Divorce, in many cases, has a life-altering impact on a child’s development and well-being. Given that one out of every two marriages ends in divorce, thousands of children are impacted each year. Divorce places enormous stress on a child trying to adjust to new feelings and rapidly changing situations in their lives. The resulting instability often leads to resentment towards the child’s parents and a difficulty acclimating to all the abrupt and immediate changes in a child’s life.
Children perceive divorce as a very traumatic event and are very concerned about their security. Many children internalize the dissolution and blame themselves for the breakup. They are scared that both parents may leave them.
Some very disturbing research on children and divorce has just been released by the Census Bureau Study, “The Marital Events of Americans: 2009”.
*1.5% of US children live in the home of a parent who divorced in the last year. The average age of the child is 9.8 yrs. old and the male/female ration is 1:1.
*64% of the children were White, non- Hispanic children, with the largest percentage living in the South (41%).
*Children living with a divorced parent are likely to be in a household below the poverty level (28%) and more likely to be living in a rented home (53%).
*Most children live in a mother headed households (73%). Because mothers have lower earning potential in the labor force, the family often lives below the poverty level.
*These children of divorce are often living with their parents’ unmarried partner (13%). Only 5% of the children are living in a household with a married couple.
Children of divorce often suffer from anxiety, depression and reduced self-esteem issues. Robert Hughes, associate professor in the Dept. of Human Development and Family Science, Ohio State University, found that children from divorce are more aggressive and more likely to get in to trouble with school authorities or police during adolescence. Also children from divorce are more vulnerable to becoming a victim of violence or become a perpetrator of violent acts on themselves and or others.
If you are considering divorce, carefully consider the impact on your children. To help children through this difficult time, parents must realize and accept that they are responsible for this situation and that their children often suffer as a result of the parent’s decision.
Parents should be very sensitive to the child’s emotional needs to ensure the best possible adjustment of his or her mental, physical, spiritual well-being towards a healthy, responsible adult. Remember! Your child is the “Innocent Bystander.”
Seek professional help if you child is struggling with the changes in his or her life. Your attorney knows a resource that may be available to address your child’s pressing needs.
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 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
Child support is one of the most heavily litigated issues in all of family law. To increase or decrease payments there are specific requirements that must be met to modify a previous child support order. Per Tex. Fam. Code § 156.401 the requirements necessary to modify a prior child support order are:
- The circumstances of the child or an affected party have materially and substantially changed; or
- Three years have elapsed since the order was entered or last modified, and the amount of child support differs from the statutory guidelines by either 20% or $100.00.
The second requirement is self-explanatory. The three-year limitation to file for another modification is for the benefits of the Courts. If there was no three-year waiting period to refill, then every conservator would constantly attempt to modify child support, thus creating endless litigation for clogging the Courts’ dockets.
The first requirement needs more explanation. A Material and Substantial change in the circumstances of the child or an affected party must be clearly shown at trial. Many Courts are meticulous in making the determination of what a Material and Substantial change is regarding the child and the affected party to insure this requirement is not abused for excessive litigation.
To prove a Substantial and Material change in circumstances, a conservator must show evidence at the final hearing of:
- The financial needs/expenses at the time of the divorce or prior modification for the children and the person affected, and;
- The financial needs/expenses at the time of the request for the modification.
If evidence of financial needs/expenses are not submitted and proved regarding both (1) the prior divorce/modification and (2) the recent modification, then no Substantial and Material change can be adequately proved. Further, if the request for modification of child support is predicated solely on one conservator’s increase in earning capacity, absent other compelling evidence, the change in circumstances is not Substantial and Material. Interest of L.R., 416 S.W.3d 675, (Tex. App.—Houston [14 Dist.] 2013, pet. denied.)
If one conservator decides to file a modification of child support within three years just because the other conservative received a better job, it may be dismissed. At the end of the day a Court has broad discretion on determining what is Substantial and Material and may allow the case to be heard and give an unfavourable ruling, but if that occurs you will have the ability to appeal the judgment and request attorney’s fees. It is important to know in any family law case the Judge has extremely broad discretion and interprets case law in a way that he deems fit using the Best Interest Test.
If you are a conservator that meet these requirements above and wish to increase or decrease the child support obligation, be sure to hire an experienced attorney. Nacol Law Firm will always fight for you and your children’s best interest.
Julian Nacol, Attorney
Nacol Law Firm, PC
Call (972) 690-3333