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Film examines race, child support and poverty

Texas fathers going through a divorce or navigating the child support system as single dads may often find the situation overwhelming or confusing. However, these problems can be exacerbated when race and poverty enter the picture to complicate factors. "Where's Daddy?" is a new documentary that aims to explore how the American child support system affects African American families and, more specifically, the relationship between black men and their children. The film also looks at the impact of poverty on family relationships, noting that 70 percent of all child support debt in the country is owed by noncustodial parents who make less than $10,000 each year or have no income at all.

The director of the film looks at stereotypes of African American fathers as presented in pop culture, especially the idea that they are neglectful fathers who avoid child support and do not seek custody after divorce or separation from their partners. He argues that these stereotypes can have material negative effects on African American families and father-child relationships. In addition, the director also looks at the criminalization of child support debt and the use of jail time and driver's license revocations against parents who owe child support. Individuals who are in poverty and relying on marginal jobs can often lose their employment as a result.

How to protect assets after a marriage

A person who is getting married in Texas may not like the thought of asking the prospective spouse for a prenuptial agreement. However, parents who have significant wealth may want to protect their assets in the event that their children get divorced. To make the concept of a prenuptial agreement more appealing, it can be a good idea to approach the subject at an early age.

This way, the child has a better understanding of the family finances and how they need to be managed. A son or daughter may also realize that he or she has a responsibility to ensure that family wealth is available for future generations as well. Instead of thinking of a prenuptial agreement as a bad thing, children can see that they help to preserve a legacy. However, an adult child who is about to get married could still see a prenuptial agreement as something to avoid.

Why equal marriages could be more stable

When a couple in Texas begins a marriage following "traditional" gender duties of child care and housework, they might be more likely to get a divorce if the woman starts to spend more time on her career and make more money than the husband. This is less likely to happen if the couple has a marriage that is more equal from the start, according to a recent Swedish study.

It is not uncommon for a wife to postpone her own career development in order to raise children and relocate for a husband's career. They may also pick up the bulk of the household chores. When wives begin to focus on their own careers and make more money, some men respond with anger. Some jealous husbands might try to control the money or make accusations of affairs.

Business owners and divorce

If a couple in Texas is getting a divorce and one of them owns a business, there may be several complicated issues to consider in the process of property division. The business will first need to be valued, and there are several different ways of doing this. The value might be based on the income, the market or the asset. This process may involve not just looking over records but touring the facilities and interviewing management. If one person brought the business into the marriage, the valuation might need to be based on the appreciation of the business since the marriage.

State law will dictate how the value of the business and future earnings will be balanced against support payments. In some cases, a business owner might try to hide the value of the business from the other spouse. This might include trying to indicate that there are fewer assets or higher expenses than actually exist.

Divorcing after 50 may present difficult financial issues

Divorces among people who are older are on the rise. When older Texans choose to end their marriages, they may encounter some unexpected financial problems. These problems may be especially difficult to handle when there has been a power difference between the men and the women in terms of the financial decisions made during the marriages.

As much as 56 percent of women report that they let their spouses make the financial decisions in their marriages while the women assume other duties. If these couples decide to get divorced, the women may be left with an unclear picture of the state of their finances. They might also not have gained the knowledge that they need to handle their finances when they are suddenly on their own.

Yours, mine and ours: Navigating community property laws in Texas

Right up there with child custody, property division is a hotly debated topic during divorce proceedings. Both spouses worked to amass wealth during the marriage, whether by working or supporting the other spouse’s career by maintaining the household. When it comes time to divide the assets garnered together, correct property classification is key.

The basics of community property

Divorce can be a challenging time for parents

Parents going through a divorce in Texas may often be most concerned about how the end of their marriage will affect their children. While the romantic relationship between the adults has come to an end, in many cases, both parents want to protect their kids from pain and confusion during the divorce process. While some amount of disarray and disorientation may be unavoidable, divorcing parents can work to protect their children from unnecessary pain as their marriage comes to an end.

In the first place, it can be important for parents to avoid placing their child between them or pushing him or her to take sides in the divorce. Kids often love both of their parents, especially when child abuse or neglect is not a factor. They should not feel that their parents' divorce needs to be a divorce for them as well. Similarly, when a child returns to one parent after custody or parenting time with the other person, that parent should not pepper him or her with questions about his or her former partner. Parents should communicate directly with each other, especially about co-parenting matters; the children should not be forced into a position of having to be messengers between their parents.

Preparing finances for post-divorce life

Preparing for life after divorce can be a difficult and emotional task for many people in Texas who are reaching the end of their marriages. While the practical and personal consequences can be significant, some of the most difficult issues in almost any divorce center around the separation of finances. However, there are some actions that people can take to protect their assets and work towards a hopeful financial future after the divorce is final.

Many couples have relied on joint accounts for most of their banking for many years. For individuals who are getting divorced, opening separate bank accounts can be an important action. By doing so, people can start preparing for their individual financial futures. Another concern can be joint credit accounts from credit cards to lines of credit. In general, divorcing couples should aim to pay down their debts or move specific accounts into one person's name only. In addition, all joint accounts should be closed for future use. All marital debts will be split during the divorce, but it can be important to avoid accruing additional debt at that time.

OCSE provides new regulation and guidance on child support issues

According to the U.S. Office of Child Support Enforcement, approximately $33 billion was obtained for child support in the 2016 fiscal year. Of the money collected, 75 percent was procured through some form of income withholding. Despite that large number, the OCSE is offering recommendations to the payroll community that could affect the paychecks of Texas residents currently paying child support.

One area of guidance the OCSE discussed was verification of employment. The OCSE has been receiving a rising number of complaints from state child support divisions regarding employer use of third-party processors in answering verification of employment requests. Specifically, the state groups are frustrated that these third-party providers attempt to charge states a fee for processing these requests despite employment verification being the duty of the employer. The OCSE noted that in the future it may suggest state governments refuse to pay and issue notices to employers regarding their responsibilities.

Federal government aims to improve child support collection

Child support enforcement efforts can be critically important for families in New Jersey trying to get by while a delinquent parent fails to pay their court-mandated child support. Because child support funds are so important to the health and well-being of children, enforcing child support orders is a significant public priority at both the state and federal levels. A number of support orders have been successfully enforced through the use of payroll withholding, when the child support payments due are directly deducted from the parent's paycheck at the workplace.

While child support is generally handled as a state matter, the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) works to coordinate state efforts and ensure that multi-state enforcement can take place seamlessly. The OCSE is currently developing a plan in conjunction with payroll professionals, employers and state agencies in order to improve upon its already-effective program. In 2016, $33 billion in child support payments were collected through the federal system, and of those, 75 percent came in through payroll deductions on the job.

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Law Office of B. Diane Heindel, P.C.