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Recent blog posts

The past two months have turned everyone's lives upside down. It's been especially difficult for those are divorcing and had to postpone the process until the health emergency settles down.

Governor Greg Abbott allowed his stay-at-home order to expire on April 30. It is only a few days until the courts reopen. How have you fared during this stressful time?

Finding hope after a “pandemic divorce”

While it hasn’t been an easy time, there are steps you can take to reclaim a positive outlook for the future, both in your professional and personal lives:

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Posted on in Child Custody

There's an App for everything. So why not an App for Co-parenting?

Children need stability, calm and security as they grow-up. Which parent are they spending the weekend with? Who needs to sign their school field trip note? The concern of these parental jobs is not their burden, and it's our role as parents to have it covered, allowing our kids to be kids.

Some parents can move into co-parenting rather seamlessly, while others feel like they have fallen into the deep end of a murky pool. And the ones’ who can suffer while you’re treading water are the children.

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But you’re not married to your child's mother. Does it matter? Legally, yes.

The definition of “family” is changing, and studies show that unmarried parents are becoming increasingly more common today. You and your child's mom may sail blissfully into the future, parenting your sweet bundle of joy as a happy family unit. But if you and the mom decide that you must go your separate ways, what rights do you have regarding your child?

Under Texas law, there is no presumption of paternity if the parents of a child are not married at the time of conception or the time of birth. What that means is that the father has no parental rights or obligations. Without a court order, the mother can refuse to allow you to see or care for your child. And this refusal can affect your extended family as well. Or the mother can move out of state without your permission.

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A new survey shows a radical shift in the economic structure of families in the United States as more women say they are outearning their husbands than ever before.

The research by TD Ameritrade says nearly half of the women who took part in the survey say they make as much or more than their partners. That's a seismic change from 1960 when only 3.8% of women were the chief breadwinners, according to the Pew Research Center. Women now comprise more than half of the workforce in the country, and the percentage of those becoming the primary wage earner is expected to rise.

Marital strife over changing roles

Researchers found clear signs of a generational shift as millennial women are nearly twice as likely as their baby boomer counterparts to earn as much or more than their partners. But this often leads to conflict between couples. More than one in five millennials say their relationships feel more strained because one partner earns more than the other, while only one out of every 10 baby boomers say the disparity in earning status causes friction.

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If you got married after completing your college education, the student loan debt you brought into the relationship will most likely still be yours alone if you divorce.However, it's not always cut and dried how that debt is distributed if you took out student loans while you were married. Any loans you receive after tying the knot in Texas are typically considered marital debt.

Figuring out a plan of action

Everyone's circumstances are different when their marriages end. An experienced family law attorney can help you find your own best course of action, including these considerations:

  • Community property: Texas is one of nine states that consider all marital debt as community property. Both spouses are equally responsible for the repayment of student loans taken out during a marriage, even if only one spouse did the borrowing or attended school.
  • Co-signing a loan: If you are a co-signer when your spouse refinances premarital student loan debt, you become equally responsible for its repayment going forward. You can detach yourself from that debt, in some cases, by refinancing again, or going through a lender that offers a co-signer release provision.
  • Income-driven repayment: If repayment of a federal student loan is based on income, it's essential to notify your lender immediately upon your divorce and submit a new income certification. Income-driven plans usually combine both spouses' earnings to determine monthly payments.

Will a prenuptial work for you?

As the negative stigma formerly attached to prenuptial agreements wears off, many marrying couples welcome the peace of mind they offer. If you have substantial assets (or debts), make certain your prenuptial agreement contains all the legal provisions it should.

Divorce is a challenging process for both spouses, but it can be especially tricky when you have children. While there are likely to be some rough moments, there are actions both parents can take to make the transition smoother for everyone.

The first step is being open and honest with your kids. Trying to spare their feelings by telling them, “nothing is going to change,” won’t work and may increase their anxiety. It's crucial to be upfront and let them know that what's happening is not their fault.

Prioritize the needs of children

Being honest with your kids about their future should be the priority, even if it means that you don’t have all the answers. There are things you can do to help make them feel safe, such as:

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The best interest of the child?

Your child.

Your children.

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Posted on in Divorce

Affairs are soul crushing. Not only does infidelity destroy families and reputations, but cheating is a huge sign of disrespect. It can affect your trust in future partners and destroy your own self-esteem, in addition to playing a role in the dissolution of your marriage.

We are all attached to our phones now more than ever, so it's often our personal devices that reveal where we have been, who we have been talking to and what we are doing. If you suspect an affair, you should be on the lookout for the following apps on your partner's devices, as they can only spell trouble:

Adult Friend Finder: This app has been around for decades, first releasing back in 1996. It is targeted towards those who are looking to hookup, casually have sex, and just meet someone who's attractive. Basically, it's the ultimate app for someone who is cheating.

