My family has just witnessed a tragic experience where a young childhood friend had a massive heart attack and died leaving a grieving wife and two small children. No will, but thankfully some life insurance was in place. This young man was an athletic in perfect condition until his fatal heart attack and no warning or planning for what his wife and mother of the two children would be required to do to care for her young family.
It is very important to set up a survival plan for any young family should either Mom or Dad die at an age where the children are still home and in need of support until they finish school or reach maturity.
You and your spouse/partner should discuss a financial plan that would protect your family in case of early death or total disability by either yourself or your spouse. Pregnancy is a good time to put the plan into place.
Here are some basic ideas to consider in a Family Financial Protection Plan:
- THE WILL: The will is the most important item in your Family Financial Protection Plan. By creating a WILL, you MAY ENSURE THAT YOUR ASSETS ARE INHERITED BY THE PEOPLE OF YOUR CHOOSING (YOUR FAMILY) RATHER THAN THE STATE’S IDEA OF WHAT IS PROPER. TO DIE WITHOUT A WILL IS TO DIE “INTESTATE”. This means that the State (Texas) will determine the percentage of property that each family member will inherit after an individual die. The process of administering an estate through probate court can take months or longer once a judge appoints an executor to take over the deceased’s financial affairs. During this time the family may not have access to money left to them to pay the family bills from this estate. BIG PROBLEM!
After having a will for both spouses/partners of the family executed make sure that an original copy is left with your attorney for safekeeping. Very Important! Have another original copy in a secure place where the executor or a family member will be able to retrieve it at the time of your death.
- POWER OF ATTORNEY AND PROXIES: At the time of making out your will, make sure both parents have a Health Care Advance Directive and a Living Will prepared and executed. You need to designate a first and second choice of a person over 18 years of age to be your proxy. Your Living Will is your intentions for end of life care, such as when to have your doctors withhold treatment and let you pass or if you would like to be an organ donor. It is very important that these documents are with your Will and accessible to your proxies, since many times, if there is a serious accident or medical emergency, you or your spouse will not be able to make serious medical decisions regarding your life or death.
- BENEFICIARIES: When you meet someone, marry, or join in a domestic union, it is important that as to any financial accounts you have (bank account, retirement fund, 401K, trust fund, stocks bonds), you should change the beneficiary to your spouse/partner. It is also a good idea to have a second beneficiary, either a child or family trust, in case you and your spouse/partner were both in an accident and die. If your children are young do not make your beneficiary a guardian who promises to take care of your children. Set up a family trust which will support your children and a trusted trustee for the trust.
- Guardianship: Another very important item in your will for parents of minor children under 18 years old is APPOINTING A GUARDIAN IN YOUR WILL FOR RAISING YOUR CHILDREN. There should be a mutual joint decision on who will take care of the children if both you and your spouse/partner are deceased. By setting up this preference in your will, the proceeding judge will usually honor your request when setting up a guardian for your children.
- INSURANCE: Life Insurance may be costly, but it ensures that if you or your spouse/partner dies young, the surviving spouse/partner will be able to have the physical means to allow a slowdown working a job to take care of your young family without financial worries. It is always suggested that you start an insurance policy on both parents when they are young and healthy to keep costs at a manageable amount.
Many companies also offer disability insurance to replace a percentage of salary if an employee becomes incapacitated. Long-Term- Care Insurance is also an option.
Finally make sure that all important financial and personal documents are always kept up to date and located in a secure place where they can be found in case of emergency or death! Some of the most important documents: bank and financial institution accounts, insurance information, credit cards, retirement account with beneficiary information, bills and list of bills on autopay monthly, deed of house, title to cars, boats or etc., and safety deposit key.
*Always have an updated list of online accounts, passwords, and credentials to any cryptocurrency wallets.
Nacol Law Firm PC
In modern times the District Attorney’s office in Dallas, Collin, and Tarrant County have a zero-tolerance policy on domestic violence towards women. Unfortunately, domestic violence occurs much to frequently in our society. Though helpful in certain situations, this Zero-Tolerance policy has the potential to be abused to gain leverage in a Child Custody proceeding.
