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Family Law

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Who Will Keep the Family Pet in my Texas Divorce?


How do courts determine who will keep the family pet after a divorce in Texas?

Pets are an important part of the family for many households across Texas.  If you and your spouse have decided to divorce, one of your main concerns may be who will get to keep the family pet.  While many couples call their pet their “baby,” in the eyes of the law, pets are not given the same regard as children.
Read more . . .


Sunday, March 19, 2017

Seeking Visitation With Your Grandchild


Can I get visitation with my grandchild in Texas?

Grandparents often play an important role in the lives of their grandchildren, nurturing and guiding the next generation.  While most grandparents are able to visit their grandchildren on a regular basis with the support of the parents, at times divorce, the death of one parent, drug issues, or other serious factors can splinter a family.  Grandparents who are not permitted to spend time with their grandchildren may attempt to seek visitation.  Read more . . .


Monday, February 27, 2017

Texas Fathers Fight for Equal Custody Rights


How is child custody determined in Texas?

A group of Texas fathers are fighting to get a law passed that would allow for equal custody for both parents during a divorce.  Texas House Bill 453 is authored by State Representative James White.  It states that the court shall enter a child custody agreement that divides the time equally between parents after divorce.


Read more . . .


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Texas Lawmaker Moves to Eliminate No-Fault Divorce


What is a no-fault divorce?

State Representative Matt Krause wants to strengthen marriages in Texas.  To accomplish this goal, Krause has moved to make it harder for spouses to divorce by eliminating no-fault divorce in the state.  Krause recently filed House Bill 93, which would repeal insupportability as a grounds for divorce and require a fault-based reason for approval of your divorce.  If adopted, the measure could have significant effects on divorce law as we know it in Texas.

No-Fault Divorce in Texas

No-fault divorce laws were first adopted in the 1970’s as a way of allowing couples to divorce more easily and without need to prove fault on the part of one spouse.


Read more . . .


Sunday, January 22, 2017

Annulling Your Marriage in Texas


Am I eligible for an annulment under Texas law?

Obtaining an annulment is a complicated process in Texas, but there are several advantages of seeking an annulment rather than a divorce.  An annulment is a legal proceeding by which a marriage is declared “void.”  While a divorce ends a previously valid marriage, an annulment ends a marriage that should never have been valid.  Many people who seek an annulment are not actually eligible for one, so review the grounds for an annulment carefully and obtain the assistance of an


Read more . . .


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Texas Family Law Judges Can Reign in Conflicting Foreign Laws


Q: Can Texas judges refuse to apply foreign law to family court matters?

Don’t mess with…us. Especially when it comes to family law matters.

State Representative Dan Flynn (R-Van) is on a mission. As Chairman of the House Committee on Pensions and Investments, he is authorized to seek opinions from the State Attorney General. He recently reached out to Texas AG, Ken Paxton, seeking an answer to the underlying question: To what extent can a Texas judge refuse to apply the law of a jurisdiction outside the United States in certain family law matters?

In that letter, he asked 12 questions that covered 19 different factual family law scenarios.
Read more . . .


Monday, April 25, 2016

Complex $100 million International Divorce Plays Out in Houston Court


Some divorces are relatively straightforward. Others are not -- as evidenced by an ongoing bitter divorce battle in Houston. Pakistani natives -- who are residents of Harris County, Texas -- are seeking a divorce of their five-year marriage. The problem is that the couple cannot agree on whether Texas or Pakistani laws should govern the dissolution -- and the implications for the wife are dire to say the least.

Under Pakistani divorce laws, which are derived heavily from the traditional laws governing Islam and the dissolution of Islamic marriages, a husband is considered legally unwed from his wife by repeating “I divorce you” three times in succession.
Read more . . .


Saturday, March 12, 2016

Prenuptial Agreements May Not Be Necessary, But Prenuptial Financial Discussions Are

What should young couples discuss about finances before they get married?

