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Fort Worth, Texas Divorce Law Blog

Custody battles can cost more than legal fees

Contested divorces where children are involved can trigger emotions and behavior in people that seem completely out of character. Perhaps that can be explained with an understanding of how feelings of love and trust have been shattered and replaced by those of betrayal and doubt. Whatever the status of the relationship between the spouses, continued animosity and attempts to punish the other can be self-destructive and traumatic for all of the parties concerned.

Relationship experts caution that even though a marriage ends and the spouses will form new relationships, the ex-spouses will remain forever bound as co-parents of their children. Legal experts warn that failure to abide by the established custody agreement can lead to a prolonged legal battle, which could be costly in many ways.

What happens when the father isn't married to the mother

Roughly 40 percent of children born in Texas and throughout America are born to unmarried parents. However, even if a child is born to parents who aren't married, the mothers are not necessarily granted sole custody of the child. In some states, they must formally request it, and the father may also have custody or visitation rights if he is fit to have them. Furthermore, paternity must be established before a father can obtain rights to a child.

If a person is determined to be a child's father, he generally has the ability to be put on the baby's birth certificate. Father's may also be declared a child's father if he signs a form acknowledging this to be the case. In Oklahoma, the mother is assumed to have sole custody in the event that there is no father on the birth certificate and it is unknown who the father is.

Changing child custody orders

There are times when Texas parents may have to ask for the terms of their existing child custody orders to be changed. Going to court and requesting a child custody modification can be necessary for a number of reasons.

If the current child custody arrangement seems to be ideal for all of the parties involved, the court is not likely to alter the arrangement. The main concern of the court is always to rule in favor of what is in the children's best interests. As a result, the court will avoid disrupting the children's well-being and way of life for reasons that are not serious. The reasons parents provide to the court for wanting a child custody order modification will be heavily scrutinized.

Post-divorce co-parenting lessons

Ending a marriage in Texas doesn't mean the end of parenting responsibilities, especially when children will be spending time in two homes. When obligations involving the kids are shared among divorced couples, it may suddenly become clear that each individual has a very different parenting style. Other times, there may be lingering issues between people that can make it difficult to co-parent effectively. What some parents forget when making the transition to a post-divorce life is that it's about their kids' best interests.

Once child custody issues have been resolved, a common recommendation is that both parties have a no-belittling rule to prevent badmouthing one another in front of the kids. This guideline also applies to the ex-spouses' new partners. When tensions do arise, it can be helpful for someone to take a deep breath or walk away and calm down before dealing with whatever matter requires the attention of both adults. Doing so can also prevent children from learning unhealthy relationship management habits.

Tips to prepare for a child custody hearing

It is best if parents in Texas who are getting a divorce can avoid a child custody battle in court. They might be able to compromise on a joint custody solution. However, if both parents want sole custody and neither is willing to budge, having a judge decide may be the only solution.

Parents may want to work with an attorney as they prepare for the hearing. They also need to be able to demonstrate to the judge that they are acquainted with the important details of the child's life. This includes knowing such things as the names of the child's teachers, any allergies the child may have, what the child's hobbies are and who the child's friends are. Parents may also need to demonstrate that they can provide adequate living arrangements for the child. A judge will look more favorably on a parent who is able to show that they can get along with the other parent.

Refusing visitation is a risky proposal for parents

Texas parents likely understand that regular parenting time schedules are designed to provide both parents regular access and visitation to children even though the kids may be primarily in the custody and possession of the other parent. Unfortunately, even the best of plans sometimes fail to hold up in real world circumstances. In situations where a parent may be concerned about child safety, there are protocols for deviating from the scheduled plan.

By imposing parenting schedules, courts seek to insure that children maintain a consistent relationship with both parents, regardless of who is the designated custodial parent. In order to disrupt this plan, a parent must have a very good reason to refuse access to children by the other parent. A common complaint is that children are spending time with paramours or new relations one parent considers unsavory. There must be an actual physical threat to the physical safety of children in order for visitation to be refused or denied. For example, if a parent arrives to pick up children while visibly under the influence of alcohol and a parent fears for safety, it may be appropriate to refuse access to children. If the home environment is otherwise physically unsafe do the presence of illegal activity, refusing access may be appropriate. If a parent suspects a child is being abused while with the other parent, or if the child refuses to go, visitation may be denied.

How tax reform affects divorces in 2019

When people in Texas get a divorce, taxes may be one consideration when it comes to property division. However, because of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, there are some additional changes ahead that people should be aware of.

For divorces finalized in 2019 and later, recipients of alimony will no longer be taxed on the payment, and payers will no longer be able to deduct the amount. This could create issues with prenuptial agreements that deal with alimony payments, and it is unclear how courts will handle such an agreement. Another element of the tax reform law is that some businesses could be valuated at a higher rate. This may or may not be to a person's advantage depending on the situation.

Dealing with divorce and alimony

Anytime a couple chooses to separate, they'll be faced with an assortment of challenging issues. This includes child custody arrangements, asset division and alimony. For couples with high-asset divorces, determining how belongings will divided and how child custody will be arranged can be even more difficult. Unfortunately, making decisions regarding alimony and child support is an incredibly important task that each couple must face.

It's important to note that in 2019, laws regarding alimony will be changing. These new policies will affect couples who divorce in the future, especially those who will be required to pay alimony to a former spouse. Under the new regulations, the party who pays alimony will no longer be able to deduct the payments on their taxes. Similarly, the recipient of the alimony payments will not pay taxes on them.

How to identify and overcome parental alienation

Parental alienation takes place when one parent tries to manipulate the children into believing that the other parent is a bad person. In some cases, Texas residents engage in this behavior because they have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Those who have this condition may act out because they are embarrassed or otherwise hurt by the fact that their marriages have come to an end.

A parent may win over a child with a charm offensive. For instance, a mother or father could decline to enforce rules or provide a child with gifts. In some cases, they might even pick one child as the favorite over the other children. Parents who feel as if they are a victim of alienation should not try to engage in a battle with the other parent. They should also not attempt to convince the child that he or she is being manipulated.

Property division in a high-asset divorce

People in Texas who decide to divorce may realize that the financial effects of the end of a marriage can be far more long-lasting than the emotional and practical aspects of the split. Indeed, many people planning for divorce feel intense stress about how their finances will change. However, by reviewing their assets, liabilities, income and expenses, people can make a plan for their post-divorce financial future that can help to improve their peace of mind moving forward.

During the divorce process, it is important to fully establish both parties' financial assets. When a couple has significant wealth, the complexity of a high-asset divorce can come into play. Assets can include savings and checking accounts, investment funds, real estate investment trusts and similar accounts. When dividing marital assets, it is important to properly value each asset rather than simply exchanging one for the other. For example, a traditional investment account with the same amount of funds as a 401(k) may be more valuable as money can be withdrawn from it without a tax penalty. Even without penalties, distributions from a retirement fund may be subject to income taxes while taxes were already paid on the money held in a savings account or investment fund.