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COVID = Skyrocketing Divorce Filings

COVID = Skyrocketing Divorce Filings

It turns out that COVID is causing the death of many marriages.   Many strained marital relationships fail to improve when partners lack “space”.   “Space” meaning time away from one another to gain perspective.   Also, COVID has prevented many mental health care professionals to be hard to contact.  Couples barely functioning now hit a major crisis.

COVID Divorce Rates
COVID = Skyrocketing Divorce Rates

The number of people looking for divorces was 34 percent higher from March through June of 2020 as compared to 2019, according to new data collected Legal Templates, a company that provides legal documents.  The lockdown has exposed issues that run deeper and offered ample time for reflection, leaving couples to wonder about their options for pursuing separation during the pandemic.  Couples married less than 5 years are most at risk.  Texas law does not recognize the “separation” status of couples.  You are married until a Judge in a Court of Law declares you divorce.  However, you might consider a Post-marital agreement that would partition assets and set terms and conditions that provide clear boundaries.

If  you have reached the end point in your marriage and need to discuss options, contact us for a free consultation – (281) 550-6650

We have Big Money and I want a Divorce!

Divorce Property Settlement houstonMy husband and I have A LOT of money and Assets and I want a Divorce!  If you find yourself in a situation where this is a true statement, preparation and a clear picture of the assets remains crucial.

Having money blesses most families and family situations, but when spouses seek divorce, it may turn into a curse.   Fighting over a divorce financial settlement definitely drives up legal fees, and heartburn results.   A large estate with retirement and brokerage accounts can be a mess.   Add properties and commodities and many attorneys run into trouble.  Family owned business further complicate matters — look out if that is your situation.

Many tools exist that provide invaluable help.  Your attorney should provide you with a spreadsheet that you can complete to give you at least a rough picture of the complete financial circumstance.  The Texas Family Code instructs that marital assets should be divided in a “just and right manner”.  Many courts and judges interpret that to mean a 50/50 split of the community property.  If you are unfamiliar with what is and is NOT community property, you need help.  Attorney Michelle Schmidt worked in the Finance Industry for over 10 years and knows the ins and outs of financial transactions.  Also, our firm offers free consultations to assist you in assessing your circumstance.  Contact us today at (281) 550-6650 to schedule your free consultation.

 

 

Divorce Common Issues and Mediation

Many times, parties incorrectly think that mediation increases the cost of divorce.   Really, the opposite true.   Court hearings and trials more often run drive up legal fees while mediation reduces fees.  In many instances, the Court requires mediation prior to formal hearings and trials anyway.    Divorce common issues and mediation combine to resolve many cases.  Often, great mediators served as former Judges, and they have a good handle on what a sitting Judge will order.   Parties often fail to realize that formal court proceedings impose limits and restrictions which may impede settlement rather than foster resolution.

Another issue is the Texas Rules of Evidence govern formal Court proceedings such as trials and hearings.  That means that in order to present evidence to the Judge and the jury, possible step hurdles exist.  Mediators review evidence without the Texas Rules of Evidence hurdles.  Also, sitting in a mediators office remains far less intimidating that sitting in a court room.  Important issues that mediators may resolve include dividing up retirement accounts, deciding who should keep the marital residence and whether it is appropriate to order post divorce maintenance.  Mediators are also highly effective in resolving custody issues which include which parent should designate the primary residence of the children and who should pay child support.

Divorce Common Issues and Mediation require experienced guidance from attorneys who understand the importance of mediation.  Contact us today at (281) 550-6650 to set up a free consultation to discuss mediation and the divorce process.  We remain ready to guide you through this difficult time!

 

 

Dividing Property in a Divorce

Until you face the possibility of a divorce, you may not think too much about the property you own.  We daily meet with individuals who have no idea about Texas marital property laws.   Dividing property in a divorce in Texas can be simple or vastly complicated.  Property falls into two categories in Texas – community and separate.  Community property includes the financial resources such as savings accounts and retirement accounts that accumulated during the marriage.  If you purchased valuable items such as coins and jewelry – that might be community.   The home in which you live with your spouse is quite often community property.     However, if your spouse owned the house prior to marriage, it is most likely separate.   On the other hand, if your earnings contribute to the mortgage payments,  you would, most likely, have a financial interest in the property.

dividing property in divorce

To put it all in the simplest terms, separate property is:

  • what you owned prior to marriage;
  • inheritance or what you receive from a will:
  • personal injury money for pain and suffering:
  • gifts and money received from others.

