Christensen v. Lightbourne

(Supreme Court of California) – Affirmed. The Appeals court held that the current policy of the California Department of Social Services treating court-ordered child support as income and using the same funds twice as income for both the paying household and the receiving household does not violate the Welfare and Institutions Code section 11005.5.

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Money: the leading cause behind many Texas divorces

If you made the choice to move forward with marriage, chances are that money played at least a small part in your decision. Money arguments are some of the most commonly cited reasons behind many divorces, and this doesn’t stop once a person files papers. Money, savings and marital assets are often some of the most hotly contested issues during the divorce process as well.

There are many reasons why marriages break down. However, financial stress can compound issues that do not necessarily have anything to do with money. Two spouses may have different ideas about their financial goals and other things, which can lead to an irreparable rift in the relationship. Finances are a significant issue for couples of all ages and income levels.

Money matters in marriage

Every couple is different, but it can be a difficult issue when a couple does not see eye to eye on financial matters. Simple disagreements over time can lead to relational complications, which only get worse when a financial emergency arises and there is financial stress and other concerns impacting a couple at one time. Some of the most common ways that money can play a role in divorce include: 

  • The two parties have very different priorities regarding their financial goals for the future.
  • One spouse has a significant amount of credit card debt.
  • One spouse has a shopping addiction, gambling problem or other type of financial infidelity.
  • A couple lives beyond their means, stretching their budget simply to make ends meet each month.
  • One spouse tends to make major impulse purchases.
  • The two spouses are unable to compromise on financial issues.
  • Unexpected expenses arise, such as medical bills.
  • The couple started their marriage by spending too much on their wedding.
  • One or both spouses feel a loss of financial control. 

If you are facing the prospect of divorce, one of the above reasons may apply to your situation. No matter what, you have the right to pursue a strong financial future through a smart financial agreement.

Looking to the future 

The issues that led to your divorce may continue and affect your divorce process as well. Regardless of the specific details of your case, you will find significant benefit in working with an experienced attorney who can help you understand your rights and interests regarding a fair property division order. You may want to start with an assessment of your case and explanation of your legal options.

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Author: On behalf of Katie L. Lewis of Katie L. Lewis, P.C. Family Law

The reasons for getting a prenuptial agreement

When one hears wedding bells they think of a long and happy marriage. However, many also think of the costly and emotional process of divorce. Unfortunately, not all marriages stand the test of time. And in some cases, some marriages do not last long at all. But no matter the length of a marriage, when couples in Texas and elsewhere get marriage, this legal ceremony not only unites a couple but also unites their property. Thus, when couples divorce, this property must be divided between them.

So whether an engaged couple is worried about this possibility or a married couple is concerned seeks to protect their growing wealth, this is where a prenuptial agreement can come into play. This document can serve any couple, and it is not just for those with significant wealth. A prenup is a legal document that can cover a wide range of divorce issues that are focused on property rights and assets.

The vast majority of couples get a prenup as a means to protect assets and ease the divorce process. In addition to dictating how property and assets will be divided in the event of a divorce, a prenuptial agreement can also touch on other topics such as death, incapacitation, estate planning, certain debts, like student loans, spousal support and other similar issues.

Because property division is often a contentious issue during dissolution, couples intending to marry often seek to avoid the conflicts surrounding this issue. Thus, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is included in the union. However, even when these documents are included, issues could arise. This could give cause for a spouse to invalidate or enforce the terms of a prenup.

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Author: On behalf of Katie L. Lewis of Katie L. Lewis, P.C. Family Law

Pangea Capital Management, LLC v. Lakian

(United States Second Circuit) – Affirmed. Defendant is a divorced spouse who holds an interest in property that Plaintiff obtained a judgment lien against the other spouse’s interest. Plaintiff argued that Defendant’s interest was subordinate to Plaintiff’s interest. The trial court held that Defendant’s interest vested upon the entry of the judgment of divorce and that Plaintiff could execute only against the other spouse’s interest.

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Instances of active duty military divorce are steadily declining

When it comes to marriage and divorce, the hype over the divorce rate across the country can sometimes give people pause when it comes time to get married. The common refrain is that half of all marriages end in divorce. These statistics are further broken down into sub-groups. One statistic that is reliable and easy to track is the instance of marriage and divorce in military families.

While divorce rates may be increasing or holding steady in many areas of the country or in specific sub-groups, one group has steadily decreased. That group is the divorce rate among active duty military members. According to the statistics, approximately 3% of troops married at the start of 2018 divorced over the course of the year. That is a decline of 0.1% percent compared to the previous year. Furthermore, this statistic has been in steady decline for the last decade.

Certain sub-groups within the military’s classifications, such as by gender, indicates that enlisted married males have experienced the most decline. In 2009, the divorce rate among that group was 3.3%. Since then, it has fallen to 2.7%. On the flip side, females have experienced significantly higher divorce rate while enlisted. Keep in mind, the national divorce rate is based per 1000 residents and also doesn’t include several states due to administrative differences.

This means the national divorce rate and the military divorce rate cannot be directly compared. However, trends can still be deduced about divorces and who has been affected and how frequently. Divorce is something that anyone can experience. This goes for military and non-military alike.

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Author: On behalf of Katie L. Lewis of Katie L. Lewis, P.C. Family Law

How is child custody established in Texas?

