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Fort Worth Family Law Blog

Prenuptial agreements in community property states like Texas

The community property laws in Texas require marital assets to be divided equally in a divorce. However, there can still be some difficult property division decisions for family law judges to make. Spouses are usually able to hold on to assets that they had prior to getting married. Unfortunately, sorting out separate assets from marital property can be a complex process when assets have become commingled. Couples who wish to avoid contentious divorce negotiations and establish their own rules for property division may choose to enter into prenuptial agreements.

While child custody and visitation arrangements cannot be included in prenuptial agreements because they must be decided based on the best interests of the child, prenups can establish the rules for matters such as property division and spousal support. They should also clearly list the assets that each spouse brought into the marriage. Prenuptial agreements are often challenged in court, and they are unlikely to withstand this kind of scrutiny unless their terms are basically fair and the parties involved entered into them willingly.

Texan couples that split may need asset-specific separation plans

When couples possess assets like college savings accounts, pensions or other specialized funds, they may have to take unique steps to make sure these properties are used as intended following a divorce. Although Texas courts can order couples to dispense certain assets in specific ways, a separation agreement may make it easier to retain control of how properties are ultimately allocated.

A good separation agreement should make provisions for different kinds of properties and designate permissible actions concerning their use. For instance, a couple with a college fund for their children may want to specify what counts as a valid account withdrawal or detail the circumstances under which emergency withdrawals are allowable. Separation documents can also be used to designate both parents as interested parties who will receive statements and current information about account activities.

Retirement accounts and property division

Overall divorce rates have remained fairly constant in recent years, but the rate of people over the age of 65 ending their marriages tripled between 1990 and 2014. Property division negotiations during a divorce can quickly become heated when the spouses involved are approaching their retirement years, and this can be particularly true in states like Texas with community property laws. These discussions often focus on spousal support or the funds that have accumulated in retirement accounts.

The community property laws of Texas require family law judges in the state to divide all marital assets equally when divorcing couples are unable to reach an amicable settlement agreement and have no prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place. This means that retirement accounts that have been built up during a marriage will be shared by both spouses even if one of them made all of the financial contributions. The money put into IRAs or 401(k)s prior to a marriage may be considered separate property, but any contributions that are made after a couple walks down the aisle must be shared, as well as the appreciation in value of the account.

How parents can make divorce easier for kids

For many Texas families, a divorce can be an extremely stressful event, especially for kids who may not have a full understanding of what is going on. However, there are certain things that parents can do to make the transition easier for their children.

One of the most important things that divorced parents can do is avoid having conflicts, especially in front of the kids. While this is sometimes not the easiest thing to do, kids are more likely able to be at ease with both parents when there are no conflicts going on. Coming to terms with the divorce and avoiding negative comments means that kids can have a pleasant home life, regardless of which parent they are currently staying with.

Determining the value of a business in a divorce

Texas business owners who are facing a divorce may need to find out the value of the business so that it can be divided between the two spouses. Depending on the nature of the business and the circumstances around the divorce, this may require either a full valuation or a calculation of value.

With a calculation of value, an appraiser will return a figure that might be less accurate, but it will also be a faster and less expensive process. Couples who want the divorce to move along more quickly and who are reasonably cooperative might want this option.

Considerations for special expenses during a divorce

A divorce involving Texas parents means not only the division of assets but also a consideration of the responsibilities and expenses related to raising their children. Child support settlements indicate what parents are responsible for, including entertainment expenses that range from concert tickets and movie rentals to extracurricular activities and basic classes such as swimming lessons. But when a child is determined to become an elite athlete, the question arises as to who pays for the special expenses related to the activity.

In many states, child support guidelines include language related to gifted or special needs children, which can be invoked in certain cases. In the case of a child who is a gifted athlete, a family court judge might choose to cite this language to address how the special expenses are covered and by who, particularly if it is deemed that it is in the best interest of the child to continue pursuing the sport.

Child custody and divorce may affect U.S. migration rates

Fifty years ago, it was more common for Texans to move to other states. This type of moving, called migration, is now occurring much less frequently across the U.S. Researchers have been baffled as to why migration rates have fallen so significantly. However, one researcher's work points to child custody as a possible cause.

The researcher analyzed data about U.S. migration rates in tandem with data about divorce and child custody cases. He found that there was a strong correlation between child custody matters and lower migration rates. Divorced parents who have children are much less likely to move between states than people who do not have children.

Decide what to do with the house

Texas couples who decide to get divorced often wonder how to deal with certain aspects of the process. One common area that leads to contention is property division, especially deciding on who should receive the marital home.

Property division comprises a large portion of the divorce process. The parties might be able to come up with their own settlement agreement and seek the court's approval, or they can rely on a judge to make decisions regarding how they will divide property. When deciding on how to divide the marital property, the couple often has several choices. One option is for one spouse to keep the house. This decision requires careful consideration to determine if one spouse is able to afford the home on his or her own and with only one income. If one spouse keeps the home, he or she usually refinances the home in his or her name and buys out the other spouse's share. Another option is to sell the home. The spouses may split the proceeds equally or in a different arrangement that they agree on. Some spouses may decide to keep the home for a certain number of years or to rent it out for profit.

Male unemployment among possible factors that lead to divorce

While neither economic independence for women nor sharing household chores more equitably seem to be major contributors to divorce, a study has found that unemployment for men may be a common cause. In Texas and throughout the country, marriages in which the husband does not work outside the home may be more likely to end up among the 50 percent of marriages that end in divorce.

Household chores did not seem to explain why the divorce rate has gone up from 30 percent in the 1960s. For example, for couples married before 1975, women who shouldered more of the household work were less likely to get divorced, but for couples married after that time, a woman doing less housework did not correlate to a higher divorce rate. A couple's financial situation also did not seem to affect whether or not they divorced. It was theorized that the reason unemployment among men is a significant factor in the likelihood of a divorce is because the unemployment among men is more likely to be involuntary.

Gray divorces may benefit from financial product

According to researchers at Bowling Green State University, people at or over the age of 50 divorced twice as much in 2014 as they did in 1990. While child custody is usually not an issue in 'gray divorce," divorces that happen later in life typically involve more complicated property division questions for Texas couples.

A financial product that is on the horizon may help people who are involved in gray divorces to divide their real estate assets. The divorce mortgage is specifically designed for divorced homeowners who do not want to leave their homes. Forbes says that divorce mortgages may be available before the end of 2016, and the financial product is also being talked about in Great Britain.

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