Janssen Law, PLC

Des Moines Law Blog

Helping a child in need

A desire to make a difference in a child's life is one of the main reasons that families in Iowa decide to adopt or foster. However, some actions may make more of an impact than others, as they benefit both the child and the community as a whole. This is a brief review of the areas of greatest need in the adoption and foster system in the state, along with basic information about how one might help.

There are several types of kids who need extra help. It is also not necessary that one be an expert in childcare to bring a child into a family. Additionally, the courts could consider allowing adoption for many different family types, including single parents.

Keeping your estate plan fresh and relevant

If you made an estate plan, chances are that your goals were to eliminate any confusion after you pass away and to provide your loved ones with as little stress as possible in claiming their inheritance. Whether you wrote a will or established a trust, your plan is a sign of your generous concern for the well-being of your family.

Like many in Iowa who have created an estate plan, you may not realize the importance of periodically revisiting your plan. In fact, depending on the significance of the life changes you have experienced since you executed your will, your plan may quickly become outdated and useless.

Is bankruptcy bad for someone's reputation?

Bankruptcy in Iowa could have many consequences, some advantageous for you and some that are not so desirable. However, damage to your reputation should typically be minimal. While bankruptcies are public record, they are rarely front-page news. Additionally, while word does tend to get around about these things, anyone not in your immediate circle would likely have to go to considerable lengths to discover your financial history.

To clarify, your bankruptcy court records would be listed in a nationwide database, accessible online through the U.S. Courts website. This resource, known as Public Access to Court Electronic Records, contains case files from three systems:

  • Federal courts of appeals
  • Federal district courts
  • Bankruptcy courts

Modifying your Iowa child support order

If you currently reside in Iowa and either pay or receive child support, a time may come when you wish to revisit the amount of child support your current support order dictates. Maybe you are your child’s primary caregiver, and your child now has more medical expenses than he or she did before, or maybe you lost your job, and you can no longer afford to make payments at the amount your order currently lists. At Janssen Law, PLC, we understand the process of modifying child support in Iowa, and we have helped many clients facing similar situations pursue solutions that fit their needs.

According to the Iowa Judicial Branch, you may be able to request a review for a child support order modification if a “substantial change of circumstances” has taken place. This could refer to any number of different things, but a job loss, a change in primary custody, or a change in the medical expense needs of your child may all constitute a substantial change in circumstances.

Hidden issues adoptees face and what to do about them

Most Iowa families who choose to expand through adoption have kindness and love at the core of their motives. Maybe they personally know someone who experienced belonging for the first time as a result of adoption, or perhaps they have had the privilege of visiting an orphanage in the U.S. or somewhere around the world.

In the time they spent with the children, their hearts melted and they felt like they could no longer ignore the issue of orphanhood. The spouses' response, then, was to talk the decision over with their biological children and then begin the process of fostering, with the goal of adoption. For most families, this is likely a normal process, and they never expect the bumps in the road that often come with taking in children who have lost their birth parents.

What do you do if your income is too high for Medicaid?

Planning for posterity in Iowa could mean putting money away for your beneficiaries. It also might entail making the most of every available resource at your disposal in order to minimize the impact your own living expenses have on your estate. A Medicaid payback trust is one type of financial document that could help you reduce medical costs, in some situations.

According to the Iowa Department of Human Services, you could have access to three types of Medicaid payback trusts:

  • An option specifically geared towards disabilities
  • One with pooled resources, such as donated funds from a not-for-profit organization
  • Income trusts that could qualify you for Medicaid if your income is too high

Bankruptcy does not mean you will never get another loan

Many people face financial struggles, you among them. While your immediate reaction to dealing with your financial hardships may be to keep them private, you may have reached a point where asking for help would work in your best interests. Of course, you may not feel entirely confident in knowing where to turn for such assistance.

If your outstanding liabilities have reached a seemingly insurmountable amount, you may want to give bankruptcy its due consideration. You may initially push this idea aside because you feel taking such a drastic approach would cause irreparable damage to your credit. However, this idea is a misconception that may be holding you back from obtaining financial relief.

Facts to know about guardianships for disabled children

Parents have enough reason to worry about their children entering the adult world at 18, but for Iowa parents with disabled children, such worries are multiplied substantially. Some parents wonder if they should place their child under an appointed guardianship. But at the same time, they do not want to stifle their child’s independence. There is, however, more leeway in a guardianship than many people may know, which can help parents with their specific wishes for their child.

First, it is important to recognize that a guardian is not a fulltime caretaker. Findlaw points out that guardians exist to make decisions that disabled persons cannot make by themselves. Additionally, guardians only have those specific powers to do what their wards cannot. A ward that, for example, cannot make financial choices but is still adept at certain forms of labor would have a guardian with broader jurisdiction over financial choices than the ward’s job activities.

When and where can you file for divorce?

If your marriage is at an end and you wish to file for divorce, it is important to understand the laws on when and where you can file. You simply cannot go to any state and file for divorce as states typically have residency requirements. In Iowa, according to the Iowa State Bar Association, either you or your spouse must be a resident of the state in order to file for divorce in the state. To be considered a resident, you or your spouse must have lived in the state for at least one year. You also cannot file at just any courthouse. You must file in the county in which you or your spouse lives. 

While you can file at any point as long as one of you has residency, you may face waiting periods for the divorce to be finalized. In some cases, there is a 90-day period you must wait. You may also have conciliation procedures for 60 days, which delay the process. If you have children, then you will be required to take a course covering children's needs, but this can be taken up to 45 days after the divorce is finalized.

What is the difference between an open and closed adoption?

If you are considering an adoption in Iowa, there are many steps you must take. In addition, there are many terms you may come across that you should understand. It is essential that you are clear on all of the details of the adoption so you do not end up with any surprises down the road. One of the main things you need to understand is the type of adoption you are agreeing to. It will be a closed or open adoption. 

According to Adoptions with Love, Inc., most adoptions in the past were closed adoptions. This meant that once the process was finalized, the birth parents no longer had any contact with the child or other interactions with your family. It also meant that you and your child had limited access to information about his or her birth family. 

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