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What is a ‘love contract’?

One of the benefits of contracts is that they can create predictability in otherwise unpredictable situations. One thing that can have the potential to have a fair amount of unpredictability connected to it is what will happen in regards to financial issues, like division of property, if a married couple breaks up. Thus, it is unsurprising that some couples, when they are about to tie the knot, turn to contracts to address what will happen finance-wise if their soon-to-begin marriage ultimately ends in divorce.

Such contracts are called prenuptial agreements. There are a wide range of different financial issues prenuptial agreements can contain legally binding terms on. Thus, soon-to-be married couples can use prenuptial agreements to create predictability for many potential future divorce-related financial issues. Attorneys can help individuals who are about to get married who are interested in having a prenuptial agreement understand whether such an agreement would be well-suited for addressing financial concerns they have about potential future divorce matters and with drafting prenuptial agreements tailored to their specific concerns and circumstances.

Some couples don’t just want to use contracts to create greater predictability in the event of the breakdown of a marriage, but also to create greater predictability within a relationship. One thing that some couples are turning to to try to create such greater relationship predictability are “love contracts.”

A love contract is an agreement that contains lifestyle clauses that a couple agrees to follow in connection to their relationship. Such lifestyle clauses could regard all sorts of different things, from social media use to spending time together.

Some couples include love contracts within prenuptial agreements or other relationship agreements. Love contracts appear to be rising in popularity these days.

What might draw a couple to think about having a love contract? Perhaps they desire to set out clear expectations regarding their relationship to try to prevent unpleasant surprises. Some argue that love contracts can be very useful when it comes to goal-setting in a relationship.

An important thing to note about love contracts is that they often are deemed legally unenforceable.

Some argue that including love contracts in a prenuptial agreement could create problems, such as causing an agreement to become bogged down with terms or potentially endangering the enforceability of the entire agreement.

What do you think of love contracts? Do you think they can be a helpful tool for couples?

Lessons from celebrity divorces

It generally doesn’t take much time glancing through the news to run across a celebrity divorce story. These stories pop up rather frequently in the realm of celebrity news.

Are there lessons that individuals who are going through a divorce can glean from celebrity divorces generally? While there are some celebrity divorces that don’t exactly serve as models of how a person would generally want a divorce to go, there are some strategies and behaviors that celebrities often engage in when it comes to divorce that other divorcing individuals may find helpful.

One lesson from celebrity divorces is the value cooperation between divorcing spouses can have in a divorce. Celebrities often kick off their divorces with a cooperative action. That cooperative action is that familiar staple of celebrity divorces: the joint divorce announcement. Working together to decide how best to tell people about a divorce is not something that just celebrity couples may find helpful. Divorcing couples of all different shapes and sizes may find value in coordinating how and when they tell friends and loved ones that they are getting divorced. Cooperation can also have benefits in other aspects of divorce, as it can sometimes yield practical solutions to divorce issues that allow a couple to avoid costly and time-consuming litigation. There are some more cooperation-centered approaches out there for going through a divorce, such as collaborative law.

Another celebrity divorce lesson is the importance of privacy. Celebrities often take many actions to try to keep matters related to their divorce as private as is feasible. For example, many celebrity joint divorce announcements contain a statement in which the couple asks the public to respect their privacy. While most divorcing couples don’t have to contend with journalists, paparazzi and celebrity blogs, privacy can end up being a big concern in divorces of all types. Divorces can focus on a lot of sensitive and personal issues, so it is understandable that divorcing individuals often want to keep things as private as possible. In some instances, there may be legal steps divorcing individuals can take when it comes to trying to protect privacy in a divorce. Divorce attorneys can assist individuals with privacy-related divorce legal matters.

What other divorce lessons do you think can be taken from celebrity divorces?

Source: The Huffington Post, “How to Handle Your Divorce Like a Celebrity,” Honoree Corder, August 4, 2015

Thinking about the future important when divorcing

A divorce can be a very stressful and potentially overwhelming event. Given this, it can be rather easy for a person to fall into mistakes when it comes to their divorce, especially if they try to handle their divorce without any legal help.

There are many different potential divorce mistakes. One is focusing so much on the present that you don’t give proper thought to the future.

Not thinking about the future when going through a divorce can be very detrimental for a person. For one, it could have some long-term negative implications when it comes to financial matters.

Divorce can lead to a lot of financial changes in a person’s life. Failing to think about and plan for one’s financial future when going through a divorce could lead to a person not properly adjusting to such changes and failing to take proper steps to help steer property division and other financial issues in the divorce towards resolutions that are a good match for their long-term financial best interests.

Some things that can help divorcing individuals when it comes to planning for the future in regards to finances and avoiding the above-mentioned divorce mistake include:

  • Setting up a financial plan.
  • Carefully thinking about what their financial goals are for their post-divorce life.
  • Carefully thinking about long-term implications when in proceedings or negotiations regarding finance-related divorce issues, like the division of assets.

