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Recent blog posts

You may think of your job as just a way to pay the bills. Sure, your commute into Dallas every morning isn’t always a delight. But as long as you get paid on time, you’ll keep doing it. After all, the choice between commuting for your job and having no job is an easy one.

While inching along US-75 to work may not be the most pleasant part of your day, it may surprise you to learn that this extra time in the car can affect you more than you think. According to a study in the Journal of Urban Studies, the time you spend sitting in gridlock twice a day has two important effects on your life.

Commuting affects your wellbeing

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Same-sex marriage has been legal federally since 2015. If you and your partner are thinking about tying the knot, it can be useful to understand how marriage – and the possibility of divorce – can uniquely affect same-sex couples.

You and your partner have been together for years – and you may feel confident that your relationship will last for many more. But you can never predict the future, and sometimes the unexpected happens and couples go their separate ways.

A prenuptial agreement (also called a “prenup”) or a postnuptial agreement can be a valuable tool to protect the members of any marriage. But for same-sex couples, there are some additional reasons to define your relationship in writing.

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When you and your spouse or partner decide to part ways, you will have many concerns, particularly if you have kids together. Your primary concern will be their well-being and maintaining your relationship with them.

When child custody matters and a drunk driving record intersect

Are you fighting for custody of your children? Do you fear your soon-to-be ex-spouse's alcohol related behaviors or DUI or DWI conviction will put your children in danger?

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Divorce is difficult on any family. Many unhappy couples may wonder about the negative effects a divorce could have on their children. They may even consider staying together for the kids’ sake.

How resilient are children to their parents’ divorce? Are they likely to handle it better at certain ages than at others?

This year, the journal Social Science and Medicine published a study examining the effects divorces have on children ranging in age from three to 14. Of this group, the study found that children aged three to seven suffer no noticeable ill effects from their parents’ divorces.

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Whether you have a toddler or a preteen, you are probably thinking about how to pay for college. Determining how much you can and will contribute to your child's college education can be difficult, especially if you co-parent your child with an ex. Here is some information to help you make these important decisions.

What Texas laws say

In Texas, there are no laws that require parents (custodial or non-custodial) to pay for their child's college. Child support obligations continue until the last to occur of the following:

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Navigating the ups and downs of a high-conflict divorce is difficult on its own. Things can become even more stressful when children are involved. You want what's best for them. That includes making sure disagreements don’t spill beyond you and your former spouse and impact the kids.

How can you try to ensure this doesn’t happen? Here are five strategies to keep in mind.

  1. How to answer the inevitable questions

Your children will have questions. It's unavoidable. How should you answer them? Try using words and phrases that a child can understand while emphasizing things like empathy. Also, don’t fall into the trap of having one long conversation. It can be more beneficial to share small pieces of information at a time, essentially turning it into an ongoing, open talk.

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For many families, the holidays are about coming together. This means spending lots of time with loved ones while juggling all the different needs that come with that. These few weeks are a time of celebration, not division.

This is precisely why someone who is thinking about divorce may choose to hold on a bit longer, waiting until life settles back into the normal routine in the first quarter of the new year before officially filing.

Divorce interest, filings spike right after the holidays

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Posted on in Divorce

Divorce may be one of the hardest things you’ll ever have to endure. Having it happen for all to see can make it even more painful.

During a divorce, your private business could be available for everyone to see. Such information may be highly personal and could damage your reputation or career. There are ways to prevent such information from being seen by employers, neighbors and friends.

Privacy matters

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Posted on in Divorce

You and your spouse are getting a divorce, but it's more than just your partnership that is splitting. Everything you acquired together must get split as well.

Texas is a community property state, which means the court will attempt to divide your assets by what is “just and right.” This isn’t always as simple as drawing a line down the middle. Understand how the court defines a fair split to make sure you get your fair share.

What is community property?

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An ex-spouse in Texas has the right to legally enforce a court order to collect any unpaid alimony and child or spousal support that was not received. In an example circumstance, an executive residing in McKinney, Texas, failed to make his mandated monthly spousal support payments to his ex-wife. Through their divorce decree, the former music-industry mogul was ordered to pay his former spouse $13,500 each month for support. As reported by the Dallas Observer, when those payments stopped, his ex-wife sued in Collins County and asked the court if she could sell his sailboat as a means to collect on his past-due support commitments.

While it may not always result in a devastating setback to receive an occasional late payment, serious harm could result when anticipated and much-needed financial support stops altogether. To collect on unpaid support, a spouse may need to take civil action and report their ex for being in contempt of a court order.

In some cases, a judge may issue a wage garnishment to withhold support payments directly from an ex's weekly paychecks. A judge may also place a lien on a former spouse's property. If an individual is genuinely unable to make payments due to a financial hardship, applying for a modification of the support order may be necessary.

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Ironically, all property rights once belonged to men, including children treated as property under the law. Women did not have any legal rights to their children.

As women gained more influence, laws relaxed and public attitudes eventually changed to the other end of the spectrum. Society reasoned that up until a child reached the age of four years, maternal care was essential for optimum growth and development.

