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Houston Business and Family Law Blog

Telling children about divorce

When same-sex couples decide to get a divorce in Texas, they may wonder how they will explain the situation to their children. There are a few things parents can do to help their kids as they communicate this kind of news.

Parents may find it helpful to schedule a time to tell their children about the divorce. The Huffington Post says this can help people make sure they will have enough time to discuss the subject with the kids. Children will likely have many questions, so it is important for parents to make sure they do not break the news if the whole family is about to leave for school and work. Scheduling a time can also help ensure that people can talk to their children at the same time. Some parents may find it helpful to discuss beforehand how they will handle this conversation so they can make sure it is a peaceful one.

Divorce: How do children feel about it?

Like all good parents, you spend a lot of time thinking about your children, being strategic about decisions that you know will affect their well-being. It's understandable that when you decided to divorce, you may have felt nervous about telling your kids. The good news is that children are highly adaptable and resilient by nature. With a strong support system in place, your kids should be fine.  

That's not to say you won't encounter challenges along the way as you help them come to terms with the situation and move on in life. It can be quite helpful to try to view things from your children's perspective. Learning more about how children think about divorce may help you avoid problems down the line. It is also good to know how to access family justice support

If you aren't careful, your prenup could fail you in a divorce

Perhaps you had to work up the courage to ask your future spouse to sign a prenuptial agreement. Now that you have, the two of you may be engaged in negotiations. You fully disclosed your financial affairs, identified separate property and made agreements regarding how you would divide marital property in a divorce.

You may be satisfied with the agreement the two of you reached and feel ready to move forward. But first, you may want to make sure nothing about your prenup could end up in a Texas court declaring it invalid if you end up needing it.

What is the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction?

If your foreign-born ex-spouse wants to take your child(ren) to his or her country of origin for a visit, you may fear that (s)he will not return them to you in Texas at the end of the visit. Unfortunately, parental abduction is a far too frequent occurrence and can pose a significant problem when parents abduct their child(ren) to a foreign country.

Should you face such a situation, you likely can get your child(ren) back in the most expeditious manner by applying for Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction assistance. As The Hague Conference on Private International Law explains, this international treaty signed by 98 countries, including the United States, provides not only that these countries will respect each other’s child custody laws, but also that they will cooperate with each other when an internationally abducted child needs to be returned to his or her “habitual residence,” i.e., the country in which (s)he resided prior to the abduction.

Ending alimony in cases of cohabitation

Of all of the issues that divorced couples in Houston have to deal with, alimony may be the most contentious. Perhaps the reason for this is the perception that an obligation to pay alimony is often punitive. While the contribution that one may have had in ending their marriage may be something considered when rewarding alimony, its general purpose is simply to support a financially disadvantaged divorcee until they are able to secure gainful employment. 

Information shared by CBS News shows that $9.6 billion was paid in alimony in the U.S. as recently as 2015. While those obliged to pay it may not have an issue helping their former spouses, concerns may indeed arise if it is believed that said former spouses are purposefully prolonging their eligibility for alimony, thus leaning credence to the perspective of it being a away to punish their exes. 

Protecting your retirement future during your divorce

Once you have settled on the decision to get divorced from your spouse in Texas, you are immediately faced with the often-arduous task of separating everything you have ever shared. This includes everything from financial accounts to family heirlooms. At Laura Dale & Associates, P.C., we have helped many couples through the legal process of dividing shared assets. 

One of the most important and potentially complicated assets that you and your spouse will need to split are any shared retirement accounts. Getting your fair share of the net worth is critical to your stability and preparation for the future. Being too hasty or not pushing enough for a fair settlement could ultimately affect your ability to live comfortably in the future. According to, some of the things that you can do to actively ensure the protection of your retirement assets include the following:

  • Immediately make modifications to who you have listed as beneficiaries on all legal documents. 
  • Understand how to properly label and disclose information about your distribution to notify the IRS. Doing so will eliminate costly penalties in the future. 
  • Be aware of the individual tax consequences on the various types of retirement accounts you may have. 
  • Try to remain flexible and willing to negotiate with your former spouse to give yourself the best chance at receiving a fair settlement. 

Are there factors that affect property division in Texas?

As you are negotiating property division in your divorce settlement in Texas, there are a number of things you may want to consider. Texas is a community property state, meaning that all marital property is divided equally in half between you and your spouse. Whether your divorce settlement is being created by a judge who is presiding over your case, or you are going through mediation to determine the terms of your own divorce settlement, there are some things you should be aware of.

Property that is received by either spouse as of January 1 of the year in which you file for divorce is considered marital and eligible for division. All property and assets that were accrued during the marriage is, of course, divisible in the divorce settlement. However, items that were given as inheritance or as a gift by a third-party to you or your spouse is considered separate and may stay with you or your spouse even after the settlement is finalized.

Divorce among an aging population

People who are entering into marriage may have every intention of staying married for life. However, even after 30 years of marriage, people are filing for divorce for different various, including irreconcilable differences. For some people, the marriage bond does not become stronger with time, but rather dissipates as couples change and gradually become independent of one another. The growing trend of gray divorce is used to explain why an increased number of people over the age of 50 are divorcing, even after years of marriage.

Some people in this age range have been married multiple times. Research shows that the likelihood of filing for divorce increases depending on whether the marriage is the first, second or third for the couple. Furthermore, major life changes can influence a couple’s choice to get a divorce as well. When children leave the home for school or during retirement, couples may find a decreased desire to spend time with one another after years of marriage. People go through major transformations during different parts of lives and in some cases, these changes leave people wanting more from their marriages. Rather than work on a broken relationship, a number of people find it best to leave the marriage and move on.

Planning for a custody hearing: What will the judge want to know?

With all the press that friendly co-parents get these days, you may feel like the courts no longer hear child custody cases except in extreme circumstances. But that's not true: Texas courts still hear plenty of child custody cases every year.

You may feel out of place if your custody matter doesn't follow what some people perceive as the "norm" these days. You may need to understand that every divorce is different, and you may not yet be in a place where you can sit down with your future ex-spouse to make important decisions about your kids. It may help to relieve some of your stress if you have at least some idea of what the court will want to know at the hearing.

New bill requires dental coverage for children

People who co-parent with one another to take care of their children as directed in a divorce decree usually find themselves paying child support and following a parenting plan. Often times, the parent responsible for paying child support has other added financial responsibilities, including paying half of child care expenses, educational fees and medical expenses. In 2015, the Texas legislature passed a bill involving these medical financial expenses. However, it is only now that these regulations are taking effect.

The bill requires parents who pay child support to provide dental insurance for their child in addition to traditional medical coverage. This will affect new cases that are brought to the court from this point on. Although people who have already have child support plans in place may still be eligible for the change, a case may not be brought to the court for modification for this reason alone. In order to have a case reviewed for modification, there must be a significant change in either parties’ incomes. Either party can ask for a modification, and the child support amount will be recalculated based on the new information.

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