Premarital Agreements

I’m Keith Spencer. A Board Certified family law attorney with Bailey & Galyen. I office in the Bedford office of the DFW Metroplex.

Every marriage will eventually end. Either by death or divorce. It’s a fact. It’s only sensible to plan for that eventuality, much like we plan for our retirement or prepare our wills.

A premarital agreement gives spouses security and certainty moving forward. Premarital agreements are unique documents specially crafted to recite the individual agreements of the parties.

No two are identical. Parties craft their own agreement with the help of their attorneys. Now not all attorneys will undertake to draft a prenuptial agreement. Usually such agreements are only drafted by the most experienced family law attorneys. At Bailey & Galyen our experienced attorneys will meet with you for a free consultation, and help you determine whether a premarital agreement is right for you.

Divorce

I’m Keith Spencer, a Board Certified Family Law attorney with Bailey & Galyen. I office in the Bedford office of the DFW Metroplex.

Divorce cases are extremely complex and emotionally challenging. Everything you hold dear are on the line. Your children, your home, retirement and even your business can be impacted. Property laws make the division of the estate very difficult without the assistance of an experienced family law attorney.

Decisions regarding the care and custody of your children also require specialized expertise. You don’t want to trust everything you’ve worked for to someone that has limited experience in these kinds of cases. You also do not want to hire an attorney over the phone. Schedule appointments with several attorneys and ask about their experience, their fee structures and their support staff. Discuss the details of your case with the attorney and explore your options for mediation or settlement. Remember, most cases settle before trial and may provide a better outcome than going to court.

At Bailey & Galyen you can meet with one of our experienced family law attorneys for free. We will assess your case and take the time to talk to you about the best way to protect what’s most important to you.

Choosing an Attorney

What to Look for When Choosing An Attorney

Choosing an attorney can be a difficult decision. Unless you have a referral from a trusted source, it is hard to gauge a lawyer’s abilities and experience. Here are some suggestions:

• Consult their website.
• How long have they been in practice?
• What types of cases do they generally handle?
• Do they have specialized training or Board Certification relevant to your case?
• What kind of fee structure do they employ?
• How much will it cost?

Many attorneys have generalized practices and do not specialize in any given area. Avoid attorneys with little experience in cases like yours. You don’t want a tax attorney to handle your divorce.

Experience is important. But it is vital that you choose a lawyer you trust.

Meet with several attorneys before making your decision.

At Bailey & Galyen, we offer free initial consultations and meet with you personally to assess your case. Give us a call.

What is the Discovery Process During a Family Law Case?

familylaw

Family Law Attorneys Discuss the Discovery Process

What is discovery in Family Law?

A common hurdle in getting a fair settlement in a Texas divorce is determining the value of the couple’s assets and liabilities and the amount of their current income. As many people know, each spouse owns one-half of the entire community estate. The community estate consists of all assets and liabilities acquired during the marriage. To divide this fairly in a divorce, it is vitally important for the parties and the court to know all the assets and liabilities and their approximate values.

How is Child Support Affected During the Discovery Process?

Additionally, in Texas, child support payments are affected by parents’ income—either the noncustodial parent’s income or an offset of both parents’ income. To calculate child support properly, current and accurate income information for both parents must be provided.
The process of obtaining this information is called discovery. Each spouse can seek information from the other in order to get an accounting of assets and liabilities. Each spouse also can ask questions or request documents regarding income and other issues involving the children and spouses. There are some limits to what can be requested in discovery. In divorce cases, each party is allowed to seek only information related to the assets, liabilities, income, children and character of the other spouse.

Different Forms of Discovery

The following forms of discovery are commonly used in a Texas divorce. Under the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure, written discovery requests may be sent to the opposing party up to 60 days before trial, and responses must be made within 30 days.

Requests for Disclosure

    • – This common discovery mechanism seeks to obtain information like legal theories and the identity of any witnesses to be called at trial, should there be one. Anyone to be called as a witness, and all issues to be addressed, must be disclosed in response to these requests. Otherwise, the court will exclude them from being presented at trial.

