Category Archives: Family Law

Time Apart: How to Navigate Separation in Texas

Sometimes, spouses are not completely ready to experience the finality of divorce. Yet, they feel their marriage is on the rocks and they need some time apart to decompress and consider how to move forward. If this sounds like you, know that there is an alternative to divorce in Texas: informal separation.

Texas Does Not Offer Legal Separation

In most states, couples have the option to enter into legal separation. Through legal separation, both spouses live apart but remain married, following a court order. The finances are still divided and if there are children, child support and custody arrangements are made. 

In Texas, no laws exist that govern legal separation. For couples ready to end their marriage, divorce is often viewed as the only legal option to pursue. Yet, this isn’t the case. 

The Alternative to Legal Separation: Informal Separation

In an informal separation, you and your spouse live apart. While an attorney isn’t necessarily required, one can help you create an agreement between you and your spouse to serve as a contract during your time apart.

These agreements can help you divide assets and set boundaries without a divorce. For example, spouses can enter into a partition and exchange agreement which allows a spouse to transfer community property—marital property—to the other spouse. An agreement can also cover estate planning, alimony and more.

Why Should You Try an Informal Separation?

If you feel time apart would benefit your marriage, separation is a great option. It allows you to consider and evaluate whether divorce is the best option for your family. Plus, you’ll have the opportunity to have constructive conversations with your spouse to resolve any open conflicts. It’s possible that a separation can be just what you need to avoid an impending divorce.

Time Apart: How to Navigate Separation in Texas | iStock-1057547460
817-799-7125– Although there are no laws governing legal separation in Texas, there are still alternatives to divorce through informal separation. To learn more, visit us today.

Divorce Isn’t the Only Option in Texas

You have the option to participate in an informal separation with legal protection in Texas with the help of an experienced attorney. We can help you choose a path that’s right for you and your family. To learn more about informal separation or for help deciding which step to take next, call our Arlington, TX, lawyers at 817-799-7125.

Sources: State of Texas Family Code

Considerations for Special Needs Children in Divorce

Approximately 40-50% of marriages within the United States end in divorce. Some of these divorces involve special needs children and children dealing with disabilities of all forms: physical, learning, emotional and behavioral. The divorce process can become extremely complex if there are children with special needs involved.

Planning for Medical Care & Long-Term Expense

Special needs children must have access to medical care in many forms. For example, the child will need access to advanced medical care but may need behavioral healthcare as well. Although child support and insurance may cover a bulk of these expenses, they won’t cover it all.

For some children with severe disabilities, long-term care may be required, even after they turn 18. Some of these expenses may include long-term or permanent medical care, as well as skilled care housing facilities.

Each spouse must work together and consider these expenses as they negotiate asset division during divorce. For example, assets received by the child may hinder their ability to qualify for government benefits. Plus, other financial safeguards such as trusts may be required to fully protect the child in the future.

Visitation & Custody Considerations

Depending on the severity of the child’s disability, traditional visitation and custody arrangements may not be what’s best. For example, switching back and forth every other week may wreak havoc on a child’s wellbeing. All children need structure, especially during life-changing situations such as divorce.

Parents must also determine who’s responsible for transporting the child to and from medical appointments, school and other activities. This may also directly affect a visitation and custody arrangement, especially if the child’s transportation needs are complex.

Considerations for Special Needs Children in Divorce
817-799-7125 – As a parent of a child with special needs, your divorce will be complex. To learn more about what to consider during the process, visit us today.

The Bottom Line: You Must Plan Ahead

If you and your spouse are considering a divorce involving a special needs child, you must be willing to compromise and work together to plan ahead. We recommend working with a professional attorney who can help you understand the legal implications of your divorce and to create a plan that will best protect your child.

Don’t Try to Handle the Complexity Alone

You and your child deserve to feel protected as you journey through the divorce process. An attorney can help. To learn more about your options, reach out to our Arlington, TX, law firm today by calling 817-799-7125.

Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce: Understanding the Differences

In law, there are generally two types of divorces: contested and uncontested. If you’re considering a divorce, you must understand the differences between the two, so you can move forward in the best way for you and your family.

