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4 probate avoidance tips for Texas estate planners

Probate is an involved process, it takes time and it can be costly for one's heirs. Therefore, it makes sense for Texas estate planners to try to avoid probate for as much of their assets as possible. Fortunately, there are several "probate avoidance techniques" that may be able to benefit you in this regard.

Here are the four most popular ways for estate planners to avoid probate for their estate assets:

Father's rights: Does Texas need an 'equal custody' measure?

Family law psychologists and many others agree that a child is best raised when he or she can have as much contact as possible with both parents. Does this mean that Texas should enact an "equal custody" law that supports divorcing parents to receive equal custody of their children?

The Texas Fathers' Rights Movement believes that the state needs a piece of legislation like this because it happens too often that parents do not receive equal custody and visitation time in their divorces.

Consider your child's needs when creating a custody schedule

There are many different types of children with varying needs. Some children are shy, some are adventurous, some are loud and some are quiet. Some children need to have a stable home environment that doesn't involve constant moving between their mother's and father's house, where other children seem like they'd be perfectly happy on the road in the back of a gypsy wagon.

Essentially, you need to consider your child's needs and temperament when you devise a suitable parenting plan. To get you started on the right track, here are two important considerations for all Texas parents to think about:

2 good reasons to end your marriage now

No one ever said that marriage would be easy, and if you have an honest talk to most spouses who have endured for years, they'll tell you just how many challenges they've had to overcome. However, there are some challenges that spouses shouldn't feel obligated to "solve" or "work through." The following two reasons are sufficient enough to simply end your marriage now:


Remember to do the following during your divorce process

There are many things that divorcing spouses should do and keep track of during their divorce processes. This is why Texas residents often hire divorce attorneys to assist them in navigating their legal proceedings. However, in addition to working with a legal professional, Texas spouses who are going through a divorce may also want to do the following:


Will I need to pay my spouse alimony?

The need to pay alimony is something that most Texas spouses will attempt to avoid. However, some spouses may enjoy financial abundance from their employment income, while their soon-to-be exes possess only a limited earning capacity. In these situations, courts will often order the so-called "moneyed" spouse to pay temporary monthly distributions to the "less-moneyed" in the months, and possibly years, following the dissolution of the marriage.

In the vast majority of alimony cases, the payments will – fortunately for the paying spouse – be temporary. These payments are intended to serve as a financial bridge to the less-moneyed spouse so that she has a sufficient amount of time and financial backing to obtain professional training and education that helps him or her become financially dependent.

What should I consider when determining child support amounts?

The essential element of disagreement in most child support disputes relates to the paying parent wanting to pay less and the receiving parent wanting to receive more. Depending on the case – and the facts that pertain to it – one or the other parent may be on the right side of the law.

When the parents can see the issue clearly by accurately estimating how much child support should be paid, they can reach an out of court settlement that resolves their child custody dispute in a way that's similar to how a state family law court would decide the matter. Bypassing court litigation like this can save the parents time, money and stress.

An argument for keeping a child custody diary

Many parents enjoy keeping a daily log of the activities they enjoy with their children. This only comes naturally to someone who loves keeping a diary. Other parents, however, never consider how valuable such a journal can be to them and their families. This value is two-fold. First, it helps you remember all the wonderful moments you've enjoyed with your children and second, it could serve as valuable evidence if your parenting contribution is ever challenged in a child custody case.

From a family history perspective, parents are encouraged to record all the things that bring them joy about their children and family within their parenting journals. From a legal perspective, here are the most vital facts to put in your parenting diary that could help you assert your child custody rights and prove you serve as a primary caretaker of your child by sharing the burden of parenting:

  • Pickups and drop-offs from school and other activities
  • Participation in sports and extracurricular activities
  • Hygiene tasks like bathing and diaper changing
  • Breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack preparation
  • Participation in homework and schoolwork
  • Attendance at parent-teacher meetings and school open-house nights
  • Reading to the children
  • Taking the children to museums and for walks in the park
  • Playing games with the kids
  • Doctors' visits
  • Any other child-related activities

Establishing paternity is not always an easy thing to do in Texas

When babies are born to married couples in Texas, the husband's name is automatically placed in the father's spot on the child's birth certificate. If a child is born to an unmarried couple, though, there are some additional steps that must be taken before a dad's name can be added to the birth certificate.

If the baby's mother is willing to list you as the father, then you'll be required to sign an acknowledgement of paternity document before you can be added to the birth certificate. If she disputes your paternity, then you'll have to go through the process of establishing paternity and a court order entered in before you name can be added to the birth certificate.

Grandparents are the new parents

You didn't anticipate that it would work out this way. When you were younger, you envisioned your retirement years would be taken up with traveling to distant lands with your spouse, or perhaps going golfing or gambling junkets. Maybe your spouse wanted to take a few college courses while you took a no-stress part-time job to stay out of her hair.

Yet, due to the collateral damage from the opioid crisis, you find yourself saddled with the custody of three of your grandchildren. There's no doubt that you love them and will always be there for them — but you certainly didn't expect to take over their care and custody 24/7 in your mid-to-late 60s.

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