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Tips to ease the divorce process in Texas

When most people in Texas think of the end of a marriage, they likely think of embattled court proceedings in which one person maligns the other. Although there are typically strong emotions involved with a divorce, there are multiple ways to prevent these emotions from impeding the process. A few suggestions may help ease the strain associated with divorce.

One of the first tips those with experience with divorce often recommend for a person who is married is to create a savings account with only his or her name on it. Any person listed on a joint account can legally withdraw all the money. While he or she may have to eventually return the other person’s share, this could be a lengthy process, leaving the other person with little access to funds.

Another tip is to realize that making divorce a smooth process will require time and effort. Parents will have to help children transition to handle the changes in their lives. Additionally, time is required to gather all the required documents and to meet with professionals. Couples must also spend time dividing their assets. Furthermore, ensuring that the timing of an offer is right may impact the other person’s willingness to accept it.

Because the emotions connected to seeking a divorce can be strong, they can get in the way. By realizing that the reasons that a marriage is ending will likely have no impact on the outcome of child custody, couples in Texas can potentially avoid lengthy and expensive litigation. Fortunately, there is professional help for those considering this option. Those with an experienced attorney on their side are often more prepared to make important decisions and take appropriate action during the dissolution of a marriage.

Source: huffingtonpost.com, “8 Ways To Simplify Your Divorce, According To Attorneys“, Carolin Lehmann, June 6, 2016


Divorce myths can prevent some in Texas from taking action

It is not unusual for couples to have some unhappiness in their relationships. However, when that unhappiness turns into misery, many couples in Texas consider the idea of seeking a divorce. For many who have never been through the process, there may be some uncertainty. In fact, some people choose to delay ending their marriage due to some myths regarding the proceedings.

One of the most common myths regarding divorces is that they are always contentious. Fortunately, that does not have to be the case. There are many attorneys whose focus is to resolve conflict through negotiation. For many couples, a collaborative divorce was an option that allowed them to separate their lives without having to go through a public trial.

Some parents may be hesitant to seek divorce because of child custody concerns. While in the past it seems that courts showed some bias toward mothers in such cases, courts must make decisions that are in the best interest of the children. While this determination is made based on several criteria, it is not made based on the gender of the parent.

It is fairly common for those considering a divorce to seek advice from people who have already been through the process. Unfortunately, many people who seek such advice from their friends and acquaintances receive inaccurate information. As a result, those in Texas considering ending their marriage can benefit from having a conversation with an experienced divorce attorney. By doing so, they are likely better prepared to make informed decisions regarding their  best interests and well as those of their family.

Source: huffingtonpost.com, “12 Top Divorce Myths“, Daniel Clement, May 24, 2016


New trend could help children adjust following divorce

Television and movies often portray the end of a marriage as highly contentious. In these dramatizations, parents typically battle over every detail during their divorce, especially when it comes to child custody arrangements. However, these portrayals are usually far from reality, with many parents in Texas dedicated to ensuring that the end of their romantic relationship has as little negative impact on their children as possible. As a result, some couples are now entering into an arrangement called “birdnesting.”

Following a divorce, each person traditionally seeks their own separate place to live, and the children would move between the two houses. In a birdnesting arrangement, however, the children remain at the family house and the parents rotate in and out. The goal of the arrangement is to remove some of the burden that children experience following their parents’ split.

While there are benefits to the arrangement, it is not feasible for all parents. For some, the expense of essentially maintaining three residences makes the arrangement impossible. While some parents choose to circumvent this obstacle by only having two residences — the family home that the children live in full time and a small apartment that the parents stay when not with the children — many couples find they are still facing many of the conflicts that ultimately resulted in the end of their marriage.

When it comes to divorce, each situation is unique. For many in Texas, an arrangement such as this could be beneficial for all involved, while in others, it could simply result in more conflict. Regardless of the chosen arrangement, a clear parenting plan can help ensure that the responsibilities of each person are clearly outlined to potentially avoid future conflict.

Source: romper.com, “Is Birdnesting Good For Kids? The New Post-Divorce Arrangement Puts Kids First“, Alana Romain, May 2, 2016


The role of a postnuptial agreement in divorce

When people in Texas marry, they likely do so with the intention that the marriage will last forever. Even with this intent in mind, it is often prudent to plan ahead and consider who will carry the burden of certain debts and how certain assets will be divided if a divorce occurs. One tool that many couples use is a postnuptial agreement.

While most people are familiar with a prenuptial agreement, they may be less familiar with a postnuptial agreement. Similar to a prenup in many ways, a postnuptial agreement is signed after a marriage has occurred. To be upheld, assets and liabilities must be disclosed, and the agreement must not be deemed unconscionable by the court.

There are several reasons why a married couple might turn to such a tool. In some cases, it may be a matter of updating an existing prenuptial agreement. They can also aid in maintaining family harmony by ensuring that a family asset such as a business remains in the family. For example, parents might ask a child who is set to inherit a family business to seek a postnuptial agreement to ensure that the business remains intact if his or her marriage fails. They are often sometimes utilized to record a prenuptial agreement that was never put in writing.