A mere allegation, is usually sufficient for the District Attorney to file charges against a man, regardless of the proof. If there is an allegation of abuse reported to the dispatcher and a police officer is sent to a home, then one of the spouses will be heading to jail. If the spouse is a father, this can be detrimental in two ways. First, the arrest for Domestic Violence will open the father up to liability when pursing his rights during a custody battle. Second, a false allegation, tactically placed, may open up a second front on a father, forcing him to defend against the District Attorney’s office for a Class A Misdemeanor.
When a father is accused for domestic violence, he will have to explain this false allegation to the District Judge and furthermore if the Zero-Policy dictates that the District Attorney pursues the allegation, then the father will have to defend himself from the State.
The mere allegation of domestic violence has severe repercussions for fathers’ that are currently fighting a custody battle for their children. The best way to deter such behaviour is to:
- Be vigilant at all times and never visit your Ex-Spouse/girlfriend one on one;
- Never enter a situation to which your Ex-Spouse/girlfriend may claim domestic abuse;
- When picking up your child always have a third-party with you (mother, father, or friend) throughout the duration of the custody case;
- Use “family wizard” when communicating with your Ex-Spouse/girlfriend;
- If your Ex-Spouse/girlfriend threatens to make a false allegation write down the date, time, and location;
It is not healthy to be paranoid of your Ex-Spouse/girlfriend if the relationship is not high risk for domestic violence allegations. You should always attempt to co-parent and amicably resolve disputes with your Ex-Spouse/girlfriend for the betterment of the children. Having said that, there are situations and circumstances in which false allegations may be used to leverage one side during a custody suit. If a false allegation is filed with the District Attorney and you are a father do not expect to receive any sympathy from the District Attorney’s Office.
Father’s Rights Attorney
Nacol Law Firm PC
In any Divorce case a father or husband should expect two attacks right out of the door. First, is paying for child support because most District Judges in Dallas, Tarrant, and Collin counties do not look favourably on 50/50 custody during temporary orders. Second, is paying temporary spousal maintenance to the wife.
Temporary spousal maintenance is essentially money that the Court forces a husband to pay his wife during the pendency of the divorce. Unfortunately, the District Judge has broad discretion in awarding the amount and duration of the temporary spousal maintenance. The temporary spousal maintenance is awarded based on considerations of both the degree to which the Spouse is destitute of means to pay for her necessities during the pendency of the suit and the ability of the Husband to pay.
Essentially, these considerations are determined by the Judge and if the Spouse has no job or means to support herself then, the Husband should expect a large percentage of his paycheck to go to the Spouse for the duration of the case. In many cases, if the Ex-Wife has the means to support herself, the Court will still award her spousal maintenance to some extent. The amount that the Court fixes as temporary spousal maintenance is likely permanent until the conclusion of the case and only appealable on mandamus. Usually, the appeal will cost more than paying the Spouse. Unfortunately, the Court uses temporary spousal maintenance to help settle cases by forcing the Husband to support both individuals of the party.
If you are seeking a divorce and have a job that provides well for your family, prepare to be attacked for child support and temporary spousal maintenance for the duration of the case. To mitigate the temporary spousal maintenance amount and seek 50/50 custody with your children, find an experienced attorney that can prepare you for the temporary orders. Temporary spousal maintenance is a tool the Court uses to equalize the estate and force a compromise. Divorce is a painful process and temporary spousal maintenance makes the process even more painful, but regrettably the burden primarily falls upon the Husband’s neck.
Nacol Law Firm PC
Yes, it is the Holiday Season and no, you are not happy! Yes, there is A Grinch who is trying to steal Christmas, but it does not have to be you. From personal experience, sometimes when you personally are at a very low point in your life, think about others (children, other family members, and friends) who love you and need someone to make their lives happy!
From practicing family law for a long time now, I believe there are elements in divorce that will never change:
- You can not make someone love you and stay with you if they choose not to.
- The only person that you can be completely responsible for in behavior is YOURSELF!
