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Fort Worth Family Law Blog

Understanding eligibility requirements for adoption

The Texas Family Code outlines certain limitations regarding the adoption process. Except under certain circumstances, any adult is legally able to pursue an adoption. However, a number of restrictions limits if a child is eligible for adoption.

In order for a child in the sat to be adopted legally, the relationship with the child and the current parents must be terminated. Generally, if the relationship has not ended, the suit for termination may be combined with the petition for adoption.

Services a forensic accountant can provide

Texas is a community property state. This means that in most cases, all property is acquired during the term of the marriage is considered to be equally owned by both spouses. This also applies to debt that the couple takes on. In a divorce, all community property will be divided equally between the ex-partners. In order to accomplish this, it is necessary to know exactly what their property is worth.

The termination of marriage requires the equal separation of debts and assets owned by the former couple. When the couple owns real property, such as a car or a home, then the division of assets may be straightforward and uncomplicated. Bank accounts and credit card debt can simply be split down the middle. However, when the former couple shared a financial portfolio or ownership of other sophisticated financial items, the division becomes more complicated. The owners may not even be sure of the true value of their possessions. This may be as true in a friendly divorce as in one where there is acrimony.

Rushing a prenuptial agreement can lead to problems later

Texas couples with high assets may choose to get a prenuptial agreement to protect their interests in the event of divorce. However, these agreements are not always iron-clad and may be voided in some situations. One problem that people may face is when the spouse with fewer assets claims that the prenuptial agreement was signed under duress, such as the case with Anne Dias Griffin, wife of Kenneth Griffin.

The hedge fund founder and his wife were married in July of 2003. She signed a prenuptial agreement but now claims that she never saw the initial draft of the document until the final days before the wedding. She further alleges that she was not expecting the prenuptial agreement and that it caught her off guard.

Prenuptial agreements becoming more acceptable

Like others around the world, Texas couples who exchange wedding vows usually intend for them to last forever. However, with many marriages ending in court-issued divorce orders that can do more harm than good, it is becoming increasingly apparent that prenuptial agreements may be appropriate for many couples.

The purpose behind most prenuptial agreements is to keep each individual's property separate in case the union ends in divorce. In high-asset marriages, this can mean separation of large bank accounts, expensive property, stocks and bonds, and more. However, everyday couples can also benefit from agreements that keep more meager assets separate if the bond of matrimony is broken. For many younger couples who may not yet have accrued higher assets, the idea of signing a prenuptial agreement can seem cold and unromantic rather than a necessary action that will protect both parties.

Child custody rights and responsibilities

In Texas, when parents who do not live together disagree on child custody rights and responsibilities, a court will decide the matter for them. As in other states, its basis for making these decisions will always be the "best interests of the child." To protect those interests, a court may appoint a person to investigate the situation and report back, such as an attorney ad litem or guardian ad litem.

Under Texas law, a person responsible for the care of a child is known as a conservator. In most cases, both parents are named as conservators even if only one has physical custody. Conservators have the right to information concerning the child's health, education and welfare. They also have the right to confer with the other parent, school officials and medical practitioners as well as the right to be notified in case of an emergency and make emergency medical treatment decisions if warranted.

What is a domestic partnership?

Residents of Texas may benefit from learning more about the fundamental factors that constitute a domestic partnership in the United States. This status is similar to marriage and may apply to unmarried couples who live together. Many same-sex couples choose to register a domestic partnership if their current state prohibits same-sex marriages. Both heterosexual and LGBT couples can register a domestic partnership with the state.

Some states require at least one partner in a heterosexual couple to be at least 62 years old in order to qualify for a domestic partnership registration. The status is a declaration of a serious relationship before a government agency or court, and in some states and municipalities, such as Travis County, it can provide benefits similar to marriage benefits. Some of the benefits provided in a domestic partnership include visitation rights to jails and hospitals, insurance coverage on family policies and rights to family leave when a partner is sick.

Grandparents raising grandchildren is on the rise

In Texas and across the nation, more grandparents are raising their grandchildren. The U.S. census figures show the number of children in this situation more than doubled from 2000 to 2010.

Parents may be struggling with issues like substance abuse and imprisonment. Sometimes, they may be dealing with mental illness or financial instability. Whatever the cause, the number of grandchildren being cared for by their grandparents has grown from 2.4 million to 4.9 million in a single decade.

Hedge fund billionaire files for divorce after 11-year marriage

Texas couples considering divorce might be interested in a recent case involving the founder of a renowned hedge fund firm in Chicago, who filed for divorce from his 43-year-old wife on July 23. The 45-year-old man cited 'irreconcilable differences," according to the filing.

The man and woman have been married for 11 years. Reportedly, they signed a prenuptial agreement in 2003, when the couple married. According to attorneys for the 45-year-old man, the agreement governs all nuptial issues, including 'maintenance and the division of marital and non-marital property." Purportedly, the 45-year-old man is a billionaire. The hedge fund firm he founded is valued at approximately $20 billion. According to authorities, the divorce will not affect the firm's finances.

Alimony payments in Texas

When a former spouse pays their ex-partner any form of post-divorce payment, this is known as alimony or spousal maintenance. Most courts recognize two types of alimony, which include payments ordered by a court and contractual alimony, which is an agreement drafted by the two parties before the divorce proceedings. Contractual alimony is a post-divorce monthly payment agreement between spouses that does not have any limits on duration and amount or eligibility requirements. However, in order to qualify for spousal maintenance, a person must fit certain criteria.

Factors that a court could consider include whether spouses are able to provide for themselves due to a disability, whether they are caring for a disabled child from the marriage, the other spouse's ability to pay and the financial needs of both parties. In addition, the marriage in question may be required to have lasted at least ten years in order for one party to collect the payments.

Negotiating property division in divorce

Many couples in Texas struggle with dividing their residential property amicably while negotiating a divorce. Buying a spouse out of the property may prove to be difficult if both parties can't agree on terms due to individual equity and debt agendas. However, there are several strategies that many divorcing spouses have used.

People who have yet to officially separate or divorce may experience problems obtaining a new mortgage without the cooperation of the ex-spouse. The vacating party may need to sign a quitclaim deed in order to release their interest in the property and be clear of potential complications in the future. In some cases, the judge may award the home to a spouse who is unable to qualify for a new mortgage that refinances the ex-spouse out of the contract. Divorcees are often considered to be jointly liable by creditors if their name is still attached to the property.

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