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Montgomery County Family Law Blog

In one state frozen embryos could be used after divorce

Many Texas residents choose to create and freeze embryos in the hopes of becoming parents at a later date. For some of those individuals, their plans will change due to a breakup or divorce with the other party who contributed genetic material to create the embryos. When only one party wants to use the embryos to have a child, courts across the nation usually side with the party who objects. In one state, a recent law allows the party who wants to bring the embryos to term to do so, even if the other party is strongly opposed. 

The new law is provoking debate across the nation. Some who support the law claim that a party who wants to have a child that shares his or her own DNA should be able to do so. Those who oppose the law feel that no one should be forced into parenthood against their will. There is also a fear that this change in approach could be an early step in granting legal "personhood" status to embryos. 

Some couples divorce when it's the last thing they want to do

Most people think about divorce as the end of a very long and hard road; a time when spouses have tried everything and have determined that there is simply nothing that can be done to save the marriage. That, however, is not always the case. This Texas couple is considering divorce out of an abundance of love for their young daughter. 

The little girl is 6 years old, and has a very uncommon chromosomal disorder known as Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. She lives with seizures, kidney issues, and visual and hearing impairment. She requires 24-hour care, and will never be able to live independently. 

How do courts determine the best interests of children?

Texas child custody disputes tend to center around the best interests of the child(ren) involved. Of course, every child custody matter is limited by the reality of the parents' work schedules, physical locations, financial means and personal histories. However, Texas family law courts invariably consider these issues and decide the matters in ways that reflect the best solutions for the kids.

In this sense, the parents' wants and needs always take a back seat to the needs and interests of the children involved.

Timing is everything (this year) in high asset divorce

For Texas spouses who are considering bringing their marriage to an end, timing is always an important consideration. That's especially true this year for those who are anticipating a high asset divorce, since changes to federal tax laws will take effect at the end of 2018. Specifically, spouses who are tasked with paying spousal support will no longer be able to claim those expenses as tax deductions. 

Currently, spouses who pay alimony are able to claim the full value of those payments as tax deductions. The spouse who receives alimony must claim those funds as taxable income. Once 2019 begins, however, alimony will become "tax neutral," meaning that there will no longer be a deduction or a requirement to treat the payments as income. 

Divorce, millennials and a propensity toward prenups

Not too long ago, prenuptial agreements were something movie stars and the very rich required before tying the knot. Then came the millennials. Research has shown that millennials increasingly sign prenuptial agreements in order to protect their belongings in case of divorce. Experts in family law are of the opinion that the following four words -- delay, divorce, dynasty and debt -- may be four of the main reasons why Texas millennials believe that prenups are the way to go.  

Let's consider these four reasons. Delay refers to the fact that millennials tend to tie the knot at a later age than the generations before them. This means that, when the time comes for them to get married, they are mostly financially secure. At the same time, independence and financial equity are important to many millennials. The second reason is based on the fact that approximately 50 percent of millennials have parents whose marriages failed; therefore, they have firsthand experience with the turmoil of deciding who gets what and the accompanying emotional hardships families may go through.

Estate planning should play a role in every Texas divorce

For those in Texas who are planning to bring their marriage to a close, updating or changing estate planning documents should be a top priority. Without those precautions, an estranged spouse could end up with full responsibility for handling every aspect of an emergency or unexpected death. That divorce and estate planning reality is evidenced in the examples of two recent celebrity suicides. 

Both Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain were estranged from their spouses when they chose to take their lives. According to reports, their spouses are now responsible for handling not only their final arrangements, but also their considerable estates. Both had minor children, and it's possible that they intended for their spouse to inherit their estates. It's also possible that both were dealing with serious emotional issues and simply didn't consider what would happen to their estates after their demise. 

A prenuptial agreement might avoid a contentious divorce

Prenuptial agreements have become part of the planning of most marriages in Texas. This is because divorce has become a reality, and not frowned upon any longer. Couples do not necessarily plan for divorce, but they sign agreements to avoid traumatic and contentious court battles if the marriage should end. Although prenups mainly serve to protect the personal assets of each spouse and deal with alimony, any other matters could be included. Child custody and child support concerns are not generally addressed in these contracts since those issues are always subject to a determination of the child's best interests.

It is not guaranteed that the court will honor all prenuptial agreements. However, there are three requirements to meet to make sure the agreement is valid. There must be no indication that one of the parties was coerced into signing it, and the contract must not violate any public policies. The court must also be satisfied that the agreement is fair; though even if one party seems favored, if the other party willingly signed it, the court may find it acceptable.

Protecting your parenting time after divorce finalizes

Once the dust settles in your divorce and the dissolution of your marriage finalizes, you can take some comfort that the worst of it is probably over. Many divorcing spouses feel a sense of great relief when a judge makes it official, only to find that the relief is short-lived because their ex continues to undermine or obstruct custody time with their children.

Courts take parenting time interference seriously, as should all divorcing parents. If you receive a custody order as a part of your divorce, then you should pay careful attention to its terms to make sure that you do not violate them and leave yourself vulnerable to action by the courts.

Don't let divorce ruin your health and wellness

If you're planning to end a marriage in the coming months, it's important to be aware of the potential health ramifications that can follow such a big life change. According to health experts, divorce can lead to numerous serious health problems. In fact, studies show that divorced people have far higher rates of smoking and sedentary lifestyle as compared to those who are single or married. Taking proactive steps to preserve health is important for Texas residents. 

Researchers believe that marriage acts to regulate many common behaviors. For example, spouses who have unhealthy habits like smoking or avoiding exercise might be prompted to make better choices at the urging of their partner. When that influence is gone, individuals can slip back into their previous bad habits. 

Lowering costs of a divorce: Is it possible?

Nothing in life comes for free. This is one of the unfortunate truths people learn as they grow older. As with everything else in life, one cannot escape the fact that to get a divorce will cost money. However, there are ways a Texas couple can curb the costs of their divorce.

An easy and obvious way to keep costs to the minimum is to choose not to contest a divorce. An uncontested divorce decreases attorney and court fees because the parties agree on the major issues, including division of property and child custody. Even if there are issues a couple cannot agree on, it is beneficial to attempt to negotiate and sort out as many issues as possible.

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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