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Austin Texas Family Law Blog

Dealing with a competitive co-parent during the holidays

The holiday season can be a stressful time for divorced co-parents who are competitive about being the "best" or "favorite" parent. Even if you know that isn't healthy, maybe your co-parent can't resist trying to outdo you at every turn.

That sense of competition ramps up big time when Christmas or Hanukkah rolls around and gifts are involved as well as winter vacation adventures. You may find yourself stepping up to try to outdo your ex by giving your kids expensive gifts or reserving a week at a ski lodge.

Some key financial considerations before you begin your divorce

Whether you're just beginning to consider divorce or you're ready to talk to an attorney and start the process, one of your biggest worries is likely how it will impact you financially. It's important to take a look at your current financial situation and what you'll need to seek in the divorce to minimize the negative impact.

Here are a few things to consider:

Why you should have a visitation transportation plan

Many divorcing parents devote a great deal of time negotiating – and sometimes battling over – custody and visitation arrangements. After they've worked out things like how many days a week each parent has the kids and where they'll spend various holidays, they sometimes don't stop to consider how the kids will get back and forth between homes. They figure they'll work that out later.

Not having a visitation transportation plan included in your parenting plan can lead to conflict, confusion and anxiety for everyone involved – including your children. That's why it's essential to work out these details and codify them.

Protect your heirs after you are gone with a spendthrift trust

When you do your estate planning, one useful tool that you might want to consider is a spendthrift trust. These types of trusts are useful when you have heirs who may not be able to manage a large influx of cash.

For instance, if you have an heir who has struggled with drugs or alcohol, or a gambling addiction, you don't want to provide them with unfettered access to a sum of money that could wind up being their undoing. Still, you want to ensure that their needs will continue to be met regardless of their life circumstances.

What's most important to children of divorced parents?

There are seemingly hundreds of things that separated and divorced co-parents can fight about. Often, they convince themselves that these fights (whether they consist of a few terse texts or a full-blown argument) are about things that are essential to their children's well-being.

In fact, many of the things that co-parents fight about have little, if anything, to do with their children. However, constant conflict between their parents can leave children feeling anxious, depressed and even frightened.

Are you contributing your your children's divorce stress?

There's no doubt that divorce is one of the most stressful events a person can experience. Finding ways to reduce your stress level is not only healthy for you but also your children, as well. Studies have found that parental stress can lead to behavioral issues in their children.

Even if you think you're hiding your stress and other emotions from your children, they're likely picking up on more than you realize. Going into another room to cry, have a few drinks or vent to a friend on the phone probably isn't doing as much to shield them as you think.

Should you and your ex try to co-host a child's birthday party?

One of the first big event-related challenges that newly separated or divorced parents often face is a child's birthday party. If you're sharing custody of your child and live near each other, throwing one party rather than two and hosting it together is typically the best option for the child.

Here are just a few of the reasons why this is preferable for everyone:

  • Your child can see their parents working together and getting along on a special day for them.
  • It's less expensive to have one party than two.
  • Having two adult hosts can make it easier to corral the kids. It can also help you be able to take turns just enjoying the party.
  • Parents of your child's friends don't have to choose which party to let their child attend or feel obligated to bring them to both (along with a present for each one).

How to deal with overwhelming debt

Being in debt can take a huge financial and emotional burden. Not feeling in control of your finances can leave you feeling stressed, angry, hopeless and desperate to find a distraction. This can leave many people mentally giving up on the situation and burying their heads in the sand while they continue to spend.

If you are feeling as though there is no way out of your debt, it is important to remember that every day you do no take action is a day wasted. Therefore, the earlier you take small steps toward paying off your debts, the sooner you will be able to enjoy the benefits of a debt-free life. The following are some simple ways to start dealing with overwhelming debt effectively.

When might you have to split an inheritance or gift in divorce?

As a community property state, most assets that two people acquire, either individually or together, during their marriage are subject to equal division in a divorce in Texas unless they have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that says otherwise. This includes things like income, savings, homes, artwork, vehicles, and other property.

There are some exceptions, however. One of these is inheritances. However, there are instances in which a spouse could try to claim that they're entitled to a share of the assets left to their husband or wife in a will or other estate plan document.

How to ensure accurate DNA testing for paternity

Paternity tests involve comparing a child's DNA with that of the man believed to be the father. Like other types of DNA testing, paternity tests are widely believed to produce accurate results.

However, there are ways that paternity tests can be manipulated, either by the mother or the presumed father. Paternity fraud can be carried out in a number of ways. For example, a woman may submit DNA for a child she knows is the biological offspring of the man she claims is the father of another of her children. A man may submit DNA from someone else rather than his own.

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