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College Station Family & Estate Law Blog

Tips for parents getting divorced

It is natural for parents to want to protect their children and help them feel happy but this is not always possible. Texas parents who get divorced know this all too well. From the moment that the decision to end a marriage is made, moms and dads need to help their children navigate the changes in their lives and support their emotional health along the way.

Psychology Today suggests that this starts in large part by how kids are told about a parental divorce. One of the biggest things parents should do is to stick to the facts but not the facts about why the spouses are getting divorced. Instead, focus on the concrete things that will change in a child's life like where they will live or when they will see each parent. Details like who will take the kids to school and who will pick them up can be included. This will help them develop a sense of security as they can get a sense of what their days will look and feel like.

Guardianships over estates

There may be many situations in which a person in Texas is unable to provide care for themselves and requires another party to assume some responsibility for this. The person may be a minor under the age of 18 or a person 18 years of age or older who is in some way incapacitated. Such incapacitation may result from injury, illness or other forms of disability. It may be temporary or permanent. These are times when a guardian may be appointed.

As the Texas Guardianship Association explains, a guardian may be provided to care for a person's physical needs but a guardian may also be appointed to care for a person's financial matters. The latter is referred to as a guardian of the estate. An estate guardian is responsible for maintaining a 100-percent accurate accounting of all financial transactions for the ward, the person over whom a guardianship has been established. An annual accounting of all payments along with receipts is required to be filed.

How can I co-parent during summer vacation?

If you are a divorced parent with minor children still at home, you may not always be so thrilled when summer vacation time rolls around. Not only do you need to figure out how to keep your kids occupied and happy all summer long but you also have to manage this with your former spouse. Sharing time with an ex during summer can be more complicated as schedules tend to be more fluid and less structured, leading to more potential challenges.

Parenting magazing suggests that you actively seek ways to avoid confrontations with your children's other parent. In fact, one good thing to do is to actively listen to your kids tell you about the things they did with their other parent and even compliment that parent's choice of activities. This sends a valuable message to your kids that includes your support of their relationship with the other parent - something that is very important for their emotional well-being.

Divorce impacts: Has a secretive spouse hidden assets?

During the course of your divorce, you may have to come to terms with a multitude of factors that you had not thought about previously. Your soon-to-be ex-spouse may show sides to him or herself that you have never seen, and unseemly behavior may throw you for a loop. Because you do not want to get taken advantage of during divorce proceedings, you may wish to prepare for possible scenarios that could affect your case.

Property division can often cause the worst sides of many individuals to come out as they attempt to maintain ownership of certain property or hope to cheat the other spouse out of certain assets for spite. If you have concerns regarding the latter situation, information on discovering hidden assets may prove useful to you.

Is it too late to mediate?

Divorces can get messy, and as a couple splitting up in College Station, you may wonder if you have passed the point of being able to mediate your divorce instead of taking it directly to court. While mediation is certainly not always a viable option, it may be more feasible than you think.

Huffpost writes about eight divorce mediation myths, busting long-standing misconceptions like the notion that legal professionals object to it or that you may have to "settle for less" if you choose mediation over a court battle. In reality, it has been shown that the property and asset division is pretty much equal whether or not you go to court or mediate. Likewise, you may believe that there's no way you can deal with a child custody battle through mediation, but it was actually shown that children with divorced parents who chose mediation don't have as many relationship struggles with said parents.

Guidelines for choosing a child guardian

Texas parents who are putting together their estate plans while their kids are still minors must wrestle with the often difficult choice of who will raise their children should the parents die while the kids are still at home. Many things contribute to making this a hard decision but that should not stop people from identifying this lest they leave it up to the courts, as Parenting magazine explains.

Before thinking about who could serve as a guardian, parents might find it useful to start by making a list of the qualities important to them in a potential guardian. This might include practical matters like everyday lifestyles as well as morals, values and religious beliefs and practices. All of these things would no doubt have a significant impact on the children and should be primary considerations.

QDROs and death benefits

Texas residents who are getting divorced certainly have many decisions to make about their divorce settlement. However, nailing down the particulars of a divorce decree is hardly sufficient and leaves many things potentially unfinished. For example, most married people name their spouses as their primary beneficiaries for things like life insurance or other survivor's benefits. They are also quite likely to be the primary beneficiaries of any assets in a will or a trust. So, when a marriage ends, it may be important that these documents and designations are updated.

Many divorcing spouses must split retirement accounts as part of their settlement terms. Alternatively, some people may tap into their 401k funds in order to make spousal support payments. These things may be made possible through the use of a qualified domestic relations order as the United States Department of Labor explains. A QDRO names a person other than the account owner as an alternate payee on the account.

QDROs and child support

Texas parents who must pay child support after getting divorced often find themselves concerned about how they might be able to afford this additional expense. The shift to living as a single person versus as part of a married couple generally already increases one's living costs and the addition of child support payments can put a serious strain on a monthly budget. The use of money from a 401K account may provide an opportunity to satisfy this debt.

The Internal Revenue Service explains that with the use of a qualified domestic relations order, a person can identify another party as an alternate payee on a 401K account. This would allow money to be taken out of the retirement account and paid directly to that alternate payee. A QDRO may be used for select situations involving legal domestic orders including child support.

The ins and outs of spousal support

If you are going through the divorce process, whether in Texas or elsewhere, it is okay to ask questions if you have any. For example, if you think you are eligible to receive spousal support but are unsure, the only way you will know for sure is if you ask your legal counsel.

The topic of alimony can be a tricky one to cover. It is not a benefit that is available in every divorce case. There are very specific eligibility requirements that you must meet in order for the court to award it to you. You may have many questions, including what are the determining factors in an alimony case, how is support paid and for how long will one receive it if awarded?

Do I need to update my will or trust?

If you are one of the many Texas residents who has already created a will or even a revocable trust, you may well feel that your estate planning work is done. Certainly you should feel good about having taken the time and effort to put these types of plans in place. However, you should not think that your work is completely done. There can be many situations and changes in life that make it important for you to make changes to your estate plan.

As Forbes explains, personal life changes such as marriages or divorces whether yours or your adult children's can be big reasons making you want to update a will. Most people, unless required by a divorce decree, do not want to keep a former spouse as a primary beneficiary for example. The birth of a new child or grandchild or the death of any person listed as a beneficiary or even as an executor or trustee also requires a will or trust revision.

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