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Houston Business and Family Law Blog

When is it possible to change an existing child support order?

Whether you were married or not, when you separated from the other parent of your child or children, a Texas court may have established an amount of child support that you would pay each month based on your and the other parent's financial situations.

That order may have made sense at the time, but we all know things change. If your circumstances no longer allow you to meet your current child support obligations, you may be wondering whether the court would entertain a request to adjust the amount you pay.

What should you know about property division?

It seems easier to join property than to separate it, don't you think? Most Texas couples who decide to tie the knot are likely excited about finally sharing the car, the house and the pets that go with it. They probably never dream of some day needing to split everything equally, just like it all was before they got married. 

Property division can be tricky. If you are needing to divide assets you once shared, there are some important things to understand before starting the process.

Will your divorce affect an inheritance you received?

Divorce is a process that involves complex feelings and disputes, including disputes over property. The end of a marriage can leave both parties at odds over things they may believe are rightfully theirs, and these disagreements can be costly, lengthy and stressful. You may have concerns about an inheritance you received over the course of your marriage.

An inheritance received while you were married could still be rightfully yours, but it is important to take steps to protect your interests and your property rights. Before you agree to the terms of your divorce order or make decisions that could impact your future, you would be prudent to seek guidance and an explanation of your rights.

Is your spouse using Bitcoin to hide assets?

If you and your spouse are a reasonably high-asset Texas couple contemplating divorce, both of you likely are concerned about how the court will divide your assets if you cannot reach a property settlement agreement on your own. Naturally each of you wants to retain the most assets possible, but you may suspect that your spouse is trying to hide assets so as to skew the division in his or her favor. Asset hiding has gone on for decades, but today’s technology makes it easier than ever to do. Are you familiar with Bitcoin?

BlockGeeks.com explains that Bitcoin is a “brand” of cryptocurrency that first appeared in 2008, making it the oldest and most popular on the market. Cryptocurrencies are virtual currencies, meaning that you cannot see or touch them because they are only computer files. Nevertheless, you can use them just like you do traditional currencies. You can buy and sell Bitcoins; you can invest in them; you can buy many goods and services with them. Scariest of all – or not, depending on your perspective – you can easily hide them.

New tax bill brings changes to spousal support

People who pay spousal support in Texas are accustomed to writing this expense off on their taxes. However, alimony may be one more expense that people cannot deduct during tax season.

According to CNN, a new tax code says that people will no longer be able to deduct alimony payments on their tax returns each year. Previously, spousal support was a deductible expense. While some people who have been divorced for many years may think that they will need to pay taxes on their alimony, this is not necessarily the case. This new tax bill is expected to affect only people who divorce after the end of 2018. In 2015, roughly 600,000 people deducted alimony when they filed their tax return.

What is the acceptance of benefits doctrine?

If you and your spouse are a Texas couple seeking a divorce, you may not know about the acceptance of benefits doctrine. It could, however, become an important aspect of your divorce and its aftermath.

As pointed out by the Texas Supreme Court in the 2017 case of Kramer v. Kastleman, the acceptance of benefits doctrine says that no litigant can treat a court judgment as both right and wrong. Consequently, if you accept the benefits of your property settlement agreement, you cannot later challenge it unless you can show special circumstances.

What happens if the non-custodial parent takes your child?

As a custodial parent, you have various rights and responsibilities. When the non-custodial parent is uncooperative with the terms of your custody and visitation arrangement, it can make things extremely complicated. This is especially true when there is the possibility of parental abduction.

Parental abduction means the non-custodial parent takes the child without permission or refuses to return the child after a designated visitation time. This is a serious legal matter, and you have the right to fight for the safe return of your child and the restoration of your parental rights. The law provides you with ways to get your child back after a parental abduction.

When bold spouses divide everything but the family business

Dividing a once-shared life is tough. Furniture, homes, vehicles and a multitude of other tangible goods have to split equally between the separating parties. But what happens when the two continue to share one significant asset - the family business? Texas couples should set themselves up for success as much as possible when first establishing a company.

FindLaw suggests either a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement because it allows spouses to predetermine what they consider shared property. Another option is separating personal assets from those of the business by forming a corporation or Limited Liability Company. With this setup, the spouses could maintain their personal property separate from the LLC's, in effect, deciding in advance what they would share and what they would keep separate.

If your ex-spouse is defying a divorce settlement

You would think that having a legal "settlement" in place would mean that the terms within it are settled. If you and your spouse haggled over the details of your divorce settlement, whether through mediation or litigation, you may have felt relieved to reach an agreement, receive a judge's stamp of approval and move forward.

Some divorced people find themselves in a situation where their exes fail or refuse to comply with the terms of the court-ordered settlement. You may be struggling to pay your bills without spousal support payments your ex is supposed to make, or perhaps you're always on the defensive with your children because of your spouse's defiance of child custody terms. These types of problems can be very stressful and demand action.

Seeking temporary orders ahead of your divorce

You and your spouse have decided to divorce. It may seem like your life has come to a halt while the rest of the world continues to turn. Your children still need your attention, and your bills still require payment. Meanwhile, you may not want to stay in the same house with your soon-to-be ex, so there may be extra living arrangements to consider.

It would be easy for these issues to add to the conflict and tension in your family. Many spouses find themselves grabbing for assets or claiming their territory in the face of a looming divorce. This is why Texas family courts make temporary orders for families in these types of troubling situations.

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