Requests for Production of Documents – This type of discovery requests all documents or other tangible things relevant to the issues in your divorce, such as bank account statements and children’s school records. Any documents not produced in response to this request at least 30 days before trial may not be used as exhibits or evidence at trial.

Interrogatories – This type of discovery request asks a party to respond to questions in writing. The written answers are sworn before a notary and therefore given under oath.

Inventory & Appraisement – This type of discovery asks a party to make a list of their assets and liabilities along with approximate values. As with interrogatories, the written list is signed in the presence of a notary so that it may be treated as sworn testimony given under oath.

If discovery requests are properly submitted, a spouse can be punished for failing to respond or for not providing complete information. The court may prevent a spouse from presenting evidence or testimony at trial if that spouse failed to respond to a discovery request by the other spouse. For this reason, it is extremely important to respond to discovery. You do not want to be limited at trial because you failed to provide information requested by your spouse. If a spouse fails to provide the requested information, the court can make its own conclusions regarding the answers to those requests based on other testimony and evidence presented at trial.

Contact our Family Law Attorneys to Help You with the Discovery Process

If you have received discovery requests or want to serve discovery requests in your divorce, please contact our family law attorneys to help you. If you fail to follow the Rules of Procedure in the discovery process, you may be prevented from presenting information at trial, or you may be fined by the court. Let us help you get the information you need from the other side and preserve your ability to present your case to the court.

Are Temporary Orders Important?

family lawIn short, the answer is a resounding YES. Temporary orders are important.

What are temporary orders?

Temporary orders are court orders in a family law case that are put into place while a case is pending.

When does a person get temporary orders? A person can get temporary orders at almost any time during a case. Most commonly, temporary orders are done at the beginning of a case, especially if there are immediate contested issues.

What do temporary orders do?

Temporary orders exist to decide contested issues during the period of time the case is pending in court. Examples include the following:

  • Who should live in the house during the case?
  • Who should pay which bills/debts during the case?
  • Who has custody of children while the case is pending?
  • How much child support will a parent pay while the case is pending?
  • What type of visitation will a person get during the case?
  • How will children obtain health insurance during the case?

There are many other purposes for temporary orders, but these are the most common.

How long do temporary orders last?

Temporary orders typically last during the pendency of the case. In a short case, temporary orders might be in effect for three to nine months. In a longer case, temporary orders might be in place for a year or more.

Can temporary orders be changed?

Yes, temporary orders can be changed, but it can be difficult to modify them unless something is going wrong or the order itself contemplates a future hearing to modify (this is not very common, though). Temporary orders thus are often put into place early in a case and remain in place until the case is finalized.

So, are temporary orders really important if they are “only temporary” and can be changed? Yes, temporary orders are definitely important. Simply put, the temporary orders create a status quo in the case that can be hard to overcome later. All too often, clients come to us after having already appeared in court for a hearing on temporary orders without an attorney. At that hearing, the other side’s attorney explained the wishes of his or her client and asked for an agreement on a temporary order. The client, not really understanding, signed the agreement. Only later, when that client comes to us seeking a change to the order, does he or she realize it might be very difficult, if not impossible, to modify. The question these clients must answer for the court is this: If you did not like the terms of the order, or did not think they were the best option, then why did you agree to it? Courts very often hold people to their agreements.

Contact Our Family Law Attorneys to Discuss More About Temporary Orders

So, what does all this mean to you? If you are ever served with court documents that include a court date, do not take it lightly! The worst thing you can do is ignore it and not attend the hearing. Not being present is likely to result in a default judgment against you, meaning the other side will easily get what they want.Come see us to better understand what is happening and let us help you through the process and make sure you get the best result possible.

Call us at 844-402-2992 or visit our office today!

