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Dallas Divorce Law Blog

Child support data

Many single parents in Texas receive child support payments to cover the expenses associated with raising a child. While there are some political analysts who say that too much child support is paid to single parents, the United States Census Bureau has collected child support statistics that show evidence to the contrary.

The latest "Custodial Mothers and Fathers and Their Child Support" report was issued by the Census Bureau in January 2016. The data in the report is intended to reveal a snapshot of the number of single parents who have an informal or formal child support order in place. The report also details how much money is owed and how much the parents actually receive.

How to prepare for being a custodial parent

There are many benefits to being a custodial parent in Texas or any other state. For example, this parent is generally involved in helping the kids with homework, providing advice and helping them to pursue their passions. A custodial parent will likely be more involved in some or all aspects of a child's life, even if the other parent does have visitation or other rights to that child.

Generally speaking, the person who the child spends the most time with is considered to be the custodial parent. However, time spent with a son or daughter doesn't automatically allow a parent to assume this role. Instead, parents must actually have to file for custody in a family court. An attorney may be able to provide assistance to a parent who isn't sure where they stand in terms of their legal relationship with a son or daughter.

Cheating generally won't influence child support payments

If a marriage ends because of infidelity, it's unlikely that the at-fault parent will be "punished" by having to pay more child support. In Texas and other states, child support amounts are determined largely by how much money a parent makes and how many children need to be supported. However, there are situations in which a court may impute income to a parent who is being supported by another person.

For instance, if a noncustodial parent is living with a boyfriend or girlfriend who pays their bills, a judge could take that into consideration. This is because the parent will have more disposable income to help support his or her children. Furthermore, a cheating spouse might feel guilty about committing actions that led to the divorce and separating the family. In such a scenario, the parent may be willing to pay more in support because of the guilt.

Divorce mediation can help to preserve privacy

Divorce is always a legal process that dissolves a marital relationship. However, some Texas couples may wish to avoid the expense and complications associated with extensive litigation. For these divorcing couples, divorce mediation can be an alternative to traditional litigation. It makes use of a third-party mediator, along with the lawyers of both spouses, to sort out key issues and arrive at a mutually acceptable and beneficial agreement. For divorces that involve child custody, mediation can often be court-ordered.

For many couples, however, divorce mediation is an affirmative choice. A divorce mediation can be used to plan a child custody schedule, reach an agreement about spousal support or determine the distribution of assets. For some couples with high-asset divorces, the escalated level of personal privacy for agreements reached through mediation may provide a particular appeal for the use of a mediator. The details of a settlement reached through mediation do not necessarily reach the public record, so matters like the amount of spousal support decided upon can be undisclosed.

Courts and child visitation schedules

A divorced parent in Texas might have custody of a child or visitation rights. Often, having visitation rights means being subject to a visitation schedule that was created by the parents or established in court.

A court may create a schedule when parents going through a divorce are in too much conflict to agree on one. If the parents live far apart and must travel to make visitation happen, a court-ordered schedule might also resolve the issue. Courts generally take the position that unless a parent endangers a child's well-being, children benefit from spending time with both parents. A parent who violates a visitation agreement could face a court penalty or only be allowed supervised visitation with their children.

Divorce and pitfalls in dividing retirement accounts

Texas couples who are getting a divorce and who need to split a 401(k) or another type of pension plan will need a court order called a qualified domestic relations order. This document, which should be prepared by an attorney and must be approved by the plan administrator, is necessary for making a distribution from these types of accounts without having to pay taxes or penalties.

If the retirement account is an IRA, there are also regulations that need to be followed, but they are less complicated. Banks or other financial institutions may have their own paperwork requirements, but as long as the assets are rolled into another IRA, the person will not be taxed.

Divorcing couples need to do financial homework

The Boy Scouts' motto, 'be prepared," is a phrase that also could be applied to older Texas couples who are contemplating a divorce. The closer Baby Boomers get to retirement, the more likely many of them are to get divorced since the divorce rate for the over-50 crowd is on the increase.

By the time they reach their 50s, many people have substantial retirement accounts built up. However, these assets could dissipate during a divorce settlement. The financial damage could be mitigated if spouses did their homework prior to filing for divorce.

Choosing where to live after a divorce

Deciding where to live during and after a divorce can be difficult. Many spouses in Texas and around the county negotiate tenaciously to remain in the family home while others plan to move away and buy a new house, and for some renting an apartment for a year or two makes the most sense. While emotions play a significant role when these decisions are made, there are also practical, financial and legal issues that divorcing spouses should not overlook.

Spouses who wish to remain in the homes they have lived in for many years will likely be asked to take out a new mortgage. This is because banks are unswayed by divorce property settlements and will pursue any individuals who signed a mortgage when payments fall into arrears. Homes acquired during a marriage are considered marital property, and spouses will generally have to offer other assets or cash in exchange for their husband or wife's share if they wish to obtain sole possession of them. People who take this path should also consider the costs of repairing and maintaining a large home.

The different aspects of child custody

When Texas parents get divorced, there may be a question as to who gets custody of the children. In some cases, there may also be a question as to what type of custody a parent has. In a child custody matter, a parent may receive either physical or legal custody. Physical custody means that the child primarily lives with that parent.

Legal custody means that a parent has the ability to make decisions about that child's welfare. In some cases, parents may have joint legal or physical custody, which means that they both get to participate in the process of raising their child. It is important to point out that joint physical custody doesn't necessarily mean an equal split. That may need to be worked out between the parents when creating a custody agreement or parenting plan.

Dividing art collections in a divorce

When some couples in Texas get a divorce, they might have artwork to divide. There have been several high-profile divorces in which artwork created conflict during property division. For example, in a divorce between a real estate developer and his wife, a trustee of the Guggenheim and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, artwork by Picasso, Warhol and others were among those in dispute. One issue was the appraisal of the art's value, which differed by hundreds of millions of dollars. Another was figuring out who had paid for the art.

In a case involving the son of the billionaire George Soros, a precedent was set in New York regarding the unreliability of invoices to show who had paid. Furthermore, it is significant whether the funds came from a joint account or a person's own account. Ownership may also be more difficult to determine if one or both people are artists or dealers since the personal and business accounts could be mingled.