You just spent months going through the divorce process to divide all of your assets and debts. Whether this took you months or years, you’re probably exhausted. But are you done? Let’s make sure. This guide will assist you in ensuring that all of the property awarded to you in the divorce is taken care of.
1. First, is Property Awarded to you retitled just to you?
While you were married, it’s likely that a lot of the marital property was in both your and your ex-spouse’s names. Once you are divorced, you will want to ensure that the property awarded to you is solely in your name.
- For real property (houses and land), a Special Warranty Deed can be signed by your ex-spouse to transfer their portion of the home to you – something needs to be filed in the property records to effectuate this transfer and remove your ex
- For motor vehicles, your ex can sign the Certificate of Title to you, if it is owned outright, or a Power of Attorney to Transfer Motor Vehicle can be signed by your ex-spouse to transfer their portion of the motor vehicle to you.
- For financial accounts, take the Divorce Decree to the financial institutions to remove your ex’s name. They may have specific paperwork that your ex needs to sign as well. Provide that to your ex to ensure he or she is removed as an owner and as a signer on all accounts awarded to you.
- For personal property, (household items, furniture, and the other “stuff” that you were awarded), the Divorce Decree is sufficient to show others that the property is yours. It is key to get these items into your actual physical possession quickly post divorce to make sure they are not “lost”, “stolen”, “sold”, or otherwise disposed of.
- For debts, reading this guide might be too little too late to transfer a debt OUT of your name. That debt is likely a contract between you and the financial institution loaning the funds. A divorce decree can only do so much to interfere in that relationship between you and a financial institution who was not involved in the divorce process. However, if your ex-spouse was ordered to pay a family debt, but your name is on that debt, the only way to ensure the debt might not be your liability if your ex-spouse fails to make payment is to have the Court order the debt to be refinanced in your ex-spouses name. If this was not done, you might be on the hook to make payment (or have your credit affected) if your ex-spouse fails to make payment. If this has become an issue for you, our office can assist you with an Enforcement action to enforce the provisions of the Final Decree requiring your spouse to make payment and recoup any money you had to pay because of their failure to pay.
2. Second, ensure that a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) was submitted for required retirement account transfers.
If a retirement account was divided in your divorce, it is very likely that you need a QDRO to divide the retirement account. Most financial institutions that manage these accounts have specific forms to use to separate these accounts upon a divorce. Not only does this form need to be prepared correctly according to your decree, it is a separate court order that needs to be signed by the Judge and issued to the plan administrator. The plan administrator will then roll the separate portion into a separate account, and the owner of the separate account can then decide whether to leave the funds with the administrator, roll the funds into another qualifying account, or withdraw the funds. We recommend you work with a financial advisor in making this decision, as it is very likely that you will be responsible for taxes and/or penalties if you cash out any portion of your qualified retirement funds.
3. Third, Review (and change) your Beneficiary Designations.
This is an easy way to make sure the bulk of your assets are distributed as you wish upon your death. Many assets transfer directly to your selected beneficiary (and outside of your estate) depending on a beneficiary designation, payable on death, or even joint ownership with rights of survivorship. This is one very important reason to check these beneficiary designations post-divorce is to ensure your ex is not your listed beneficiary, or worse, still a joint owner of any accounts.
Examples of property with beneficiary designations are your retirement accounts, life insurance, annuities, and transfer on death designations on bank accounts. Updating your beneficiary designations to ensure the proper people receive these types of property upon your death is important to ensure your ex-spouse does not mistakenly receive your life insurance proceeds because of a failure to remove him or her as your beneficiary.
*keep in mind that your Decree may require you to maintain life insurance or another asset in a specific manner to cover life insurance or property division details. Please review your Decree to ensure changing your benefits or designations does not run afoul of your specific requirements.
4. Fourth, check on your estate plan.
Do you have a Will, Powers of Attorney, HIPAA releases, a Trust, or Guardianship designation? If so, once you are divorced you should review these. You may need to update these documents to remove your ex-spouse as a beneficiary and as an executor, trustee, or agent.. If you have decided you need to revisit your estate plan, reach out to our office to set up a consultation to discuss revising your estate plan!
