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Frisco divorce lawyerGetting divorced in Texas changes a lot of things about family life. During the school year, the rigid schedules of school and extracurricular activities often prevent the option of flexibility - and the potential confusion and conflict that can come along with it. But during the summer, the changes that come with a divorce can become more obvious when children are out of school and both children and parents may have more time on their hands. 

If this is your first summer after a divorce, it is important to be prepared for a potentially challenging period. Even if with the best parenting plan, issues with visitation schedules (also known as possession and access schedules) can arise. Here are some tips for Collin County parents managing their first summer break after separation or divorce. 

Maintain Consistency

While the lack of regularity in your children’s schedules may make it tempting to be lax in your parenting agreement, experts say this is not a good idea, especially if you tend to experience a lot of conflict with your spouse. Try to keep a regular schedule and avoid situations that could expose the children to conflict or uncertainty. Consider placing a calendar in a visible location in your home so your children can see upcoming visitation dates and know what to expect. 

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Texas High Asset Divorce LawyerWhen two busy, ambitious people with successful careers and substantial asset ownership get divorced in Texas, special complications can arise due to the more valuable and complex nature of the assets. High net worth individuals, typically defined as owning liquid assets worth between one and five million dollars, generally have a more difficult time negotiating issues like child support, spousal support, and property division. Here are the ways that a high net worth divorce can affect these issues. 

Child Support

Generally, child support is determined using both parents’ net resources and how much time each parent spends with the children. For high-net-worth parents, net resources will include their income after taxes as well as bonuses, income from rental properties, capital gains, dividends, gifts, and more. While there is a cap on the amount of a parent’s net resources that can be considered when setting child support payments, a child’s actual expenses can make payments higher than the typical formula might suggest. 

Spousal Support

Spousal support is common in high net worth divorces because one spouse’s income often vastly exceeds the other spouse’s income, making the lesser-earning spouse financially dependent on the other for sustaining their lifestyle. Spouses can make a contractual agreement about spousal support payments, or a court can set it for them, but spousal support is not automatic and certain eligibility requirements may need to be met in order to qualify. 

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Frisco divorce lawyerDo-it-yourself projects are all the rage right now. Whether it is updating your home, training your new puppy, or even getting divorced, Texans love doing things themselves. Online software makes it possible to get divorced without the help of an attorney for around $500, making DIY divorces appealing to many people. However, as with all DIY projects, getting divorced by yourself is not a foolproof undertaking and mistakes can end up being very costly and difficult to resolve. If you are considering divorce in Collin County, Texas, here are a couple of things to keep in mind before you choose to do it yourself. 

You Could Save Money - But You Might Not 

The most common reason people seek a DIY divorce is that the expenses associated with hiring an attorney may seem overwhelming. However, it is important to note that divorce topics that initially seem simple can become quite complicated upon further investigation. Couples often end up needing to hire their own attorney when they realize negotiating issues like asset division and child custody is more difficult than they thought. If finances are a concern in your Texas divorce, keep in mind that you can often hire an attorney to provide services as needed. That way, you can handle the parts you are comfortable with and still get knowledgeable legal help for the rest. 

Your Divorce Could Go Faster - But an Attorney Is Likely the Fastest Option

Couples seeking a DIY divorce may also believe that filling out and filing paperwork themselves will save them time. However, legal paperwork must be filled out carefully and precisely. Small mistakes can require re-writing and, if you do not live close to a courthouse, you could miss additional time at work when you have to re-submit paperwork. Courthouse clerks are not allowed to provide legal advice, so when you have questions, it can take long, complicated research to ensure you have the answers you need. Alternatively, you could hire an attorney, who has experience in these issues, can answer complex questions right away, and can fill out the paperwork while you do other things. Even if your divorce is uncontested, having an attorney to ensure your agreement is fair and and likely to be approved by a court can save you from wasted trips to a courthouse. 

