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Recent Blog Posts

How retirement plans are divided in divorce

 Posted on December 15, 2016 in Divorce

If you and your spouse are getting divorced and either of you have retirement plans, you may be required to share a certain amount of these assets. Whether you are receiving or giving up funds, it is important to understand how asset division applies to retirement investments.

Handling these assets properly is crucial to ensure the correct party pays applicable taxes.

Retirement plans are community property

If you had a benefit plan prior to your marriage, it is your property up until the date of marriage and does not require division. All property that either spouse acquires during the marriage is considered community property. This includes investment plans and retirement savings. These can turn out to be the assets with most value in a divorce. Examples of retirement plans that apply to divorce include:

How to be a good co-parent when you work nontraditional hours

 Posted on December 12, 2016 in Child Custody

Co-parenting is often a delicate balance in the best of situations. However, when you work as a police officer, firefighter, nurse, doctor or journalist, it can get even trickier. Your hours are "odd," and they may also be unpredictable. Here are some ideas for co-parenting effectively when you find yourself in such a situation.

Provide as much consistency as possible

Your job may not allow for huge amounts of consistency like your ex's can, but you can still be consistent to an extent. For instance, perhaps you will always have one weekend a month off, no matter what, or you will usually call your child every night between 6 and 8. Phone calls, postal mail, gifts, extended visits and absolute times off are just a few of the areas in which you can be consistent; attending as many sports events and parent-teacher conferences as possible are other ways, and creativity helps. There is also internal consistency; that is, when your child is with you, he or she generally knows what to expect.

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Same-sex adoption in Texas

 Posted on November 10, 2016 in Child Custody

Many same-sex couples are looking to grow their families. Whether through adoption, artificial insemination or surrogacy, it is important to understand the legal requirements and to know what your options are. Here are a few things you should know and prepare for before you begin.

Can I adopt?

The answer is yes. However, it is important to understand the different types of adoption and the adoption laws in the state of Texas.

Can my spouse and I adopt a child together?

If you are legally married, yes. This is called joint adoption. Joint adoption is when two people petition to adopt a child together. Do keep in mind that not all states permit unmarried partners to adopt a child together.

Is artificial insemination an option?

Yes, there is no law that specifies a woman's sexuality or marital status, so any woman can receive artificial insemination from a licensed facility. It is important to understand that in most cases, the woman who carries the child is considered the "official" mother.

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When divorce mediation is most - and least - likely to work

 Posted on October 25, 2016 in Divorce

Mediation is getting to be a very popular way of settling divorce cases outside of court. Not only is it more economical and efficient than litigation, it also gives the parties more control over the outcome of their case, which leads to more sustainable agreements.

For these reasons, mediation is a great option. However, it doesn't always work. During the mediation process, the parties (and their lawyers) negotiate the terms of their divorce - such as property division, child custody and alimony - with assistance from a third-party neutral mediator.

The mediator does not make any decisions, so if the parties cannot reach an agreement, then the mediation fails and litigation is often required to finalize the divorce. The good news is that mediation is successful in many cases, especially when:

The parties are both okay with the decision to divorce.

If one party does not want the divorce, he or she may be unwilling to negotiate and litigation may be necessary to unilaterally end the marriage.

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How child protection investigations work

 Posted on September 23, 2016 in Child Custody

If you follow entertainment news, then you know that on Sept. 20 it was reported that Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from Brad Pitt, creating an unhappy ending for one of Hollywood's most beloved couples.

Just two days later, the story became even grimmer when it was reported that Pitt is under investigation for alleged child abuse, and the incident led Jolie to file for divorce. Her divorce filing lists Sept. 15 as the date of the couple's separation, which was one day after the alleged abuse happened on a private plane.

In a statement released by one of Jolie's divorce lawyers said "this decision was made for the health of the family."

With the media in a frenzy over the details of what when on, it was reported that investigations have been opened by the FBI and the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Service.

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How military divorce is different from civilian divorce

 Posted on September 12, 2016 in Military Divorce

Divorce involves a lot more than ending a marriage and the emotions that come along with the significant life change.