5. Last, ensure that you have changed passwords and removed your ex-spouse from all accounts awarded to you.
Chances are while you were married your ex-spouse had login information to most of your accounts. Upon divorce, you will want to make sure to change any passwords they might know to make sure they no longer have access to your accounts. This includes bank accounts, social media, and subscription services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon. It is also key to make sure that your accounts are not synching in any manner – think Google Drive, cloud services, iPhone backup, etc. Nothing says divorce like a surprise Facebook status you didn’t know you wrote!
The family law and estate planning attorneys at Hanshaw Kennedy Hafen, LLP are here to assist with any problems you are having related to divorce or estate planning. Give us a call today to schedule a consultation!Read More
The top 5 things to consider and be ready to discuss at your initial divorce consultation. When thinking about post divorce goals, the following information will assist your potential lawyer advise you.
1. Budget Summary
To know what things will look like during the divorce process and to prepare for life post divorce, it will be helpful to plan what your needs may be and how you intend to meet those needs. Are you going to continue to live in the marital house? How much is the mortgage? Monthly bills and upkeep? Do you need to look at apartments? Look for roommates? Think about how much you spend on auto expenses (gas, insurance, tolls, parking); cell phone; Internet; utilities; credit cards and other debts (including student loans). Will you have expenses for kids? Private school, daycare, extracurricular activities, clothing, grooming, medical expenses? Find a good budget worksheet and fill it in to the best of your ability ahead of the consultation.
This should also include an overview of your income and expected income from any sources. if you have a pay stub, bring that as well. If you have a copy of your spouse’s pay stub, a copy of that may also be helpful to your attorney.
2. List of Assets and Liabilities
To the extent you can access information regarding your assets and debts, that information is helpful to your attorney. If there are bills due monthly, any you can plan to push out over time, any you can pay off with assets you already have? You can work with your attorney on the best short and long term plan in dealing with assets and liabilities.
3. Timeline of Relevant Facts of Marriage
It is very helpful for your attorney if you have a list of facts including the date and location of marriage; any moves throughout your marriage; when children were born or adopted or otherwise brought into your home – and their names; any incidents of counseling, healthcare issues that may be relevant, issues with children that may be relevant; and instances of any family violence, verbal abuse, financial abuse, emotional abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse during your marriage, as well as any affairs or other issues you think may come up (that can be used in your favor and those that may be used against you).
4. Any Legal Documents
If you have a prenuptial agreement or post marital agreement, please bring that to your initial consultation.
If any documents have been filed in the divorce case or in any cases regarding the children, including any police reports, CPS reports, etc., take those to your consultation.
If you have been served with any documents in the divorce, bring those to your attorney as they may trigger deadlines that the attorney needs to work under.
Any other lawsuits that involve you, your spouse, and/or your children should be brought to the attention of your attorney early.
If you or anyone else has a trust in place or are the beneficiary or trustee of a trust, bring a copy to your attorney.
If you own any businesses, individually or with your spouse, or if your spouse owns any business interest, bring all legal documents regarding those businesses so the attorney can assess accordingly.
5. Bring a List of Questions
If you are at a divorce consultation, it may be emotional and overwhelming. List your questions and concerns ahead of the consultation and bring those with you to ensure your questions are addressed by your attorney. Include questions about likely outcomes; the divorce process; and costs/billing.
Other important questions address how to communicate with your attorney – is email best, scheduling phone calls? How frequently? How quickly will the attorney typically respond? And how are you billed for emails and calls?
Ask about local rules of the court and standing orders (if any). Ask about timelines for the divorce process. Ask whether you will need experts or other witnesses, the costs of those, and the strategy and timeline for hiring experts.
I highly recommend each adult resident in Texas have at least a simple will and probably an estate plan. It is imperative to review your plan at every major life event for you, family members, and anyone named in the estate planning documents.
1. You do not have an estate plan or Will
If you do not have an estate plan or Will, or you created your own that has not been reviewed by an attorney, you need to meet with an attorney. It is significantly more costly to administer an estate without a Will than with a Will, in Texas.
Just as important is to ensure you have financial planning and healthcare planning documents in place in case of an emergency or healthcare issue.
Talk to your local estate planning lawyer to make sure you and your family are covered in case of an emergency.
2. You were recently married – Congrats!!
If you were married for the first time, or this is a subsequent marriage, it is imperative to check your Will and your post death planning to make sure you and your spouse are covered. You cannot will away your new spouse’s share of community property without specific written permission from your spouse in a prenuptial agreement or post marital agreement. Failing to protect your spouse’s rights in your estate may lead to expensive litigation.
