Protecting Your Family's Future
 

Tips on Winning at Life after Divorce

The end of your marriage can be devastating, leaving you feeling emotionally paralyzed. Though it may clearly be the best solution for everyone involved, it’s hard not to feel like a failure when you can’t make your marriage work. Here are some tips for moving forward after the divorce is final.

  • Say what you need to say—Often, what leads or contributes to divorce is a lack of communication. Frequently, this stems from a fear of where that will lead—arguments, hurt, divorce… Now it the time to put that type of behavior to rest. You’ll have a better chance of a happy life and a successful relationship in the future if you get into the habit of being open and honest about everything.
  • Take time to reacquaint yourself with “yourself”— Chances are pretty good that you have made a lot of sacrifices trying to keep the marriage together, including many of the things you love to do. Now is not the time to get into another relationship. The void in your life may incline to do just that, but you will be better served to get back in touch with who you are, what you value, and what makes you happy.
  • Try new things—After a divorce, you don’t have to worry about what anyone wants but you. If something seems like it would be fun, try it. You won’t have to worry about anyone else’s approval.
  • Let the past be the past—The past can be instructive, but you don’t want to live there. There may be things you need to say, just to get them out of your system, but don’t wallow in what went wrong. To the extent possible, look to the future and to the possibilities that lie there.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at (281) 420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Tax Tips for Divorcing Couples

In the midst of a divorce, one of the last things you may think about are the potential tax ramifications of ending your marriage, but financial counselors say it’s something you need to address.

Child Support and Alimony Payments

It’s important to understand the tax consequences of both child support and alimony payments. Child support payments are taxable by the recipient. Furthermore, they cannot be claimed as a deduction by anyone paying child support.

Alimony payments are treated differently under state and federal tax laws. As a general rule, alimony is considered income and must be reported as such, provided the payments are made pursuant to a valid divorce or separation agreement, and the payments are made in cash (not in kind). Likewise, if the same conditions are met, alimony payments may be deducted by the payer.

Filing Status

If you are in the middle of a divorce at the end of the tax year, you can choose to file a joint return, or file as “married filing separately.” If your divorce becomes final before the end of the tax year, you must file as either single or as “head of household.”

To claim your children as exemptions on your return, you must be considered the custodial parent. Generally, the parent with whom the child spent the most amount of time will be considered the custodial parent for tax purposes. You can, however, claim your child if the custodial parent waives the exemption in writing.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Elder Divorce

In what is probably not a surprising trend, more and more couples are seeking divorce after their children have left home. A recent study by the Council for Contemporary Families, at the University of Texas at Austin, found that the divorce rate for people between the ages of 50 and 64 has jumped in the last few years.

Researchers say that divorce and re-marriage has long been a trend among baby boomers. What they now see, though, is that many boomers are filing for divorce…again. Experts attribute some of the increase to the perception that second marriages are typically less permanent and solid as first marriages. However, the study found that a significant percentage of boomers now filing for divorce are ending their first marriage, often after 35-40 years.

The study found a number of different motives for the late-in-life divorces. For many, there was no compelling reason for the divorce—the parties acknowledged that, after years of raising children and being held together by their common desire for the well-being of their children, they simply didn’t have a lot in common anymore. At the other end of the spectrum, though, were parties (mostly women) who now believe they can end a marriage in which they were victims of physical or mental abuse. In addition, the study found that many couples find they have a completely different view of retirement—some see it as an opportunity to travel and do things without the restriction of a job. Others simply want to stay at home.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas.

To learn how we can help, call our office at (281) 420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

The Relationship Between Money Concerns and Marriage Rates

The Impact of Money Concerns on Marriage Rates

Studies show that, as American culture has moved toward gender equality in the workplace, the role of marriage has changed significantly. In a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center, more than twice as many adults over the age of 25 said they were not married, more than double the rate from a study done in 1960. Currently, one in five over 25 are single—in 1960, it was just nine percent.

According to researchers, the trend has been consistent over the last half century—each generation has been less inclined to enter into marriage than the previous one. Experts say the reasons are many, but that the single biggest factor has been the move toward gender and pay equality in the workplace.

Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage, a History: From Obedience to Intimacy, and How Love Conquered Marriage, says that access to birth control and improvements in household technology have made marriage less about economics and more about love and companionship. But before women started having greater opportunities and earning potential, many women considered their options limited and viewed marriage as the best economic alternative. Many men also perceived a wife as a benefit, but primarily as someone to take care of the home and cook the meals while the man provided for the family.

The Pew study found that men are more likely to stay single than women, a statistic that seems tied to the trend that more and more men under the age of 50 are not working (presumably living with parents). Of the single women polled, four out of five said that the most important characteristic in a potential mate would be a steady job. The odds of that—just slightly more than six employed men available for every 10 women.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at (281) 420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Getting Temporary Support While Your Divorce is Pending

When your marriage has fallen apart, one of the most pressing immediate concerns is meeting the financial needs of you and your children (if you are the custodial parent.) Whether you realize it or not, as the custodial parent, you are entitled to child support from the time a divorce complaint is filed. There is no requirement that your divorce decree be finalized before your ex must provide you with support.

As a general rule, when you file a complaint for divorce, you also ask the court to issue what are known as pendente lite (pending litigation) orders. These are temporary orders that can address any number of issues, including:

  • Conservatorship and parenting access to minor children
  • Child support obligations
  • Spousal support obligations
  • The use of marital property, including who may reside in the marital home

The court can also enter an order that prohibits both parties from “wasting” marital assets, incurring any new debt or destroying marital property.

To determine the amount of child support, the court will use a formula that takes into account the incomes of both parents. The judge can also make modifications based on any special needs of the children or the parties.

If the court has issued orders granting child support, spousal support, custody or visitation, and your ex is not in compliance with those requirements, you can return to the court to seek enforcement of the decree. Your ex can be held in contempt of court, subject to certain criminal penalties.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at (281) 420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

The Pros and Cons of a Prenuptial Agreement

If you are considering getting married, and you are bringing significant assets into the marriage, or have children from a previous marriage, you may be thinking about putting a prenuptial agreement in place. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of a prenuptial agreement.

The Benefits of a Prenuptial Agreement

A valid prenuptial agreement can allow you to:

  • Identify what is and what is not marital or community property
  • Protect any property you owned before the marriage
  • Ensure that your estate plan is followed
  • Minimize expense and acrimony if the marriage fails.
  • Clearly state any unique or special agreements between parties

Contrary to what many believe, a prenuptial agreement can strengthen a marriage. If money and financial matters are a major concern, identifying in advance how they will be dealt with removes any uncertainty, and allows you to focus on your relationship. In a healthy marriage, money is a necessary topic for discussion. If you discuss it up front, it can lead to greater openness and communication in other areas as well.

The Detriments of a Prenuptial Agreement

A prenuptial agreement is essentially a business decision. If your marriage is not fundamentally built on financial expectations, needs or desires, there may be no need for a prenuptial agreement. If love or romance is at the core, a prenup will seldom support or enhance that.

Sometimes, though, the timing may just be wrong. If you discuss financial matters too early in a relationship, you may never be able to get past the perception that your marriage is mostly about money.

Before you enter into a prenuptial agreement, you want to check with a lawyer. Based on what you want to protect, you may not need a signed document—you may be protected by existing provisions in state law.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at (281) 420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Social Media and Divorce

It’s a different world now, with Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks available to anyone with a computer or a smartphone…and that applies to divorce proceedings, too. Many parties to divorce have started to use social media sites to gather evidence in family law disputes. What can seem like innocent posts—pictures from a vacation or of a new car—can be used to question your need for support or to show that you have the capacity to pay more than your order states.

While state ethics committees have started attempts to rein in certain online activities by lawyers in divorce cases—two New Jersey attorneys face disciplinary charges for having a paralegal “friend” the ex of a client—it’s still prudent to keep any opinions, remarks or comments about your divorce off the Internet. Judges have been known to consider statements made on Facebook when making custody decisions, and any evidence properly obtained online can be used against you. For example, pictures posted from a party or bar to a public site may be used to question your qualifications as a parent.

Unfortunately, you may be a victim of social media posts by well-meaning friends and family. It’s a good idea to tell loved ones that, until your divorce is final, you request that they not post any comments about you or pictures of you on any social media site. And it goes without saying that you should never use any social media outlet to speak disparagingly of your ex-spouse (or of your children, as did one mom who subsequently lost custody).

