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Older couples, divorce and dividing assets

According to the Pew Research Center, the divorce rate for older couples in Texas and the rest of the United States is twice what it was in the 1990s. People who are older than 50 years old and who want to get a divorce should be aware of how to properly divide their assets, particularly retirement assets. Dividing certain assets in the wrong manner can result in unexpected tax bills and other types of financial hits. Because older couples are close to retirement, it is especially important that they avoid these types of financial mistakes during their divorce.

A qualified domestic relations order is needed to divide pensions and 401(k) plans. A QDRO, which is a legal order, details the right of a divorcing spouse to obtain part of all of the accountholder's qualified plan. After the legal order is given to the administrator of the plan, the portion of the funds the QDRO stipulates is for the divorcing spouse is transferred.

Unmarried fathers have rights and legal recourse

In Texas and around the United States, modern family dynamics are increasingly developing outside of the realm of marriage. From 2007 to 2018, the rate of American children born to unmarried parents jumped from 10.7 percent to nearly 40 percent. As can be expected, many situations result in single fathers living apart from their children and having to deal with issues related to child custody, visitation and parenting time.

In divorce cases, Texas family courts work to ensure that all child support and custodial parent issues will be resolved through agreements or by means of entering orders. When unmarried couples separate, they rarely go through the court system, and this is when some fathers may encounter challenges with regard to custody and uncooperative mothers.

How women can avoid financial surprises in divorce

Some women in Texas who are getting a divorce might be unprepared to deal with the financial ramifications. A survey conducted by Worthy, an online marketplace, found that 46 percent of women said they had encountered unpleasant financial surprises in divorce.

Typical surprises for women in divorce include not realizing that alimony may be temporary, expecting child support to last longer and expecting to be able to keep the home. Women may be surprised by the cost of health insurance and of divorce. If they have been out of the workplace, they might not realize they will have to return. They may also be unaware of the extent of the marital debt including auto financing, student loans, the mortgage and the home equity line of credit.

Addressing child support issues

Financial issues can be a source of tension in many relationships. These problems can also cause acrimony between couples who have divorced and have to co-parent with one another. Co-parents in Texas and the rest of the country should make an effort to prioritize their children and work to resolve any disagreements regarding money.

Emotions can become heated if one parent is not making the payments for child support or any other financial obligations that are required. Whether the paying parent is experiencing financial hardship or is not making payments for other reasons, it is important that both exes try to remain civil.

Is divorce actually better for your children?

You and your spouse may have been thinking about getting a divorce for some time now. Your marriage is not working out like it used to and you think you may be better off apart. But something is holding you back from pulling the trigger and filing for divorce.

Your children are one of the most important parts of your life and you do not want a divorce to ruin their lives. You have heard of the negative impact a divorce can have on children and you might not want to put them through the trauma of their parents splitting up.

How finances can cause rifts in a marriage

Finances may cause issues that eventually lead to divorce for some couples in Texas. One of the most common reasons money problems end a relationship is a lack of communication. Couples may be able to combat this by sitting down once a month and going over all financial paperwork and their spending and saving together. Communication problems are related to another common money issue, secrecy about money. If one person finds out the other one has a secret savings account, this could create a rift.

A failure to create an emergency fund is another common money error. This can result in financial problems for the couple which in turn can lead to divorce. Couples may want to look into having a small amount deducted from each paycheck to build up a savings account.

The tax implications of divorce will change significantly in 2019

Married couples in Texas who are planning to divorce may be wise to take action before the end of 2018 due to changes in the nation's tax laws. Under the current rules, spouses who pay alimony can deduct it as an expense while spouses who receive support must pay tax on the money. However, this situation will be reversed when the provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019. This could change the way spousal support is negotiated as spouses who make these payments generally pay income tax at higher rates than spouses who receive them.

Custody negotiations will likely also be affected as the new tax rules provide more generous child tax credits but eliminate personal exemptions until 2025. Couples planning to divorce may also wish to consider selling their homes before the new tax law takes effect as property tax deductions will be lower under the revised code.

Planning for retirement after divorce

People in Texas who decide to divorce may already be aware of the emotional, practical and financial difficulties that can accompany the end of a marriage. However, these changes can affect areas of life that people may not automatically consider when first considering a divorce. It is possible to surmount these challenges, but it can be important to consider these issues during the divorce negotiations, settlement process and when planning for the post-divorce financial future. One such issue is retirement planning, an issue that may loom large for people who divorce later in life but may seem less urgent to those separating at a younger age.

According to a study conducted by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, Americans have a 50 percent chance of retirement risk. That is, they may be unable to maintain their current standard of living after retirement. For households with a divorce in the past, that number was 7 percentage points higher. There are a number of factors that may contribute to the change, including the expense of living as a single person in terms of housing, health insurance, transportation and other costs that are often shared during a marriage.

Is it your land? Identify your rights before an easement dispute

You have lived on multiple secluded acres in Tyler for many years. The landlocked property behind you recently sold, and the new owners require an easement to access their land. You do not appreciate the increased traffic through your property because of the new neighbors, yet you may not have the legal power to stop them.

Perhaps an electrical company requests the use of part of your property to string power lines. You do not want the tall utility structures blocking your view. Although you own the land, the public nature of the power lines overrides your rights.

Child support payments and disability

If a Texas noncustodial parent becomes disabled, it could affect the ability to keep up with child support payments. However, this does not mean that a court will release the disabled parent from those obligations.

The parent's income may be reduced either temporarily or permanently depending on the nature of the disability. In this case, the parent might go to court to request a modification of the amount based on changed circumstances. The court will consider what kind of disability the parent has and the parent's change in income. If a parent stops paying support, the parent's wages may be garnished. If a parent has disability insurance, a portion of that insurance may be garnished. While Supplemental Security Income cannot be garnished for most debts and taxes, it can be for child support payments.

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