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Fort Worth Family Law Blog

Divorce requires division of marital debts

Texas is a community property state. This means that, in the event of a divorce, an equal split of property will be the default approach unless negotiation and documentation determine otherwise. Included in the separation of financial affairs are debts, and the couple will need to account for loans, credit card balances, medical debts and mortgages during the divorce process.

When looking at credit cards, the debt is typically assigned to the person whose name is on the account. A joint account, however, would obligate both ex-spouses to divide and pay the debt, even if only one of the parties was responsible for charging purchases on the card. This approach could be expected to apply to other consumer indebtedness.

Texas and other states consider movement for joint custody

Fathers in Texas who are seeking joint custody of a child after a divorce might see a change in the way courts make this determination. Whereas in the past, it was nearly automatic that the mother would be granted custody with the father having limited parenting time, that is under increased scrutiny in 2015 as an attempt to balance these decisions is underway.

The idea of shared parenting is garnering more attention as at least 20 states are looking at ways to give fathers a better chance of having joint physical custody with the mothers. The decision to give custody to the mother as a matter of course is often due to ingrained beliefs as to what is in the best interests of the child. The mother is frequently viewed as being better equipped to care for the child whether or not that is, in fact, the reality in individual circumstances.

Celebrity divorce raises Social Security quaestions

Texas residents may have read media reports indicating that the Hollywood power couple Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are likely to be ending their marriage. Garner and Affleck will file for divorce just before their 10-year wedding anniversary according to the reports, and this timing has raised the eyebrows of some family law attorneys. Remaining married for at least 10 years makes sense as far as Social Security benefits are concerned, but this may not be a major consideration for movie stars with an estate worth an estimated $150 million.

A husband or wife who have been married for at least 10 years may elect to receive Social Security benefits before reaching full retirement age. If one spouse opts to retire early, the decision will not impact the amount of benefits that the other will receive once full retirement age has been attained. However, these advantages are lost if the couple files for divorce before they reach their 10-year anniversary.

Polygamist leader's wife seeks child custody

Texas parents may have heard that, on June 10, it was revealed that a wife of Lyle Jeffs, a polygamist and a leader of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, filed for custody of two of her children after she feared that they would be taken away. In a juvenile court hearing, her attorney stated that the mother, who is in the process of getting a divorce from Jeffs, feared that the children would be moved without the mother's knowledge.

According to the report, the mother is Jeffs' first wife. When they decided to get divorced, they both allegedly agreed to share custody of the two children, though they would primarily live with the mother. Jeffs additionally reportedly agreed to pay $1,000 in child support and cover some of the expenses of raising the children.

Financial mistakes to avoid in a divorce

Texas residents who are divorcing should keep in mind that there are a few common financial mistakes that people tend to make in this situation. One of those arises from not having handled the household financial affairs. People should familiarize themselves with this if necessary, and if they cannot get the needed information from their spouse, they might want to use the services of a forensic accountant. Such a professional can go over accounts and may even be able to locate any hidden assets.

Another mistake individuals make is failing to get good financial and legal help. Not all divorces are complex enough to require an enormous legal team, but it is important to see that one's interests are well-represented. While a divorcing couple cannot use the same attorney, there is usually no conflict in having the same financial adviser.

Custody dispute involving 1 of the Gosselin kids

Texas residents who enjoy reality television shows will likely be familiar with Jon Gosselin. The 38-year-old father was a titular character on the popular show "Jon & Kate Plus 8" until he was booted from the program following a contentious 2009 divorce. Gosselin's ex-wife received primary custody of the couple's eight children, and the show continued after being renamed "Kate Plus 8." While Jon may no longer appear regularly on television screens across the country, he continues to be material for gossip columnists.

The latest media reports concerning Gosselin involve a possible child custody dispute. However, the former television star is said to be seeking custody of only one of his children. The rumored legal action is thought to be motivated by claims of cruel treatment from her mother made by Gosselin's 11-year-old daughter. The girl is also said to have told her father that she no longer wishes to appear on her mother's popular television show.

International child abductions create tough legal challenges

When Texas parents decide that it is time to seek a divorce, the resulting child custody battle can cause emotions to rise. In some cases, one parent may fear that the other parent will be granted full or joint custody of any children the couple may have had. In extreme cases, the parent may flee the country with their children, which often keeps the other parent from having any idea where those children went.

This is not that uncommon of an occurrence. In fact, the U.S. State Department noted that more than 1,000 American children go missing every year after being abducted by a parent. Part of the issue is that diplomatic pressures can make it very difficult for the country to demand the return of a child; in many cases, public perception, trade and even foreign may be at stake. Additionally, parents and attorneys in international abduction cases also often have to travel back and forth, which may not be financially feasible.

Protecting property without a prenuptial agreement

When Texas couples decide to get married, many negotiate a prenuptial agreement in order to protect their assets in case they decide to get a divorce down the road. However, there are cases where couples do not wish to sign a prenup or one spouse refuses to sign. Even if couples decide against getting a prenup, there are still ways that a person can protect their assets.

One of the easiest ways that a person can protect their assets is to keep their assets separate. When many couples get married, they commingle the property and cash that they owned prior to the marriage. If they do this, the commingled assets becomes marital property that can be divided should the couple get divorced. It is also recommended that separate cash be used to pay for or maintain non-marital property; for example, if a person wishes to make improvements to a home that they own separately, it is recommended that they use non-marital cash.

Surveys show social media as a growing issue in divorce

There are many reasons why a couple in Texas will choose to move forward with a divorce. In the past, infidelity, incompatibility and unhappiness were explanations for the end of a marriage. As technology has increased, new issues have arisen to cause couples to part ways. One that is becoming more prevalent is behavior on various social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and others.

A survey indicated that almost 25 percent of 2,000 British people who took part stated that they argued with their partner at least once per week about their activities on social media. Seventeen percent stated that these fights happened on a daily basis. It was also found that 58 percent of those in the poll said that they knew the passwords their partners used for social media sites.

Jailing parents for failure to pay child support

Texas parents who must make decisions about child support may want to keep in mind that it is important to agree upon an amount that the parent paying support can afford. Some experts argue that a lower-income parent may find themselves trapped in a cycle of poverty and incarceration.

Generally, what happens over time when a parent does not pay child support is that wages may be garnished, licenses seized and bank accounts frozen. Income tax refunds may be seized as well. Meanwhile, the missed support payments accumulate. A parent cannot get back on track by simply starting to make the payments again, as there are back payments as well. Eventually, the parent may be jailed. If the parent is released, they may have only a few months to catch up with payments and be unable to do so, and the cycle begins again.

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