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at (281) 420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

The Benefits of Preparing for Divorce

Though divorce is always emotionally difficult, you can minimize some of the financial, personal and time challenges by thoroughly preparing for the process, once it’s clear that divorce is inevitable. Here are some of the things you can do.

Protect Yourself Financially

Whether you are the sole breadwinner, a stay-at-home-parent or one of two working parents, a divorce will have a significant impact. You may face the significant loss of income, be required to pay substantial amounts in child or spousal support, or wind up with a big chunk of the marital debt.  To minimize the impact, put together a file that contains all of the following:

  • Pay stubs for the last two years
  • Bank statements for the last two years
  • Current investment and retirement account statements
  • Documentation of any life insurance policies
  • Copies of tax returns for the last five years
  • A copy of your credit report

Protect Your Right to See Your Children

Custody is never an easy matter to resolve. You want what’s best for your children, but you also want to play an active role in your child’s life. All states use the standard of the “best interests of the child” when determining who will have custody. If you believe that custody may be an issue, you need to do the following:

  • Identify what you believe will be in the best interests of your children and why
  • Document anything about your ex that you believe may put your children at risk. Remember, though, that this is not about disparaging your ex—it’s about protecting your children. Don’t exaggerate isolated incidents in an attempt to gain favor with the courts. You’ll only hurt  your children in the process

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Landing On Your Feet after Divorce

When you are going through a divorce, it can be difficult to believe that life will return to normal again. It will go on, but it won’t ever be the same. There are specific steps you want to take to make certain that you are moving forward, so that the past won’t keep catching up to you.

Get a New Bank Account

This is actually a good idea as soon as you know you are going to file for or be a defendant in a divorce proceeding. You want to start putting your money into your own account, so that your ex doesn’t have unlimited access to it. You should also close any joint accounts you had with your ex.

Replace Your Credit Cards

Terminate any joint credit cards immediately. It may also be time to think about whether or not you want to open new cards. Divorce can be an emotional time—if you are prone to spending money in response to emotional trauma, you might be better served not opening a new credit card. Furthermore, because you won’t have financial stability for a little while, you may want to operate primarily on a cash basis for a while.

Change Your Beneficiaries

If your ex is named as a beneficiary on a life insurance policy, IRA, retirement plan or in a will, you need to modify that. With respect to insurance, you may want to obtain a life insurance policy on your ex (owned by your ex) to cover alimony or child support in the event of his or her premature death.

Notify the Government When Necessary

The IRS and the Social Security Administration should be notified of your divorce.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas.

To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Divorce and Property

The Division of Property in a Divorce

It’s a common misperception that you only need to worry about the division of property in a divorce if you had a substantial net worth. Whether you lived in an apartment or a mansion, drove an old pickup or a Mercedes, lived from paycheck to paycheck or on a trust fund, you can still amass a substantial amount of marital property, and a lot of debt. When the marriage is over, you want to get your fair share of the assets and you don’t want to be responsible for more than your fair share of the debt.

In an ideal situation, you and your ex will amicably divide debts and assets, making adjustments if one of you keeps a large asset, such as the family home. Unfortunately, when you’ve struggled to agree in a marriage, it’s equally difficult to agree on the disposition of assets and liabilities when it ends. In Texas, if you can’t come to a resolution on your own, your property and obligations will be allocated under the state’s community property laws.

Under the community property laws of Texas, assets owned or used by couples in a marriage are identified as either community property or separate property. Any property owned by one of the parties before the marriage will be deemed separate property and will be returned to the owner as a part of the divorce proceeding. Assets that are purchased during the marriage are considered community property and their value must be divided equally between the parties. All property retains the character it had when acquired. Accordingly, a house purchased with a mortgage before marriage will remain separate property, even though it is partially paid for during the marriage.

There are limited exceptions to the community property rule in Texas:

  • Any property obtained by gift or inheritance is separate property
  • Any property purchased during marriage with funds earned before marriage is separate property
  • Any property that the parties legally agree is partitioned or exchanged by written agreement is separate property

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

 
Left Menu Icon
Stewart Law PLLC