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Frisco military divorce attorneyDividing personal and marital property is a difficult part of almost any Texas divorce, but the addition of military benefits adds an extra layer of complexity. Both spouses want to ensure they are protecting themselves and there is a finite amount of financial resources, so some conflict about property division is inevitable. If you or your spouse are members of the armed services of the United States and you are pursuing divorce, be sure you have a Texas divorce attorney who understands the implications of military benefits on your property settlement. 

Texas is a Community Property State

Texas encourages spouses to reach a property agreement themselves using the community property guidelines, meaning that any assets acquired during the marriage are split as close to 50/50 as possible unless there is a good reason to do otherwise. Spouses can negotiate certain assets for others as they set their own financial priorities. 

The Uniformed Services Former Spouse Protection Act (USFSPA) is an act of Congress that allows states to divide military benefits according to their own divorce laws. This means military benefits can be considered community property and are divisible in a divorce. However, there are some limitations. 

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Collin County domestic violence lawyerDomestic violence is a serious matter and victims are offered protection under Texas law. While it can be difficult to take a stand against your abuser, Texas offers several protective orders that are intended to keep an abuser away from a victim, his or her children, or other family members.

Restraining orders are often mixed up with protective orders, and it is important to note that restraining orders only require one party not to contact the other. Protective orders, on the other hand, are more comprehensive and can require an abuser to stop engaging in abuse, threats, or stalking. Here is an overview of the protective orders available to Texans. If you or someone you love is suffering from domestic violence, consider getting the help of a Texas family law attorney right away. 

Order of Emergency Protection

Given in the most serious situations, a magistrate in a criminal court can approve an order of emergency protection when a victim of domestic violence, an arresting officer, a guardian, or a prosecutor requests it. Orders of emergency protection are issued after an alleged abuser commits sexual assault or other sexual abuse, human trafficking, indecent exposure, or stalking and has been arrested. 

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Frisco child custody attorneyAs marijuana use becomes more acceptable all over the U.S., it has increasingly become legal for recreational purposes in many states around Texas. This has made marijuana easy and inexpensive to get, and many parents may use marijuana without thinking twice about potential consequences for a child custody case. 

Unfortunately for Texans who enjoy THC, recreational marijuana is still illegal. If you are getting divorced or are trying to get custody of your children, using marijuana - even when you are not around them - can negatively impact your case. 

Marijuana and Texas Family Courts

When Texas judges are making decisions about which parent will have conservatorship of or possession and access to a child, they will consider the child’s best interests first and foremost. If a parent is using marijuana illegally, this could easily reflect poorly on a court’s perception of that parent. Even if a parent is using medical marijuana, allegations that marijuana or any other substance is used unsafely or irresponsible could negatively impact a judge’s willingness to see a child spend significant time with that parent. 

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Collin County child custody attorney Divorces with minor children and custody disputes in Texas can be emotionally charged and hard to resolve. Parents with the best intentions often find themselves locked in disagreement or vengefulness, and the best interests of a child may end up getting overlooked. 

In cases involving minor children, Texas courts may appoint a person called a “guardian ad litem.” While this may seem like a fancy Latin name, a guardian ad litem is simply a person who is in charge of finding out what would be in a child’s best interests. In this blog, we will discuss what a guardian ad litem is and what she does in a Texas divorce or custody dispute. 

What is a Guardian ad Litem? 

A guardian ad litem is an agent of a Texas family court. Her job is to act as a representative for a child and speak for the child’s interests when necessary. Guardians ad litem are often appointed in complex cases in which it may be difficult for a judge to determine a child’s best interests. Guardians ad litem are only involved during the court case and do not continue to represent a child forever. One parent or both parents may be ordered to pay for the cost of the guardian ad litem in their case. 

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shutterstock_556197010.jpgDuring the divorce process, a couple will need to divide multiple different types of marital property. In addition to physical property, spouses will also need to address ownership of financial accounts and other complex assets, including retirement accounts or pensions. When dividing retirement assets, spouses should use a qualified domestic relations order, or QDRO. Understanding the purpose of these types of orders and the benefits they provide will ensure that spouses can protect their financial interests during the divorce process and in the years to come.

