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Houston Divorce And Family Law Blog

What is the Children’s Bill of Rights?

In a divorce situation, it is often the children who suffer the most. They love both of their parents and are left feeling as if they need to choose between them. However, this is not the way things have to be. It is possible for you to make a Texas divorce easier on your children by simply considering their rights.

The idea of allotting children rights to control their environment and living situation is something that has been talked about in Congress, according to First Focus, but there is no current recognition of these rights currently. This should not stop you from considering your children’s rights in a divorce, so you can avoid hurting them or causing them stress.

How can I prepare myself financially for divorce?

If you are thinking about serving your spouse with divorce papers anytime soon, you may want to hold off on that decision for a bit. Texas divorces are not cheap. If you do not take the time to plan properly, your separation could leave you wounded and at a financial disadvantage. No matter how agreeable you and your partner may seem now, things can get ugly fast. Your divorce may even take longer to finalize. 

Take some time to prepare yourself emotionally and financially so you can weather the storm during your divorce. 

How does Texas split retirement accounts during divorce?

For many couples, asset division is the most contentious aspect of divorce other than child custody. It's relatively common for one spouse to try to hide assets to avoid sharing fairly. It's also common for one or both spouses to fight for more than a fair share of marital assets. Certain assets, like retirement accounts, are often held in only one person's name. That doesn't mean that those assets aren't still meant to be equitably divided during a divorce.

Texas is a community property state. Unless you and your spouse agree on asset division before you go to court, the courts will attempt to split the assets evenly. A variety of factors, including child custody, earning potential, physical or mental disabilities and if your divorce was fault-based, could impact the division of your assets. Typically, only assets acquired during the marriage get split. When it comes to complex financial assets, like retirement accounts, that practice can make the division process a little more complicated for everyone involved.

Make the most of your summer visit with a noncustodial child

If you are among the many noncustodial parents across Texas who are looking forward to some quality time with noncustodial children this summer, you may have some trepidation about how your upcoming visit may go. At Fabio & Merrill, we have helped numerous clients navigate the complexities of child custody and custodial relationships, and we can offer an informed, experienced perspective that may help you do the same.

If you live far away from your child, these summer visits may be your best opportunity to spend any significant amount of quality time together, so it makes sense that you want to do everything in your power to make the most of it. To do so, though, Huffington Post notes that you may find it useful to modify your idea of “quality time.” Many noncustodial parents try and “make up for lost time” by taking pricy vacations or day trips, or by showering their children with gifts. In most cases, though, your child just wants to get to know you better and take part in activities that enable him or her to do so.

Estimating a home’s worth pending a divorce

For many Texas couples, divorce is a realistic solution to resolving marital conflict and reinstating a measure of tolerability in the relationship. However, divorce proceedings can be challenging and at times confusing when dealing with decisions regarding property division for example.

Often, a couple’s most highly valued asset is the joint ownership of their home or other property. The Huffington Post suggests three ways in which divorcing couples can accurately assess the value of their home without allowing personal opinions to create subjective evaluations. These include the following:

  • Comparative market analysis: More commonly known as CMA, this method involves utilizing statistics of surrounding properties to make a likely assumption about the value of one’s own property. While not completely accurate, a realtor can assist a couple in comparing their home with similar models in their area to assess potential sale value.
  • Personal research: If a couple feels comfortable sitting down together, they can do their own research to identify a likely estimate of how much their property is worth. They may even choose to do their own individual research and then discuss the results with a mediator.
  • Home appraisal: Perhaps the most effective and factual, the third and final way for a couple to estimate their home’s worth is to receive an appraisal from a reputable company. With a factual description in writing, there are not any clauses left to personal discretion or interpretation.

What are grandparents’ rights?

As a proud Texas grandparent, you probably do everything you can to stay involved in the lives of your grandchildren. However, situations occur where the children’s parents may keep them from you and not allow you to visit with them or be involved in their lives. In a situation like this, you should inquire about grandparents’ rights.

Grandparents’ rights vary from state to state, according to the American Grandparents Association. Understanding your rights means understanding Texas law. Some states have lenient laws where courts can step in if it is believed the children will benefit from a relationship with the grandparents. Texas is actually a bit stricter in its laws.

What does community property mean?

Texas is one of only a handful of states that follow community property laws when it comes to dividing assets in divorce cases. If you are getting a divorce in this state, it is important to understand what this means so you know what to expect when you get into court. As the Huffington Post explains, community property is the idea that all property you and your spouse owns belongs to you equally.

When you go to court for your divorce, the court will simply look over your assets and divide them equally between you and your spouse. There will be no weighing of other factors, such as who may have legal ownership rights or fairness. For example, if you are currently living in your home and driving the family car, the court will not look at those facts when determining who gets the house and the car. You may very well lose whatever you currently have because of the community property law.

Modifying child support in Texas

If you currently pay or receive child support in Texas, there may come a time when you need to attempt to modify the amount of support given or received. There are certain guidelines that dictate the circumstances under which you may do so, and the decision will ultimately be made either through a court hearing or a child support review process. At Fabio & Merrill, we assist clients as they navigate these and other complex family law matters, and we have a firm understanding of the processes involved in modifying child support.

For the amount of child support you give or receive to change, per the Texas Attorney General, one of two specific circumstances must apply.  You may be able to request a modification of child support if at least three years have gone by since the last time the amount of child support given or received was issued or modified. To do so, the amount dictated by child support guidelines must differ by more than $100 or 20 percent of what is currently paid in support each month.

What are common mistakes couples make in a divorce?

If you are getting a divorce in Texas, chances are good that you hope everything will go quickly and smoothly. However, this does not always happen. Sometimes divorces get messy and can take a long time to finalize. Typically, though, trouble only happens when you make mistakes. You can learn from others. Knowing the common mistakes made can prepare you to avoid them during your own divorce proceedings.

USA Today reports that many couples make the mistake upfront in how they approach the divorce. You should try to put emotions aside. Do not focus on revenge. This is a huge mistake because it will create an atmosphere that is not conductive to proper negotiation, which is essential to reach a fair settlement. In addition, be careful about letting sentimental feelings erode your choices. A main point where this occurs is when it comes to the family home. You may really want to keep your house, but it may simply not be the best idea financially speaking.

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