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Is joint custody really the best option?

Many people think joint custody is the best possible option for a child custody arrangement. It gives both parents a chance to spend equal time with their kids so they can continue to develop their bond and relationship. People think equal time with both parents is healthiest for the kids, but is this really the case?

Cons of co-parenting

Divorce costs may rise with passage of TCJA

Tax changes made by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which passed in 2017, could mean less money for Texas couples who are getting a divorce. There are different rules for alimony and for claiming children on their tax returns.

Alimony has traditionally been tax-deductible for the person who pays, and this often led to somewhat larger awards. The recipient had to pay taxes on it. Starting with divorce agreements signed after the end of 2018, alimony will no longer involve taxes at all. Experts say that even though it will no longer be taxable to recipients, they are likely to end up with less money overall because the payer will probably resist making larger payments that are not tax-deductible.

Health problems more likely for those who divorce late

On the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory, which ranks certain life events by the amount of stress they cause, divorce is number two, behind only the death of a spouse. For Texas couples whose marriages are coming to an end, the emotional, financial and mental strain can cause issues in other areas of life or health problems. This can be true for young couples as well as those who have been together for decades.

The divorce rate for people 50 or older has doubled since 1990, a trend that has sometimes been referred to as gray divorce. People who divorce later in life might experience health problems like depression, anxiety or chronic stress. They may also experience symptoms of post-traumatic stress like flashbacks of negative occurrences and nightmares. Depression has been associated with Type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease and heart problems.

Preparing to tell children about an upcoming divorce

If you and your spouse decide to end the marriage, many important factors come to the forefront for resolution. Some important topics will take priority later in the divorce process such as dividing assets and resolving financial obligations, but there are other elements that need immediate attention when first deciding to divorce.

How are the two of you going to tell your children about the divorce? Are you prepared to answer their questions and remain available for future concerns? What will your co-parenting dynamic look like before a formal custody arrangement?

Factors that can influence child custody

Child custody battles can be stressful and may be one of the hardest things you will ever have to go through. When it comes to child custody, there can be many factors that come into play when determining how the details will be figured out. However, there are certain aspects to the determination of child custody that can be useful for you to know. 

Birth certificate is a record, may not establish paternity

The laws of most states are designed with the assumption in mind that a baby's parents are legally married. This can raise questions in some cases where the father's name is not on the baby's birth certificate. For mothers in Texas, they may think they have to file for custody or that it might be a bad idea to file if it causes a father who was out of the picture to show back up to make demands for joint custody.

In some states, the law presumes that a mother has only initial custody, rather than sole custody, even if the father's name is not on the birth certificate. The birth certificate generally does not establish paternity; the father may need to establish paternity before his name is put on the child's birth certificate.

The impact of divorce on older adults

Adults in Texas who are 50 and older are twice as likely to divorce as couples of that age were in 1990. Those who are 65 and older are three times more likely to do so. Researchers have made suggestions as to why divorce is on the rise for older adults, but studies show that their speculations were not always correct.

Two major transitions older adults face are adult children leaving home and retirement. Contrary to researchers' expectations, these transitions did not correlate with a higher divorce rate. There are a few indicators that some marriages may be more vulnerable to divorce than others. Marriages of shorter duration and second marriages are more likely to end in divorce. A man whose parents divorced has a 35 percent higher chance of also getting divorced; for a woman, the likelihood is 60 percent higher. However, studies show that the main reason for divorce among older adults is the same reason younger adults get divorced: They are no longer happy or fulfilled in their relationships.

Protecting finances during a divorce

When people in Texas decide to divorce, there can be long-lasting economic consequences that linger beyond the emotional and practical effects of the end of a marriage. Many people are particularly concerned about the threat of financial disaster. For women in particular, scholars have noted that divorced women see their income fall by over a fifth without recovering. On the other hand, data shows divorced men seeing their income rise by around 33 percent.

One study shows that divorced women can actually fare better than single women financially if they leave the marriage as homeowners. Divorced women are more likely to be homeowners than single women who never married. However, other experts warn that trying to hang on to a marital home in a divorce is not the right choice for everyone. If people don't have the income to pay the mortgage or refinance the loan in their own names, they could face a worsened financial situation by attempting to keep the home. In fact, some financial advisers noted concerns about the survey, worrying that it may inspire more people to try to keep their homes even if they cannot afford the bills and taxes.

Planning for a new academic year after divorce

Parents going through a divorce in Texas may consider how the split will affect the upcoming school year for their children. The beginning of every academic year is often marked by both anticipation and anxiety as children look forward to new classrooms, teachers and even friends. When kids are adjusting to sharing time between both parents' houses, the back-to-school season can gain some additional confusion and stress. However, divorced parents can work together to make the first school year after a separation more positive for the children.

First, both parents may want to talk with their children about academic goals for the year. While each parent can have a separate discussion with their kids, it can be more supportive if the entire family comes together around these academic concerns. This way, each parent could work during their time with the kids to support achieving some key goals for the year.

Student debts inspire more couples to seek prenuptial agreements

Wealthy celebrities over the years have brought the concept of prenuptial agreements to the attention of people in Texas. High incomes and royalties associated with celebrities have motivated many wealthy individuals to negotiate the terms of a divorce prior to marriage. These legal agreements aim to prevent battles over assets and debts in the event of a breakup. People from all walks of life, especially millennials, have now recognized the usefulness of prenuptial agreements in increasing numbers. The contracts potentially allow people to reserve assets from the marital estate and insulate parties from the debt obligations of spouses.

The majority of lawyers surveyed by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, at 62 percent, reported an increase in clients requesting prenuptial agreements. The previous two decades have overseen a rise in premarital contracts by a factor of five. Matrimonial lawyers also reported a rise in contentious divorces in the previous three years.

Law Office of B. Diane Heindel, P.C.
407 E. 4th Street
Tyler, TX 75701

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