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Austin Texas Family Law Blog

Considering divorce? Ask these 5 questions first

You're considering a divorce, but you're not sure if you should. You haven't thought much about it, but after the way your spouse treated you recently, it's been on the top of your mind.

There are some different questions you can ask yourself to determine if a divorce is right for you. Here are five that commonly come up among divorcing couples.

Texas divorces and beneficiary designations

If you have an estate plan in place, you'll likely be making some changes to it as soon as your divorce is final -- if not sooner. Chances are you no longer want your soon-to-be ex to have powers of attorney over your health care and finances should you become incapacitated, for example.

However, even if you don't have an estate plan, you've likely named your spouse as your beneficiary for your retirement accounts, life insurance policy and other assets. The good news is that in Texas, unlike in some other states, spouses are automatically removed as beneficiaries once a divorce is final. Therefore, if you forget to do this, your ex won't inherit these assets when you pass away.

Why separate accounts may not help you in divorce

Younger married couples are more likely to keep their money in separate accounts than older ones are. That's one of the findings of a recent Bank of America survey. Some 28% of Millennial spouses report that they have separate accounts. They're more than twice as likely to have separate accounts as baby boomers and even Gen Xers.

Part of this may be changing attitudes about the importance of maintaining separate assets. Part may be Millennials' familiarity with apps that make it easy to transfer money to their spouse in seconds when they need to. One 29-year-old notes a more pragmatic reason. She says that she and her husband are "both children of divorce so we're kind of leery about combining our finances."

Strong parenting agreements protect parents and children

When parents are in the middle of the divorce process, or approaching it, it is often difficult to maintain clear perspectives. Even when parents want the best for their children and work together to keep the process civil, emotions can easily get in the way of strong, reasonable compromises.

When it comes to child custody and coparenting issues, compromise is crucial. Although courts prefer for parents to develop their own preferred custody and parenting agreements, the courts ultimately approve or deny any custody or parenting proposals. While many factors play into a court's decision, it is important to understand that the law values the best interests of the child above the preferences of the parents, in many instances.

New Texas law will provide relief for victims of 'coerced debt'

Many Texans find out only as they go through the divorce process that their spouse has opened credit cards or taken out a loan or line of credit in their name. They may be responsible for many thousands of dollars in debt they can't afford to pay off and left with a credit score that makes getting credit in their own name difficult to impossible.

Now, thanks to a new state law, beginning this September, victims of what has been termed "coerced debt" can charge their spouse with identity theft. This will give them access to the same remedies and protections available to victims of more "traditional" identity theft. That includes being able to get negative information resulting from the theft removed from your credit report.

How to successfully work out a custody agreement via mediation

If you and your spouse are working out your various divorce agreements through mediation, negotiating your custody and visitation agreement will be one of the most important things you'll do during the process.

Typically, co-parents who can negotiate this agreement on their own are happier with the finished product than those who fight it out in court or have to ask a judge to make these decisions for them. After all, who knows your children better than you?

An age gap does increase your divorce odds

When people with a significant age gap fall in love and start to talk about marriage, you often hear them say things like: "Age is just a number."

They feel confident that they can make it work, even if it does seem a bit unconventional. They tend to ignore concerned friends and family members who ask if it is the right idea. They stress that their feelings are what matters, not how old or young they are.

How does Divorce Affect Sleep?

Written in collaboration with Tuck.com

Divorce is a huge upheaval for people of any age, whether they are the ones getting the divorce or kids in the family. Even when it's the best choice for everyone involved, it changes a lot of things in their lives. As you might imagine, this can mean some changes in how you are living and how you sleep. 

Why is divorce more likely when the economy is doing well?

Financial anxiety and disagreements over money are among the primary causes of marital problems. In a study last year by Northwestern Mutual, over 40% of the 2,000 people surveyed said that financial anxiety impacted their marriage or relationship with their significant other.

However, it's not just couples who are financially insecure whose relationships suffer. In fact, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers says that the divorce rate increases during periods when the overall economy is strong.

When are child custody agreement modifications necessary?

When most co-parents draw up a child custody agreement, they intend for that agreement to work for their family for some time. No one wants to go back to court to seek a modification if they don't have to. However, sometimes a modification of the agreement is in the best interests of your children.

Remember that if you and your co-parent can't agree on the terms of the modification or your co-parent doesn't believe the agreement should be modified, you'll need to convince a judge. Even if you and your co-parent agree that a modification is necessary, a judge may determine that the changes aren't in the children's best interests.

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