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Fort Worth Family Law Blog

Arguments for and against ending a marriage

People in Texas usually contemplate divorce for a while before actually filing the paperwork. With the national divorce rate at around 50 percent, it's clear that a lot of people are choosing to part ways rather than work things out. Before ending a marriage, spouses may want to consider some of the best arguments for and against divorce in order to weigh their options.

One of the most common reasons people decide not to go through with a divorce is because they have children. If parents can work out their problems in a healthy way, it is usually better for the children to keep the family together. Some couples decide to stick together and work through their problems because they would be unable to support their financial burdens apart. Another common reason couples decide to stay together is that they are able to remember the love that began their marriage.

Judges often treat allegations of child abuse with suspicion

Experienced family law attorneys in Texas and around the country may urge divorcing couples to come to an amicable agreement whenever possible. Protracted court battles drain resources and offer no guarantees, and family court judges often treat allegations of neglect or cruelty with skepticism. Child custody and visitation disputes can be especially contentious, but it may be wise for divorcing parents to think twice before making accusations about bad parenting or child abuse in court.

The problem is that such claims are so pervasive that judges rarely take them seriously unless they are backed up with convincing evidence. The potential consequences of making allegations of child abuse, even if they are true, was shown by a survey of 240 family law cases by a George Washington University law professor. The professor found that mothers who made claims of child abuse lost primary or joint custody of their children 80 percent of the time.

Summer vacation planning for divorced parents

Summer vacation can be a stressful time for divorced parents in Texas. Because children's schedules change during the summer months, it is important to sort out a parenting plan before the school year ends. Children often adjust better to a divorce if the parents cooperate, so it is vital that both ex-spouses are involved in the planning process. Miscommunications will likely occur at some point during the summer vacation, and ideally, any disputes should be resolved through communicating with one another or attending remediation.

It may be helpful for parents to write down their children's new schedules on a calendar, so there is less chance for confusion about what activities they are attending. The older a child is, the more parents will have to consider their preferences. If parents are planning to take a vacation with the children, they should provide their ex-spouse with ample notice so the other person can make their own plans.

Prenuptial agreements to protect business assets

Business owners in Texas who are not married might want to consider how marriage and a subsequent divorce could affect their company legally and financially. A spouse could be entitled to half of the appreciation in value of a company that took place during the marriage unless a prenuptial agreement provides otherwise.

A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract that couples sign prior to their marriage. The assets that each individual brings into the marriage are often classified as either separate or joint property in the document. In the event of divorce, any assets that were designated as separate will be the sole property of the original owner. If one spouse owns a business prior to marriage, classifying it as separate property in a prenuptial agreement could prevent the other spouse from being awarded half of its appreciated value in the property division stage.

Children's reactions to a divorce of their parents

When Texas parents are having marital problems, their children are likely to suffer, even if the parents attempt to hide their issues. Even if adults do not argue in front of children, most kids are able to tell that there is tension or something not right.

There is no question that when a couple decides to end their marriage that their young children will be affected, but it may be a good idea to not prolong the matter. When children do not know if their parents are going to be getting a divorce, it may be more difficult for them than if parents decide to split up.

The importance of a sound parenting plan

Although divorce can create stress for all members of a Texas family, a parenting plan can help to provide some stability by acting as a guide when doubts or conflicts later arise. Divorce's emotional elements can take years to resolve, and conflict between parents can be particularly hard on children. However, the implementation of a carefully composed parenting plan allows for disputes to be weighed against the terms decided in court or through mediation.

Joint legal custody provides for both parents to be involved in important decisions involving a child. Being able to manage these situations with minimal conflict from early in the process can facilitate a better transition that will support positive interactions with the children into their adult lives. Issues such as relocation or remarriage for one or both parents could occur, and including provisions for these situations in a parenting plan can minimize the need to return to court for a modification at a later date.

Lessons from celebrity divorces

Texans who are planning to divorce may want to look at what happened with a few different celebrity breakups, as they each have lessons from which people can learn. While most attorneys may recommend against people taking advice from friends or family members regarding their divorce cases, there are still some commonalities that may apply.

In the case of Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck, the couple separated one day after they had been married for 10 years. The important thing about the timing of their divorce is that reaching the 10-year milestone is required for such things as eligibility for Social Security benefits based on a higher-earning spouse's income. In some states it may allow people to receive alimony for a longer duration.

Late-life divorces may impact retirement plans

With the divorce rate for couples at or over the age of 50 increasing twofold from 1990 to 2010, some older Texas couples may have to take extra retirement precautions. Getting divorced later in life could potentially be harder because older individuals lack sufficient opportunities to save money and fortify themselves against heightened costs of living and limited income.

Couples should be proactive about reworking their estate plans and dividing property. Assets like retirement plans may be hard to manage before they have been transferred, and qualified domestic relations orders may need to be prepared and filed with the court.

Preparing for divorce court

While some people in Texas who are divorcing may attempt to make decisions regarding property division and child custody using mediation or negotiation, sometimes litigation is necessary. If this occurs, it can help to have an idea of what to expect and how to prepare.

Learning how Texas family courts operate gives a person an understanding of the timeline and when certain things happen such as the procedures for establishing trial dates. People should also carefully consider the type of lawyer they want to hire. Not every divorce requires an attorney who is aggressive, and in some cases this can make a case more difficult. On the other hand, people should choose someone they believe will protect their interests.

Tax matters related to child support funds

Because child support is an important issue for many Texas families affected by divorce, the income tax season can be a time of uncertainty, especially for those facing this consideration for the first time. Of nearly $33 billion owed in child support in 2013, approximately $22.5 billion was actually paid. While child support is a major factor in household budgets, it plays no role on tax returns. The individual who pays cannot deduct the payments, and the parent who receives this form of support does not need to report it as income.

The area in which children can affect the tax returns of parents after divorce is in relationship to tax deductions for dependents. A custodial parent normally has the right to claim a dependent child on their taxes, which can provide for child tax credit benefits as well. A non-custodial parent might feel that they should have the right to claim a child, especially if they are contributing the majority of a child's support. If an agreement is reached to allow the non-custodial individual to take the deduction, IRS Form 8332 needs to be signed by both individuals and included with the claiming parent's return.

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