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Frisco prenup attorneyPrenuptial agreements or “prenups” are legal contracts that engaged couples develop before they get married. For decades, many people assumed that prenuptial agreements were only for the rich or for couples who do not take their wedding vows seriously. Fortunately, these myths have largely been eradicated. Modern couples recognize the importance of planning for their financial futures using a prenuptial agreement and realize that prenups can benefit the marriage in a multitude of ways—even if the couple never divorces. Read on to learn about prenuptial agreements in Texas and what you can do if you are interested in creating a prenup.

What is the Purpose of a Prenuptial Agreement?

A prenuptial agreement or premarital agreement mainly deals with financial issues. The document can specify:

  • How property should be allocated when a spouse passes away

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Posted on in Divorce

Frisco divorce lawyerMost people think of divorce in terms of the personal or emotional implications. However, divorce can also bring about dramatic financial consequences – especially when a divorcing spouse is reliant on the other spouse’s income. If you are a stay-at-home mother or father, have a disability, or have otherwise not worked outside of the home in several years, you may be worried about supporting yourself after the divorce. You may wonder whether you qualify for alimony or spousal support. Read on to learn about alimony laws in Texas and what you can do if you wish to pursue alimony during your divorce.

Who Qualifies for Spousal Maintenance?

Alimony, called spousal maintenance in Texas law, can help a divorcing spouse cover necessary expenses until he or she is able to be financially self-supporting. However, spousal maintenance is not always awarded. In fact, Texas courts presume that spousal maintenance is not necessary unless the spouse requesting alimony can demonstrate a reasonable need for financial assistance.

To qualify for alimony in a Texas divorce, you must not have sufficient assets to provide for your basic needs on your own. Additionally, at least one of the following statements are true:

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Frisco divorce lawyerReaching the conclusion that a marriage is beyond saying is an emotionally-charged realization for any couple. However, spouses who own a family business such as a restaurant have an extra layer of difficulty. If you or your spouse own a restaurant or other business, you may be unsure of what will happen if you divorce. Will we split ownership of the business 50/50? Should we sell the business? Situations like this are difficult to figure out – legally, financially, and personally. Consequently, it is highly recommended that business owners seeking a divorce work with a skilled attorney.

Who Has a Right to the Business?

As with any property division concern, divorcing spouses may be able to negotiate an agreement about how to divide assets. However, if the issue is litigated, it is important to understand how Texas property division laws apply to family businesses. Texas courts follow “community property” rules when dividing assets in a divorce. Property that a spouse owned before getting married is separate property. Marital property, on the other hand, is jointly held by both spouses. Most property that a spouse acquires during the marriage is considered marital property. However, the identity of an asset as marital or separate can change. For example, a business that a spouse owned before getting married may become marital property if the other spouse spent time, money, or resources growing the business.

Valuing Your Family Restaurant in a Divorce  

Before you can have a meaningful conversation about what to do with a family restaurant during divorce, you need to know the restaurant’s value. A financial professional experienced in valuing family businesses can determine the best method for reaching an accurate value. Once you know what the restaurant is worth, you can decide how to proceed.

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Frisco CPS attorneyThe Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) is tasked with investigating allegations of child neglect and abuse in the Lonestar State. If you recently learned that you are being investigated by Child Protective Services for possible child neglect or abuse, you may understandably be shocked and concerned. You may also be unsure of how to handle the situation. To receive personalized guidance unique to your situation, contact a family law attorney with experience handling cases of alleged child neglect and abuse. Additionally, keep the following considerations in mind.

Understand What to Expect During the CPS Investigation  

In Texas, CPS investigations are typically completed within 30 days of the initial report. During the investigation, a caseworker may:

  • Interview your child – The caseworker may visit your child and ask him or her a series of questions. You have the right to be present during this interview if you so choose. However, if a parent denies a caseworker an interview with his or her child, the DFPS may obtain a court order allowing them to proceed with the interview against the parent’s wishes.
  • Interview you and the child’s other parent– The caseworker may also ask you and the child’s other parent or guardian questions. These questions may later be used during child custody proceedings or even criminal proceedings. A family law attorney can help you prepare for questions you will likely be asked during this interview. The caseworker may also interview other family members who are heavily involved in the child’s life.
  • Obtain records and documentation – The caseworker may ask for the child’s medical records, school reports, and other documentation.
  • Assess the child’s living environment – The caseworker may conduct a home visit during which he or she will assess whether your home is a suitable living environment for the child.

