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McKinney TX Family Law Blog

Divorce planning can prevent unpleasant financial surprises

January brings a wave of unhappy people looking to separate from their spouses. Whether it is the stress of the holiday season or the promise of renewal in the New Year, for some reason, divorce requests peak in January in the United States, and Texas is no different. Unfortunately, a breakup can leave a person in a financial pinch, but with divorce planning, a person may be better prepared to face a new life alone. 

Many people do not have a savings account in place for basic unexpected needs, much less a separation from a partner. However, the divorce process can bring attorney fees, court costs, new housing costs and other financial needs. By planning in advance for a breakup, a person could be provided with a much-needed financial boost at a time when it is truly needed. 

Tips on preparing for divorce

It has been said that the first part of the year is peak season for marital breakups. After the holidays can be a stressful time for couples, with one in five couples being ready to call it quits after the holiday season. One study shows that divorces peak in the United States in March and August, so it appears that couples are also tempted to end it at a few particular points of the year. A person in Texas facing a divorce, no matter what time of the year, may be wondering what steps can be taken to prepare for an upcoming divorce. 

One good way to prepare for divorce is to do a review of finances. A person facing divorce should start to gather up all the financial information -- pay stubs, tax returns, bank statements and credit card bills. When a person has these ready for the first meeting with an attorney, they will be better prepared to asses the financial situation. 

Reframing thoughts about shared child custody during holidays

The thought of co-parenting after separating from one's spouse can be challenging, but it certainly does not have to be so. Even being a two-house household during the holidays can be a blessing, if one can think of it in a certain light. Shared child custody allows divorced parents certain advantages, so individuals in Texas who are facing divorce need not fear the changes. 

Once parents are able to make an agreement on the routine and the communication for the children, everything can seem to slip into place. Some families share the custody in a three days with one parent, four days with the other type of schedule, allowing for flexibility and fairness in sharing events as needed. Parents can also still present a unified front for parenting methods by maintaining communication about techniques and preferences, even if it's only through text. 

Family law changes may be expected in 2018

Spousal support payments may be undergoing a revision in the coming year. A federal tax bill can change the way individuals pay their support payments and how recipients claim the funds. The proposed changes will be felt in the courts of Texas family law as individuals negotiate settlements using the new terms. 

Previously, alimony payments were tax deductible for the person paying, and they were claimed as income by the person receiving. New proposed legislation ends this policy and makes the support payment non-deductible, effectively making alimony more expensive for the individual paying. When such a payment is made more expensive, it can be more of a hardship for the payer, who will likely not be able to offer the same amount. Persons who receive the payments may have to fight harder for the amounts they need, making court settlements more challenging.

Author shares tips for divorce preparation

Ready to untie the knot? In Texas, many individuals choose to end their marriage for a variety of reasons. These individuals may be thinking of methods to make the transition a little smoother. After observing many divorcing couples in a variety of circumstances, advisors offer some tips for individuals preparing for a divorce

The tips include financial considerations, strategies and details about the children. At first, a divorcing individual may want to consider separating the joint finances and creating an individual savings account, checking account and credit card. A divorce will typically have some financial cost associated with it, so saving in advance for the anticipated expenses is another idea. 

Gig economy makes child support enforcement tougher

It seems like everyone is freelancing these days. With the rise of the gig economy, some parents are finding it easier to avoid having support payments taken from their paychecks. In order to bolster child support enforcement, states are looking at ways to make employers more likely to report their employees to collection agencies. In Texas, as of 2015, companies are now mandated to report new contractor hires to the child support database.

Despite regulations in certain states, some popular gig companies like Uber and Lyft are non-compliant. When they do comply, it can still be difficult to collect the payments. Unlike traditional employment, people do not tend to stick with contract work for long. This means that, by the time the hire is reported to the agency, the person may no longer work for the company. 

Divorce planning may include review of estate documents

During any major life transition, and especially at the end of a marriage, one will need to review those carefully drafted estate documents. Whether it is a trust or a will, neglecting these documents during the divorce planning can certainly cause issues down the road. Two recent court cases illustrate problems that have arisen for individuals who neglected to specify and/or update the documents. These issues can potentially extend to individuals in Texas, although the two cases did occur in other U.S. states. 

Decanting -- it's not just for wine. The first court case dealt with an issue in which an old irrevocable trust was decanted, or transferred, into a new trust with different terms. The previous trust was established during a man's marriage. When he faced divorce 30 years later, the original trustees moved the trust assets into a new fund that excluded the man, and therefore his soon-to-be ex-wife. A state Supreme Court upheld this use of decanting. 

Even divorce has hidden blessings

Life is all in what one makes of it. One's attitude can determine whether an event is a blessing or a curse, and when people choose to see the positive side of any change, they can set themselves up for a happier life. Even divorce has its upside, as a recent news article shows. Individuals in Texas may find some helpful hints from the article for shaping an attitude of gratitude for divorce. 

Divorce can end some stresses and obligations. Obligatory hangouts with an ex-spouse's family or friends are now a thing of the past. This gives more room in life to create one's own traditions and ways of doing special activities. One might even pick up some new skills along the way as well.

Child custody tips from a divorce expert

A recent article written by an experienced family advisor shares some tips on co-parenting. The woman gives basic guidelines that some individuals in Texas may wish to ponder and apply if they match their needs when considering child custody. The tips are designed to help individuals begin to plan and implement a workable co-parenting plan. 

For the individual who is just entering the divorce negotiation process, she stresses that it is important to be prepared. The person entering negotiations should understand the different types of custody -- joint, shared and sole. The person should also think of their needs and preferences regarding visitation. The ideal agreement would meet the needs of the children and the schedules of the parents, as well as allowing for some flexibility for future changes. 

Tax reform could change alimony

A federal tax reform bill is currently in the works that will make significant changes to existing tax policy. One of those changes is the elimination of the alimony tax deduction. If that change passes into law, experts say that it will drastically affect how divorce agreements are settled. Individuals in Texas who may be facing a divorce could potentially be affected if the divorce is finalized after 2017. 

Under current law, alimony payments are tax deductible for the payee. The person who receives the spousal support must claim that payment as income and pay income taxes. Government officials say that a discrepancy in the dollar amount of support payments deducted and the dollar amount claimed as income mean that the program isn't working and should be eliminated. Some critics of that belief say that tougher enforcement could potentially fix that issue.