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Telling your kids you’re getting a DIVORCE! In the top ten of the most dreaded conversations ever. Deciding how to tell the kids is bad, but answering their questions after can be worse. Lead with love and honesty, while also considering your child's emotional maturity. Consider the questions below before you sit down with your kids.

1. Why? Usually, this is the toughest one to answer, mostly because you’re trying to answer that very question for yourself. To respond without your own pain and anger coming through to your child can be particularly challenging, because your child is looking for assurances. “If I know why this is happening, maybe I can fix it” Let them know that they are loved and that the change is going to be hard but will make everyone happier in time.

2. Are you going to get back together? For children, the idea that this is only temporary would be a much easier pill to swallow. Explaining the new normal and assuring them that both of their parents will always be there for them can help to soften the blow that you will not be getting back together.

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Posted on in High Conflict Family Law

Fear the Cloud

Today, people are texting more and talking less, with today's average adult spending 23 hours a week texting. According to a recent study, Americans exchange twice as many texts as they do phone calls. With that in mind, you would think that we would take a little more care in what we send via text message, but for whatever reason, the social etiquette we show on social media, in person, and on the phone all goes out the window when we text. From lewd photos to incriminating confessions, people will say just about anything via text, all the while mistakenly believing that no one else is watching (or reading). But this could not be further from the truth.

Not many of us understand the “cloud”. That great database in the sky. But rest assured, anything you write or send via text message is stored there and can be accessed at any time—yes, even deleted messages. Because of this, it is extremely important that you refrain from saying anything incriminating or potentially harmful to your character via text message. Especially if you are going through divorce.

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After enduring the cost of a spouse's substance abuse issues for years, the non-abusing spouse may decide to walk away. Many choose divorce as a way to distance themselves (and their children) from the problems addiction has created.

A parent's misuse of illegal and legal substances can have a profound effect on their children. A divorce might allow you to separate your children from a bad situation, and the courts can support you in the process.

Courts recognize the effect a parent's substance problems can have on their children. For this reason, courts take substance abuse heavily into consideration when looking at custody arrangements.

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You’ve spent years building your retirement funds for the future. Now, they are a healthy portion of your portfolio. Unfortunately, a divorce may divert some of those hard-earned funds for years to come.

Dividing retirement accounts and pensions rank second on the list of the most contentious issues during divorces, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. (Spousal support is the most fought-over issue and dividing business assets the third.) An experienced divorce lawyer can explain how best to divide your retirement assets, but here is some information about how a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) can help.

Planning payouts with a QDRO

QDROs are used to divide retirement assets during divorces. How a QDRO splits assets can have a big impact on how intertwined your benefits will be going forward:

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Divorce can bring out the worst in anyone. While Texas is a “no-fault” divorce state, spouses can also file on grounds such as abuse, adultery, cruelty, abandonment or fraud. Any one of those instances can easily lead to a high-conflict divorce.

But, allowing anger to boil over into unkind comments about a spouse can actually harm a reputation, damage the family dynamic and, in many cases, hurt a person's chances for a favorable divorce – whether it's through a settlement or litigation.

Advantages of taking the high road

Despite the perceived short-lived emotional benefits of speaking harshly about a soon-to-be ex, making nasty or rude remarks can lead to a lengthy and expensive process. The benefits of an amicable split include:

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A spouse's addiction problem can put enormous strain on a marriage. Whether it's with alcohol, drugs, gambling or anything else, a spouse's addiction causes their partner to suffer a great deal of pain.

In the United States, some studies suggest that chronic substance abuse by one or both partners is the third-leading cause of divorce after infidelity and abuse.

How does addiction destroy marriages?

Experts estimate that 24 million married Americans have an addiction or are married to someone with substance abuse issues. There are several ways addiction can erode the marital bond, including:

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Thursday, March 12, 2020, was a day full of constant conflicting messages that impact families’ schedules. Colleges are closing, NCAA sports are cancelling their seasons, the NBA is ending its season, March Madness is over, and public schools are changing Spring Break! If you are like most parents, your initial thought is to keep your children safe and healthy. If you are also divorced or co-parent with another, then your thoughts suddenly shift to the Spring Break schedule and the question, “Who Gets the Kids?”

