Talking With Your Kids About Your Divorce

For many couples, the most worrying thing about divorce is how it will affect the kids. Parents worry how to tell them and, worse yet, what the other parent will say about them. The stress and worry can have a huge impact on the entire family. To reduce them, here are some things to keep in mind about talking with your kids.

Each Family Is Different

Each family is different, and each child is different. There is no one best way to tell children about divorce, so it’s best to do what is right for your family. When you have the conversation, keep the message age appropriate. Choose a time when your children are not likely to be overly stressed or tired. And choose a location where you will be comfortable having a talk.

Remember That the Conversation Will Be Memorable

Most adult children of divorced parents can tell you exactly where they were when they heard the news. So, when you choose the time and place for your conversation, consider how your children will remember it.

Gather the Whole Family and Tell Everyone

Telling only some of your children forces those children to keep a secret that they may not be mentally and emotionally prepared to keep. So, sitting everyone down together is best. If you and your spouse are on reasonably good terms, it may be best for you to tell the children together. That way, you can coordinate the message and convey some very important ideas–that their parents still love them very much, and that both parents will continue to work together to be present in their children’s lives.

Answer Questions and Keep Talking

Divorce can be hard to talk about, and it may be painful to answer some of your children’s questions. But it’s best to keep lines of communication open. Answer the questions you can as appropriately, honestly and openly as possible. Encourage your children to come to you with questions. Check in with them regularly to see how they are doing and how the divorce is affecting them as things change.

Be Respectful

It may be tempting to talk badly about your ex–especially if they are not fulfilling their obligations. But saying negative things about the other parent can cause stress and worry for your children. When talking with them about the divorce, it’s best to avoid saying negative things (even if you’re thinking them).

Questions About Divorce? Ask a Lawyer.

If you have questions about how divorce might affect your children and what steps you can take, get started by scheduling a confidential consultation. At the Ft. Worth office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., we have answers and insight. Call 1-817-755-1852.

Sources

Psychology Today: Six Tips for Talking to Your Kids About Divorce

Do Half of All Marriages Really End in Divorce?

It’s a common myth, and many of us have grown up believing it–that half of all marriages end in divorce. That statistic may have been true in the 1980s, but it is no longer accurate. For the last few decades, the divorce rate has been falling steadily. Researchers estimate that it is now around 39 percent.

So, does this mean that married couples are now statistically much more likely to find eternal wedded bliss? Not at all. There are many other factors that impact the lowering divorce rate.

The Likelihood of Divorce Isn’t the Same for All Couples

First, calculating the divorce rate in the United States can be misleading because it isn’t the same across all demographics. For example, for people who are in a second or third marriage, the divorce rate is closer to 75 percent or higher. There may be many reasons for this. Maybe their lives are already complicated by ex-spouses and children from previous relationships, which makes the current marriage more complicated. Maybe they already know that divorce is a viable option when times get tough.

Couples Are Getting Married Older and Less Often

The divorce rate also differs depending on the age of the couple. Statistically, Millennial couples have lower divorce rates than Gen X and Baby Boomer couples. This could simply be because fewer Millennials are getting married. United States census data released in 2018 shows that the median age at first marriage is now nearly 30 for men and 28 for women. In 2003, census data showed the ages at first marriage as 27 and 25.

Living together before marriage has become more common, and people are more likely to live together before committing to marriage. But researchers have found that marriage rates are lower for people who live together first.

And–just like with divorce rates–some couples are more likely to live together than others. Couples with lower incomes are more likely to live together than couples with higher incomes. (Researchers believe that this is simply a matter of economics. It’s easier to afford household expenses when you have a partner.) That means that the people getting married in America today are more likely to be wealthier.

Divorce Is Still Common

So yes, the people who are getting married are more likely to stay married than they were in 1980. However, fewer people are getting married. They are getting married later and living together longer before marriage. But divorce is still common and about 39 percent of marriages still end in divorce. If you are considering a divorce, you are not alone. The team at Schneider Law Firm, P.C., is there to support you.For a confidential consultation about divorce, call our Arlington office at 817-755-1852.