Remain Calm and Cooperative  

Many parents and guardians who are accused of child abuse or neglect are infuriated by the implication that they are neglectful or abusive. While this reaction is certainly understandable, it is important to remember that CPS is required to investigate any and all allegations of child abuse. Furthermore, being accused of abuse or neglect does not mean that you actually committed these acts. Assert your rights, but make sure to maintain a calm and non-threatening demeanor. Raising your voice or acting aggressively toward the investigator may be used as evidence against you and can severely damage your case.  

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Frisco family law attorneyDealing with a child custody dispute can be enormously stressful. After all, your child’s wellbeing could be on the line, and so, too, could your relationship with him or her. The conflict that’s present in one of these disputes can be exacerbated when one parent thinks that the other is intentionally trying to cut him or her out of the child’s life. In some instances, this could be considered parental alienation.

The Basics of Parental Alienation

In its most basic terms, parental alienation occurs when one parent actively manipulates a child in hopes of creating distance between that child and his or her other parent. Oftentimes this manipulation is aimed at obtaining a more restrictive child custody order that further cuts the other parent out of the child’s life.

What Does Parental Alienation Look Like?

The breadth and severity of parental alienation can be massive. It can be as simple as failing to keep the other parent apprised of the child’s activities and medical appointments, or it could be as severe as to program a child to believe that he or she was abused or neglected by the other parent. The latter is often achieved by creating false memories.

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There are many people living in Texas who are in the military. They provide a very valuable and honorable service to this country. In providing this service they make many sacrifices in their personal lives. They may be required to move to different bases in very different locations. They can also be deployed to other countries with relatively little notice. They also need to perform very difficult tasks under very difficult circumstances while they are deployed.

While they are deployed they are not able to bring their families with them and are forced to spend large amounts of time apart from family and loved ones. This can be very difficult for the servicemember and their family. It can also create a difficult situation for parents who are no longer with the other parent and have or need to have custody orders dictating when they will have their children in their care. These decisions are made based on the best interests of the children.

Factors military parents need to consider for custody

The fact that a parent is in the military does not mean that it is not in children’s best interest to be in their care, but due to the unique circumstances mentioned above, military parents need to consider those factors when developing parenting plans and custody arrangements. Parents will need to determine who will care for the children while they are gone. What will happen when they return from deployment, how they will communicate with the children during deployment and other factors.

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This blog has recently discussed the benefits of mediation and also debunking myths about mediation. It is also helpful to understand the value of divorce mediation in the context of the goals of mediation.

The goals for divorce mediation

The goals of divorce mediation include:

  • The creation of an equitably, legally sound and mutually acceptable divorce settlement agreement;
  • Avoiding the expense and trauma oftentimes associated with litigation; and
  • Minimizing hostility and post-divorce controversies

By achieving the goals for divorce mediation, the divorcing couple may not only reach a divorce settlement agreement that is favorable but may also enjoy the benefit of creating a framework and process for resolving future disputes that may come up. The mediation process uniquely positions the divorcing couple to achieve their divorce-related goals because of the unique nature of the process and its differences from divorce litigation.

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Posted on in Divorce

Divorce is a legal process that ends a marriage. It is often accomplished in the courts of Texas, but it can also be completed through alternative means. One of those means is mediation, and for some readers, the idea of divorce mediation may be completely new.

Mediation is a process that uses collaboration and cooperation to settle legal matters, as opposed to the adversarial process of divorcing in court. This post will address 3 myths that individuals may wrongly believe about mediation as a tool to achieve a divorce, but readers are reminded that this post does not offer legal advice. When a Texas resident has questions about divorce and their options, they can turn to a trusted Frisco family law attorney who works with both mediation and litigation divorce clients.

Myth #1: Can’t get a satisfactory outcome through mediation

It is a common myth that a divorce must involve fighting and high conflict. This is not true. Though some divorces happen in court and involve significant differences and dispute, others are worked out between the parties with limited involvement from others.

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Divorce mediation is a different way of handling the divorce process and is an alternative for divorcing couples to familiarize themselves with. Divorcing couples should understand the potential advantages of divorce mediation and how to prepare for the divorce mediation process.

