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Dallas-Fort Worth Family Law Blog

Husbands who work are less likely to get divorced

Changes in attitudes toward marriage since the 1970s have made it easier for women in Texas and elsewhere to split from their husbands. Economic independence has also made it easier for women to leave a marriage that does not meet their needs. However, a study from a Harvard professor published in American Sociological Review suggests that the success or failure of a marriage may hinge on whether a husband is employed.

In a given year, a man who has a job has a 2.5 percent chance of getting divorced. This is compared to a 3.3 percent chance of an unemployed man getting divorced in a given year. One explanation for this statistic is that women still expect their husbands to be breadwinners even as they enter the working world for themselves. If a husband isn't making money, it could put strain on the relationship as a whole.

New poll suggests politics often trumps love

Feuding couples in Texas might have partisan politics to blame for their relationship issues. According to a Wakefield Research poll of 1,000 people in married and unmarried relationships, 24 percent of couples have been fighting about politics more than ever.

Another 22 percent of respondents reported that they knew people whose marriages had become strained due to disagreements concerning the Trump election. A full 10 percent of couples said that they had ended their relationships because of political views, and millennial couples proved to be especially unfavorable toward differing views. Members of that generation split up at a rate of 22 percent because of recent political developments.

Divorce mediation helps protect your children

Like many other things, divorce in Texas is a bit different than in other states. One of the most obvious differences is that Texas is one of the few remaining community property states, so property division during divorce does not proceed as it would in Tennessee, for instance.

More specifically, Texas is one of very few states that requires divorce mediation when child custody or visitation issues are contested during a divorce (except where there are allegations of abuse or domestic violence).

When a parent wants to block virtual visitation

Texas parents who are dealing with custody and visitation after a divorce might want to find out about virtual visitation. Virtual visitation refers to communication between a non-custodial parent and a child through texting, calling or video-conferencing. In fact, as the technology is available, courts have begun to award virtual visitation to parents that live too far away for physical contact.

In parenting matters, virtual visitation is normally a very positive tool, since it encourages the relationship between parent and child to continue steadily, even when distance makes it impractical for the traditional visitation schedule. A custodial parent might want to stop virtual visitation from the non-custodial parent for a variety of reasons. However, courts are reluctant to do this, since in many cases the best interest of the child lies in continuing a stable relationship with both parents. Courts will sometimes halt virtual visitation, but only for very specific causes.

Preparing a pre- or postnuptial agreement

Since Texas is a community property state, a married person might be held responsible for debts incurred during the marriage even if they are in the name of the other spouse. Therefore, the couple may want to consider creating a pre- or postnuptial agreement. Both types of documents may also specify how assets and liabilities will be divided in the event of divorce. These can be particularly useful to protect one spouse if the other one is bringing debts into a relationship or is prone to running up debts. However, these agreements need to be prepared carefully so that their legitimacy is not questioned in court. Postnups may be the focus of particular scrutiny since there could be more coercion around signing one.

One thing a judge will look for is whether each party had separate legal counsel and that neither felt pushed into signing the agreement. The agreement should also be fair. If one person is saddled with the bulk of the debt, the agreement should explain why. The document can even include a provision that allows one spouse to examine the credit report or other financial records of the other spouse.

Prenups to protect inheritances

Texas parents who are concerned about protecting the inheritance that they want to give their adult children who have not yet married should speak with them about signing a prenuptial agreement. The legal document allows their child and the child's prospective spouse to legally stipulate before they get married what will be each party's property rights should the marriage end.

Prenups are advantageous as they can save money and time and can protect a child's inheritance. However, both parties do have to enter into the agreement voluntarily and provide complete financial disclosure.

Fighting a child custody battle

Texas parents who are going through a divorce and who want to win their child custody battle should have a plan of action before going to court. Taking time to learn the child custody laws and having a family law attorney to represent them are part of being fully prepared.

No parent should presume that the judge will accept their argument in the child custody case. The role of the family court is to always do what is in the best interest of the child. Parents may be able to improve their case by showing that their primary concern is also what serves the child the best.

Things a shared parenting agreement should entail

The divorce process is challenging for a variety of reasons. For example, if you have at least one child with the other person, you'll soon realize that you have to answer questions and address concerns regarding custody and support.

The court, along with many parents, realize that a shared parenting arrangement is in the best interest of the child. With this, both parents share the responsibility of making essential decisions pertaining to the child's upbringing.

What to do in a marital separation

Texas couples who are having marital difficulties might want to try a separation first. There are several steps they should take. If only one person has handled finances in the marriage, the other person should get up to speed on this. It may be necessary to close any joint credit card accounts and for each to apply for credit cards in their own name.

The two might also want to visit their respective attorneys and create a legal separation agreement. The separation agreement might cover how any debts incurred will be dealt with and how marital property, including retirement savings, will be divided. It might cover spousal and child support and what to do about health, life and other types of insurance. Finally, each spouse might want to waive their right to inherit the other's estate.

What to know about a QDRO

When a Texas couple gets divorced, they may need to sign a Qualified Domestic Relations Order. The QDRO determines how certain retirement assets are to be divided. While an individual who signs such an order may believe it to be equitable, it could result in fees and taxes that he or she hadn't planned on paying.

While an attorney may understand the law as it relates to divorce, he or she may not be the most qualified to talk about how a QDRO may impact a person's finances. In many cases, legal counsel may refer an individual to a certified divorce financial analyst. The analyst may be able to decipher financial jargon, which may make it easier for someone to understand what the agreement really means. The analyst may also work with the plan administrator to make sure that the transfer happens in a timely manner.