“TRIM the FAT with TOXIC people, BEFORE your LEFT with only GRISTLE.”

Only you can cut people out of your life. I can’t do it for you. What I can do is insist that you ask questions. Why? Because secrets can and will hurt you.

Some of you may be wondering “what types of secrets?”

Over the past three weeks I’ve had someone contact me about someone I married after she realized that the bride had died in an effort to contact her ex my now grieving groom).

I do not share client information to ANYONE. In fact I’m regularly contacted by journalists or production companies trying to get contact information from me.

Another bride contacted me this morning regarding a paternity suit against her new husband. Shocking I know.

“My now husband was recently served with paternity papers from a child born before we were married. He doesn’t want anything to do with the child, let alone the woman. What are his options?”

He will be forced to undergo a DNA test. If it’s proven that he is the father of the child, he will be ordered to pay child support and medical insurance for the benefit of the child. Whether he “wants anything to do with the child or not” he has a financial responsibility to care for the child if in fact the child is his.

Many parents of children who don’t pay their court ordered child support face severe penalties. In Texas, failure to pay child support can and does result in imprisonment for criminal non support. The ability to renew a drivers license can be taken away. Income tax refunds as well as his wages are also be garnished.

Occasionally the non custodial parent will attempt to sign away parental rights to skirt child support but a judge as well as the custodial parent must agree. The non custodial parent doesn’t make the decisions or “have options.”

Because your husband “doesn’t want to have anything to do with the child,” you should be aware that what he wants to do and what he is legally obligated to do are two different things and educate yourself.

Under the Texas Family Code chapter 161 a parent can file a petition to terminate his or her rights. The most significant result of terminating a parent’s rights is that the parent no longer has rights to access the child through possession or visitation periods and the parent’s support obligation is terminated.

There was a time in Texas where it was NOT difficult for a parent owing child support (an obligor parent) to terminate his or her rights to avoid paying child support after a divorce or other suit affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR).

In almost every family court in Texas the judges now decline to permit an obligor parent to terminate his or her rights voluntarily unless there is also another person adopting the child to ensure the child receives the benefit of two supporting parents. The Texas Family Code requires any termination of parental rights to be in the child’s best interest. It is usually not in the best interests of the child to eliminate the financial support of one parent without compelling reason.

Family judges have discretion to determine whether a voluntary termination of parental rights is in the child’s best interests but their discretion almost always falls in favor of maintaining two supporting parents.

You may want to prepare yourself for what lies ahead in terms of your household income. Why? Because his financial responsibilities and obligations will affect your household income whether he takes advantage of court ordered visits regarding this child or not.

I can’t say this enough to people planning to marry…. ASK QUESTIONS.

What you don’t know can and will impact your marriage. Snap out of it. If you don’t ask questions you will never get answers.

Next question. “My husband’s step daughter who he has no legal responsibility to is inviting us to her graduation party. He divorced his ex because she cheated on him. Should we go to the party and subject ourselves to this uncomfortable situation?

I would. The ex cheated on him the step daughter didn’t. While this may feel uncomfortable to you, take the higher road by either attending and if you just can’t bring yourself to do so, send a check. Marriages merge families. The step daughter may have had a good relationship with your husband that compelled her to invite you both to her graduation. It’s a victory and accomplishment that she wanted you to be a part of.

Put your feelings about her mother aside and talk to your husband (civilly without bias or your feelings about his ex) as to whether he would like to attend or send a check. Get his input. Ask what he would like to do and support his decision.

We can’t blame children for the parents actions. What we can do is celebrate their accomplishments with them or congratulate them for their accomplishments.”

I now have a November bride who recently discovered she was pregnant AND that her fiancée was cheating AT THE SAME TIME.

I met her this morning to help her file eviction papers. Why? Her fiancée is living with her and she’s about to give him the boot that’s why.

What is the difference of community property? Do I need a prenuptial agreement?”

A traditional marriage merges both assets and debts of the couple. This merging creates community property. If the couple were to buy a home together, cars together, stocks and bonds together as well as other assets, these become community property as well.

A prenuptial agreement separates one parties assets as separate property and the other parties assets as separate property.

Prenuptial agreements can also separate debt incurred prior to the marriage to the debtor rather than both parties. In essence, prenuptial agreements protect the property of one person who may have significantly more assets than the other person.

A prenup is an agreement made by a couple before they marry concerning the ownership of their respective assets should the marriage fail.

Meaning if the marriage doesn’t fail, the prenup has no bearing.

These types of documents are used specifically in the event of a divorce or dissolution of the marriage.

Important to note is that marriage is the only way to merge debts of your partner legally. Often called sexually transmitted debt, the merging of debt is a very real possibility when marrying without a prenup that specifically separates the debts of one person from the other person.

People are generally uncomfortable regarding prenuptial agreements because they feel their partner doesn’t trust them enough to marry without one.

The truth is that divorce without a prenup is an equal split of assets and debt. The assets are often acquired throughout the marriage in most cases but if one person has far more assets going into a marriage, that person needs to protect their assets with a prenup in the event the marriage doesn’t endure.

No. There’s a reason for this though I’ve been married before. It’s difficult to appreciate a good husband unless you’ve had a bad husband. I have had both. My husband has too.

We are both older. I’m 55 and he’s 68. We have been married for many years. I like structure and order. I’m OCD. He accepts this and we work together to keep our home. We both work a lot and I travel constantly.

Our marriage is solid because we want to grow old together. We respect each other and are thankful for a solid and predictable life ahead of us.

We’ve struggled through my illnesses due to thyroid cancer and we’ve overcome him losing his business in the real estate crisis of 2007–08. We have weathered many storms. Financial and medical issues popped up within one year of our marriage. Many people would have ran. We didn’t. Instead we have learned the value of teamwork.

My husband views me as his hero. I in turn view him as my hero. Our marriage wasn’t easy in the beginning faced with my health issues at the same time we encountered his loss of income but we made it through the storm.

Every marriage will have challenges. How you handle those challenges is going to enrich your marriage or end it. Choose wisely.