The Law Office of Cicily Simms Austin Family Law Lawyer 2019-07-18T15:04:26Z WordPress On behalf of The Law Office of Cicily Simms <![CDATA[Social media pitfalls during divorce]]> 2019-07-18T15:02:43Z 2019-06-26T04:40:20Z All eyes on the drama Your ex may have done something to cause you to move for a divorce, and you may need to talk things through. We do not want you to keep these events to yourself, but you should recognize that sharing them online in a forum where you and your ex have friends in common may backfire. Everything online is discoverable throughout a divorce, which means even the judge may see what you post. Therefore, it is best to utilize the services of a counselor or confide in a close friend offline, not through posts. Finances take center stage Financial matters can cause quite a stir throughout the divorce proceedings. As such, posting pictures of fancy restaurants, spontaneous trips, and new furniture are not going to help your case for spousal maintenance. It may hurt you in dividing up the marital property if the other side believes your spending is the result of joint assets. As difficult as it may seem, you will get through your divorce and may come through it in a better place. Temper your online sharing. Learn more about our services by checking out the details on our webpage.]]> 0 On behalf of The Law Office of Cicily Simms <![CDATA[How do I establish my Texas paternity?]]> 2019-07-18T15:04:26Z 2019-06-24T21:22:48Z remedy this situation, you must establish paternity of your child. The process usually is quite simple, and you have the following three options:
  1. You and your child’s mother sign an Acknowledgment of Paternity and file it with the State.
  2. You and your child’s mother sign an Agreed Paternity Order and a judge approves it.
  3. You file a paternity suit and petition the judge to declare you the legal father of your child.
Acknowledgment of Paternity An Acknowledgment of Paternity is a simple form that you and your child’s mother fill out at the time of your child’s birth or any time thereafter. You can obtain this free form by doing one of the following:
  • Ask for an AOP at the hospital where your child’s mother goes for her labor and delivery.
  • Ask for one at a vital statistics office, the Texas Attorney General’s office, or any other AOP-approved state agency.
  • Call the AOP Hotline at 866-255-2006 and ask for one.
Both you and your child’s mother need to fill out the AOP, sign it in front of a notary public, and then file it with an AOP-approved state agency. The agency will process it and then notify the appropriate authorities so they can put your name on your child’s birth certificate as his or her legal father. Agreed Paternity Order An Agreed Paternity Order is similar to an AOP in terms of you and your child’s mother needing to sign it. The difference is that in this instance, the document you and she sign is a court order wherein you both agree not only that you are your child’s father, but also that you agree on child custody and support matters. You may wish to obtain help from an attorney or the Texas Child Support Division in obtaining, filling out and filing this form. Ultimately a judge approves it, completing your paternity process. Court-ordered paternity In the unlikely event that your child’s mother disputes your fatherhood of the child, you will have to petition a court to declare your paternity. You undoubtedly will have to take a court-approved paternity test, but you may be able to get one for free by working through the Child Support Division. Assuming the test comes back positive, the judge will then declare you as your child’s legal father. This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.]]>
On behalf of The Law Office of Cicily Simms <![CDATA[What is a family law modification?]]> 2019-04-23T02:30:38Z 2019-03-27T05:00:00Z When a Texas marriage comes to its end the parties to the proceedings may do whatever they can to make their transitions into single life as smoothly as possible. Divorcing parents have extra considerations to manage as they work to provide their children with stability and calm as their marriages end. Those considerations may include the establishment of child support and custody plans that will foster their children's unique needs.

Over time, however, parents may find that the child custody, visitation, and support plans that they made do not provide their children with the best possible care. A parent may discover that they cannot have custody of their kids due to their work schedule and a change to their child custody order may be necessary. Additionally, a parent may lose their job and may become unable to pay child support for the benefit of their kids.