Defining Uncontested & Contested Divorce

In every divorce, couples face many critical decisions involving:

  • Property settlement and division of assets and debts
  • Spousal support
  • Child custody and visitation
  • Child support

If both you and your spouse are able to agree on these decisions, your divorce can follow the uncontested divorce path. If you’re unable to agree, however, your divorce is considered contested and will follow the more traditional divorce path we’re prone to seeing displayed on TV. 

Understanding the Differences
817-755-1852 – There are two types of divorce including contested and uncontested. Although they both result in a dissolution of marriage, they have unique differences. To learn more, visit us today.

The Differences Between Contested & Uncontested Divorce

Typically, uncontested divorces resolve faster than contested divorces because they do not require a trial. Also, without a trial, uncontested divorces tend to be less expensive than contested divorces. 

Another difference lies in cases that do not settle. In uncontested divorces, both spouses are able to negotiate and reach a compromise that works best. In contrast, contested divorces sometimes result in a judge making the final decisions due to lack of agreement.

Contested divorces normally arise due to disagreements with property division, child custody and alimony. Fault may also be a driving force behind a contested divorce, resulting in spouses unwilling to negotiate. Although uncontested divorces deal with the same concerns, they’re often not as emotionally charged. Instead, both spouses may agree that it’s time to settle in the simplest way possible.

Even Contested Divorces Can Reach a Resolution Through Mediation

Some divorces start as contested due to the inability for both parties to reach an agreement alone. Professional mediation attorneys can help each spouse negotiate in a healthy way, often resulting in contested divorces becoming uncontested without court.

Mediation involves you, your spouse and a neutral third-party. During the process, you’ll work together to resolve any disputes, reach an agreement and move your divorce forward.

Are You Considering a Divorce? Call an Attorney.

If you’re considering a divorce in Texas, you don’t have to do it alone. Whether contested or uncontested, a lawyer can help you understand your options. Reach out to a professional divorce attorney who can help. Give our Fort Worth, TX, law office a call at 1-817-755-1852 today.

Changing Lives, Changing Circumstances: Life After Divorce

Let’s assume a typical family unit: husband, wife, two kids, and a dog. The family lives in a nice, middle-class neighborhood in Arlington and Mansfield, Texas, with a home, two cars, and a few 401(k) retirement accounts from various career roles over the years. 

Unfortunately, the marriage is in trouble and is heading toward divorce

The divorce goes relatively smoothly. There are issues and disagreements to resolve, but the divorce is amicable. The parties agree to do what’s best for the children—to keep a sense of family continuity after the divorce, even though the family will no longer live under one roof. And they agree on issues like spousal support, which for two years the ex-husband pays on time and in full when due.       

But then a mishap: the ex-husband is hurt on the job and can no longer afford to pay the same amount of spousal support, at least temporarily. What happens next? 

Everything Changes but Change Itself 

To quote or paraphrase the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus, everything changes but change itself. In other words, we can depend on at least that in life. The circumstances that held during the divorce, at the time the decree was entered and the divorce finalized, may not continue to hold in the months and years afterward. 

People get remarried. They have children. They go back to school. They find new jobs, out of town or even out of state. They get sick or injured, experience financial difficulty, and can no longer comply with the terms of the divorce decree, as described in our hypothetical scenario above.

What are your options when life happens?         

Post-Divorce Modifications

Court orders are enforceable against the respective parties. Judges expect the parties to abide by the terms set forth in those orders, from how much you pay in spousal support to the specific, day-to-day responsibilities related to parenting, as outlined in custody and visitation agreements. That said, the law recognizes Heraclitus’s remarks about change and allows for post-divorce modifications in some circumstances.

Here are a few additional (and common) examples:

  • As the children get older and more independent, their wants and needs will change.
  • When an ex-spouse remarries, his or her financial needs may change.
  • If an ex-spouse suffers a long-term disability and loss of income, his or her ability to pay spousal support will change.       

