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Houston Divorce Law Blog

When is a prenuptial agreement invalid in Texas?

For many Houston residents a prenuptial agreement makes a lot of sense. When a person has significant assets or debts before they are married a prenuptial agreement can protect their interests. Even if a prenuptial agreement is drawn up there are reasons that it may be invalid.

There are several reasons why a prenuptial agreement may be invalid. One may be that the agreement is not in writing or it was not properly executed. A prenup must be in writing and it must be signed before the wedding. It can also be invalid if one person was pressured into signing it or didn't read it before signing it. Also, if one party didn't have sufficient time to review the agreement then it can also be invalid. Each party needs time to read it and understand it.

Lessons for Houston spouses from a celebrity divorce

Celebrity divorces happen frequently. It seems as if each week there's another one in the news. Sometimes a celebrity divorce can offer lessons for regular Houston residents going through a divorce.

The Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom divorce offers a unique glimpse into what can happen for regular people going through a divorce. Although they filed their divorce paperwork back in July it has been backlogged in the court system. So when Lamar was rushed to the hospital after visiting a Las Vegas brothel he was still legally married to Khloe. This means that she still had the authority and responsibility to make medical decisions about his treatment. According to news reports Odom did not have a living will or other legal document in place.

Collecting survivor benefits from an ex-spouse after divorce

After a divorce there can still be many financial repercussions. One issue can be whether Social Security survivor benefits can be collected from an ex-spouse.

A person may be eligible for survival benefits from an ex-spouse if certain conditions apply. First, in order for the spouse to receive survivor benefits they must be at least 60 years old or 50 if they are disabled. Second, they must have been married to the deceased ex-spouse for at least 10 years. And finally, they can't be remarried before age 60, or if they did remarry before age 60 that marriage must have ended. If these three qualifications have been met then the spouse is entitled to up to 100 percent of the deceased's monthly Social Security benefit. If more than one ex-spouse has died you can switch between the deceased ex-spouses to get the larger benefit. A person cannot collect their own Social Security and their deceased ex-spouse's, however.

Halle Berry heading for another divorce

Celebrity divorces happen all the time. It appears that celebrities are just like many of us in Texas and sometimes have a hard time keeping a marriage together. Halle Berry is no exception. The actress recently announced her divorce from her husband of two years, Olivier Martinez.

Halle Berry met Martinez on the set of Dark Tide in 2010. They were married in 2013 but last week they both filed separate divorce petitions. They had a son together in 2013. Both Ms. Berry and her spouse have hired high-powered Hollywood attorneys to represent them in the divorce. Ms. Berry is still involved in a custody battle with her ex-boyfriend with whom she shares a 7-year-old daughter. This will be the third divorce for Ms. Berry and she has an estimated net worth of $70 million that she will need to protect. It is believed that most of the divorce proceedings will take place behind closed doors.

Trusts can be an area of contention in a Texas divorce

Houston residents who are in the process of a divorce know how complicated all of the issues can be. Property division is one of the most contentious areas of a divorce and needs to be handled carefully and thoroughly. Property division includes all of the obvious items such as houses, land, vacation homes, bank accounts, stocks, and other tangible assets. Other assets such as an art collection or business are more difficult to divide and may require professional valuation.

A third-party trust can also be a contentious issue in a divorce. Third-party trusts are usually created for the benefit of specific beneficiaries by their parents, grandparents or other family members. Trusts often states they are for the beneficiary's health, education, maintenance and support. But if a divorce situation is not specifically mentioned in the trust, and one of the beneficiaries gets divorced, the assets in the trust may be considered marital property.

Divorce mistakes that can be easy to make

Houston area residents who are in the process of getting a divorce can feel overwhelmed both emotionally and mentally. There are so many things that need to be remembered during a divorce that it can be easy to make costly mistakes. Some common mistakes should be kept in mind in order to try and avoid them.

One mistake is forgetting about certain debts and then having to be responsible for them after the divorce is finalized. Another is allowing one spouse to read the other spouse's personal mail. Mail for one spouse should be redirected to a P.O. box as soon as the divorce process begins. An ex-spouse may also know all of your personal passwords. It is important to change email, social media and other online account passwords.

Who gets to keep the inheritance in a divorce?

Many Houston residents will receive an inheritance from a family member at some point in their lives. Sometimes these inheritances can be small and sometimes they can be in the millions of dollars. A person who receives an inheritance and later goes through a divorce with their spouse may be interested in knowing what will happen to that inheritance after a divorce.

Although Texas is a community property state, not all assets are divided equally. An inheritance may be one asset that a person can keep without sharing with their ex. If a spouse wants to keep their inheritance separate from marital property, one of the first things they should do is deposit the inheritance into a separate bank account with only their name on it. If the inheritance money is commingled with the family money it can cause problems during a divorce and may no longer be considered separate property.

Modifying a divorce decree

As those who have gone through a divorce in Houston know, a divorce can be an incredibly stressful time for a family. Emotions are high and it can be hard to focus on the important aspects of a divorce settlement. A post-divorce modification may become necessary for one of the spouses.

A post-divorce modification can be brought by one of the spouses to change certain decisions in regards to their divorce. There are a few ways that a modification can be pursued. One way is through an appeal. A spouse can challenge the trial court's judge's decision by bringing an appeal to a higher court. The spouse files a brief which includes what they think is not fair in their divorce settlement and how the original judge incorrectly applied the law. A divorce settlement usually cannot be appealed if both parties agreed to the settlement.

Actress Kaley Cuoco cites prenuptial agreement in divorce

Prenuptial agreements have steadily increased in popularity among engaged couples here in Houston and all over the country. No longer just for the very rich or celebrities, prenuptial agreements make sense for many relationships.

Actress Kaley Cuoco, who plays Penny on the hit television series "The Big Bang Theory," announced recently that she is getting a divorce from her husband of 20 months. Her petition cited irreconcilable differences as the reason for divorce. In recently court filings it was revealed that, a month prior to their wedding, the two parties signed a prenuptial agreement that described how they would divide their assets in the event of an eventual divorce. The agreement reportedly also provided that Cuoco would make spousal support payments to her ex-husband. If the court finds the agreement to be valid, it will save Cuoco and her soon-to-be ex-husband a lot of time and headaches as they go through the divorce process, because many of the big issues will have been resolved in advance.

Common mistakes that are made in a high asset divorce

Houston area residents who are considering a divorce know how emotional a time it can be. There are so many things to consider at the end of a marriage and it is not a pleasant situation. For those who are involved in a high asset divorce there is a lot at stake. There are mistakes that people make that should be avoided.

One mistake in a high asset divorce is that there may be assets that get overlooked. It is critical that all assets and liabilities are known. Important documents should be located including tax records, bank statements, investment statements, retirement and pension accounts, credit card bills, household bills and insurance. These all need to be accounted for. There should also be an inventory done on all property including valuable artwork, collections, cars and real estate. A valuation expert may be needed for business value, stock options or a professional partnership.

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Attorney Christine K. Lincoln

Christine K. Lincoln offers sound counsel and legal services to protect clients and their families facing divorce and other family disputes.

She will take the time to understand your individual needs and develop a comprehensive solution to protect your rights and interests.

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