Family law modifications are changes that are made to family law agreements and orders after they are executed. They create new sets of expectations and requirements on the parties that are bound to their modified terms. Often individuals must go to court to have their orders and agreements modified and this process gives judicial recognition to the changes the families needed to continue to function.

When it becomes apparent that a modification is needed to a family law order or agreement, a Texas resident may wish to discuss their proposed changes with their trusted attorney. A lawyer who understands the complex issues that come into play when families are affected by divorce can advise their client of how best to approach the modification process.

On behalf of The Law Office of Cicily Simms <![CDATA[Can I take my child out of state after a divorce?]]> 2019-04-23T02:30:51Z 2019-03-24T05:00:00Z Child custody is one of the most difficult parts of divorce negotiations. Each parent wants to have influence over their child’s life and to either be the primary custodian or maintain day-to-day contact with the child.

That’s why custody is spelled out in divorce proceedings. It’s also why your ex-spouse needs to be notified of any changes in a timely manner and changes also need to be approved by the judge.

Moving out of state

During divorce proceedings, the judge will determine which spouse will be legal guardian and custodial guardian.

Legal guardianship – which can be given to one or the other spouse or split between the two – determines who will make medical, religious and educational decisions about the child.

Custodial guardianship – which is given to one parent or the other – determines where the child will primarily live and who will provide care for the child. The other spouse often pays child support and cares for the child on a schedule of weekends, holidays and during the summer.

These decisions are made by a judge with the best interest of the child in mind. The wants and desires of the parents are taken into account, but the needs of the child are the main driver.

Changes need to be approved by the judge

Changes to a judge’s custody order – including visitation rights – need to be approved by the judge regardless of whether the parents make a deal outside of court.

If the custodial parent wants to move, they need to notify the other parent at least 30 days before the move. They must also petition the court for a change in the custody order. If the other parent disagrees with the move, the judge can take that into account during a custody hearing.

However, the judge will make a decision that is in the best interest of the child over the interests of the parents, taking factors into consideration that include:

  • The child’s age
  • The child’s relationship with the parents
  • Educational advantages to the move
  • Distance and travelling costs for the non-custodial parent
  • The child’s ties with school, friends, relatives and the community

Child custody is emotional and complicated. Contact a qualified, experienced attorney to help you sort through all the legal issues involved with child relocation.

On behalf of The Law Office of Cicily Simms <![CDATA[What to do when a child support order is ignored]]> 2019-04-23T02:30:11Z 2019-03-15T05:00:00Z Child support is an important source of financial sustenance for a child whose parents no longer live together. Child support is often ordered when parents go through divorces or when they choose to end their non-marital relationships in order to pursue futures separate and apart from each other. When Texas parents separate from their significant others, though, their responsibilities to their kids do not disappear.

This means that a parent cannot stop providing money for their child's care just because they no longer live with them. A parent who stops paying court-ordered or agreement-based child support may be subject to enforcement efforts and penalties from the courts for their delinquencies. One of the most common ways that child support orders are enforced is through the garnishment of the parents' wages.

Wage garnishments take money out of parents' paychecks and direct those funds directly to the children in satisfaction of their support agreements and orders. In order to have a parent's wages garnished a child's custodial parent may need to go to court to ask for such an action to be taken. Their family law attorney can help them take on this important and necessary task.

Other enforcement options when child support goes unpaid may include but are not limited to the suspension of business, driving, and professional licenses; the seizure of property and income tax refunds; and the denial of passports. Parents who are struggling to help their children receive the financial support they deserve from their noncustodial parents may want to reach out to their trusted Texas family law attorneys for help with their child support enforcement efforts.

On behalf of The Law Office of Cicily Simms <![CDATA[Addressing business assets in a marital agreement]]> 2019-04-23T02:32:27Z 2019-02-28T06:00:00Z In the past, it was not uncommon for individuals to get married young and to build their lives and wealth with their spouses. Today, however, more and more people are holding off on marriage and establishing the careers before committing to long-term relationships. As a result, Austin residents may come into marriages with independent wealth that they would like to shelter from becoming marital assets.

