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ELIGIBILITY FOR SPOUSAL SUPPORT

ELIGIBILITY FOR SPOUSAL SUPPORT

A spouse requesting post-divorce support in Texas must be eligible to receive spousal maintenance before a court can grant the request. The court cannot award spousal maintenance to a non-eligible spouse on its own. However, parties are free to agree and contract for post-divorce support even when the court would not have the power to do so.
In order to be eligible, the spouse seeking maintenance must lack sufficient property once the divorce is final (including separate property) to provide for her minimum reasonable needs.
Additionally one of the following two scenarios must apply:

1. The paying spouse must have been convicted of or received deferred adjudication for an act of family violence as defined by Texas law. Additionally, the act of family violence must have been committed either:
a.) During the marriage (but no more than two years before the date the divorce suit was filed); or
b.) While the divorce suit was pending.
OR

2. The spouse seeking maintenance is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for their minimum reasonable needs and:
a.) Their inability is due to an incapacitating physical or mental disability; or
b.) Their inability is due to their responsibilities as the custodian of a child of the marriage who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability; or
c.) They been married to the other spouse for 10 years or more.

If your spouse cannot meet the conditions set out in at least one of the above scenarios, then they are not eligible for court-ordered, post-divorce spousal maintenance.

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WHAT TO DO IF YOU OVERPAID CHILD SUPPORT

WHAT TO DO IF YOU OVERPAID CHILD SUPPORT

Child support is designed to ensure that both parents are contributing to the financial needs of any shared children they might have. In cases where a paying parent overpays child support, it is possible to recover the excess support, though this depends on a number of factors.

In Texas, if you are still obligated to make child support payments, the attorney general will likely apply the excess payments to your future obligations, as per Texas Family Code.

On the other hand, if you are no longer obligated to make child support payments, you can file a request and demand a repayment or, if that fails, you can file a lawsuit. This is applicable whether or not your overpayment was made before, on, or after the date your child support obligation was terminated.

If a court rules in your favor, your ex-spouse would also be obligated to pay for your attorney fees and court costs, in addition to the amount of child support you overpaid.

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HOW TO MODIFY A DIVORCE AGREEMENT

HOW TO MODIFY A DIVORCE AGREEMENT

Divorce agreements are meant to be permanent, but it’s not uncommon for a party to want to change it for one reason or the other. A significant change in circumstances (death, relocation, job loss) after a divorce can make a modification necessary for the best interest of the parents and their children.
The areas of a divorce that are most often modified are those involving alimony, child support and parenting. Below are a few circumstances that may justify the need for a court order modification:

• If you are ordered to pay child support and you lose your high-paying job or have additional children with a new partner, you can file a motion to modify the child support order.

• You can also ask the court to change the amount of spousal support you give and receive. If you receive alimony and your ex-spouse starts earning a higher level of income, you can ask for more money. If you’re the one paying spousal support, you can ask the court to lower or cut off the payments you make if your spouse gets a good-paying job or moves in with a wealthy new partner.

• Parenting plans can also be modified for several reasons, for example, if one parent wishes to move to another city or state. Another reason for a modification to the parenting plan could be because one parent suddenly becomes unfit, whether it’s due to drugs and alcohol, an arrest, mental health issues or addiction.

• Despite their best efforts, courts are known to make mistakes, which can result in unfair divorce agreements

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BENEFITS OF A PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT

 

BENEFITS OF A PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENT

Texas residents may be aware that a prenuptial agreement is an agreement a couple enters into before getting married that sets how the separation will take place, should a divorce occur. Many argue that it is a recipe for disaster, as a couple is assuming the inevitability of separation, even before a union has taken place. However, for many, it is a practical step to protect not only their own assets and business interests, but also their children.

Couples who are entering into the marriage with their own business assets may be able to claim them in a divorce, depending on the asset division laws in the state. But, any addition or improvement made upon those assets during the marriage may be subject to a claim.
In addition, a spouse may come into an inheritance from a family member during their marriage. And, if the couple divorces, this inheritance may be subject to a claim, even though the inheritance is in only one person’s name. Spouses with children from a previous marriage can include provisions about protecting their prior children’s inheritance and assets as well.