If this is a subsequent marriage or if you have children from a different relationship, it is key to talk to an estate planning attorney to decrease the likelihood of future litigation within your family.
3. You were recently divorced
If you were recently divorced – or divorced at all since your prior look at estate planning, it is time to look again. This really could be an entire section of its own. We have an article with more in depth information regarding dealing with property, assets and liabilities during a divorce that can be found here.
1. Make sure all of the loose ends are tied at the end of your divorce. (Property is adequately transferred, titles are transferred, designated beneficiaries are changed, etc.).
2. Look at your existing estate plan and think about all the places that list your spouse – executor (to manage your estate), beneficiary (to receive your estate), trustee (to manage the estate for the benefit of another – maybe a minor child), etc. You likely want to change most or all of these. Consider adding successor or back up people to manage your estate and to make decisions for you if you become unable to do so.
4. You had or adopted a child
This will change the outlook of your estate plan. You want to make sure your child or children are cared for after your death. This becomes more important if your kids are minors. It becomes more difficult with blended families. In any situation, having a child or adopting a child is a great reason to review your estate plan.
Something people fail to consider is when people named as guardian in their estate planning documents has children. This is a big deal and to be considered. If I want my single sister to take my 2 kids if something happens to me and my husband, I can include that in my estate planning documents. If, then, my sister adopts infant twins, is she capable and ready to take on the responsibility of my 2 kids? Definitely worth thinking about.
5. Something happened to someone in your family or someone named in your estate plan
In our estate planning documents, we name executors to manage our estates; we name beneficiaries to inherit our assets; and we name agents to take care of our needs if we become incapacitated. If such an executor, trustee, agent, etc. marries, divorces, has children, goes to college, goes through bankruptcy, moves, or has any other major life events, it is time to review your estate planning documents to make sure all such documents still fit your needs.Read More
- Most Possession Schedules Permit (and Courts Encourage) Agreements to Modify the Holiday Visitation. While the specific language in your order controls, check out your order to see if this applies to your case. Most possession schedules permit you to exercise ANY periods of possession by mutual agreement. Do you hate that one parent gets the entire Thanksgiving break? Try working with the other parent to divide up that week to establish Thanksgiving times for each parent that benefits the child most. Maybe switch days and offer some make up time. With visitation, really anything goes as long as it is good for your family and agreed by the parents.With that being said, ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS get those agreements that change your written possession schedule IN WRITING (text or email is fine). Also understand that you are relying on the other person’s word to keep these agreements. If one parent decides to renege on the agreement at the last minute, you are unfortunately stuck with following the possession schedule in the child custody order, as the written court order is the order that is enforceable. Of course, if you have questions or need advice, contact your local family law attorney.
- A Typical Holiday Possession Schedule Alternates Each Major School Break (regardless of virtual, face to face, or other schooling options). Pursuant to the Standard Possession Order, the holiday possession schedule typically follows the below schedule:
Custodial Parent Years Non-Custodial Parent Years Spring Break Odd Spring Break Even Thanksgiving Even Thanksgiving Odd First Half of Christmas Odd First Half of Christmas Even Second Half of Christmas Even Second Half of Christmas Odd
Per the Standard Possession Order, the Christmas or winter holiday is broken down into the First Half of Christmas, which begins when the child is released from school for Christmas and ends at noon on December 28, and the Second Half of Christmas, which begins at noon on December 28 and ends on the Sunday prior to the child returning to school. Mother’s Day and Father’s Day are also included to give the respective parents time with the children on those days. Many orders also include terms for birthdays of the children. The Standard Possession Order entitles the parent in possession for Spring Break and Thanksgiving possession as beginning the Friday beginning the break and ending the Sunday following the break, for almost 9 full days for each such holiday. Any other Holidays that you want to include and delineate specific possession times have to be specifically requested before the Judge or agreed upon between the parties. If those holidays are not included in your order, you are able and encouraged to try to work between the parents to written agreements regarding those additional holidays.
- If Your Holiday Possession Schedule is Not Working, You Can File a Modification. Do you think your current holiday possession schedule is not in the best interest of the child? Have the circumstances in your family or the other parent’s family materially and substantially changed since the prior order was entered, which you believe warrants a change in your possession schedule? If you answered yes to both of these questions, you are entitled to file a Petition to Modify Parent-Child Relationship to address any issues that affect the children. The best way to determine whether filing a Modification is your correct next step is to contact a family law attorney with experience in these matters. The family lawyers at Hanshaw Kennedy Hafen are working and ready to take your call.