Business and premarital separate assets can be addressed in premarital and post-marital agreements. These agreements are created between marital partners and can cover topics related to property and financial affairs. They cannot cover topics related to the custody and care of children, and there are other prohibited topics that may not be addressed in them.

But, through a marital agreement two individuals may decide that one's premarital business should remain their separate assets even if the parties decide to end their marriage in divorce. They may stipulate that the other has no claims to collect from the business in the event that the marriage ends and that the owner may emerge from the relationship with their business interests intact.

Ensuring that one's business interests and assets are protected in a marital agreement is an important step toward protecting their financial security in the even that their marriage does not last. In order to ensure that the terms of such an agreement are clear and comprehensive, a person may want to use the services of a family law attorney. Individuals who work in this particular field of law are knowledgeable about the legal requirements of preparing such documents.

On behalf of The Law Office of Cicily Simms <![CDATA[What is the purpose of a paternity lawsuit?]]> 2019-04-23T02:31:18Z 2019-02-18T06:00:00Z The connection between a parent and their child is one of the strongest bonds that can ever be created. While the relationships between parents and their kids can wax and wane over time, the acknowledgement of their legal affiliation may forever keep them connected, despite the differences that may come between them. In Texas, when questions exist regarding the parentage of a child, a paternity lawsuit may be filed.

A paternity lawsuit attempts to establish or refute a biological relationship between a person and their alleged child. While it is often the case that paternity lawsuits concern children and their presumptive fathers, they can also control questions regarding children's biological mothers. During a paternity lawsuit, a presumptive parent and child may be required to submit to blood or genetic testing to determine if they are biologically related. If they are found to be related, certain rights and privileges may attach to their relationship.

There are many reasons that paternity lawsuits are important. First, without legal rights over a child, a parent may not be able to secure custody or visitation time with them. Additionally, a child who is not recognized as their parent's offspring may not be considered their heir and may not benefit from their estate when their parent passes away.

Questions of parentage can be emotional and complicated and many families do not know where to turn when they are faced with challenges related to this significant legal topic. Legal professionals, such as those who work in the family law field, can provide support and guidance to individuals who wish to find answers and establish stability in their relationships with their biological children.

On behalf of The Law Office of Cicily Simms <![CDATA[How will your taxes change after divorce in 2019?]]> 2019-04-23T02:31:56Z 2019-02-16T06:00:00Z If you filed for divorce in 2019, your divorce settlement will be affected by new tax laws. These changes could significantly affect how you file your taxes in 2019 and what kind of financial support you can expect in the years to come.

How will alimony change in 2019?

This year, alimony payments will be subject to different tax procedure. Before, the person who paid alimony could deduct that from their taxable income, and the recipient of alimony would need to pay income taxes on it. This motivated the payer to pay more to receive a higher tax deduction.

This year, the situation has flipped. The person who receives the alimony will no longer pay taxes on it because the person who paid alimony will pay the taxes. The person who pays the alimony will not be able to deduct the payments from their taxes.

This could discourage the higher-earning spouse from paying high amounts of alimony. This may direct their financial focus to child support payments. However, there is no guarantee this will happen.

Dependent tax deduction or child tax credit?

If your family includes children that are dependents, you may be accustomed to receiving a tax exemption for each dependent. However, this year, the law has changed to awarding a qualifying (potentially refundable) child tax credit.

This credit is only available to the primary custodial parent unless you qualify for and file appropriate forms. This fact could further complicate your custody arrangement and other financial matters in your divorce.

If you are concerned over your alimony or child support payments in 2019, you may want to explore your financial and legal options. You could explore lump sum payments or other arrangements that equalize the tax burden on you and your ex-spouse. If you both feel that the arrangement is fair, you can build a family dynamic that is less stressful and more focused on your relationships.