There are also numerous legal issues that need to be considered, including dividing marital property, addressing child custody issues if children are involved, and determining if alimony applies.

When one or both of the spouses is an active or retired member of the military, the issues only get more complex. One reason for this is because both state and federal laws apply, unlike in civilian divorce, which is governed by state law.

Retirement benefits, medical benefits (including TRICARE), child custody and visitation during deployments, and the implications of the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA) all must be carefully considered with the help of a family law attorney who has experience handling military divorce.

Here are some of the special rules and laws that apply:

Added protections for active duty servicemen and women

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5 ways single parents can beat back-to-school stress

 Posted on September 09, 2016 in Child Custody

By now, most children in Texas have returned to school, while many parents are feeling the stress of managing busy fall schedules. This is especially true for single parents, who have to take on many of the duties themselves.

Here are five ways single parents can help remove some of the stress that comes along with getting into a new routine this school year:

1. Get organized.

Put together a schedule that will keep everyone on track, including the kids. The schedule should have a set time for waking up, breakfast, catching the bus, afterschool snacks, homework, bedtime and any other activities that need to be added.

Thinking all at once about everything that needs to be done and all the places people need to be during the week can be overwhelming, but getting a schedule in place can take away a lot of the stress and guesswork.

The schedule should be posted in the kitchen or another central location, where everyone can see it.

2. Stay healthy.

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5 steps to avoid poverty after a divorce

 Posted on August 02, 2016 in Divorce

Everyone knows that divorce can be expensive. But few people realize how costly it can be for women, especially women over the age of 50.

According to data, the divorce rate for the baby-boomer generation has skyrocketed, with divorces among people over the age of 50 doubling between 1990 and 2010.

Why are women at risk of poverty after a divorce?

While younger people have decades to make up for the financial impact of a divorce, people nearing retirement age have few working years left to recover their losses. Women nearing retirement age are especially vulnerable, particularly if they stayed home for a period of time to raise their children.

In fact, according to Jeff Landers, a Forbes contributor who provides financial advice to women going through divorce, 27 percent of divorced women live in poverty, while only 11 percent of divorced men endure the same hardship.

What you can do to avoid poverty after a divorce

According to Landers, there are five steps women can take to avoid this scary outcome. The steps include:

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Stay in control of your future through divorce mediation

 Posted on February 27, 2016 in Uncategorized

If you are contemplating divorce you are likely uncertain and anxious about what the future holds. You probably have several questions racing through you mind. Will I have custody of my children? How will the property be divided? Where will I live? Is my standard of living going to change?

Choosing mediation instead of litigation is one way you can have more control over the answers to these questions.

What is divorce mediation?

In mediation, a neutral mediator works with both parties to reach a mutually agreeable proposal. This agreement addresses all matters of the divorce and may be reviewed by each party's attorney before being finalized.

Divorce mediation is highly encouraged or required in many Texas counties.

What are the benefits of mediation?

The primary benefit of mediation is that you avoid the courtroom and a potential lengthy trial. This keeps the decision making process in your own hands instead of hoping for the best with a judge. Other benefits include reduced expenses and maintaining confidentiality (there is no public record).

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Texas CPS investigations: What parents need to know

 Posted on January 15, 2016 in Uncategorized

Family is everything to most parents. Nothing can be more upsetting for a mother or father than having their parenting abilities questioned or having their children taken away from them.

What is CPS?

Texas Child Protective Services ( CPS) is the program that investigates when there is an allegation that a parent (or other family/household member) is abusing or neglecting a child.

What happens in a CPS investigation?

If you are the parent of a child alleged to have been abused or neglected, you are likely concerned and unsure about what a CPS investigation entails.

A CPS caseworker will interview the child involved and discuss the report with you. A criminal history of the person involved in the alleged abuse or neglect will also be compiled.

Depending on the circumstances, caseworkers may also interview other people who may have relevant information including other children in the home. Additionally, caseworkers may seek access to the mental health records of those involved, or request medical or psychiatric examinations. Caseworkers may also visit the child's home.

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