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How Divorce Will Affect Your Stimulus Payment

In April, the US Treasury Department and IRS began distributing economic impact payments (stimulus payments) to families across the country due to COVID-19. Married couples should expect $2,400 if their adjusted gross income (AGI) is $150,000 or less. Individuals can expect $1,200 if their AGI is $75,000 or less.

But what happens to your stimulus payments when you’re going through a divorce? Will you still be able to receive some financial assistance?

Were You Married During the 2018 Tax Filing?

If you haven’t yet filed your 2019 taxes (due to the extension), your stimulus payment will be based on your 2018 taxes. If you were married and filed jointly on your 2018 taxes, your stimulus payment will include $1,200 for both you and your spouse, regardless of your current divorce proceedings. You’ll also receive $500 for each child you and your spouse claim as a dependent.

The stimulus payment will be sent to your bank account used for your 2018 taxes if you chose direct deposit. If not, you’ll receive a check in the mail at the address used in your filing, even if it’s the previous marriage home.

How Divorce Will Affect Your Stimulus Payment | Schneider Law Firm, P.C. | iStock-1218907252
817-799-7125 – Will your divorce affect your stimulus payment? It’s possible. To learn more about your stimulus payment, visit us today.

Becoming Separated After the 2018 Tax Filing

If you became separated after the 2018 tax filing, you must file your 2019 taxes as quickly as possible. It’s important to notify the IRS of your updated status, so you may receive your payment. If you’ve already filed your 2019 taxes and are now separated, you’ll need to work with your ex-spouse to divide the stimulus payment between you.

What If I’m Unable to Work With My Ex-Spouse to Receive My Payment?

If you and your spouse are unable to work together to divide the payment, you have the option to seek a court order to divide the funds. We recommend reaching out to an experienced divorce attorney who can help you decide the best step to take next.

Questions About Your Stimulus Payment? Reach Out to Us.

We understand that times are tough right now. The stimulus payment is meant to bring you some relief. If you’re concerned about your ability to obtain the amount entitled to you, let us help. To learn more about how we can help, give our Arlington office a call at 817-799-7125 or send us a message.

3 Things You Should Know About Social Media Before, During and After Your Divorce

In 2019, social media is just as popular as ever. Studies show that social media has 3.397 billion active users worldwide. That’s more than 42 percent of the world’s population. With such significant usage, it’s no wonder that social media has impacted the way courts handle divorce. In fact, polls show that 81 percent of divorce attorneys now consider social networking evidence worth presenting in court.

1. What You Do on Social Media Can Be Used Against You in Court

Remember that your spouse can use what you do and say on social media against you in divorce or custody proceedings – whether or not they can currently see it. The law allows spouses to request social media records as evidence of many things, including:

  • Your income and spending habits
  • Proof of where you were at specific times
  • Violations of restraining orders
  • The company you keep
  • Your communications with your ex
  • Your state of mind

So, complaining about your spouse on Facebook isn’t a good idea – even if you set the filters so they can’t see your profile. And avoid bragging about big purchases, trips and job promotions. Those things can lead to disputes over property and spending. In fact, it may be a good idea to take a break from social media in general when going through the divorce process.

Social Media in a Divorce | Schneider Law Firm, P.C. | iStock-1169192820
817-755-1852 – Based in Ft. Worth, the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., can help with a full range of divorce issues, including the use of social media as evidence.

2. Destroying Evidence or Playing Tricks Can Get You In Big Trouble

As damaging as social media posts can be, destroying them can be worse. Texas courts place harsh consequences on parties who intentionally destroy evidence. If the court finds that you have intentionally destroyed text messages, chat sessions or social media posts, you may be in more trouble than if you had just left the messages alone.

Likewise, it’s also not a good idea to try to “trick” or “bait” your ex through social media communications, text messages or posts. The plan could backfire and have a negative impact on your case. Instead, tell your lawyer if you believe that your spouse is not being truthful.

3. Get Legal Help as Soon as Possible

If you think that a divorce may be in your future, it’s a good idea to talk with an attorney sooner rather than later. The meeting is private and confidential, so your spouse will not know that you contacted counsel. In getting an early start, you can begin making plans ahead of time, including how to protect yourself financially, preserve your relationship with your children and move forward with your life.

You can also have time to adjust your social media habits accordingly before you’re in the middle of a heated divorce. Consider all of your posts as if you were viewing them through the eyes of the court. That way, you won’t be left at a disadvantage because things you have posted in the past can be used against you.

Questions About Social Media? Ask a Lawyer.

If you have questions about social media in divorce, get started by scheduling a confidential consultation with a lawyer at the Ft. Worth office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C. Call 817-755-1852.

Sources:

https://www.natlawreview.com/article/family-law-social-media-evidence-divorce-cases

https://www.brandwatch.com/blog/amazing-social-media-statistics-and-facts/

Who Keeps the Pet in a Texas Divorce?

