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Austin Texas Family Law Blog

How do retirement accounts get split in Texas divorces?

Dividing up your assets can be one of the trickiest parts of getting a divorce. You and your former spouse may have very different ideas about what is fair. Various factors could impact your expectations, such as who earned more or whether there was an issue with infidelity in your marriage. Confusion about divorce abounds, as there seem to be a lot of tall tales and exaggerated stories regarding how asset division got handled by divorce courts. Texas laws about divorce make it clear that assets should get divided fairly, but not necessarily evenly.

Retirement accounts are one kind of asset that many people find confusing during a divorce. If the account is only in your name and you opened it before you got married, why should you have to split it with your spouse? Generally speaking, retirement accounts that you invested in during your marriage will get treated as marital property for the purposes of asset division. Even if your spouse didn't work and never contributed to your retirement account, he or she will likely receive at least half the value of accrued assets in the account during your marriage.

Controversial new adoption law may allow discrimination

Governor Greg Abbot recently signed into law a controversial piece of family law legislation that features a number of potentially tricky legal implications. The bill allows for faith-based organizations that work in conjunction with Texas's child welfare system to deny service to individuals or families "under circumstances that conflict with the provider's sincerely held religious beliefs."

Proponents of the bill claim that the new law preserves the rights of organizations to remain true to their "closely held religious beliefs" while still providing alternatives for families or individuals who find themselves denied service. According to supporters, the bill includes language that allows the state to direct those who are refused service to other service providers who will work with them.

Different types of alimony

If you find yourself facing divorce, there is a decent chance that some form of alimony may come into play in the settlement. However, alimony is not just one thing, but rather an umbrella term that refers to a number of different spousal support scenarios.

When most people speak about alimony, they refer to permanent alimony, which occurs when one spouse pays the other a specified amount of money indefinitely, usually on a monthly basis. While this is usually the type of alimony most people recognize, it is less common than you might think.

Can a postnuptial agreement strengthen my marriage?

Prenuptial agreements are thankfully gaining popularity and shedding many years of unfair stigma, shedding light on their less common cousin, the postnuptial agreement, in the process. A postnuptial agreement offers some of the same protections that a prenuptial agreement does, but operates a bit differently.

In general, prenuptial agreements have more legal muscle than postnuptial agreements, but that does not mean postnuptial agreements are without merit. Postnuptial agreements simply do not enjoy some of the privileges like protecting one spouse from another's personal debt that prenuptial agreements do.

How does divorce affect lifestyle?

Preparing to withstand your divorce and rebuild afterward is a difficult process. Many individuals do not fully comprehend the scope of a divorce at first, and poor legal counsel may focus on saving some particular asset or right rather than looking at the larger picture of how the divorce may affect a client's overall lifestyle. It is important to work with your attorney to make sure that you truly understand how your divorce affects each area of your life so that you do not get caught off guard by the process.

For most individuals, unless they are rather wealthy, divorce will have a serious impact on their lifestyle. If you and your spouse both have relatively equal incomes and no children, and can decide on fair and simple property division that doesn't impose undue burden on one party or the other, you still face the difficulty of transitioning to single adult life again, which can be jarring.

Is our prenuptial agreement valid?

Creating a prenuptial agreement is an excellent way for you and your partner to understand each other's financial lives and practice working together in a possibly uncomfortable environment. Truly, the benefits of creating a prenuptial agreement with your spouse cannot be overstated — unless the agreement is ultimately unenforceable. Unfortunately, many prenuptial agreements crumble when they are called upon because of some error in creation.

Whether you want to use your prenuptial agreement to protect your spouse from your personal debt, to protect a business from potential divorce or anything in-between, it can do none of these things if it is not properly executed. Similarly, it is crucial that both parties fully participate and understand the implications of the process. If you present your spouse with an already fully formed prenuptial agreement and do not give them time to consider its terms and seek legal advice, the agreement may not stand up to legal scrutiny in court.

Why shouldn't I file false allegations to help my custody case?

If you are in the middle of a divorce, there is a very strong likelihood that you'll consider things you wouldn't otherwise do. When it comes to custody disputes, many parents allow the emotional burden of possibly losing some of their relationship and input with their children to move their ethical boundaries. If you are considering make false or exaggerated allegations of misconduct against your spouse for leverage, you should seriously reconsider and consult with an experienced attorney.

You are not the first, and will certainly not be the last, person to have this seemingly good idea. The broad strokes make it seem obvious — maybe even if your spouse didn't commit this abuse or misconduct, he or she still deserves it, right? And ultimately, maintaining your children's custody is the most important thing, so it must be a reasonable personal concession.

How can a prenuptial agreement protect me from my partner's debt?

Many couples choose not to create a prenuptial agreement because they feel as though, somehow, doing so weakens their marriage before it even begins. This is simply not true! In fact, creating a prenuptial agreement can offer you and your partner vital protections even if you never get divorced.

One of most useful features of a prenuptial agreement is its ability to protect spouses from each other's personal debt. Without creating protections against it, debt is considered shared marital property, like a joint savings account. This means that once you are married, your spouse's creditors can come after your property because of your spouse's debt. A prenuptial agreement can prevent this, strengthening your marriage, not weakening it.

Mediation helps protect your children during divorce

Many parents whose marriages come to an end know that they need to move on, but worry about how the divorce process may affect their children. In far too many cases, one parent remains in an unhealthy or abusive relationship for the sake of children. In some other instances, children become bargaining chips between parents trying to punish each other in the divorce process.

For these and many other reasons, many loving parents fear that they cannot successfully divorce their spouse without dealing irreparable damage to their children. Maybe this is because they experienced divorce as a child, or they've witnessed destructive divorces of friends and loved ones over time.

Can I pay spousal support all at once?

When working out a divorce settlement, one of the most divisive components of reaching a fair agreement is the matter of spousal support. The issue can be enormously frustrating for both parties, especially the party who faces making ongoing payments to a spouse he or she would like to sever ties with as much as possible. While it is unlikely that you can circumvent your responsibility to spousal support altogether, you may be able to keep from making ongoing payments.

In Texas, it is possible to make a lump-sum alimony payment to settle the matter once and for all. Of course, this option has its advantages and drawbacks. The primary advantage is freeing yourself from making ongoing payments for an indefinite period of time, especially if you have the resources to finish the matter on hand. For those on the receiving end of such an arrangement, it is generally preferable to receive a larger, one-time settlement and not have to worry about pursuing payment later if the owing party becomes delinquent.

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