Tag Archives: divorce

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.

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/

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 Allegations of Family Violence Can Affect a Texas Divorce

Family violence happens when someone uses abusive or controlling behavior to harm another member of the family. It can be complicated and deeply personal. While violence takes different forms in every family it touches, one thing remains constant: Domestic violence can have a significant impact on the outcome of a divorce. Here are some things to consider.

Family Violence and the Divorce Process

The divorce process is often different for people who face violence in their family relationships. Victims of domestic violence also have legal tools they can use for protection. One option is to petition the court for a protective order (sometimes called a restraining order). When a protective order is in place, it can affect many different things–from where a spouse lives during the divorce process to how often he or she sees the children.
Options for resolution are different, too. For example, mediation is often used as a tool for couples to come to an agreement on the issues in their divorces. However, professionals do not recommend medication for couples when domestic violence is a factor. The reason? Judges and lawyers worry that one spouse will have too much leverage in negotiations, and the outcome won’t be fair.
Domestic violence can also speed up a divorce. The Texas Family Code says that couples must wait at least 60 days after filing a divorce petition for a divorce to be final. But this requirement can be waived in cases involving domestic violence.

Family Violence and Child Custody

Judges consider the “best interests of the child” when making child custody decisions. If one parent has a history of domestic violence, the judge will consider that as part of the best interests’ evaluation. Texas law says that parents who physically or sexually abused their children during the previous two years cannot have custody. Even if the kids were never harmed, domestic violence affects things like the ability of parents to make major parenting decisions together, as well as child custody drop-offs.

Family Violence and Property Division

Texas is a community property state. Generally, couples split the things they acquired during the marriage 50/50. However, there are some exceptions, including family violence. Domestic violence can be a reason for courts to decide on the unequal division of assets.

Fighting False Allegations of Violence

Our firm has handled several cases where on spouse made false allegations of family abuse in order to influence a pending divorce or child custody case. This is a serious injustice, and we won’t let our clients be falsely accused. We believe in fighting allegations aggressively and protecting our clients’ rights.

Choose an Attorney With Family Violence Experience

When you are choosing your divorce lawyer, pick one who has experience in domestic violence and divorce. Your lawyer will be experienced in advocating for your rights during the divorce process so that they are protected. You can get started by calling the Arlington office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-799-7125.

Child Custody: What Texas Family Courts Consider

Child custody is often the most emotionally charged issue in a divorce. “How will this affect the kids?” is the first thing most parents wonder about divorce. And fear of losing time with a child can be devastating.
In Texas, there are several things that family courts consider when making decisions about child custody. Here’s an overview from the lawyers at our Ft. Worth law office.

Conservatorship, Possession and Access

Texas divides child custody into two categories: conservatorship and possession/access:

  • Conservatorship is the right to make important decisions about your child’s life. These include decisions about where your child will go to school, what medical treatment they will receive and what religious practices they will follow.
  • Possession and access are where the child spends his or her time. The court may decide which parent the child will live with most of the time, as well as how often the other parent spends time with the child.

The “Best Interests of the Child”

When deciding child custody matters, Texas courts use a “best interests of the child” standard, which was outlined in a case called Holley v. Adams. The case involved termination of parental rights, but courts have said that they should apply in all child custody cases.
There are many factors listed in Holley, including:

  1. The desires of the child
  2. The physical and emotional needs of the child now and in the future
  3. Any emotional or physical danger to the child
  4. The parental ability of the person seeking custody
  5. Programs available to help the parent and child
  6. Plans for the child by the parent seeking custody
  7. Acts of omission by the parent that might indicate the parent/child relationship is troubled

Each Case Is Different

Each child custody case is different. For example, when judges apply the “best interests of the child” standard to very young children, they often give the child’s preferences less weight than they would if the child was older. Older kids get more of a say in where they would like to live and who they would like to make their decisions.
Conversely, with babies, courts consider how well the parent is prepared to deal with the baby’s basic needs–like eating, sleeping and having diapers changed. These things naturally become less of a concern as the child grows older.

Questions About Your Child Custody Case? Ask a Lawyer.

Because each case is different, it’s important to talk with an attorney about the facts of your case. Don’t just rely on internet research. Instead, schedule a confidential consultation. You can get started by contacting the Ft. Worth office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 1-817-755-1852.

Source

4 Things You Should Know About the Texas Divorce Process

Most people who divorce have never done it before and didn’t expect to ever go through it. They have no idea what to expect. If you are considering a divorce or have been served with divorce papers, here are some basics you should know from the lawyers at the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., in Ft. Worth.

1. There Must Be Grounds for Divorce in Texas

Texas isn’t a “no-fault” divorce state. That means that in order to get a divorce in Texas, there must be a reason (“grounds for divorce”). The reason can include things like adultery, abandonment or conviction of a felony. Most divorces cite “insupportability” as the reason, which means that the marriage cannot continue due to conflicting personalities.

2. Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce

Divorces come in two types: contested and uncontested. Many people think that they have an uncontested divorce because they generally get along with their spouses. However, the definition is stricter. To have an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse must agree on every issue in the divorce. Otherwise, you have a contested divorce. Sometimes, divorces that start as uncontested divorces end as contested ones.

4 Things You Should Know About the Texas Divorce Process

3. You’ll Need to Resolve Four Major issues

Each divorce is different, and not all divorces involve children. Generally speaking, though, there are four major issues to consider in a Texas divorce:

  • Child custody: Texas courts divide child custody into conservatorship and possession/access. Conservatorship is the ability to make major decisions about the child’s life. Possession/access is where the child lives.
  • Property division: There are two types of property in Texas: community property and separate property. Community property is things you and your spouse have collected during the marriage – like your savings accounts and real estate. Your debts are also considered. Community property is usually split 50/50.
  • Child support: Courts order child support according to a series of Texas Child Support Guidelines that consider several factors.
  • Alimony: Courts can sometimes order alimony for a limited time when the receiving spouse is not able to earn enough income.

4. You Only Get One Chance to Do Your Divorce Right

It may sound harsh, but you only get one chance to decide the major issues of your divorce and make sure your interests are protected. It is possible to appeal a divorce in some cases, but it’s much easier to do things right the first time.
Talk with an attorney before making big decisions. Start by taking steps to get as much information as possible. Call the Arlington office of Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-755-1852.