- If you choose to have a bad attitude and try to hurt your EX by alienating your children, then not only are you not winning the divorce game, but you are causing serious damage to your Children. Even if you win, you are a loser. The Kids didn’t ask for this Divorce, they are often stuck because Mom and Dad couldn’t be happy together!
After considering these ideas and deciding no, you are not happy, try giving some effort to help make your family happier this Holiday Season., Like the Grinch, maybe your family’s joy will help you feel just a little bit better!
Here are my “New Divorce No No Rules” that will make the Holiday Season happier for the entire family including your EX:
- No talking bad about the other spouse! This is your battle, not the kids! The kids are still related to their other parent and love that parent.
- Work on new traditions that involve all family members with their likes and desires. Mommy and Daddy are not together anymore, a great time for some fun changes in the Holidays. Look to a wonderful new future and adventure for the family and don’t look back!
- Get with your ex-spouse and determine the holiday schedule. Share this schedule with the kids so they will know what is going on and what time will be shared with both parents. Meanness will not be tolerated, be nice!
- Talk with your ex-spouse about coordinating presents. Many divorcing couples try to one up the other parent and this really puts the child into a very uncomfortable situation. Also, a smart money saving idea.
- Talk with the children on their ideas for the Holidays. If they would like to have the entire family together for possibly Christmas Eve, or Christmas Morning, this may be a great idea! Remember: this is not totally about your feelings, it is about the love and needs of your family.
“The more you give in to the love of your family, the better you will feel in your heart.”
You, my friend will eventually get over this hurt and go on with your life, but it is always the decisions you make to help your children cope with this family split that will determine your true character as a parent and a person.
Hoping you and your family will have a wonderful Holiday Season and this blog has help to put a smile on your face! —-Mark A. Nacol
Texas spousal maintenance can be a useful and effective tool in a divorce. A spouse lacking sufficient property or the means to provide for his/her minimum reasonable needs, may have awarded additional funds from the other spouse during the divorce and after to help rebuild his/her life following their divorce.
In September of 2011, the Texas Legislature revised and modified the requirements for spousal maintenance including the limits on amounts and duration of time allowed.
The eligibility requirements of the Texas spousal maintenance law is still considered one of the more restrictive spousal maintenance laws in the U.S.
To be able to be awarded Spousal Maintenance (statutory term for spousal support or alimony) you must be married and the spouse seeking support must lack sufficient property to provide for the spouse’s “minimum reasonable needs”. Also one of the following is required:
The recipient must be unable to earn sufficient income to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs because of an incapacitating mental or physical disability.
The marriage lasted for 10 years or longer and the recipient lacks the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs.
The recipient is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability that prevents the spouse from earning sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs.
The person ordered to pay support was convicted of or received deferred jurisdiction for an act of family violence during the pendency of the suit or within two years of the date the suit was filed.
The Maximum Amount of spousal maintenance the courts may award is $5,000 per month, although it is still limited to 20 percent of the Payer’s average Gross Monthly Income.
The Maximum Duration of Time for spousal maintenance is:
Five years if the marriage is 10 years or less and the eligibility for spousal maintenance is established by an act that constitutes family violence.
Five years if the length of marriage is at least 10 years but no more than 20 years.
Seven years if the marriage length was at least 20 years but no more than 30 years.
Ten years if the marriage length lasted 30 years or longer.
In cases where the spousal maintenance is awarded due to the mental or physical disability of the spouse or a child of the marriage, the court may order the maintenance continue as long as the disability continues.
The spousal maintenance awarded by the court is discretionary and may not always eliminate the shortfall of the requesting spouse’s monthly expenses.
What about Termination of Spousal Maintenance? The obligation to pay future maintenance terminates on the death of either party or on the remarriage of the spouse receiving the maintenance.
If the court finds that the receiving spouse cohabits with another person and is in a dating or romantic relationship in a permanent place of abode on a continuing basis, the court shall order the termination of the maintenance obligation.
Termination of the maintenance obligation does not terminate the obligation to pay any maintenance that accrued before the date of termination and this amount will have to be paid or a judgment will be enforced by the court.
If you are thinking about a divorce in Texas and have questions concerning your eligibility for spousal maintenance contact a legal professional to help you through this process.