Dallas Divorce Law Blog

Splitting student loan debt when a marriage ends

If debts are acquired before a person gets married, those debts are generally considered to be separate property. However, if debts are acquired after a marriage, both parties to the relationship could be responsible for paying some or all of those balances. In Texas, debts are considered community property, which means that they are divided equally in a divorce. Therefore, if one spouse takes out a student loan after the marriage is official, the other may be responsible for helping to pay it off.

In most other states, courts will look at a variety of factors in determining how to handle student loan debt. If the other spouse took care of the house or otherwise made it easier for the other to focus on school, he or she may not be liable for any future payments. The same could be true of those who don't make a lot of money or who didn't work while their spouse was in school.

3 concepts about child custody disputes in Texas

The stress of divorce can overwhelm even the strongest person. When a marriage ends, splitting properties, retirement accounts and perhaps even a business can place strain on an already stretched relationship.

When child custody is part of the mix, emotions can reach a fever pitch. Both parents may want to have the final say in decisions, and both may believe they know what is best. When divorcing with children in Texas, familiarize yourself with these three concepts so you may better understand the proceedings.

USDA pushing states to tie SNAP to child support

On May 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a memo urging Texas and other states to take better advantage of available child support cooperation requirements to help custodial parents receive the child support payments they are due. The USDA wants states to begin requiring that parents enter into child support agreements to qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, benefits.

SNAP currently helps almost 40 million Americans pay for food, and many of those beneficiaries are single parents. Statistics show that approximately 37% of children living in single-parent households live in poverty, which is a much higher poverty rate than that of children living with two parents. One of the reasons that kids with single parents are stuck in poverty is because non-custodial parents fail to provide enough child support. In 2015, less than 50% of low-income custodial parents had a child support agreement in place. However, 15 years ago, that number was around 60%.

Selling or keeping a business in a divorce

Dividing a company can be both emotionally and logistically difficult for business owners in Texas going through a divorce. Some couples may decide to keep running the family business instead of selling it. This may be because both partners are important for the company's success. While this situation works best if the separated couple can remain amicable, they could still run the company even if they do not get along well. They could change their roles in the company so that they reduce their involvement or contact with one another.

In some divorce situations, one ex will keep the business. However, this involves buying out the other spouse. The buyer will need to get an appraisal first. Not everyone will have the cash on hand to make the purchase, so a payment plan could be an option. However, this might be too onerous, and it also leaves the couple financially entwined for a longer period of time.

Income considerations for child and spousal support

When a couple gets divorced in Texas, one ex-spouse may be required to pay alimony and child support to the other. Both states and judges themselves differ on what factors they will consider when assigning the obligation amount, but income is always part of the calculation. This can involve more than simply looking at regular earnings.

For example, a court may also consider deferred compensation or signing bonuses when determining a parent's income. Lifestyle relative to income will also be taken into account. If the family appears to have a lifestyle that is above what would be expected given the income listed on tax returns, the court may look into the other potential means of support. Another consideration will be how to continue supporting children in this lifestyle.

Spouse surveillance in high asset Texas divorce

Thanks to dramatic portrayals of high asset divorces in media accounts or fictional film dramas, the public is aware that spouses are not above spying on each other. The larger the asset profile, the higher the probability that one or both spouses may engage in surveillance.

Along with high net worth marital estates, child custody is another motivation for spouse surveillance. The spying spouse may hope to catch the other being irresponsible during his or her time caring for a child.

Options for handling the marital residence upon divorce

One of the most valuable assets in a Texas marital estate may be the home. During the pendency of the divorce, spouses must decide what to do with their home and other assets. Unfortunately, making these decisions may be a source of frustration and contention.

It may be that one spouse is awarded the marital residence at the end of the divorce. The residence may also be sold, either by agreement or by order of the court. While either scenario may be beneficial and seem like a victory, there are other factors to consider before making final decisions.

Important documents in child custody disputes

Spouses in Texas may want to file for divorce if they are unable to get along. If spouses cannot agree on child-related issues such as custody and visitation, a contested court hearing may be necessary. Presenting documents as evidence may be persuasive to a judge.

A visitation schedule may be the most important document presented in a child custody proceeding. A visitation schedule, even one informally agreed to between the parties prior to a hearing, can demonstrate a continuous and meaningful relationship with a child. If a parent doesn't visit a child, this could indicate to a court that he or she is not invested in maintaining a close relationship.

Why you should not share a family business in a divorce

With many resources and assistance available, starting a business in this country has gotten easier. Recent studies share that family-owned operations make up about 19 percent of small businesses in the United States. Many of these organizations began as passionate collaborations between husband and wife. In the unfortunate event that the marriage falls apart, what happens to the business?

When both parties have equal investment in the future of the business, it can be difficult to agree on a settlement. If the breakup is amicable, you may be able to continue joint ownership with your ex-spouse. However, in most cases, it is better to sell the business or have one partner buy out the other. Here are three reasons why.

Business owners can benefit from advanced divorce planning

For business owners in Texas, divorce may be a particularly costly proposition. Beyond the immediate financial effects, entrepreneurs may face specific problems with the division or ongoing viability of their companies after a marital split. Because the repercussions can be severe, many business owners may want to develop a plan to help prevent the most serious consequences from befalling their businesses in the event of divorce. Indeed, many investors or other business partners may insist on divorce planning as part of taking an equity stake.

Business owners may be particularly well-placed to consider a prenuptial agreement or postnuptial contract. These agreements can reflect specific decisions about the future of the business in case of a divorce. Because entering into a "prenup" or "postnup" is a negotiation, both parties' interests should be represented. Indeed, in an effort to protect those interests, each party should be represented by legal counsel. These kinds of agreement may contain a number of provisions. For example, the agreement might spell out that the business is the separate property of the party who established it, especially if it was launched prior to the marriage.