Dividing Funds in Retirement Accounts

For employer-sponsored retirement accounts such as 401Ks, a person will have a certain amount deducted from their income before paying taxes. The money saved, which will grow through investments made by the plan holder, will usually remain in an account until a person reaches retirement age, and they will pay taxes when the funds are withdrawn. 

During their divorce, a couple may agree that some of the funds in a retirement account in one spouse’s name will be withdrawn and transferred to the other spouse. However, simply withdrawing the amount will result in penalties if the account holder has not yet reached retirement age, and taxes will apply to the withdrawal. To avoid this, the court may issue a QDRO that will specify the amount that should be withdrawn and transferred to the other spouse. When a QDRO is provided to the plan holder, penalties and taxes will not apply to withdrawals, and the other spouse can roll the funds over to their own account.

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shutterstock_1069590962.jpgMany spouses considering divorce have concerns about the financial ramifications of the split. Divorce can be costly, and divorce expenses can grow even more if you make financial mistakes along the way. Knowledge is power, and thankfully, when you know what to look out for, you can minimize the amount of money you spend in the process of getting a divorce

Not Realizing That Marital Debt Becomes a Shared Responsibility 

Many couples carry the weight of debt together. In many cases, two partners will come to an understanding about who is responsible for what percentage of the marital debt. However, when spouses decide to get a divorce, casual agreements do not always apply in the eyes of the law. 

For instance, imagine that you and your partner verbally agreed that you are responsible for 20% of the debt and your spouse will take care of the 80% remaining. Unfortunately, this type of agreement is not enforceable by the court. If your spouse fails to hold up his or her end of the bargain, creditors may come after you for payment. Paying off debt before the divorce is finalized can help mitigate this financial stressor.  

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denton asset division lawyerWhen a couple chooses to end their marriage and get a divorce, disputes related to property division can become complex and contentious. Spouses will be required to divide all of their marital assets and debts, and disagreements about how to do so can be difficult to resolve. However, matters can become even more complicated if one spouse is accused of hiding assets in an attempt to avoid sharing them with the other spouse. In Texas, this is known as “fraud on the community,” and a spouse who is accused of committing this form of fraud may face consequences.

Addressing Issues Related to Hidden Assets

Community property consists of all assets and debts that a couple acquired during their marriage. This property must be divided between the spouses in a manner that is fair, ensuring that each party will have the necessary financial resources going forward. However, there are a variety of ways that a spouse may attempt to conceal assets in hopes that they will not have to share them with the other spouse. Methods of doing so may include:

  • Physically hiding money or property - A spouse may conceal cash in certain locations, such as a safe in their home, a safety deposit box at a bank, or other hiding spots. They may also use marital funds to purchase valuable items such as artwork or jewelry and then undervalue these items during the divorce process.

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frisco paternity lawyerEvery child has two biological parents. However, there are some situations where a person may not be recognized as a child’s legal parent, and in these cases, paternity may need to be established through the legal system. Doing so will protect the rights of the parent and the child. Both parents will be able to maintain a relationship with their child and be involved in raising them, and the child will have the right to receive child support to ensure that their needs will be met. Paternity can also provide other benefits, such as making sure a child has access to family medical history and giving a child the right to receive an inheritance from their parent or qualify for certain types of benefits, such as Social Security. Parents will want to understand the procedures that can be followed to legally establish paternity.

Acknowledgment of Paternity and Court-Ordered Paternity

It is usually unnecessary to establish paternity when parents are married, since a mother’s spouse is presumed to be a child’s legal parent. In addition, a person will be presumed to be a child’s parent if they were formerly married to the child’s mother, and the child was born within 300 days after the couple’s marriage ended, including through a divorce, annulment, or death. A presumption of paternity will also apply if a person lived in the same home as the child during the first two years after the child was born and told others that they were the child’s parent.

In situations that do not meet the criteria described above, parents will need to take additional steps to establish paternity. The simplest and easiest way to do so is through an acknowledgment of paternity (AOP). This is a legal document that both parents will complete and sign. If necessary, an AOP may state that the child’s presumed father is not the biological father. In these cases, the presumed father will also need to file a denial of paternity.