No Court Order Is Permanent  

Based in Arlington, the attorneys of Schneider Law Firm, P.C., help our clients adjust to life after divorce in changing circumstances. For a confidential consultation, call 1-817-799-7125 today.

The Immeasurable Value of a Temporary Order in a Family Law Crisis

Panic. Stuck. Frozen. These words might spring to mind if you’re facing a family-related crisis. Perhaps your spouse announced that he is leaving. Or you yourself want to leave—need to leave in cases of domestic abuse—but you’re afraid to take action because you simply don’t know what to do.

You can’t take action because your spouse controls the household finances (a common scenario), and you have a legitimate need for access to cash for basic necessities like food, housing and transportation, whether or not you stay in your home. And that need is heightened when you have children under your care.

Fortunately, the temporary order helps people facing these circumstances get “unstuck.” Temporary orders can help to reduce panic. Read on for more detail on how this important legal tool works.                

Common Reasons for Pursuing a Temporary Order

In divorce and family law, there is a range of circumstances that might require a temporary order, including the need for spousal support (a.k.a. alimony), child custody and visitation, and rights to property like cars and the home. (There are other circumstances, but for purposes of this blog post, we will focus on these.) 

Note that all of these rights—financial support, child custody, access to the car and home—concern day-to-day practical reality: How will you cover household expenses? Who will care for the children? Will you have a car to get where you need to go? 

If you are separating, and especially if your relationship is acrimonious, these questions need to be answered. That’s the purpose of a temporary order, which puts a framework of behavior into place that all parties must follow while the divorce or family law matter proceeds.   

Spousal Support 

In many cases, one spouse essentially controls the household finances—and could decide to retaliate or increase control over the relationship by restricting access to cash. With a temporary order, the judge can impose specific guidelines for behavior: For example, an order that your spouse must not close or freeze bank accounts.

Child Custody and Visitation 

Allegations of physical or emotional abuse heighten the stakes. Even if there are no allegations of this kind, the temporary order puts into place specific guidelines for parenting. Who will pick the children up from school? Who will take them to the dentist? Who will care for them? In many cases, both parties can continue doing what they have always done, but the temporary order helps both parents get (and stay) on the same page.     

Property Rights to the Car and Home 

This is perhaps one of the most important aspects of temporary orders: You need a car. You need shelter. Some of our clients worry about whether they will have access to a car and to the home in a divorce or other family law matter, especially if they have children under their care. The temporary order can make this need explicit as the case proceeds.       

Learn More About Temporary Orders in Texas

Based in Ft. Worth, the attorneys of Schneider Law Firm, P.C., are available to walk clients through the process of securing temporary orders in a range of divorce and family law scenarios. Speak with us today. Call 1-817-755-1852.

Evaluating Divorce Issues Through the Lens of a Business Decision

We’ve all heard of marriage as a partnership. Similar in kind to small business partnerships, the spouses share responsibility (to one degree or another) over household chores, finances, children, and so on. The spouses also share the benefits that come from their partnership, such as the shared home, family vacations, a degree of financial security, emotional support, etc.

But what happens when the marriage draws to an end? 

To be sure, marriage is not a business; it’s a personal relationship. And divorce is the termination of that relationship (subject to future and ongoing commitments involving children and spousal support). It is definitely not as impersonal as many business decisions can be. But there are benefits to evaluating divorce through the lens of a business decision. 

These benefits include greater objectivity in decision-making, reduced stress and anxiety for all parties, including children, and (in general) reduced legal expense. We examine each of these in turn below.  

Objectivity: Keeping a Level Head

Divorce is not the end of the world. This realization may help you come to terms with the initial shock of divorce (if it comes as a surprise) or with feelings of frustration, doubt and failure that arise from a troubled marriage. If divorce is not the end of the world, it is not necessary to fight with your spouse over matters that can be resolved rather easily (the old motorcycle in the garage, for example). This saves time and energy for the truly important decisions involving valuable property, household finances, spousal support, child custody, and parenting plans, to name a few.