Potential advantages of divorce mediation

The following are some advantages of mediation

  • Saves time and money: mediation means avoiding the formal divorce process which can be more costly and time consuming. Compared to litigating a divorce, mediating it can be a more efficient process for the divorcing couple.
  • The process is fair to everyone: mediation involves a third-party neutral who helps the divorcing couple resolve their divorce-related concerns. As an objective party, the mediator may be able to help the divorcing couple reach solutions they may not have otherwise considered.
  • The process is more private: mediation is not a public process and does not create a public record. For that reason, it can be more private which can be easier on the divorcing couple and any children from the marriage.

How to prepare for divorce mediation

To prepare for divorce mediation, the divorcing couple should:

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Child Protective Services in Texas is tasked with a big responsibility: keeping children safe. That’s why they’re required to investigate all allegations of abuse and neglect without much regard to the truthfulness of the initial claims. This can jeopardize your family integrity, which is why you need to be careful in how you interact with CPS and its employees. If you’re not, then your children could be taken from your care, which could have major implications for both your short- and long-term rights as a parent, as well as any outstanding custody cases you might have with your children’s other parent.

Things to consider when coming into contact with CPS

To successfully navigate your involvement with CPS, you need to keep a few things in mind. Let’s look at a few of them:

  • Your statements will be used against you: CPS cases oftentimes become child welfare cases where the State may try to present evidence against you in hopes of keeping a child out of your care and/or ensuring that the State can intervene in your life to provide you with certain services. Therefore, when interacting with CPS workers or law enforcement, try to keep your temperament in check and don’t be so quick to provide information. We know that coming into contact with the child welfare system can be stressful and nerve-wracking, but you don’t want to cause any self-inflicted harm to your family or your rights as a parent.
  • Know your rights: You have a lot of protections when it comes to involvement with CPS. For example, you children can’t be removed from your care without a court order or the assistance of law enforcement. Therefore, a CPS worker, on his or her own, can’t remove your children from your care. Also, CPS workers might ask you to provide a lot of information or even submit to a drug screen. During the investigation phase, you’re under no obligation to provide that information or submit to a drug screen. CPS also can’t interview your children without your consent or a court order. It’s helpful to be as cooperative as possible during these investigations, but, again, you don’t want to cause any avoidable harm to your family’s integrity.
  • You don’t have to navigate the process alone: The CPS and child welfare systems can seem confusing and stacked against you as a parent. The good news is that you don’t have to face the process alone. Instead, you can choose to obtain the assistance of an attorney who understands this area of the law and how to navigate with your parental rights in mind. This attorney can not only advocate for your best interests, but he or she can also serve as a buffer to a certain extent between you and CPS, which can make things a lot easier on your end.
  • CPS involvement can affect your custody case: Although CPS assessments and child welfare cases are separate from your divorce or paternity case, they can have major implications on pending custody matters. Therefore, you need to be cautious in your dealings with CPS and keep in mind the bigger picture of how your words and actions can affect your relationship with your child even after the State is out of your life.

Have experience on your side

Dealing with CPS and the juvenile courts is unlike any other part of the law. That’s why it’s helpful to have someone on your side who is experienced in navigating the system and can assist you in getting past whatever allegations you may be facing. One of these attorneys can help you not only work with CPS and the court as needed, but they can also help build the defense that you may end up needing to protect your rights as a parent and your children’s best interests.

Posted on in Divorce

When couples are preparing to divorce, each spouse may wonder how marital assets such as retirement funds will be divided. The way assets are split between the two spouses will depend on the type of retirement account the former couple has and the regulations associated with the account(s). It's important to know that not all retirement accounts are alike. If you live in Texas, here are some important things to know about receiving assets once your marriage is over.

Defined contributions

Defined contributions are retirement plans in which an employee contributes a set amount. The employer will likely match the employee's contributions to a certain amount. A 401(k) plan is the most common type of defined contribution account. A worker has a specific amount of their paycheck deducted and set aside into a retirement account. The employer matches the contribution to a certain point. The deduction for this account is pre-tax, which means the money comes from the worker's gross pay before taxes are taken out. Once the employee retires, the money is taxed when received. Account-holders are always aware of what is in their retirement account and what the funds are worth. If the account holder is involved in a divorce, the money from the retirement account generally must be split between the account holder and their former spouse.

