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Dallas-Fort Worth Family Law Blog

Dividing retirement funds can be difficult in divorce

Many couples in Texas have worked hard all of their lives to establish their retirement accounts. If divorce becomes inevitable, the potential impact to both parties' financial security and future can be massive. This is one reason why 62 percent of family law attorneys surveyed in 2016 said that retirement accounts were the most difficult issue for their clients to resolve during the divorce negotiation process.

The financial elements of a divorce can already be contentious. When valuable retirement assets are involved, the process only becomes more complicated. It's important for couples to understand that pension plans, 401(k) funds and other types of retirement investments are usually heavily regulated. Therefore, it is critical to follow the relevant guidelines to avoid significant taxes, penalties and fees.

How you ask for a divorce can impact the process

Are you beginning to wonder if divorce is the best way to improve your life? Have you come to find that no matter what you do you're unable to get on the same page with your spouse?

If you're convinced that divorce is the right answer to your marital problems, it's time to take a big step: You need to inform your spouse of your intentions.

How fathers might get full custody after divorce

When fathers in Texas get a divorce, they may feel that the courts tend to favor the mother for child custody. Furthermore, fathers often must fight against stereotypes such as the deadbeat dad. If a father truly wants to get primary custody, however, there are several things he can do to increase the likelihood that this will happen.

For starters, a father should document all the time he spends with his children as well as any money spent related to child rearing. He should also be prepared to discuss the child-father relationship with the judge. Since the judge is trying to make the decision that's in the best interest of the child, understanding the child's relationship with both parents will be an important part of that decision.

Deadbeat parents can be held accountable

For parents in Texas going through a divorce, there can be several key points of contention, including child support assessment and the child custody plan. While divorcing parents are struggling to be close to their children in many cases, parents in other cases attempt to evade their obligations to their children. A non-custodial parent or a parent with less custodial time will usually be mandated by the court to pay child support to the custodial parent. Factors including income, outstanding expenses and time with the child are included in the calculation of the final support payment.

Despite the use of a variety of factors to calculate the payment and the legally binding nature of a child support order, some parents refuse to pay, citing a number of reasons. These include a declared inability to afford the payments, a belief that their ex-partner misuses the money or a rejection of the declared custody order. While a non-custodial parent can file with the court for a modification of the order, simply defying it is not legally acceptable.

Children can benefit from shared parenting

For Texas parents who are going through a divorce, there are a number of common ideas about child custody and shared parenting that can actually undermine efforts to develop a positive plan. Indeed, decisions about custody and parenting time are generally made according to a standard of the best interests of the child, which correctly prioritizes the most important issues but can be interpreted differently by judges, lawyers and parents.

In general, research indicates that the best outcomes for children are found when parents practice shared parenting, in which both parents share physical custody of the children. The preference does not apply, of course, in cases where one parent has a history of abuse or neglect. Despite the strong scientific evidence backing up shared parenting, some parents are skeptical. For example, many believe that children want to live with one parent and that sharing custody time is a hassle for kids. However, adult children report much higher feelings of happiness from a close relationship with both parents that far outweighs the annoyance of switching homes.

Avoiding revenge in a divorce

Unhappy couples in Texas may be tempted to seek revenge in the context of divorce litigation. While the urge to humiliate and embarrass a misbehaving spouse is understandable, giving in to that temptation is not recommended. The financial implications of paying lawyers to wage a proxy war are obvious, but the more subtle effects of such behavior heavily impact the emotional and mental health of everyone involved.

The most compelling reason to avoid the scorched-earth litigation tactics that accompany most revenge-motivated strategies is child welfare. When parents fill the air with slings and arrows, children get caught between their two primary role models. Young children may not understand, and older children could be compelled to choose sides. All of them bear witness to pain and heartache even if parents vow to spare the details.

These co-parenting tips can change your life

Once the divorce process is in the past, you're ready to move on with your new life. Of course, if you have a child with your ex-spouse, you know that you'll still have to communicate with him or her every now and again.

As you move through your divorce, it's only natural to have some co-parenting concerns. Will you know what to do at all times? Will you make mistakes that lead to an argument? Will you always do what's best for your child?

Divorcing couples need to consider housing options

When Texas couples decide to divorce, one of the first decisions then must make is where to live. There are essentially three options: staying in the family home, buying a new home or renting, though there are variations within the options.

Finances may play a role in any of the options. Staying in the family home may be a good option if children are involved, since that causes less stress for them. This might be difficult financially for the custodial parent to manage since their family income could drop when the other spouse leaves. Even with child support, keeping the house may not be a viable option, especially if one was a stay-at-home parent or earned less money. It's possible the other spouse could make the mortgage payments but this needs to be written into the divorce agreement.

Myths about marriage that might lead to divorce

Some people in Texas might have heard certain myths about marriage that leave them with unrealistic expectations. For example, according to the writer and marriage counselor John Gottman, the relationship technique known as active listening does not generally lead to conflict resolution. Gottman says either it does not help at all or couples tend to relapse into old communication patterns. According to Gottman, even loud arguments do not necessarily mean that a marriage is doomed.

Another myth is that if partners have personality flaws, the marriage will fail. Everyone has them, and what they are matters less than how partners adapt to one another and handle them.

Contempt and other divorce danger signs

Some couples in Texas fall into certain behavioral patterns that make it more likely that they will get a divorce. One author and marriage counselor has written about patterns he has observed with his clients. He has found that criticism, contempt, stonewalling and defensiveness all contribute to the increased chance of divorce.

The counselor has identified contempt as the most harmful of these behaviors. When spouses show contempt, they indicate that they have lost respect for each other. Contempt may be exhibited by behaviors such as spouses rolling their eyes at one another, using sarcasm and name calling. One spouse might ask the other to stop these behaviors, but the other spouse may simply not care.