Mediation

Family LawAs I am sitting here today in Mediation it got me to thinking about what a large role it plays in the domestic or family law litigation. About 30 years ago the legislature passed a law encouraging the use of alternative dispute resolution methods in family law cases. One of those methods is Mediation. Most divorces are referred to mediation and the overwhelming majority of them are settled in mediation. Lots of people have heard of Arbitration such as a forced arbitration clause in a credit card dispute or with Ezekiel Elliot’s ongoing dispute with the NFL.

Arbitration is when the parties present their case to an arbitrator who decides the evidence and renders a decision much the same as a judge. However, Mediation is different because the mediator DOES NOT render a decision. Instead the mediator simply assists the parties find areas of agreement or “common ground.” If the parties are able reach agreement the mediator files something with the court that the parties reached agreement. If the parties do not reach agreement the mediator files something with the court that the parties did not reach agreement. The mediator cannot be subpoenaed to testify.

One of the great things about mediation is that it is confidential. Rather than airing your laundry for the whole world to see in a courtroom you meet privately with your attorney and a mediator and resolve your dispute. Another great thing is you can resolve your case much quicker. According to an article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram last week there are over 60,000 divorce or child cases filed each year in Tarrant County. What ends up happening is they sit on a court’s docket often times for a year as there simply are not enough hours in the day to hear them all.

Perhaps my favorite thing about mediation is that it allows the parties to craft their own solution. A judge is pretty limited in what they can do. They must strictly follow the guidelines in the Family Code. The parties are not bound as tightly. They can decide what is most important to them. They can decide how to craft their solution. I try and most attorneys and judges I know try very hard to do a good job. But no matter how hard we try we will never know your life and your situation as well as you do. I liken mediation versus litigation as the difference between having someone give you a blue Toyota Camry (litigation) or giving you $20,000 and telling you to pick out the car that works best for your needs (mediation). Unless you happen to want a blue Toyota Camry the second option will work better for you.

When hiring an attorney make certain they are familiar with and make mediation a regular part of their practice. I can promise you, you will be happier with the result.

Contact Us

To set up a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 844-402-2992. For your convenience, we answer our phones 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We will meet with you evenings or weekends upon request.

The Dangers of Using Online Forms in Family Court

computer searchEveryone wants to save money where they can; however, trying to handle complex family law litigation without an attorney, utilizing forms found on the internet, is fraught with peril. Every day, judges face courtrooms full of people attempting to divorce, establish custody, or set child support without counsel. Many leave disappointed because their documents are incorrect, and frustrated because, by law, the judge can’t give instructions for how to fix them. Many are turned away multiple times.

Family Law Forms to Watch For

Not all forms found on the internet are equal. Some family law forms are designed for a particular state and may not work in your jurisdiction. Some have been prepared by non-attorneys and are simply incorrect. None are recommended for use by parties who have children, real estate, or retirement accounts. Most are difficult to fill out correctly. Many people who finalize their case using online forms later learn that the resulting order has unintended consequences. Worse, they don’t realize they’ve cheated themselves out of money or property to which they’re entitled until it’s too late to fix the problem. Some find that they have inadvertently agreed to allow their ex-spouse to relocate the children to a distant state where visitation is difficult.

Contact Our Family Law Attorneys

If you are dealing with a family law matter, it is imperative that you consult an experienced family law attorney and discuss the specific issues in your case. At Bailey & Galyen, we offer free initial consultations at convenient neighborhood offices. We offer payment plans designed to make legal representation more affordable. You don’t have to put your home or retirement at risk trying to handle complex litigation on your own.

MEDIATION

Family LawAs I am sitting here today in Mediation it got me to thinking about what a large role it plays in the domestic or family law litigation. About 30 years ago the legislature passed a law encouraging the use of alternative dispute resolution methods in family law cases. One of those methods is Mediation. Most divorces are referred to mediation and the overwhelming majority of them are settled in mediation. Lots of people have heard of Arbitration such as a forced arbitration clause in a credit card dispute or with Ezekiel Elliot’s ongoing dispute with the NFL.

