Why You May Need a Living Trust
If you do not yet have a living trust , consider talking to a probate attorney near The Woodlands about whether this arrangement might benefit you. When you create a living trust, you can name yourself as the trustee to remain in full control of any assets you transfer into the trust. You can use the trust to pass on assets to your heirs after your death. One main benefit of having a probate attorney establish a living trust for you is that any property that remains in the trust at the time of your death will not go through the probate process. This means that if your heirs need financial resources right away after your passing, they can have access to them without waiting for the estate to be closed.
In some cases, it is more difficult to challenge a living trust than to challenge a will. If someone challenges the validity of a living trust, he or she would need to prove that you were mentally incompetent at the time the trust created or perhaps that your signature was forged. Generally, the fact that you continued to manage the trust after you created it is sufficient proof of your mental competence. However, be aware. There are often very good reasons not to create a trust for your properties. For example, the “taxable basis” of your trust property may be different than what it would be if the property were inherited in a simple probate case, so consult with a lawer prior to creating such an instrument without proper counsel.
Refusing to Sign Divorce Papers
In an uncontested divorce, both spouses may sign a divorce decree agreeing to the terms of the divorce, such as the division of property. Alternatively, one of the spouses may simply not oppose the terms set forth by the other spouse. Nevertheless, if one spouse refuses to sign-off on a divorce decree, then the divorce becomes a “contested divorce.” Regardless of whether you expect your divorce to be uncontested or contested, you should seek divorce advice from a family law attorney in The Woodlands. Divorce lawyers will handle your case for you, letting you move forward with your new life.
Will the Refusal Halt the Divorce?
It’s a common misconception that when one spouse refuses to sign the papers, the divorce is placed on indefinite hold. In fact, one spouse cannot hold the other “hostage” in the marriage by refusing to sign the paperwork. However, it does mean that it may take longer to finalize the divorce.
What Does It Mean to Set a Case for Hearing?
When a divorce is contested because one of the spouses refuses to sign the divorce decree, then the court will resolve the contested issues at trial. Your divorce lawyers will contact the clerk or administrator of the court to set a final hearing on the case. Shortly after setting a case for final hearing, the other party must be notified in writing of the hearing date and time. While awaiting the hearing, your divorce lawyers will conduct discovery, which is the process of obtaining information to be presented in court. This includes information about the marital assets, income, and similar issues. At court, each party has the opportunity to present evidence before the judge.
Should You Try Mediation?
Before the case goes to trial, there is still time to attempt to transition a contested divorce to an amicable divorce. Some court require mediation prior to any trial of your case. Even if a court does not require mediation, you might consider enlisting the help of a professional mediator, who is a neutral third party. Mediation can often help two parties with divergent goals and viewpoints find common ground. Mediators cannot force the parties to agree to anything. If mediation fails, then the case will go to trial.
Contested vs. Uncontested Divorce
If you’re looking for divorce advice and live in Spring, TX, a family law attorney can help you. One of the questions divorce lawyers typically ask new clients is whether it might be possible to resolve family law matters amicably instead of leaving these decisions to the judge. Your answer to this question will determine whether your divorce proceeding is contested or uncontested.
Defining Contested and Uncontested Divorces
Under Texas family law, a divorce may proceed as an uncontested divorce if you and your spouse have reached an agreement about all issues relevant to your case. Such issues include matters involving property and liability allocation, child custody arrangements, and child support. A divorce may be considered uncontested in cases in which your spouse has officially been given notice of the divorce, yet fails to file an answer with the court. In this situation, the divorce is uncontested by “default.” The most common uncontested divorce, however, is the “waiver” divorce wherein your spouse agrees to step out of the proceeding by signing a statement to that effect. A contested divorce is one that involves any substantive disagreement over any issue. Even if a couple agrees to all issues but one, the divorce will be considered contested. When a divorce is contested, a family law judge will evaluate the evidence, hear arguments, and issue a ruling.
Agreeing on the Issues
It’s often preferable for spouses to make compromises in order to reach a divorce agreement out of court. If your spouse has not hired an attorney, then consider asking your divorce lawyer if he or she would speak with your disagreeing spouse to discuss the potential for mediation. Mediation may be successful even if spouses are no longer on friendly terms with each other. It involves meeting together, but with the involvement of a neutral third-party. Each spouse will then have the opportunity to discuss his or her concerns, goals, and points of view. Spouses who are willing to compromise on one or more issues may be able to have the case resolved in a expeditious manner.
Petitioning for Modifications
A divorce decree resolves the major issues arising from the breakdown of the marriage. However, certain family law question may be modified later. For instance, where there is a substantial change in circumstances, you or your ex may petition the court for a modification in child custody arrangements. You could also file a petition to change the existing spousal support or child support order.
Avoiding Common Divorce Mistakes
Divorce lawyers understand that they work with clients during one of the most difficult times of their lives. During such a stressful time, it may be difficult to think clearly and it’s all too easy to make mistakes that may cost you. Please do yourself a favor and listen carefully to the legal advice of your family law attorney. He or she will let you know best how Texas family law affects your case filed in The Woodlands. Your lawyer can also help you avoid the kind of mistakes which cannot be remedied. For example, in one recent case, the parties were arguing over the amount of child support; my client wanted to pay less, but his wife wanted him to pay much more (and she was also unrepresented). So, in an effort to save my client fees in litigating the matter, I suggested that they split the difference, but also call the payment above our first offer “alimony” instead of child support. They both agreed. What the wife didn’t know is that my client could now the deduct alimony off of his taxes as it was imputed as income on her own taxes. With child support, he couldn’t do that. It was an honest compromise, but the wife wasn’t getting all of the benefit from it that she expected, and my client was not putting into it all that he thought.
Dismissing the Idea of Mediation
Divorce lawyers often work with clients who prefer to avoid communicating with their soon-to-be ex. While this is understandable, that isn’t a good reason to avoid giving mediation a sincere try. Even in contentious divorce cases, mediation may be an effective way to resolve marital matters, accelerate the divorce process, and avoid the stress of going to court. Mediation is not binding, so you have nothing to lose by giving it a try. Consider talking to your divorce lawyer about preparing for your mediation. On the other hand, there are situations where mediation is not the best route for resolving your divorce case. For example, if you were affected by domestic violence, then mediation might not be a good option for you.
Avoiding Difficult Discussions with the Kids
To protect the kids, it’s best to avoid mentioning the divorce until you’re absolutely certain that you will move forward with the process. After this point, trying to hide the divorce from the kids may only confuse them. Ideally, both parents will sit down with the kids and explain that they will no longer live together. Give the kids plenty of reassurance and remind them that both parents still love them and that this is “not the end of the world.” Remember, your desire is to allow them to grow up and hopefully have successful marriages themselves. So avoid burdening the kids with the details of the divorce; bad mouthing the other parent; or perhaps telling them that your spouse was unfaithful. Such “jabs” at your ex will only inflict psychological harm on those who you rightly love the most.
Forgetting to Talk to a Tax Advisor
Your divorce lawyer may not be the only professional you need to consult. Divorce sometimes affects your taxes, investments, and retirement accounts. It will also substantially change your budget. Your tax advisor or financial planner can help you sort through these issues.
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