According to a 2012 study published in Family Relations, arguments about money are the most common predictor of divorce. Nonetheless, finances are at the bottom of the list of topics most young couples talk about. With the threat of divorce so prominent in modern society, is seems only reasonable that engaged couples should spend some time discussing their attitudes about, and expectations of, financial matters. Following are some themes to direct your discussions and hopefully put you both in a better place relative to the economic aspects of marriage.

[1] Individual Perspectives on Money

Each member of the couple has been raised in a different family and these differences have to be discussed in order for each to understand the other's perspective. It is important to know not only the level of wealth or poverty your intended grew up with, but the behavior surrounding that environment. Was the family prone to strict spending practices or did one member frequently splurge while the other scrimped? What were the family's priorities in terms of spending -- home furnishings?  clothing?   cars? education? vacations?  Did your fiancé(e)'s parents always consider "buying the best" to be a good investment or were they bargain hunters?

[2] Put Your Financial Cards on the Table

Unless both partners understand and communicate their individual financial situations, they will not be able to make reasonable decisions as a couple. They have to know one another's earnings, student loan debt, mortgage or rent, savings and credit score. They also have to fess up to any history of binge-spending, stinginess, or a tendency to lend or borrow.

[3] Show Each Other the Money

Since you are going to be married and, presumably, share a budget, you should show your partner an outline of your income and your expenses. It may be that you are already aware of one another's spending and saving habits, but there is no substitute to actually seeing the numbers in black and white. You may be amazed to find out that you spend more on entertainment than groceries or that your partner saves half of his or her salary. Revelations of this kind should be prerequisites of marriage so they don't become areas of contention and so that you can combine your budgets into a plan that suits you both.

[4] Look to the Future

While no one has a crystal ball and unforeseen occurrences are to be expected, you should discuss very basic futures plans, such as whether you want to live in a city, suburban or rural community and whether you want to have children.  Don't make the assumption that your spouse to be shares your desire of a large family unless you have discussed the matter. Also, you should both be aware that the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture estimates the cost of rearing one child at more than $245,000.

[5] Make Some Money Management Decisions

It is important to make a decision about whether you will keep separate bank accounts in addition to contributing to a joint account. You should also discuss who will pay the bills. Will one partner pay the rent or mortgage and the other pay for other expenses? Will the money simply be pooled? How much will each spouse require for day-to-day living expenses? How big must a purchase be for both parties to agree that it is necessary?

[6] The Uncomfortable Prenuptial Agreement

While not every couple signs a prenuptial agreement, it may show a certain amount of maturity to do so, particularly if the two members of the couple come to the marriage with widely varying assets, or if this is not a first marriage and there are stepchildren to be considered.

It is extremely helpful to be guided through premarital financial discussions by an experienced estate planning attorney who will know which questions to ask and whether you have need for legal documentation. Discussions about financial matters are not usually easy, but they are considerably easier before the wedding then after years of marriage. It is astonishing how quickly bills and spending habits can lead to marital discord.  You may be pleased, surprised, or dismayed by the results of a premarital financial discussion, but it's much better that these feelings be explored before, rather than after, the wedding vows are taken.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Basics of Spousal Maintenance in Texas: How Much & How Long?

Must I keep paying spousal support after my ex gets remarried?

Spousal support is a component of many Texas divorces, and is designed to ensure that neither spouse experiences significant financial hardship nor impoverishment in the months or years following the dissolution of the marriage. Historically, one spouse had served in the primary “breadwinning” role while the other tended mostly to domestic matters, childrearing and homemaking. In the event of a divorce in this situation, the homemaker spouse often experienced an inability to find gainful employment – prompting the advent of spousal support laws to ensure that divorce did not necessarily lead to financial ruin to the spouse unprepared for the job market.