Arbitration is when the parties present their case to an arbitrator who decides the evidence and renders a decision much the same as a judge. However, Mediation is different because the mediator DOES NOT render a decision. Instead the mediator simply assists the parties find areas of agreement or “common ground.” If the parties are able reach agreement the mediator files something with the court that the parties reached agreement. If the parties do not reach agreement the mediator files something with the court that the parties did not reach agreement. The mediator cannot be subpoenaed to testify.

One of the great things about mediation is that it is confidential. Rather than airing your laundry for the whole world to see in a courtroom you meet privately with your attorney and a mediator and resolve your dispute. Another great thing is you can resolve your case much quicker. According to an article in the Fort Worth Star Telegram last week there are over 60,000 divorce or child cases filed each year in Tarrant County. What ends up happening is they sit on a court’s docket often times for a year as there simply are not enough hours in the day to hear them all.

Perhaps my favorite thing about mediation is that it allows the parties to craft their own solution. A judge is pretty limited in what they can do. They must strictly follow the guidelines in the Family Code. The parties are not bound as tightly. They can decide what is most important to them. They can decide how to craft their solution. I try and most attorneys and judges I know try very hard to do a good job. But no matter how hard we try we will never know your life and your situation as well as you do. I liken mediation versus litigation as the difference between having someone give you a blue Toyota Camry (litigation) or giving you $20,000 and telling you to pick out the car that works best for your needs (mediation). Unless you happen to want a blue Toyota Camry the second option will work better for you.

When hiring an attorney make certain they are familiar with and make mediation a regular part of their practice. I can promise you, you will be happier with the result.

Contact Us

To set up a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 844-402-2992. For your convenience, we answer our phones 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We will meet with you evenings or weekends upon request.

Understanding the Different Types of Child Custody

Divorce“No man’s life, liberty, or property are safe while the legislature is in session.”
~ Mark Twain or Gideon J. Tucker.

The Texas legislature meets every two years. Each legislature there are a plethora of bills introduced involving Family Law. One of the bills that came up this time was House Bill 453 which dealt with equal custody. It died in committee. This past weekend several supporters of HB 453 held a rally in Austin outside the capital building.

I believe Custody is very misunderstood. People frequently come into my office saying they want Sole Custody or Joint Custody or Full Custody or any number of other things. However in Texas we don’t even have custody. We have Conservatorship. Equally important, Custody and Conservatorship are not the same thing.

Conservatorship deals with rights and duties. It is defined in Chapter 152 of the Texas Family Code. For instance, who gets to see the report cards, who should know about and attend the choir concert, who should decide whether or not the child has their tonsils taken out. If you believe both parents should play a part in making these decisions, congratulations you believe in Joint Managing Conservatorship which is the standard in Texas.

Next the Family Code deals with Possession and Access. This is found in Chapter 153 of the Family Code. This is the section of the Family Code I believe people are talking about when they use the terms custody and visitation. Next time you have a copy of the family code search it thoroughly. You won’t find the words custody or visitation anywhere.

I will be the first to tell you the Family Code isn’t perfect. At times I don’t even think it is good. But, I think the legislature did its dead level best to make the best situation for children of a truly horrible situation. At a rally last weekend Shelly Toner, a child activist from San Antonio, speaking to the crowd said “When somebody wins custody, somebody loses, but children also lose,” “Moms can’t be dads, and dads can’t be moms.” I agree with her. But too often parents focus on winning and losing as parents. The court is charged with acting in the best interest of the children. Over the years I have handled literally thousands of cases involving children and I can tell you almost universally children want to live with both parents. But as a practical matter this is almost impossible to do with divorced parents except in the rarest of circumstances. A child will primarily reside with one parent and visit the other.

