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El Paso Law Blog

Divorce may be wise when marriages become toxic

Making the decision to end a marriage is rarely easy for couples in Texas and around the country, and even relationships that seem damaged beyond repair may sometimes be salvaged if both spouses remain committed and are willing to compromise. However, when marriages have become toxic and are causing harm, seeking a divorce may be a wise and practical step to take.

Divorce could be the only viable option when spouses have substance abuse problems that they refuse to acknowledge or seek help to overcome. Individuals often turn to alcohol or drugs when their personal relationships no longer provide them with comfort and support, and ending a marriage in these situations could benefit both substance abusers and those who are subjected to their destructive behavior on a daily basis. Drinking and using drugs may also lead to the kind of physical and emotional abuse that can wreck homes and doom children to a future of unhappiness and dysfunctional relationships.

Study looks at wage garnishments for child support, other debts

Some El Paso workers may be among the 7 percent nationwide whose wages were garnished in 2016. Most people whose wages are garnished are men who are behind on child support. Women whose wages are garnished tend to owe money on other types of debt such as student loans or taxes. These were some of the findings of the ADP Research Institute in a study that was released on Sept. 27.

The study examined anonymous payroll data of 12 million workers. It found that workers in the South and Midwest were more likely to have their wages garnished and that goods-producing companies, which are more prevalent in those regions, had higher wage garnishment rates than the service industry at 10 percent versus 7 percent.

Divorce leads to tax changes

Texas residents going through a divorce might not think about the potential tax ramifications of dissolving a marriage. However, knowing what to expect means one will not be surprised and can prepare for the tax changes that occur after divorce.

The tax bracket one uses will change the year a divorce takes place. When a separation, annulment or divorce is finalized in a given year, the IRS considers an individual unmarried for that whole year. This means one should not file as "married filing separately" or "married filing jointly" for that year. An individual may file as "single" or as a "head of household" if one has children or other dependents.

Long-term thinking needed for divorce financial decisions

Divorce represents not only the severing of a marital relationship but the end of a shared financial life. Some Texas couples in this situation might be tempted to accept any apparently reasonable terms simply to get the process over with, but they should research the long-term impact of their decisions.

One certified financial planner said that keeping a home often represents a costly choice. The cost of the home might require two incomes to support, and one income will not make ends meet. A president of a financial firm agreed and added that accepting a home in exchange for other assets, such as savings or investments, could saddle the divorced homeowner with property maintenance costs. What might look equal on paper actually turns into a liability for the party who keeps the house.

Can 'gray' divorce alter your retirement plans?

The old adage, "when it's over, it's over," could even be applicable to marriages that are decades old. With changing societal values, the United States is seeing a lot more "gray divorces," or marriages splitting up after many years -- often when the children have left the nest and a couple has simply grown apart.

Statistically speaking, since the 1990s, the divorce rate among those aged 50 and over has pretty much doubled. If you find yourself in this situation and you and your spouse started saving for retirement early in your marriage, a divorce can definitely put a damper on spending your golden years on a beach far, far away.

Jobs that require flexible schedules linked to divorce

Married couples in Texas may not realize how much their profession may affect their chances of divorce. A study conducted by FlowingData has revealed that some professions are linked to a higher rate of divorce than others. Positions that involve traveling, transportation and flexible schedules seem to be stronger predictors of divorce. In particular, jobs with flexible schedules such as bartending and casino gaming are at the top of the list of jobs that are most linked to divorce.

Jobs involving working in a nightlife atmosphere as well as jobs with lower incomes were more strongly tied to a higher likelihood of divorce. In 2015, the mean national rate of divorce was about 35 percent. For bartenders and casino workers, the rate is just under 55 percent. These jobs might have a higher divorce rate due to a schedule that requires spouses to be away from home at odd hours and for extended periods.

Consistency provides peace of mind for kids of divorced parents

In Texas and across the United States, children who split their time between separated parents benefit from the structure and predictability that comes from consistent rules between two residences. While family lawyers do not generally counsel clients on child rearing, assistance is often given to help divorcing parents find common ground and work together in providing guidelines for their child to follow.

Contradictions on things such as bedtimes, food choices and entertainment may adversely impact the children involved for the rest of their life. Ideally, parents should confer with each other, at times including their children, with the goal of creating guidelines that everyone can agree on. A non-biased mediator may be beneficial in this regard.

Tips for dealing with toxic co-parents

When a Texas couple gets a divorce, the two individuals may still have to work together for some time if they had children. For some parents, this can be extremely difficult especially if the other parent is toxic. While parents can be toxic for a plethora of reasons, including being an abuser, being an addict or being a narcissist, there are some tips available that parents can use to make the situation less stressful.

First, it is important for parents to understand that the children should be the main focus. Parents should put their children's needs front and center, which should make navigating the situation with the toxic co-parent a bit easier. This often means only engaging in communication with the toxic ex if that communication is about the children and the children only. Parents should avoid bringing up unresolved issues from the divorce and avoid going into their private lives.

Claiming alimony as a tax deduction

In Texas divorce cases, alimony is sometimes a major issue. When couples have been married for long periods of time, the courts may issue alimony orders if there is a disparity in the incomes of the spouses. While spouses may not like being ordered to pay alimony, the payments can be deducted on their tax returns as long as the orders or agreements are drafted correctly.

The Internal Revenue Service allows spouses who pay alimony to deduct their payments on their tax returns. This deduction is qualified by certain guidelines that the payments must meet before the deduction will be allowed. If the payments do qualify for the deduction, the payee spouses must also report the amounts they receive as taxable income on their tax returns.

Are you having issues with your current custody arrangements?

As a parent, you certainly want to do what is best for your children as often as you can. If you have gone through divorce, you may sometimes feel as if taking care of your children goes outside your control due to the child custody arrangements created at the time your marriage ended. Though you likely would not want to interfere with the other parent's rights without cause when it comes to custody, certain factors may lead you to feel concerned.

If you believe that the current custody arrangement does not work in the best interests of your children, you may feel a desire to change the terms of the agreement. However, such changes often do not come about simply, and only specific circumstances may warrant any modifications to existing custody agreements.

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