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Dallas Family Law Blog

People should consider a prenuptial agreement

Couples getting married in Texas should explore the possibility of a prenuptial agreement and how it can help them. While these agreements may not be the right thing for everyone, they can provide valuable protection for people entering a marriage under certain circumstances. Although one may not want to enter a marriage planning ahead for its possible dissolution, it is sensible and can help protect one or both of the spouses.

Certainly, those who go into a marriage with significant assets need the protection that a prenuptial agreement can offer them. This includes people who either have a business or plan on starting one. Prenuptial agreements will help if they have their own money or their family has significant assets.

What older people should know about divorce

According to Pew research, the divorce rate for those 50 and older has doubled since 1990. In many cases, Texas residents who are ending their marriages will have an attorney to help them navigate the process of doing so. However, it may also be a good idea to have a financial adviser on a divorce team as well. A financial adviser will likely be able to help with potential challenges arising from the passage of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Job Act, or TCJA.

For instance, it is important to understand how alimony rules have changed since the TCJA came into existence. Alimony payments are no longer considered income to the recipient, and these payments are no longer a tax write-off for the individuals making them. However, any money that is distributed to an individual through a retirement plan could be taxable to the recipient. It is possible that the payee will insist that funds come from a retirement account instead of a personal account.

How to choose between settlement and litigation in divorce

When people in Texas are going through a divorce, they might try to negotiate an agreement for child custody or property division. However, they may be unable to reach an agreement, or one spouse might simply be uncooperative. It could be necessary to decide whether to settle or to continue on to negotiation.

If time is a factor, settling may be the best option. Litigation can take months, a year or even longer. First, there is the time to prepare, and then there is setting the court date, which is usually several months out. People should also consider the potential cost of litigation. Settling is almost always cheaper while litigation can run higher than $10,000 or even $100,000 in some cases.

Coparenting schedules that suit children and parents

Texas parents who are getting a divorce and who are trying to work out a plan in which their children spend roughly half their time with each parent might think it will be easiest to simply have the children spend alternating weeks with each of them. However, for children younger than 12, this arrangement could induce separation anxiety. A week can feel like a long time for young children.

Alternating weeks may be difficult for one or both parents as well. It could be hard for them to rearrange their schedule every other week to get the child to and from school or to arrange child care every other week. One alternative is a 2-2-3 approach in which the child spends two days with one parent, two with the other and then goes back to the first for three days. The following week, the parents switch. Parents can also do a kind of switch with a 3-4-4-3 schedule to keep the days equal.

Older couples are divorcing at an increasing rate

In Texas and elsewhere in the United States, couples over the age of 50 are getting divorced at an increasingly higher rate. More specifically, there were twice as many 'gray divorces" in 2010 as there were in 1990, according to one study.

One reason why couples may be getting divorced at an older age is that life expectancy has improved over the years, which means couples can now expect to be together for longer. Individuals who are in or nearing retirement may realize that they do not want to spend their golden years in a lackluster marriage, and they may also find it easier to get divorced once their children have grown and left the home. Older couples also find there is less social stigma now to walk away from a marriage, as compared to the time when they were first married.

Reasons women seek divorce at a higher rate than men

More than two-thirds of divorces are initiated by women according to a 2015 study by the American Sociological Association. Women in Texas may file for divorce from their husbands for a number of reasons, but the underlying theme of all those reasons is that marriage tends to hold fewer advantages for women compared to men.

For example, even working women continue to do more housework than their husbands; one study reports that just 20% of husbands do daily housework compared to 49% of wives. For some women, career advancement can also strain the marriage. A 2019 study found that many men reported feeling distressed when their wives began making more money than them. Women who find that they are doing more than their share of the home and child care and who are also resented by their husbands for career success may decide they are better off unmarried.

Co-parenting your teenager doesn't have to be so hard

Parenting children of any age is challenging. However, divorced parents who are raising teenagers face some unique hurdles. Whether you have been co-parenting with your ex since your child was young or you are newly divorced, facing those challenges is much easier when you are well informed.

One of the biggest things to remember is that it is normal for your teen to start pushing boundaries. Part of being a teen is getting ready to be an adult. He or she might be more concerned about exploring newly found freedom than what your custody agreement says.

How good co-parenting can help children after a divorce

Divorce can be hard on children as well as their parents, but Texas parents can also conduct themselves in a way that eases the difficulty for their children. This mostly involves setting aside their own needs and emotions to focus on the child's well-being. Although they may no longer be able to get along as a couple, they can still try to co-parent effectively.

Children need to be able to continue loving both of their parents, and they need to be reassured that nothing they did caused the divorce. They also need to be able to talk to each parent about the other parent without worrying about what kind of a reaction they will get. Parents should listen neutrally and should try to make space for the child as they would if the child were talking about any other family member or friend.

Divorcing in 2020? Start preparing your finances now

Making the choice to end your marriage isn't easy. If you decided to move forward with this step in 2020, it is probably after months or even years of difficulty and marital strife. You know that this road ahead can be long and complicated, but you can start taking steps now to prepare your finances for the process. 

Divorce will bring inevitable financial changes to your life, no matter how wealthy you are or what type of assets you and your spouse share. The choices you make today will impact you well into the future, which is one reason why thinking ahead and planning well can help you avoid complications and issues in the future. Preparation will lay the foundation for a strong and stable post-divorce future.

Possible complications in splitting an IRA in divorce

When people in Texas get a divorce, they may have retirement accounts to divide. Certain types of retirement plans must be split using a document called a qualified domestic relations order. A marital separation agreement or divorce decree is necessary when splitting an IRA. While this is normally a straightforward process, if the person who owns the IRA has been taking 72(t) distributions, there might be complications.

People are not supposed to take distributions from an IRA until they reach the age of 59 1/2. There are a few exceptions in which it is permitted, such as distributions to pay for certain medical or educational expenses. However, if there is a modification to the account, there is a retroactive 10% penalty on the distributions. According to IRS regulations, splitting an account in a divorce appears to fit the definition of a modification.