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Austin Family Law Blog

Communication tips for parents after a divorce

The decision to divorce is not an easy one. Often, emotions have been building up for months or even years, and it is easy for spouses to get stuck in the same arguments throughout the divorce process.

Harsh disputes during and after divorce can be incredibly stressful, especially for families with children. And conflicts that continue after divorce can make co-parenting a serious challenge. However, these essential guidelines can help divorcing parents communicate productively and avoid disputes.

Divorce requires disentangling joint financial obligations

Many Texas individuals will agree that in addition to the emotional upheaval of legally ending a marriage, separating couples must also face various practical issues for which important decisions must be made. Most people know about the need to discuss topics during the divorce process such as living arrangements, financial obligations and child custody. However, sometimes, divorcing individuals do not think to consider how the divorce will impact their credit. Those who fail to do so can suffer from a negative effect on their credit score, so it is important to know what can be done now to avoid a financial mess later.

A person's marital status in itself will not hurt his or her credit. However, divorcing couples who have joint debt or accounts could experience financial complications, including unwanted debt, if they do not put in the work to disentangle themselves from such joint obligations during the divorce process. Courts issue a divorce decree which specifically states division of marital debts and assets, including who is responsible for each debt payment. Unfortunately, creditors will not honor a divorce decree, meaning if the spouse deemed responsible for a particular debt fails to make payments, both parties will suffer consequences in their credit scores. As well, it is important to know that if a divorced couple has a joint credit card and a disgruntled ex-spouse uses it to make multiple charges, the other party is equally responsible for the debt.

What is considered an asset during the divorce process?

Once a Texas couple has decided to begin the process of dissolving their union, they know they will likely face many challenging moments before they are legally divorced. Many people find their greatest challenge in negotiating the financial aspects of divorce. As part of this process, typically, the separating couple will be asked to produce a list of assets. While most individuals will easily remember to include marital property, bank accounts, automobiles and the like, many may overlook less obvious assets, some of which hold monetary value and others with sentimental value.

Some divorcing individuals may not immediately remember such monetary assets as timeshares, potential lottery winnings and frequent flier miles. Even if the separating couple used a timeshare property only occasionally, like any other marital property, it will require valuation and retitling while the involved parties are determining how to divide their community assets. Some couples purchase a ticket for a raffle or lottery several months in advance, not anticipating their separation. They are smart to have a plan in place in case the draw happens during the divorce process, and they hold a winning ticket together. As well, many couples hold joint credit cards with accumulated frequent flyer miles or reward points, and they must decide how these will be divided.

Texas Children's Bill of Rights

If you're involved in a divorce or custody case, you've likely heard the phrase "best interest of the child". Best interest refers to keeping the needs of a child front and center during a court proceeding to create and encourage the best possible outcome for that child or children.

The state of Texas has taken the concept of "best interest" seriously and outlined certain rights for children in a "Children's Bill of Rights."

How is a family business divided in a divorce?

When a married couple decides to part ways, they likely know they will now face many decisions about finances, children, division of assets and potentially many other issues. Many divorcing people find this time very stressful. For most Texas divorcing couples, property division is a significant source of stress during the divorce process, and those who own a family business may find negotiations in this area particularly challenging.

Before deciding what to do with the business, the divorcing couple should seek a formal appraisal from an unbiased third party. Next, they will need to decide how to divide the business equitably, and typically, they will have three options. Most commonly, one spouse will continue to run the business and will buy out the other spouse's interest in it, based on the appraised value, and in this case, the direct purchase of shares is typically a nontaxable event. In some cases, both individuals will continue to run the business together. For obvious reasons, many divorcing couples do not choose this option since they may find working together amicably a bit challenging.

How does gray divorce affect retirement plans?

There was a time when most couples married in their 20s, and if a couple separated, typically, they were still relatively young. However, over the last few decades, the trend has changed. According to research, the rate of divorce among adults aged 50 and older has more than doubled since 1990. This trend, called "gray divorce," comes with its own set of potential challenges, as the parties involved are likely preparing for retirement or already retired. Experts offer the following advice to help Texas couples in this position deal with such challenges.

Divorcing older individuals should begin with the basics, say the experts. People need to establish a solid baseline by completing a cash-flow analysis and then comparing cash flow during marriage with estimated amounts post-divorce. If a divorcing person is not yet retired, he or she should then revise the retirement plan accordingly; this includes recalculating regular savings goals. As well, divorcing couples, especially if they are closer to retirement, must decide how they will divide existing retirement assets.

Does a parent have to show how they spend child support?

One aspect of divorce that will be new for many parents is either providing or receiving a child support payment. If you are paying child support, it can be a difficult adjustment. You go from being able to closely monitor how you financially take care of your children to providing a monthly payment with no understanding of how the money is being spent.

For some, sending a monthly check to an ex-spouse can be frustrating. This is especially true if there is no oversight or monthly breakdown on how the money was used. This causes many parents to ask if there is anything they can do to ensure that their money is used in the way it is intended.

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