IRAs

For an IRA, the funds are given to each party by way of a transfer after the divorce is final. For instance, if the account contains $200,000, the spouse who is not the retirement account holder will receive a portion of the funds transferred into a new IRA. The funds will not be taxed if they are transferred to an account that similar to the original one.

Filing for divorce in Texas is a challenging time for parents and their children. While you're trying to navigate through the divorce process, your child might have trouble concentrating on their schoolwork. How can you keep their grades from slipping when you have so much on your plate?

Tips on keeping your child focused on school

During the divorce process, school is one of the few things that give your child a sense of normalcy. Make sure you focus on your child's education just as much as you did before you filed for divorce. While it's easy to focus on other things, you should set expectations for your child and encourage them to keep up with their schoolwork. If you're not paying attention to them, they might give up on their grades altogether.

If possible, you should communicate with your former spouse to make sure that you have a consistent set of rules in both households. If you make your child do their homework but your former spouse doesn't, your child will probably start thinking that education isn't important. They might even want to spend more time with their other parent because they're the "fun" parent. You and your former spouse should set up a consistent schedule for your child to complete their homework and participate in after-school activities.

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Posted on in Divorce

Texas is a community property state, which means that all joint assets are generally divided on a 50/50 basis in a final divorce settlement. However, it is obvious that you won't literally get half of the family car after your marriage officially comes to an end. Let's take a look at the various ways that ownership of this asset may be determined.

Is there positive equity in the vehicle?

If there is positive equity in a family car, truck or van, a judge may order you to sell it. The proceeds from the sale would then be split equally between yourself and your former spouse. Alternatively, you may be able to take ownership of the vehicle by paying them what they would receive if the car were sold.

You could trade the car for another asset

Let's say that your former partner has an attachment to a vehicle that you have an ownership interest in. It may be possible to waive your right to that asset for something that you want more such as your favorite recliner, an art collection, or full ownership of a brokerage account.

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While a divorce can be a contentious affair, you can choose to end your marriage amicably. Instead of asking a Texas judge to craft a settlement, you and your spouse may be able to come to terms on who gets the house, custody of the pets or control of a joint bank account outside of court.

Do you communicate well with your spouse?

If you communicate well with your spouse, you may be able to agree to an amicable divorce settlement by engaging in informal talks. In some cases, you may be able to come to an agreement without the assistance of a mediator or other outside parties. However, you may want to consider working with a professional as he or she may be able to make sure that the talks remain cordial and focused on settling the divorce in a timely manner.

Compromise is key

As a general rule, the best settlements are the ones in which neither side gets everything that he or she wants. Ideally, you'll focus on obtaining what you need to maintain a reasonable lifestyle after the marriage ends. It can be easier to get what you need by giving your spouse what he or she needs to survive on his or her own. For example, you may be able to keep the marital home in exchange for letting your spouse have a sports memorabilia collection.

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Posted on in Divorce

Couples divorcing in Texas must divide a lot of their assets, and it can be a headache to deal with. However, the most important and often most difficult task is the division of parental responsibilities. In this part of the divorce, you're likely to go through a long process of deciding how co-parenting will work and if the other parent is even suitable to take care of children. Fortunately, many couples do find some sort of agreement, but that is not the end of the process. The following includes a few tips on co-parenting after a divorce.

Work as a team

Remember, they may be your former spouse, but they are still your children's father/mother. Positive and effective communication should remain in order to provide your child with the best life possible. Some items that require good communication include:

  • Educational choices
  • Medical decisions
  • Travel restrictions
  • Show empathy toward your children

You may not think that your children are old enough to understand the seriousness of divorce, but they do. Even if they do not understand what divorce is, they do understand that their routine has changed, and they no longer see mom and dad together. That is why it is so important to show empathy toward them and allow them to tell you how they feel and what they are worried about.

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The holiday season can be a stressful time for Texas parents who have recently divorced. Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to ensure that you and your former partner do what it takes to provide an enjoyable experience for your children.

Be prepared to compromise

There is a good chance that you might not be able to spend both Thanksgiving Day and Christmas morning with your child. Therefore, it may be a better idea to ask to spend either Thanksgiving Day or Christmas morning with your son or daughter when it comes time to create the holiday parenting plan. Ideally, the parenting plan will be created well in advance so that extended family members can include you in some or all of their festivities.

