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Prenuptial agreements may help even happy Houston couples

A prenuptial agreement is often seen as a way to insure one's wealth against the possibility having to turn over a portion of one's assets to an ex-spouse following divorce. However, prenuptial agreements are in fact useful to a wide variety of Houston couples, including those who have the good fortune of remaining happily married.

Among other reasons, this is because a prenuptial agreement can specify certain terms that pertain to how each spouse's children will be treated in the event that one or both of the spouses die. In situations involving a first marriage, this issue can be fairly straightforward. However, with subsequent marriages the issue may become more complicated. Addressing this matter in a prenuptial agreement can help avoid conflict between a new spouse and the children by a prior marriage.

What to expect during Texas property division

Besides child support and visitation, the most contentious area of a divorce in Texas is often property division. The financial implications of dividing up the property are very important in securing each party's future. Divorce legal issues are often complicated, so it is important for people to know what to expect during the property division portion of a divorce settlement.

Texas is a community property state, but most marital estates are not divided "in half" like many people assume. The judge or mediator will divide the property based on what is "fair and right". What a person believes is fair and right is often different than what a judge will decide, however. There are some types of property that will not get divided, though, and that includes separate property obtained before marriage, inherited property, and property that was received as a gift.

How are retirement accounts handled in a TX divorce situation?

For many people the single biggest asset besides their house is their retirement account. For couples who are going through a divorce the retirement accounts that have amassed can prove to be a big, complicated issue to work through in the property division area. So how are retirement accounts distributed in a divorce?

Retirement accounts are viewed as income earned by the spouse during marriage. Contributions that are made to the retirement account while the couple is married is considered community property. Retirement assets that are accumulated before marriage are generally considered separate property and not included in the divorce settlement.

Alternatives to a traditional divorce

Houston residents who are considering a divorce or starting the divorce process may feel a huge amount of emotional stress and anxiety regarding the process. Many times a divorce is complicated and can involve many issues, including property division, child support, alimony and a host of other problems. Many people think that a divorce always includes court dates and judges, but there are alternatives to the traditional divorce proceedings.

One divorce option is the do-it-yourself divorce. This type of divorce is where the couple files their own paperwork and other necessary documentation. However, there are very few situations where this makes sense for a divorcing couple, as mistakes are often irreversible.

Business ownership can complicate the divorce process

For any number of reasons, a happy marriage can eventually end on the path to divorce. For business owners, perhaps it is due to long hours spent on the job, building a sustainable and profitable venture -- hours that, unfortunately, are lost from the relationship. Regardless of the reason, however, if you own part or all of a company, that will be part of the assets considered in property division.

There are a lot of questions that will come up at this point. What will happen to my business? Will my former spouse be a part of my company moving forward? What are my options? In such trying times, it can be invaluable to have an experienced professional there to answer questions and guide you through the process.

The importance of courtroom decorum in a high asset divorce

Going to court can be stressful for a divorcing spouse. Few people enter a marriage expecting the relationship will later become unsustainable; fewer still anticipate having to go over the details of things like property division and alimony in a courtroom. While Texas law offers ways to avoid divorce court, such as divorce mediation, these options may not work for everyone. Especially in cases of high asset divorce, going to court may be necessary to obtain a fair settlement.

Experienced legal representation can give a spouse peace of mind that their rights will be protected in the courtroom. A Houston family lawyer can walk a spouse through the different parts of a divorce proceeding and what can be expected each step of the way. A family law attorney will also typically share some helpful tips regarding proper courtroom decorum.

New Year may be appropriate time for new approach to divorce

After the frenzy of the holidays, Houston residents often want to take it easy during the month of January. The first month of the year, however, often brings its own sources of emotional stress: tax season is right around the corner, holiday bills often come due and many couples realize their marriage may not survive the coming year.

According to the president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, divorce filings tend to surge in January. Starting after the New Year and extending into early March, the number of divorce filings is often a third higher than usual. There are likely countless reasons for this, of course, but many point to the busy holiday season as one factor. Couples are understandably reluctant to part ways during the holidays, and those with children often want to give their families one final holiday season together as a family.

What should spouses put in their Texas prenuptial agreement?

Many engaged couples find that broaching the topic of prenuptial agreements is a delicate task. Still, once the topic has been brought up and spouses agree that a prenup is right for them, they often breathe a sigh of relief and assume that the most difficult aspect of life planning is over. A Texas prenuptial agreement can contain many different clauses, though, and cover many different subjects. After a marital contract has been agreed-to, many couples wonder: what should we put in it?

First, it's helpful to know that couples don't have to go it alone. A Houston family lawyer can be an invaluable tool for the entire prenup process, from drafting to signing to potentially enforcing later on in the event of divorce. In the initial stages, couples can learn from a family law attorney what a prenup can and cannot include.

Artwork may factor in complex property division

In a Texas divorce, one of the more challenging aspects of the property division process is ensuring that assets are valued accurately. While it may be relatively easy to determine the value of marital property such as joint bank accounts or retirement accounts, other assets are a bit more difficult to value, but just as important. The family home, vehicles used by the family, jewelry, electronics such as computers and televisions, recreational vehicles and more all must be valued in order to ensure property division proceeds smoothly and fairly.

Some spouses in the Houston area may have artwork that was acquired during the marriage. Artwork may be a particular challenge to value, since factors such as the original source of the art may be difficult to determine and a spouse may receive conflicting opinions as to how much the object is worth. Nevertheless, it's important to make sure that artwork, like all other assets between spouses, receives an accurate estimation as to its financial value.

Teamwork key to successful collaborative law outcomes

Many divorcing residents in the Houston area may find themselves intrigued by alternative dispute resolution. Those going through a divorce may have heard "horror stories" about a friend or relative's heated divorce or they may have experienced a contentious divorce already in their own history. Whatever the reason, many may understandably want to know more about how to have a relatively non-adversarial exit from a marriage.

In Texas, married couples have the option of using collaborative law to divorce. In the collaborative law setup, both parties can usually avoid going to court. Instead, the spouses, along with their attorneys, engage in a series of informational discussions that are aided by trained professionals. These negotiations are meant to foster constructive dialogue and keep focused on the key issues at hand. These can include spousal support, property distribution and many other divorce-related legal issues.

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Attorney Christine K. Lincoln

Christine K. Lincoln offers sound counsel and legal services to protect clients and their families facing divorce and other family disputes.

She will take the time to understand your individual needs and develop a comprehensive solution to protect your rights and interests.

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