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Dallas-Fort Worth Family Law Blog

What parents can do to help their children after divorce

Once parents in Texas have gone through a divorce, they still face the challenge of helping their children adjust to their new living situation. Fortunately, they can make this adjustment less difficult by supporting the child's relationship with the other parent.

This means avoiding conflict or speaking negatively about the other parent in the child's presence. Parents should also make sure their children understand that the divorce was not their fault and cannot be fixed by them. Children who have questions should be able to get honest answers, but parents must balance this with boundaries. Children do not need to hear details about what led up to the divorce. They should be able to express a range of emotions, including negative ones. They should also feel comfortable expressing love for the other parent as well as for stepparents.

A high net worth divorce can include credit card debt

A high net worth divorce is often complicated by many types of debt, including that associated with credit cards. Just the same as your assets, it's imperative to negotiate the division of debt, as this can impact your life and finances in many ways.

If you have joint credit card debt and are heading into the divorce process, it's critical to understand your options and the strategy that makes the most sense. Here are some ideas to consider:

  • Pay off joint credit cards together: Before you divorce, talk about your ability to pay off any joint credit card debt that you're carrying. It's not always easy to part with a large chunk of your savings, but it's often better than getting stuck with half the debt in divorce.
  • Cancel all joint credit cards: Once you have a plan of action in place, cancel joint credit cards to avoid a situation in which your soon-to-be ex-spouse continues to use them.
  • Use a balance transfer credit card: With a balance transfer credit card, both individuals can take on half of the outstanding debt. This allows you to close all joint credit cards, and manage your debt however you best see fit.
  • Keep detailed records: Review your past three to six credit card statements and make note of joint purchases, your purchases and your spouse's purchases. You may find that the other individual is spending a lot more than you, maybe because they know divorce is in the future.

Protecting assets in a second marriage

People in Texas who are getting married for a second time may want to take steps to safeguard their finances and ensure that children from a previous marriage still receive their assets after their death. Both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements may be useful.

A prenup can specify the assets that each person is bringing into the marriage and how any shared assets will be treated in case of divorce. People may want to keep any assets they want their children to have separate since this can make inheritance easier. The couple can then create a postnup as well after they are married to reaffirm the earlier agreement.

Divorce rates surge in the summer months

Divorce rates in Texas and around the country tend to rise sharply in March and August according to a study conducted by sociologists from the University of Washington in 2016. Experts believe that the biannual surge is caused by marital problems rising to the forefront when spouses spend more time in one another's company. Divorce filings fall in September when children return to school and schedules go back to normal, and then they pick back up again during the holiday season.

People who are thinking of filing for divorce should plan carefully and avoid spur-of-the-moment actions. Before taking legal action, they may find it advisable to get a clear picture of the marital estate including the balances of bank and retirement accounts and the amount of installment and revolving debt. Couples who are unsure about divorce could enter what is known as discernment counseling. During these sessions, therapists help couples who are ambivalent to explore their feelings and decide whether or not their marriages are salvageable.

Lottery winnings are marital property, judge rules

Texas residents must be concerned about property settlements during a divorce. That concern is highlighted even more whenever one spouse suddenly comes into a significant amount of money. An arbitrator in Michigan recently ruled that a man must pay his wife nearly $15 million after he won more than double that while playing the lottery. The man was left with nearly $39 million after taxes and deductions, leaving his wife with slightly less than half of his landfall.

The couple had been separated for approximately two years when the man won his jackpot. Even so, the arbitrator in the case ruled that the winnings were marital property despite having been earned after the spouses had separated. The husband's lawyer had argued against splitting the money during the divorce settlement. He claimed it was his client's luck and not that of his wife that resulted in the lottery winnings.

Understanding stepparent adoption in Texas

Stepparents can be an important part of a child's life in Texas. In some circumstances, particularly when the other biological parent is not a part of the child's life, a stepparent may want to adopt a child. This is the most typical kind of adoption in the United States. It should be used when a stepparent wants to take on the legal and financial responsibility for the stepchildren. In some cases, there is only one living biological parent. The consent process for adoption is easier in such instances.

When the other biological parent is alive and known, their consent will be required unless they have already lost their parental rights. In order for a stepparent to adopt, they must be married to the kid's current custodial parent. In addition, the other parent must be absent or uninvolved in the child's life. That other parent usually must agree to terminate their parental rights before the adoption moves forward. If they refuse, a court can make a decision about whether termination of parental rights will be in the child's best interests.

Realism in the court: divorce and job loss

In Texas and elsewhere around the country, no one wants to lose his or her job while in the midst of a divorce. Getting divorced is hard enough on the emotions without suddenly losing the prospect of earning a living. Plus, there is the question of how a family court will look at the fact that the husband or wife recently lost his or her job. The court will question the person to find out why he or she is no longer working.

A court will not look at the situation lightly if the person lost his or her form of employment because of his or her own actions. However, a judge will not look at the case in a negative light if someone lost work because of massive downsizing. Losing a job due to using foul language or misbehaving at work will not win the approval of a court. A judge will most likely hold the person financially accountable because of his or her misconduct at work.

Divorce mediation: Set goals and follow through with the process

There's nothing simple about divorce, but there are things you can do to ease the tension, speed up the process and prevent the exacerbation of already bad feelings between you and your ex-spouse.

Mediation is often the best path toward a mutually acceptable divorce agreement. To make the most of this process, you must set goals to guide you. These can include but are not limited to:

  • Creating an equitable divorce agreement
  • Minimizing hostility
  • Avoiding the time associated with litigation
  • Avoiding the cost associated with litigation

USDA wants states to implement SNAP child support provisions

The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program helps almost 40 million people in Texas and around the country to meet their food bills. The rules outlining how the program is administered can be found in the Food and Nutrition Act and SNAP regulations, and they allow states to deny food stamps to noncustodial and custodial parents who are not willing to cooperate with state agencies that oversee child support. However, few states have chosen to implement the child support cooperation provisions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture wants that to change, and the agency sent a memo on May 1 to SNAP program directors in every state that urged them to implement child support cooperation provisions. Research shows that many children could benefit if states heeded this advice. More than a third of the children who live in one-parent homes in the United States live in conditions of poverty, and less than half of the custodial parents who would qualify for food stamps have a child support agreement in place.

Documents a woman should obtain before filing for a divorce

Texas women who feel a divorce is imminent should be aware of three documents they should have on hand if they want to proceed with the best financial strategy. While divorce is difficult for all people regardless of gender, women specifically are often left in the dark about their household's financial situation, financial and legal assets and investments.

A woman who believes she may soon be facing the end of a marriage should focus on collecting documents related to the household's finances. She should pay special attention to tax returns, net worth statements and lifestyle analyses prior to filing for divorce. This will help ensure that all future settlement decisions will be well-informed and thoroughly researched, which will in turn provide her with a better financial future.

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