Divorce attorneys can help individuals stay focused on the big picture when it comes to divorce matters and assist them in avoiding common divorce mistakes, like not thinking enough about the future when in a divorce. Such attorneys can work with their clients to help get a clear picture of what their clients’ long-term financial goals are and help their clients understand how the different aspects of their divorce could potentially impact their ability to achieve these goals in the long run.

Source: The Huffington Post, “10 Common Mistakes People Make In Divorce (And How To Avoid Them),” Brittany Wong, July 29, 2015

Reducing divorce stress

Going through a divorce can be a tough experience. For one, it can have quite a bit of stress associated with it. One of the things that can be stressful about a divorce are the legal matters related to it.

There are things that can sometimes help keep dealing with legal issues in a divorce from becoming more stressful than it needs to be. One such thing is avoiding litigation when it makes sense and works to do so. Divorce litigation can be a very stressful process, and there are alternatives available for resolving divorce legal issues that some find to generate much less stress. Examples of such alternatives include collaborative law and mediation. Attorneys can help individuals with finding the resolution methods that are best-suited for their particular divorce legal issues.

Divorce-related stress can also come from things outside of legal matters, such as the things involved in adjusting to being single again. Finding good ways to ease general stress related to a divorce can be important for the emotional wellbeing of a divorcing individual.

A recent Huffington Post article gave some stress-reduction and mood-improvement advice for divorcing individuals, including:

  • Don’t be afraid to go out of your comfort zone and try new things.
  • Make a journal.
  • Talk with other divorcing individuals who understand what you are going through.
  • Stay away from constantly looking at your ex’s social media activity.
  • Prepare in advance what you are going to tell people when they ask about the divorce.

What do you think are the biggest sources of stress in a divorce? What things do you think help with dealing with and easing such stress? What do you think is most challenging when it comes to properly addressing divorce stress?

Friendly divorce for Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck passed their 10-year wedding anniversary the end of June. Unfortunately, the two are divorcing.

The two gave a joint statement, saying they are going forward “with love and friendship for one another and a commitment to co-parenting our children.” They asked that their privacy, including that of their children, be respected.

They met on the set of “Pearl Harbor” and started dating after making the movie “Daredevil.” Over the years, each has given statements professing their love and respect for one another.

The couple has three children, ages 3, 6 and 9. They plan on using mediation during the divorce and ensuing that the divorce stays on friendly terms for the sake of the children, but also for their own peace.

While your divorce may not be fodder for tabloid news, there is a lot to be learned here. The couple clearly is focused on the well-being of their children, rather than on the strength of the marriage. Have you asked your soon-to-be ex if mediation or collaborative law could be the right choice?

Mediation uses a third party to listen to each side of the divorce. Then the mediator helps the two parties reach an agreement, when possible. Collaborative law involves each party and his or her attorney attempting to reach an agreement. However, if this doesn’t work, then the attorneys must excuse themselves and other representation must be obtained.

Divorce is not an easy time for most people. Having access to professionals, such as an experienced family law attorney, financial planners and even therapists can prove very helpful.

Source: People, “Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner Divorcing After 10 Years of Marriage,” Michelle Tauber and Elizabeth Leonard, June 30, 2015

Spousal support issues in a Texas divorce

Sometimes, a married individual makes much less than their spouse or doesn’t work in order to be a stay-at-home parent or for other reasons. When such a married individual gets divorced, there are many financial worries they may have. One such worry is whether they will have enough resources moving forward to meet their different needs and expenses.

One divorce issue that can be a big one for individuals coming from this sort of situation is the issue of spousal support. Alimony, when granted in a divorce, can sometimes help a person who is in a much weaker situation income-wise than their ex-spouse address the financial difficulties that can come from suddenly being off on their own.

Now, not all divorces here in Texas end up with a spousal support award being granted in them. There are a variety of different factors that can play a role in whether a court would grant an alimony award in a given divorce.

Understanding what things can be impactful when it comes to the issue of spousal support here in Texas can be very important when in negotiations with an ex-spouse over this issue or in court proceedings regarding this issue.

Spousal support is among the numerous divorce issues that our Texas family law firm can provide divorcing individuals here in Texas with guidance on. We strive to provide our divorce clients with the information and help they need to navigate this often complex and impactful divorce issue.

For further information on this divorce issue and our firm, see the alimony page of our website.

Be careful about what you say about your ex around your kids

A lot can happen between a couple in the time leading up to a divorce and during the divorce process. Thus, all different sorts of strong emotions can be flying around between a divorcing couple. Consequently, it is not at all uncommon for a parent who is getting divorced to be feeling a fair amount of bitterness and anger towards their ex. When a parent is feeling such emotions in relation to a divorce, there are certain things it is very important for them to not allow these emotions to seep into.

One is how they act when it comes to the issue of child custody in their divorce. When it comes to child custody issues, it is very important for divorcing parents to stay focused on what is best for their kids and to not allow a desire to take emotional revenge against their ex for past wrongs to control their actions when it comes to such issues.

Another thing it is important for divorcing parents to not allow anger towards their ex to influence is what they say when talking to or in the presence of their children.

