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McKinney Divorce Law Blog

Property division and retirement accounts can get complicated

The decision to divorce was probably made after much careful consideration. Likewise, when it comes to the property division settlement, Texas residents are encouraged to approach this process carefully. Though this is a community property state, the division of certain assets can quickly become complicated.

One area where the division of assets can become troublesome is retirement accounts. There are several different classifications, and the rules and potential costs of dividing these accounts may have different implications for the parties involved. When it comes to federal regulations and the Internal Revenue Service, retirement and pension plans fall into two distinct categories: those that are classified as qualified and those that are not. Qualified accounts required a Qualified Domestic Relations Order signed by a judge before they can be separated into two accounts. A 401(k) is the most common type of account subjected to these rules.

Artist forced to pay child support arrears for teen daughter

Most parents work hard to ensure that their children are provided with everything they need to be healthy and succeed in life. In single-parent families, the courts typically order the noncustodial parent to make regular child support payments to help supplement what is provided by the primary caregiver. Texas parents who are experiencing difficulty in meeting their child's needs may seek assistance from the courts.

Recently, the Attorney General in one state announced that the state had finally obtained back child support from one man who was purportedly an estimated $29,000 in arrears. The father, Richard T. Sloane, who is a renowned artist, made the payments that were reportedly overdue for the past decade. The man is the father of a 14-year-old girl who resides with her mother.

Social media claim regarding suicide and child custody debunked

In the modern age of social media, people are bombarded with statistics and claims that often prove to be false. While there is much emotional turmoil surrounding family law issues, including child custody, a recent social media post that claimed fathers were committing suicide over custody issues was debunked. Texas residents who are struggling with this issue may have seen various forms of this statistic while scrolling social media sites. 

According to a post on Facebook earlier this year, it was claimed that an estimated 21 fathers committed suicide every week after being denied access to their children. This drew the attention of certain fact checker sites that investigated to determine whether it was based on concrete facts. The post was later tracked to an earlier one from 2017 that circulated in another country and stated that men who were struggling with family-related problems were committing suicide at an alarming rate. This post was purportedly started by a candidate for office who was attempting to reform that country's domestic violence laws.

Woman reaches child support settlement after 50 years

Parents who agree to part ways often struggle to provide for their children afterwards. In order to ensure that children are provided with all of their needs, family court judges usually order child support payments until the child reaches the age of majority or finishes his or her education. Texas parents who are experiencing difficulty in obtaining payments or in meeting court-ordered obligations may have recourse for obtaining relief. In an unusual case, a woman was awarded a settlement more than 50 years after her divorce.

In the 1970s, a mother had been awarded an estimated $160 a month in support for her young child. In order to avoid making these payments, the father purportedly fled to another country. The mother worked diligently to ensure that all of her daughter's needs were met and that she was able to obtain a college education. Since her daughter is an adult and the woman has retired, she stated that she struggled to make ends meet.

The world of digital money may make a complex divorce trickier

For most couples, a divorce is a fairly straightforward undertaking. Once custody and property division is settled, each individual goes his or her separate way and starts a new life without undo complications. However, in the new age of digital money, wealthy Texas residents may find that cryptocurrency adds complexities to an already complex divorce.

By now, most have heard the term bitcoin, which is a type of Internet money that came into being approximately 10 years ago. In 2017, this currency was worth an estimated $20,000 per coin for a brief period of time. While that surge in value quickly self-corrected, it is still being used as a digital currency in certain circles. In addition to this form of money, there are several others that have been established over the past few years that all share the common traits of being difficult to assign a particular value to and are difficult to trace for those who are unfamiliar with the world of cryptocurrency.

Once property division is settled, make sure estate plan correct

During a divorce, it is easy to lose track of details that need to be addressed later. Forgetting to tend to some important housekeeping duties could mean that one is not complying with the property division agreement. Texas residents may benefit from reviewing their estate plans to ensure they are in agreement with a divorce settlement.

One of the first tasks may be to review health care proxy and power of attorney documents. If the former spouse was chosen, then one is advised to make the necessary corrections to ensure that an ex-spouse is not making these critical decisions. In addition, plans that include the welfare of children, such as any wills or trusts, may need revising to prevent a former spouse from accessing funds meant for one's heirs. In addition, if there are concerns over the fitness of a former spouse to be a guardian of minor children in the event of an untimely death, then those plans should be updated to reflect a suitable guardian.

"Gray" divorce brings many challenges regarding property division

While the overall divorce rate has purportedly declined, the same cannot be said for those aged 50 and older. Though there may be a variety of reasons for a couple to seek a divorce, the property division for those nearer to retirement age becomes more challenging and critical. Texas residents who are facing this prospect may have several concerns regarding their finances.

A divorce seldom happens in a vacuum, and there are usually several factors that contribute to the decision. One reason may simply be that divorce has become more acceptable. A couple may find that, once their children are raised, they no longer have any common interests. While past generations remained married due to societal pressures, couples today are more inclined to seek their personal happiness rather than preserve an unhappy union. Infidelity and addiction are two other common reasons that couples cite as a grounds for seeking a divorce.

Allegations that child custody case influenced by Facebook

Family court judges are expected to adhere to the same rules of conduct that are expected of any other member of the judiciary. This includes avoiding relationships that could be interpreted as favoring a parent who is involved in a child custody case. Texas residents who have any concerns over the impartiality of a member of the court do have the right to file an appeal.

An appeals court ruled that a custody case should be returned to a lower court to be decided by another judge. A family court judge, who was presiding over a mother's motion for a custody modification, appears to have violated the rules regarding impartiality. During the course of the case, he accepted a Facebook friend request from the woman. She sent the request after a hearing in which she reportedly shared evidence that the child's father abused her. The judge accepted it before he made a final ruling that awarded the mother sole legal custody and primary physical custody of her son.

Should pet custody remain part of property division in divorce?

In many homes, pets are considered to be cherished family members and are loved almost as much as children. As a result, the idea of parting with a beloved pet after a divorce is often repugnant to Texas pet parents. Unfortunately, pets are usually considered to be a part of the property division when it comes to settling a divorce.

Recently, a third state passed a more comprehensive law that gives family court judges the option of considering which spouse could provide a more suitable home for a pet in question. Judges who choose to take on this matter during a divorce hearing will often take into consideration such questions as who was the primary caregiver and whether a pet was purchased as a gift or was a joint decision. Though some view the law as unnecessary, others applaud the effort to treat pets as more than possessions.

Struggles over child support can affect any income level

Difficulties in making or receiving financial support for a child can have a huge impact on the well-being of the child. Child support is intended to ensure that a youngster has all that he or she needs to be healthy and well-adjusted. Texas parents who are struggling financially may have the right to seek modifications.

In spite of purportedly being financially sound, a renowned rabbi has been accused of being several thousand dollars in arrears for support of his college student son. According to records, when the mother and Marc Schneier divorced in 2005, he was ordered to pay $4,200 a month for the first year, which would be increased annually by $200 a month until the child enrolled in college. At that time, Schneier was to continue paying $3,200 until his son completed his studies. The support was to be used for living expenses. 

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