- If the Other Parent Refuses to Follow the Holiday Possession Schedule, You can File an Enforcement. Are you having difficulty getting the other parent to properly follow the possession schedule? Do they refuse to do what is required of them under your Child Custody Order? If so, you are entitled to file a Motion for Enforcement, which asks the Court to order the other parent to follow the Custody Order and can include penalty for the parent refusing to follow the Order (this could be monetary fines, jail time, make up time, etc.). The best way to determine whether filing an Enforcement is your correct next step is to contact a family law attorney with experience in these matters. The family lawyers at Hanshaw Kennedy Hafen are working and ready to take your call.
- THE FAMILY LAWYERS AT HANSHAW KENNEDY HAFEN ARE OFFERING FREE CONSULTATIONS THROUGH THE HOLIDAY SEASON! Are you experiencing any of the difficulties described above with your co-parent? As their holiday gift to you, the family law attorneys at Hanshaw Kennedy Hafen, LLP are offering FREE consultations through January 1, 2021. Give us a call to determine the best way to protect your children’s best interest and deal with a difficult co-parent. We offer in-person, virtual, or over-the-phone consultations, and we are able to initiate your case ASAP even in light of COVID-19.*
*The Family Lawyers at Hanshaw Kennedy Hafen, LLP are able to advise on issues related to COVID-19 and visitation with the children. Pursuant to the Twenty-Ninth Emergency Order Regarding the COVID-19 State of Disaster, possession of and access to a child shall not be affected by any shelter-in-place order or other order restricting movement that arises from the pandemic. The original published school schedule still controls, and possession and access shall not be affected by the school’s closure that arises from the pandemic. The full Emergency Order can be found by clicking HERERead More
Summertime – every family lawyer’s favorite time of year. As the baseball players are out there fielding balls, we are out there fielding calls (groans permitted).
“He gets how much time?”
“What do you mean I didn’t designate in time?”
“So, I don’t get Thursday nights anymore?”
“This is not fair!”
“This is not good for the kids!”
And, the best of all: “How can I change it?”
Before entering in to arguments with the other parent, take a look at your divorce paperwork. It is a road map to your child’s time with you. It should, clearly and cleanly, set out what time your child gets to enjoy with each parent. Make sure to keep educated and always speak with an attorney in the event of disagreement or misunderstanding with the other parent.
For parents working under a standard possession schedule and who live within 100 miles of the other parent, the following is a snapshot of the summer time schedule. Always be sure to consult with an attorney with questions as to your specific orders:
Extended period of possession for the non-primary parent
– Thirty days, to be elected by April 1 of that year. This period of time can be divided in to two periods of possession with each period being no less than 7 days long.
– If you do not timely elect, your period of possession starts July 1 and ends on July 31.
Weekends and Thursdays for the non-primary parent
– Each weekend commencing at 6 pm on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th Friday and ending at 6pm on the Sunday.
– Thursday periods of possession go away during the summer.
“Stolen weekends” for the primary parent
– The primary parent may visit with the children during one weekend in the 30 day period allotted to the non-primary parent, regardless of whether that is broken up in to two periods of time or exercised in one lump. The primary parent must choose this weekend by April 15.
– Additionally, the primary parent may “steal” one of the non-primary parent’s normal weekend periods of possession – effectively giving the primary parent possession of the child for up to 21 days in a row. The primary parent must elect this period of time by April 15 or, failing that, must give 14 days notice of the election.
Remember, your child’s needs will rarely fit neatly in to the possession schedule. Football camps, stay away camps, grandparent visits, theater camps, and many other activities will not always square away with your schedule. Your possession schedule is – typically – just there in the event you cannot agree with the other parent. You should do your best to work with one another to meet your child’s needs, not your own. Where that cannot and does not happen, reach out to the family law attorneys at Hanshaw Kennedy Hafen for trusted and reliable legal advice.
“I missed you. What did you do? Was mommy nice to you? Who was there? Were they nice to you? Oh, I missed you so much!”
If you are saying any of the above things to your children after they come home from their other parent’s house, then stop. Any good parent should know not to involve children in adult discussions or to disparage the other parent in front of the children. The “your dad didn’t pay for hockey so you cannot do it,” “your dad left me and you for someone else” comments should, clearly, all be off the table for discussion with or around the children. But, all too often, our innocuous questions and comments are interpreted by children in a negative way. While we, as parents, may have every intention on asking these things for good reasons, a child’s ears do not always hear it that way. So, be wary of the listener’s ears.
