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April 2013 Archives

Mother awarded custody over grandparents

The courts in Texas and most other states tend to favor a biological parent's custody rights over those of a non-parent. If, however, the parent is shown to be unfit or if there is concern that the child's health and safety would be negatively impacted in the parent's care, custody may be awarded to someone other than the parent. In one recent child custody case, a court considered whether a mother's status as an illegal immigrant impacted her fitness as a parent. In a decision lauded by advocates for immigrant's rights, the court ruled that the mother's immigration status was not relevant to the issue of custody. The case involved a young mother, her four-year-old daughter, and her daughter's paternal grandparents. After the woman gave birth at age 17, she moved in with the parents of her 15-year-old boyfriend, the baby's father, where she remained for more than two years. In September 2011, following a fight with the grandmother, the mother moved out, taking the girl with her. The grandparents then filed a motion for emergency custody, arguing that the mother's status as an illegal immigrant precluded her ability to care for her daughter. The trial court agreed and awarded sole legal and physical custody to the girl's grandparents.

Selling the house after divorce

The marital home is one of the biggest assets of many Texas couples. In the event of a divorce, the value of the home is part of the marital estate that must be divided equitably between the parties. If one spouse wants to keep the home, the other spouse must receive his or her equity in the home in the form of other assets, which can create complicated issues of asset valuation. Accordingly, often the easiest way to address asset division with respect to the home is to sell the property, with each spouse receiving a fair share of the proceeds. Because property division in divorce so often involves selling the marital residence, divorcing couples make up a large share of the real estate market. To address the special needs and issues of these couples, some real estate agents have developed a niche as divorce specialists. Although unable to provide legal advice, these agents have specialized knowledge regarding the legal and tax issues that may arise in selling real estate during or following a divorce.

Jackpot winnings to pay delinquent child support

Many Texas residents undoubtedly were disappointed to learn there was only one person holding the winning numbers for a huge Powerball jackpot in late March. That man won a staggering $338 million, which he has opted to take as a $211 million lump-sum payment, the third largest lump sum payment in Powerball history. However, the man won't see all of it. Uncle Sam will get a cut, of course, and the $152 million that remains after taxes will be subject to deduction for the man's unpaid child support obligations.It turns out that the lucky winner, who owned and operated a deli and grocery up until his big win, has amassed almost $30,000 in back child support payments since 2009. His win has not gone unnoticed by child support authorities. Officials say the unpaid amounts will be withheld from the winnings and used to satisfy a judgment against the man for delinquent support. In the meantime, he remains subject to potential arrest.

How divorce impacts your tax filing

Texas residents who divorced or were in the process of getting a divorce during 2012 may have many questions about how that life change will impact their annual tax filing this April 15. Divorce may impact things like filing status, dependents, and deductions. Here are some general guidelines for preparing your taxes following divorce.Although we are well into 2013, do not forget the relevant tax year is 2012. It is your marital status in 2012, in particular, your status on December 31, that determines your tax filing status now. If you were still married as of that date, you must file as married even if your divorce subsequently became final. You have two choices: married filing jointly or married filing single. Your attorney or tax advisor can help you determine which option is best for you.

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