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How fathers can prepare for their children’s future

Divorced or unmarried Texas fathers can face great challenges in winning custody or visitation rights to their children, but one important duty that should not be neglected is preparing for their children’s future. Even a father who has not married his children’s mother or has divorced from her still retains the right to leave an inheritance to his offspring through a will, or see to it that his children receive financial benefits in the event he passes away.

The American Bar Association points out how single parents estranged from a spouse may still prepare an inheritance for their children. First, fathers should name their children as beneficiaries on their assets. Should a father pass away, his offspring can receive money from such assets as retirement accounts, payable on death bank accounts, 401(k)s, and individual retirement accounts (IRAs). These beneficiary arrangements should be listed in writing, so any father who makes these changes should receive paperwork that confirms these arrangements. Additionally, a father should make sure that his children are beneficiaries under his life insurance policy.

Mediation and same-sex couples

At the Law Offices of Keith E. Holloway in Texas, we know that if you and your same-sex spouse are contemplating divorce, you still face discrimination in America. Some forms of it, sadly, are deliberate while other forms are inadvertent. One prime example of the latter is the nation’s divorce laws which, depending on the jurisdiction, do not take into consideration the special problems that divorcing same-sex couples like you and your spouse can face. This is where mediation can be particularly useful to you.

Per the Arbitration Law Review, the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same-sex marriage throughout the country. It did not, however, mandate that the states must immediately update their divorce laws to include same-sex couples.

2017 divorce rate for military couples

Some Texas residents may think that the divorce rate for military couples would be higher than the divorce rate for civilian couples. This is not necessarily the case, though. Divorce rates have steadily gone down for the past several years.

According to Military.com, the most recent statistics indicate that male service members in all five branches of the military saw decreased divorce rates in 2017. Divorce rates for female service members also declined. However, the particular branch of the military a woman served played a role in the divorce rate. Women were more likely to divorce when they served in the Marines. Roughly 7.1 percent of female marines divorced in 2017, a number that has changed little for the past six years. Female service members in the Air Force and Army have experienced a consistent decrease in divorce rates.

Bitcoin: a new way to hide marital assets

At the Law Offices of Keith E. Holloway in Texas, we know that if you and your spouse are a high-asset couple, you may need extra legal protection to preserve your financial rights during your divorce. This is especially true if you suspect that your spouse is hiding marital assets from you.

Greedy and/or spiteful spouses have attempted to hide marital assets for years. But with the ready availability of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, they now have a new and practically anonymous way in which to do it. If you have never heard of Bitcoin, you need to be aware of it and the ease with which your spouse can use cash and other assets to obtain it and then hide it in an electronic "wallet" that no one other than (s)he knows about.

Can your ex or the courts monitor how you spend child support?

Like most custodial parents in Texas, you rely on child support to help you take care of your children’s needs and make ends meet each month. You might worry whether someone officially keeps tabs on how you spend the child support you receive, especially if your ex often questions where the money goes.

You may be relieved to find out that in most cases, the family law court, the child support office and your ex cannot tell you how to spend child support. The purpose of child support, explains FindLaw, is to benefit your children’s well-being. However, child support can cover a wide range of subjects. You may choose to set aside your child support funds for your children’s physical needs, such as clothing, shoes, winter gear, school books and hygienic items. You might spend a portion of child support on your rent or utility bills, so your children do not go without heat, electricity or a roof over their heads. If your child gets sick, you could spend the money on medicine or a visit to the doctor. You also have the right to spend child support on entertainment for your children, including a night out at the movies, a restaurant meal or a birthday present.

What is a common law marriage?

Most married Texas couples were married in a wedding ceremony and have a marriage license. Other Texas couples, however, had no wedding, have no marriage license, but still are legally married. These couples are in what is known as a common law marriage. Texas calls these marriages a “marriage without formalities” or an “informal marriage.”

If you want to establish a legal common law marriage in Texas, you must do the following three things:

  1. You must agree to be married to your spouse.
  2. You and your spouse must live in Texas as husband and wife.
  3. You and your spouse must represent to others that you are married.

Is America’s divorce rate really 50 percent?

If you are a married Texan contemplating divorce, you probably are very sad. All the hopes and dreams you had on your wedding day have come crashing down and you now are faced with the realization that you and your spouse are about to become just one more statistic to add to America’s 50 percent divorce rate. But is that rate really valid?

Refinery29.com, a women’s news group, reports that the 1980 U.S. Census Report is directly responsible for the 50 percent divorce rate figure that we all have heard about – and believed – ever since. Considering that this report came out at the height of the Women’s Movement when “everyone” was getting divorced, it is not surprising that it predicted that half of the American couples married in 1976 and 1977 eventually would divorce and that the rate would continue to climb.

What do Texans need to know about common-law marriage?

Texas is one of the few states that legally recognizes common-law marriage, which may impact you if you are splitting up with your significant other. There are many myths surrounding common-law unions, perhaps the most pervasive being that anyone can be considered married by common law if they are living together for at least seven years.

This is not exactly true, according to HowStuffWorks. It can help to understand how common-law marriage originated. In the early days of the United States, when settlers still roamed largely uninhabited areas, some couples declared themselves married without an official ceremony if churches or courthouses were nowhere nearby. The law evolved to accept common-law unions in some states, including Texas. Today, you do not need an official ceremony to declare yourself married, as long as you meet several requirements: You and your partner present yourselves as a married couple to others; you plan to cohabitate for a lengthy period of time; and you agree to live as a legally married couple would.

What is the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction?

If you are a Texas parent whose children’s other parent is from and/or has family ties to another country, you may worry that (s)he will take your children overseas for a visit and refuse to return them. In the event this should happen, you may be able to avail yourself of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. This treaty among 98 countries gives parents like you an expeditious method for getting your children back.

The Hague Conference on Private International Law drafted this Convention document in 1980. The Conference had two objectives: to return internationally abducted children to their home country as quickly as possible and to ensure that each member country abide by every other country’s child custody laws and regulations.

What happens if I need to move out of state with my child?

If you are a divorced Texas parent who has residential custody of your child, you may be surprised to learn that should your employer transfer you to another state, you cannot relocate without a judge’s permission. So says Section 153 of the Texas Family Code if your parenting plan and/or divorce degree contains a geographical restriction. Many Texas decrees and plans have one that specifies how far away you can move from where you presently reside.

Obviously the first thing you should do is reread your divorce documents to see if they include such a restriction. If so, the next thing you should do is contact your former spouse and make the most compelling case possible for your upcoming move. Be sure to emphasize that you are more than willing to meet with him or her to discuss constructing a new parenting plan that will allow him or her to continue to have frequent contact with the child.

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