Broken down below are the things you say and how your child might actually “hear” it:
|What you said||What your child heard you saying|
|I missed you!||When I am with my other parent I am hurting your feelings by being away. That makes me feel conflicted about enjoying my time with my other parent.|
|What did you do? Who was there? Where did you go?||When I come back I have to be able to relay to you everything I did and read your expression as to whether that was a good thing or a bad thing. That makes me feel like I am tattle telling on my other parent, or that I have to lie about what I did.|
|Was mommy nice to you?||Mommy is always nice to me – but now you have asked I am wondering if she really was.|
|Oh, I missed you such a lot!||Now I am really worried that when I go to my other parent’s house you are sad and lonely. That makes me anxious about leaving you.|
So, the next time your child returns home from their other parent’s home, try another tactic:
For those good days: “Hey, buddy, how’s it going? It’s good to see you looking so well! Let’s head home and get some dinner.”
For those not so good days: “Hey, buddy, how’s it going? How about we get you home, eat some food, and hang out?”
And, for those terrible days where the separation from the other parent seems inconsolable: “Hey, buddy. It looks like you’re feeling sad right now. I love you and so does [daddy/mommy]. But how about we head back to the house, grab some food, and you can tell me whatever you feel like telling me.”
There is no one size fits all solution to speaking to any child, regardless of their family situation. That said, all parents – especially divorced and separated one – always need to be wary the listener’s ears. Their minds and hearts are more tender than ours and we need to protect them.Read More
That’s right, folks. The Texas Attorney General has increased their ability to go after delinquent child support obligors: by denying vehicle registration for offenders.
Currently, the Texas Attorney General may already do the following for nonpayment of child support, administratively (without notice or the ability of the alleged offender to defend himself or herself):
- Garnish wages
- Garnish tax returns
- Impose liens against bank accounts, real estate, and other property owned by the obligor
- Suspend driver’s license and professional licenses
Beginning in December 2016, obligor’s who owe more than 6 months of back child support will be subject to denial of registration on their vehicle, in a new attempt to compel compliance with child support orders. Those who are more than 6 months behind on support with registration due in December or thereafter, will be notified of their status by letter approximately three months prior to the due date on their registration renewal.
Those who are flagged to have their registration denied will not be able to have their vehicle registered until they enter a payment plan with the Attorney General. There will be a direct number for those individuals to call to set up such payments, and that information may be listed on the registration letter.
Many who were against this legislation are worried that this will cause problems for those who are truly unable to pay their full support and arrearages, but who need their vehicles to make a living and attempt to pay the support in amounts that they can afford. Additional concerns are already being tossed around about the additional fees that obligors will have to pay to participate in and comply with this program.
And then there is the concern that I know many other family law attorneys have, but may be too politically correct to say – the Office of the Attorney General Child Support Division’s calculations and running totals for child support payments, delinquencies, and arrearages are not always correct (Gasp!). While the system is a good one with a noble and well-meaning goal, errors do occur. These errors already cost obligors much time to correct, and many times they will need to get an attorney involved to fix major problems. In the past year, I have had to get involved in cases to release a wrongfully garnished tax return; stop the garnishing of wages that were being delivered to a biological mother whose rights were terminated prior to the withholding; and correct numerous amounts of total back child support calculations.
Take note that if you owe more than 6 months of child support as your arrearage total, you need to be on a payment plan with the Attorney General as soon as possible, or you may be subject to having your vehicle registration denied beginning in December.
Contact us to speak to an experienced family law attorney and to know your rights regarding this new law, and the enforcement and payment of child support.Read More
In Texas, and across the country, adultery remains one of the main causes of divorce. The Texas legislature has narrowly defined adultery and even more narrowly defined the application of adultery in a divorce proceeding.
Texas Courts have defined adultery as “voluntary sexual intercourse of a married person with one not the spouse.” In re Marriage of C.A.S. 405 S.W.3d 373, 383. This means that there must be sexual contact, even just one time. This also means that “emotional affairs” do not rise to the level of adultery as a ground for divorce. Keep in mind that there is no legal separation in Texas, you are married until you are formally divorced, so post separation sexual intercourse with someone other than your spouse is legal adultery.
