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Houston Divorce Law Blog

The importance of courtroom decorum in a high asset divorce

Going to court can be stressful for a divorcing spouse. Few people enter a marriage expecting the relationship will later become unsustainable; fewer still anticipate having to go over the details of things like property division and alimony in a courtroom. While Texas law offers ways to avoid divorce court, such as divorce mediation, these options may not work for everyone. Especially in cases of high asset divorce, going to court may be necessary to obtain a fair settlement.

Experienced legal representation can give a spouse peace of mind that their rights will be protected in the courtroom. A Houston family lawyer can walk a spouse through the different parts of a divorce proceeding and what can be expected each step of the way. A family law attorney will also typically share some helpful tips regarding proper courtroom decorum.

New Year may be appropriate time for new approach to divorce

After the frenzy of the holidays, Houston residents often want to take it easy during the month of January. The first month of the year, however, often brings its own sources of emotional stress: tax season is right around the corner, holiday bills often come due and many couples realize their marriage may not survive the coming year.

According to the president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, divorce filings tend to surge in January. Starting after the New Year and extending into early March, the number of divorce filings is often a third higher than usual. There are likely countless reasons for this, of course, but many point to the busy holiday season as one factor. Couples are understandably reluctant to part ways during the holidays, and those with children often want to give their families one final holiday season together as a family.

What should spouses put in their Texas prenuptial agreement?

Many engaged couples find that broaching the topic of prenuptial agreements is a delicate task. Still, once the topic has been brought up and spouses agree that a prenup is right for them, they often breathe a sigh of relief and assume that the most difficult aspect of life planning is over. A Texas prenuptial agreement can contain many different clauses, though, and cover many different subjects. After a marital contract has been agreed-to, many couples wonder: what should we put in it?

First, it's helpful to know that couples don't have to go it alone. A Houston family lawyer can be an invaluable tool for the entire prenup process, from drafting to signing to potentially enforcing later on in the event of divorce. In the initial stages, couples can learn from a family law attorney what a prenup can and cannot include.

Artwork may factor in complex property division

In a Texas divorce, one of the more challenging aspects of the property division process is ensuring that assets are valued accurately. While it may be relatively easy to determine the value of marital property such as joint bank accounts or retirement accounts, other assets are a bit more difficult to value, but just as important. The family home, vehicles used by the family, jewelry, electronics such as computers and televisions, recreational vehicles and more all must be valued in order to ensure property division proceeds smoothly and fairly.

Some spouses in the Houston area may have artwork that was acquired during the marriage. Artwork may be a particular challenge to value, since factors such as the original source of the art may be difficult to determine and a spouse may receive conflicting opinions as to how much the object is worth. Nevertheless, it's important to make sure that artwork, like all other assets between spouses, receives an accurate estimation as to its financial value.

Teamwork key to successful collaborative law outcomes

Many divorcing residents in the Houston area may find themselves intrigued by alternative dispute resolution. Those going through a divorce may have heard "horror stories" about a friend or relative's heated divorce or they may have experienced a contentious divorce already in their own history. Whatever the reason, many may understandably want to know more about how to have a relatively non-adversarial exit from a marriage.

In Texas, married couples have the option of using collaborative law to divorce. In the collaborative law setup, both parties can usually avoid going to court. Instead, the spouses, along with their attorneys, engage in a series of informational discussions that are aided by trained professionals. These negotiations are meant to foster constructive dialogue and keep focused on the key issues at hand. These can include spousal support, property distribution and many other divorce-related legal issues.

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.

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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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