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Posted on in Divorce

Texas divorce attorneyDissolving a marriage does not necessarily have to be contentious. In fact, many couples are able to come to decisions regarding custody, child support, and property division without a judge’s intervention. When this is possible, it can significantly cut down on expenses, save time, and help protect children from the more emotional aspects of divorce. Mediation is one of the best ways to achieve this type of result, so if you and your spouse are both focused on an amicable divorce, please contact a member of our experienced divorce legal team to learn more about your options.

What Does the Mediation Process Involve?

Mediations are one of the most popular methods of negotiating a divorce settlement and involve a meeting between both parties, their respective lawyers, and a neutral third party. This third party, known as a mediator, is tasked with helping couples resolve the following kinds of issues by facilitating discussion and negotiation:


Texas divorce attorneyMany couples are able to dissolve their marriage amicably and require little to no court intervention in coming to a child custody or spousal maintenance arrangement. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, especially when one of the parties suspects the other of substance abuse or hiding assets. In these situations, it can be tempting for one party to look through the other spouse’s emails or text messages in an effort to find information that can be used in court. This is almost never a good idea and can actually lead to criminal charges, in addition to jeopardizing visitation time and other child custody matters. If you believe that your spouse has been going through your private electronic information, you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced complex divorce attorney who can explain your legal options.

Federal Law

Although checking a spouse’s email or cell phone may seem innocent enough, it actually qualifies as a violation of federal law, which prohibits unauthorized access to private email accounts. Recently, a Michigan man who suspected his wife of having an affair and logged onto her email without permission was even charged with the felony offense of misusing a computer, which is punishable by up to five years imprisonment. For this reason, parties to a divorce should be wary of invading each other’s privacy by checking their email or reading their text messages without permission.


Posted on in Child Support

Texas divorce attorneyIn Texas, parents are obligated to provide financial support for their children. This responsibility does not end when a couple dissolves their marriage or decides to separate. Instead, the non-custodial party will be required to pay child support in an amount determined by the court. When calculating how much a parent will be required to pay, courts take into account each party’s income, how much time each parent spends with the child and the child’s health needs. Unfortunately, even when parents are ordered to help pay for medical care for their child, many fail to do so, which can put extreme financial stress on the custodial parent and even endanger the health of the child, so if your ex-spouse is refusing to help pay for your child’s medical care, it is critical to speak with an experienced child support lawyer who can ensure that your child’s best interests are protected.

Medical Support

According to state law, non-custodial parents are required to provide medical support for their children, which includes the cost of health insurance or out-of-pocket medical expenses. As long as the non-custodial parent can provide medical coverage through his or her health insurance policy at a reasonable cost, then he or she is required to include the child on the policy. However, if the parent cannot obtain coverage through an employer, then the custodial parent will be required to provide coverage if available through his or her employer. Even in these situations, the non-custodial parent would still need to reimburse the other parent for the cost of insurance.


Posted on in High Asset Divorce

Texas divorce lawTexas law requires that divorcing couples divide their property in an equitable manner. However, this rule only applies to marital property, as separate property will remain under the sole ownership of the original holder. Inheritances, for example, are considered the separate property of the person to whom they were bequeathed, even if they were given to one spouse during a marriage. In some cases, it is still possible for another party to retain a portion of one spouse’s inheritance, so if you were given a valuable gift or inherited property from a loved one during your marriage and you are now going through a divorce, please consider speaking with a high asset divorce attorney who can help you protect your assets.

Separate Property

Under Texas law there are three types of assets that qualify as separate property:


Posted on in Complex Divorce

Texas divorce lawyerMany states have procedures in place to help couples obtain a legal separation prior to divorce. Unfortunately, Texas is not one of those states, as it does not recognize legal separation. However, it is possible for couples to enter into a contractual separation agreement that resolves property division and child custody related issues before obtaining a divorce. While courts do not sign off on these contracts, the terms of the agreements can be used at a later date during divorce proceedings. For this reason, it is extremely important that if you are considering a divorce and want to enter into a separation agreement, you speak with an experienced complex divorce attorney who can ensure that the contract’s terms are enforceable.

Legal Separations

While there are no Texas statutes that specifically address legal separations, couples are permitted to enter into legally binding separation agreements while they are informally separated. These contracts can include provisions regarding a number of legal issues, including:


new Texas family lawIn May, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1495, which prohibits courts from temporarily granting a parent the exclusive right to determine a child’s primary residence in certain cases. For instance, the law will only apply in situations where two parents have agreed that neither will have the exclusive right to decide where their child lives. This means that when no parent has been granted the exclusive right to decide where a child will primarily reside, courts cannot step in to grant this right to one of the parties temporarily while a suit for modification is pending. The law went into effect on September 1st, so if you have questions about how it could affect your pending child custody case, please contact an experienced complex child custody attorney who can explain your options.

Restrictions and Exceptions

In addition to prohibiting courts from granting a temporary order that gives one parent the right to choose a child’s primary residence, the new law also states that no temporary order can change or eliminate the geographic area within which a parent must maintain a child’s primary residence. This means that when a suit for modification of an order is pending, judges are not allowed to permit one parent to take the child outside of a certain geographic area, as this would essentially give that individual primary custody. However, these limitations only apply when a suit involves the modification of an order that provides for one of the following:


Texas divorce attorneyPremarital agreements can help ensure that in the event of a divorce, both parties will have a clear understanding of their assets and liabilities. However, premarital agreements are not always enforceable, in which case, a couple may need to reevaluate property division issues, so if you believe that your premarital agreement does not conform to the state’s requirements, please contact a complex divorce lawyer who can explain your options.

Voluntary Signatures

In order to be considered valid, a premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. Even when these technicalities have been honored, an agreement can still be challenged if one of the parties alleges that at least one of the signatures was not voluntary. To establish that a signature was not voluntary, the party may need to provide evidence that the document was signed under duress, fraud, or undue influence.


Texas complex litigation attorneyAlthough many families treat their pets like members of the family, the reality is that for the purposes of deciding who gets the pets in a divorce, animals are legally considered property in Texas. This means that if a couple is unable to come to an out-of-court agreement about who will get custody of the pet, the court will assess the situation based on community property law. This can have unfair results, so if you are going through a divorce and have questions about who will retain custody of your family pet, please contact a family law attorney who has experience in complex property litigation matters.

Community Property Rule

Because animals are considered property in Texas, courts will apply the standard community property rules when deciding pet custody issues. This means that the court will attempt to divide the property in a way that is equitable. When a family pet is the property at issue, the court may assess who has historically been the pet’s primary caretaker, evaluate each spouse’s living situation, and if a couple has children, determine whether they are especially attached to the animal.


The Law Offices of William D. Powers

8911 N. Capital of Texas Highway, Building 2, Suite 2105, Austin, TX 78759