Here is where I think the legislature got it right. The standard possession and access order is just inconvenient enough on both parents that the only way everyone will be happy is if they cooperate and the standard possession schedule has that provision included: THE PARTIES SHALL HAVE POSSESSION OF THE CHILD AT ALL TIMES MUTUALLY AGREED TO IN ADVANCE. Failing mutual agreement, the following shall apply…. Thus the parents are free to do whatever they want. Additionally, and I think this is the part where litigants, lawyers, and even judges get lazy – the standard possession schedule is just there if you don’t take the time to craft something else. The judge is tasked with acting in the child’s (not the parent’s) best interests. The attorneys together with their client need to put together a schedule and present it to the judge that ensures the child has as much time as possible with both parents. According to David O’Connor a child and adolescent psychiatrist from Austin there’s a high connection of kids in the criminal justice arena, at risk for being in the juvenile justice system, at risk of being in the mental health arena and the lack of both parents involved. Equal parenting not only decreases that risk for the child, it decreases conflict among the parents, it decreases the litigation between divorced or unmarried parents.

Contact Us

To set up a free initial consultation, contact us online or call us at 844-402-2992. For your convenience, we answer our phones 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We will meet with you evenings or weekends upon request.

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Lifetime alimony… in Texas

Alimony - Money In EnvelopeNo, that’s not a misprint. And, while lifetime spousal support after divorce is certainly not the norm, Texas courts do have the power and authority to order alimony (we call it spousal maintenance) if specific conditions are met, including the obligation to make spousal maintenance payments for as long as the recipient continues to meet certain criteria.

In general, a spouse seeking alimony must be “eligible” to receive the maintenance support. When parties divorce in Texas, not only does the court divide community property, but it also has the discretion and power to order recurring payments from one spouse to the other in the event that the spouse seeking maintenance will lack sufficient property (including separate property) to provide for his/her minimum reasonable needs.

Interestingly, there is no definition of “minimum reasonable needs” in the Texas Family Code. Accordingly, the courts are faced with a fact-specific analysis in each case. In this regard, courts generally consider evidence of the following expenses to be part of the spouse’s reasonable minimum needs: rent/mortgage, property taxes, automobile payments, utilities, gasoline, groceries, drugs and medicine, clothing, and child care costs.

Next, assuming a spouse satisfies the first element of proving their eligibility for post divorce maintenance, the spouse seeking alimony must also pass the second prong of the eligibility test by establishing one of the following four pathways to receive the support.

  1. Evidence that the requesting spouse is the victim of family violence resulting in a conviction or deferred adjudication that occurred within 2 years before suit was filed or while pending;
  2. Evidence that a disability exists which prevents the requesting spouse to earn sufficient income due to an incapacitating physical or mental disability;
  3. A marriage that has lasted at least ten years, and the requesting spouse is unable to earn sufficient income to meet his/her minimum reasonable needs; or
  4. The requesting spouse is caring for a disabled child which causes the spouse to be unable to earn sufficient income.

Once both prongs of the eligibility test have been met, the court must determine the duration of support. There is a presumption that courts will limit support payments to the shortest reasonable period of time necessary for the spouse seeking alimony to earn sufficient income to provide for their own minimum reasonable needs. Indeed, the legislature has established certain periods of time for the maximum duration of support as follows:

  1. if the basis for spousal maintenance is an act of family violence, or if the length of marriage is at least ten years, but less than 20 years, then the court may only allow support for a maximum period of five years.
  2. If the marriage was at least 20 years in length, but less than 30 years, then the duration of alimony can last no more than 7 years.
  3. If the marriage is 30 years or more at the time of divorce, then the alimony can be awarded for no more than 10 years.
  4. However, if the spousal maintenance award is based upon a spouse’s inability to earn sufficient income due to an incapacitating physical or mental disability — there is no maximum length of time for the award of post divorce spousal maintenance. Instead, the court maintains jurisdiction to order the support as long as the spouse meets the eligibility criteria.

Finally, once it is determined that a spouse is eligible for maintenance and the duration of time has been set for the payments to be made, the court must then set the dollar amount of spousal maintenance (alimony) per month. The maximum amount of support to be awarded to the requesting spouse is based upon the following: either 20% of the obligor’s average monthly gross income; or $5,000 – whichever amount is less. There is no requirement that spousal maintenance completely eliminate a requesting spouse’s shortfall of their monthly financial needs.

