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Houston Divorce Law Blog

Divorced parents can navigate holiday spending cooperatively

There are many benefits to obtaining a divorce via mediation in Texas. These include, but are by no means limited to, saving time and money, avoiding court and reaching settlements which benefit the entire family. Another perk of divorce mediation is that, by discussing divorce issues in a calm environment, spouses can lay the groundwork for future negotiations with their former spouse.

For spouses who have children, this benefit can be very helpful down the road. In divorce mediation, spouses learn how it is possible to cooperate in the midst of emotional stress. This skill can be enormously valuable if conflict should arise later on, especially if it relates to co-parenting. With the holidays coming up, many divorced parents are wondering how to cooperate financially regarding their children's holiday wishes.

What grounds for divorce does Texas allow?

Navigating the end of a marriage is always an emotionally complicated journey, but a high asset divorce can be legally complicated as well. There are seemingly countless divorce legal issues with which to contend, such as alimony, property division, child custody and child support. Still, before any of those issues are resolved, some initial steps must be taken.

One of the very first steps is the actual divorce filing itself. There are several different grounds for divorce acknowledged by the state of Texas. Which grounds are chosen can have effects upon other divorce-related issues such as child custody or asset division.

Prenuptial agreements and sound estate planning

Given the aging population of both Texas and the United States as a whole, many have been wondering how to navigate their golden years. Finances are often a big concern, and many different legal issues involving money can push families to either work together or become involved in a dispute. One tool that can help families avoid money-related conflicts is a prenuptial agreement.

Since Americans are living longer, many will outlive their spouse and may choose to marry again later in life. At the same time, many older men and women realize their marriage may no longer be working and seek a divorce in their 50s, 60s or 70s and beyond. They, too, may choose to remarry. In any case, those who tie the knot at a more mature age may find their families are a bit hesitant to show support. When two people marry, the assets and wealth of the whole family may appear to be in jeopardy to those who may, in the future, inherit a portion of the family estate.

High asset divorce: Community property and equitable division

Both local and national news headlines have recently highlighted the story of billionaire Harold Hamm, the chief executive of Continental Resources who recently went through a much-publicized divorce trial. Like many of Houston's financially well-off residents, Hamm made his fortune in the energy sector. At issue in the divorce was whether Hamm's ex-wife played a crucial role in helping him build that fortune and, if so, to how much of it she was entitled after the divorce.

The former couple's high asset divorce ultimately concluded with what many would consider a sizable settlement for Hamm's ex. An Oklahoma judge awarded her over $995 million; that amount is composed of both cash and other assets. While the amount may seem staggering to many, some lawyers interviewed by the media reported surprise at the relatively modest share his wife received. Together, the former spouses had a net worth estimated at around $18 billion. However, according to the judge on their case, the massive accumulation of wealth during their decades-long marriage was primarily due to market forces, not to the efforts of the spouses.

What are the guidelines for a Texas divorce mediator's conduct?

The state of Texas gives divorcing couples options for how they want to resolve the end of their marriage. Former couples may opt for traditional litigation, or they may conclude that mediation is a more appropriate option. If spouses decide that divorce mediation is the best route for them, they may have questions regarding how their mediator is supposed to act during the process or how the mediator's unique approach benefits the outcome.

First, it is helpful to know that Texas divorce mediators are accountable to several different parties. They are responsible to the spouses they are serving, of course, but also to the courts. Several different organizations, including the Texas Mediator Credentialing Association, have issued ethical guidelines meant to illustrate the importance of proper mediator conduct. Those considering divorce mediation may find these guidelines helpful in demonstrating the benefits of mediation.

Texas collaborative law may be in best interests of children

Any Teas parent contemplating divorce is likely to worry about the effects a split might have on their children. Even if no children are involved, a divorce can be enormously stressful. Still, the presence of children add an extra layer of complexity and emotional intensity to a Houston divorce. As a result, many parents turn to alternative dispute resolution as a way to lessen the overall amount of stress on their children.

In today's world, many children have experienced the divorce of their parents. However, studies have pointed to conflict between parents, rather than a divorce itself, as affecting children adversely. In most divorce cases, of course, no one sets out to create discord. Rather, it can be an unintentional by-product of parents' views on the traditional adversarial court system. While "traditional," in-court divorces do not need to be contentious, some parents may inadvertently bring their personal disagreements with the other parent into court proceedings. This can result in an enormously stressful situation for children of any age.

Spouse attempts to wriggle out of high asset divorce

Whenever there is a financial blending of two people's lives, there is the potential for a dispute later on. This tends to be true in cases of divorce in Houston, especially high asset divorce when there is significant wealth to divide between a former couple. In some cases, the end of a marriage may devolve into a dispute involving hiding assets or otherwise evading property division.

Recently, a divorce case out of another state highlighted how far some spouses are apparently willing to go in order to avoid divvying-up assets. The son of the part-owner of the Minnesota Vikings has been in the news lately with regard to his divorce case. In a unique twist, the man claims that he and his wife of over 20 years were never legally married; thus, they don't have to get a divorce nor go through the property division process.

How Texas defines "separate property"

When a divorce looms for a Houston-area couple, there is often a lot of apprehension regarding property division. Some spouses may assume all of their assets will be up for grabs or that items of great sentimental value may no longer be theirs. One of the keys to thwarting property division fears is understanding that there is often many items of property that will not be subject to division in a divorce.

Since many spouses' property division goals center on protecting assets, it's important for each spouse to define any separate non-marital property that should not be divided during the divorce. Unlike marital property, non-marital property is generally not divided when a couple parts ways. Thus, it is important to account for all separate property so that each spouse's property rights are protected.

Is spousal maintenance required after a high asset divorce?

One of the most inflammatory divorce legal issues between two former spouses is the topic of spousal maintenance, also known as alimony. Particularly after a high asset divorce, pondering any type of spousal support can be understandably difficult for those who are already grappling with the financial aspects of property division. Educating oneself, though, can clear up a lot of the questions which tend to swirl around spousal maintenance.

In Texas, spousal maintenance may be ordered by the court after a divorce. The most typical situation in which spousal maintenance is ordered is when one spouse -- the one requesting maintenance -- has clearly limited financial resources. While this is a common situation after a high asset divorce, there are a few more requirements that must be met after in order for spousal maintenance to be awarded.

Postnuptial agreements: It's never too late for a prenup

It's generally well-known that "hindsight is 20/20." If most of us could return to certain points in the past, we'd likely do things differently and make alternate decisions. Most of the time, however, it's simply too late and the chance has passed. When it comes to marriage, though, there are some marital contract-related decisions that can be made after wedding bells have rung.

A misconception many Houston couples are likely to have about prenuptial agreements is that they can only be made before the wedding. While this is technically true, already-married couples can still create valid marital contracts, known as postnuptial agreements, in the state of Texas.

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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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