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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

 

Divorce + Common Sense = Relief

Divorce lawyer and coupleDuring a divorce, too many people lose their cool and divorce themselves from common sense!

Remember, now more than ever, staying grounded in good common sense results in relief.  Repeat after me – divorce + common sense = relief.  Surround yourself with positive and supportive people.  Know that common sense consists of a practical ability in everyday matters to understand and judge a situation.  While divorce isn’t an everyday matter, so many people have been through it or been affected by it.  So, as upsetting as the situation remains, many people are their to support you through the crisis.  Remember also that this too shall pass.

Importantly, exercise, proper eating habits, restful sleep and seeking emotional support provide encouragement and really equal money in your emotional bank.   This advice stays true no matter who initiated the divorce proceeding.   You may also want to stay away from people and situations that cause you uneasiness for the time being until you feel stronger and better able to cope with stress.  You have enough on your plate right now.

Know that support and help abounds, and our attorneys can assist and point you in the right direction if you are loosing your equilibrium.   Please know, however, that our attorneys work to master the law and legal processes, but providing all the emotional support you might need through the divorce process may result in unnecessary fees.  While our entire staff spends time with our clients listening and counseling,  professional grief counselors and therapist are invaluable.   These professionals provide coping skills and tools that support clients who are seeking common sense solutions.

Remember that you are not the first person to experience divorce, and you certainly won’t be the last.   Divorce + Common Sense = Relief when you have carefully chosen an attorney who can guide you through the process.  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.

Divorce Legal Lingo – It’s All Greek to Me!

Divorce lawyer and couple
Explain this process please!

If you are going through a divorce, you’ve heard an entirely new language.  This divorce legal lingo comes from the rules of Texas Civil Procedure which dictate the “new language” that you have been forced to swallow.  Divorce Legal Lingo – It’s all Greek to me and everyone else the first time it’s heard!  So, your not alone in your confusion and exasperation.  Not only is divorce devastating but the lingo drives clients crazy too!  Hear are some words and their definitions in plain English:

1.  Discovery – the word for a tool used during a legal case to find out as much information as possible about the other side’s position on the facts and issues such as what your spouse wants with respect to the children.  How do you find out about ALL of your spouse’s bank accounts – your lawyer uses “discovery” tools and sends a “Request for Production of Documents” requesting bank statements.

2.  Interrogatories – the fancy, legal word for “questions”.   Simply put, your spouse’s attorney asks you questions and you must truthfully answer the question to the best of your knowledge because you will affirm or swear that your answer is the truth.

3. Pleadings – documents filed with the court.  An “Original Petition for Divorce” is the first document or “pleading” that begins your case.  Remember that when you ask for a divorce you are suing your spouse.

4.  Service –  when the constable or private process server hands paperwork to your spouse, your spouse is “served”.  When your spouse hires an attorney or is represented already, the “service” goes to the attorney.

5.  Waiver of Service – a legal document that tells the court you know you have been sued for divorce and you waive the necessity of a constable or process server giving you court documents.  Instead, you receive the documents from your spouse or your spouse’s attorney.

These are but a few of the new words you might hear your lawyer use.  Divorce legal lingo – It’s all Greek to me doesn’t have to be your experience.  Divorce is hard enough!  Remember that you need only ask for your lawyer or the staff to explain what certain words mean.  You deserve to be well-informed and to understand the process.  We work hard to ensure that happens at C.E. Schmidt and Associates.  Call us today for a free consultation!  (281) 550-6650

Divorce – Better Late than Never

Divorcing couple
Better late than never

Sociologist Susan L. Brown and I-Fen Lin report that, “one out of every four people going through a divorce in the United States is 50 or older”.   On the other hand, divorce rates remain level or dropped in other age groups.  Many divorces of couples older than 50 include long-time married couples – people married for decades.  They decide that it is better late than never to seek a divorce!  Importantly, often older people want an older and wiser attorney with whom they can better relate.

