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Fort Worth, Texas Divorce Law Blog

Common custody hearing issues

When parents in Texas separate, child custody is often a primary concern. In many cases, exes can negotiate a parenting plan between themselves. However, there are some instances in which issues regarding child custody must go before a judge. Unfortunately, custody hearings are sometimes scheduled at a time that is inconvenient for a parent.

When a parent learns that a custody hearing has been scheduled, he or she is often very motivated to attend the hearing, even if it means taking time off work or canceling an appointment. Hearings, in general, normally do not take long -- maybe 15 or 30 minutes -- so it should be possible for many parents to arrange their schedules so that they can be present for the proceedings. However, there are some situations in which it is difficult, if not impossible, for a parent to make the custody hearing.

The role played by divorce financial specialists

The decisions made during a divorce in Texas and around the country often have profound consequences. When the assets involved are complex and their division could have far-reaching financial ramifications, it may be wise for divorcing spouses to seek the advice of professionals with experience in this area. Consulting a certified divorce financial analyst may be a particularly prudent step to take for a spouse who did not play an active role when business and investment decisions were made and could otherwise be at a disadvantage during property division negotiations.

While accountants and investment advisers can provide information about tax issues or the current value of stock portfolios, divorce financial analysts receive training that deals specifically with divorce negotiations and settlement options. This kind of advice can prevent costly mistakes when assets such as business interests and private equity holdings must be divided. Consulting a professional can also help to ensure that potentially emotional decisions are made pragmatically.

Creating a schedule for possession and access with infants

Determining an access schedule for Texas divorced parents of infants can mean addressing a number of issues, including whether the child will have overnight visits and what a breastfeeding mother will do. Not all courts will order overnights for infants, so this might not be an issue for some parents.

The primary aim of access at this stage is for the child to bond with the noncustodial parent. This can mean visits from half an hour to a few hours several times each week. A custodial parent might struggle with the concept of handing the child over to the other parent. Often, custodial parents feel they have developed an instinct for the child's needs. However, the other parent can still be a good parent even when using a different approach. The custodial parent can also share information about the child's schedule and other needs.

Both parents have rights after a divorce

Noncustodial parents in Texas are often granted the right to spend time with their children. However, they must do whatever is in the child's best interest to retain those rights over the long-term. In some cases, a court may order supervised visitation to ensure the safety of a minor when in the presence of a potentially dangerous parent. Regardless of whether visitation is supervised or not, a parent should show up on time as scheduled.

If a noncustodial parent is going to be hosting his or her child overnight, it is a good idea to prepare the home ahead of time. This could mean making sure that the child's favorite food or toys are available while there. It might also mean ensuring that the child has a place to sleep and adequate privacy.

How a person can check if they owe child support

Many Texas residents have experienced the joy that comes with parenthood. They also understand that there are a variety of things that can separate families. An individual who has a child but has not been in contact with the child may be interested in finding out if they owe child support.

The first step that a person can take to find out if they owe something in child support in order to cover the needs of the child is to contact the child's guardian. This may be a person's ex-spouse. They will want to get specific information to find out if a child support order has been filed. They should find out when the order was filed and obtain the court's contact information.

A few factors judges look at when granting alimony

Couples in Texas who are going through the divorce process are often concerned about the way divorce will affect their finances and standard of living. One question that often arises has to do with if an ex-wife will qualify for alimony. While judges will look at a variety of factors, there are some general guidelines that determine if they will award alimony to an ex-wife.

It is common for judges to look at the standard of living that the couple enjoyed during their marriage and see if a wife has the ability to maintain that standard of living on her own. The judge may take into consideration the fact that a wife may have devoted time to domestic duties while she was married as opposed to furthering her education or developing skills that would have allowed her to pursue a career.

Placing a value on pensions in a high asset divorce

Placing a value on marital property in a high asset divorce can be a difficult process, and property division negotiations may become particularly contentious in states like Texas that have community property laws. Experts are often called in to determine how much rare artwork is worth or what classic automobiles would sell for, but placing a current value on retirement accounts can be even more challenging. Pensions are paid for life, which means their value is dependent on how long the person receiving benefits will live and how much the benefits they receive years or decades from now would be worth today.

Placing a value on contribution plans is usually fairly straightforward. These pensions are linked to investments, and a current value can usually be obtained by calling or emailing the company that manages the plan. Figuring out what a defined benefit plan is worth involves math even though their benefits are fixed. Determining the value of a defined benefit pension involves estimating how long benefits will be paid for and how much money received in the future would be worth in today's dollars.

Why alimony is awarded in a divorce

When people in Texas decide to divorce, the process can uncover significant financial differences between the two spouses. This is especially true when one person has dedicated time to leaving the workplace and caring for the children or has moved from one place to another to support his or her spouse's career. When one spouse will suffer financially due to the separation, the court may order spousal support for a period of time after the divorce. Alimony can be temporary in some cases while in others, it may be permanent. This difference is often based on the marriage's length.

In many cases, alimony will not be awarded at all after a very short marriage because the spouses' divergent economic circumstances were less likely to be caused by the marriage itself. It is more common in longer marriages, where one individual served as a stay-at-home parent, or the entire family was focused on supporting the successful career of one spouse, often at the expense of the other person's potential career and educational development. In the case of long marriages, typically 20 years or more, the court may award the lower-earning spouse permanent spousal support. Permanent alimony is most common when both parties are older. In shorter marriages with younger people, spousal support is more likely to be issued for a particular period of time.

Ex-wife seeking child support funds from former NFL star

The ex-wife of former NFL star Michael Strahan is demanding that he pay over $500,000 to her to account for back child support and cover their children's horseback lessons. The details of the case might be informative to couples and individuals in Texas. The former couple's twin daughters are accomplished horseback riders, and they are enrolled in some pricey lessons. Strahan's ex-wife claims to have paid $450,802 for the lessons since 2017, and she is demanding half of that figure be reimbursed by Strahan.

She is also demanding payment of back child support in the amount of $321,654. The couple was married in 1999 and finalized their divorce in 2006. Under the initial child support agreement, Strahan was required to pay $18,000 per month in support. That order was modified in 2009, lowering the monthly payment amount to $13,000. His ex-wife is now seeking another support modification based on Strahan's increased income from television appearances on Good Morning America and Fox NFL Sunday. She wants the monthly payment increased to $18,378.

Making custody transitions easier on children

Divorcing parents in Texas generally do all they can to make custody transitions as easy as possible on their kids. These moments can be emotionally traumatic for children who harbor hopes of a reconciliation. That's why it's important that parents are on the same page during pickups and drop-offs. These are also inappropriate times for parents to argue about money or other issues. Instead, parents should act calmly and cordially but stop short of faux displays of affection.

It's vital for children to feel comfortable when they move from one home to another, so noncustodial parents should speak to both the child and the custodial parent to find out what items to bring along. Examples of items that could make children feel more at ease include a favorite toy or a new video game. Children should be given advance notice of custody transitions so they have plenty of time to gather these items.