On behalf of The Law Office of Cicily Simms <![CDATA[Students sign prenups before saying “I do!”]]> 2019-04-23T02:31:32Z 2019-02-01T06:00:00Z Working through medical or law school is a transition period in your life. And it helps to find a partner who values education as much as you and wants to ensure a stable future for your relationship.

However, as student couples think about their futures, they also have to consider the few assets and loans they own. Between college loans and a high divorce rate, should they protect their assets before they commit to their significant other?

Draft a prenup before planning the wedding

Many students embrace the idea of preparing for the future. For many couples, it includes preparing for the worst-case scenario, divorce. For preparation, most partners draft a prenuptial agreement – a legal contract that establishes how property is divided in case of a divorce.

Couples work together on the prenup and decide how their student debt, current assets and future property plays out in a possible separation. It may account for various situations, such as a change in studies, seeking a doctorate or passing the bar.

Whatever the prenup includes, it starts a critical conversation between partners about sharing finances and what marriage will look like as a student and as a working professional. You should also discuss your career path and your spouse's goals, so you have realistic expectations of where your education will lead. It will also give you a better understanding of your assets, especially if you have property with your parents.

Students may see a prenup as an invaluable tool for their career, relationship and future.

On behalf of The Law Office of Cicily Simms <![CDATA[Divorce and Finances: How to Protect Your Assets]]> 2019-04-23T02:32:47Z 2018-10-16T05:00:00Z 1553143-blog-dovocef.jpg

When you get a divorce, you have many important decisions to make. For example, you may have to divide your assets. You will need to take some measures to protect your large assets and properties. The following are some of the most important assets you may have along with steps you can take to ensure that your financial future is safe.
Your Retirement
When you get a divorce, you need to be certain that your retirement accounts are safe. This includes pensions, survivor benefits, and individual retirement accounts. Many divorce settlements require both spouses to divide their retirement accounts if both contributed to them during marriage.
This division of the accounts is especially important when you look at how much you each chose to contribute. For example, let's say that you and your spouse have your own retirement accounts you contribute to each month.
Let's also say that your spouse had a retirement account with a significantly higher balance than yours. So, instead of contributing extra money to your own account, you choose to put more of your money into your spouse's account for a higher payout when your spouse retires with the plan to share the money later in your married life.
However, your life changed and you decided to divorce. If you did not contribute to your own retirement accounts because you thought it best to contribute to your spouse's account, you will not have as much to retire with because a lot of your money went to your spouse's account instead of your own. This is why retirement division is so important. Talk to your divorce lawyer for help in making sure you get the retirement money you deserve.
Your Family Home
Your home is one of your most expensive purchases and is a very large asset to deal with in a divorce settlement. Although you likely have an emotional attachment to your home, you need to think carefully about how it affects your financial future.
First, consider whether or not you should keep the home. If the market is really strong in your area and you have a lot of equity in your home, selling your home and dividing the equity between the two of you will be most beneficial.
If one of you gets the home in the divorce settlement, you will have to refinance the house in your own name. You will then have to pay your spouse his or her half of the equity. Also, keep in mind that if you take the home, you need to be certain you can afford not only the mortgage payment but also all the other expenses which go along with owning a home.
Your Bank Accounts
Your bank accounts, including checking, savings, and investment accounts, also need to be dealt with in a divorce. Once your divorce is final, you will have to liquidate those accounts to divide them if ordered to do so in your divorce decree.
One thing you need to remember is that bank accounts are easy to liquidate, unlike retirement accounts. If your spouse is vindictive or you have concerns that something could happen to the money, you need to take measures to ensure that the accounts do not suddenly become empty as your divorce moves along. Speak to your attorney for specific protection methods to safeguard your accounts.
If you need help with your assets during divorce, please contact [nap_names id="FIRM-NAME-1"]. We specialize in family law and work diligently to make sure we represent you fairly. We have years of experience and expertise, and we help our clients make the best decisions for their circumstances. We want you to be happy with your outcome.