Each attorney at C. E. Schmidt & Associates, PLLC long since graduated from the “older than 50” stage of life.  And they are proud of their age and experience.  Mr. Schmidt handled his first “grey divorce” in 1980 – such seasoned experience remains invaluable.  He long ago understood the meaning of the phrase “better late than never”!  Really, older individual face complex financial issues such as what to do about complicated retirement plans and other financial tools.  Ms. Schmidt worked in the finance industry for over 10 years so she understands financial complexities that other attorneys have yet to grasp.

Older couples may own multiple residences and have 5 or more bank accounts so the careful and thoughtful analysis of a mature counselor remains crucial.    Older individuals may be working or retired and each status brings complexities to the divorce process.  With life expectancy increasing annually “better late than never” means older couples understand that they have a lot of life yet to live and want to make the most of it.   So much of the social stigma associated with divorce dissolved long ago, the opportunity to enjoy a truly loving and supportive relationship exists and waits for the older person.

Contact us today at (281) 550-6650 for a free consultation.

What is a Grey Divorce?

Older couple on the brink of divorce
Grey Divorce

What is a Grey Divorce anyway?  In the first place, does divorce connect to any particular color at all?  Many of our clients arrive to our office seeing “red” when they are going through a divorce because of frustration or anger at their partner.   Sometimes people refer to divorce between older couples as a “diamond” divorce too.

To be simple,  Grey Divorce occurs between couples older than 50 who have usually been married for decades.   With lots of life experience, these “baby boomers” often choose to end long marriages for specific reasons.  Actually, divorce decreased over the past 20 years for most age groups EXCEPT for those over 50.

The reasons for a “diamond” divorce include financial problems, growing apart, and infidelity.  Unfortunately, addictions to alcohol, sex and gambling create huge grievances that drive couples to divorce.   When you consider hiring an attorney and you have a few grey hairs, you may want a more seasoned, mature counselor.   At C.E. Schmidt & Associates, our attorneys bring maturity to the process.  When considering how to divide a complicated property picture, experience can’t be overemphasized.

Contact our office today at 281-550-6650 and we provide free consultations by way of Zoom or Skype to assess your situation.

 

Your Divorce Attorney – Friend or Foe?

 

Divorce Lawyer Friend or Foe?
Tips to work with your divorce lawyer

You might be asking, is your divorce attorney friend or foe?  In reality, experts say that going through a divorce remains one of the most stressful things that happen in a person’s life.   No doubt, when a person is under severe stress, judgment, reasoning and the ability to work with others decreases.  An experienced divorce attorney understands this better than most others.  There are certain tips that can help you better work with your divorce attorney!

Take Care of  Yourself!

  • Focus on personal care – eat properly get a good night’s sleep, EXERCISE and be aware of signs of depression.  Seek your doctor’s guidance if you find you can’t sleep, don’t want to eat, eat too much, or feel lethargic!  Medication remains a vital tool for many and it is NOT a life sentence.
  • Seek out someone who can listen to you and support you.  Make sure that individual gives you positive messages. Because a good therapist can arm a person with tools to cope, many of our clients seek a good therapist at this time
  • Seek spiritual guidance.  If you don’t have a spiritual support system, now may be the time to find one.  Churches and support groups are invaluable channels.  Mediation and prayer remain a powerful tool that help many.

Is My Lawyer the Enemy?

Okay!  Now you are saying what does any of this have to do with working with my attorney.  How does this help me understand whether my divorce attorney is friend or foe?  The better you feel about yourself, the better you will be able to accept unpleasant and often painful realities about the divorce process.  We often tell our clients, “Don’t shoot the messenger!”  Divorce litigation forces divorce attorneys to frequently share bad news with their clients.

When you need to communicate with your lawyer, focus yourself and your thoughts.  List your questions about the process.  Allow your lawyer to educate you on the law!  If your lawyer neglects to explain the law, do your own research and then meet with your attorney to discuss.  Seek guidance on the process and potential outcomes.   Read our blog on reducing your legal fees and contact us today at 281-550-6650 for a free consultation.

Minimize Divorce Legal Fees

Minimize Divorce Legal Fees
Fighting Over Legal Fees

Are you searching for ways to minimize divorce legal fees?  No doubt about it, when all is said and done, divorce legal fees can be eye-popping.   One respected media outlet states that a divorce often costs a couple as much as the wedding did.  The average cost of a wedding runs $36,000.00 according to one popular wedding organizing tool available on the web.  So questions arise.  Would you rather preserve marital assets for your children or pay them to your lawyer?

