Katie L. Lewis, P.C. Family Law
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Preventative measures to avoid financial regret after divorce

Texas residents may be surprised to learn that it can take about five years for an individual to recover financially after a divorce. There are some preventative measures that individuals can take in order to speed their recovery if they get a divorce in the future.

From the beginning of a marriage, it is important for each partner to be involved in the family's finances. Even if one partner pays the bills or makes investments, both individuals should be involved in making big financial decisions and should have access to bank accounts, retirement balances and tax returns. A report by Fidelity Investments revealed that around 80% of respondents who went through a divorce regretted the fact that they were not more involved in their family's financial affairs.

Proving that a parent is unfit to have custody of children

Divorces often unleash torrents of intense anger. Most divorcing parents in Texas attempt to shield their children from this tide of emotion, but occasionally one parent will accuse the other of being "unfit" to care for the couple's children. What is the exact legal meaning of an "unfit parent"? Is it relevant in a child custody dispute?

The term "unfit parent" usually calls forth an image of a physically abusive parent or one who is addicted to drugs or alcohol. In Texas, an unfit parent is generally a person who cannot or will not provide the child with emotional guidance or attend to the child's basic needs for food, clothing, shelter and medical care. If the parent's negligent conduct is deemed to constitute the crime of child neglect, the parent may be subject to incarceration and a possible fine. Even if no criminal charges have been made, a court may terminate the parental rights of the unfit parent. If both parents are unfit, the child may be looked after by a public agency until the child is adopted.

Spouses of Texas entrepreneurs may want postnuptial agreements

Before entrepreneurs marry, they and their future spouses may both be wise to seek legal counsel. A prenuptial agreement is an important option to consider.

After the wedding, the legal options and the emotional stakes change.

IVF creates complex child custody issues

Houston parents commonly use advanced medical techniques to conceive children. The most common technique is in vitro fertilization, or IVF, in which the father's semen is implanted in the mother's vagina during ovulation. Many couples have been able to conceive children using this technique and have been happy with the outcome, but unhappy results also occur. A married but separated couple in Lakeway, Texas is disputing the man's right to assert the rights of a father over a young child conceived using IVF.

The couple married in 2004 and separated in 2012. Before the separation, the couple conceived a daughter using IVF techniques. The girl is now seven years old. The wife filed a petition for divorce in 2013 but never followed up, and the couple is still legally married. After the separation, she began another IVF procedure using an anonymous sperm donor. She subsequently gave birth to a boy in 2015. In 2016, the woman's spouse filed court documents denying that he is the boy's father. The situation might have settled but for the existence of a Texas statute regarding presumed fatherhood.

Telling your spouse that you want a divorce

One of the most difficult conversations that a couple can have is about divorce. No one has figured how to make this conversation simple, easy or painless, but people who deal with divorce as professionals have developed some guidelines that work in Texas and most other states.

Once the decision is made to seek a divorce, be prepared to break the news to the other spouse. The conversation should take place at the right place and time, and with proper attention to the metal state of the other person. Understanding how they see the marriage, whether if they are blissfully ignorant of your wishes or likely share your view of its coming conclusion, will also be important. Avoiding moments when other events have been scheduled is paramount. Also, a place should be chosen that permits privacy.

Fair parenting plans are a must during the holidays

Whether you'll be a custodial or non-custodial parent, if you're navigating divorce as they 2019 holiday season unfolds, you might be feeling a bit anxious and concerned about your children. Like all good parents, you want them to enjoy this special time of year; however, you also want to make sure you protect your parental rights and ensure your ex fully adheres to the terms of the court order the judge overseeing your case will issue when he or she finalizes your divorce.

If you haven't yet written the terms of your co-parenting plan, you'll want to consider incorporating detailed instructions regarding the holidays, such as where your kids will spend each special holiday throughout the year, whether you and your ex will both be present for any special occasion, school event, etc., or whether you will trade off from one holiday to the next or one year to the next. Getting it all in writing can help avoid legal complications down the line.

Changing the terms of an order for divorce in Texas

Couples who take great pains to draft a detailed marital termination agreement in a divorce case can find that their post-divorce lives change in unexpected ways and that the divorce decree no longer fits one or both individual situations. This circumstance is especially common for divorced couples with minor children or jobs that require frequent travel.

Texas divorce law permits the divorcing parties to agree to modify the original divorce order by mutual agreement. If former spouses elect to follow this course, they must present their agreement to the court for review and approval. If the couple has minor children and one ex-spouse has decided to move to another state, the original order should be modified and approved by the court with specific reference to the children's residence. Failure to obtain the court's approval may invalidate the order if one spouse seeks to enforce it.

Using a real property appraiser in a divorce case

One of the most difficult issues in almost every divorce in Texas is "dividing" the house. How can this be done?

Most divorcing couples resolve this issue by either selling the house to a third party and splitting the net proceeds, or having one spouse purchase the interest of the other spouse and remain in the house.

Take steps now to protect your finances after divorce

You may think your finances are comfortable now, but if you are heading for divorce, you may also be heading for a whole new way of thinking about money. Divorce is one of the surest ways to wreck your finances, often because those going through the process do not understand the ramifications of dividing their incomes and assets in half.

Fortunately, in the time leading up to your divorce, you can take some steps to reduce the chances that you will struggle when you are single again. As distracted as you may be by the emotional issues involved in your marriage breakup, you may have to set those aside and focus on your future if you hope to remain financially stable in your post-divorce life.

Making a joint custody arrangement work well for the whole family

The end of a marriage does not represent the end of a parent's desire to provide his or her children with stability and security. Even when they no longer want to remain married, Texas parents still want to strive to make this transition as smooth and painless as possible for the children. One way that they may do this is by agreeing to a joint custody agreement. 

Parents often come to this agreement on their own, but many courts now prefer joint custody, as there are significant benefits for the children when they have regular and equitable access to both parents after divorce. Either way, you know that it will be important for the well-being of your family to make this type of arrangement run as smoothly as possible.