Sources:

Time Magazine: The Divorce Rate is Dropping: That May Not Actually Be Good News

Psychology Today

How Common Is Military Divorce?

According to the most recent data released by the Pentagon, about 21,290 of 689,060 married troops divorced during the military’s 2017 fiscal year. That means on average, about 3 or 3.1 percent of enlisted troops divorce. But, divorce rates among female troops are much higher than men. And divorce rates for both male and female Marines are higher than in other branches of the military.
How does this compare with the national average? It’s challenging to tell exactly. The government measures the military divorce rate in a different way than the U.S. national divorce rate. In the military, the divorce rate is calculated by comparing the number of married troops listed in the Pentagon’s personnel system with the number of troops who report divorces over the year. In the United States, the divorce rate is calculated per 1,000 residents and does not factor in six states, including California. Overall, the U.S. divorce rate 3.2 percent–just about the same as the military divorce rate.

Common Issues in a Military Divorce

While the military divorce rate and the U.S. divorce rate for civilians are nearly identical, many other things set military divorces apart:

Filing for Military Divorce

All divorce actions require that the military status of the respondent be documented in compliance with a federal law called the Service members Civil Relief Act (SCRA). The SCRA protects active duty military members from civil lawsuits so that they can properly focus on serving our country. Under the SCRA, divorce proceedings can be paused temporarily (“stayed”) for as long as the military member is on active duty plus 60 days. This does not mean that the divorce cannot proceed in all cases, however. It’s a good idea to talk with a lawyer.

Child Support

Texas courts usually make child support calculations according to state law, but things can become complicated when one parent is deployed overseas. And interim child support payments are a factor while the divorce is proceeding. Each military branch has its own regulations for determining the amount paid in interim child support payments. Typically, the amount is based on a formula that accounts for a service member’s gross pay and Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH).

Child Custody

Child custody determinations are uniquely complicated when one parent is deployed. Courts make an effort to protect the best interests of the child, even when one parent cannot be with the child due to active military service.

Military Pensions

Military retirement benefits are often a source of dispute in military divorces. State and federal laws protect both spouses’ access to military retirement benefits upon divorce. A federal law called the Uniform Services Former Spouses Protection Act (USFSPA) directs states to treat military pensions as property, dividing them according to the state’s laws on property division in a divorce.

Get a Lawyer’s Help With Military Divorce

If you or your spouse are in the military, work with a divorce lawyer who is familiar with military divorces. Start by calling the Arlington office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-799-7125.

Sources:

Military.com: Troop Divorce Rate Remains Unchanged

Finances and Divorce: Studies Reveal Three Key Things

Researchers have done many, many studies on the relationship between love and money. Not surprisingly, they have found that financial issues are a great source of stress in marriages and one of the leading factors in divorce. Here are three key things that studies have revealed about finances and divorce.

1. Money Is the Leading Cause of Stress in Relationships

A survey done by SunTrust Bank revealed that money was the leading cause of stress in 35 percent of relationships. That stress is pervasive. In a separate study, The American Psychological Association found almost 75 percent of Americans are experiencing financial stress at least some of the time, and nearly 25 percent are feeling extreme financial stress. So, if you and your partner are arguing over money, know you’re not alone.

2. When Wives Earn More than Husbands, Divorce Is More Likely

It’s increasingly common for wives to earn more than their husbands. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the wife earns more than the husband in 38 percent of marriages.
While the gender of the household’s primary breadwinner is changing, studies indicate that couples may be up against social and cultural forces that are slower to change. Some research suggests that couples are at higher risk of divorcing when the male partner earns less than the female partner. A study done by Harvard professor Alexandra Killewald reports that the risk of divorce is nearly 33% higher when a husband isn’t working full-time.
There could be many reasons for this, including the effort it takes a woman to shatter the glass ceiling, marital dynamics and social pressure. For example, a separate study done by the Pew Research Center found that about 40 percent of Americans believe it’s extremely important for a father to provide income for his children, but just 25 percent said the same of mothers.

