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Posted on in Divorce

Texans should know certain basic facts about estate taxation in order to better plan for the future. If you’re going through a divorce, estate taxation may be even more relevant because the exemption will be halved for a single, unmarried individual. What many Texans don’t realize is that the State of Texas is quite friendly to its residents from a tax perspective. Not only does Texas lack a personal state income tax, it also has a resident-friendly policy on estate taxes.

Texas Law on Inheritance & Estate Taxes

An estate tax is a tax imposed on the estate of a decedent. This means that the tax will be collected from the estate itself prior to any disbursements to heirs. An inheritance tax, on the other hand, is a tax imposed on the beneficiaries of the estate. This means that, in theory, the beneficiaries are responsible for paying the inheritance tax. In jurisdictions which impose an inheritance tax, typically the tax is only imposed on certain beneficiaries, while other beneficiaries (such as surviving spouses and direct descendants) are exempt.

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Texas is a community property state, which means that all assets classified as “marital property” will be subject to division in a divorce. Furthermore, because Texas is a community property state, the community estate is generally divided equally among the parties, unless a disproportionate division is warranted. As we’ve discussed in earlier articles, marital property is essentially any property acquired after the marriage, unless one of several exceptions applies. For instance, property acquired via inheritance, or via gift, is typically considered separate property even if acquired during marriage.

In order to properly divide property in a divorce, both parties need to be fully transparent with their asset holdings. Sadly, in some cases, parties are less than fully transparent, and sometimes people even deliberately hide assets in order to “cheat” their spouse. Divorce is very often a process involving heated emotions, and so we shouldn’t be too surprised to learn that this happens from time to time. Nevertheless, it is still unfortunate to see.

In this post, we’re going to discuss the various methods that spouses use to conceal assets in a Texas divorce, and then go over some of the potential consequences for this type of behavior.

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In family law parlance, a “military divorce” is a marital dissolution in which at least one of the parties involved is active military, or part of the National Guard, or part of the military reserves. Military divorces are basically a separate type of dissolution because these divorces have their own requirements and considerations. If you or your spouse are military personnel, and you’re planning (or desiring) a divorce, you should be aware of these requirements and considerations.

The Right to Postpone While on Active Duty

One of the key things to know about military divorces is that the divorce proceedings may be postponed while someone is on active duty. This is true even when the petitioner files the initial documentation correctly. If a spouse is away on active duty, and the petitioner initiates a divorce, proceedings may be postponed as long as both the respondent spouse (on active duty) and local court agree to do so. Furthermore, the court may also delay the proceedings for 60 days after the service member returns. Active duty personnel may elect to waive this right if they wish to speed the divorce process along without any postponements.

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It can be easy to lose sight of the most important things in life during a heated divorce. But most Texas parents understand that their children's well-being is, or should be, at the top of the list. Even parents involved in a contentious divorce have one thing in common: Love for their children.

Divorce signals the end of one loving relationship. But parents don’t divorce their kids. You might feel guilty over the breakup or are just unsure how to deal with your pain, let alone that of your kids. But the good news is there are steps you can take to help your children cope and create a stronger relationship with them going forward.

Four steps to creating a positive parent-child vibe

Once your divorce is final, you are still one family that is living in separate households. But even before the process is over, here are some things you can do to achieve a child-focused divorce:

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Are you divorcing or planning to divorce your child's other parent? While many of the unresolved differences you have will probably linger on for years, your priority should be helping your kids cope with the divorce.

To do this, work hard to minimize conflict between you and your ex for your child's sake. That means being supportive and avoiding so-called “loyalty traps.” Here's something that can help.

Identify potential co-parenting hazards

It is no longer standard operating procedure for Texas courts to award custody to the mother. However, fathers still face some obstacles. That's why it's essential always to put your child's needs first. Kids often get caught in the middle when parents:

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Many people see January as a month of renewal, and divorce filings typically tick upward after the holiday season. For Texas couples considering a divorce, it's usually not a snap decision but rather the culmination of months or even years of unhappiness and conflict.

Some spouses stay together for the sake of their children. Others stay for financial, societal pressures or other reasons long after the closeness they once experienced ceases to exist. Here are five common reasons you may wish to seek a divorce and get a fresh start this year.