Community property is just about everything else.  In fact the Texas Family Code tells us that whatever property a person owns when they divorce is “presumed” to be community – that means that it will be divided.   You have to prove that property was and is your separate property with documents or other evidence.    Also the idea that property is split 50/50 isn’t in the Family Code.  “Just and right” is in the code in refence to splitting property.  Sometimes, an item of property is both community and separate.  This circumstance involves complicated rules.  You might hear about “tracing” and “community out”.

Contact us!

In the end, when dividing property in a divorce –  experienced representation matters.   Contact us today at (281) 550-6650

Social Media + Divorce Trouble

Understand that divorce might be a very public display of someone’s issues!  Social media can be poison.   And, privacy flies out the window when friends, family, and neighbors learn about the situation.  Importantly, divorcing parties need to recognize that actions and words matter.   In fact, experts indicate that too much social media can actually lead to divorce!

Social media
Social Media and Divorce are a Bad Mix

During a highly contentious divorce, your spouse may weaponize your social media posts, texts, and tweets.  Clever attorneys search social media websites and social media posts provide powerful ammunition.   Social Media + Divorce = Trouble

Remember that your friends and family may also post, text, and tweet to you or about you.  Beware.  If you and your friends refrain from commenting on your situation, your spouse, and children, nothing is out in the public for another to find.  Deactivating your social media accounts until the case is concluded prevents temptation!   However, understand that if your spouse has filed or you have filed and the court placed injunctions in place, deactivation may not be ok.  Also, removing anything from your social media catalogue may get you into trouble.

Also, remember that Instagram counts too.  The saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words” powerfully applies during the divorce process.   Again, Social Media + Divorce = Trouble.  All of these issues and concerns require guidance by an experienced attorney.  Contact C. E. Schmidt & Associates, PLLC for a free consultation at (281) 550-6650.  We will guide you through this difficult process.

Child dancing

Child’s Best Interest and Custody

First, you might not even realize that you are already considering your child’s best interest.  How is that?  Well, you may feel that divorce is scary.  And you might also realize that divorce’s affect on your child might be even scarier.  So, most parents who consider divorce automatically consider their child’s best interest and custody.   They just don’t realize it.   There are many questions to ask?  Initially, how will parents living in two households affect the child?  Second, will my child experience harmful affects growing up with divorced parents?

children playing In fact, almost everything that you do before, during and after a divorce affects the child’s best interests.  Experts report that children do best when parents can learn to peacefully co-parent.  Questions such as where the parties will live after the divorce, how work schedules affect time with the children, what schools the children will attend and who will provide child care affect the child’s best interest.   All these questions reflect a parent’s concern regarding the child’s best interest and custody

The amount of time each parent spends with the child is called a “possession order”.  No – your children are not a “possession”, but when they are physically with you, they are in your possession.  Many families decide that the children should be with each parent for the maximum amount of time possible.  They chose equal “possession” time.   How an equal time affects the child must also be considered.  If your child is young, perhaps, continuous trading of the child may be less than ideal.   Carefully looking at your child’s sensitivities and needs means you are putting your child’s best interests first.    Contact us today for a free consultation – (281) 550-6650

Houston best divorce facts

Divorce + Face the Music

Is your divorce over, but your ex-spouse fails to keep their promises?  Did you fight hard, spend thousands of dollars, and experience a ton of grief but the decree is now ignored?  Your former spouse may need to be hit with an enforcement action.  Divorce + Face the Music operates to teach wayward former spouses a hard lesson.  Court’s fail to appreciate parties who flout their orders.  Much like a strict Principal, most courts demand compliance or else.  You or your former spouse face serious consequences for failure to follow orders.

Those consequences include substantial money judgments and delivery of property.  Judges also order offenders to pay the other party’s legal fees.  Unpaid child support obligations can get your driver’s license suspended and even land you in jail.  Also, if your spouse refuses to follow a parenting plan, watch out!  Some Judges punish the wayward party by changing the possession schedule or even changing the party who has the child with them more often.  In addition, defiant spouses face “contempt of court” consequences.   No-one should blithely consider staring down an angry Judge who is ready to throw the book at them.  After the divorce + face the music may be very painful.