Parental rights to share custody

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Posted on in Child Custody

Summer break is here for many families in McKinney, Frisco, Allen and Plano, Texas. The children get restless and everyone wants a vacation. You may be wanting a fresh coat of paint for the inside or flowers for the outside. Or you may just want to move. If you are divorced and have children, you need to check your divorce decree before you do. Chances are you may be limited in your move options.

It is the policy in the State of Texas to encourage frequent contact between parents and their children when the family is no longer intact. So, after a divorce or custody case, the Court, more often than not, imposes a geographical restriction on the child's residence. You may have heard of parents saying their divorce decree prohibits them from moving. Well, the divorce decree only restricts the child's residence.

Posted on in Divorce

The Ramage Law Group is proud to present our new divorce brochure. For more information, click here to read our new divorce brochure.

In Texas, the Office of the Attorney General explains that to establish a legal connection between father and child, you have to establish paternity. With established paternity, your name appears on your child's birth certificate, you receive legal rights in accordance to childcare and you can protect the child's legal connection. You also receive a father's right to medical records and school records. Likewise, paternity provides a foundation for custody rights.

If you are not married to the mother, to establish paternity, you need to sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity form. You can complete the process quickly by simply signing a form with the mother. Parents have an opportunity to sign an AOP before the child's birth, during and after.

In other situations, you may use a court order to establish paternity. After you open a case with the Office of the Attorney General, you go through the process to determine paternity. There will likely be DNA testing to prove paternity.

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As you proceed with your plans to obtain a Texas divorce, you may experience an uneasy feeling that your spouse has set about attempting to hide marital assets from you, especially if you and (s)he represent a high-asset couple. As you probably already know, Texas is a community property state in which, per law, spouses own all marital assets 50/50 and must divide them up that way in a divorce. Consequently, should your spouse indeed be hiding some of these assets, (s)he will receive more than (s)he should during the divorce and you will receive less than you should.

Unfortunately, due to today's technology, spouses have more opportunity to hide assets and more ways in which to do it. In addition, as FindLaw explains, such hidden assets may be exceedingly difficult to find and therefore require the services of a forensic accountant to discover and track them.

What forensic accountants do

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It's April – Autism Awareness Month!

What is Autism? It seems to be mentioned in the news almost daily. Our families with children on the spectrum each have their unique understanding of Autism and how it has affected their lives and their children's lives. However, does the public truly understand Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills and social reciprocity, repetitive behavior, deficits in verbal and nonverbal communication, and unique strengths and differences. Autism's most obvious signs tend to be seen between the ages of 2 and 3, such as when a parent notices that her child does not respond to her, engages in repetitive behavior, or concentrates on an object rather than interacting with parents and other family members. However, some of the more subtle signs of autism may be overlooked or misunderstood in some children only to be diagnosed later in life.

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Your divorce agreement or decree puts to rest the legal issues involved in the divorce. That said, it does not necessarily resolve all the practical issues. Some of those practical issues involve following up on your retirement accounts.

You’ll want to ensure any division is completed correctly and that your accounts are as you want them going forward. Here are a few tips.

Follow up on your QDROs

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The Fathers’ Rights movement involves a large array of different groups. On the whole, however, the movement fights for more equal child custody (conservatorship, possession and access) rights for fathers.

In the U.S., the movement arose in the 1960s and 1970s, after divorce rates began rising dramatically. At that time, many courts operated on the presumption that it was in children's best interest to live primarily with their mothers. As a result, mothers got the large majority of the available time with their kids, while fathers were often relegated to “visitor” status.

Many divorcing men found themselves responsible for large alimony and child support payments, even though they had little say over their children's upbringing and got to spend only a few days a month with their kids.

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Are you enjoying Spring Break with your children? Spring and Summer give parents time to reconnect and bond with their children, especially after divorce. If you share custody of your children, chances are you need to begin planning for your summer possession periods.

Where to Start?

The first place to start is your most recent custody order, whether it is your divorce decree or an order modifying your divorce decree. First, weekend possession continues during the summer, except when each parent is enjoying extended visitation with the children. If you have a Texas Standard Possession Order and are the non-custodial parent, you should have given notice to the other parent of a thirty-day period in which you plan to exercise summer possession of your children. If you failed to give notice, no need to worry. Your summer possession period defaults to the month of July. The custodial parent may then take a weekend from your extended summer visitation period by notifying you on or before April 15 of his desired weekend. Additionally, the custodial parent may also designate a weekend that is outside of your summer visitation during which you may not exercise visitation, so long as it does not interfere with Father's Day weekend or your designated summer possession.

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Posted on in Divorce

When you divorced, you probably did not anticipate all the possibilities that could make a change in custody necessary. Like many parents, you may have assumed that once the Judge signed your divorce decree, custody and visitation were set in stone. However, sometimes arrangements become unsuitable for the parents and the children. It is possible to modify custody orders in Texas, so you do not need to feel stuck with an unworkable order. However, there are conditions that must be met before the Court can modify your existing arrangement.

Change in Custody

The term “custody” is commonly used to describe the child's primary residence. In other words, which parent establishes the child's primary residence. If a parent wants to change that custody arrangement, he must show a material and substantial change in circumstances of a parent or a child, and that the requested change is in the child's best interest. When is there a material and substantial change? It depends on the facts, and often the timing of the request is critical.

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