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March 2013 Archives

High-profile Texas custody case resolved

A jury has decided a custody dispute between Deion Sanders and his estranged wife, Pilar. The one-time Dallas Cowboy and current NFL analyst will have sole child custody of the couple's two sons while he and his actress wife will share joint custody of their daughter. The two have agreed to remain in north Texas for the sake of their children.The court ruling came after a week-long trial in which jurors heard evidence of the couple's bitter arguments, which have become public knowledge. Pilar Sanders accused her husband of trying to choke her on the set of their former reality television show, while Deion Sanders' representatives said the soon-to-be-ex-Mrs. Sanders is vindictive and not trustworthy.

Issues in gray divorce

The aging of our population has created an interesting phenomenon in family law, the rise of the so-called gray divorce. Divorce has become increasingly common among empty nesters and people reaching retirement age. While a split can be challenging at any age, older couples face a variety of issues that their younger counterparts need not worry about. Any Texas resident divorcing after age 50 should keep these issues in mind.First, consider your plans for retirement. Pension and 401(k) benefits are marital property and are subject to asset division in divorce. The closer you are to your planned retirement date, the more difficult it will be to replenish those funds. Also, consider the impact of divorce on your social security benefits. Social security cannot be divided in divorce, but it can be used to offset other assets or earnings. Another consideration is what would happen if one spouse were offered an early retirement package or cash buyout in lieu of a traditional pension benefit. How would that money be divided?

Collaborative divorce saves millions for Texas man

Texas billionaire T. Boone Pickens said taking a collaborative approach saved him millions in his recent divorce. The energy tycoon recently ended his fourth marriage. Unlike prior splits, Pickens decided to take a collaborative approach with this divorce, which he said helped save money and avoid much of the emotional upheaval that is typical of a divorce proceeding. Pickens was so pleased with the results that he donated $100,000 to a Texas collaborative law organization to help other divorcing couples gain the benefits of a collaborative process.Collaborative divorce uses private mediation to reach settlement on the issues found in a typical divorce, including asset valuation, asset division, child support and child custody. It helps the parties save the time and expense of court proceedings. Parties are able to create their own binding agreement without intervention from a judge. The parties select a private mediator who meets with them to discuss their options and facilitate an agreement. Meetings occur at the convenience of the parties instead of being based on a court schedule.

Retirement should be top of mind during divorce

Divorce has a way of derailing the best-laid retirement plans as many Texas residents have come to learn. Instead of heading off into retirement together with the nest egg they accumulated over the years, divorcing couples find themselves divvying up their retirement funds and ending up with less savings than what they planned to take into their golden years. To make matters worse, divorce negatively impacts one's income, making it harder to rebuild those lost savings. The average divorced person has $10,000 less in retirement funds than someone who is married. Women are hit particularly hard. Their household income upon divorce, on average, is 47 percent less than during marriage. In contrast, men have 25 percent less household income following divorce.

Death of adopted boy in Texas impacts international adoptions

The death of a 3-year-old boy in Texas in January has gained international attention. The boy, who was adopted from Russia, was found unresponsive at his home by his adoptive mother on Jan. 21.; he was then transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Although no arrests have been made, Texas Child Protective Services officials are investigating allegations of possible abuse and neglect, and a Russian governor is seeking the return of the boy's brother, who was adopted by the same family.It is not unusual for allegations of abuse to impact the outcome of a child custody case. Not only is a parent accused of child abuse at risk of losing custody and visitation rights, concerns of child abuse may lead to termination of all parental rights as Russia is now seeking with respect to the boy's brother. Here, not only is the Texas family impacted, but the abuse allegations are impacting other international adoptions. The Texas death has led one Russian region to temporarily suspend all international adoptions while the case under review.

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