If a divorce does take place, couples can avoid lengthy and acrimonious litigation regarding alimony and asset division and move on with their lives quicker. Nonetheless, it is important to create a fair premarital agreement to ensure everyone’s interests are protected.

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DOES TEXAS RECOGNIZE LEGAL SEPARATION?

DOES TEXAS RECOGNIZE LEGAL SEPARATION?

When Texas couples have a marital dispute that’s too serious to repair, divorce may be the only option. Texas, unlike most other states, does not legally recognize separation.
This has consequences at the end of a marriage because Texas is a community property state. Everything that was owned by the couple remains marital property, subject to property division in a divorce, even though spouses may live apart or keep separate residences.

Couples, however, can agree to a contractual separation instead of seeking temporary orders from a court. They may enter a separation agreement that is a legally-binding contract, which does not require a court proceeding.
Spouses seeking a contractual separation negotiate and enter an agreement that is binding and settles some of the issues when a marriage ends. The spouses usually separate their debts and assets, settle property division matters and agree to provisions providing for their children’s care.

This contract does not legally end the marriage, even though the couple lives separately. A separation agreement may, though, serve as the basis for court-issued divorce decree or an annulment order erasing a marriage that was illegal or not valid.

A spouse does not file a complaint seeking separation or for these agreements nor do they have to file for divorce or annulment. Moreover, courts do not issue orders approving or enforcing these agreements or play a role with their negotiation.

Violations of this agreement are treated as a breach of contract. When this occurs, the other spouse may file a civil lawsuit and ask the court for an order mandating that the spouse comply with the terms of the agreement.
These settlement contracts, like prenuptial agreements, can help resolve issues when a couple ends their marriage.

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Five Tips for Surviving Christmas During A Divorce

Five Tips for Surviving Christmas During A Divorce

Traditionally, Christmas is a time for bringing the family together to celebrate. However, when you are in the middle of, or have recently completed, divorce proceedings, the holiday can feel much less festive.

Below is a list of five tips for surviving a divorce during the holidays:

1. Surround yourself with positive people. Try to steer clear of negativity. It goes without saying that divorce is very stressful and takes a tremendous amount of mental and physical energy. Hang out with friends who uplift you and try to steer clear of those who bring you down.

2. Treat yourself to something special. Visit a day spa. Buy that bracelet you’ve had your eye on. When you give more to yourself, you have more to offer others.

3. Stay mindful of your health and well-being. Eat healthful meals. Make sure you get enough exercise and sleep. Try not to drink to excess.

4. Create new traditions. You now have the freedom to spend Christmas and other holidays in any way that you’d like! Take a personal vacation, or if you’re feeling altruistic, volunteer to work a shift or two in a soup kitchen and help those who are truly in need.

5. Set realistic expectations. Maintaining realistic expectations for the holiday season can go a long way towards reducing stress and frustration. Practice good self-care, establish clear boundaries, and take things one day at a time. It will get easier!

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HOW DO COURTS DIVIDE COMMUNITY PROPERTY IN A TEXAS DIVORCE?

HOW DO COURTS DIVIDE COMMUNITY PROPERTY IN A TEXAS DIVORCE?

Understanding the way property is divided is very important in a divorce. This is often the most disputed issue in a divorce, after child custody.
In most states, the law follows a standard known as equitable division, meaning that the division must meet guidelines of fairness. However, Texas follows a different standard known as community property when overseeing asset division in a divorce.

Community property is a type of joint ownership. Assets purchased by the married couple are combined with assets that were earned by the couple during their marriage. The husband and wife own them equally and all debts are incurred equally. This is true regardless of who has the title in the assets.

Generally, each spouse in Texas gets an equal share of community property and also incurs the marital debt equally. However, this does not mean that everything is always split 50-50. While some types of assets, such as a joint checking account, may be relatively easy to split in half, others are not. Complex assets, such as retirement plans, stock options and ownership stakes in a business, can be very difficult to divide fairly.

Another important fact to note about property division is that the law gives the court some discretion in how the property will be divided. Courts are instructed to order a division of property in a manner that the court considers fair and just. Therefore, when deciding on property division, courts can consider the needs of the parties and any children they may have.

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