Family Law Blog

Who Gets Child Custody If Your Former Spouse Dies?

Friday, August 25, 2017

What happens when your former spouse, who was awarded custodial rights over your children, suddenly passes away? In most cases, custodial rights will revert back to you, the remaining surviving parent. However, other factors can come into play as well. Here are some common issues that arise.

If You Are Unfit

Courts will be looking out for the child’s best interests. In most cases, their best interests is to be with their biological parent. If, however, you are deemed unfit for taking care of them (for example, if you have a history of child abuse), the court will probably deny you custodial rights.

If Your Spouse Left a Will

If your spouse left a will stipulating who should be the guardian of your child, that will generally not have any direct effect. Your spouse did not own your child. The courts may, however, take your spouse's suggestion into consideration in their final ruling when analyzing what will be the best thing for the child.

If a Third Party Intervenes

Although you will usually be awarded custody, a third party can still intervene. A grandparent or other relative has the right to petition the courts for custody. They will usually have to prove that staying with you will cause harm to the child.

If Your Spouse Remarried

What if your spouse remarried? The existence of a stepparent may complicate things. If the stepparent formally adopted the child and your parental rights were terminated, they will generally retain custodial rights unless you adopt your child again. If, however, the stepparent did not adopt the child and you still retain parental rights, things may be different.

Contact us for legal help in any case involving child custody so that we can help you out.

Property Division: Who Pays The Bills During A Divorce?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

stressed-couple-sitting-at-counter-paying-billsGetting divorced is the sort of thing that tends to eat up all your time and attention. You worry about your kids, you worry about your finances, you have to keep your court dates straight, file the right paperwork, and talk to your attorney to make sure everything is going smoothly. And that's if you and your partner are going your own ways amicably; if you're not, then you have to attend negotiations with someone who is trying to fight you on every ground involved in this divorce.

A lot of stuff can fall by the wayside while you're understandably involved in this process. Your social life, your hobbies, and even your career can all take serious hits from your divorce. It can affect practical things, too. Things you might not even think about when you first start your proceedings. Things like, whose job is it to keep paying your bills while going through this divorce?

Generally, It's Whoever's Name Is On The Account

When it comes to paying bills during a divorce, the answer is usually pretty simple; which name is on the account? That's who pays the bills, according to Simple Texas Divorce, because they're still that person's bills. If your spouse has a credit card or an on-demand movie account, those are still their bills, to be paid on-time just as if there wasn't a divorce proceeding going on.

That might sound simple, but things can get complicated when both of you are listed on an account, and you are both held liable for the bill. For example, say you're getting divorced, but you both still live together in the same house. If both your names are on the power bill, for example, then you're both on the hook for it. That means it's up to the two of you to figure out some way to cover the expense that is amenable to all parties involved.

However, this requirement needs to be reflected based on your current living arrangement. If you are separated, and each of you has your own places where you live, you should update your billing information to reflect that. Everything from credit cards and banking, to utilities and your Netflix account, should be divvied up, with each of you handling your own part of it whenever possible.

Lastly, though, it's important to remember that you can't just shut off a service during a divorce proceeding. Any account closures will need to be joint, and negotiations will have to involve both parties. Otherwise, that could cause further complications to the divorce. After all, it isn't just about what paperwork you submit, or what you say in court; it's about how you are living your lives, and what actions you're taking throughout the divorce process. Every action is throwing a stone into a pond, and the ripples can have consequences when the court makes a decision.

Can I Take Money Out of My Account?

It can get nerve-wracking, examining every financial decision through the lens of your divorce. However, as Bedrock Divorce points out, all of your shared assets as a couple will need to be assessed and split before you can both go your separate ways. That includes savings accounts, retirement accounts (like a 401k), and pretty much any other resources. Which is why it's important not to touch those accounts, or to do something like taking out a loan against your 401k, without communicating about it, and making sure it's something you both agree on. Sometimes you'll need to dip into these accounts to pay your bills while the divorce is going on, but any one-sided activity could hurt you when it comes time to divide the marital assets.

For more advice on what you can do to make your divorce go smoother in Texas, simply contact us today!

What About Our Home After a Divorce?

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Divorce can be a devastating experience. Not only are you splitting from someone you once loved, but you must divide your assets. One of your biggest assets is likely your home. Deciding who gets the home can be a difficult and contentious decision, which should ideally be made by you and your ex rather than be left up to a judge's decision. When making decisions about your home, you have several options.

One of You Keeps the Home

Sometimes, the best solution is for one of you to keep the home. In some cases, the one keeping the home may buy out the other person, allowing one spouse to have the home while the other has the money.

One of you keeping the home is also often a good solution when you still have children at home. The children can continue to live in the home until they are grown. In some cases, the house may then be sold. In other cases, the person living in the home may continue to live in the home even after the children have moved out.

Sell the Home

For many splitting couples, selling the home and splitting the profits is the best solution. This might be the best solution if both of you want the house or if maintaining the home would cause a financial burden for the person wanting to keep the house. It is also often a good option if neither person wants to keep the home, especially if both people want to make a fresh start, in a new community, far from the memories of that home.  

