Dallas Divorce Law Blog

Providing consistent household rules after a divorce

Texas parents who are getting a divorce may need to decide on a consistent set of household rules if their children will be moving between their homes, but this can be challenging. However, it is important for children to have this stability in their lives. Parents may want to decide ahead of time whether there are certain issues, such as bedtimes or video games, that they will not budge on and other issues they can be more flexible about. This may help them work toward compromises.

Some parents will still find it impossible to reach an agreement in this way. However, there are resources that can help. A therapist, family law court or attorney may be able to recommend parenting classes. These classes avoid bias toward one or the other parent, but they may give examples that demonstrate parenting norms or emphasize how harmful it can be for children if rules are inconsistent. Another potential resource is a mediator. This is a neutral third party who helps parents resolve conflicts and reach a nonbinding agreement.

Who should pay for the back-to-school costs?

When parents in Texas are going through divorces, they may overlook some potential issues concerning who will be responsible for paying for their children's back-to-school supplies, clothing and other related expenses. The financial responsibility of paying for these items may depend on the parenting and custody arrangements that the parents have.

Buying all of the items for going back to school can be expensive, and the costs may lead to disputes between the parents. Generally, if one parent has primary custody and the other pays child support, the custodial parent should be responsible for paying for these costs. Child support should include enough money to pay for the ordinary costs of raising the children, including the back-to-school items.

Preparing an order to divide a TSP.

Retirement benefits accrued during the marriage by a spouse are subject to division when a Texas couple divorces. This can included amounts accrued by a federal employee in a Thrift Savings Plan.

The balance of a TSP can be used to offset assets received by the other spouse or a portion can go to the former spouse. If the former spouse is to receive a portion of a TSP, it must be identified in the divorce decree, property settlement agreement or other court document. Like other retirement plans, specific language must be used for the order dividing the TSP to be valid. Care must be taken in drafting the agreement to avoid unnecessary delays. For this reason, many people choose to retain an attorney for this purpose.

Estimating monthly child support payments

Making the finances work after a Texas parent files for divorce can be difficult. However, if the parent will have primary custody of the children, he or she could expect the other parent to be ordered to pay a certain amount of child support every month. Like all other states, Texas has child support calculator tools that the custodial parent can use to estimate what those payments will be.

In order to get a child support estimation, the custodial parent will need financial documentation. This should include both parents' monthly income, any tax benefits either parent receives and the amount of debt the former couple is responsible for paying. There are other factors that could have an impact on the monthly child support payments, such as how much time the child spends with each parent.

How to handle child support payment issues

If a divorced Texas parent who has been ordered to pay child support suffers a job loss or some other change in income, it may be necessary to ask for a modification. It is important to point out that any past due support generally cannot be reduced by a judge or discharged through bankruptcy. Therefore, it is important for a parent to ask for a modification as soon as a change in circumstances occurs.

Typically, a change in circumstances must be considered to be significant. Otherwise, a modification request may be denied, and a parent will still be responsible for paying support as currently ordered. Parents are urged to document any change in circumstance using recent pay records, medical records or other information that bolsters their claim.

How to divide a 401(k)

Texas couples who are getting a divorce may wonder whether they need to divide one person's 401(k) and how to go about doing that. It is not possible to transfer a 401(k) to another person, but the assets in a 401(k) can be transferred in certain circumstances. It is important that this is done correctly so that neither person has to pay taxes.

It is necessary to create a document known as a qualified domestic relations order in order to transfer a portion of the 401(k) to the spouse. Usually, it goes straight into the spouse's IRA.

The requirements for an alimony tax deduction

When Texas couples are ending their marriage, they should consider the possible tax consequences before executing a settlement agreement. A case decided in U.S. Tax Court illustrated the importance of documenting all spousal support payments within a legal agreement in order to receive a tax deduction for the expense.

The case involved a man who agreed to split with his wife a $250,000 bonus that he received in 2006 with his wife. He then filed for divorce in January of the following year, and he gave approximately half of the bonus money after tax withholding to his wife in May. They agreed in June that he would report the entire bonus amount on his tax return. Their marriage officially dissolved on Aug. 8, 2007, and the documents included a spousal support order that included various financial details but never referenced the bonus money.

How to prepare financially for a divorce

Texas couples who are ending their marriages may need to take stock of their financial situation and make plans for how they will handle those finances both during and after the divorce. It may be better to take advice from legal and financial professionals than from friends and acquaintances who have been through divorces before. Different situations may require different solutions.

People should look at their income, household expenses and debts, and gather financial documents. Tax returns, bank, credit card and investment statements, and pay stubs are among the documents that people should keep handy. Even if the divorce is amicable, people should be prepared for resistance from their spouse. It may be necessary to go through legal channels to compel a spouse to release financial information.

Same-sex couple granted divorce amidst intervening lawmakers

Texas couples considering divorce may be interested to learn that a Tennessee judge granted a divorce to a same-sex couple. The case had become a political issue after the judge had initially denied parental rights to one of the women as he argued that she did not meet the state's legal definition of "husband".

Throughout the divorce, lawmakers had been attempting to intervene by filing court papers. They were represented by the Family Action Council of Tennessee, a group that supports only marriages between one man and one woman. In fact, lawmakers were pushing a bill through the state legislature that encouraged judges to deny certain rights to same-sex couples, especially when the judges were defining legal terms like "husband" and "wife".

Mistakes parents can make during custody disputes

When Texas parents are attempting to resolve a child custody dispute, emotions can get in the way. In some cases, they can even cause them who have not been able to amicably come to a resolution make mistakes. These mistakes do have the potential to have an impact on how a court will resolve a custody dispute.

Divorced arents should avoid making the custody dispute about how the other parent failed them. While their substandard ability to be a helpful partner during the marriage could potentially be an indication of their ability to parent the children on their own, this is not always the case. Further, the judge may view the parent in a negative light if they believe that the parent will be unable to or unwilling to collaborate with their ex if they are given joint custody.