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Getting a divorce in Texas could become more difficult

The breakdown of a spousal relationship can be tough. Many underlying issues can lead couples to end a marriage. Recently proposed legislation, if enacted, could infringe upon one’s ability to file for a Texas divorce in a private, timely and affordable fashion.

A state representative seeks a new law that would ban no fault divorce filings in Texas. Currently, most couples cite insupportability as the reason for divorce, which helps maintain a level of privacy since doing so does not require proof of fault. The goal of SB 93 and HB 65.SB 93, legislative bills that were filed recently, is to require proof of fault grounds before a divorce will be granted. HB 65 also extends the waiting time to divorce for couples with children under the age of 18. Instead of the current period of 60 days, couples would have to wait 180 days to divorce.

Opponents of bills cite the possible damage that the proposed legislation could have on any children involved and the future of the family court system. Along with the extended waiting period and requiring proof of fault, the proposed law could expose families to turmoil and grudges within the family unit, possibly making co-parenting extremely difficult. If the bills become law, divorce in Texas would become more expensive and more time consuming.

Some suggest that passing the proposals will help to solidify marriage and strengthen Texas families. Others believe the effect of the bills, if enacted into law, would only further hurt already suffering families and prolong the divorce process. Those with an experienced attorney on their side are often better prepared for decision making and are able to choose appropriate courses of action to protect their interests and achieve their goals.

Source: abc13.com, “Texas bill proposed to make divorce more difficult“, Foti Kallergis, Feb. 13, 2017


A Divorce in Texas with children can be challenging

Divorce can be upsetting for adults, but it can be traumatic for the children involved. The separation of parents can leave children wondering why and how it happened and and if they did anything wrong. Texas parents can ease the stress and burden of the uncertainty of a divorce by taking steps to help their children understand the process and to be open and honest about what will happen.

Keeping a family unit together through positive communication is the best way to help ensure that children are not left feeling deserted, angry and guilty. Having both parents involved in conversations regarding the divorce and not throwing blame is important to help in keeping the lines of communication open within the family. Allowing children to express anger, hurt and sadness honestly and openly without lashing out is key to making sure that kids feel valued and heard throughout the process.

Parents can watch for signs of depression in their child by observing behavior. A rebellious and uncooperative attitude can be an outward indication of emotional turmoil; withdrawal from previously loved activities and lack of concern for self or others could be a sign of depression. Should this be the case, there are many resources available in Texas to help parents and their children.

A divorce can prove to be time consuming and emotionally draining. When children are involved, the stakes are even higher. Many parents are able to implement a child custody plan that is agreeable to all parties involved. In doing so, the help of a family law attorney can help parents navigate family law and keep the focus on the family, especially the children.

Source: bradenton.com, “Helping children understand divorce“, Kimberly Barbour, Jan. 16, 2017


Divorce consultations and filings spike upwards in January

Every year at this time, family law attorneys in Texas and elsewhere see an influx of clients filing for the dissolution of marriage. Matrimonial lawyers’ organizations estimate that there is a spike of 25 to 30 percent in business volume each January. Why does the beginning of the year bring a surge in divorce filings, and what can a person contemplating divorce do to make sure that his or her decisions are on solid ground?

For one thing, the holidays mark a period of financial tension for many couples, which may in turn trigger a range of intensive emotional feelings and worries about the marriage and the future. The beginning of the year marks the idea of a fresh start in many people’s minds. In addition, the pressure of having to look and act secure and happy during the holidays may in some cases erupt after those holidays come to an end.

Experienced matrimonial attorneys generally try to assist their clients to make their decisions after the emotions have settled down and clear thinking is reinstated. It is never good to decide out of fear, anger or emotional instability. One of the most difficult situations to handle is where the other spouse has found someone else. Even there, however, calm and logical thinking can reassure the client that he or she has good choices to make and a positive, happy life to anticipate ahead.

Where there are young children involved, it is important for the divorce client to keep them out of the decision itself and protected from any turmoil that is being communicated between the spouses. Focusing on the needs of the children will be a major subject taken up between the attorney and the client. In addition, revealing one’s position to the other spouse is sometimes counterproductive. It is extremely helpful to work out such timing and negotiating techniques in consultation with the attorney prior to having any precipitous confrontations with the other party. These are universal considerations that apply whether you reside in Texas or another state.

Source: marketwatch.com, “Avoid these common mistakes if you’re filing for divorce in January“, Quentin Fottrell, Dec. 31, 2016


Dividing an IRA in a divorce

The process of legally ending a marriage can be a complicated one due to the division of assets as well as the emotions involved. While it may be easy to forgo an asset, such as a share of a retirement plan, in favor of the family home, for example, this may not be in a person’s best interests. For many couples in Texas, retirements funds account for the couple’s liquid assets that are worth the most money, making it important for those going through divorce to seek a fair division.