Reduced Stress and Anxiety

Divorce is a significant stressor—and that’s so in some divorce cases more than others. You cannot eliminate stress and anxiety entirely, but you can manage it. In some cases, our client simply cannot “get along” with his or her spouse, and emotions run high. There may be no way to avoid this. But even in those cases, taking one or two steps back when making a decision may lead to a better result and reduce overall stress.  

Reduced Legal Fees

There is no way to guarantee the ultimate cost of any legal proceeding. In general, uncontested divorce cases cost less, simply because there are no issues to resolve. The parties both agree on property division, spousal support, child custody and visitation. On the other hand, contested divorce cases often involve significant disagreement on these issues—and this is where business-minded decision-making comes into play. Objective decision-making often leads to optimal results in terms of your finances and relationships post-divorce—and reduced legal fees because your lawyer spends less time to resolve issues.        

Let Us Help You Make Optimal Decisions 

From our law offices in Arlington, Texas, the divorce and family law attorneys of Schneider Law Firm, P.C., help our clients make sound decisions that protect their finances and their future. We serve families in the Arlington, and Mansfield, Texas areas. Call 817-799-7125 for a confidential consultation. 

Divorce is Not the End of the World (Even Though it Can Feel Like It)

Divorce is Not the End of the World (Even Though it Can Feel Like It)

The psychological literature is clear: Divorce can be extremely stressful—for everyone involved, from the parents to the children. Psychology Today cites our unique ability to make up stories (as human beings) as a major factor in how we deal with stress. For many people, a difficult marriage headed toward divorce is a “story” about disappointment and failure. That story can cause significant stress—but it’s just that: a story. 

And we all have the power to change the stories that we tell ourselves.  

Seek Out an Objective Viewpoint

The old phrase “losing the forest for the trees” applies here. We are all at risk of losing the forest for the trees when we are muck-deep in our day-to-day reality, especially when we’re facing the particular stresses of divorce and its related concerns like talking with your kids about it. It can be hard to maintain your objectivity. 

In fact, it can feel like divorce is the end of the world. Your story then becomes a story about how your spouse wronged you, how your children will never recover, and so on. But nothing could be further from the truth.

An objective viewpoint—from a divorce lawyer, a family therapist, a psychologist—can give you the space you need to evaluate your situation with a level head, as well as a roadmap for moving forward. That’s one of the primary reasons you should see a trusted advisor.   

Changing the Story About Your Divorce

As divorce and family law attorneys, we help our clients evaluate their stories. Sometimes the stories are accurate. Often, only parts of the story are true, while other parts aren’t so true. Frankly, it is next-to-impossible to maintain an objective viewpoint on your own, and so it’s no surprise to find that your story isn’t entirely true. 

For example, you may say to yourself: “I’m going to lose my relationship with my kids.” Or: “I’ve never handled the finances and I stayed at home to raise the kids. I’m going to be out on the streets.” These are all valid concerns—but these concerns are exaggerated. 

While it’s true that divorce can strain family relationships, as one example, the key is to reflect on the fact that there is life after divorce. Divorce is not the end of the world. You and your family will continue to exist afterward. The question is: What steps will you take to ensure that you maintain a good relationship with your kids? Because that is more than possible.

Tell Us What Worries You

From our office in Ft. Worth, our role at Schneider Law Firm, P.C., is to provide the answers and insight that you need to maintain your objectivity and take solid steps for your future. Call 817-755-1852 today for a confidential consultation.

Source: Psychology Today: Where Are You On The Divorce Stress Scale?

Meeting a Family Law Attorney for the First Time? These Tips Can Help.

Perhaps your spouse just filed for divorce and now you need a lawyer on your side. Maybe you’re thinking about initiating divorce proceedings yourself. Or you might even have an emergency, such as a fear that your spouse is expecting a divorce and is moving money around. Whatever your situation, you’re looking for a Texas family law attorney, and you want to be prepared to make your meeting as productive as possible. 

At the Arlington office of The Schneider Law Firm, we help clients get through all types of family law issues, from divorce to adoption to domestic violence. As attorneys, our goals for our first meeting are to make you as comfortable as possible, learn about your situation, inform you of your options, and explain what we can do to help. For things to go as smoothly as possible, it’s a great idea to prepare yourself to provide a few pieces of helpful information.

