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El Paso Law Blog

Divorce and remarriage grow family size by 66 percent

It's no secret in El Paso that divorce and remarriage have reshaped the American family over the past 50 years. Numerous studies have highlighted the family-breaking aspects of divorce, including child custody, child support, visitation plans and other divorce legal issues. Less attention has been paid to the family-growing effects following the end of a marriage and the emotions surrounding "blended" families. However, that may be changing.

A new analysis shows that American family size when stepchildren and grown children are included has grown 66 percent since the mid-1990s. In fact, the data shows that 33 percent of couples over the age of 55 have at least one adult stepchild.

Getting ready for a divorce

Throughout Texas and the rest of the country, divorce-filing rates tend to increase during the beginning of the year. According to some estimates, one out of every five couples contemplates getting a divorce after the holidays. For those intent on getting a divorce, there are some steps to take before seeing an attorney in January.

Although year-end financial information is generally not available until the end of January or beginning of February, final pay stubs of the year can help a divorce attorney understand one's financial situation. Additional financial documents that could help include credit card bills, bank statements and previous tax returns. Individuals can also run free credit reports on themselves and their future ex-spouses to determine if there are any debts that should be addressed.

Why married people should prepare for divorce

Many Texas residents might feel financially secure in the present and even have confidence in their plans for the future, but a TD Ameritrade survey has found that divorced and widowed Americans face more financial challenges than their married counterparts. Additionally, a majority of married individuals do not have a plan in place for their finances in case of divorce or widowhood.

The online survey included 2,019 individuals, of which 1,011 were married, 308 divorced and 496 were single and had never been married. The reported annual personal income of $61,700 for married individuals was $13,100 more than that of widowed individuals and $9,800 more than divorced individuals. But a majority of married men and women felt they could handle the financial challenges a divorce or widowhood could bring. However, the same study found that 47 percent of divorcees were not regularly saving or investing and that only 41 percent of divorcees expect to fully retire. Even more concerning, only three in 10 divorcees expected to feel financially secure during retirement, with 49 percent worrying about money running out during retirement.

Is your second marriage over?

If your first marriage ended in divorce, you may have had high hopes that your second marriage would remain strong, maybe for the rest of your life. It seemed right at the start. Perhaps you made each other laugh, shared similar interests and just felt comfortable together. Your respective children got along well enough, and things seemed promising.

You may be wondering why, after the sorrow and trauma of your first divorce, you would even be considering going through it again. Nevertheless, if your second marriage is not turning out the way you expected, you may be wondering if the warnings about the high divorce rate of second marriages are true after all.

Protecting children from a narcissistic ex-spouse

Texas parents who are separated or divorced have experienced how delicate custody agreements are for the children involved. Maintaining the children's emotional health during the transitional process and afterwards is usually one of the priorities for parents. However, there are situations when one parent might manipulate the children to gain some advantage in the situation at the expense of their emotional well-being.

Dealing with a narcissistic ex-spouse who is not above emotionally manipulating the children can be challenging. In a very short time, the narcissistic parent might create a rift between the other parent and the children, leaving them confused and emotionally unstable. They might also speak to others about the situation, creating doubt about the other parent during the divorce process. In those situations, the other parent might find themselves facing the emotional repercussions of the narcissistic parent's actions and even legal repercussions resulting from them.

Recognizing and dealing with parental alienation

El Paso parents may want to be alert to signs of parental alienation after divorce. This may happen in any type of custody or visitation arrangement, and it involves one parent undermining the other by turning the child against the other parent. However, it can be subtle, and it may also happen gradually. For example, a parent might begin by trying to extend visitation times with claims that the child is sick or has too much studying to do.

The child's behavior might change abruptly, and this could include no longer wanting the targeted parent to come to school events and meetings. The child might refuse to recognize any positive experiences with the targeted parent and may use the same language to speak negatively of the parent that the ex-spouse uses. The child might become argumentative while denying that any of this behavior originates with the ex-spouse.

Overcoming divorce during the holidays

The holiday season may not be the best time for Texas residents to go through a divorce or separation. This may be especially true for those who have kids. However, parents should be aware that children generally react in the same general manner as they do. Therefore, it may be possible for adults to have some control over how they and their kids react to the impending change.

In some cases, it may be best to keep up old traditions, such as celebrating Christmas at the same place the family has gathered in the past. It also may be a good idea to consider which parts of a holiday or the holiday season are most important to an individual, a former spouse or a child. This may allow all parties to create a plan to celebrate in a manner that is comfortable for everyone.

Child custody after separation

Many families in El Paso are affected by divorce every year. When a couple decides to separate, there are many preliminary issues that need to be decided before the divorce is finalized, such as where each spouse will live and how the couple's property will be divided. However, child custody may be the most important issue for parents who are going through a divorce.

When the parties first separate, they are in a situation where neither parent has child custody rights over the other. This can create a difficult situation if one spouse decides to move away with the children or prevents the other parent from seeing them. Before a court order is issued, the parties are only bound by their sense of fairness and consideration of the children's needs.

When entrepreneurs divorce

Entrepreneurs in Texas may have some special considerations when they are going through a divorce. The first step whether the business is co-owned or by just one spouse is to get an accurate valuation. This may require hiring a professional that can assess not just the value of tangible assets, such as equipment, but also how much the intangible assets, such as the company's name, are worth. In a family business, records may be kept informally, so it might be necessary to ensure that a spouse is not hiding assets from the other one.

Next, a decision must be made about how the business will be divided. The couple might split it, keep it or sell it. Since Texas is a community property state, if the business was started after the couple were married, it may be considered marital property that needs to be split. In some cases, the individual that owns the business handles this by giving his or her spouse an asset of equal value. If the business is a partnership, one person might have signed an agreement with the other partners that specifies what will happen if one partner divorces.

Are your spouse's multiple cell phones related to your divorce?

When you file for divorce in Texas, you likely understand that the following weeks (and, perhaps months) will fill with challenges of all sorts, as well as many important decisions. Hopefully, you'll be able to nip any problems that arise in the bud before things get out of hand. Are you currently trying to figure out what to do about a certain suspicion you have regarding assets to which you believe you're entitled? Property division is an aspect of divorce where disputes surface.

This is a community property state, so all marital property is split 50/50. You may already know that, and that's why you became concerned when your spouse started doing some strange things not long after you filed your divorce papers. Was money leaving your joint bank account without your permission one of the first things you noticed? If so, then you might be among many others in the state who suspect their spouses of hiding assets in divorce.


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