3. Arguing About Money Is the Number One Predictor of Divorce

A 2018 study of 4500 couples published in the journal Family Relationships found that financial disagreements predicted divorce more strongly than any other common sources of disagreement, like how much time a couple spends together or how the household tasks are divided. The authors concluded that arguing about money–especially early in the relationship–could be the number one predictor of divorce.
Of course, arguing about money does not always mean you’ll divorce. But if you and your partner are involved in a financial dispute and you are considering a divorce, working with the right lawyer is the best way to protect your interests. Start by calling the Arlington office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-799-7125. Consultations are confidential.

Sources:
MarketWatch – When Wives Earn More Than Their Husbands, Marriage is Less Likely to Last
Money, Work and Marital Stability Study
CNBC: Money is the Leading Cause of Stress in Relationships
Family Relations: Examining the Relationship Between Financial Issues and Divorce

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.

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, Arlington/Mansfield, or Alliance/Keller 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.

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 Fort Worth, Arlington, or Keller/Alliance 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.

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

Business Valuation in Divorce: How it Works

In a divorce, property division can be complex. When a family business is involved, it can be especially complicated. Here’s what you should know.

Background: Property Division During Texas Divorces

Texas is a community property state, which means that property acquired by both spouses during a marriage is divided 50/50 during a divorce. The property acquired during the marriage is called “community property,” and other property is called “separate property.” Separate property includes things like property acquired before the marriage, property received as a gift by only one spouse and property inherited by only one spouse.
Businesses are divided according to these property division rules. If a business was started during the marriage by both spouses, a Texas court would be likely to consider it community property. But what if it was started by one spouse before the marriage, and then grown by both spouses working together? A Texas court might decide that part of the business was separate property and part was community property.
And what about the value of the business itself? How much is 50/50? Businesses are valued based on their fair market values – the amount that would be paid in cash by a willing buyer who would like to buy the business, but wasn’t forced, to a willing seller who would like to sell, but wasn’t forced.
It’s common for the spouses to disagree about the value of the business. The spouse who operates the business and plans to keep it after the divorce typically wants the valuation to be low. At the same time, the other spouse typically wants the business valued at a greater amount so they will receive a greater portion of the assets.

The Role of Experts in Business Valuation

Spouses and their lawyers typically turn to experts to assist in business valuation. These experts are usually certified public accountants (CPAs) who are accredited in business valuation. Sometimes one spouse hires a CPA. Other times, both sides hire their own experts to conduct independent valuations as part of the divorce process.

How the Value of a Business Is Determined

There is no one right way to value a business, and different CPAs may use different methods to arrive at different numbers. Different methods for business valuation include:

  • The asset approach: This approach calculates the value of the business by finding the value of the business’s assets after liabilities have been subtracted.
  • The market approach: This approach compares the business to other, similar businesses in similar markets.
  • The income approach: This approach looks at economic data to project the future income the business will generate. CPAs then convert that number into a present-day value.

No matter which method he or she chooses, a CPA has to review a significant amount of information in order to value a business. The financial records are critical, and business valuation often takes time and resources.

In Business Valuation, Have the Right Legal Team

If your divorce involves business valuation, your lawyer can work with a well-regarded CPA to properly value the business and make sure your rights are protected. Start by calling the Arlington office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-799-7125.

Sources:
https://www.law.com/texaslawyer/2019/03/20/business-valuations-in-divorce/

Dividing Retirement Assets in a Divorce

Couples save for their retirement in many ways. Over time, retirement assets can accumulate and become one of the most significant assets to divide in a divorce. At the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., we work hard to protect our clients’ interests now, and in the future, so we pay special attention to protecting their retirement savings.
When we talk about retirement assets with our clients, we discuss:

  • Pensions
  • Deferred compensation accounts,
  • 401(k) accounts and 403(b) plans
  • IRAs
  • Other retirement savings

