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Travis County Family Violence and Protective Order AttorneyThe unfortunate reality for many Texans who want to get a divorce is that fear of their spouse makes it feel impossible to leave an abusive relationship. Indeed, research has long supported the fact that victims of domestic violence are often at the most danger when they try to leave. 

Nobody should be trapped in a terrible marriage and forced to deal with domestic violence. This blog explores Texas’s special laws that are designed to protect victims and give them immediate and effective relief. If you are a victim of family violence in Texas and you hope to get divorced, there is hope. An experienced Texas divorce attorney can counsel you and help you explore your options. 

Protective Orders

Victims of domestic violence can file for a temporary restraining order (TRO) and other emergency protections to protect themselves and their children from their abuser. A protective order can prohibit abusers from coming within a certain distance of a person, their children, their home, or their workplace. Violating the restraining order carries serious penalties, including fines and jail time. Although a TRO is not a foolproof device, it can give spouses who need to leave time and space to strategize about their next steps. Under certain circumstances, a protective order can be continued indefinitely. 

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austin child custody lawyerChild custody evaluations are ordered by Texas courts when parents are locked in a custody battle, and judges need to get impartial information regarding the best interests of a child. Although custody disputes generally take place during divorce proceedings, they can also happen any time a parent requests a modification in their custody arrangement. Unfortunately, custody evaluations can be long, expensive, and invasive proceedings, and if you are worried that a custody evaluator may be appointed to your case, it is important to understand how custody evaluations work. 

What is a Child Custody Evaluator? 

Custody evaluators are trained professionals who are often appointed by the court, although parents can hire private evaluators as well. Evaluators in Texas must have the appropriate education, supervised experience, and must work within a rigorous set of guidelines. 

Before a child custody evaluation begins, evaluators must provide their name, the purpose of the evaluation, specific issues to be investigated, and any additional elements of an investigation in addition to the basics that the evaluator will conduct. 

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austin child custody lawyerOne of the most unfortunate consequences of a Texas divorce is the tendency for parents to feel so hostile towards each other that they try to alienate their children from their other parent. In the worst cases, both parents actively try to develop a bias against each other. Other times only one parent is trying to undermine the parent-child relationship. 

Regardless of whether one or both parents are responsible for alienation, it can have a terrible impact on children and Texas family courts take this behavior seriously. If you are concerned that your relationship with your children is threatened because of your spouse’s actions, it is important to understand what behaviors are generally understood as alienating and what options you may have.

What is Parental Alienation? 

Although alienation can look many different ways, certain actions and behaviors may indicate that one parent is trying to cultivate distance or suspicion from a child towards their other parent. These include, but are not limited to: 

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austin child support lawyerChild support payments are intended to be for the direct benefit of the children following a divorce. Within that context, there is a wide range of acceptable uses for child support funds that may not all be strictly related to a child’s basic expenses. Of course, child support can be used for clothing, food, medical costs, or school expenses, but it can also be used for entertainment and vacations. 

There are almost always expenses that benefit the children as well as their custodial parents. Rent, utilities, and household items are necessary to raise a child, and a parent may save child support funds in case of emergencies. However, if a parent is spending child support money in ways that are not associated with the welfare of the children, this can be a problem. Recognizing how child support can be improperly used is important for taking action when necessary. 

How Can I Find Out How My Ex Spends Child Support? 

Parents paying child support cannot get a detailed list of how child support funds are spent. Once child support payments are ordered by a court, the parent who receives the payments has complete discretion when it comes to how they spend the payments as long as they serve the children’s best interests. Parents paying child support who are concerned about how funds are spent will need to raise the issue in court or with the Texas Child Support Division. 

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austin divorce lawyerIrresponsible gambling has destroyed the lives of many Texans, but the consequences of this behavior are, unfortunately, not restricted to the gamblers alone. A gambling addiction can take a serious toll on the relationship and finances of a couple, so much so that divorce is ultimately the only option. 

Gambling, and the secretive and wasteful behaviors associated with it, complicate divorces in Texas. If you plan to divorce a spouse with a gambling problem, it is important to protect your finances and gather evidence to support your case in court. 

What is Dissipation of Assets? 

Dissipation of assets occurs when one spouse wastes, profligately spends, or otherwise abuses a couple's shared marital assets. Dissipative behavior can be done out of spite or to hide assets for later use, but dissipation can also occur when money is recklessly spent for purposes unrelated to the marriage. Some examples of dissipative behavior include: 

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austin divorce lawyerOnce a divorce process begins, you have endless things to think about and take care of. For small business owners, the list is even longer. You may worry that your divorce will permanently affect the success of your business, leaving you without a way to provide for yourself or your children. 

Understanding how businesses are valued and treated in a Texas divorce is an important first step in making wise decisions during the divorce process. While this blog gives a brief overview of business valuation methods, your attorney is the most qualified source of answers to your questions. 

What is My Business’s Market Value? 

Using the market valuation method means looking around at the value of recently sold similar businesses with a willing seller and a willing buyer. Requiring both the buyer and seller to be willing excludes any businesses whose prices may have been artificially lowered by an unwilling seller in a tight situation. 

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austin divorce lawyerConflict around finances is one of the most common reasons couples in Texas get divorced. Whether financial troubles are due to irresponsible spending or an unpredictable downturn in a family business, the added stress of financial woes makes divorce even more difficult. 

Couples who are getting divorced may wonder if filing for bankruptcy would be beneficial. Each couple’s situation is unique, so it is important to understand how bankruptcy during divorce works and what your options are. This blog is a brief overview of how bankruptcy and divorce can influence each other. If you have questions about your divorce and financial situation, a qualified Texas divorce attorney is your best source for information. 

Should We File For Bankruptcy Before or After Filing For Divorce? 

Bankruptcy proceedings attempt to help couples or individuals reorganize their debt in a manageable way, but the bankruptcy process itself is not free. If couples wait until after they are divorced, they will have to pay the filing fees, credit counseling fees, and attorney’s fees twice - once for each spouse. If couples are still married, they can file a joint bankruptcy case. 

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Posted on in Divorce

austin divorce lawyerDividing marital property is generally one of the most difficult and contentious parts of a divorce. Couples, especially those who have been married for many years, have often accumulated a large number of valuable assets. Included in the assets that must be divided are individual and shared retirement accounts, such as pensions, 401(k)s, and IRAs. 

Spouses who earned pensions through decades of hard work may understandably feel upset about having to divide money they view as being rightfully theirs. Likewise, other spouses will have supported a working spouse throughout a career and feel entitled to their fair share of the retirement funds. It is important to understand how retirement funds are generally handled in a Texas divorce so divorcees can set reasonable expectations throughout the process. 

Are Retirement Benefits Always Divided Between Spouses? 

Individuals who contributed to a retirement account prior to getting married will generally retain ownership over that portion of money. But contributions made after getting married are considered community property and are subject to division in a divorce, even if only one spouse’s name is on the retirement account. Accounts can consist of both personal and community property. 

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