When does Spring Break possession begin and end? Well, first, it depends on your Order. If you have a custom schedule that provides for a shared week or specific days, then follow your Order. If your Order follows the Standard Possession Order, in even-numbered years, the non-custodial parent has possession of the child from the time school is dismissed for Spring Break until 6:00 p.m. the day before school resumes for Spring Break. Some may say, this extends Spring Break, perhaps indefinitely. However, our Collin County District Courts https://www.facebook.com/CCDistrictCourts/ have injected a little common sense into the situation and issued a statement that the Standard Possession Order under the Texas Family Code follows the originally published school calendar. So, if you live in Collin County, have a standard possession order, and you have possession over spring break, your possession period ends at 6:00 p.m. the day before Spring Break was originally scheduled to resume. Other counties may or may not follow suit, but it is always best to put your children first rather than argue over technical points of when a Spring Break extended by disaster ends.

What about the parent who does not want to exercise possession over Spring Break due to Corona Virus fears? According to the Texas Family Code, each parent has a duty of care, control, and protection during their periods of possession. The threat of illness impacts intact families as well as co-parenting families. Please put your children first and keep them and yourself healthy. Work with your co-parent to split time during the extended Spring Break and help each other out if anyone becomes ill. At the end of this health crisis, the most important thing you can provide your children is the knowledge that you cared for them enough to keep them safe and healthy, and worked out the logistics with the other parent.

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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order Mar. 18 temporarily closing all schools at least through April 3 due to concerns over COVID-19. Some districts had already acted independently by extending spring break vacations or closing buildings until further notice and shifting instruction online. With the President's extension of social distancing guidelines through April 30, it is certain that school closures will continue.

It's a scenario that many parents with child custody arrangements would likely never have anticipated, and some may be confused about the potential effects on court-ordered child visitation agreements, specifically on when they must return children to the other parent.

Texas Supreme Court issues Order over custody schedules

Both the Frisco and McKinney Independent School Districts canceled classes prior to the governor's order affecting childcare schedules for thousands of families. Some parents wonder if closures will have any effect on their visitation schedules.

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Financial infidelity plagues nearly half of Americans in relationships, and it could have a significant impact when it comes time for a divorce. It can be hard to look for assets under every rock but leaving no stone unturned might be vital to getting the share of assets you deserve.

41% of Americans say they’re guilty of hiding financial detailsfrom their partners. Some may have concealed a receipt or two, while others go so far as hiding entire bank accounts. This breach of trust has many costs, not the least of which is keeping you from getting an accurate idea how much you should get during the division of your marital assets.

Recovering from cover-ups

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One of the toughest parts of your divorce could be making sure your children get what's best for them. A court order giving you an equal share in custody is an excellent place to start, but that's not a guarantee that it will work out that way.

The National Parents Organizations (NPO) gave Texas a C- for its shared parenting legislation. Not alone in the middle, Texas was one of 25 states that the organization assigned a C grade. Getting a fair share of time with your children is very important, but you may have to put in some extra work to get there.

Benefits of joint custody

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Couples who own businesses together may be hesitant to proceed with a divorce, even if their relationship has broken down to the point of being irretrievable. Staying together for the business is not likely to be a long-term option.

But what options are available when it comes to divorce and the family business? According to U.S. Census Bureau data, this is not an uncommon question. There are about 3.7 millionhusband-wife co-owners operating businessesin the U.S. Here are three options that a couple may consider before they head to divorce court.

  • Sell the business before the divorce: Many people view divorce as a chance to get a fresh start. By selling the business, the couple may gain the means to go in different directions, whether that be to start a new business, go back to school to begin a new career or find work in an established company. The downside to selling the business is that it may take time to find a buyer, and this could prolong an unsatisfactory marriage.
  • One spouse buys out the other: Often, one spouse is more invested in the business emotionally or has a greater personal or career advantage in keeping it going. In that case, it may make sense for the couple to exchange assets for business interests or for one spouse to get a loan and buy out the other. An independent business valuation will be necessary to ensure a fair division of property.
  • The couple continues to operate the business together: Some people are able to separate their marital relationship from their business relationship. If a couple decides to continue their business relationship after the divorce, a buy-sell agreement is essential. If their relationship deteriorates, one spouse has the right to buy out the other at a price that they both agree is fair.

No matter which option is chosen, dividing business assets is very complicated, especially for those who live in a community property state, such as Texas. Legal counsel is highly advised.

Even under otherwise favorable circumstances, financial challenges can put a strain on a marriage. If your spouse also has bipolar disorder, it can complicate the matter even further. Your spouse may deplete the family finances by going on spending sprees as a symptom of the poor decision-making that often characterizes a manic episode.

A marriage can fracture under this type of strain, leading to a divorce. However, if you are not yet ready to take that step, you can nevertheless prepare for the possibility with a postnuptial agreement. In the event that you do eventually decide to file for a divorce, a postnuptial agreement provides you legal protection for your finances from your spouse's mania-induced spending.

What is a postnuptial agreement?

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