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League City Family Law Blog

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.

Choosing to dissolve the business during a divorce

Running a business as a married couple is no walk in the park. Owning and running a Texas business can be extremely stressful, even if the business is successful. However, trying to run a successful business while the marriage is falling apart can be even more frustrating, especially if the former couple can no longer work together amicably. At this point, former couples may have to decide if they can continue to run the business together or if one person needs to leave.

In some cases, former couples ultimately decide to dissolve the business. There are still some factors to consider before the dissolution is completed. This is a dividable asset, so the timeline for selling can be important. If the former couple can hold on to the business for a bit longer, they could potentially maximize their profits. If cash flow is a major concern and the business could go under, the former partners may have to sell the business before they are ready.

Female breadwinners may be at risk for divorce

If the wife is the breadwinner in a marriage, it could put a strain on the relationship. In some cases, a relationship may be doomed before a couple is even able to get married if a woman makes more than her significant other. This is in spite of the fact that 38% of wives make more than their husbands according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A Harvard study found that couples are 33% more likely to divorce when the women is the primary earner in the relationship. This is partially because attitudes toward a man's role in a marriage have not changed while a woman's role has evolved in recent decades. A Pew study discovered that 40% of respondents felt that it was important for fathers to make money. Furthermore, 75% felt that women in the workplace made it harder for families to raise children.

Remember retirement accounts during a divorce

When going through a divorce, many people are focused on more immediate concerns regarding things like finances and child rearing. This means that potential retirement issues are not given much thought, but divorce can take a toll on retirement assets even if a couple is still relatively young. Texas residents might like to know about some retirement accounts to think about during a divorce.

When dividing retirement accounts during a divorce, a qualified domestic relations order may be needed. This is a relatively complex document, so professional help may be required when dividing assets this way.

The increase in shared child custody

Fathers of today in Texas now have a better chance of getting shared custody of their children after a divorce. According to one law professor, the evolving notions about the father's role in a child's life and social acceptance of divorce are two factors responsible for the higher rate at which family courts are awarding shared custody.

Legal custody is one type of child custody that gives parents complete authority to make decisions regarding their children's religion, education, health care and other aspects of wellbeing. The other type of child custody, residential/physical custody, concerns where the children reside at night.

When to assume a mortgage in a divorce

When Texas couples get a divorce, one of the parties may decide to keep the family home. There are essentially three ways the couple can do this. One is for the couple to keep the joint mortgage even though only one spouse keeps the home. The drawback is that if the spouse who keeps the home misses a payment, it could seriously damage the other spouse's credit rating.

The other choices are to refinance the loan or assume the mortgage. A mortgage assumption can look like an attractive option because it allows the person to keep the favorable terms of the original mortgage. Not every loan can be assumed, so the first step for the person should be to get a copy of the promissory note and check it for that detail.

Taxation issues for families during a divorce

Tax season may raise some questions for Texans going through a divorce, especially parents of dependent children. Claiming a child as a dependent on a tax return can offer significant financial benefits. However, only one person can claim each child as a dependent at any given time. When parents do not reach an agreement among themselves about how to handle taxation, the results can be complex and challenging.

Claiming a child as a dependent is perhaps more financially important than ever. The claiming parent can file with Head of Household status and access several valuable tax credits, including the Child Tax Credit, Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit. All of these credits vary in amount depending on the number of dependents claimed. While the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act removed many personal deductions from income taxes moving forward, these credits remained important. Indeed, the Child Tax Credit doubled under the new tax law.

What may happen to a business in a divorce

Business owners in Texas can protect company assets in case of divorce with a prenuptial agreement. However, it can be difficult for spouses to talk about prenups and the possibility of divorce. Therefore, another option is to address divorce-related issues in the company's organizing documents. These documents may be written to grant a cash award for a spouse in lieu of actually dividing the business.

The purpose is not to try to cheat a spouse out of their share of marital property but to establish parameters to make a divorce, if it happens, less contentious. For example, while a prenup might specify that the company is separate property, it could also name a percentage of the company's value that a spouse can claim. These types of documents are just as important if the couple runs the business together. One could buy the other out in a divorce; although, some couples may agree to keep running the company.

Making the divorce process more civil

Divorce is an arduous process that can bring out the worst in people. During a divorce, people who loved each other once can sometimes act as if they are bitter enemies, trying to hurt the other person at every turn. As a result, it is important for people going through divorce to make the process be as amicable as possible.

To begin with, couples trying to imagine what kind of problems could show up during the divorce can look at the history of their marriage for guidance. They should try to answer questions such as how they resolved their conflicts and how each person handles hostile scenarios.