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Sugar Land Family Law Blog

What to do when a divorce order is defied

Texas residents and others going through a divorce may have the power to create a divorce agreement that meets their needs. However, there is no guarantee that a party to the deal will live up to its terms. If a former spouse is not paying child or spousal support as agreed, it could be possible to take legal action to have that person held in contempt of court.

Such a ruling might result in the party who is not complying with the agreement spending time in jail. It may also result in wages being garnished until a person is current with his or her payment obligations. Divorce agreements could stipulate who pays some or all the debt accrued during a marriage. However, if a debt is in a person's name, a missed payment can result in damage to a credit score regardless of who was supposed to take care of it.

When can child custody be changed in Texas?

Once you have a child custody agreement, you have restricted options for getting it changed. Furthermore, a custody change is unlikely to be granted if it does not seem to be in the best interests of the child.

That said, there is still a lot of room to negotiate for custody changes within these boundaries. Here are some common scenarios when custody may be modified:

The reasons behind gray divorce

While the overall divorce rate in Texas and nationwide has stabilized, the divorce rate among older Americans is increasing. In fact, nearly 25 percent of all divorces are now "gray divorces," meaning the couple is over the age of 50.

According to a study published in the Journal of Woman & Aging, there are several reasons why gray divorces are on the rise. One factor is that the baby boomer generation is aging. In 1990, there were less than 64 million U.S. adults aged 50 or older, but there were 99 million in that age bracket by 2010. The average life expectancy of Americans has also increased. In 1950, men lived an average of 65.6 years, and women lived an average of 71.1 years. However, men now live an average of 76.1 years while women live an average of 81.1 years. This gives Americans more time to consider divorce.

New divorce trend involves financial planners

Divorces can be liberating for many Texas couples. Unfortunately, they can also be financially disastrous. However, a new trend is helping some spouses manage costs and come out of the divorce process relatively unscathed.

According to divorce experts, some spouses are hiring financial planners to help them avoid making major money mistakes as they negotiate their divorce agreements. These people work with a financial planner, lawyer and other members of a divorce 'team" to ensure they make it through the separation in the best shape possible, both emotionally and financially.

How to handle the role of executor

Typically, Texas residents and other people throughout the country are asked to be the executors of their parents or spouses' estates. There are several tasks that an executor must complete to navigate probate successfully. The first step is to find the will and guard the estate's property. This could mean gathering mail and changing the locks on a home. Locating the will is critical because it will be needed to start the probate process.

There are fees that need to be paid to file a will, and those expenses can be recouped by the executor. It is important that the executor keeps track of all his or her out-of-pocket expenses throughout the process of settling the estate. It may also be a good idea for this person to hire an attorney for assistance throughout the probate process. Once the will has been found and submitted, it is time to gather assets and deal with creditor claims.

What will happen to your family business during divorce?

If you and your spouse decide to divorce, the subject of assets may be much on your mind, and the family business is going to be one of the main considerations.

How much involvement you and your spouse have in the company is one of the factors that will determine how the court will treat the business in terms of property division.

The financial challenges of a 'gray' divorce

According to a survey of married and former spouses by UBS Global Wealth Management, most women leave investing and major financial decisions to their husbands. This can lead to major problems for an older wife in Texas who decides to get a "gray" divorce.

In fact, this is an issue for more than just older women. The study claims that 61 percent of millennial women and 54 percent of baby boomer women leave the investment decisions up to the husband. However, the researchers also found that the divorced and widowed women in the survey regretted this decision. Nearly all said that given hindsight, they would seek more financial transparency.

Handling debts for a surviving spouse after death

Many married couples in Texas may wonder how their debts are handled after death, especially for their surviving spouse. There is often a significant amount of confusion about the liability a surviving spouse may have for any debt accumulated by their partner before their debt. When a person passes away, their debts are paid from their estate; the money and property they leave behind typically pass through probate.

Despite common beliefs, spouses are not automatically responsible for their partner's debts during their life or after their death. The only debts that a spouse is automatically responsible for are joint debts like jointly held credit cards or lines of credit. However, there can still be a significant cost to a surviving spouse, especially if they are to inherit the bulk of their partner's estate. If the funds in the estate must be used to satisfy debts, they might never be received by the surviving spouse.

How divorce can impact people's finances when they are older

The divorce rate for people who are older than 50 in Texas has dramatically increased since 1990. Since that time, the divorce rate for older adults has almost doubled. People who are older and want to file for divorce should take some time to figure out how the end of their marriages might impact them financially.

When people get divorced after age 50, they may have trouble retiring when the time comes. People who divorce will need to divide their marital assets, including money that they have saved in their retirement plans while they were married. This may make it much harder to retire on time, forcing people to remain in the workforce far longer than they planned.

Plan ahead for better finances after divorce

Texas couples thinking about marriage may benefit by also thinking about divorce if they want to best protect their financial futures. With steadily high divorce rates, putting in place strategies for coping with a marriage ending seems just as prudent as having health or life insurance. For pragmatic couples, there are a number of tactics available to protect individual assets if divorce happens.

The prenuptial agreement is most often thought of when advance divorce planning is considered. While pre- and even post-nuptial agreements are efficient when properly structured, they are not the only available tools for astute asset managers. Simply keeping separate accounts can be a very effective strategy for some couples. Having a dedicated joint account for marital assets while maintaining individual accounts can be of benefit, but any co-mingling or usage of an individual account for joint benefit can negate the intent. For example, if an inheritance is placed into a joint account, it becomes marital property. Maintaining separate finances can also provide some level of insulation for one spouse against the other's individual creditors in the event of aggressive collection tactics.

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