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Dallas Divorce Law Blog

Formal and informal negotiations about child support

When a Texas couple ends their marriage, one parent may be required to pay child support to the other. However, parents may participate in the decision regarding this child support rather than simply going through litigation and having a judge decide. Parents will need to decide the amount, duration and frequency of the support, and the arrangement must be one that is compatible with state laws. A judge will review the parents' written agreement and may hold an informal hearing to make sure both parents understand the terms of the agreement and that it was negotiated fairly. The agreement will then be made legally binding.

More formal methods of reaching a child support agreement may involve alternative dispute resolution processes. In mediation or a collaborative divorce, parents and their attorneys try to work out conflict and reach an agreement that suits all parties. Arbitration involves bringing in a neutral person who listens to both sides and makes a decision. However, parents may not have to follow the decision, or certain points might be renegotiated later in court.

How nesting may help children adjust to joint custody

Texas parents who are getting a divorce may be interested in sharing custody of their children, but they might also be concerned about how moving back and forth between households could affect their children's stability. One solution might be nesting. This is an arrangement in which the children stay in the family home and the parents take turns living there.

This can have several advantages over traditional joint custody situations. Moving back and forth between two homes can result in a lack of stability for children. Nesting may give children time to adjust in a familiar environment.

Can politics end a marriage?

Marriages end for many reasons, but Texas residents might be surprised to learn that politics can be a factor. According to a study from Wakefield Research, more relationships are coming to an end over political disagreements since President Trump's election.

The report was part of the company's continuing research into the trending topics of conversation and how these topics impact relationships. The data revealed that one in 10 couples dissolved their relationships over political disagreements, and that for the millennial group, the percentage was significantly higher, at 22 percent. Even if the relationship didn't end, President Trump's election has negatively impacted relationships, with 24 percent of the people surveyed to compile the data admitted that politics had been a source of discord within their relationships since he took office.

Virtual visitation after divorce

Divorced Texas parents may have some kind of virtual visitation agreement in place that allows the noncustodial parent to communicate with their child using text, phone calls or video calls. This may be especially useful if the noncustodial parent lives far away, but in some cases, custodial parents might wonder if they can cut back on or block this kind of contact.

In general, courts encourage contact between parents and children. Therefore, a court is unlikely to grant a change in this agreement unless abuse or harassment is taking place. Parents might be able to negotiate a strict schedule of when communication will occur with the assistance of their respective attorneys. If harassment is occurring, parents should document it because this may help build a case for changing or ending contact.

Reasons for a child custody modification

There are several reasons that a Texas divorced parent might need to go to court to request a child custody order modification. A court will tend to believe that a child does best in a stable situation and is unlikely to make changes for frivolous reasons, but there are a few situations in which a court may make a change.

If a parent believes a child is in immediate danger, the court may grant the modification. The court may consider whether domestic violence is a factor, whether the child is unwilling to return to the home and how immediate the danger is. A court may also approve a change in custody if one parent is moving far away based on that parent's reasons for moving, how the move might affect the visitation schedule and and the interruption to the child's life.

Financial advice is often beneficial during a divorce

When a divorce in Texas involves a couple with a retirement plan, the splitting of assets could create tax consequences. In addition to legal guidance, a person getting a divorce might want advice from a financial planner before agreeing to a property division agreement.

A class of planners known as certified divorce financial analysts help people understand the possible long-term consequences of financial decisions made during the divorce process. Consider the scenario in which a divorcing couple agrees that the ex-wife should get the home valued at $200,000 while the ex-husband should keep the 401(k) account that has $225,000. Although it appears that the husband is getting the better half of the deal, a CDFA could inform him about taxes and penalties that could result after the distribution of funds. For example, if he is younger than 59 and a half, a 10 percent penalty could be owed along with income taxes. This information might cause him to change his earlier decision.

Scarlett Johansson divorce raises child custody issues

Movie fans in Texas have seen actress Scarlett Johansson in many films, and now she has made her real-life drama public after filing for divorce. Her intention to end her two-year marriage to a man from France raises questions about custody for their two-year-old daughter. The law encourages both parents to have regular access to a child, but the celebrity lifestyle of the actress and the potential that the father might want to live with the child in France create barriers to the shared custody arrangements now favored by family courts.

Legal observers have noted that Johansson's filing for divorce stateside likely represents her desire to claim that the child is a resident of this country. By doing this, she might prevent a court in France from ruling on the custody matter. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act grants jurisdiction to the court in the place where a child has lived for the past six months, which in this case would be New York.

Why a Texas couple may want to draft a prenup

There are a number of misconceptions associated with prenuptial agreements. However, these agreements can help ensure an equitable outcome if a marriage fails. Even a lower income couple could benefit from setting up a prenup.

The reality is that prenuptial agreements are designed to ensure that people are able to hold onto assets that they bring into a marriage. Many people are now holding off on getting married until later in life. This means that the property spouses bring into a marriage is often much greater than it was in previous generations. With a prenuptial agreement, people are able to keep assets that they brought with them if a marriage ends.

The process of acknowledging paternity

Texas fathers may be more likely to acknowledge paternity if the mother is well-educated and affluent according to a study that looked at 5,427,689 births to unmarried women between 2009 and 2013. The study found that paternity was claimed at the hospital for nearly 70 percent of children of unmarried mothers. This means that each year roughly 750,000 children do not have a legal father named when they leave the hospital although it may be claimed at a later date.

If a mother is married, her husband will be placed on the birth certificate as the father. However, if the parents are not married, the father can sign an acknowledgement of paternity in order to be legally considered the father of the child. This will give the father parental rights, and it will also make him legally responsible for paying child support.

How Texas residents may be impacted by Obama regulation

In his final month in the White House, President Barack Obama issued several hundred regulations. One of them called on states to assess realistic child support payments on those who are poor or incarcerated. A 2006 federal study of nine states found that 70 percent of those who were behind on their child support made $10,000 or less per year.

Their child support obligations accounted for 83 percent of their total income. Those who are unable to pay their child support may find themselves in jail, and they may still find themselves unable to pay their debts when they get out. Ultimately, the regulation wanted to avoid incarceration cycles for poor parents. It states that courts cannot treat incarceration as voluntary unemployment, and it requires courts to use reported income and other evidence to establish child support payment amounts.