1. Tell Us About You and Your Story

Having basic biographical information about yourself, your spouse and your children is very helpful. This includes simple things like names, phone numbers, place of work, birth dates, driver’s licenses, Social Security numbers, and similar items. 

It is also very useful to be able to tell us the story of your marriage or non-marital relationship. Think about how long you’ve been together, when you first met, any past relationship problems, the problems you’re having now, your children, good and bad traits you and your spouse have – these are all important. It’s a great idea to write it down, really think of it as a story. Your story helps your lawyer get to know you and your family and ask the right questions.

2. Ready Yourself to Share Personal Details

The relationship you develop with your Texas lawyer is based on honesty, trust and communication. For your attorney to be effective, he or she will need to know potentially uncomfortable and private details about you. Issues like domestic abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, and mental health history may be hard to share, but they are part of your story. Remember, your lawyer isn’t trying to judge you by asking about these things. The goal is to know everything that could be helpful in representing you and protecting your interests.

3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

It’s easy to be intimidated when you’re in a lawyer’s office. We’re here to tell you that you shouldn’t be. Attorneys are people, just like you. And when you meet with an attorney, you should feel comfortable asking questions and having a conversation, just like you would with anyone else. Pay attention to how the lawyer answers, and don’t be afraid to ask more questions to clarify things. You and your lawyer are a team, and the relationship is a two-way street. 

4. Make Sure You Understand What Happens Next

At the end of your first meeting, make sure you clearly understand what happens next. If you’ve decided to go ahead and hire the attorney, find out what he or she needs from you in order to start working on your case. Also, be sure to talk about any immediate steps you should take at home: Do you need protection from a violent spouse? Are there concerns about a child’s health or safety? If so, your attorney will be able to provide guidance on how to handle the situation.

We’re Here When You Need Us

Turn to the Arlington office of The Schneider Law Firm when you have any family law need in Texas. Our attorneys are friendly, experienced, and ready to get to know you. We offer a free initial consultation, and you can schedule yours by calling 817.799.7125 or contact us online.

How Health Insurance Works in a Texas Divorce

Many families are insured through an employer-sponsored health care plan provided by one spouse’s employer. When divorce becomes a reality, one spouse faces the prospect of losing health care coverage, an issue that causes a great deal of tension, particularly if children are involved. Questions about this topic are among the most common we receive at our Fort Worth, Arlington, and Keller / Alliance offices, so we wanted to share some basic information here on the blog that you may find helpful.

During the Divorce Process

Upon filing for a divorce in Texas, the judge has the power to issue various temporary orders that spell out the responsibilities of both spouses during the divorce proceedings. Typically, one of these orders will specifically address health care coverage.
In nearly all cases, the court will issue an order preventing one spouse from changing any health care arrangements while the divorce is ongoing. That means, for example, that a spouse cannot simply drop you from coverage in retaliation for your decision to file for divorce. These orders also prevent a spouse from making any changes affecting health care coverage for the children until the divorce is complete.

After the Divorce Is Complete

We’ll address coverage for children first. If the spouse who insured the family is the non-custodial parent after divorce, he or she can still be required to carry the children on his/her insurance, assuming he/she is still insured. A Qualified Medical Support Order (QMSO) can be obtained to enforce this obligation.
Coverage for ex-spouses is more complicated. To start with, good lawyers will often include in the divorce settlement a stipulation that the spouse who provided health coverage during the marriage will continue to do so for a set period of time after divorce. Absent such a stipulation, under Texas law the dependent spouse’s coverage automatically ends when the marriage ends.
COBRA becomes a key factor for the dependent spouse. COBRA allows a dependent spouse to remain on an ex-spouse’s health coverage for up to three years. To obtain this benefit, however, the dependent spouse must enroll in COBRA within 60 days of eligibility. Coverage is forfeited if this deadline is missed.

What if a Spouse Isn’t Eligible for COBRA?

