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Montgomery County Family Law Blog

Designing a parenting plan that will work after the divorce

Most Texas couples want to do the best for their children. When it comes to divorce, this can be a challenge since no matter what parents do, there will be changes to which the children will need to adjust. Designing a parenting plan that works for the whole family could help make the transition from one household to two less stressful and upsetting.

This means considering as many potential situations as possible -- not just where the children will live and when visitation will occur. Texas parents can also document at least some of the major decisions that will affect the children's futures such as a choice of religion or choices regarding their education. Decisions regarding holidays, vacations and birthdays may also be included in the agreement.

Property division in divorce, Texas style

Divorce is rarely simple, but, like many things, it is a little more complicated in Texas. Unlike most states, Texas uses community property guidelines to govern how couples divide assets and debts in divorce. However, unlike most other states that use community property guidelines, Texas uses "equitable" division instead of typical 50/50 property division.

Even in divorce, Texans have to deal with matters being a little more complex and special. Practically speaking, this means that property division in a divorce is an intricate process, especially when there are significant assets at stake.

Doing the best for the kids despite a Texas divorce

Unfortunately, some Texas parents end up in a custody battle worthy of Hollywood. They are unable to move past the emotional fallout of a divorce and seek to "punish" the other parent by denying him or her access to the children. This could ultimately cause the children issues in the future.

The fact is that unless there is some issue such as child abuse or substance abuse that makes the other parent unfit, the children deserve to spend time with both parents. If a Texas resident really stopped and looked at the situation, he or she may find that even though the marital relationship was lacking, the other parent truly loves and supports the children and should be in their lives. When both parties can recognize and admit this, they may be able to put aside their feelings about the other parent and focus on the needs of their children.

Yes, the court still has to approve your divorce settlement

Many Texas couples no longer want to go through a potentially contentious, time-consuming and expensive courtroom battle. Instead, they negotiate their own divorce settlements with or without the assistance of mediation or collaborative law. However, that agreement is still subject to the approval of the court.

Like courts in many other states, Texas family courts often encourage couples to settle their issues without the intervention or assistance of the court. If the parties are able to deal with matters such as child custody, child support and property division, along with spousal maintenance, when necessary, all that is left is for the court to approve the settlement. If the provisions of the agreement meet the expectations of the court, it may be approved.

Don't want to share in a divorce? Consider a prenup

With many Texas residents marrying later in life or for a second (or third) time, they have more than likely accumulated their own assets and liabilities. Considering the fact that Texas is a community property state, they might want to take steps to keep their separate property in the event of a divorce and not end up paying the other party's bills. One way to do that is to execute a prenuptial agreement.

Each party can identify their separate property and debts that they would each retain in the event of a divorce. This could be of particular importance to Texas residents who have children from prior relationships. Without a prenuptial agreement, a current spouse could be entitled to a portion of assets set aside for those children in the event of death. An individual might also not want to end up using separate assets to pay the other party's debt.

Keeping separate property separate in a divorce

Whether Texas residents own a business, have a retirement plan or own other significant assets when getting married, they may want to consider protecting them. Since Texas is a community property state, the courts begin with the presumption that all of the assets are community property. In order to rebut this presumption and keep any property acquired prior to the marriage, certain steps need to be taken to keep them separate. Doing so may become important in any subsequent divorce proceedings.

Even though separate assets will remain the property of the party proving they are not community property, any financial gain during the marriage that is attributed to such an asset could still be subject to division. For example, if one spouse owns a home prior to marriage, any upgrades, repairs or maintenance that increases its value during the marriage could give the other spouse a stake in the home if the marriage ends. An appraisal of the home at the time of the marriage could help establish what that stake might be.

How finances are structured during a divorce affects the future

Emotions are often high when a marriage ends. Sometimes, it is easier to focus on the minutiae rather than face the prospect of a future alone. Unfortunately, this thinking will only put a Texas resident's financial future in jeopardy. Instead, the focus should be on how to structure post-divorce finances and what steps need to be taken during the divorce process to provide the best opportunity to fulfill the plans an individual makes.

For instance, health insurance is often a concern after a divorce. If one spouse was on the other party's plan, other arrangements will more than likely need to be made. If a couple has children, who will be responsible for providing health insurance for the children? Who pays for the incidental expenses such as co-pays and prescriptions? These questions need to be answered sooner rather than later so that any agreement between the parties can be memorialized.

Mediation protects children from hurtful divorce

It is never easy to work out fair custody arrangements when two parents divorce, but some methods are certainly more mindful of the children than others. If you and your child's parent are divorcing, you may both have a great deal of anxiety over the harm that the divorce process may have on the child. The good news is that you have options.

The very fact that you have this concern is a good sign. Some parents are more concerned with protecting themselves or punishing their spouse and using children as negotiation chips. This is never a recipe for good relationships with your children or your spouse in the future.

Classifying a small business in a Texas divorce

Many Texas residents are nervous about what happens to their assets when they decide to end their marriages. One group of people whose nervousness may be heightened by the prospect of divorce is small business owners. Texas is a community property state, which means that most assets accumulated during the marriage are equally owned by both spouses and are divided in the event of a divorce.

How a Texas court classifies a small business during the proceedings affects how much of it a soon-to-be former spouse could receive from it. If substantial evidence exists to prove that the business was started prior to the marriage, only the increase in value during the marriage may be subject to division. Determining what that amount may be could require both a forensic valuation and a current valuation to determine the value of the business prior to the marriage and its value at the time of the divorce. The difference could be subject to division by the court.

Divorce mediation could save time and money for Texas couples

The fact of the matter is that money is a substantial consideration when ending a marriage. Both parties want to make sure that they are able to survive, and even thrive, financially after a divorce. Since divorce mediation can often save Texas couples a significant amount of money, it bears careful consideration.

Part of the reason that mediation saves a couple money is that it takes far less time than the average divorce proceeding. In a traditional divorce in which the parties go to court, they often find themselves at odds and battling it out before a judge for assets, support and custody. This substantially increases the time and money associated with a divorce.

Vernier & Associates, PLLC Vernier & Associates, PLLC

Vernier & Associates, PLLC
2441 High Timbers Drive Suite 110
The Woodlands, TX 77380

Phone: 281-882-3271
Fax: 832-585-0955

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