Each Keep One

If you own more than one home, you may be able to come to a compromise where you each get one home. Of course, this may require some serious compromising on one or both of your parts, especially if one home is worth significantly more than the other.

Unfortunately, your home is just one of the property division issues you will face during your divorce. Contact us to learn how we can help you through the divorce process.

All Family Law Topics - The Process Of Becoming an Emancipated Minor in the State of California

Thursday, August 03, 2017

Minor Emancipation is the legal procedure in which an adolescent can become independent of their parents' control and responsibility if they are under the age of 18. The minor seeking emancipation from their parents must consider several things before entering into this process and should speak to a family law attorney to become fully informed. It's important that the adolescent understands the adult responsibilities of becoming emancipated and what they need to do before petitioning the California court system to approve their emancipation. The petition for emancipation is an application reviewed by a judge presiding in family court. If the judge feels the minor does not meet the requirements to become emancipated, they can deny the minor's petition until they can meet all the stipulations.

According to the family laws of the state of California, the minor petitioning for emancipation is at least 14 years old. The adolescent will need to obtain the necessary forms to fill out, specifically the form Petition for Declaration of Emancipation of Minor, Order Prescribing Notice, Declaration of Emancipation, and Order Denying Petition. Another form that needs completion and submission with the paperwork is Emancipation of Minor Income and Expense Declaration. A statement written by the minor and provided with the forms will be for the purpose of informing the court the reason for requesting emancipation, the manner in which they will live as an independent minor, and how they will support themselves financially. It would also be helpful to include letters from employers or landlords certifying that the minor does have employment and has established a place of residence.

Before submitting the petition for emancipation for filing in the court system, the minor should have all paperwork reviewed by a family law attorney, ensuring it is correctly completed. For any questions about the Minor Emancipation procedure or to schedule an appointment, please contact us.

Will Your Spouse's Unemployment Affect Your Divorce?

Thursday, July 27, 2017

If there is one thing that can quickly ruin a marriage, it is financial issues. If one spouse is unemployed and not able to find work, it can put a lot of stress on your relationship. Combined with other marital problems, this stress might be just enough to make it break. However, if your spouse is unemployed, will it have any effect on your divorce?

The answer is yes. If your spouse isn't working and you have been supporting them, you may find that after your divorce, you will be responsible for paying them maintenance in the form of spousal support. Typically this makes divorces even more contentious because, well, who wants to pay someone they aren't even with anymore?

Luckily, the amount of spousal support is determined by the court. They take into consideration whether or not the unemployment is voluntary, who primarily handled any childcare activities, and if the unemployed spouse is disabled or able to get gainful employment.

With all those things considered, spousal support may be permanent, limited, of a rehabilitative nature, or even meant to repay the spouse for their past financial contributions. So depending on the nature of your spouse's unemployment, it is likely you will have to pay them some spousal support, but it may not be forever. The duration is usually lengthened if they are disabled or if they were the full-time care taker for young children or those with special needs. As those children grow and develop, the court may also expect them to seek employment.

If you are preparing to file for divorce for financial or other reasons and are concerned about paying spousal support, contact us today. The Law Firm of Jamra & Jamra can help you go over your case to see how likely spousal support might be.

Remembering the More Obscure Marriage Assets

Thursday, July 20, 2017

There isn't a couple in the world that plans for divorce, but it happens. If you are about to start your filing, then it is also time to start locating your assets. However, you first need to recognize that there are some assets that you might not be thinking about at first. Everyone remembers those typical assets like cars, bank accounts, and property, but some other assets like retirement accounts or investments, we tend to forget about.

Here are a few more unusual assets that you need to remember to look for in the event of a divorce:

  • Capital Loss - These carryovers can save a lot of money on your taxes, so be sure to check last year's tax returns to see what deduction you can take. If you find that you have a capital loss, then this is definitely something that should be brought up.
  • Land Purchases - If you or your spouse purchased land, cemetery plots, or any other shared interests together, it is time to identify them and assess their value. This is particularly important in cemetery plots since these can be particularly expensive. It is best to sort out the value of your share of the plot, or the plot altogether if you don't want to keep it. Land can be a little easier to sort out since the couple can often just sell it and split the profits.
  • Memberships - Did you and your spouse purchase a membership to a golf course, country club, or own a timeshare? These are something that people often forget about if they aren't using often, but they can be costly shared assets as well as become problematic if you ever want to use them again. Don't forget to bring them up in divorce proceedings as well as address who gets to keep the membership in question.

This is just a sample of some of the more forgotten assets that need to be addressed in divorce. If you are beginning your divorce proceedings, contact us today. Here at the Law Office of Jamra & Jamra, we know how important legal representation is in the event of a divorce. Don't get caught without representation if you want to make sure your divorce goes fairly and as smoothly as possible.



Do Digital Assets Fit Into a Prenuptial Agreement?

Thursday, July 13, 2017

In these modern, constantly connected times, the way we interact with each other has changed. Relationships are celebrated through technology and sometimes started because of it. Sharing a Netflix password may be a show of trust and having something like a joint iTunes account could be a display of how serious a relationship has gotten. However, not all relationships last, so can a prenuptial agreement that safeguards your other assets also safeguard your digital ones as well?