In conclusion, the amount of alimony to be awarded in a divorce is determined on a case-by-case basis, and the court is guided by a multitude of factors, including the length of marriage and the actual needs of the requesting spouse. For these reasons, and because the court maintains jurisdiction to modify or terminate the alimony award even after the divorce is final, it is important to discuss your individual situation with a family law attorney familiar with these subjects.

It’s A New Year, Are You Ready?

New Year Fresh Start Coffee Mug Wills and Estate PlanningThe new year is upon us. Let us reflect on the old year and commit ourselves to making 2019 a better year.

Did you intend to divorce in 2018? Was Alimony or Spousal Support an issue? If so, you only have a couple of days to finalize the divorce and still have those payments be tax-deductible.

Do you have a divorce or other suit involving children? If so, you now need to provide for Dental Insurance in addition to Medical Insurance.

Additionally, 2019 is an Odd numbered year. That means the “visiting” parent will have possession of the child beginning at noon on December 28, 2019 until the day before school resumes; and starting at 6:00 the day school recesses for the Thanksgiving break until 6:00 pm the day before the Thanksgiving break ends.

Also don’t forget if the visiting parent wants to exercise summer visitation other than the month of July, you need to give written notice to the “home” parent not later than Monday April 1, 2019.

If your ex did something that made you angry, forgive them. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Too often people do something that hurts or angers us and we assume bad intent on their part (rather than assuming it was unintentional or unintended) and then we respond in kind. Thus begins a pattern of escalation that does not benefit the child.

I cannot stress enough. It isn’t about you. It isn’t about your spouse. The legislature is concerned with the well-being of the child. In fact from Texas Family Code section 153, Subchapter E the guidelines spelled out in the Standard Possession Schedule a MINIMUM amount of possession and access for the visiting parent. (b) It is the policy of this state to encourage frequent contact between a child and each parent for periods of possession that optimize the development of a close and continuing relationship between each parent and child. (c) It is preferable for all children in a family to be together during periods of possession.

A final consideration of the standard possession schedule is considered in the best interest of children age three and over. Section 153.251 (d). Recent studies have shown that for children aged three and younger the children should have more frequent contact, but perhaps for shorter periods of time. An example, on a case I handled just this morning, we have the father visiting with the child on every Tuesday and Sunday for a couple of hours, rather than every other weekend for the whole weekend. As the child ages we will increase the period of visitation but it will be less frequent.

The one thing I can never stress enough. When you’re facing a Divorce, or Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship hire a qualified attorney who practices Family Law. We attend CLE on the subject so we know the latest law on the subject, we know the judges, CPS workers, Social Workers, and other lawyers in the area. We are more likely to be able to get an idea of what will happen and how much your particular case may cost.

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Family LawEvery year about this time people lose their minds. The Texas Legislature, through the Texas Family Code, has gone to great length’s to make the possession and access schedule as fair as possible and as clear as possible so as to minimize confusion and to ensure the child has time with both parents. But, every year parents get confused about the holiday schedules and feelings get hurt. I should also point out the focus of the family code is THE CHILD.

The first point to remember is that holiday (and summer) visitations trump weekend visitations. For example, this year Thanksgiving holiday began on a weekend that would ordinarily be the child’s time with the “visiting parent.” However, for many schools the Thanksgiving holiday began Friday November 16, 2018 at whatever time school let out. That means that although the visiting parent would have ordinarily had that weekend for visitation, because 2018 is an even year, and in even years the “home” parent has the Thanksgiving holiday, the visiting parent did not have the superior right to possession on the weekend beginning on the third Friday of November. Likewise, whenever school lets out for the Christmas break the “visiting parent’s” period of possession begins without regard to whose weekend it is.

I would like to point out that the holiday schedule contemplates Christian holidays and there are plenty of people who aren’t Christian culturally or practice. A qualified family law practitioner is likely to have several alternative visitation schedules for whatever your particular religion or culture celebrates. Additionally, the standard possession and access also has the most magical sentence.