In Texas, a court may order spousal maintenance only if the “spouse seeking maintenance will lack sufficient property… to provide for the spouse's minimum reasonable needs.” Moreover, the court must find that the spouse seeking maintenance also fits into one of the following categories:

  • Has been a victim of domestic violence at some point during the marriage
  • Has a physical or mental handicap making self-support impossible or unduly burdensome
  • Has been in the marriage for at least 10 years and “lacks the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for the [his or her] minimum reasonable needs”
  • Is the primary custodian of a child of the marriage who needs continual care due to a mental or physical handicap

In most instances, spousal support does not last forever. Undoubtedly, the recipient spouse foregoes the right to support upon remarriage – and, possibly, cohabitation in a subsequent romantic relationship. In many cases, a divorce decree will specify a definite length of time for support payments, and will generally require the recipient to make reasonable efforts to secure a regular income.


Monday, October 12, 2015

Divorce: Facts, Myths and Explanation

Please tell me more about divorce law in Texas: what do I need to know?

A good place to start learning about divorce law is during the period before the divorce is filed. Some people believe that gathering evidence that casts your spouse in a negative light, such as listening in on your spouse’s phone calls, intercepting your spouse’s emails, or tracking your spouse’s movements via use of a GPS tracker, is beneficial But be forewarned -- such actions can expose you, and whomever assists you, to civil and criminal penalties. This is because such actions violate privacy laws. It helps to understand where the line is drawn in the law on this topic.

Another major consideration at this time is one of finances. Can you afford to file for divorce? Know now that, even if your spouse is the one who controls the finances, you can still file for divorce without apprehension. This is because the court is authorized to grant temporary orders of support while the divorce is pending, effectively prohibiting the other spouse from financially cutting you off. These orders can also prevent a spouse from damaging the marital finances by doing such things as stopping any sale of marital assets or by forcing the payment of marital bills.

Lastly, before filing for divorce you have to consider whether you are in a situation where domestic violence exists. Such a situation may make the contemplation of filing for divorce frightening. The law, however, has specific provisions allowing the court to grant various kinds of protective orders to restrict the offending party. Such protective orders come with serious penalties, civil and/or criminal, to ensure compliance.

During the period when the divorce is pending, Texas has a few laws that may make the process smoother. You may be interested in learning about collaborative law, as well as equitable distribution of assets. Also, you should be aware that Texas judges will consider the wishes of the child in determining child custody. Be sure to remember that experienced and trained legal counsel from knowledgeable attorneys, like those at Stinson Moyle, will be able to assist you as you navigate these points of law and the process as a whole. Call us today at 512-320-9070.


Monday, September 28, 2015

Why and How to Pursue a Supervised Visitation Order

I am concerned about my child’s safety with the other parent. Can I require supervised visitation?

In some families, there exists an unfortunate reality that one parent simply isn’t as well-suited to the parenting role as the other. Sadly, children are made to endure issues like domestic violence, substance abuse, neglect, or abandonment – requiring the imposition of a supervised visitation order. With supervised visitation, the child is not completely cut off from spending time with the other parent, however the visits are fully monitored and often take place at a state visitation center.

The reasons to pursue a supervised visitation order are varied, and the family court will require some kind of evidence to support the notion that the parent should not be left alone with the child. If the parent has a history of intoxication, violent behavior, or of leaving the child with strangers, this could serve as proper underlying evidence to support a petition for supervision.

Likewise, the format of supervised visitation can vary from family to family. In some families, a strict weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly schedule at a state visitation center is necessary to ensure the parent is at all times cooperating with the terms of the order and the law. In other situations, supervision at the parent’s home by a trusted family member (e.g., grandparent) may be all that is needed to maintain the child’s safety.

While it may seem easier to try and avoid visitation with a wayward co-parent all together, it is still important for the child to maintain a positive relationship with that person – provided this goal can be accomplished safety and is in the child’s best interests.

If you are considering establishing a visitation arrangement and you would like discuss your questions and concerns with a reputable family law attorney in Texas, please do not hesitate to contact Stinson Moyle, PLLC today: 512-320-9070. 


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