Reminders for Divorced Moms and Dads

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divorced kids

I read a blog post on Huff Post Divorce that really resonated with me as a family law attorney. I wanted to share it for those that have not read it. The blog post was about the 5 reminders for divorced moms and dads. Here is the link to the post if you would like to read it in its entirety: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/meerabelle-dey/5-reminders-for-divorced-moms-and-dads_b_7001106.html?utm_hp_ref=divorce&ir=Divorce

From my experience in handling high-conflict divorce cases, I think that Reminder # 4 and Reminder #5 of this blog post are absolutely critical.

Reminder # 4 states, “Don’t disparage the other parent. Be his or her cheerleader.” In a divorce, there are so many emotions running high, especially if there has been an affair or some other bad act. Parents need to try to remember, just because a particular parent may have been a bad spouse, that does not make them a bad parent. Children need to know that even though their parents are separating, they will all always be a family. They need to be reassured that both parents love them dearly. Also, just because, for example, mom is disparaging dad, does not mean that it is okay for dad to disparage mom and vice versa. Your children are truly the innocent ones in the divorce, allow them to be kids and not feel like they have to defend the parent that is being disparaged.

Reminder # 5 states, “Explain to your children that you are getting a divorce but omit the details.” This is also very important. While children might need to get an explanation about possession schedules, selling the house, and other matters that directly affect them, they do not need to know them in great detail. Children need to be reminded that divorce is a grown-up matter, not for kids to worry about.

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Name Change in Divorce

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Thinking of Restoring your Name to your Maiden Name?

You may request that your name be changed to your maiden name as part of your divorce action. Pursuant to Section 45.105 of the Texas Family Code, on the final disposition of a suit for divorce, for annulment, or to declare a marriage void, the Court shall enter a Final Decree of Divorce changing the name of a party specially praying for the change to a prior used name unless the Court states in the Decree a reason for denying the name change. The Court may not deny a change of name solely to keep last names of family members the same.

In short, this means that you can request that your name be changed as a part of the Court orders in your Final Decree of Divorce. If you decide to include this in your Decree, be sure to get certified copies of your Decree after it is entered by the Court. Most agencies require that you provided them a certified copy of your Decree in order to facilitate your name change.

Remember that if you do not include your name change in your Final Decree of Divorce, you will be required to file a separate lawsuit, an Original Petition for Name Change of An Adult which will cost additional funds and will have much stricter requirements and procedures in obtaining an Order Granting Change of Name of an Adult.

For additional information, contact Patricia J. Dixon.

Spousal Maintenance in Texas

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Texas was the last state in the United States to approve post-divorce alimony. The old post-divorce alimony law allowed a maximum of $2,500 per month for a maximum of three years, for a marriage exceeding ten years.

In 2011, the legislators amended the law. The revised law allows alimony to be paid for up to a 10 year period for a marriage that exceeds 30 years, and raises the possible maximum monthly amount to $5,000 up from $2,500.

The maximum period of alimony is tied to the duration of the marriage. For a 0-10 year marriage, no spousal maintenance can be ordered. The only exception to this law is disability or family violence. For a 10-20 year marriage the maximum allowed is 5 years of support. For a 20-30 year marriage the maximum allowed is 7 years. If the marriage is over 30 years, the maximum time allowed for spousal maintenance is 10 years.

The new law continues to base spousal maintenance on need, and requires the spouse receiving alimony to be seeking employment or training. The alimony payments are intended to cover only the recipients “minimum reasonable needs” and for as short a time as necessary before the recipient can gain the job skills and/or a job to meet such minimum reasonable needs. The legal presumption is that no post-divorce support shall be paid.

Texas Grounds For Divorce

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In Texas, we have “no fault” grounds for divorce and several “fault” grounds for divorce. The difference between obtaining a divorce on a “no fault” ground versus a “fault” ground is that in many cases, fault grounds are plead for in the Original Petition for Divorce so that the spouse who has been wronged based on one or more of the fault grounds, can use that fault as a factor in requesting that the Court award him/her a larger portion of the community estate and further, as a factor in determining spousal maintenance, if eligible.

No Fault Grounds: A divorce based on one of the following no-fault grounds can be obtained without proof that either the husband or the wife was at fault for the break-up of the marriage:

1. Insupportability: The marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and if there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.

2. Living Apart: If the spouses have lived apart without cohabitation for at least 3 years.

3. Confinement in a mental hospital: One spouse has been confined in a state mental hospital or private mental hospital in this state or another state for at least 3 years and if that spouse’s mental disorder is of such a degree and nature that adjustment is unlikely or that, if adjustment occurs, a relapse is probable.

Fault Grounds: A divorce based on one of these 4 “fault” grounds listed below means that either the husband or the wife are at fault for the breakup of the marriage. The fault grounds provided for in the Texas Family Code are as follows:

1. Cruelty

2. Adultery

3. Conviction of a Felony

4. Abandonment

For more information, please contact Patricia J. Dixon.

See Texas Family Code Sections 6.001 – 6.007 for the no-fault and fault grounds for divorce mentioned in this post:  http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/FA/htm/FA.6.htm

 

5 Things To Do Before Filing for Divorce

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  1. Put Your Kids First. Of the parties to a divorce, the children are the ones who can often suffer the most. Try to maintain consistency in your children’s routines as much as you can and NEVER say anything negative to them about your spouse. Remember, one-half of your child’s DNA is that of your spouse and by insulting your spouse, your child may feel like you are insulting them. Take the high road.
  1. Interview and Hire Your Advocate. Before you file for divorce, it is essential that you become informed about your legal rights. An experienced family law attorney will be able to advise you on the law as it applies to the facts in your specific situation. Remember that a divorce can become very expensive so it is critical that you hire an attorney who can balance the value of settling with fighting for you, should the need arise.
  1. Gather Information About Your Estate and Finances. Go through household files and make copies of what you find such as: tax returns, bank statements, check registers, brokerage account statements, retirement account statements, mortgage documents, credit card statements, wills, etc. This shall include making copies of financial information stored on your home computer. This shall also include obtaining documentation showing your income and the income of your spouse. Obtaining this information through discovery procedures in the middle of your divorce can become an expensive process, a little planning and information gathering can help your attorney learn about the value and size of your estate.
  1. Make a Post-Divorce Budget. Do you know what amount of funds are required to maintain your household? How much is the mortgage, how much are the household bills? You will need this information to help assist you in understanding your costs of living after the divorce. Your budget will be estimating the expenses but it is important to have an idea of what you will need to survive on a monthly basis post-divorce. Also, you may consider consulting with a financial planner to learn about how you will manage your assets and income post-divorce.
  1. Establish Credit in Your Own Name. If you do not have any credit in your name alone, you should start working on getting your credit established. This can be done by obtaining a credit card in your name only. After a divorce some people find they have a hard time purchasing a home or car because they have spent years sharing credit with their spouse. Once you have a credit card in your name, use it sparingly and make sure you are able to pay it off each month. Remember, the goal is to work on a good credit score, not to run up debt that you cannot afford to pay off.

For more information, please contact Patricia J. Dixon.