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Houston Texas Family Law Blog

Child custody an important family law consideration

Child custody is often one of the most important parts of a Texas couple's divorce. Many times, the couple is able to work out the details; however, this is not always the case. At times, assistance is needed in determining what works for each individual and what is in the best interest of the child. Regardless, each individual will want his or her family law attorney to review any child custody agreement prior to finalizing it.

Child custody can take on many forms; perhaps the most common is joint legal custody. With this type of custody, one of the parents typically retains primary physical custody of the child. However, both parents are responsible for making important decisions regarding the child. These decisions often include those related to education, religion and health. In addition to making decisions, the noncustodial parent also retains visitation rights that are specified in the child custody order.

Financial settlements and family law

The reasons that Texas couples decide to divorce are as varied as the couples themselves. Many times, one of the main issues relates to finances. Throughout the marriage, the couple may have had difficulty agreeing on financial aspects. Then, throughout the divorce, this same couple is unable to come to terms financially. This dissention often causes not only financial loss but also the need to work closely with a family law attorney.

Different assets carry with them different values. For example, a checking account carries with it the value of the funds currently in it. However, a retirement account must be looked at differently. This account grows over time as its value increases. Then, when funds are withdrawn from this account, taxes must be paid, and the base upon which the increase occurs dwindles.

Protect a trademark to avoid commercial litigation

There is always the potential for every trademark to be successful and become a valuable asset to the company that owns it -- in Texas and every other state. However, the business owner's responsibility does not stop with registering the trademark. If it is not adequately maintained and monitored, it might be canceled, or conflicts may lead to litigation.

These responsibilities include the ongoing monitoring of applications for trademark registrations to identify any conflicting applications before they are registered. However, not all infringing trademarks are registered, and regular scanning of business names, product names, website and social media URLs is necessary to identify potential conflicts. Another important area is creating brand guidelines and publishing them on the company website to show business partners, employees, vendors and other members of the chain of supply how the logo and trademark may be used without compromising the business owner's rights.

Family law: What is a sunset clause in a prenuptial agreement?

Times have changed, and many Texas residents wait until they have established their careers before they consider marriage. While prenuptial agreements used to be a a family law concern that was difficult to discuss with a future spouse, it has become more acceptable because in many relationships both parties have assets that each wants to protect. The tricky part is to anticipate the future when drafting a prenup.

Such a marital contract serves to define how a couple will handle assets and liabilities -- and even spousal support -- if they should file for divorce or if one spouse dies. Couples record their respective assets such as real estate, business interests, bank accounts and more. They can even include details of how they will handle household finances, existing debts, future debts and more. However, a prenup must be signed well in advance of the wedding to avoid the court suspecting coercion if the contract was signed on the eve of the ceremony.

Real estate purchases made easier with legal guidance and support

Buying a home in Texas is a complicated process -- especially if it is navigated without legal counsel. While a mortgage lender and real estate broker are typically essential participants in such a transactions, the support and guidance of an experienced attorney can be a valuable asset. Many aspects of real estate transactions are confusing and not necessarily tailored to the personal needs of the buyer.

An attorney can negotiate on behalf of a purchaser to reach the terms that will be most beneficial -- not only with the seller but also the mortgage lender and other parties. When purchasing real estate, the purchaser is actually buying the title to the property, and an experienced lawyer can research it to identify any liens, ownership claims or title defects that the buyer may not uncover on his or her own. All facets of the transaction, including any issues that may be troublesome, can be identified and addressed accordingly.

Business litigation can arise in various circumstances

Disputes sometimes arise between businesses or private individuals and business entities in Texas. Those who cannot resolve the issues often resort to litigation. Some of the disputes that land before the courts involve investors and their brokers. Investors who suffer substantial financial losses may suspect their brokers of unethical behavior. In some cases, the disputes can lead to allegations of investment fraud.

Business litigation cal also involve accusations of stealing intellectual property or infringements on patents, copyrights and trademarks. Disputes between shareholders and business partners in closely held corporations may include claims regarding breach of fiduciary duties. When one partner is suspected of bad faith, the other partners might resort to business litigation.

Family law: Financial challenges of divorce after 50

The process of divorce and the associated emotional impact can cloud the minds of both spouses. If this is a step taken by a Texas couple who is close to retirement age, clear minds are necessary to consider the applicable family law and the financial implications of such an action. For example, for one spouse to blindly choose to keep the house without taking into account the costs of maintaining the property along with the tax implications can be detrimental and may exceed the retirement income the person will receive.

Professional advice might be invaluable in cases of divorces later in life. There will be tax implications on retirement funds, such as the fact that withdrawals of retirement money from a 401(k), 403(b) or IRA will be taxable. In contrast, withdrawals from Roth IRAs are not taxable, which might make those more desirable in the property division.

Family law and the myths about adoption, surrogacy and IVF

The scope of parenting in Texas and elsewhere has changed significantly. Any person who wants a child can have one, regardless of whether he or she is single, in a same-sex relationship, has fertility problems or more. They even have a choice of routes to take to achieve parenthood. However, myths exist about every available option, and before choosing a method, it might be worth some research -- including the family law issues that may arise.

A perpetuated myth related to in vitro fertilization (IVF) considers this method to have a higher success rate as long as high-quality embryos are used -- regardless of the woman's age. Authorities in the field say the success rate is similar to that of natural conception, and that includes the same age-related risks as normal pregnancies. Not all IVF procedures result in pregnancies.

Failure to disclose real estate shortcoming can lead to charges

Entrepreneurs who buy neglected homes, renovate them and then sell the properties for profit can earn themselves sizeable incomes. However, compliance with the law is essential, especially when it comes to disclosure of information that might hurt the real estate value during a sale. Concealing such information could lead to fraud allegations, litigation and conviction.

In Texas, a seller must disclose deaths resulting from violent crimes or dangerous conditions on the property, even if those conditions have been rectified. Nuisances such as noise or smells from neighboring properties must be disclosed, and under Texas law, the presence of toxic or hazardous materials must be pointed out. These include asbestos, radon gas, urea-formaldehyde insulation, lead-based paint and any previous methamphetamine manufacturing that took place on the premises.

Do you need help with family law and intricacies such as QDROs?

Texas couples who file for divorce have so much to consider that some important matters may be left unattended. Family law issues such as child custody, parenting plans and the division of property can be overwhelming. Without qualified professional guidance, matters related to the division of retirement funds sometimes receive less than the necessary attention.

First of all, a QDRO must be signed. This is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, which will determine the distribution of retirement assets between the spouses. Once couples agree to it, the court will issue an order that will be binding. So, to ensure no unexpected fees and taxes reduce one spouse's portion of the retirement assets, it helps to have a financial advisor along with an experienced lawyer on the team.

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