consultation with our team now.

Identifying Your Intellectual Property Assets

Due to their intangible nature, intellectual property assets are sometimes overlooked during the divorce process. However, for many people, they are arguably the most valuable assets they have. Intellectual property is the result of creativity and ingenuity, and it often serves as a healthy stream of income for entrepreneurs. In order to safeguard your intellectual property, you must first identify your relevant assets. These include:

  • Patents: Patents protect your inventions. If there are any patents granted or pending, they must be addressed in the divorce—it’s likely that they have significant financial value.
  • Copyrights: Copyrighted work included literature, art, music, and software. Copyright exists automatically when a creative work of authorship is fixed, but owners may still take additional legal steps to strengthen the protection granted to their work. Copyrighted work, including books and music, may be a significant source of income for its creator and must be accounted for in the divorce.
  • Trademarks: Brands, logos, and signs associated with brands can all be trademarked. Identifying and securing a fair valuation of trademarks is crucial if your brand has a presence in the market.
  • Trade secrets: Many established businesses rely heavily on trade secrets as a way to set themselves apart from competitors. Confidential business information can devastate a company when it reaches the wrong hands, so you must take steps to protect trade secrets as you navigate a divorce.
  • Licensing agreements: If you license any of your intellectual property to other individuals or companies, the revenue streams and agreements must be counted among your assets.

How to Protect Your Intellectual Property

The earlier you begin working with an attorney with experience in high-asset divorces, the more work you can put into safeguarding your intellectual property. There are various strategies that your attorney may recommend.

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are powerful tools when it comes to protecting intellectual property and other assets. While they aren’t an option if you already have a divorce in the works, they should definitely be considered if you are engaged or currently married.

A fair valuation of each intellectual property asset is another important part of securing your property. Valuing intellectual property isn’t like valuing a house or vehicle, so you’ll need to work with the right appraisers for this step.

If your main fear is that your spouse will disclose trade secrets in retaliation for your split, you may want to explore non-disclosure agreements with your attorney. This is a complicated subject, as non-disclosure agreements have recently been challenged repeatedly in court and many courts have chosen not to uphold them. If you go this route, ensure that your agreement is enforceable.

The primary tool available to you at this point is effective negotiation. You know your intellectual property is valuable, and it’s likely your ex does as well. It’s time to consider how important it is to you to keep your IP, what you are willing to give up in order to keep it, and how hard you think your spouse will fight to get a share.

Specialists Who Can Help with This Process

The first person you need on your team is a high-asset divorce attorney. Lawyers with experience in this are usually familiar with intellectual property, its significant value, and what it takes to protect it in a divorce. They will often have connections with other experts that can help you, including forensic accountants, business valuators, financial advisors, and mediators.

Prepare for Your Divorce with the Team at Hardy Pence

With the right high-value divorce attorney fighting for you, you can get through this challenging time with as little stress as possible. Set up your free consultation with Hardy Pence now by calling us at 304-407-7852 or contacting us online.

Divorce and Blended Families: Legal Rights and Co-Parenting Challenges

Navigating life as a co-parent can be hard, and it gets even more complicated once parents remarry and start building their own blended families. Feelings can get hurt, boundaries may get trampled, and misunderstandings are all but guaranteed. It’s important to have a variety of tools you can use to figure out these challenges, but also to know your legal rights and how to protect them.

That’s where we step in to help. The Charleston family lawyers at Hardy Pence have helped many parents just like you explore their legal options during disputes. Set up a time to talk to our team now by calling us at 304-407-7852.

Legal Rights of Parents

During a divorce and in blended families, understanding the legal rights of parents is crucial. A wide range of factors play a significant role in establishing parental rights.

Divorcing parents must establish custody arrangements that outline where the child will live and the visitation rights of the non-custodial parent. The courts generally recognize two types of custody: physical custody, which determines where the child lives, and legal custody, which specifies who has the right to make decisions about a child’s upbringing. Parents with legal custody can make decisions regarding religion, healthcare, and education.

The courts prioritize the best interests of the child when making custody and visitation decisions. The child’s best interest outweighs all issues of parental rights—if having a relationship with a parent puts a child in danger or harms them, the court will decide in favor of what is best for the child. Factors such as the child’s relationship with each parent, their physical and emotional well-being, and their developmental needs are all weighed when a court makes its decision.

Both custodial and non-custodial parents have rights and responsibilities concerning child support. Non-custodial parents typically contribute financially to the child’s upbringing and expenses, including food, housing, extracurricular activities, clothing, school fees, and other costs. The custodial parent’s contribution is assumed to happen naturally as a result of the child living with them.

Challenges of Co-Parenting

Co-parenting can present unique challenges, and the unfortunate thing is that these challenges are always evolving. Just as you’ve learned how to co-parent as two single parents, you may need to change your strategy when one or both parents remarry. Your techniques may need to change again as your child reaches different stages of development. We’ll explore some of these issues below.

Effective communication and cooperation between parents are crucial for successful co-parenting. Depending on where they are in the healing process, divorced parents may have strained relationships, making it difficult to communicate openly and work together.

Disagreements may arise around parenting decisions, visitation schedules, and other aspects of co-parenting. Figuring out these issues is hard enough with married parents; when you throw divorce into the mix, it’s even harder.

Maintaining consistency in parenting styles and establishing clear boundaries are top priorities for co-parents, but they’re also some of the hardest aspects of this relationship. Differences in values, rules, and expectations between households can lead to confusion for the child.

In blended families, co-parents may face the additional challenge of integrating new partners or step-siblings into the family structure. Ensuring all family members feel included and supported can be complex, especially when there’s jealousy between step-siblings.

Navigating Co-Parenting Disagreements

Resolving disagreements requires a proactive and cooperative approach. Establish open lines of communication with the other parent, and always remind yourselves that you both want what is best for your child.

When there are persistent conflicts, a mediator or counselor can be beneficial. These professionals can facilitate productive discussions, help identify common goals, and provide useful communication strategies.

A comprehensive parenting plan that outlines important aspects of co-parenting sets clear expectations and provides a document that both parties can refer back to when there are issues. However, creating this type of plan requires communication and cooperation, so this may be another area where you want to bring in a mediator.

In consistently difficult co-parenting situations, consulting with a family law attorney can provide valuable guidance. An attorney can help you assert your parental rights.

Need Help with Your Family Law Case? Call Hardy Pence Today

We understand that co-parenting issues can be deeply personal and significantly affect your quality of life. We’re here to provide professional guidance and support that can help you protect your relationship with your child. Set up a consultation now by calling us at 304-407-7852 or reaching out to our team online.