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Posted on in Divorce

If you are over the age of 50, have been with your spouse for a majority of your life, and are going through a divorce, you are experiencing what is called a Gray Divorce. Gray divorce is on the rise, but that does not make it any easier for couples that have to go through it. Research indicates that 34% of gray divorces are couples that have been together for 30 or more years. While it is unclear as to why gray divorce is on the rise, previous cases have revealed common issues that arise throughout the process, and how, if not navigated properly, those issues can lead to mistakes that have the potential to ruin the futures of the divorcing parties. With that in mind, Clark Law Group can help you properly prepare for your divorce and your new future.

Prepare Your Finances

In a Texas gray divorce, chances are that your assets will be split 50/50, which means that you will be living a much less financially secure lifestyle than you were while married. Unless you are still working, it can be difficult to recover financially from a divorce. To ease the blow as much as possible, take a good look at your finances to determine what type of lifestyle you can feasibly upkeep post-divorce. You may find that you have only so much money or equity to last five to 10 years, in which case you may want to consider going back to work to support yourself while you are still young enough to do so.

Consider Your Future Health Care Needs

Though you may be young and healthy now, you never know what the future holds for you. You need to be prepared. Take a good look at your finances and determine whether or not you would be able to realistically cover the costs of long-term care or a nursing home. Additionally, work with an estate lawyer who can help you change your will, pension, and life insurance beneficiaries to reflect your new, post-divorce wishes.

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When divorce cases become heated, especially where custody is concerned, the divorcing parties may ask that their child testify to 'prove their case.' If your Dallas divorce is contentious, and if you and your spouse cannot come to any sort of agreement, you may be tempted to ask that your child testify on your behalf. However, at Clark Law Group, we urge you to reconsider. Your divorce is already hard enough on your little ones without putting them in the center of it and asking them to testify against one of their parents. Furthermore, the Texas courts highly frown on this sort of alienation, and having your child testify can actually harm your own case. With that in mind, however, there are instances in which it may be necessary to have your child testify.

When Your Child's Testimony Might be Necessary

Though it is a rare divorce case in which a child is asked to testify, it does happen. Typically, a child will be asked to testify in order to help the judge understand the circumstances in the home and how they might affect the wellbeing of the child. For instance, if your child is physically, emotionally, or sexually abused by the other parent, but if you do not have any physical evidence of this, you might ask that your child testify in order to prevent further abuse from occurring. Keep in mind, though, that in order for the court to take your child's word for it, he or she must be mature enough to understand the consequences of his or her actions. Additionally, the court may request that your child speak to a psychologist who will testify for them, instead of making the child get on the stand and relive the abuse in front of a judge and the perpetrator.

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When couples choose to live apart while their divorce is still pending, this can pose a number of issues, especially if there are children involved. Parents that choose to separate must consider aspects that are usually determined at the end of the divorce process, such as custody arrangements, living arrangements, and child support. Then there is the matter of enforcement. Without court orders, a spouse may promise one thing but then do another. That is where temporary orders come in.

At the Clark Law Group, our Dallas family law attorneys are experts in the area of enforcement of judgments. If you and your spouse cannot agree on anything while your divorce is pending, or if you fear that he or she will not abide by your agreed-upon arrangement, a temporary order may be just the tool you need to ensure a smooth divorce.

The Purpose of Temporary Orders

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Forensic accountant sounds like a job title straight out of CSI, and not like an oftentimes-necessary tool in a Dallas divorce. However, many Dallas divorce cases require the expertise of a forensic accountant, especially when there are a significant number of assets to be split during the divorce. At the Clark Law Group, we routinely utilize forensic accountants, especially when dealing with high net worth divorce cases, so that we may accurately assess the value of the marital assets and ensure a fair distribution of property when the time comes.

Circumstances that Require the Use of a Forensic Accountant

  • Business Valuation: Oftentimes, a business owner's spouse may try to stake claim to a part of the business, deeming it marital property for any number of reasons. A forensic accountant can accurately determine whether or not a business is in-fact marital property, and if it is, how much it is worth so that it or its interests may be divided accordingly.
  • Differentiating Community Money from Separate Money: Because Texas is a community property state, any money earned after the union of two people is considered marital property. However, any money that was brought into the marriage may be considered separate property. A forensic accountant can trace the origin of assets and determine what is community money, and what is separate.
  • Determining Child Support: While it is not necessary to use a forensic accountant to determine child support, a forensic accountant can provide the most accurate assessment of each parent's income and cash flow, and make a fair recommendation as to how much each parent can afford/needs.
  • Determining Spousal Support: Again, while not necessary in spousal support calculations, a forensic accountant can give an accurate overview of the marital lifestyle and a fair assessment of what each party can afford/needs to maintain that lifestyle.

Will You Need a Forensic Accountant?

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The division of property in a Dallas divorce is never easy, but one of the most complicated type of assets to divide is a person's retirement savings plan, such as a 401(k)s and IRA. Despite the fact that a retirement plan exists based on the sole efforts of one party, in a Dallas divorce, community property laws dictate that it be divided equitably. Before your employer's pension plan administrator will divide your retirement accounts between you and your spouse, however, they will require a qualified domestic relations order, or what is more commonly known as a QDRO.

What is a QDRO?

A QDRO is a court order that mandates the separation and title transfer of a retirement plan between you and your spouse. At the Clark Law Group, we assist individuals with property division during a divorce, and guide them through the more difficult aspects of the process, such as the transfer of retirement assets. If you are going through a divorce in the Dallas, TX area, and if you are concerned about protecting your rights to your spouse's retirement plan, it is important that you obtain a QDRO. Contacting the plan administrator and obtaining a QDRO can help to stop your spouse from cashing in on his or her retirement plan before paying you your deserved share.

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