When a parent is feeling upset at their ex, they may be tempted to make critical comments about their ex when talking with their kids or when having a discussion with someone else while the kids are present. However, this is something it can be very important to avoid, as saying critical things about one’s ex around the kids can be harmful to the kids.

There are many reasons why hearing one of their parents criticize the other can be very hard on children of divorced parents, including that:

  • It could negatively affect a child’s relationship (both the actual relationship and the relationship in the child’s head) with the criticized parent.
  • It could cause a child to feel like they too are being criticized.
  • It could make a child feel like they are being asked to take sides in the divorce, which can cause a child to feel very emotionally torn, stressed and confused.

Thus, what one says about one’s ex around the kids is among the things it can be very important for a divorcing parent to exercise great care in relation to.

Source: The Huffington Post, “5 Ways to Help Your Kids Thrive After Divorce,” Samantha Rodman, May 28, 2015

Pets and divorce

There are many different roles that pets could end up playing when a person gets divorced.

One such role is a stress-relief role. A divorce can create a great deal of stress for a person. Being overly stressed can be bad for a person in an emotional, mental and even physical sense. Thus, finding good methods of stress relief can be very important when going through a divorce. Some individuals find pets to be helpful when it comes to dealing with divorce-related stress. Research indicates that having a pet may in fact have stress reduction effects.

How much do you think having pets can help with divorce-related stress? What do you think are some of the best stress relief options for people who are going through a divorce here in Texas?

A pet can also sometimes end up having a more direct role when it comes to a divorce. Specifically, a pet can sometimes end up being one of the divorce issues that arises between a pair of divorcing individuals. When a divorcing couple got a pet during their marriage, one of the things the couple will generally need to determine now that they are getting divorced is who gets the pet moving forward. Sometimes, divorcing parties quickly come to an agreement on this type of matter. Other times though, divorcing parties with pets end up getting into a dispute when it comes to what will happen with the pets. As with many divorce issues, pet-related divorce disputes can end up being quite complicated. Pet-related divorce issues are among the divorce issues family law attorneys can help Texas divorcing individuals with.

Source: The Huffington Post, “How Pets Help Heal a Broken Heart After Divorce,” Kristen Levine, April 22, 2015

Marital asset worth: more than just current market value

One of the things that can be a major driver of a person’s decisions in property division negotiations in a divorce are their views on the worth of the various different assets in the marital estate. Thus, having accurate views regarding asset worth can be very important for individuals here in Texas when getting divorced.

One thing that can be an important part of getting an accurate picture of an asset’s worth is having a good idea of what its current fair market value is. Thus, accurate asset valuation can be very valuable when preparing for property division issues in a divorce.

Something to keep in mind though is that, for many types of assets, their current fair market value is not the only thing influencing their overall worth. Thus, for many marital assets in a divorce, current fair market value is not the only thing it is important to look at when determining overall asset worth.

Other things that can impact an asset’s overall financial worth include:

  • Whether any maintenance costs are associated with the asset: Some assets require regular expenditures for their maintenance. Such costs can potentially be a significant financial burden on the person who ends up with the asset.
  • What tax implications are connected to the asset: Different assets have different tax implications. Some assets can end up exposing a person to a pretty significant tax burden if they end up with the asset in a divorce.
  • What is likely to happen to the asset’s value in the future: Some assets are fairly prone to depreciation over time, others are pretty good at holding value over time and others even have a fair chance of rising in value over time.
  • How easy selling the asset would be: Assets can vary considerably in how easy they are to sell. How easy/difficult it is to sell a given asset can impact how helpful the asset would be for a person in the event they up facing an unexpected financial difficulty that requires a quick in-flux of cash.

Divorce attorneys can help divorcing individuals here in Texas with looking into the various things that impact marital asset worth and with getting the asset worth information they need to make well-informed decisions in property division matters.

Source: New Hampshire Union Leader, “Money Sense: Financial mistakes to avoid during a divorce settlement,” Marc A. Hebert, May 2, 2015

Helping individuals with divorce retirement division issues

When a person here in Texas is going through a divorce, they may have many worries regarding their future. One such worry they may have is a worry about how the divorce might impact their future retirement.

There are many different retirement assets a couple can end up obtaining during the course of a marriage, such as pensions, government retirement plans, teacher retirement plans, employee stock accounts and 401(k) accounts. Sometimes, a big part of a divorce property division will be the division of these sorts of assets. How retirement assets are split in a divorce can have the potential to significantly impact the retirement outlook of both of the divorcing parties.

Retirement division issues in a divorce can also be rather complex. There are a variety of different special rules and steps that are present when it comes to such issues.

Given this complexity and the fact that retirement asset division in a divorce has the potential to have significant effects on a person’s retirement planning, divorcing individuals can easily find themselves feeling a substantial amount of apprehension and nervousness when it comes to this particular property division issue.

Our firm is dedicated to helping our divorce clients with the various different impactful issues that can arise in a divorce, including retirement asset division issues. We can help individuals who are dealing with retirement asset division in a divorce with getting a clear picture of how the specific rules regarding retirement asset division apply in their case and can help them with fighting for their interests and going through the appropriate steps throughout the process of this division.

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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