Still, many courts in Collin, Denton and Dallas Counties view adultery as a symptom or outlet showing from an underlying problem in the marriage. This means, that they are not given the weight in court that a cheated spouse may feel an affair deserves. I mean, your spouse broke his or her promise to you – at the very least you may feel the court should view this as a breach of contract, right?! Well, the court does have some power to right the wrong caused by an affair, but it tends to only come up in select cases.
What Can Proving Adultery Get in Court:
- Property Division: You may receive a greater share of the community assets in your property division. This is the most common way the Courts compensate a cheated spouse. In general, Courts have a lot of leeway in deciding a “just and right division of the estate.” This means they can consider fault in the breakup of the marriage to determine whether one party should receive more or less of the community estate.
- In addition, if you can prove that community funds and assets were spent on a paramour, you may be able to have a greater claim to additional assets and funds in a property division. An experienced family law attorney can explain this in more detail if this sounds like your situation.
- Spousal Maintenance – if you already qualify for spousal maintenance for another reason, your spousal maintenance award may be increased if your spouse’s affair is shown to be the fault for the breakup of the marriage.
If you have minor children, CUSTODY OF YOUR CHILDREN WILL NOT DEPEND ON ADULTERY. Custody, including conservatorship (Decision-making), visitation, child support, etc. will only be decided on the best interest of the children. Adultery will only be considered in child custody determinations if you can prove that the situation rises to a level that influences the best interest of the child (i.e. the paramour is a felon, uses drugs, or otherwise negatively involved in the child’s life).
Proving Adultery: pictures and videos are not required, but they can be used. You can also use circumstantial evidence such as phone records, social media records, receipts for purchases for the paramour, etc.
When you find out about an affair, it is normal to be angry and hurt, but is it really best to air your dirty laundry in a public forum (where your neighbors, bosses, and kids could find out)? Will going “public” in your divorce papers or in the courtroom really change the outcome of the divorce?
It is best to discuss the pros and cons of filing for divorce on the grounds of adultery with a knowledgeable, local family law attorney. The Frisco family law attorneys at Hanshaw Kennedy, LLP have experience dealing with the delicate issues of adultery and can help minimize the additional turmoil an affair may bring into the divorce process while focusing on the goals of the divorce and your post-divorce life.
If you are considering a divorce, I am sure you have considered the cost to hire an attorney, and at least briefly considered handling your divorce yourself. While you may save some money up front, there can be huge costs to handling your own divorce.
1.You could miss out on property: In a divorce, you are dividing your entire estate. If you do not adequately account for the property in your estate, you do not understand the intricacies of community property, or you just do not understand the law, you could be missing out on large sums in the property division. For example, if you believe that funds earned by one spouse and saved by one spouse belong to that spouse, you would miss out on a portion of those funds. Alternatively, you may offer to give up part of an asset that is really your separate property
2.You miss out on child support or Overpay: Generally, child support is calculated based on the guidelines in the Texas Family Code. However, if you do not adequately account for deductions for health insurance premiums, you may be overpaying child support. Alternatively, if you calculate the average income for the past 3 years, when the last year is much higher and more indicative of future income, you and your children could miss out on hundreds per month in collected child support.
3.Your order may not be accepted by the Court: If the Court deems that any of your order is not fair and equitable or in the best interest of the children, the Court can refuse to accept your agreed order. This happens regularly when the parties agree to $0 for child support. Many courts do not consider this to be in the best interest of the child in mostAn experienced family law attorney can help you properly word your order so it will be accepted by the Court.
4.Your order may not be enforceable. Even worse than the order not being accepted is having in unenforceable order. Generally, when one party does not follow the court ordered divorce decree (fails to pay child support, fails to deliver property as part of the property division, etc.), the court can hold that party in contempt of court and force compliance or even order jail time in some instances. If an order is not written properly, a Judge cannot enforce it. You would need to spend money to have it clarified and redone, properly before you can have it enforced. In the long run, this is generally more costly than having it done properly the first time.
5.You may miss out on spousal maintenance: Many of us are aware that Texas is a “no alimony state.” While the Texas Family Code does not provide for alimony like some other states, there are provisions for spousal maintenance, which acts like alimony to assist a spouse in certain cases. A knowledgeable attorney will help you determine whether you may qualify for this type of support.
