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Houston Divorce Law Blog

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.

Spouses must be careful to account for all assets in divorce

Overlooking assets in a Texas divorce can become a big problem. It may seem surprising, but many couples simply forget to account for all of their assets when going through a split.

When many parties to a divorce start to ponder protecting assets, they understandably tend to first think about the most obvious pieces of marital property. These usually include the family home, vehicles, any big purchases the former couple made together, vacation property or recreational vehicles and maybe even the family pet. After considering these tangible items, they will then usually look to financial matters, such as investments, business assets and bank accounts.

Attorneys play crucial role in Texas collaborative divorce

Many divorcing spouses in Houston are aware that the option for alternative dispute resolution exists. Still, there are many misconceptions about procedures like divorce mediation and collaborative law. Many don't realize that in a collaborative divorce, the parties still rely on the knowledge and skill of an attorney, albeit in different ways than in a traditional divorce.

The part played by an attorney during a collaborative divorce is an essential one. Collaborative law in Texas allows parties to a divorce to have open yet structured conversations about the outcome of their split. These negotiations can cover topics such as property division and how the family will handle parenting after the divorce. Since divorce is often an emotionally-heated topic, it helps to have the negotiations be guided by specially trained attorneys who understand the need for objectivity and professionalism.

What legal issues can be covered during divorce mediation?

For any Houston-area family to successfully reshape itself after divorce, countless issues must be resolved during the divorce itself. A family can't move on until subjects such as child custody, property division and child support have been properly decided. Even seemingly minor topics, such as the ways in which children spend the holidays with each parent after a split, can incite conflict later on if not addressed during the divorce proceedings.

What many divorcing couples in Texas may not realize is that divorce mediation can cover a wide array of topics related to their own unique situations. Since the objective of mediation is to reach a mutually agreed-upon conclusion concerning a particular issue, many of the common causes of divorce conflict can be brought up and discussed openly and productively. Mediation can address some of the most pressing financial matters in a divorce, including property division, child support and spousal support. All three of these subjects can be confusing enough without experienced legal help, but each issue also can impact one another. Trained mediators can inform spouses of the effects that one decision might have on another and help ensure that the overall settlement is equitable.

Billionaire's children now have lawyer in divorce case

Last week, it was noted that the presence of an experienced attorney can help keep a high asset divorce on-track. Interestingly, it seems that the two members of a marriage are not the only ones who may benefit from having a lawyer in the event of a divorce.

The Houston area is known for its forward-thinking economy and lucrative energy sector; as a result, it's not surprising that when a high asset divorce occurs, it often highlights multiple legal issues. In the realm of property division alone there are countless considerations: who will retain what role in the business, the effects of the split on each party's career, what becomes of gifts and inheritances and so on. The financial ramifications of the end of a marriage can impact not only each party but also the entire family. Child custody can feature emotional as well as financial elements, and even if each party agrees to joint custody there can be unresolved issues on both sides.

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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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