There are a variety of different types of retirement accounts. How an account is divided and the process that division follows often depends upon the type of account. For example, some accounts, such as 401(k)s, require an order by the court, known as a qualified domestic relations order, to proceed.

Special considerations must also be made in order to avoid tax penalties. The division of an IRA, for example, must be indicated as an incident of divorce during a transfer. Failure to properly category a transfer could result in tax penalties to both the recipient and sender. If an IRA transfer does not take place within a year of the settlement, it could become the subject of an IRS review.

Even couples who are committed to a peaceful divorce require advice when it comes to certain matters, especially in regards to asset division. By having an experienced attorney guide the process, Texas couples can potentially avoid costly mistakes that could result in additional penalties. Additionally, such a professional can provide advice on a variety of different issues surrounding the end of a marriage.

Source: Forbes, “Divorcing? How to Split Up Retirement Nest Eggs“, Duncan Rolph, Nov. 23, 2016


Information for Texas business owners seeking divorce

People in Texas who start their own business put a great deal of effort and money into ensuring the company’s success. As a result, a business owner can become extremely protective. However, having a business can require special considerations during a divorce. Unfortunately, some people receive some misguided advice regarding businesses as part of asset division.

Even if the person’s spouse put little money into the business, it is likely that he or she contributed in some way — either through working at the business or helping to bring in customers or clients. It is difficult for a judge to determine exactly whose contributions are more valuable, likely resulting in an equitable division. Fighting to show which person’s contributions were more meaningful could result in longer and more costly proceedings.

Some may be tempted to agree to take the whole business, leaving everything else to his or her spouse. While such an agreement could resolve a divorce sooner, it could also lead to feelings of regret. Unfortunately, once an agreement is made, there are few things that can be changed. To alter terms already decided upon often results in significant expense.

Because of the emotions involved with the end of a marriage, many people want to rush through proceedings in order to begin the next stage of their lives. However, taking time to make decisions based on rational thought rather than emotion can be beneficial in the long term. Many in Texas have also found the advice of an experienced divorce attorney to be beneficial as they make decisions that will impact the rest of their lives.

Source: Portland, OR The Business Journals, “3 suggestions business owners going through a divorce should ignore“, Lewis I. Landerholm, Nov. 15, 2016


Rocker claims he was never married in divorce

As most people in Texas are aware, marriage is hard, but celebrity marriages can often be especially challenging. In addition to the regular strains placed on a marriage, celebrities often feel additional stress due to the media spotlight and hectic schedules. As a result, some couples decide that it is in their best interest to seek a divorce.

Such may be the case for guitarist Slash and his estranged wife Perla Ferrar after the couple announced their intention to end their marriage. However, Slash has recently complicated proceedings by claiming that he and Ferrar were never legally married. According to court papers, Ferrar was briefly married to a different man in 1993. She filed for divorce soon after the marriage, but discovered some time later that certain papers were not filed and a final judgment had not been issued.

Ferrar claims that the issue was resolved several years ago when a judge ordered that her divorce was valid from 1994, when papers were initially filed. However, Slash apparently disputes this assertion. He argues that they were never legally married, and as a result, she does not deserve any of the millions of dollars he has reportedly earned throughout his career. The couple has previously filed for divorce only to reconcile, and they share two children together.

Regardless of the degree of celebrity a couple experiences, people are often left facing the decision of whether to end their marriage. In many cases, the decision to seek a divorce is in the best interest of all involved. Although allegations regarding whether a couple was legally married can complicate matters, all those seeking a divorce in Texas can likely benefit from the guidance of an attorney with experience with family law.

Source: People, “Slash Divorce Drama: Guitarist Claims He Was Never Married to Ex Perla Ferrar: Report“, Jordan Runtagh, Oct. 31, 2016


Divorce ruling prevents father from talking religion

In most cases, parents in Texas reserve the right to expose their children to religion in the way they deem appropriate. As a result, one out-of-state judge claims that the court typically does not make any rulings prohibiting a parent from discussing religion with his or her children. However, a divorce case that occurred in the same state reportedly dealt with extenuating circumstances that required special consideration.

The case involved a woman who left her husband in 2013. She made the decision after one of her three children was hospitalized after suffering what court papers described as a psychotic episode. The father’s threats of damnation and accusations against the mother of being a demon reportedly caused all three children to suffer anxiety. His behavior was severe enough to be deemed child abuse.

