Blog on Divorce and Family Law
Learning some basic information about divorce and family law can help prepare you for the legal issues you face. Our attorneys believe that honest advice, straight talk and some basic legal knowledge can make a big difference. A legal issue is a two-sided coin ─ your side versus the other side. Our job is to apply our knowledge, skills and experience to help you get the results you want. However, that doesn’t mean there is no participation on your part. You have important decisions to make that affect your future. The better you understand, the better you are at making smart decisions.
We hope you find our blog useful. Of course, forming a client-attorney relationship is the only way to receive legal advice, and these posts are not intended as legal advice nor the establishment of a client-attorney relationship.
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Getting a divorce impacts all the family members and more than likely that includes a very special pet of one kind or another – furry, feathery, or scaly. No matter if they live in the house or outside, it’s important to know what to expect as you make plans for a new life.
Texas law takes the position that pets are property, not family members. Even though your pet might sometimes feel like a child, decisions about what is to become of domestic animals after a divorce are very different from child custody determinations.
Texas is a Community Property State
Because community property laws affect property and other valuable assets, they can have a profound effect on a spouse’s future when they are forced to part with an asset which was thought to be separate property. Absent a prenuptial agreement between the couple, the state law in which the couple was married will dictate how property will be distributed.
In property division, debts and assets of the divorcing partners are split up. If you and your spouse are arguing over custody of the dog, the judge will treat Bruno as just another asset. That means the court will put a price tag on Bruno — particularly if he’s a purebred or otherwise valuable breed — if you acquired the dog during your marriage. If you had him before you married, or if someone gave him to you as a gift or inheritance, he’s your separate property and the court won’t get involved.
If Bruno the dog is treated as community property, and if you get the dog in the divorce, your spouse must receive a different asset of comparable value. If you don’t have sufficient assets to balance this, it’s possible that the court might order that the dog be sold so you can share the proceeds. Whatever the outcome, the ruling should be included in your decree. It is possible to co-own a pet on an ongoing basis with your ex-partner by providing provisions related to care expenses for the animal and developing a custody schedule.
Protection for Family Pets
In addition to prenups and post-nups, you and your spouse can have a “pet nups” to specifically provide for the rights and responsibilities each will have in regard to the pet in the event they are no longer living under the same roof.
If there are dire circumstances, under the Texas Family Code, a protective order can include a provision prohibiting a person found to have committed family violence from harming, threatening, or interfering with the care, custody, or control of a pet, companion animal, or assistance animal in the care of a person, family, or household member protected by the order. Many counties in Texas have included this protective language in their “standing orders”.
With society’s changing attitude that pets are not property but family, this is an emerging area of family law. Pets can help you through a divorce, and a lawyer can help you keep your pets.
To help get the best out come possible for you and your pet, get in touch with a Texas family law attorney and start planning for your future. Our attorneys at C.E. Borman & Associates, can provide you with trusted legal advice.
It’s a question I am asked all the time by young adults who are just getting started with their life.
When someone dies without a will, their assets are distributed according to a statutory formula that doesn’t specifically take into account their wishes and unique circumstances leaving their loved ones to deal with the details of settling their estate.
Without a will, their estate is settled with the supervision of the court and a court appointed person called an executor or Personal Representative. The executor will make decisions regarding your children and your possessions for you through a process called probate. This could take months, or even years, and add to your loved ones’ grief. It’s important to note that not all estates must go through probate. If it is considered a “small estate”, it doesn’t require court supervision to be settled.
Don’t Be Like Most Americans: Get a Will
Less than half of all Americans have even the most basic estate planning documents, and experts say that seventy percent of all Americans don’t have a will. It’s difficult to understand why so many voluntarily give up their freedom to decide what will happen to their assets when they die. However, it’s easy to get busy with your everyday life and make excuses why you put it off for another day. Before you get distracted with other priorities, think about how important you are to your family and answer these questions.
If you answer “yes” to any of the following questions, then you need a will:
- Do I care what happens to my children when I die?
