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Houston Divorce Law Blog

Mediation and domestic violence in a Texas divorce

There may come a time in a Texas divorce where the court sends the parties to mediation. For many couples, mediation is a less stressful and less costly alternative to litigation. It is supposed to be a safe process for couples to hash out their differences and come to an agreement regarding a variety of divorce issues. However, what does Texas state law have to say about mediation when one of the parties involved is the victim of domestic violence?

Beneficiary designations need to be updated after a divorce

Besides the family home, a person's retirement accounts are often the largest asset a person has. These accounts can have thousands of dollars in them, and for people in Texas who are facing a divorce, it can be important to have the beneficiary designations updated.

When a couple is married, the beneficiary of an individual's retirement account is often their spouse. Accounts that have a beneficiary designation include savings accounts, life insurance, retirement plans, brokerage accounts and annuities. If a person is going through a divorce, they cannot change the beneficiary information and it has to wait until the divorce is finalized. Before a divorce process begins, a person may want to change beneficiary information, but they should keep in mind that if both partners have accounts with the same financial advisor, that advisor may let the other spouse know about the beneficiary change. If a beneficiary is not changed, the ex-spouse can inherit the benefits even if the divorce is final. If a person neglects to change their beneficiary information, it can lead to extensive legal headaches.

Should every engaged couple get a prenuptial agreement?

When a Houston couple becomes engaged it's typically a very exciting time. Everyone is happy and wedding planning is approached with gusto. Although everyone believes their marriage will last forever, the statistics are not always in their favor. Along with wedding dress, flowers, and reception hall shopping an engaged couple may also want to consider drafting a prenuptial agreement.

A prenuptial agreement may seem to be the most unromantic topic to discuss with a future spouse. No one wants to believe their marriage may fail apart and they don't want to think that in the event of divorce that there will be disagreements. But a prenuptial agreement can be a smart way for couples to discuss money long before it becomes a problem. A prenuptial agreement can set up an agreement for each person's debt including student loans and child support payments. It can also determine how assets that a person held before marriage would be distributed upon a divorce. And a couple can even specify the religion they want their children to be raised in.

Tips for a high asset divorce

Going through a divorce in Houston can be emotionally trying for a family. In a high asset divorce, the stakes can be high and the division of assets may be extremely complicated. There are some things that should be kept in mind for someone going through a high asset divorce.

A high asset divorce has all the complications of a regular divorce, along with a larger number of assets. Because there are often millions of dollar involved in a high asset divorce, a valuation expert is an important professional that should be involved in the divorce process. A valuation professional looks at the couple's holdings to determine their value. For high asset divorce situations, this is critical because many times the couple has stock options, business holdings and questions regarding distribution of assets that need to be addressed.

Is a collaborative divorce the right answer for you?

Since the statistics show that many Houston marriages end in divorce there are thousands of people going through a divorce each year. Divorce is a traumatic time for families and can also be very costly. One alternative to a traditional divorce is a collaborative law divorce.

In a collaborative divorce the spouses do not go through a traditional court divorce. Instead they meet together with their attorneys and work through each issue. This approach can have many advantages for couples. There is an open discussion among all the parties involved which ensures that everyone's voice is heard. All issues are out on the table and the couple and their attorneys are able to work through them. A collaborative divorce is also more private as it avoids the court system. It can also save thousands of dollars over a traditional divorce and can take significantly less time. Couples who go through a collaborative divorce may also feel like it was the less-stressful option.

March is the biggest month to file for divorce

Many Houston residents are happily married with their life partners. But many other couples are involved in a relationship that is no longer loving and happy. People in these relationships will probably be thinking about divorce and whether that is the best option for their situation. For those considering divorce, March is the most popular divorce month.

Although many may think January is the month where most people file for divorce, it's actually March. There may be several reasons including the feeling of being in a longer winter and the approaching spring may make a person feel like they need to make a change. Or with tax deadlines looming a person may want to split so that they don't have to file a joint return next year. Whatever the reason, spring can bring a new outlook to a person's relationship and help them decide that divorce may be the best option.

Preparing for a divorce

Many people in the Houston area will be filing for a divorce this year. Many more will be thinking that they would like to seek out a divorce, but don't know if they're ready. There are a few things that can help a person feel more prepared to seek out a divorce.

A divorce usually centers on property and asset division. When a couple goes through the divorce process, their finances will be closely analyzed. A person who is thinking about obtaining a divorce should organize his or her financial paperwork early on in the process so that they can be prepared and avoid the time and expense necessary to obtain them later. Second, a person seeking a divorce should open a bank account in his or her own name and make sure that his or her credit rating is good. It is important to have a good credit rating so that a person's financial future is positive. When these private bank accounts are established, make sure they are properly funded. Divorce can be expensive and many different professionals may be needed, including attorneys, financial planners and psychologists. If you are going through a high asset divorce or have a complicated financial situation, these professionals can cost tens of thousands of dollars. Finally, before filing for a divorce, a person should make sure that he or she has a divorce team in place. The team may consist of a family law attorney, financial planner, therapist and other professionals, depending on your needs.

Keeping the family home after a Houston divorce

The family home is often one of the largest assets that is divided during a divorce. In a Houston divorce, property division is often complicated, and the family home can be a tricky item to negotiate. Before a spouse decides whether they want to keep the family home, there are a few things to consider.

When keeping the family home after a divorce there many considerations. First, in the case of a divorce, the spouse who is not getting the house will most likely want their name off the mortgage. That means that the house will need to be refinanced. The spouse who wants to keep the house will need to be able to meet certain requirements to qualify for a new mortgage, including debt-to-income ratio. This may be difficult as a single income earner household, especially since alimony and child support are not considered income until they have been received for at least 12 months.

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.

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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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