Family Law Blog

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.

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.



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.

Three Tips To Tell Your Children About Your Divorce

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Telling your children that you are getting divorced may be the hardest part of the whole process. No parent wants to turn their children’s lives upside down. However, the sooner that you tell them, the better off they will be.

Here are some tips on how to tell your children that you are getting a divorce.

  • Pick the right time to talk to them. Life is very busy and it can be hard to find time to talk to your children about divorce. However, you shouldn’t bring it up when they are rushing to school or you are trying to put them to bed. Find a time when you have an hour or two to really talk about it before bringing it up.
  • Have a plan. It is important that you have a plan in place before you tell the children. It helps to know who is moving out and where they are going. It is even better if you can have some sort of custody arrangement figured out prior to telling them. This helps you to answer any questions that they may have.
  • Present a united front. Telling the children shouldn’t be one parent’s job. Instead, you should both sit down with the children and discuss the divorce. Try not to use this time to place blame. Instead, discuss the situation and what they can expect. Answer their questions the best that you can.   

It can be really hard to tell your children that their lives are going to change. However, if you already have a plan, it is much easier to tell your children what they can expect going forward. It will be easier to answer their questions and settle their minds if you know what is going to happen.

Contact us for all of your legal needs.

What Happens if Your Spouse Doesn't Show Up For A Divorce Hearing?

Thursday, June 08, 2017

You have filed for a divorce and the day of the hearing has come. You are sitting in court, in front of a judge, and you wait. Your spouse hasn't shown up, and they don't show up. What then? Fear, guilt, apathy, depression, or spite may be keeping them away, but skipping court is never a good idea.

The justice system never likes to have their time wasted, and if your spouse doesn't show up for your divorce hearing, bad things will happen. If they failed to notify the court, the can be charged with contempt, and the judge can even issue a bench warrant for their arrest as well as a fine.

However, there are cases where the spouse agrees to the divorce but doesn't want to make a court appearance. This qualifies as uncontested divorce. In these cases, both parties must agree to the division of property, debts, child custody and spousal support. In doing so, the non-filing spouse won't be required to show up to the court hearing.

However, if both parties cannot agree, they are both required to appear in court. By not doing so, not only can the aforementioned bench warrant and fine be issued, but the courts are more likely to show favor to the party that did show up for their court appearance.

If you are filing for divorce and want to know if you need to show up to the hearing or feel your spouse might not show up, contact us today. As divorce lawyers, Jamra & Jamra are dedicated to providing the best legal representation and getting the outcome you desire.

Retirement Plan Property Division

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Employee retirements plans accumulated during a marriage are typically community property. Since these assets are not accessible under IRS or plan rules until a specific age, family law has developed a method to ensure equitable distribution at a future date. This method is called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) and applies to most employer-sponsored retirement accounts.

Employer-sponsored retirement plans are a relationship between an employer and employee. The spouse might be a beneficiary but is not a payee. The purpose of a QDRO is to recognize the spouse of an employee as an alternate payee. This legal recognition must be established for the employer to pay benefits to someone other than the employee.

QDROs are applicable to accounts covered under ERISA, which is the main federal law governing employer-sponsored retirement account.  This includes pensions and 401K’s. It does not include IRA’s and does not include military and many government employee pension plans. IRAs are readily divided in the same manner as other community property. Government employer plans can also be divided through processes that works largely like a QDRO, but which are technically not QDROs.

Formulas that guide division of the plans are well-recognized. Situation-dependent factor may mean that the divisions are not necessarily 50/50. For example, if a spouse with a pension had years of work service before the marriage, that portion of the pension would probably not be community property.

While the formulas provide guidance, the goal of the court will be to achieve just and equitable division in the complete context of the divorcing couple. Some negation will be possible, if it is in the overall interest of the parties. For more information on division of retirement benefits, please contact us.