When parents in Texas decide to part ways, this process can be complicated due to custody. Child custody can be determined between the divorcing spouses; however, if an agreement is not reached, the court will have to step in to help the parents determine what agreement is best for the child in that particular situation.

How is child custody established in Texas? Unlike other states, custody is referred to conservatorship in Texas. When the court considers a custody arrangement in the state, they will consider the wishes of the child or children; however, this is often dependent on the age of the children involved.

There are a number of important factors the court will consider when devising conservatorship in a matter. To begin, they will consider whether or not joint conservatorship would benefit the child’s physical, psychological and emotional well-being. Next, they will consider if each parent will be able to encourage and promote a relationship with the child and the other parent.

Other important factors include whether parents can effectively communicate to make decisions for the child, the amount of time each parent contributed to the upbringing of the child prior to the custody matter, how close and far each parent’s home is in relation to the other and other important factors and circumstances the court may find relevant.

Working through a custody battle can be difficult. Whether it is high conflict or just something that needs to be worked through, parents should fully understand their situation, how the laws in the state apply and what steps could be taken to protect their rights.

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Author: On behalf of Katie L. Lewis of Katie L. Lewis, P.C. Family Law

Co-parenting not working? Why not give parallel parenting a try?

If you’re one of many Texas parents whose divorce was less than amicable, the whole co-parenting situation might not be going so well. If so, you can take comfort in knowing that you are definitely not alone in your struggle.

In fact, some co-parenting relationships are highly confrontational, even volatile. Whether your situation isn’t quite that bad, but you want to make a change before it gets to be or you’re in over your head and need immediate support, parallel parenting might be an option.

Parallel parenting is an alternative means of co-parenting after divorce when traditional arrangements aren’t working out. If you and your ex can barely be in the same room without fighting, you might want to learn more about parallel parenting and learn how it can help avoid conflict. It’s also always a good idea to have a strong support network in place if you need someone to intervene to help restore peace.

What is parallel parenting?

Perhaps this is the first you’ve heard of parallel parenting. The following information explains the basics of this post-divorce parenting style, which you might find helpful in your particular situation if high-conflict is causing co-parenting problems: 

  • Having as little personal contact with each other as possible is the main benefit of a parallel parenting plan. If you and your ex constantly lock horns in-person, this might be the best option for you.
  • Parallel parenting allows you to keep your children’s best interests in mind while avoiding parental conflict.
  • You can take proactive steps to keep stress low, such as agreeing to only correspond in writing rather than communicating in person. Text messaging, email and other technology can be valuable tools to help carry out this type of plan.
  • In a parallel parenting agreement, you can ask a third party to supervise custody exchanges.
  • You can also agree to transfer children at a neutral location, rather than your personal households.
  • Parallel parenting allows your children to witness you and their other parent working as a team rather than appearing combative all the time.

Studies show that children exposed to high levels of parental conflict often experience emotional trauma and stress. Parallel parenting may be a way to help your children lower their stress levels because they won’t constantly be subjected to parental arguing. 

Mapping out a plan

A parallel parenting plan must be very detailed. It’s always best to obtain a formal court order so that the terms of your agreement are clearly defined in writing and there’s not much room for confusion or debate. Most Texas parents seek guidance and support from experienced family law attorneys when implementing parallel parenting options.

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Author: On behalf of Katie L. Lewis of Katie L. Lewis, P.C. Family Law

Marriage of Ankola

(California Court of Appeal) – Reversed the issuance of a mutual restraining order against a husband. He was the one who had petitioned for the domestic violence restraining order, and his wife had not filed a separate request for one.

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Custody and claiming a child on taxes

When parent divorce, there are many concerns surrounding their children. One major issue is with whom the child will reside with and what the custody arrangement will look like. Not all post-divorce parenting plans look the same. They are highly dependent on the factors involved in the situation at hand. Whether a sole or joint custody arrangement results, there are also certain financial issues that must be sorted out as well.

Although it is important to address child support issues, it is also vital to understand how a custody plan could impact certain financial tasks such as filing taxes. Claiming a child on his or her taxes can be very beneficial, as it allows that parent to obtain an earned income credit and a child tax credit. Thus, divorced parents can often find themselves in a dispute over who gets to claim a child each year.

Only one parent can claim a single child as a tax dependent, which also means only one parent will reap the tax rewards while the other gets no benefits at all. In matters where there is a custodial parent or sole custody, that parent is able to claim that child each year as that child resides with just them. However, in joint custody situations, time is usually split evenly between parents, meaning the child or children live with both parents.

In a joint custody situation, divorce parents frequently alternate years for claiming a child or children on their taxes. This way each parent gets to enjoy these tax benefits every other year. In some cases, parents with multiple children will just split who they claim each year. For example, if the divorced couple has four children, each parent could claim the same two children each year. This can make the matter less complicated and allow for benefits each year.

Child custody matters can expand well beyond parenting time. Divorcing with children can be very complex, and parents can find themselves dealing with various conflicts during and after the divorce process. Thus, it is important to understand how best to address these matters and how to ensure your rights are protected along the way.

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Author: On behalf of Katie L. Lewis of Katie L. Lewis, P.C. Family Law

Greiner v. Keller

(California Court of Appeal) – In a child support matter, addressed whether the father should be ordered to pay for childcare costs so that the mother (the custodial parent) could attend a college program to obtain a paralegal certification. Reversed and remanded with directions to reconsider the mother’s request.

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