6.Added Bonuses: Experienced family law attorneys can give you objective advice and provide strategic advantages in your case whether you are negotiating, going to mediation, or preparing for a highly contested trial. Family law cases can be highly emotional, and it is vital to have a grounded attorney advise you through this difficult
In addition, the attorneys at Hanshaw Kennedy, LLP have experience devising creative support, visitation, custody, and property division agreements within divorce decrees that are specific to individual families and are written in an enforceable manner.
Our attorneys at Hanshaw Kennedy, LLP have experience in Collin, Dallas, and Denton county courts; we have worked with local mediators, and we have relationships with many local attorneys and other resources. Our specialized knowledge could save you money, get you more money, and ensure that you are properly protected in your divorce. We can come up with creative solutions that fit for your family in mediation or informal settlement and we can advise you on what battles are most important in your case. Importantly, our attorneys can give you a cost-benefit analysis at different stages of your divorce process. If you are considering a do-it-yourself divorce, you should truly consider what you may be leaving on the table.Read More
You are single: if you are single and an adult, with no children, your estate will go to your closest biological family member according to Texas law. If you would rather your estate go to young nieces and nephews, friends, etc. you will need a Will to designate the distribution of your property. In addition, your family members may be at odds in making necessary medical and care decisions for you, should you become incapacitated. You should have a durable power of attorney, healthcare power of attorney, and possibly a designation of guardian to ease this process. These documents will ensure that your wishes are adhered to and that your family will not spend time, money, or emotional energy fighting battles over your care. In addition, you may wish to appoint a person to dispose of your remains, or to choose how your remains are disposed, if you do not think your parents will agree with one another on this issue.
You are married: if you are married without a premarital agreement or a partition and exchange agreement, you have community property. If this is a first marriage, and there are no children, all of your property will go to your spouse, including any items that you wish would go to your parents, siblings, nieces and nephews, etc. The only way to dictate how your property is distributed upon your death is with a Will.
You have children: if you have minor children and are married to the children’s other parent, you should name someone to be a guardian and care for your children if something is to happen to you and your spouse. Also, you will want to include a contingent trust in your Will so funds will not be held for your children if you want them to use funds now, and so funds will not be fully disbursed at age 18, if you intend for funds to be overseen for a longer period.
You have grandchildren: if you want to take care of your grandchildren, you will want to have a Will to specify what you are gifting to each grandchild. Special steps need to be taken for minors.
You want to leave a gift to a minor child: if you want to leave a gift to a minor child, you will want to have a simple trust in your Will to allow an adult or institution of your choosing to make financial decisions for the beneficiary. Without a trust in place, the funds will either be held by the financial institution until the beneficiary reaches the age of 18 years, when there will be a full distribution at age 18; or someone will need to apply to be appointed as a custodian or guardian of the estate of the minor. In these circumstance, there will generally still be a full distribution to the child upon reaching 18 years. If you would like to protect the funds for college or until such time as the minor child reaches an age that you deem is more appropriate for such a distribution, you will need a Will with a trust for minor children.
You have a blended family: If you have children from a prior relationship and are now married to a spouse that is not the biological or adopted parent of one or more of your children, you probably need an estate plan, regardless of whether your children are adults or minors. Without an appropriate estate plan in place, you are setting up your children and your spouse to be at odds regarding the distribution of your estate. You may leave your spouse at a disadvantage or you may be leaving assets to a minor or adult child that you intend to take care of your spouse. You will need an experienced estate planning attorney to assist you in setting up your estate plan to accomplish the goals of your family.
You are in a long term relationship, but not formally married: If you intend your significant other to inherit from you or to be able to make medical decisions for you if you become incapacitated, you need an estate plan. If you specifically do not want your significant other to inherit from you or act as your spouse, you also need an explicit estate plan in place. Your significant other may claim that you had an informal, or common law, marriage, which may go against your desires. Our experienced attorneys can assist you in setting up a proper estate plan to protect you, your assets, and your loved ones.
Estate planning is for everyone. In Texas, it is generally less costly to have an estate plan and to probate a properly prepared Will than to attempt to go through the probate courts for administration and distribution of your estate without a Will. Collin County, Denton County, and Dallas County all have very reasonable filing fees that are not based on the size of your estate. Estate plans limit fights between family members and loved ones and ensure your wishes are followed.
Contact the Frisco Family Law Attorneys at Hanshaw Kennedy, LLP to discuss your estate planning needs.
- This is based on Texas law and meant to apply to those who reside in Texas.