There are ways to minimize divorce legal fees that really are fairly simple.  A “limited scope” representation which equates to what our firm calls a “flat-fee” divorce can be thousands and thousands of dollars less than a contested divorce.   A contested divorce typically means there are two lawyers going head to head.   On the other hand, a limited scope representation usually means only one lawyer is hired by one spouse to draft court documents.  The other spouse may hire a lawyer to “grade papers”.   However the other lawyer does not formally enter the case by filing documents with the court.

If both spouses retain lawyers, an email usually costs less in legal fees than a phone call or in person visit. (Emails definitely are far less expensive in our practice!)  One excellent tip remains to ask all your questions in one email rather than ask 5 questions in 5 different emails.  Also, watch the clock when you speak in person or by phone to your lawyer. So, have your topics and questions organized to help you stay focused.  Remember that your lawyer’s time is what they have to “sell”.  Meaning, unlike buying a TV or a car, you are buying your lawyer’s time.  Time is a precious commodity for us all but particular for any professional such as a physician or lawyer.

Contact our office today for a free consultation and we can intelligently guide you with our experienced attorneys through the divorce process.  (281) 550-6650

 

 

 

Happily Divorced Ever After

Happily Divorcing Ever After
Happily Divorcing Couple

Is there such a thing as Happily Divorced Ever After?  The answer remains YES!  Above all, experts point to each party’s mental health.  Generally, people avoid facing painful issues.  Also, people facing marriage difficulty often avoid seeking professional help.   But spouses who face their “unfinished business” often finish the “failed marriage business” most successfully.

An experienced attorney, such as the attorneys at C.E. Schmidt & Associates, PLLC, have handled tens of thousands of cases over the past 40 years.  Such maturity and experience means that we can guide you through the process and assist you in avoiding needless battles.  When couples have a strong “mental health foundation”, there is little in the way of hatred and hostility.  What is the benefit of being in good mental condition during a divorce.  We can tell you that you may save yourself thousands and thousands of dollars.

Trials are expensive.  Depositions are expensive.  Hearings are expensive.   A amicable and uncontested divorce offers spouses the best opportunity to avoid seriously depleting marital assets which can be better used after the divorce to create new households.  If children are in the picture, they will benefit greatly as well.  Children whose parents have amicably divorced are best situated to recover and adjust in the most healthy way possible.  Remember that if you have had a child with your soon to be ex-spouse, you will need to continue to work with that person for years to come.  Children do best when parents work in partnership after a divorce.

We offer free consultations!  Call today 281-550-6650

COVID 19 and Child Custody

Child Custody
Child Custody

The Texas Supreme Court weighed in on COVID 19 and Child Custody last week.  The Court ordered parents to follow originally posted school calendars!  It remains crucial that a child’s life continue as close to normal as possible during this crisis.   Keeping custody of a child when the other parent remains entitled to possession often fails to maintain the child’s sense of security that accompanies routines and schedules.

Therefore, if you have any questions regarding visitation, check your school district’s originally published calendar .  The school calendar continues to govern this circumstance and visitation schedules.  Also be aware that a parent’s status as having tested positive for COVID 19 will most likely not be considered a reason to withhold possession as Court orders in general do not bend to health concerns – absent truly life threatening conditions.

We continue, as we always have, to offer free consultations during this pandemic.  If you are doing all you can to avoid going out of your home, we also provide free consultations by teleconference.   Always remember that a Court Order is just that – an Order from a court of law.  Violating a Court Order often results in serious consequences.  Those can include Sanctions.  A Sanction is a form of punishment that Judges may order against a particular party.  Sanctions include fines!  It is never a good idea to risk the Judge’s disfavor.

Additionally and commonly, a Judge may order an offending party to pay the other party’s attorney fees.  This could mean that you have to pay for your attorney and your ex-spouse’s attorney as well.  Contact our office if you need guidance today.  281-550-6650

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