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Fort Worth, Texas Divorce Law Blog

How parents can help children adjust to a divorce

The end of a marriage is stressful for children as well as their divorcing parents, and some Texas parents may worry that it will have a long-term negative effect on their children. They may have read stories about children of divorced parents who struggle in school or who have drug problems.

However, these stories can be misleading. Outcomes such as these are far from inevitable, and children from families where both parents are together have these issues as well. While co-parenting after a divorce can include challenges that parents who are still together do not face, divorced parents can still give their children a loving, stable environment that nurtures them. It can help children a great deal if parents can maintain an amicable relationship or at least avoid fighting in front of them after they divorce. Each parent should understand that the other parent is important in the child's life and should try to support that relationship.

Dividing an IRA during a divorce

When people in Texas decide to divorce, they may face a range of personal, emotional and practical concerns. Some of the most important changes that can come with the end of a marriage are the financial effects of property division, especially when it comes to retirement accounts. An increasing number of people across the country are divorcing at the age of 50 and up, meaning that the division of retirement accounts has become more complex. This may be especially true for people who are already receiving distributions from their accounts.

In most cases, dividing an individual retirement account, or IRA, is essentially straightforward. The growth and additions to retirement funds during the marriage are generally considered part of community property, and IRAs, unlike 401(k)s and other employment-associated plans, do not require a specialized court order called a qualified domestic relations order to complete the distribution. Some concerns may arise when people are already taking 72(t) distributions from an IRA. These are distributions from the plan taken before the age of 59.5, usually taken due to financial problems or early retirement. These distributions can be subjected to regular income taxes as well as a 10% tax penalty, which may need to be considered during divorce.

Wedding debt may cause tension in a marriage

Texas couples and others between the ages of 18 and 53 may be more likely to get divorced if they took on debt to have a wedding. That was according to a survey conducted by LendingTree. The survey found that 45% of respondents said that they went into debt to get married, and nearly half of those who did so got divorced. Of those who didn't borrow money to have a wedding, only 9% said that their marriages eventually came to an end.

Furthermore, 76% of those who borrowed money to get married said that they had disagreements over how much to spend. Among those who paid for their weddings on their own, only 20% reported having such disagreements. According to the LendingTree survey, 36% of couples who had wedding debt had disputes about money after they got married. Only 11% of those who funded a wedding on their own said that they had financial arguments after getting married.

Advance planning can prevent divorce financial strain

When people in Texas decide to divorce, the process can be deeply emotional. However, the practical side of divorce, particularly the financial aspects, can linger on long after the emotional issues have been resolved. After a divorce, it is possible to recover and rebuild financial security and well-being. However, people can act in advance to protect themselves and prepare themselves for any potential future. When both spouses are involved with money management on a daily basis, this can prevent the confusion and problematic decision-making that can follow a divorce or even the death of a spouse.

According to one study, 80% of people who had not been deeply involved in their financial planning while married regretted that choice after their divorce. In addition, people with less financial experience also found it more difficult to rebuild their assets after the end of a marriage. Forty percent said that they were still working to recover financially from the split.

Getting a mortgage while owing back child support

Some parents in Texas owe back child support. When an individual is in this situation, they may wonder if they qualify for a mortgage. It is important to note that back child support counts as debt when applying for a mortgage. Additionally, it is also a derogatory credit event, which can harm a person's chances for a mortgage approval.

Before making any decisions, it would be wise for a debtor to check their credit report. Once a person sees their credit report, they will know what kind of situation they are dealing with. If they have a credit score that is high enough to qualify for a loan, there may be a good chance of them receiving one. Of course, making back payments on child support will need to be listed in a person's debts when they fill out their mortgage application.

How a calendar can be helpful in a divorce case

Some parents in Texas who are going through a divorce might find a calendar useful during the process of determining custody and support. A calendar can provide a lot of information about parenting time and expenses that might otherwise be forgotten or overlooked.

A parent may be asked many questions about his or her child's schedule, health and other things. It can be hard to remember these details during the stress of the divorce process, but they can be important. For example, one expense parents often forget about is the birthdays their children go to and the cost of gifts. Parents may often forget about times their children traveled out of town for sports events and the costs associated with them. If a child has a therapist or doctor, these expenses should be included as well. The calendar may also help parents get a better idea of how much time their children spend with each of them, which can also be useful data in calculating custody and support.

How parents can better focus on their children's needs

It isn't uncommon for divorced parents in Texas to have arguments over how to raise their kids. However, it's important to remember that the goal is to do what is best for the child regardless of how it may make either parent feel. For instance, both parents are generally entitled to see their children regardless of how they feel about each other. Creating a parenting plan may help to avoid conflicts over parenting time.

In addition to spending time with their children, both parents are generally required to provide for their children financially. However, there may be times when a parent experiences a loss of income or can't afford to help pay for a sudden medical expense. Those who are unable to meet their child support obligations could ask a judge to modify an existing order.

How alimony can get complicated

Many Texas residents have experienced some of the challenges that come with divorce. Alimony adds another layer of complication. There is a lot of confusion about what alimony is, who is eligible to receive it and who may be required to pay it. A clearer understanding of the different kinds of alimony can make the situation easier to understand.

By basic definition, alimony is a form of spousal support. It may be granted when a legally married couple separates or gets a divorce. The idea is to help the partner who earns less money keep the same standard of living they had before they split from the higher-earning spouse.

Determining and paying child support

There are a number of facts about child support that both mothers and fathers in Texas should understand if either will be paying or receiving it. Child support is usually paid from the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent although it is possible that one person will owe support to the other if custody is shared. Parents are obligated to support their children whether or not they were ever married to one another.

In general, child support ends when a child is no longer a minor, joins the military or becomes an adult through emancipation or another process. Parental rights might also be terminated in certain circumstance. Child support could last longer if a child has special needs. Income and how much time each parent spends with the child are both factors in calculating child support. In some cases, it is possible to get child support modified if a parent has a significant change in circumstances, such as a change in income. This modification must be approved by a judge.

Dividing retirement accounts during a divorce

When people in Texas decide to divorce, they may face a difficult period not only on an emotional level, but also on financial and practical levels. Ending a marriage is also a complex legal process, especially when it is a high-asset divorce involving the division of extensive marital property. Retirement funds often comprise a married couple's largest assets. They can often exceed even the value of the marital home. In most cases, at least a large portion of a 401(k) or another retirement fund will generally be considered marital property.

There are some exceptions, however. For example, if the spouses signed a prenuptial agreement, taking their respective retirement accounts off the table, the divorce can proceed in light of the prenup. In Texas, a community property state, even accounts that were established before the marriage may consist of a mixture of community and separate property. While the 401(k) as a whole may not be subject to division, the amount by which it grew during the marriage almost always is. People in longer marriages can expect to share greater portions of their retirement funds with their former spouses.