- Do I care what happens to my belongings when I die?
- Do I care who gets my money when I die?
It’s the only way to make sure that people in your life know exactly what you want them to do in the event of your death. Your will does more than you think and removes a lot of stress and helps your loved ones make decisions quickly and with peace of mind during their time of grief.
Keep Your Legacy in Mind
If you are a parent to one or more children—especially if they are young—then a will is an absolute must. It makes crystal clear who you want to be guardian of your children if you pass away.
Most of us also have possessions that are special to us. These could be things that are worth a lot of money, like our homes and cars, or things that have little monetary value but a great deal of sentimental value, like your grandfather’s fishing rod or great aunt’s Christmas ornaments. In either case, you ensure that the things that matter most to you during your life will end up exactly where you want them after your death.
Creating a will doesn’t have to be difficult. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time or cost a lot. But it is one of the most important legal documents you have for yourself and those you care about. You should have other basic estate planning documents as well for business matters to go smoothly in the event of your death.
If you want the freedom to decide how and to whom your property will be distributed when you die, you need a will. Don’t put it off. Show your family that you love them by planning your estate.
Our attorneys at C.E. Borman & Associates can help you make important decisions about estate planning.
Fact: Disagreements about money are the leading cause of divorce. Couples who argued about money early in their relationship, regardless of their actual incomes or net worth, were much more likely to end up in divorce court.
On the other hand, couples who talk to each other honestly about how much money they have and are likely to make in the years ahead, and how they choose to spend their money, are more likely to stay together.
Money Talk: It’s Not Easy, But It’s Important!
At this point in your relationship it could seem pointless. After all, couples marry for love, not money, so who needs to work out the financial details and property division of a break-up that the couple hopes will never happen? According to U.S. News, even married couples may want to consider revisiting what would happen in the event of a divorce.
Having conversations about finances can be tough. How we view money, just like how we view politics, religion, or child-rearing, shapes the way we see the world and experience family life. It also taps into our deepest emotions and childhood memories.
Because of that, many people don’t talk about money before the wedding. And they too often learn the hard way that this was a costly and heart-breaking mistake.
It doesn’t have to be that way.
A prenuptial agreement can prevent this heartache and expense. It’s primarily about money—what assets you and your future spouse have prior to the marriage, and what you would take from the marriage due to death of your spouse, or divorce.
Prenuptial Agreements Mean the Financial Burden is Shared Fairly
A prenuptial agreement could be a good idea if any of the following are true in your relationship:
- You have more assets and more money than your future spouse, or your future spouse has more than you. A prenuptial agreement protects the interests of both parties.
- You earn more much money than your partner, or are likely to earn much more in the future—or you are likely to earn much less money in the future (by quitting your job to raise children, for example). A prenuptial agreement helps ensure that the couple’s financial burdens are shared fairly.
- You or your partner brings a great deal of debt into the marriage. A prenuptial agreement makes it clear that the partner bringing the debt is held responsible for it if the marriage ends.
- You or your future spouse is the part owner of a business. A prenuptial agreement protects the interests of the other business owners in the event of your divorce or death, and also prevents the remaining spouse from incurring any liability associated with the business.
- This is not your first marriage. A prenuptial agreement makes clear who will pay any expenses related to children or other financial obligations from previous marriages, and also stipulates how your assets will be divided in the event of divorce or death.
Getting It In Writing Now Means Peace of Mind Later
Some people think getting a prenuptial agreement implies that the marriage is not likely to last, or that the financial bottom line is more important than love and romance, that is not necessarily the case. While no prenuptial agreement is perfect, having one in place before you get married could bring you much more peace of mind during another time of stress and high emotion—divorce or the death of your spouse.
Get Legal help
If you want to discuss a prenuptial agreement, our attorneys are glad to answer your questions and provide legal guidance.
C.E. Borman & Associates is a law firm that helps people with estate planning, probate, family law, divorce and other related issues.
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