The relationship you have with your pet is like nothing else. Pets can be man’s (or woman’s!) best friend, a constant companion and a source of comfort – especially during a difficult time. So, it’s no wonder that we often see divorces in which spouses’ greatest source of conflict is deciding who will keep a beloved family dog or cat. If you’re worried that your divorce may affect your relationship with your pet, here’s what you should know.

Texas Law on Pets in Divorce

Currently, Texas law treats family pets the same way it treats property. Courts seek to divide the property equally, deciding who gets the pet the way they would decide who gets any other asset – without regard to a spouse’s personal connection with the pet or where the pet would be happier.

Essentially, the current law treats a beloved family pet the same way it would any other personal property, like a lamp or a desk. In theory, a court could order that a pet be sold and the profits be divided equally between the two spouses.

Courts have explained this decision in the context of resources: Courtrooms are already full of people who are involved in heated child custody disputes or child custody modifications. Courts have said they simply don’t have the resources to hear pet custody cases, too.

Who Keeps the Pet in a Texas Divorce? | Schneider Law Firm, P.C. | iStock-1137961063
817-755-1852 – Based in Ft. Worth, the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., can help you in a divorce involving a beloved pet. We understand just how much a pet can mean, and we work to protect your rights.

The Law Might Be Changing…

Legal experts think that the law may change in the future. In fact, it already has changed in states like Alabama, Vermont, Alaska and California, and a change in the law seems likely in New York. These states have taken first steps to considering “puppy custody” by taking the best interests of a dog into account when determining which spouse the dog should live with.

Legal experts explain the change by taking into account the pet’s significance: Why should the law prevent spouses from dividing time with a pet? After all, the courts already let spouses work through extensive conflict related to inanimate objects. For many people, family pets are much, much more significant than any object.

How to Protect Your “Pet Custody” During a Divorce

So, how can you protect your relationship with your pet during a Texas divorce? If your relationship with your pet is important, mention it to your lawyer right away. Knowing that it is critical, your attorney can strategically work to protect your relationship with the pet during the divorce process. Often, it is possible for your attorney to negotiate with your spouse’s attorney so that the dog or cat lives with you after the divorce.

To get started protecting your relationship with your pet, call the Arlington office of Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-755-1852.

Sources:

https://www.law.com/texaslawyer/2019/02/25/the-best-interest-of-the-dog-a-beloved-pet-is-mere-property-in-a-divorce-but-maybe-not-for-long/

https://www.americanbar.org/groups/gpsolo/publications/gpsolo_ereport/2018/april-2018/pet-custody-who-keeps-pet-when-couples-divorce/

When a Child Custody Order Is Confusing

We sometimes hear from parents who are confused and upset by the court orders they received from Texas courts. For example, a child custody order might say different things on different pages, or it might be written in a way that doesn’t make sense or that’s too vague to follow.

The court order makes child custody and visitation a challenge, and it can cause disagreements between the parents. Sometimes, one parent accuses the other of not following the order when that parent was just following a different part of the order. Not following the order is called “being in contempt.” It’s a serious problem that can get you into deep trouble in Texas courts.

A Motion to Clarify

If your child custody order doesn’t make sense to you or the other parent, or if it’s causing conflict in your custody arrangement, there are actions you can take. Texas law allows parents and their attorneys to file something called a “motion to clarify.” The motion asks a court to clarify an order if the court finds that the order is not specific enough and that one parent could be held in contempt if the order was clarified.

Your lawyer can help you seek a motion to clarify before the court finds that one parent is in contempt, as part of a contempt proceeding, or after a denial of a motion for contempt.

When a Child Custody Order is Confusing | Schneider Law Firm, P.C. | iStock-1090431444

817-799-7125 – Texas law allows parents to file a motion for clarification when a child custody order is unclear, and a parent may be acting in contempt for not following it. Get help from an attorney at the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., in Arlington. 

What a Motion to Clarify Doesn’t Do

When the court grants the motion to clarify, it simply rules to change the order to be less confusing. There are things that a motion to clarify does not do, including:

  • Substantively change the order: A change in a court order is called a “child custody modification.” If you would like the order changed so that the terms of the arrangement are different, seeking a modification is probably a better fit for you. Talk with your attorney.
  • Apply retroactively to hold a parent in contempt: The order only applies going forward, so you can’t ask the court to clarify the order, and then immediately hold the other parent accountable for not following it in the past.

Get a Lawyer’s Help for Confusing Child Custody Orders

When a child custody order is confusing, it’s best to get legal help. Following only your interpretation of the order can lead to trouble. And if the other parent isn’t following the order because of confusion, get legal help too. Your attorney can protect your interests and your relationship with your child.  Start by calling the Arlington office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-799-7125.

Sources:

https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/FA/htm/FA.157.htm

https://texaslawhelp.org/article/clarifying-visitation-orders-answers-common-questions#toc-2