Monday, December 29, 2008

What is a Qualified Domestic Relations Order, or QDRO?

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order (Acronym - QDRO and pronounced "Quad-Row") is a Court Order that splits up various types of retirement accounts. Federal law (ERISA) generally does not permit state court judges to require that the person who administers a retirement account (the "Plan Administrator") immediately pay retirement benefits out to a divorcing spouse, even though the accumulated benefits may be community property (in a community property state such as Texas). For this reason, the alternate payee is said to receive the benefits "if, as, and when" the retiree or employee receives the benefits. As a result, the QDRO will assign to an "alternate payee" (who is usually the divorcing spouse) the right to receive all or a portion of retirement plan benefits payable to a "participant" (or the employee). A QDRO can also sometimes be used to collect child support or spousal maintenance.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Texas Waiting Period for New Marriage After Divorce

Sometimes we are asked the question: “How long do I have to wait before I can remarry?” Despite the obvious question – “Why are you trying to remarry so soon after you just divorced?” Nevertheless, if you are not dissuaded by a recent divorce, (say, for example, your adulterous relationship has produced a child) here’s how it works: After your divorce, you are not permitted to remarry another person before the 31st day after the date the divorce was “decreed” (usually meaning the day the Decree was signed). The only proviso is that when “good cause” is shown (again perhaps the child example above) the court can waive the prohibition against remarriage if a record of the proceedings is made (in open court with a court reporter) or with “written findings of fact” prepared and signed by the Judge. The only exception is that the former spouses can remarry at any time.

Divorce Name Change in Texas

At the time a divorce is granted (or annulment or suit to declare a marriage void) the court shall grant a name change to a name used prior to the divorce, unless the court states in the decree a reason for denying the change of name. The court cannot deny a change of name solely to
keep last names of family members the same. You should also be aware that you can apply for a “Change of Name” certificate from the clerk of the Court.

FAQ: Can I get Alimony in Texas?

No. There is no “Alimony” per se under Texas law. However, the Court can grant “spousal maintenance” in certain limited circumstances, such as when: (1) there has been a conviction (or a grant of “deferred adjudication”) for an act involving family violence within two years of the filing for divorce, or during the pendency of the divorce, (2) the parties have been married for at least ten years and the spouse seeking the maintenance “lacks sufficient property” . . . “to provide for the spouse's minimum reasonable needs” and when any one of the following [a, b, or c] exist: (a) the spouse seeking the maintenance is unable to support him or herself through “appropriate employment because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability,” (b) the spouse seeking the maintenance is the custodian of a child of the marriage (of any age) who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability, or (c) the spouse seeking the maintenance “clearly lacks earning ability in the labor market adequate to provide support for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs.”