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Dallas-Fort Worth Family Law Blog

Paying for a child's college education after divorce

Some Texas parents who are getting a divorce might wonder whether it will affect their ability to continue saving for their children's college education. Since two households are more expensive to maintain than one, parents and children may need to revise their college plans. For example, expectations may need to be scaled down from an expensive private college to a state school.

Ameritrade found in a study that around 40 percent of marriages end in divorce, but more than 60 percent of couples have not made a financial contingency plan for divorce or death. This can leave parents struggling to continue saving for college when they are concerned about child and spousal support.

Keep your parenting time secure

The parenting time that a court chooses to award you is not a loose suggestion about how and when you spend time with your child, even if it is inconvenient for your child's other parent. While there is certainly room to consider hardship on the part of either parent, if a parenting plan is not sustainable for one or both parties, the law provides a specific structure that allows parents to petition the court for a modification to the custody order.

If your child's other parent simply does not abide by the guidelines of your parenting and custody plan, this may qualify as parenting time interference. Not only may the other parent lose privileges for interfering with your parenting time, he or she may even face criminal consequences if the court deems it necessary.

Why parents may want their children to have a prenup

People in Texas who are getting married might want to consider a prenuptial agreement. In wealthy families, it may be the parents who are pushing the need for the agreement. The parents may be concerned about preserving family wealth and making sure that an ex-spouse does not end up with it in the case of divorce.

Unfortunately, their children may resist asking a spouse-to-be to sign an agreement. Therefore, it is best if parents raise the issue with the children when they are still teenagers or young adults. This helps children get accustomed to the idea of the agreement. Another reason to bring this up early is so that children will begin to get a sense of the scope of the family wealth. Full financial disclosure is one aspect of creating a prenup, and if parents do not discuss this with their children early on, this disclosure stage might be the first time the children realize the extent of the family wealth.

Establishing child custody can be important

Many parents in Texas may be dealing with issues related to divorce, separation and child custody for the first time, and they may wonder what exactly is meant by the term custodial parent. When used in the family court setting, this term generally means the person who has physical custody and spends the most time with his or her child. The custodial parent has the greatest responsibility for the child's development even when the noncustodial parent may be actively involved in the child's life.

When a formal child custody order is issued by the family courts following a divorce, it can establish one or both individuals as the official custodial parent. However, in cases where the issue of custody never came before the court, a single parent may not officially be considered the custodial parent, despite having sole physical custody of his or her child. In order to receive such a determination, it may be necessary for someone to officially file for custody even if the other parent is not involved.

How joint legal custody works for parents and children

When people in Texas get a divorce, they might share both physical and legal custody of their children. In another arrangement, one parent might have physical custody while the other person has visitation rights while they both still share legal custody. The parent who has legal custody has the right to make major decisions that will affect the child's life in areas such as religion, health care and schooling.

There are a few elements that can make shared legal custody optimal. If both parents actively participate in the child's life, shared legal custody may work. If one parent tends to be hard to reach or is otherwise unreliable, there could be problems. Joint legal custody also works better if there is not too much conflict between parents, but conflict does not mean it is impossible. In fact, it can be good for children to see their parents working through conflict with one another to reach an agreement.

Parents have many options for child visitation

Texas parents who get a divorce can seek creative solutions for child custody arrangements that best suit them and their children. When one parent is the custodial parent and the other has visitation rights, one typical arrangement is for the noncustodial parent to have the child on alternate weekends from 6 p.m. on Friday to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

However, if the custodial parent is often away on weekends or the noncustodial parent simply wants more time with the child, this visit could be extended until Monday. Some parents also arrange for the child to go to the noncustodial parent on Wednesday evenings. This could be just for a couple of hours, or it could be another overnight visit.

Divorce rate doubles for older couples

Divorce rates continue to rise for Texas couples over the age of 50. Unfortunately, many of these exes are affected by a severe lack of financial preparedness. A recent study shows that women are more likely to find themselves in this position since most wives over 50 leave major financial decisions to their husbands, according to a recent study.

The survey, which was conducted by UBS Wealth Management, questioned 1,500 couples along with 600 divorced women over the age of 50. Among the men questioned, nearly 70 percent felt it would be appropriate for their daughters to allow future husbands to control the finances while barely 50 percent of women felt the same way. Unsurprisingly, among divorced women, 94 percent would insist on complete financial transparency in a future marriage. This number is likely related to the finding that nearly 60 percent of women surveyed discovered financial 'surprises" during the course of their marital break-ups.

5 steps for a better financial future after divorce

Are you going through a divorce? Have you come to realize that this will impact your finances in a number of ways? Are you ready to make some changes to ensure that your financial situation remains as steady as possible?

There are a variety of things that you can do during the divorce process that will lead to a better financial future. Here are five steps you absolutely need to take:

  • Create a budget. This is a must, as you can guarantee that your income and expenses will change in some way after your divorce is final. You need to know how much money you're bringing in, as well as what you're spending every month. A firm grasp of these numbers will go a long way in putting your mind at ease.
  • Review your estate plan. Your estate plan may need some alterations, now that you are no longer married. Don't hesitate to review and revise immediately following your divorce.
  • Create an emergency fund. How much money do you have saved for an emergency? If it's not enough, there is no better time than now to open an account for this purpose. You never know what could happen down the road, such as a job loss or medical concern.
  • Open your own bank accounts. This is something you should do in advance of your divorce, as you no longer want to use joint accounts. Most people opt for at least one checking and one savings account.
  • Continue to save for retirement. While it's easy to focus on the near-term, you also need to think about what will happen when you finally hang up your work boots. Your divorce can throw your finances for a curve, but don't stop saving for retirement.

Tips for parents to help children adjust after a divorce

Texas parents who are worried about how their children will adjust to a divorce can do certain things that may make the process less difficult for them. They should encourage them to move ahead with their lives and should also encourage their relationship with the other parent.

Parents should create a co-parenting plan that establishes consistent rules between their households. They should watch their children for signs of depression or anxiety and talk to their children's friends and teachers about how they are adjusting. Some children may not verbalize their anxiety but might act out instead.

How people can protect their finances in divorce

When couples in Texas decide to get a divorce, they might want to separate their joint accounts and open new personal accounts. In addition to beginning to divide assets, this can allow people to put away money to pay for a divorce if necessary.

People who do not work outside the home might want to look into getting job training, and those who are unfamiliar with the family finances should educate themselves about the situation. This includes understanding the value of assets such as retirement accounts. People should also get documentation of these assets including paperwork on various types of accounts and photographs of valuable physical objects. If possible, individuals should review credit reports for both spouses to make sure each is aware of all open accounts. This is not a time to increase debt.