Se Habla EspaƱol
Law Office of B. Diane Heindel
Practice Areas Menu

Tyler Legal Issues Blog

Some things indicate divorce on the horizon

For people in Texas who are considering a divorce, it can be difficult to know what the right decision is. While it may be best to go through with the process, it can also be daunting as divorce brings with it a number of stresses that may otherwise be avoided. It is natural to want to avoid the financial, mental and emotional issues that come with divorce, and those considerations can cloud a person's judgment. Couples that lack respect for one another, mock each other or don't want to come home, though, might be better off divorced.

According to a supervising faculty member at Northwestern University's Marriage & Family Therapy Program, a marriage without respect is in real trouble. Indications that respect is lacking might include one spouse ignoring the wishes of the other person or making big decisions without consulting him or her. This is especially true when the spouse who wasn't consulted would have disagreed with the decision.

How to deal with your emotions in divorce

There is more to divorce than matters of property division, child custody, child support and alimony. While you're dealing with all these issues, many emotions will come to light. The way you approach these will impact your mental health and well-being now and in the future.

Here are five tips for dealing with your emotions in a divorce:

  • Don't dwell on the past: As difficult as it may be to get past your divorce, you must focus on the present. Doing so will allow you to make informed decisions to prepare you for a better life in the future. The past is in the past and you can't do anything about it now.
  • Don't engage with your ex: Just when you're feeling better, your ex may attempt to "pull you back in" by starting an argument. If you have children together, it's critical that you learn how to successfully co-parent. But even so, this doesn't mean you should let your ex play with your emotions.
  • Lean on your support group: There's never a reason to feel as if you have to be on your own. Look to your family, friends and co-workers for emotional support, as these people can help you through a very difficult time in your life.
  • Work on detaching yourself from your relationship: Even after your divorce is in the past, it's easy to get caught up on what went wrong, things you could have done differently and related details. The sooner you completely detach yourself, the easier it becomes to make a full recovery.
  • Write out what you want from the future: It's one thing to think about this, but another thing entirely to write out your goals. It's easier to get over your marriage and subsequent divorce when you know what you're trying to accomplish moving forward.

Making child support agreements outside of court

One way that child custody agreements can be decided upon is in court. However, some Texas parents opt to decide on child support using a more informal process. There are two main ways that child support agreements can be reached, including using alternative dispute resolutions and informal settlement negotiations.

Alternative dispute resolutions, or ADR, can help parents who want to resolve issues related to child custody and support outside of court. These resolutions include options like collaborative law and mediation. ADR can be beneficial if parents are overall willing to work together to resolve issues related to child support but have a few areas of dispute where they need help. These options tend to be more casual than a traditional court setting and can lead to earlier settlements. ADR typically allows both parents along with their attorneys to play an active role in coming to an agreed-upon decision in child support disputes as opposed to having a judge or jury make these decisions.

Effective co-parenting

When parents in Texas divorce, the well-being of their children is often a top priority. For this reason, even couples embroiled in bitter disputes often take steps to work out their differences so that they can effectively co-parent their children.

Determining whether co-parenting is truly meeting the best interests of the child is often a matter of paying attention to any number of factors over a long period. These factors vary, and not all co-parenting relationships will exhibit all of these outcomes, but healthy co-parenting is often characterized by relationships that are open, honest and generous.

Protecting a credit score after divorce

A person's credit score is not affected by their marital status. However, if a couple in Texas or any other state decides to get a divorce, joint accounts could negatively affect their credit score. A vengeful ex-spouse could create financial chaos that damages a person's credit score, and even simple confusion in the case of an amicable divorce could do the same.

It is advisable to take preventative action in order to separate joint accounts before a person finalizes their divorce. Before a person closes a joint account, they would first want to apply for their own cards. The reason why it is important to do this is because a temporary credit score drop could negatively affect an individual's qualifications when obtaining a new card.