Texas law allows people who aren’t COBRA-eligible or who have exhausted their COBRA benefits to use state-sponsored health care coverage. This is sometimes called “mini-COBRA.” Generally, the following rules apply:
If a dependent spouse isn’t eligible for COBRA, he or she can remain on the ex-spouse’s employer-provided plan for up to nine months
If a dependent spouse has exhausted COBRA coverage, he or she can obtain state-sponsored health coverage for six months after COBRA ends

Payments for Health Coverage

The responsibility for paying for premiums differs for every couple based on their specific situation and what arrangements they reach. Under most QMCSOs, premiums for children are deducted directly from the insured parent’s paycheck. Spouses using COBRA are usually responsible for their own premiums.

Learn More About Health Coverage and Divorce

Find out more about how your family’s health insurance could be affected by divorce by talking to an attorney in the Arlington office of The Schneider Law Firm. We’re ready to answer all your questions. Call 817.799.7125 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

Sources:
https://info.legalzoom.com/health-insurance-laws-during-divorce-texas-26098.html
https://www.divorcemag.com/articles/3-myths-regarding-divorce-and-health-insurance/

5 Big Things to Know About Divorce in Texas

If your marriage has reached its end, whether it lasted a few years or a few decades, chances are you’re unsure about the process and what your life might look like during and after your divorce. It’s completely normal to feel overwhelmed; after all, life is changing.
The divorce attorneys at The Schneider Law Firm in Fort Worth, with decades of experience in family law, wanted to share answers to a few of the most common questions we receive from people when they first come to our office. There are obviously many more questions than these, and perhaps we’ll cover them in a future blog post, but we wanted to provide at least some insight here to help you get grounded.

1. Do We Need Fault Grounds to Get Divorced in Texas?

No, Texas is a no-fault divorce state. That means a spouse can file for divorce by simply claiming there are irreconcilable differences or that the marriage has become “insupportable,” which means there is a conflict of personalities that can’t be reconciled. No-fault divorces are by far the most common. However, judges can take fault into account in cases involving adultery, cruelty or abandonment. Fault can have an effect on property division.

2. Will Our Property Be Divided Equally?

Texas courts are not required to give each spouse an equal share of the marital property. The law says property division must follow a “just and equitable distribution.” That could mean, and often does mean, that one spouse ends up with more property, or property of higher value, than the other.

3. How Long Does a Divorce Take? Is There a “Quickie Divorce”?

It depends on what you think of as “quick.” Texas law has a mandatory minimum waiting period of 60 days before any divorce can be finalized. The 60 days begins on the day the divorce petition is filed. Additionally, if you are new to Texas, or new to a county in Texas, other waiting periods apply. Prior to filing for divorce, one of the spouses must have resided in the county for 90 days. And, one of the spouses must have been a Texas resident for at least six continuous months. Check out our full blog post on this topic.

4. What Happens With My Living Situation Once Divorce Is Filed?

If the parties cannot agree on living arrangements for themselves and their kids, then a temporary orders hearing will be held shortly after the initial divorce filing. These hearings are used to decide:

  • Where each spouse will live
  • An initial child custody arrangement
  • Temporary spousal support or child support
  • Which bills each spouse is responsible for paying
  • Who gets which vehicles
  • And other preliminary practical matters

5. Do We Go to Court Right Away After Filing?

Most cases, in fact, settle out of court. Mediation will be ordered in the vast majority of cases. Texas judges want the couple to work out the issues and only come to court in the last resort, because it is harder on children, and more expensive.

Our Fort Worth Lawyers Are Here to Help

The Schneider Law Firm has handled thousands of Texas divorces and our attorneys are ready to help protect you and your kids. Call our Fort Worth attorneys for a free consultation at817.755.1852 or contact us online today.

Sources:
https://texaslegal.org/texaslegal-blog/5-must-know-facts-about-divorce-in-texas#
https://smartasset.com/retirement/texas-divorce-laws
https://www.dmagazine.com/sponsored/2019/02/10-things-to-know-about-getting-a-divorce-in-texas/