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Friendswood Family Law Blog

Financial matters divorcing spouses do not want to miss

There are a few financial matters that Texas couples going through a divorce should not overlook before they agree to a settlement. This is particularly true when one of the spouses has not been involved in the family finances. During a divorce, one of the first things that spouses need to analyze is their future projected cash flow needs to identify which properties and assets are the most beneficial for their situation. For example, if their financial standing is unstable and they need immediate cash flow, they should try to secure mutual funds, stocks, bonds and other liquid accounts that can be sold quickly and easily.

Divorcing spouses also do not want to overlook digital property, such as computers, phones and tablets. These items have emotional value and may need to be included in the divorce settlement to ensure that they can be accessed with the right passwords. Retirement asset division needs to be addressed, and employer-sponsored retirement plans will need to be the subject of a qualified domestic relations order if they will be transferred or divided.

Special considerations in a military divorce

Texas couples who are considering divorce and are in the military have some special considerations to keep in mind regarding finances and residency. Divorce can be complicated if one or both spouses is stationed in a remote area, and there may also be issues in determining state residency. Some states have recognized this and have more relaxed residency requirements for military divorces.

Much of the outcome of the divorce will be based on the Uniformed Services Former Spouses' Protection Act. The USFSPA is a federal policy that points to state statutes regarding issues such as child support and alimony in addition to classifying military pensions as property rather than income. This alters the way that a military pension is divided in a divorce.

Understanding the adoption process and court requirements

Texas residents who may consider adopting a child in the future may want to become familiar with the legalities of the process. Although one may choose to work on their own or with an adoption agency, the involvement of the court process is unavoidable. A petition must be filed, followed by a hearing in the adoption court. Individuals such as a child's biological parents, an agency involved in the process and others with an interest in the outcome must be notified in advance about the adoption hearing.

The standard normally used by an adoption court is the best interest of the child, an issue that makes it necessary for the adopting parents to demonstrate why the process would be beneficial to the prospective adoptee. A representative may be appointed to attend and participate in the proceedings to ensure that the child's interests are objectively considered.

Terrence Howard faces spousal support woes

Texas residents with an interest in Hollywood may assume that movie stars would be able to pay court-ordered spousal support with little or no issues, but the recent legal issues Terrence Howard has faced may suggest otherwise. The movie star entered into a divorce settlement agreement in which he agreed to pay his most recent ex-wife $325,000 in spousal support after his marriage of one year ended. However, he claims he is unable to meet that obligation because he only makes approximately $6,000 per month.

He offers a plausible explanation for his lack of funds, however. Howard claims his paychecks are sent to his first wife and the two minor children they have together. Howard was married to his first wife for 11 years. The money reportedly goes to spousal support and child support, and his former wife writes him a monthly check for just under $6,000.

Alimony and spousal support in Texas

Individuals in Texas who are concerned about their financial situation after divorce may not be aware that alimony is only awarded in limited circumstances for limited periods. In fact, the term alimony refers to two different types of support. Spousal maintenance is court-ordered while contractual alimony is worked out in a written agreement between the former spouses.

The other primary difference between the two types is that spousal maintenance has specific legal parameters, and contractual alimony is not limited by those guidelines. Spousal maintenance is awarded for five, seven or 10 years. Exceptions may be made in cases where the former spouse is disabled or is caring for a disabled child. In those cases, the maintenance may be extended for the duration of the disability and indefinitely if needed.

Deciding what to do with the house in a divorce

Dividing a house in a divorce, as many Texans may know, is not as straightforward as it may seem. The debt an individual has incurred with marital real estate remains on credit reports until the mortgage is paid off or one spouse buys the other out.

Moving on after a divorce -- or even before the final paperwork is signed -- depends on eliminating debt that an individual no longer shares. For instance, if a divorce is imminent and one spouse is leaving the marital home, the other spouse may separate him or her from the mortgage or debt related to the property. Refinancing a mortgage and paying back any down payment the other spouse paid in the past is one way an amicable couple may work this out. The spouse who vacates the home could secure another mortgage.

Paul George seeking sole custody

Texas basketball fans may have heard that Indiana Pacers player Paul George is seeking confirmation that he is the biological father of a child born on May 1. The All-Star's paternity case includes a child custody issue as well.

In court documents, George said he wanted sole custody of a child he allegedly fathered with a New York City woman he met in Florida. According to the woman, a prenatal test showed that George was the biological father with an assurance of 99.9 percent, something that she says he has acknowledged since the birth by helping with expenses and in writing. The mother filed a motion in New York asking the courts for sole custody saying George's travel timetable would interfere. George contested that, saying he had the ability to care for the child and that shared custody would be detrimental to the child. He said the mother is not working and is living with relatives in New York.

Dodgers' owner wins divorce fees case

Two years after seeing the Dodgers sold, Texas baseball fans may be relieved that the ownership dispute is coming to an end. The former owner's ex-wife had claimed that she was shortchanged in their divorce because her ex-husband had undervalued his ownership interest in the team.

The ex-wife challenged the divorce settlement, claiming that the former owner had cheated her out of her fair share of the team's value. Just months after the divorce settlement, he sold the team for $2 billion in 2012. However, her share of the divorce settlement was a tax-free lump-sum payment of $131 million and a number of luxurious properties that the couple had acquired during their marriage of nearly 30 years. The former owner ran up legal fees of nearly $2 million in defending the settlement. He was successful in the defense when the judge in that case ruled in his favor. He was also successful in his argument that his ex-wife should have to reimburse him for these legal fees.

Pet custody is figuring more into Texas divorce cases

Pet custody disputes at the end of a marriage started to become more publicized after the recent divorce between Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas. Though this involved a well-known celebrity couple, this is becoming more of a divorce legal issue for pet owners from all walks of life. Part of the conflict in this issue is due to the fact that the law treats pets as personal property, while many owners regard their pets more as children.

There are few property division laws currently in effect that address pets, although one exception is the fact that some domestic violence laws allow a spouse who gets a restraining order to take custody of the pet. Some couples have begun to use prenuptial and postnuptial agreements to ensure that they get visitation rights with their pet. Adequate protection for a pet when abuse has occurred in a marriage is also a factor, because of threats or injuries to pets that have occurred out of retaliation against an ex.

Texas men fighting for parental rights

Two Texas men who were married in Washington, D.C., had their adoption petition denied by a Texas judge on June 11. An adoption lawyer who was not involved with the case believes that the ruling is based on the fact that Texas does not recognize same-sex marriages. She further stated that adoptions in cases such as this one had happened in the past and that the judge had the discretion to allow it.

The attorney for the couple believes that the petition may have been denied because of the way that it was written. When reached for comment, the judge who denied the adoption said that she could not comment on the case at this time. However, she did say that she strictly follows that law when it comes to cases such as these.