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League City Family Law Blog

Keeping the home in a divorce

Dividing property in a divorce is rarely a simple process, and dealing with a house is no exception. If one person in Texas plans to buy out a spouse and keep the home, there are several considerations to keep in mind.

First, it is necessary to determine how much equity each person has in the home. Next, an appraiser should determine the home's market value. In some cases, each spouse might want a separate appraiser. In the best-case scenario, their appraisals will be similar. If they differ significantly, the couple may need to hire a third appraiser to resolve this. The spouse who is keeping the home may also want to hire a home inspector to check the property. If significant repairs need to be made, the spouses will need to decide how they will pay for this.

Coping with common financial challenges after a divorce

Ending a Texas marriage usually results in financial challenges as former spouses rebuild their individual lives. People who once shared incomes and expenses must live off single incomes while sometimes paying debts and new expenses like child support. Careful budgeting and lifestyle adjustments typically help people make the transition, but they must give particular attention to health insurance, tax filing status and building credit.

Health insurance represents a big expense, especially for someone previously covered by a spouse's health plan. Someone who will lose coverage in a divorce might have it available through an employer. If not, the person might qualify for subsidies when buying insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchange. For people who have health coverage, they should make sure that their plans are no longer covering former spouses unless a divorce settlement requires it.

There are a few living options during a divorce

When a Texas couple is going through a divorce, there are still questions that remain. One of the major things that still needs to be decided is where to live during the process. This is a matter of emotional, financial and practical balance. The three primary options for most people are to stay in the family home, buy a new one or rent a place to live.

Leaving the family home can be emotionally difficult, especially in cases where children are involved. There can be value in keeping this aspect of life consistent while other aspects are changing. Individuals who decide to stay in the home should keep a detailed log of all costs related to upkeep, including cleaning, utilities, maintenance and taxes. These costs may be relevant during the property division phase of the divorce.

Warning signs for hidden assets during a divorce

Texas couples who were once brought together over a deep romantic connection may find that their relationship turns sour over the years, leading to bitterness and even hatred. In some cases, this can manifest in bitter fights during a divorce. Spouses may battle over their wealth and assets, with each party making a case for why he or she deserves more. These battles may be especially pronounced for couples who have accumulated a significant amount of wealth over time. Unfortunately, a drawn-out process can deplete the wealth held by both parties. However, some spouses may resort to unethical methods in an attempt to claim a greater share of property in the divorce.

There may be a higher risk of one party hiding assets if a couple has a significant disparity in wealth. The higher-earning partner may be far more likely to manage all aspects of a couple's finances. During the divorce, the other partner may be tempted to rely on their spouse for information about family assets, investments and accounts. They may not know where to look for assets that may be missing and unreported. However, there are certain warning signs that could indicate that one spouse is attempting to keep property out of the divorce.

Researchers find many divorces happen for emotional reasons

Among the main reasons that some Texas coupled are getting a divorce are a lack of communication, a decline in trust or simply growing apart. These were among the reasons cited in a study that appeared in the Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, prompting researchers to speculate that people are increasingly seeking emotional fulfillment in marriage. In fact, they point out that emotional and psychological reasons may have overtaken behavioral reasons, such as addiction, in prompting divorce.

A lack of love in the marriage was the reason given for a marriage ending by 47% of people. In second place, 44% said poor communication caused their divorce. In third place, people said their marriage ended because of a loss of trust or respect. Some research reports that respect is more important than love in maintaining a healthy marriage. In fourth place, people reported that they no longer shared the same goals or values despite years together.

How to approach social media in a divorce

People in Texas who spend more time on social media might have unhappier marriages. This was the finding of a Boston University study that found a link between social media usage and the quality of marriages. While married and even when contemplating divorce, people should avoid posting negative things about a spouse online. They may want to consider reviewing past posts and privacy settings. They may also want to remove people from the contacts list who are likely to cause problems.

Once the divorce is underway, this policy of discretion should continue. It can be tempting to vent about a spouse, but this is best done to family and friends offline. If a couple is divorcing amicably, they might want to make an agreement about when they will announce it on social media. Parents who are concerned about the privacy of their children may want to include guidelines in divorce paperwork about discussing them or posting their photos on social media.

Taking care of children after a divorce

One of the things Texas parents can do to protect their children after a divorce is to make sure that the children feel loved by their parents and stepparents. They should also be able to feel love for both of their parents and stepparents without having to battle issues of disapproval or guilt for doing so; parents need to avoid discouraging children from demonstrating open affection to a beloved stepparent.

After a divorce, children also have the right to express negative and positive feelings that their parents do not ignore. It is highly likely that the children will have a lot of emotional responses to the divorce, and it is important that their parents provide an environment in which those emotions can be freely expressed and validated.

Child support payments: every state has its own laws

In Texas and across the United States, divorced parents do not always make the same child support payments. In fact, payments vary sharply depending on the state in which the divorced parent resides. For instance, a parent living in one of the Rocky Mountain states pays the lowest child support payments. However, a parent living in the Northeast pays the highest payments. Furthermore, some state laws do not count the divorced mother's income. Child support payments are $100 higher in these states.

According to research conducted by Custody X Change, a move of only 28 miles could change a parent's child support payments significantly. A parent residing in Bennington, Vermont, may need to pay $519. However, a parent residing in neighboring North Adams, Massachusetts, may pay as much as $1,187 in child support payments. A parent residing in Virginia may only pay $402 a month to support their child. Since states make their own legal regulations about child support, each state has different formulas for calculating the payments.

Texas child custody case threatens 40-year-old federal law

A child custody battle involving a Texas foster couple who wish to adopt a Native American child placed in their care has raised questions about the constitutionality of a 40-year-old federal law. The Indian Child Welfare Act requires authorities to give Native American families priority in adoption cases involving Native American children. Congress passed the law to protect Native American communities and culture, but the federal judge who heard the case involving the Texas couple ruled that it was unconstitutional because it was based on race.

That decision is now being appealed, and Native American leaders are worried that other laws put into place to protect their communities could be questioned if it is affirmed. The constitutionality of the ICWA is also being challenged in federal courts by lawsuits filed by the states of Louisiana and Indiana. Many legal experts believe that the issue will eventually be argued before the Supreme Court.

USDA supports SNAP child support cooperation requirements

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it supports child support cooperation requirements for people receiving support from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), often referred to as "food stamps." In order to receive SNAP benefits, the USDA is arguing that states should require SNAP recipients to cooperate with child support enforcement efforts. This can include requiring both custodial and non-custodial parents to make official agreements for child support as part of their eligibility to receive SNAP benefits.

There are around 40 million people across the country that benefit from SNAP. Around 37% of children in single-parent families live in poverty, and one contributing factor is a failure by the non-custodial parents to pay child support. Of course, poverty itself poses a challenge, as poor parents are both far less likely to have a child support order or agreement in place and far more likely to face difficulties in meeting their payment obligations. Studies estimate that there is a nationwide gap of $13.5 billion between what custodial parents should be receiving in child support payments and what they actually receive.