You and your spouse work against each other

Resentment and anger can linger for years when spouses don’t see eye-to-eye on major or minor issues and have the same arguments over and over without resolution. This often leads to conscious or unconscious polarization, where each party demonizes the other to anyone else who will listen.

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Many people put off divorce until after the holidays, not wanting a marital dispute looming over what is supposed to be a festive time. The wait may be even longer for Texas spouses who have put off a decision due to the uncertainty of the pandemic.

With 2022 in full swing, you may decide that it's the right time for a fresh start, but you’re not sure how to proceed. Understandably, you may be caught up in the emotions of taking that step. But it's crucial to do everything you can to ensure the best financial situation possible.

Taking inventory of marital assets

One way to deal with the fear and uncertainty is to take control of the process when preparing for divorce. Creating a checklist of marital assets not only makes the process less stressful but can help you achieve better results. Your list should include:

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January is famously known as the month when most divorces are filed, although there's no iron-clad proof that's true. However, once the holidays are over, many Texans want a fresh start when they determine their marriage no longer works.

Whether you’re already divorced, in the process or just considering if it's the right time, it's likely one of the most stressful and sad experiences of your life. But, just as New Year's signifies rebirth, there are things you can do to shift the focus from the pain to future opportunities.

New Year. New You!

Most of us make New Year's resolutions to lose weight, exercise more and be healthier. Many times, those last only a few weeks. But positively coping with divorce can make 2022 and beyond healthier for you and your family. Here are eight divorce resolutions to consider:

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If your child has special needs due to a disability and qualifies for special education, you may worry that it places a label on them that will be hard to overcome. The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Texas laws rule that children with disabilities are eligible for a free, appropriate public education.

This education often means school-provision of special education and related services designed to meet your child's unique needs and help them prepare for additional education, employment and independent living. As a parent, you are an integral part of designing and measuring your child's educational progress.

Overcoming special education myths

Many Texas parents worry that unfair and untrue notions about special education may adversely impact their children. Here are four common myths about special education and the facts:

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If you have a child with special needs, you likely worry about them receiving an appropriate education. State and federal laws help ensure that they receive instruction tailored to their specific needs.

Once your child qualifies for special education, the first step is the Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) process, where a committee designs a plan for how the school district will meet your child's educational requirements.

What does the committee do?

ARD committee meetings must occur at least once a year but can happen more frequently if warranted. The purpose is to design or evaluate an individualized education program (IEP), which defines the instruction your child will receive, how the school must provide those services and how to measure progress. As a parent, you are a vital part of this proceeding.

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Each Dec. 2, we celebrate National Special Education Day, commemorating the anniversary of the nation's first law protecting the rights of children with special needs. President Gerald Ford signed the law in 1975.

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) guarantees every child an appropriate public education. The law requires school districts to provide services and instruction for children with disabilities and other eligible conditions.

Four benefits of an inclusive education

If your child is eligible for special education, you may worry that they are kept apart from other kids their age. But most spend the majority of their time in general education classrooms in Texas. This inclusive learning environment has many benefits, including:

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As a parent, you only want what's best for your kids. But it can be overwhelming when your child has special needs. In addition to the daily challenges at home, you must ensure that they receive the best education possible.

Federal law gives children with disabilities the right to receive a free and appropriate public education in Texas – one that's individually designed to meet their disability. However, schools often don’t interpret the law correctly or, in many cases, fail to observe those rights.

What is special education?

In 2004, Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA), which broadly defines special education as “specially designed instruction” meeting the unique needs of children with disabilities. The law directs schools to create individualized plans for children with specific disabilities. To be eligible, your child must:

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Texas does not require you to hire a private attorney when adopting a child. However, consulting with a lawyer who regularly deals with adoptions can help make the complicated process smoother.

Experienced adoption lawyers understand the challenges and can guide you through the application process, court proceedings and protect your rights and interests every step of the way.

Requirements for adoptive parents

In the Lone Star State, you can pursue a private adoption or choose to adopt through the Texas foster care system. While the journey is different for each route, the requirements for adoptive parents are the same. You must:

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November is National Adoption Month, which raises awareness of the urgent need for adoptive families for children in the foster care system. If you are considering adoption, you have several options to choose from in the Lone Star State.