An experienced divorce attorney, such as those at our firm, remains a key factor under such circumstances.  Whether you want to enforce a previous order or you are on the receiving end, pick an attorney who can handle the pressure. Enforcement actions have a steep learning curve and should not be lightly undertaken or defended.  It remains quasi-criminal – meaning in such a hearing, your rights will be read to you as if you were in a criminal courtroom.  Tread carefully!  Contact our office at (281) 550-6650 for a free consultation.  Lastly, take Divorce + Face the Music with care!

Divorce – the buck stops here

President Harry S. Truman popularized the phrase, “the buck stops here“.  He kept a sign with that phrase on his desk in the Oval Office. What’s the idea?  In divorce as in life, you must make the decisions and accept the ultimate responsibility for those decisions.  With the process of divorce – the buck stops here where we guide you to achieve balance!

The story about how the sign got on President Truman’s desk fascinates.  A Federal Reformatory located in El Reno, Oklahoma made the sign for President Truman.  Actually, Fred A. Canfil, a United States Marshal and President Truman’s friend, saw a comparable sign while visiting the Reformatory.  Mr. Canfil asked for a similar sign to be made and sent President Truman.  An inmate made the sign and mailed it to the President on October 2, 1945.

Often, the Texas Family Code dictates what can and cannot happen in divorce.  Regularly, clients don’t want to face the unpleasant realities the law provides.  Just as you may not like the speed limit, you may not like the law regarding alimony.    The concept of separate property versus community may hit you like a brick.  Child support guidelines often fail to meet every need.  Sadly, the law doesn’t bend to a party’s desire.

So, during the divorce process, learn the “rules” and take responsibility for your decisions.  Attorneys are not magicians, and they don’t own a crystal ball either.  But an experienced attorney, such as those at C. E. Schmidt & Associates, will educate you and walk you through the painful parts.  Ultimately, we dedicate ourselves to helping you find the place where you embrace the price of divorce – the buck stops here! The process can be very long, painful and overwhelming, but it does end.

Call today for a free consultation (281) 550-6650

Dividing Retirement + Divorce

You worked hard to build your retirement and now you face divorce after years of marriage.  Dividing retirement + divorce need not spell disaster!  Remember under the law in Texas, assets split in a just and right manner.  That usually means 50% to each spouse.  In cases where one spouse caused the break-up a judge may award a disproportionate share.  Actually one spouse may receive 53% and the other 47%.

So, to avoid tax consequences, dividing retirement accounts requires careful planning and execution.   Workplace retirement accounts like a 401(k) or a pension plan, require a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO).   Because misinformation abounds regarding division of assets upon divorce, your divorce attorney should provide help.   But remember divorce attorneys are not financial advisors although decades of experience helps!  Consequently keeping well informed regarding options through expert advice ensures that dividing retirement + divorce won’t spell disaster.

On the other hand, IRAs and health savings accounts require a copy of the divorce decree and other documents.  Usually, the professional who opened the IRA and health savings account provides guidance to you.  Importantly, differences may exist depending upon the institution in which you opened your account.

A taxable investment account demands attention too.  Through negotiations, you may decide to simply sell the investment and take the tax hit – if there is one.  Splitting the investments, per the IRS, means that the spouses can keep holding periods and cost basis.  Again, remember to plan carefully, choose your attorney wisely and seek financial advice from an expert!  Call today for a free consultation (281) 550-6650

 

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid + Divorce!

EricInexperienced lawyers conducting the divorce process = Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid.  C. Eric Schmidt is the senior partner of C. E. Schmidt & Associates PLLC – a Houston family law firm.  Practicing since 1980 with 40 years of legal practice,  Mr. Schmidt’s litigation experience provides reassurance.  Lawyers broadcast their board certification credentials to take the place of solid decades of practice.   When it comes to practicing law, gray hair mean business!  Actually in 1980, Mr. Schmidt handled his first highly contested family law case.  Mr. Schmidt’s extensive trial experience in commercial real estate, business litigation and civil litigation serves as a strong foundation for family law cases – the area he has exclusively practiced in for over 3 decades.  Be afraid, be very afraid + divorce need not be your experience.

Mr. Schmidt spent 25 years serving as a leader in the Boy Scouts of America and continues to play hockey with others who are decades younger!  He also actively works in his church and community.  Compassionate and caring toward his clients, Mr. Schmidt strives to create a supportive environment.  Clients feel a difference.  One only needs to read all the positive Google reviews to have proof!  Recognized by Who’s Who in American Law and as a Fellow member of the College of the State Bar of Texas, Mr. Schmidt resolves problems with extensive persuasive negotiating skills.

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