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McKinney Texas Family Law Blog

Business owners facing divorce must strategize carefully

Anyone who lives in Texas for even a short while can tell you we do things a bit differently here. While many of the things that make Texas unique are worth praising, the laws that govern divorce often make the process more difficult and complicated than it might be in other states.

Unlike almost all of the other states in the union, Texas uses community property laws to determine how a couple divorces. This requires that each spouse receive an equal share of all marital property.

Why Is a Living Will Important?

A Living Will, or Directive to Physicians, is a legal document that informs emergency responders, physicians, and family members of your wishes in the event you require emergency or end-of-life medical care at a time you are unable to communicate your wishes. Your Living Will is signed by you and notarized while you have full capacity to execute the document. This estate planning tool can be as detailed or simple as you would like, but it often contains at least your preferences for either life-sustaining care or palliative care in the event you have a terminal or irreversible condition. 

Make these changes to your estate after divorce

After you get a divorce, one of the best things you can do for your future, your heirs and yourself is to update or completely redo your estate plan. Your estate plan likely took into account your spouse's wishes as well as your own, so there may be many aspects that involve them. Since they're now an ex-spouse, it's a good idea to rework those legal documents and make sure they're not going to be entitled to more than you want them to be.

There are a few documents that are the most important to update. These include updating your health care proxy, updating your will, reviewing your prenuptial agreement, and amending your trusts.

Do You Need a Special Needs Trust?

A special needs trust is designed to provide for beneficiaries who are disabled in some capacity. Oftentimes, the trust is set up to supplement the disabled individual's benefits that they receive from government programs, such as Medicaid or SSI. To meet the requirements of these government programs, applicants must generally have $2,000.00 or less in countable assets each month to qualify. The assets in a special needs trust are not readily available to the disabled beneficiary, so the assets are considered non-countable assets for Medicaid and SSI purposes. Because of this income eligibility limit, a special needs trust is drafted with specific language to avoid extending beyond that limit.

Are Texas Courts Taking a Closer Look at the 50/50 Possession Schedule?

Under the Texas Family Code, the "standard possession schedule" typically allows the possessory conservator to have possession of the child every 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends of the month and every Thursday night. The law presumes that this schedule is in the best interest of the child. Reasonably so, judges will often default to this possession schedule when finalizing divorce proceedings that involve minor children if there is no agreement between the parties.

Contested v. Uncontested Divorces in Texas

A contested divorce is one in which the parties cannot agree on either getting a divorce or about the specific terms of the divorce, such as child support payments, property or asset division, debt allocation, and custody arrangements. Conversely, an uncontested divorce is one in which the parties agree on all aspects of the divorce proceedings and do not need court intervention to help finalize the terms.

Make Estate Planning a Priority Regardless of Estate Value

Creating an estate plan can accomplish several goals, such as providing financial stability for a spouse, minimizing expenses, preserving assets for future generations, and ensuring that chosen, trusted individuals can make decisions on your behalf in the event of incapacity. Oftentimes, people misunderstand the goals of estate planning and perceive the process as unnecessary if your estate is monetarily irrelevant. However, this misperception will cause more harm than good, creating expense, uncertainty, and confusion.

How Will the New Tax Laws Affect Divorcing Texans?

New tax laws for divorcing couples in Texas are just on the horizon starting January 2019. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was approved by Congress in December 2017, implementing future changes regarding the deductibility of spousal maintenance.

When can you modify a child custody plan?

Imagine you have a 50-50 child custody plan that allows your child to live with you half of the time each week. However, you just got hired by the local fire department as a firefighter. It's an excellent opportunity, but your work hours are anything but normal and your current child custody schedule isn't going to work anymore.

Fortunately, your child custody schedule is not set in stone and -- if you experience a significant change in your circumstances -- you might be able to modify the arrangements. Here's what you need to do:

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