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Sugar Land Family Law Blog

Marriages may fail for surprising reasons

Entering into marriage is typically a time of great optimism with looking forward to a long, productive, and happy life together. Most Texas couples are likely aware that statistically, many marriages do not endure for the long run but are convinced that divorce is what happens to other people. As much as many people believe divorce cannot happen to them, the underlying cause of the rift between the respective parties may be even more surprising.

There are some obvious issues that can arise in a marriage that place an enormous strain on the couple and are likely to lead to a break-up. Domestic violence, substance abuse, and infidelity inevitably prove to be all but intolerable. Regular and ongoing financial struggles can also prove toxic to the well-being of a relationship. However, family relationship experts point to one cause that most couples typically don't worry about as leading to a large number of break-ups.

The importance of financial information in divorce cases

The prospect of divorce can be particularly daunting for spouses in Texas and around the country who do not make day-to-day financial decisions. These spouses, who are most often wives, may be uncertain about ending unhappy marriages because they do not know the size of the marital estate, how much money has been put aside for retirement or whether they can expect to receive enough spousal support to live comfortably on their own.

The best way to address this uncertainty is to gather information that provides an accurate picture of a couple's financial position. Tax returns, bank statements and credit card bills are a good place to start. In addition to providing information about income, tax returns may also reveal how much money is being saved for retirement as these payments are usually tax deductible. If these documents are not readily available, they may be obtained by contacting an accountant or tax preparer.

How do courts define the best interests of the child?

In custody cases, judges make a lot of decisions based on the “best interests of the child.” This is subjective terminology that may mean different things to each parent, so it can be a frustrating principle for either party to follow.

If you are unsure about developments in your custody arrangement, consider what factors the judge is looking at to help you understand. Knowing what the courts are looking for can help you supply appropriate evidence to support your own case.  

Buying the family home after a divorce

One of the most valuable assets Texas couples may buy during a marriage is their home. If the marriage ends in a divorce, there are likely to be disputes regarding what should happen with the property. Before making decisions about the home, such as whether one spouse should purchase the home in their own name, there are certain factors that should be carefully considered.

One issue to consider is how much the mortgage should be in order to execute a buyout. In some cases, other assets owned by a spouse can be applied to the buyout amount. This could then reduce the loan amount that's needed. In other cases, one spouse may prefer to use cash from the home in order to adhere to the buyout terms. If this occurs, the amount of the new mortgage will be higher. A professional divorce mortgage advisor could help a couple figure out what would be the best mortgage to apply for. After this has been determined, the buyout structure can then be established.

Opinions vary on divorce for stay-at-home parents

Studies show that people in Texas and across the country have widely different perspectives of how stay-at-home parents should be treated during a divorce. Around 25 percent of mothers and 7 percent of fathers across the country stay home to care for their children, in what is often a joint decision between both spouses in a marriage. There are a number of reasons why people make this choice; in the first place, many simply believe that a parent, especially a mother, is best placed to provide care for their children. For others, the decision is simply practical; daycare may cost more than the salary brought in by the stay-at-home parent.

A stay-at-home parent, unlike most paid childcare services, is available all the time to perform full parenting duties. This can give the working parent the freedom to work lengthy hours, take business trips or pursue a promotion without being held back on the "mommy track" or even the "daddy track." Sometimes even spouses with high-powered careers of their own choose to stay home after having a child. Around 10 percent of mothers with a master's degree or higher leave the workforce to become stay-at-home moms.

Working to develop a positive co-parenting relationship

When parents in Texas decide to divorce, the end of their marriage doesn't bring an end to their need to work together to raise their children. It can be challenging to move from being spouses to being co-parents, but doing so successfully can help children emerge successfully and happily from their parents' divorce. At the heart of a positive co-parenting relationship is always remembering that the kids' interests come first, even when the relationship between the parents is full of pain and conflict. This means recognizing that each child's relationship with both parents is very important and must be protected.

Parents should continue to work together after their divorce to give their children a sense of stability. This can include common rules at both households. Of course, this does not mean that parents need to agree on minor issues; many times, conflicts over parenting choices helped to contribute to the end of the marriage. However, shared basic expectations about kindness or fulfilling academic responsibilities can be common between both parents' houses.

Things to consider before assuming a mortgage

Texas residents may be interested in learning more about assumable mortgages and how they may come into play during a divorce. The reason for interest in this topic is that there are very few things that are as difficult to agree on during a divorce as the family home. For most divorcing couples, their family home is the most valuable asset that they will divide. At the end of the day, compromises will need to be made. It is likely that one spouse will be granted control of the home in the settlement agreement.

Once this decision is made, a divorcing couple needs to decide what they are going to do with the mortgage on the home. In some cases, people may agree to keep the joint mortgage and have each party pay his or her part of it. For this to work, ex-spouses will need to trust each other. At any time, one party could decide that he or she is not going to pay the mortgage. This would negatively impact the credit of both parties.

Will you insist on a prenup prior to your second marriage?

Let's say you have a son and daughter from your first marriage. Jake will enter college next fall and Lisa will be a sophomore in high school.

You are going to marry again, and you want a prenuptial agreement to ensure your assets will be divided and your children cared for as you wish in the event you either die or the new marriage fails.

Pick the right real estate agent for a divorce home sale

There are several tips that soon-to-be exes should remember if they're selling a house in Texas while getting a divorced. For example, the real estate agent they select is critical. This is because selling a marital home during a divorce is not like a traditional sale. There are two individuals who are looking to end a relationship but are forced to work together to accomplish a mutual goal. This means that the real estate agent needs to have thick skin. They should be able to walk a fine line and not show favorites to either party.

Oftentimes, the real estate agent is called upon to be the voice of reason when the divorcing parties are in a sale-related conflict. The real estate agent must be neutral. They need to have the ability to view matters from a business point of view. It's never a good idea for the real estate agent to play the role of emotional counselor.

Technology changes how people interact after a divorce

Research has shown that the relationship between a parent and child has the greatest impact on a child's mental health after a divorce. Therefore, parents and children should be encouraged to develop that relationship by any means necessary. In some cases, this means Texas parents sending messages online or to a child's cellphone. While parents may not feel as if this is a great way to connect, the child will appreciate these efforts to reach out.

Allowing parents to communicate directly with their children can help the children feel cared for and loved. It can also reduce the chances that a parent will call or write but not actually get a message delivered to the child. In some cases, parents won't call a child at home because it means speaking with a former spouse as well. When parents are unable to communicate with their children, they generally know less about them.

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