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Tips for Co-Parenting After Divorce

Posted on in Child Custody

Frisco child custody lawyerWhen a couple with children goes through a divorce, in most cases, they still must have some kind of relationship with each other as they co-parent their children together. Some parents are able to develop a routine that works for their family with little or no conflict at all. Unfortunately, many other parents experience difficulties as they try to work through residual acrimony left over from the divorce that often spills over into their co-parenting relationship.

Having a solid parenting pan in place can help reduce these conflicts and make everyone’s lives – especially the children’s – so much less stressful. The following are some co-parenting tips that can also be helpful.

Promote Consistency

Although you and your ex-spouse are no longer married and parenting under the same roof, you both need to remain on the same page when it comes to how you deal with your children. Although not all rules will be the same at both parents’ homes, having consistency in bedtimes, activities, and allowed behaviors goes a long way in helping children adjust to their new life of having two homes and two routines.

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Frisco child support lawyerWhile there are many issues that may lead to contentious discussions between divorcing spouses, one of those issues that can often lead to long-term acrimony is child support. It is not uncommon for the parent who is paying the support to resent the money they have to turn over every month to their ex-spouse. Conversely, it is also not uncommon for the parent who is receiving the support to feel the amount of child support they are receiving does not come close to meeting the actual financial needs of raising children.

Although Texas family courts use a formula to determine which parent should pay support and how much that support should be, it is still important to provide the court with any evidence that could have an impact in the amount of support obligation the court orders. The following is a brief overview of certain types of evidence that may be required. Your Frisco child support attorney can provide more details of the type of factors that could apply in your particular case.

Required Information

At the start of your child support case, and usually at every hearing during the process, you and the other parent will be required to file a financial affidavit with the court. It is imperative that all information on the affidavit is correct and true because it is submitted to the court under the penalty of perjury.

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The Tragic Reality of Domestic Violence

Posted on in Family Law

Frisco domestic violence attorneyOctober is designated as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The campaign was established in 1987 as a way to raise awareness about domestic violence issues. Despite more than three decades of work by countless organizations and advocates, domestic violence is still an underreported problem, occurring to millions of victims across the country from every walk of life and every socio-economic background.

Intimate Partner Violence

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) uses the term intimate partner violence (IPV) to describe physical, psychological, or sexual harm that is inflicted on a spouse or partner. National statistics show that about one in three women will experience IPV in their lifetimes. Although women are the majority of domestic violence victims, it is not just women who are abused. Men and women both experience it in hetero and same-sex marriages and partnerships. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCDAV), about 20 people per minute are victims of IPV every minute in the U.S. This comes out to more than 10 million women and men each year.

Other alarming statistics provided by the NCDAV include:

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Frisco divorce lawyerSeveral months ago, Bill and Melinda Gates announced that they were divorcing after almost 30 years of marriage. While many in the media and public voiced their surprise that the couple were splitting up after so many years, divorce among older couples – sometimes referred to as “gray divorce”  – is becoming quite common. Research shows that one in four people who file for divorce in the U.S. are over the age of 50 and more than half of those divorces involve marriages that had endured for at least two decades. 

While every divorce has similar issues to work through, there are some issues that are unique to older couples that younger couples usually do not have to consider when they split up. These issues – if not properly addressed – can leave a person unprepared for life after divorce. Having a Frisco divorce attorney protecting your interests can make a significant difference in how prepared you are.

Pensions and Other Benefits

One important issue that couples going through a divorce have to consider is how their pensions and other retirement accounts will be divided. Any retirement accounts and pensions will be divided using a court-issued Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). However, one issue that an older couple may face when dividing these accounts that a younger divorcing couple does not is that their retirement date is not that far away, and they may find themselves facing financial hardships they are unprepared for. If a spouse’s retirement account is suddenly 50 percent less than what they had planned on for retirement because their ex received the other half in the divorce settlement, that reduction can have a consequential effect on the quality of retirement life they will experience.

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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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Can I Get Alimony in My Texas Divorce?

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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