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Fort Worth Family Law Blog

Thinking about alimony during a divorce

Couples in Texas need to discuss many issues when dissolving a marriage, and one matter that might cause arguments is spousal support. One spouse may need or want alimony after a divorce while the other partner might find this unfair. Before letting this cause problems that make a divorce drag on, a couple might like to know more about alimony and when payments are typically made.

Alimony is based on many factors that include the length of the marriage, the state a couple lives in and the income of both people. If one partner does not have a job or has a reason he or she cannot work, alimony may be necessary. One may have to pay spousal support for a longer amount of time if a marriage lasted 10 years or more. A formula could be used to get a number for how much one party has to pay, but a judge might adjust a number based on things like the amount a spouse can pay and the standard of living during the marriage.

Divorce rates among couples over the age of 50

Texas residents may be surprised by the findings of a study from Bowling Green State University, which claims that while divorce rates have fallen or remained stable across most age groups, they have risen among those over the age of 50. According to Bowling Green researchers, twice as many of those in the over 50 group divorced in 2014 as compared to 1990. Brigham Young University conducted another study that found that more than half of all married adults ages 25 to 50 have considered divorce at some point.

An article in the New York Times suggests that the rising divorce rate for older adults could be explained by higher overall rates of second marriages. Studies show that second marriages are two-and-a-half times more likely to end in divorce than first marriages. Increased lifespan may be another factor in the rising divorce rates. One sociology professor from the University of Washington suggests that older Americans, who have longer life expectancies than their predecessors, may not want to remain in marriages that could last for several more decades.

Financial infidelity in marriage

Financial challenges are common sources of friction for couples, and Texas residents might not be surprised to learn that this is a leading cause of divorce. Financial infidelity is one of many issues that can contribute to marital friction, as partners often use various strategies to hide their spending from spouses. In fact, a recent study indicated that arguing about money is a leading factor that may predict divorce.

Financial secrets are often used to avoid disputes over money issues. For example, 6 percent of participants in a recent survey indicated that they have at least one bank account that is hidden from a spouse. An estimated 20 percent of spouses feel that spending up to $500 without consulting their partners is acceptable. In addition to hiding bank accounts, individuals often accumulate cash through ATM transactions over time. They may use gift cards to spend on their needs and interests as well. More than half of men participating in the study indicated that they tend to hide or destroy receipts to avoid financial conflicts.

Protecting a business when a marriage ends

Texas business owners who are thinking of a divorce may wonder how it may affect their business holdings. Planning ahead may help protect a business and specific areas might be worthy of consideration. Having good communication between partners during a divorce may make the process easier and help it go more quickly. Keeping in mind what the other spouse might want in terms of division of assets may help avoid being blindsided by something that was unanticipated.

Becoming familiar with the divorce process in the state a business owner lives may be a good first step. Knowing what all the assets are and keeping paperwork and records in order and well organized is important. Dividing business assets in a divorce might be handled differently than other assets and may depend on the other spouse's role concerning the business. Some considerations are whether the a spouse worked in the business, how long the couple was married and other ways the ex-spouse contributed to the business while married. If the business is co-owned, this may raise questions such as whether a buyout by one partner is possible.

Splitting a business in divorce

Business owners in Texas who are divorcing may be interested in how a separation could impact their enterprises. A business is generally considered shared marital property, but judges will also consider what percentage of the business was built up prior to the marriage as well as how liquid its assets might be. Another aspect judges will consider is that an intact business is more likely to provide maintenance payments.

Individuals may be wise to get legal advice early on in the process to avoid any errors such as letting a spouse go who works for the company. Doing this could lead to a wrongful dismissal claim. Like other aspects of a divorce, the degree of involvement the spouse will have in the business must be negotiated.

Checklists can help divorcing couples keep on track

Texas spouses whose marriages are coming to an end may find having a checklist of to-do items may help prevent them from making costly mistakes and enable them to keep the divorce on track. A checklist can help spouses avoid making one or more of the mistakes that often occur during the process.

Key things to do early on in the divorce include submitting change of address forms for personal mail, even when both spouses are still living in the house. This will keep the other spouse from reading mail from their ex-to-be's attorney and financial statements. It's also recommended that spouses get credit reports when the proceedings start and again afterwards. Spouses also need to change passwords on all online accounts, including email and social media, to keep the other spouse from cyber spying. Other documents that may need to be changed include the beneficiary designations on wills, retirement accounts and life insurance policies.

Parental rights in the case of rape

Parents in Texas and other states often have a difficult time reaching custody agreements when they are not in a relationship or are going through a divorce, but some women face a veritable nightmare when choosing to have a baby after being raped. In certain instances, the father of a baby wants rights or threatens to seek rights in exchange for something else. For example, a North Carolina woman said she was told by her rapist that he would give her permission to place the baby up for adoption if she did not testify against him at his trial.

About one-third of rape victims get pregnant and decide to go through with a pregnancy. The parental rights of rapists can be terminated in 35 states, including Texas, but a conviction is needed in most of them before this occurs. This can be a problem, as only about 5 percent of rape cases result in convictions while less than one-fifth of rapes get reported.

Self-representation in a divorce may not be a good idea

When Texas couples see their marriages coming to an end, some may believe they can handle the ensuing divorce themselves without the need for legal representation. Do-it-yourself divorce could be an option if the marriage was brief, there are no children and few assets and both parties are in agreement on all issues, but in most situations, proceeding without legal representation could be a costly mistake.

Divorce law is complicated, and if a person tries to go it alone, it could lead to difficulties and possibly try the patience of the judge. A judge may be less sympathetic to someone who is causing problems in the courtroom because they lack skills in self-representation. A divorcing spouse's personal emotions could also conflict with his or her efforts to make a legal case. An attorney could provide objective advice and representation.

Financial planning and divorce

Texas couples preparing to go through a divorce need to make sure that financial planning is a part of the process. Many people fail to financially plan for their futures after the divorce, leading to financial pitfalls and problems.

People who expect to be paying child and spousal support need to go beyond thinking about how those amounts will impact their budgets. They should also plan for how they will be able to invest while making those payments. People should also include a plan to contribute to their retirement, understanding that their retirement accounts will likely be divided.

Having a baby before marriage does not increase divorce risk

Couples in Texas that have a baby before getting married are not any more likely to divorce than couples that have children after marriage, according to a new study. The new research, released by the nonprofit Council on Contemporary Families, was gathered from an analysis of thousands of surveys from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Survey of Family Growth.

Researchers looked at data from women who were surveyed after having their first baby between 1997 and 2010. When divorce rates were compared, researchers found that there was no difference between couples that married before or after their first child. However, data from women who were surveyed between 1985 and 1995 showed that having a baby before marriage increased a couple's likelihood of divorcing by 60 percent. Between the earlier period and the later period, researchers found that the number of couples that had a baby before marriage doubled.

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