Focus on the events leading up to a holiday

You may be disappointed that you can't spend Christmas Day with your child. However, this doesn't mean that he or she can't come over to decorate the tree on a specific day or bake cookies for Santa before he makes his trip around the world. Furthermore, it's important to note that most kids don't really care when they get to open their presents. Therefore, you shouldn't feel like Christmas is ruined because your son or daughter opened a gift on the 18th or the 28th.

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Texas residents who have already experienced child custody issues know that these situations are difficult for everyone involved. The rules regarding child custody proceedings may present additional complications for military families.

In many ways, the procedures for handling family law issues like the creation of a custody agreement and disputing a custody order are the same for military personnel as for civilians. The goal in both situations is to make decisions that represent the best interests of all children involved.

Families that include one or more military parents must also consider the effect that a duty reassignment or deployment may have on their ability to co-parent a child. These changes in job status can happen quickly for military personnel and can include faraway travel. Military parents are aware of their unpredictable job situations and should account for them in any child custody agreement drafted.

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When a couple is married and one spouse is the primary earner, that spouse’s Social Security benefits are intended to help fund retirement for both people. A lot of older Texas couples are divorcing closer to their retirement years, but that does not remove Social Security benefits for one spouse. Instead, that spouse might be able to obtain benefits based on the other spouse’s lifetime earnings.

Half benefit available for longtime ex-spouses

When a marriage lasts for at least a decade and ends in divorce, the spouse who earned less among the two already met the first qualifier to obtain benefits. That is at least a decade of marriage prior to divorce. Age is another qualifier. The former spouse seeking benefits and the primary earner each must be at least 62 years of age or otherwise qualified to draw a Social Security benefit. When the ex-spouse seeking a benefit files based on a former spouse’s lifetime earnings, the ex-spouse could get a benefit equal to half the amount of the primary earner.

Disqualifiers prevent benefits claims

Even when a marriage lasted more than 10 years and all other conditions are met for a spousal benefit, a couple things would stop that from happening. One is if the ex-spouse has remarried. If so, the new marriage applies regarding Social Security benefits. If the ex-spouse worked and qualifies for a benefit that is larger could be obtained via the lifetime earnings of a former spouse, then the ex-spouse cannot claim the lower benefit amount.

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Like most other states, Texas law allows you to have an active role in your child's life after a divorce. You and your son or daughter's other parent may be allowed to create the terms of a parenting plan that will govern how your child is raised. Working in good faith to create this plan can help to show your son or daughter that meeting his or her needs is your top priority.

Make sure that the plan is reasonable

It is important that you can manage to transport your child to school, to the other parent's house and to extracurricular activities with relative ease. If your child is used to spending time with a babysitter, that person should remain a part of your son or daughter's life. Depending on how old your child is, it may be worthwhile to solicit his or her input when crafting a parenting plan.

Remember that your child's needs outweigh yours

When crafting a custody or visitation plan, you should always remember that your child's needs are more important than what you want. Therefore, you shouldn't insist on a particular arrangement just because it is convenient for you or because you want to win the negotiation. In most cases, your former partner is also making sacrifices for the good of your child whether you recognize them or not.

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Posted on in Divorce

When couples in Texas decide to get divorced, they are frequently focused on dividing their marital assets equally. To make sure that the property division is equal, divorcing spouses should consider the potential tax consequences. Some assets may be subject to higher taxes, which may make them worth less than taking other assets instead.

Taxes and different types of retirement accounts

Many divorcing couples have retirement accounts that will need to be divided. However, the types of retirement accounts need to be considered when deciding how to divide them. For example, if a couple has both a Roth and a traditional IRA that are equal in account values, choosing to let each spouse keep one might seem to be equal. However, Roth IRAs are funded with post-tax dollars while traditional IRAs are funded with pre-tax dollars. This means that the spouse who takes the Roth IRA will receive the account's full value at the time that distributions are taken while the person receiving the traditional IRA will have to pay taxes on the amounts that are withdrawn.

Child-related credits

Paying attention to child-related credits is also important. While the dependency exemption is currently suspended, it will return by 2026. This exemption allows the claiming parent to take a $4,000 exemption per child to reduce his or her taxable income. Parents should also think about other child-related credits, including the child care credit, the earned income credit and the additional child tax credit. Together, these credits can decrease the amount of taxes that a parent might be forced to pay and increase the amount of his or her income tax refund.

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