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Sugar Land Divorce Law Blog

Many married Texans know little of spouse's finances

Under Texas law, when a married couple divorces, the parties must list all their assets. From there, they begin the process of property division by dividing personal property from marital property. From there, the parties divide the marital property according to state law.

Dividing the marital property can be a long, drawn-out process, especially in cases of high asset divorce, in which complicated assets such as retirement accounts and stock options are involved. However, for many couples the difficulty of this process actually begins earlier, when the spouses list their assets.

Trash-talking an ex during divorce can hurt a settlement

Texas residents who are going through a divorce are probably getting used to people telling them to refrain from saying anything bad about their ex in public. This often repeated bit of advice is a good one, especially when the divorcing couple are parents. However, there is another reason to avoid overdoing it on the trash talk: It could hurt one's chances for a favorable divorce settlement.

A recent case helps illustrate this point. In a high profile, high asset divorce, a judge awarded a woman 17 percent of the value of her ex-husband's prestigious law partnership after finding that she had damaged the value of the business by denouncing her ex in the media. The judge wrote that without her public attacks on the man, the ex-wife would have received closer than half the $5 million value of the partnership. The judge noted that both parties behaved badly during their long-running divorce dispute.

Olympic athlete in long-distance child custody dispute

Some of the most emotionally intense matters to come before Texas family law courts are child custody disputes. And, among child custody disputes, some of the hardest involve parental relocation.

Texas residents may have heard of one long-running custody dispute involving an Olympic athlete who was a star at the recent Winter Olympics. Behind the scenes, he was locked in a sometimes bizarre dispute with the mother of his infant son.

Divorce, "conscious uncoupling" and child custody

Many people rolled their eyes when they heard that actress Gwyneth Paltrow had described her impending divorce as a "conscious uncoupling." The Oscar-winning actress has been widely criticized in recent years for her real-life role as a kind of lifestyle guru. For people who can't stand her website Goop, Paltrow's choice of words seemed unbearably pretentious.

At the same time, even some of her harshest critics admitted Paltrow could have a point. If by "conscious uncoupling," Paltrow means a divorce in which the parties attempt to work together, this is in fact exactly what many professionals want to see. And, when the divorcing couple has young children together and wishes to share some form of joint custody, as Paltrow and her husband do, this kind of approach can be extremely important.

Negotiation is key to resolving disputes over finances and Fido

When Texas residents go through a divorce, they must divide they must divide their community property - including bank accounts, real estate and other assets acquired during the marriage. If they have minor children, they must sort out all issues of child custody. But who gets to keep the dog?

According to surveys, disputes over custody of pets are becoming more common in divorces, and courts are having a hard time figuring out what to do with them. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers conducted a survey of its members recently and found that 27 percent reported seeing more of these disputes. Among members, 22 percent reported that courts were willing to adjudicate some of these disputes.

Divorce petitions highlight the status of same-sex marriage

A couple of weeks ago this blog noted a dispute over same-sex divorce in another state, in an effort to show the importance of the same-sex marriage debate now under way here in Texas. But Texans don't have to look at how same-sex divorce is playing out in other states: Texas has two important tests of same-sex divorce law going on right now.

The status of same-sex marriage in Texas has been up in the air since a federal judge ruled that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. That ruling has been stayed until an appeals court rules on the issue.

Dividing stock options and other complex assets in divorce

Divorce brings up a lot of uncomfortable emotions, but the truth is that by the time most couples have decided to end their marriage, a lot of the most painful emotional work has been done. As many Texas residents who have been through the process can attest, the divorce process itself is largely one of negotiating about monetary matters.

High asset couples tend to own a lot of assets such as retirement accounts and investment portfolios which can be very difficult to divide. For that reason high asset divorce is often much more time-consuming that divorce for middle-income people.

Prenuptial agreements and so-called lifestyle clauses

Prenuptial agreements have been popular for years among high-asset, high-profile couples, but it is reportedly increasingly common for these agreements to include provisions on personal matters such as infidelity. According to some reports, A-list celebrities have been making agreements that one will get hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars if the other cheats.

Other reports suggest that these so-called lifestyle clauses are becoming more common among the general public as well. However, it's unclear whether these agreements are legally enforceable.

Judge rules married same-sex couple can't divorce in state

The legality of same-sex marriage is in a state of limbo in Texas after a federal judge struck down a state law prohibiting the practice. The state will apparently appeal that ruling, and it's still not clear when, if ever, same-sex marriages will begin to take place in Texas. Meanwhile, a judge's ruling in another state shows how important the legality of same-sex marriage can be when it comes to same-sex divorce.

Recently, an Alabama judge dismissed a divorce petition by a lesbian couple who live in the state but were married in Iowa. In a one-sentence order, the Alabama judge ruled that state law did not give the court any grounds to grant relief to the request.

Scientists apply advanced physics to child custody arrangements

Divorced Texas parents put a lot of work into crafting their child custody arrangements, and that's just the beginning. Once their agreement is in place, they must balance their own schedules, those of their children and those of their ex to make sure that someone is always there to pick up the kids from soccer games or school. And when divorced parents have children from more than one previous relationship or begin a new relationship with a person who has children from a previous relationship, handling all the competing schedules can feel like doing advanced physics.

In fact, in a recent study, physicists tried to find an optimal solution to balance schedules in child custody arrangements. A physicist who ordinarily studies black holes started the study after he noticed the difficulty of juggling the custody arrangements for his own children with those for his partner's children. He wanted to find a way that he and his partner could routinely have all the children together at the same time on weekends.