How Texas Family Law Divides Retirement Assets

How Texas law divides retirement assets depends on when the contributions were made. Texas is a community property state, which means that property acquired during the marriage is divided 50/50. Property acquired before the marriage is considered separate property. The spouse who originally had it can keep it.
Accordingly, when retirement asset contributions were made before the marriage, they are considered to be separate property. When retirement asset contributions were made during the marriage, they are community property – even if the contributions were made by only one spouse. Like other community property, the retirement assets are divided between the spouses.
It sounds simple, but it isn’t. Documenting and calculating which retirement assets are separate property can be exceptionally complex. For example, it’s common for separate and community property to exist within the same retirement account. Lawyers often consult with financial experts to make an accurate calculation.

Other Factors

Pensions, military retirement and Social Security spousal benefits all have different rules for eligibility, as well as for when an ex is entitled to receive funds. And for most retirement accounts—like 401(k)s—Texas courts aren’t required to divide the asset 50/50 like other community property.
Through their lawyers, divorcing spouses sometimes work out agreements that are best for the couple and that do not require cashing out part of a 401(k). For example, a spouse might keep the 401(k), but the other spouse will keep a vehicle with a value equal to that spouse’s share of the community property.

Questions About Your Retirement Assets? Ask a Lawyer.

When your retirement assets are on the line, it’s important to get advice that’s tailored to your exact situation. 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://texaslawhelp.org/article/dividing-retirement-benefits-upon-divorce#toc-1

How Long Does a Divorce Take in Texas?

How long will my divorce take? It’s one of the most common questions new clients ask when they are just beginning the divorce process. Each case is different, and it’s impossible to predict the future, but here are some general guidelines about divorce timelines in Texas.

Texas Family Law Sets Divorce Timelines

Texas law sets certain timelines for divorce. Before a spouse can file for divorce, at least one of the spouses is required to have lived in Texas for at least six months and in the county where the petition is filed for at least 90 days.
If the spouses meet this requirement, a petition for divorce can be filed. The petition must be on file with the court for at least 60 days before the court can grant a divorce. The divorce can be finalized after the 60-day waiting period is over.

Conflict and Complexity Play a Part in Divorce Timelines

If the parties agree about the major issues in their divorce – things like dividing assets and deciding child custody matters – their divorce can be finalized soon after the 60-day waiting period is over. However, divorces can take longer if the couple does not agree. In those cases, the divorce timeline depends on the court’s schedule and the complexity of the case.
We have found that once a couple agrees to a divorce, the spouses usually try to complete the process as quickly as possible. They cooperate to come to an agreement on issues that are important to successfully dissolve their marriage.
According to The Houston Bar Association, divorces involving some disagreement usually take several months to resolve, and they can take up to one year if a trial is necessary. Of course, not all couples agree so easily. The New York Post reported on the divorce of a financial executive and his wife, in which the couple spent 21 years fighting over marital assets.

How Can I Speed Things Up?

If your goal is a quick divorce, there are several ways to speed up the divorce process, but the best way is simply through cooperation. Couples who keep their emotions in check and work together as cooperatively as possible usually find that their divorces proceed more quickly. Good attorneys will counsel their clients to make decisions that are in line with the client’s overall goals.
Domestic violence also plays a part in speeding up divorce proceedings. In certain cases involving convictions for family violence and protective orders, the 60-day waiting period may be waived. Tell your lawyer is domestic violence is a factor in your divorce.

Why Does the Divorce Timeline Matter?

Long divorces with lots of conflict and continued court time can have a serious negative impact on a family’s overall happiness. The more time couples spend in divorce court, the more stressful the divorce can be for their children. What’s more, divorces that go on for years and years can use up a family’s financial cushion.
We do not mean that you should avoid fighting to protect your interests in a divorce – just that it’s critical to keep your divorce timeline in mind when setting goals. To get started, call the Arlington/Mansfield divorce office of Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-755-1852.
Sources:
https://3j6g5h1ufrxy3coj463pn7uw-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/family-law-17-18-for-web-022718.pdf
https://nypost.com/2005/03/13/21-years-war-longest-divorce-in-state-history/