During the 2020-2021 fiscal year, which ended Oct. 31, nearly 4,600 adoptions occurred while about 3,000 other children await their “forever homes,” according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Options for adoptive parents

As long as you are a responsible adult (age 21 or older) and meet some basic requirements, you are eligible to adopt a child in Texas. Here are some ways to become an adoptive parent:

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A Texas couple, who are not Native American, attempted to adopt a part-Cherokee and part-Navajo boy but were stopped by the Navajo Nation. After a years-long legal battle, the Navajo tribe withdrew its objection, and the couple was able to adopt the boy.

Native American tribes have the right to object to non-Native parents fostering and adopting Native American children. This is because of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) that became federal law in 1978.

What is the Indian Child Welfare Act?

The ICWA laws were passed over 40 years ago as a reaction to decades of separations involving Native families during the 19th and 20th centuries. For decades, children were often forcibly removed from their homes and sent to boarding schools run by white missionaries.

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Divorce can be a very “me-centric” experience for Texas parents, and that's understandable. We’re all human, and when your once-loving marriage ends, it's understandable how bitterness and anger can threaten to consume you.

But when you have children, it's crucial not to let those feelings overwhelm you and your former spouse's responsibility to lessen the pain for your kids. Many have also found that conquering those negative feelings by focusing on their children's well-being can provide relief.

Don’t give in to these co-parenting “don’ts”

Our last article focused on two approaches to co-parenting with your ex and added some tips for healthy problem-solving outcomes. Here are some common actions every co-parent should try to avoid:

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“Just be glad you don’t have children.” Statements like that often come from well-meaning friends or family members trying to console others who choose to end their marriage.

While divorces not involving co-parenting issues may be less complicated for some Texas spouses, the experience is just as painful and one that requires diligence in protecting your future.

Divorcing later? Plan now!

The first days of fall have arrived, and the holidays are right around the corner, so you may have already decided to wait until next year to file for divorce. That may seem like a lot of time but use it wisely. Here are some things to consider:

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The holiday season is filled with a lot of joy and fun activities for Texas families. But some divorced parents look to them with dread when navigating parenting time with their former partner.

Parenting plans typically include major holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving, but others like Halloween are frequently left out. The keys to keeping the day “scary but fun” for your children are planning and cooperation.

Halloween options for co-parents

Since Halloween falls on one night per year and is a community-based holiday focused on trick-or-treating, it can be more challenging for parents to divvy up. Still, many options exist, such as:

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New legislation went into effect on Sept. 1, 2021, affecting Texas parents with 50/50 or shared custody orders. The new law expands the beginning and ending times for weekend stays with the child's noncustodial parent.

The reason for the law is to provide children more time with their noncustodial parent (called the “possessory conservator” in the new law). With these new beginning and end times, the possessory conservator is able to have about 46% of the total time with their child.

Here's how it works

The new law allows for an Expanded Standard Possession Order (ESPO). If you are the noncustodial parent, this order will extend your child's time with you. Instead of picking your kids up from school on Friday, you will get them after school on Thursday until Monday morning when you drop them off at school.

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No matter how your divorce unfolded, there is no question that divorce can be one of the most challenging experiences a person can go through. Divorce can be a stressful and emotionally draining experience for multiple reasons. For one thing, divorce represents the breakup of a very powerful relationship, the type of relationship which many people expect to last a lifetime. In addition, the divorce process itself is complex and can require an enormous amount of time, energy and money. Given the heavy demands which divorce can impose, people should take the time to develop strategies to cope with the toll of divorce. People in any stage of the process can benefit from these tips – those at the beginning, middle, or finish line.

#1: Reach Out to Friends for Support

As your divorce comes to a close, it can be tempting to isolate yourself from others. Some people withdraw because this seems like a good temporary way to cope with the situation. The truth, though, is that you should try to reach out to your friends for emotional support during this time. Divorce represents the end of a relationship, and this is all the reason to reach out to friends and embrace the existing relationships you have. Your friends can be a tremendous source of comfort and support during this challenging time.

#2: Talk to a Therapist

Another possible strategy is to talk with a professional mental health specialist or therapist. A therapist can also be a great way for you to destress and discuss some of the things on your mind. During a divorce, there can be a tendency to bottle up many of our emotions and thoughts for the sake of pushing the procedure along. Though this may be the case, we still have a need to release our thoughts and process our emotions. Therapists are trained to exchange information and provide resources when it comes to emotional regulation and processing. Talking to a therapist can be a great way to cope with the demands of divorce.

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