THE PARTIES SHALL HAVE POSSESSION OF THE CHILD AT ALL TIMES MUTUALLY AGREED TO IN ADVANCE BY THE PARTIES. This means if the two parents can put aside your pride and concentrate on your children’s best interest, you can literally do whatever you want. Trust me on this, you will be happier and, more importantly, your children will be happier. I realize this may not be possible for everyone, but for those that can work together you should. Those who cannot should visit a qualified attorney who practices family law.

Alimony and the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

Alimony and the Tax Cuts and Jobs ActThere has been no shortage of discussion of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed this past year. For many, the tax law involved an immediate increase in their take home pay. But, there were many provisions of this law that were not discussed completely and the effects are not yet fully known.

One of the provisions that takes full effect on January 1, 2019 is the change in treatment of alimony, or, as it is called in Texas, spousal maintenance. Prior to January 1, 2019, alimony has typically been a deduction for the person paying it and taxable to the person receiving it. On January 1, 2019 this deduction will be eliminated.

The deduction for alimony (or domestic support obligations) has existed for many years. The tax treatment for alimony is often an issue in many divorce cases. The deductibility of the payments for the payor frequently made the payments more affordable to the payor while not overly penalizing the less moneyed recipient because the monies would be taxed at the lower marginal rate of the recipient.

Additionally, alimony has existed for long enough now that it is addressed in many pre-nuptial agreements. We do not know yet how the new tax law will treat alimony contemplated under pre-nuptial agreements (essentially contracts) entered into prior to the new tax laws. Additionally, in Texas (and probably other states), there are two types of alimony. Some alimony is post divorce maintenance covered by Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code, and other alimony is contractual.

Over the years some have disguised property settlement as alimony due to the tax treatment of alimony. Although the IRS rules do not permit this, it likely still happens. “Clever lawyers” that skirt the tax rules that prohibit the use of alimony to get favorable tax treatment of property settlements was one of the concerns that led to the elimination of the alimony deduction.

It is not an exaggeration to say it is a brave new world with regard to post divorce maintenance or alimony. It will likely be a few years until the full effect of the new tax legislation is seen. One thing is certain, now more than ever, it is a good idea to seek the assistance of a qualified attorney who practices family law.

Military Divorce

Work Comp Network DoctorOne of the sad realities in Texas is that just over half of all marriages end in divorce. Perhaps due to the number of divorces, young attorneys fresh out of school often do divorces until they get their first job. It is also perhaps for this (and many other) reasons that some get the impression that matrimonial law is fairly simple. However, nothing could be further from the truth. Matrimonial law touches on every other field of law. Further, many people seeking a divorce are members of one of the branches of the military.

If you are seeking a divorce, it is important that you select an attorney whose practice is limited to matrimonial law. Further, if you or your spouse are a member of the military, you should consider hiring an attorney who also has experience in military law or dealing with military divorces.

Military divorces can be especially complex. In addition to the usual complexities of a divorce, there are special circumstances to deal with such as military retirement. Contrary to popular belief, there isn’t a single military retirement system. The old days of being in the military for 20 years and receiving a pension for 50 percent of your pay are gone. These days, the military retirement system is a hybrid system of traditional pension, something akin to a 401(k)/403(b) and a thrift savings plan.

There are many considerations in dealing with a military divorce beyond the considerations of other divorces. In addition to the complexities of the military retirement systems, military health insurance has changed over the last several years. Other complexities arise when the parties have property in multiple states or the non-servicemember spouse has retirement accounts in multiple states.

In addition, it is common for a divorce court to restrict the children’s residency to the county where the divorce is filed (or a surrounding county). But, everyone knows a military member is likely to be reassigned several times throughout his/her career.

For these reasons and many more, if you are getting divorced and you are or spouse are in the military, you not only need to be represented by someone who limits their practice to matrimonial law, but you should consider hiring an attorney who also has experience in military law or military divorces. At Bailey & Galyen we not only have board certified attorneys, but we also have attorneys who have military experience that have done thousands of military divorces over the years.

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