The original judgment granted the divorce, but the parenting plan prohibited the father from discussing religion with the children. He reportedly told a social investigator appointed by the court that he used Bible passages to justify harsh punishments intended to control the children’s behavior. An appellant court in Florida recently argued that the lower court’s decision did not violate the father’s rights because it was made in order to preserve the best interests of the children.

Often, a parent must make decisions that may be difficult but ultimately benefit one’s children. While the inclination may be to stay together for the children, a divorce may be in their best interests, especially if there is a history of child abuse. In order to best protect their children, many in Texas seek the guidance of an experienced attorney who can help them put appropriate provisions in place.

Source: courthousenews.com, “Dad Barred From Talking Religion With Kids”, Jeff D.Gorman, Oct. 12, 2016


Location matters in divorce

News shows are abuzz with the news of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie’s split. While most people cannot relate to their lifestyle, there are many who have found themselves working to separate their lives and making decisions regarding their children. Because Pitt and Jolie have several different residences, a decision regarding which state to file for divorce likely had to be made prior to filing — a decision that some in Texas also face.

The state where divorce proceedings are filed can have a major impact on the outcome of a case. Perhaps most important to division of assets is whether the state is a community property or equitable distribution state. Community property states view property gained during marriage as equally owned. Equitable distribution states consider the property’s acquisition and how it is titled before a determination regarding distribution is made.

Some states may also be more willing to grant spousal support, a factor that may impact some couples, especially if one spouse has given up a career to stay at home. Before filing, it is important to consider a state’s residency requirement for divorce purposes. If there are children involved, there may be less flexibility regarding where to file due to the Uniform Child Custody and Jurisdiction Enforcement Act. This law states that child custody cases must be heard in the state where the children have resided for the prior six months. Courts will make a determination regarding jurisdiction if the family has ties to more than one state.

For many people in Texas seeking a divorce, making a determination concerning where to file may be difficult. Fortunately, an experienced attorney can examine the details of a case and help make decisions regarding the most appropriate state to file. While the end of a marriage may be a difficult time, hiring such a professional can provide confidence to those ending a relationship with the knowledge that someone is looking out of their best interests.

Source: USA Today, “Divorce tips from the Brangelina breakup“, Kelli B. Grant, Sept. 25, 2016


Federal judge seeks divorce after 45 years of marriage

There are some couples in Texas who realize relatively quickly that their marriage is not working. For other couples, however, it is only after they have raised children and have spent several decades together that they decide they would be happier if they sought a divorce. One out-of-state couple, married for 45 years, has recently announced their intention to end their marriage.

The couple actually separated several years ago. They claim that their separation was amicable and their divorce will be so as well. In fact, they claim that they recently vacationed together with their son and his family.

The couple, a federal judge and the former governor of Pennsylvania, say that they still work together due to the non-profit organization they began together. They have even stated that the organization will be launching a new project in the near future. In 2011, they reportedly promised their friends that their split will not be awkward and indicate that nothing has changed since that announcement.

It seems that the only divorces that gain a significant amount of media coverage are the ones that are filled with contention. However, many couples in Texas are able to make decisions that separate their lives in order to ensure that they are able to transition out of the marriage as smoothly as possible. By doing so, couples are often able to gain a divorce faster and with less expense. For those considering divorce, an experienced divorce attorney can help them better understand their options and initiate legal proceedings if appropriate.

Source: mcall.com, “After 45 years, Rendells to divorce“, Claudia Vargas, Sept. 7, 2016


Lessening the emotional impact of divorce on children

It is no secret to Texas readers that the end of a marriage is often hardest on the youngest members of the family. Parents often cite the well-being of their children as their number one concern during divorce, but they may not have a full understanding of how this life event takes a toll on their kids. When parents divorce, it will have an impact on children that may manifest in many ways.

Children react to the news of their parents’ divorce by displaying certain behaviors, showing signs of anxiety or simply shutting themselves off from what is happening around them. These are all normal ways that kids react, depending on their age and maturity level. While the impact is real, parents may be encouraged to know that there are things that they can do to minimize the negative toll that a divorce can take.

One of the best ways to minimize negativity is by allowing regular visitation with the non-custodial parent, even during separation. Children do best when they can maintain a strong relationship with both parents, and parents should strive to never speak negatively of the child’s other parent when around the kids. This may be difficult, but a practical visitation schedule and custody order can provide stability and security, thus protecting kids from undue emotional harm.

Parents should dialogue with the kids, allowing them to ask questions, express concerns and understand the major life changes that they will face. Children should never be made to feel responsible for a divorce, and parents will find it beneficial to be open and sensitive to their child’s emotional needs. It requires a concerted effort, but a Texas parent can protect the emotional health of their child during this trying time.

Source: cpancf.com, “Effects of Divorce on Children“, Lesley Foulkes-Jamison, Aug. 14, 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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