Some would argue that postnuptial agreements are scrutinized much more closely by the courts in the event of a divorce. However, an attorney with family law experience can help a person in Texas create a document that is both fair and enforceable. In fact, both members of the couple need to have representation as they create and agree to such a contract.

Source: msbusiness.com, “WE LAW – Postnuptial agreements: Do you need one?“, Susan Steffey, April 21, 2016


Prenuptial agreements: Important topics to discuss

When a couple decides to marry, there are several important decisions that must be made. In addition to decisions regarding their wedding, couples must discuss many financial issues including where they will leave and how they will pay their bills. Many couples in Texas ultimately decide that exploring the idea of prenuptial agreements can help them fully understand their financial situation and plan for the future.

Creating a prenuptial agreement involves discussions concerning both relatively small and large financial issues. For example, couples can decide how monthly expenses will be handled. In most cases, one spouse typically earns more than the other so it may be appropriate to decide what each person will pay. In addition to monthly expenses, many couples include estate planning elements in their prenuptial agreements. This could be especially important for someone who has children from a previous marriage.

This can also be an opportunity to discuss premarital assets. In most states, premarital assets are not subject to division in the event of a divorce. However, if those assets increase in value during the course of the marriage, the increase may be subject to division.

Many people who decide to go through the process have very little experience with prenuptial agreements. Fortunately, there are experienced professionals in Texas who can help those set to walk down the aisle protect their interests with such a document. By seeking the guidance of such a person, they are better prepared to ensure that the terms of an agreement are fair and enforceable.

Source: Forbes, “5 Things To Keep In Mind When Negotiating A Prenup“, Ginger Dean, April 4, 2016


Elon Musk set to divorce wife for second time

Relationships are often complex and require a great deal of energy. Despite the effort two people in Texas may out into their relationship and the amount of love two people have for each other, couples can still struggle to make a marriage work. Elon Musk, co-founder of Paypal and head of Tesla Motors, is likely all too familiar with this as he and his wife seek to divorce a second time.

The couple originally married in 2010 and sought a divorce in 2012. At the time, they agreed to split assets according to a prenuptial agreement. He reportedly agreed to give his wife, actress Talulah Riley, approximately $16 million in addition to other assets.

However, the couple remarried in July 2013. Although Musk filed divorce papers in Dec. 2014, he withdrew the request several months later. Now, the couple says that they recently agreed to a divorce, and Riley filed divorce papers. According to some reports, the split is amicable, and the couple have been living separately for the last six months.

Marriage involves a great deal more than how two people feel about one another as people juggle their professional, financial and personal lives. Despite the efforts of many, some couples in Texas come to the realization that their marriage is no longer working. In these cases, often the best choice for all involved is to seek a divorce, allowing them to seek the next, perhaps happier, chapter in their lives. A attorney with experience with applicable laws can help those is such a situation as they go through the process of ending their marriage.

Source: People, “Elon Musk and Talulah Riley to Divorce Again, Four Years After Ending First Marriage“, Michael Miller, March 21, 2016


Staying on track for retirement following a divorce

As people get older, they must make difficult decisions about the rest of their life. For many people, this includes deciding whether the person they are married to is the person with whom they will spend the rest of their life. For more and more people, the answer to that question is no. In fact, from 1990 to 2010, the number of couples over age 50 who choose to seek a divorce doubled. While some in Texas may worry about how a divorce that comes later in life will impact their retirement plans, there are certain measures that can help keep a person on track.

One of the first actions that can help a person stay on track is to reduce their housing costs. If $500 can be saved each month and reinvested for a 5 percent return for a period of time, he or she will have $77,000 more to use for retirement. At this age and after a divorce, many people are ready to downsize. As a result, selling the family home and splitting the money with the former spouse may be a viable — and financially prudent — option.

Additionally, examine the overall value of an asset during discussions regarding distribution. For example, a 401(k) worth $500,000 that has withdrawals taxed at 100 percent has less value than a similarly valued account where only the gains are taxed. Also, once the decision has been made on how to divide a retirement account, it is important to ensure that the asset is received. For example, a person receiving a portion of his or her spouse’s retirement account has no authority over how it is invested until it has actually been transferred.

There are many people in Texas in a relationship that no longer works for them. Some may have concerns about how their decision regarding whether to stay in an unhappy marriage will impact them financially. For many, these concerns could prevent them from pursuing action that would ensure their happiness. However, there are many strategies that can help a person manage the division of assets required by a divorce in a way that will allow them to stay on track in regard to their retirement and other plans.

Source: Time, “Don’t Let Divorce Derail Your Retirement“, Carla Fried, March 3, 2016


Rule coordination important in co-parenting

A divorce generally does not mean a total end to interactions with one’s ex. On the contrary, there are a variety of different important things a person may need to work together with their ex on after a divorce. So, during and after a divorce, it can be important to keep the lines of communication with one’s ex intact.

