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College Station Family Law Blog

How to make an alimony payment that is tax-deductible

A Texas divorce often includes alimony, and usually it is tax-deductible to the payer. The recipient of the alimony has to pay taxes on it. However, it is necessary for the alimony to be mentioned in the legally binding divorce agreement. Otherwise, the IRS will not consider it tax deductible.

This was the decision of the U.S. Tax Court regarding an alimony deduction a man took when he agreed to split a bonus with his wife. The man earned the bonus in 2006. In 2007, he filed for divorce, and he agreed to pay part of the bonus to his wife. Before the divorce was finalized, the two signed an agreement to this effect that also said the man would claim it on his taxes. In a later spousal support order, he agreed to pay a monthly amount in temporary support. He also agreed to pay a percentage of monthly income that exceeded $12,500. The support order did not mention the bonus, so he was prohibited from claiming it as a deduction.

Getting custody of a sibling

There may be situations in which Texas residents want to get custody of their siblings. This might be because the parents have died, or it could be because the person believes the parents are unfit. People who want to get custody of their siblings in the event of the parents' death may want to discuss this in advance. The sibling can be named in the will as the child's legal guardian, and this may reduce the likelihood that others might be able to get custody.

It will be necessary for the person to demonstrate stability and the means to take care of the child. It might be possible to avoid a custody battle if the person speaks directly to the parents about becoming the child's guardian. If a custody battle is necessary, a person will also have to demonstrate that the parents are not fit to take care of the child. In general, courts are reluctant to remove a child from the custody of biological parents.

How nesting may help children after a divorce

Texas parents who are ending their marriage and who are concerned about the effect the divorce might be having on their children may want to consider a child custody arrangement called "nesting". This allows children to remain in their home while their parents take turns, and this differs from a traditional arrangement in which children switch between their parents' homes. Nesting can be a good arrangement that allows children time to adjust to a divorce.

It may work best when it is for a limited time with a plan to transition to traditional joint custody. Two parents who spent about a year and a half doing this agreed that while it was difficult, they felt they had gained some empathy for the difficulties their children would face in traveling between their homes. However, the arrangement ended when one of them entered into a new relationship.

Helping children through a divorce

For many Texas children of parents who are ending their marriage, going through the divorce process can be very difficult. Children are particularly perceptive and may feel stress when their family structure and schedule begins to change. To help the kids with the transition, there are certain things that parents can and should do if possible.

Parents should not be afraid to talk to their kids about what is happening. Keeping in mind their age, parents should explain what the divorce means and how it will affect them. Kids should be encouraged to communicate with both of their parents, especially if they are feeling particularly stressed or uncertain about the divorce.

Husband's work status could be a factor in divorce

With divorces on the rise since the 1970s, there is some perception that more women entering into the workforce could be a factor. Since the stigma around divorce has lessened and women are better able to support themselves, women in Texas and around the country might be more likely to file for divorce. However, according to a 2016 study, women's economic status is not correlated to the end of a marriage.

What does appear to make a difference is the employment status of the husband. The study examined more than 40 years of data on over 6,300 couples and found that when the husband worked part time, divorce was more likely than if he worked full time.

Political disagreements causing relationships to end

Based on the results of a survey by a polling firm, couples in Texas and other parts of the U.S. might be more likely to break up over politics than in previous years. The firm found that around 10 percent of couples ended their relationship over political differences. More than twice as many millennials reported doing so.

Further findings were that 22 percent of people said they knew a couple whose relationship had been affected negatively because of the election of President Trump, and 24 percent of people in relationships said that disagreements about politics were on the rise since the election. Furthermore, although money is a common area of conflict in relationships, over the last six months, more than 20 percent of couples said they were disagreeing less about money than about Trump administration policies. The survey involved 1,000 people and was conducted between April 12 and April 18.

When a parent is concerned about substance abuse

Texas parents who are separated or divorced may become embroiled in a child custody dispute if one believes that the other is abusing drugs or alcohol. A parent might be concerned about the child's safety with the parent who is abusing those substances. If there is not already a custody agreement in place, they should present their concerns to the judge at the custody hearing.

Documentation such as police reports will help the parent support their case. A parent also needs to demonstrate that the substance abuse is hurting the child in some way. When making a decision about custody and visitation, the judge weighs how the best interests of the child will be served. This involves determining the fitness of each parent, and the judge may take a number of elements into account including whether either parent has a past history of substance abuse and how the parent handled it.

Parental rights and long-distance contact with a child

Texas non-custodial parents who live far away from their children might have an agreement to communicate with them by phone, text or video call. However, the custodial parent might try to block that communication. In general, a parent cannot block the other parent from calling their child if that parent otherwise has parental rights.

If the child is being harassed by the other parent using text or calls, the custodial parent should document the harassment. However, before reducing or cutting off contact, the custodial parent might want to consider consulting a child psychologist. Cutting off contact can be harmful, and courts generally take the position that a child should have contact with both parents unless there is abuse or another serious issue.

Positive outcomes in child custody

Child custody is one of the most difficult parts of any divorce. Many Texas parents are concerned about what may happen in a child custody proceeding and may even consider it to be a battle with their estranged spouse they must win. It is important to understand the basics of how child custody works in court to get the best outcome possible.

Despite the common view of child custody as a battle, the court does not consider the needs or desires of the parents when making a decision. The only thing that matters to the court is what is in the best interests of the child. It is most common for the court to consider some contact with both parents to be in the child's interests. This makes gaining sole or primary physical custody more challenging than shared custody.

Modifying child custody arrangements

Child custody decisions in Texas and around the country are made with the best interests of the child in mind, but these arrangements may be revisited and modified by family law judges when situations change. The courts are generally quick to act when custody arrangements could be placing children in physical danger. Authorities may become involved when police respond to reports of domestic violence in the custodial parent's home or when teachers alert social workers about children who fear going home.

Noncustodial parents sometimes seek modifications to child custody arrangements when the custodial parent is moving to a location that would make regular visitation extremely difficult or impossible. When weighing these arguments, family law judges consider how disruptive the move would be on the child involved, the reasons for the move and whether or not the parents have tried to resolve the issue amicably.

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