It may sound silly, but including digital assets into a prenup or postnup is becoming more important as technology continues to grow. Digital assets that you can and should include in your prenuptial agreement include photography, audiovisual media, word documents, and e-mail. By putting in clauses on who can keep this digital media, it can help you retain ownership as well as a certain degree of digital security if a marriage dissolves. This is especially important if couples often share devices so no matter who retains ownership of it, they are not completely privileged to keep everything on the device. Imagine if you lost your next great American novel just because it was on your spouse's computer? It would be tragic.

Another important factor to consider is digital assets purchased for a specific platform. iTunes is a good example of this since you can't transfer media bought on that account to another. If you use platforms like this, it will save a lot of potential pain later by stating who gets ownership of it. Sometimes this might be a clause of one person getting ownership and the other getting compensation for the media contributed to it.

If you are drafting up a prenuptial agreement and aren't sure how your digital assets fit into it, contact us today.

How Does Mental Illness Effect Child Custody

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Mental illness can be a tricky issue, more so when it is brought into a custody case. Raising a child can be a challenging endeavor, and this can be problematic for people who suffer from mental illness. However, there are parents that have mental illness who are great parents, and also those who are not. This means when it comes down to mental health issues, it is left to a judge to carefully consider and decide on custody.

Rest assured that the judge will always make decisions in custody cases that are in the best interests of the child. However, if you suffer from mental illness and are worried about losing complete custody of their child, there are things that can affect the judge's decision for better or worse.

When a judge is considering your case, here is what you should keep in mind:

  • Is the mentally ill parent compliant with treatment?
  • What specific mental health issue the parent suffers from
  • Is the home environment stable?
  • Does the mental health issue affect the parent's ability to meet the emotional and physical needs of a child?

Naturally, if a parent suffers from depression, they are not considered as potentially destructive to a child as a manic schizophrenic. However, any mental health issue, if treated and the patient willingly undergoes treatment, can still allow them to keep custody. The willingness to undergo treatment and provide a stable home environment for a child both go a long way to keeping custody of them.

If you are divorcing and worried about your mental health issue affecting your custody case of your child, contact us today. The Law Firm of Jamra & Jamra believes that if you are seeking treatment and a good parent, any mental health issue shouldn't keep you from spending time with your child.

Marriage Versus Domestic Partnership - The Legal Advantages of Both

Thursday, June 29, 2017

It wasn't so long ago that people only knew about domestic partnerships as a way to give same-sex couples basic legal and economic protection. However, now that marriage is legal for everyone, that doesn't mean the domestic partnership has gone away. In some states, the title is open to any couples that cohabitate together while other states stimulate that the couple must be above the age of 62.

So if marriage is legal, why just remain in a domestic partnership? Well, not everyone believes in marriage and often it is a lot more work, from both a legal and emotional standpoint. There are many employers that still extend benefits to domestic partners and this partnership gives them other legal rights, like the ability to make medical decisions. Another benefit of domestic partnerships is that they are much easier to dissolve than a marriage.

Unfortunately, marriage has its perks as well. In domestic partnerships, you still have to file taxes separately and you aren't entitled to your partner's Social Security benefits. The most unfortunate part is the transfer of assets and inheritance between partners is that they are still taxable.

Marriage is a longer commitment, but a domestic partnership is still a great way for couples to create bonds, like sharing health insurance. While it lacks many of the benefits of marriage, it is easier to go into and get out of, sort of like a marriage-lite.

If you are considering a domestic partnership or are considering whether marriage is right for you, contact us today. We can help you go through all the benefits and disadvantages of a domestic partnership to make sure it is right for you and your family.

Three Tips to Help Your Children Through Divorce

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Divorce can be devastating on anyone. Bring young children into the mix and it becomes even harder. Parents often stay together for their children but it is not always the best thing. Even though your children are going to be hurt, divorce may be the right decision and life will get better.

Here are some tips to help your children through divorce.

The best thing that you can do for your children is learn to get along. 

Even though the marriage is ending, your family is not. You are going to have to spend countless holidays, special events, and even smaller events such as sports games together. The sooner that you are able to put your feelings aside and be friendly, the better off everyone will be.

Throughout the whole process, talk to your children about their feelings. 

Acknowledge their feelings and let your children know that what they are feeling is normal. Listen to them (over and over again) as they talk through their feelings.

Make sure that both of you are there for your children in the early stage (and throughout the rest of their lives). 

Your children need to know that they can count on you and their other parent, no matter what they need. There are going to be times when you can help and other times when they will need your ex. Don’t disappear from your children’s lives even for a short period during the divorce. Your children need you every step of the way!

Divorce can be awful for children but, the sooner you can get along for the children, the better off your new family will be. You also need to make sure that you are there for your children every step of the way. Though some parents feel like they should step away while their children adjust, there are going to be times when your children needs one of you more than the other. You can’t take that away from them!

Contact us for all of your legal needs.