This can be particularly important for divorcing parents. This is because, when co-parenting, careful coordination between parents can be vital. This includes coordination when it comes to rules for the kids.

There are a wide range of things parents have rules for their kids regarding, including: bed times, curfews, school activities, eating habits, chores and homework. When a pair of divorced parents differ greatly from each other in the types of household rules they have for their kids, it can create a great deal of inconsistency for the kids. Inconsistency can be tough on kids, particularly when already dealing with the many changes that come from their parents splitting up.

So, it can be very important for their kids’ well-being for divorced parents to coordinate their household rules as much as is possible given their individual situations. Having honest conversations with each other about household rules can be key for divorcing parents when it comes to establishing such coordination.

Given this, a divorcing couple’s ability to coordinate household rules, and other important parenting-related things, with each other (and thus provide consistency for their kids) can be greatly impaired when they end up, during the course of their divorce, completely burning bridges with each other and losing the ability to communicate in a civil manner with each other. So, for parents, avoiding unnecessary contentiousness and conflict in a divorce can be particularly crucial.

There are a variety of things that have the potential to lower conflict likelihood in a divorce. One is avoiding divorce litigation through instead resolving divorce issues through alternate methods, such as through using the collaborative law process. Divorcing parents can go to skilled divorce lawyers for information and guidance on such alternatives to divorce litigation.

Source: The Huffington Post, “Consistent Coparenting Eases Life for Children After Divorce,” Rosalind Sedacca, Feb. 29, 2016


Medical marijuana’s impact on child custody

Over the course of the last decade, the use of medical marijuana has received a great deal of attention. More and more states, including Texas, seem to be recognizing the potential benefits of such treatment for a variety of medical issues. However, certain child custody cases have many parents wondering how the use of a prescribed substance will impact their rights to care for their children. For example, an out-of-state veteran claims that his children were taken by the state due to his use of medical marijuana.

The man served in the Navy during the Gulf War. Unfortunately, he now suffers from chronic pain and post traumatic stress. He has been treating these issues with cannabis, claiming that this treatment is the only one that has helped his variety of symptoms, including anxiety and depression.

Nine months ago, the man and his wife were preparing to move from Kansas to Colorado where they could legally grow marijuana to help others suffering similarly. While they were making arrangements out of state, he claims that Kansas took custody of five his children. He asserts that the children were taken as a result of his use of medical marijuana; however, a representative for the state claims that children would not be removed from the home simply because of such drug use.

While child custody issues involving parents who utilize medical marijuana seem to receive a significant amount of media attention, many argue that there are no studies that support the claim that children of such parents are in danger. Unfortunately, parents could be left in limbo in a situation such as this where their child is in no harm. Because of the complexities of dealing with family law issues in Texas, many have sought an experienced attorney to help fight to protect their parental rights.

Source: hppr.org, “Kansas Takes US Veteran’s Children Away Over Medical Marijuana Use“, Jonathan Baker, Feb. 11, 2016


The importance of honest financial discussions before marriage

There are all sorts of things it can be very important for a couple to have open and honest discussions with one another about prior to marrying. One such thing is finances.

A recent survey, however, indicates that there are quite a few high-asset individuals who aren’t having such discussions with their partner before getting married.

The survey was of millionaires here in the United States. Only six in 10 of the respondents said that, prior to living with or marrying their partner, they gave a full disclosure of their financial situation to their partner. Additionally, three in 10 of the respondents indicated that they didn’t have any financial discussions with their partner.

Why do you think having open and complete financial discussions with their partner prior to marriage isn’t more common among high-asset individuals?

Why are honest financial discussions so important for couples looking to get married (whatever their income level)? Well for one, honest disclosure of financial matters prior to marriage could help reduce the likelihood of financial problems arising during the marriage, such as tensions over “surprise” financial issues. In the above-mentioned survey, couples that reported having financial arguments had a particularly high likelihood not having made full financial disclosures prior to living together or marriage.

Also, such open discussions can help both individuals in a couple have a clear picture of the couple’s financial situation going into the marriage. This can be helpful in a variety of different contexts. For one, it could help if the couple eventually decides to divorce, as having a good idea of overall financial situation can be very important when divorcing.

In addition to discussing financial matters, another finance-related thing it can be important for a person to do prior to getting married is carefully thinking about whether they want to form a prenuptial agreement. Whether or not a prenuptial agreement is present is another thing that can have a big impact if a marriage ends in a divorce. Family law attorneys can provide soon-to-be married individuals with information and guidance on prenuptial agreements and issues related to such agreements.

Source: The Street, “Rich Getting Richer — How Much a Spouse Should Know,” Gregg Greenberg, Jan. 22, 2016

Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. 12000 Huebner Rd #200 San Antonio, TX 78230 Telephone: (210) 349-9933 Fax: (210) 349-9988
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