Making parenting work with a challenging former spouse

When Texas couples with young children get divorced, they need to figure out a way to work together to continue parenting. If the split was amicable, coming up with a parenting plan could be simple. But when the relationship is full of conflicts, negotiating a custody agreement or parenting plan might be a tense, difficult process.

With courts increasingly favoring joint custody, many parents with conflicts will be forced to figure out how to work together to continue raising their children. Parents who do not get along may consider designing a parenting plan that minimizes interactions and prevents further opportunities for discord. If one parent is very difficult and often combative, it's a good idea to document the interactions. Such information could be presented as evidence in court.

5 ways to prepare your finances for the challenges of divorce

The way you prepare for the divorce process is unique to your marital circumstances and personal situation. However, it's important for anyone going through a divorce to prepare from a financial perspective.

Here are five steps to take if divorce is imminent:

  • Create a property division and debt checklist: List out all of your assets and debts. Also, make note of which ones are separate and which ones are joint. You'll need this during the divorce process, so you might as well compile it as soon as possible.
  • Close joint accounts: Leaving open joint accounts is inviting trouble. Once you know you're divorcing, discuss your options for closing them with your imminent ex-spouse. For example, if you have joint credit card debt, talk about paying it off and closing the account before the process begins.
  • Get professional help: There is help to be had, so don't assume you're alone. For example, you can consult with your tax professional regarding how divorce will impact you now and in the future.
  • Open accounts in your own name: Once you close joint accounts, open new ones in your name (and your name only). This is an important step in regaining your financial independence.
  • Create a budget: With your financial situation changing, a new budget is a must. Knowing your income and expenses will help you make the necessary adjustments in the months to come.

Initial marital happiness likely to persist

When people in Texas decide to divorce, financial issues can be some of the most contentious. People can struggle over child support and alimony as well as the division of property like retirement funds or the family home. Given the role of financial conflict in many divorces, people may expect that socioeconomic status is linked to marital happiness overall. One set of researchers set out to study whether couples that are less well-off financially are also more likely to face marital problems. The study examined 431 couples living in one area known for generally low incomes.

The researchers found, however, that financial status in and of itself did not appear to be a major cause of marital discontentment and divorce. It should be noted that they did not examine the effects of new or severe financial stress on a couple, a different situation than people in relatively stable economic circumstances. However, they did find that one of the most significant indicators of marital satisfaction was the happiness of the couple at the time of their marriage. The study involved an eight-item questionnaire delivered on five occasions between 2009 and 2014.

Recovering child support in state or federal court

Some parents in Texas who are divorced or separated from the other parent of their child may be paid child support. However, in some cases, the other parent may not make those payments regularly. When this happens, the recipient parent might be able to go to state or federal court to compel the parent to pay support.

A parent going to state court will need to produce certain types of documentation first. There should be evidence of the parent's attempt to collect child support and evidence of the lack of payment for an extended time. If the parents were unmarried, the mother may need to show evidence that the father knew the child was his.

Research examines abuse, alienation in custody disputes

Fathers in Texas may still get custody of their children even if the mothers of their children accuse them of abuse. Among the mothers in a study conducted by a professor at George Washington University Law School who were accused of parental alienation and who also said their child was being abused, none had their abuse claims substantiated in court if the father's claim of parental alienation was substantiated.

The study examined over 2,000 custody cases from around the country that involved claims of child abuse, domestic abuse and parental alienation. It found that in cases where a mother alleged that sexual abuse was taking place, only 1 in 51 claims was substantiated if the father also claimed parental alienation. Some critics say that courts are too quick to assume parental alienation, a situation in which a parent turns a child against the other parent. The research of the psychiatrist who advanced the theory has not been recognized by the American Medical Association, and Maryland is looking at ways to apply more empirical research to child custody decisions.

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

Toll Free: 800-481-9564
Phone: 903-508-2705
Fax: 903-533-9989
Tyler Law Office Map

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