April 2011 News: The Houston Family Law Blog

The Houston Family Law Blog

April 2011 Archives

Divorce Rates Rise With Improving Economy

With lower rates of unemployment and a recovering U.S. economy, now might seem like a good time to get a divorce. This may sound like silly logic, but AFP reports that statistics from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers show that divorce rates dropped by 24 percent in 2008 and then by 57 percent in 2009. The rates of divorce started to inch up last year as the economy began to recover.

Why exactly are more people divorcing now that economy is recovering from the recession? One reason, a dissolution of marriage can have an expensive price tag. Not only are there fees for filing the divorce petition, but people will also often loose a great deal of money from property division or a divorce settlement.

Fernanda Romero Going to Jail For Marriage Fraud

People looking to become legal residents of the United States might think that marriage to a U.S. Citizen is the quickest way to obtain the legal status. However, it’s important to realize that this process isn’t always easy and that it is illegal to marry somebody only for this purpose.

Actress Fernanda Romero is an example of a person who was criminally charged for marriage fraud. The Los Angeles Times reports that the Mexican movie star, who is known for her role in “The Eye,” was sentenced by a federal judge to spend 15 weekends in jail after she was convicted of participating in a bogus marriage. Romero reportedly paid a musician and former pizza delivery man $5,000 to marry her so that she would be eligible for legal residency status and eventually be able to obtain U.S. citizenship.

Texas Legislature Tries to Ban Transgender Marriage

In the year 2011, nearly every U.S. state allows for transgender marriages. But now in Texas, some lawmakers are trying to change the state's current stand on allowing marriages of transgendered individuals and take what some see as a step back when it comes to marriage equality in the Lone Star state.

The Houston Press reports that a Texas bill proposes that marriage should strictly be defined as a union between a man and a woman and that the gender of each party is to be determined at birth.

When Signing a Prenuptial Agreement is Most Important

Before saying the words "I do" at the altar, it's important that you understand the financial commitment that you're making with your spouse-to-be. This could mean different things for each couple, but before getting married both partners should realize that in many cases, all assets and debts are to be shared without a prenuptial agreement in place.

Let's not forget that marriage often means combining credit card accounts and adding a partner's name to a property title. According to MSNBC, the average age of first-time brides and first-time grooms in the United States is increasing and is now at age 28 for men and age 26 for women. This means that couples are bringing more financial liabilities into their marriage, including credit-card debt, student loans, and mortgage debt into their first-time marriages.

Paternity Test Reveals That Twins Have Different Fathers

Fraternal twins don’t necessarily have to have the same dad. This is an extremely rare occurrence, but a case that was featured on an episode of “Maury” reminded viewers that a situation of twins having different dads is possible.

AOL News reported that a mother had the surprise of her life when she got the results of a paternity test, which revealed that her two twin boys were conceived by two different fathers. Apparently, the paternity test showed that a father’s DNA matched up with one twin and not the other.

Nicolas Cage Charged With Domestic Abuse in New Orleans

Nicolas Cage's latest legal drama might involve more than just criminal charges. New York Daily News reports that the "National Treasure" actor was recently charged with domestic abuse, disturbing the peace and public drunkenness after getting into a loud argument with his wife on the streets of New Orleans.

On April 16, Cage allegedly grabbed his wife's arm and tried to guide her into a house that he thought that they had rented. However, his wife Alice Kim refused to go inside of the home that they actually did not rent and that's when authorities say that the argument erupted.

Obama Proclaims April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month

President Barack Obama's administration showed a commitment to preventing child abuse and neglect by proclaiming April as National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This month, non-profit organizations and government agencies are taking on new efforts to promote healthy families and advocate for the safe homes of children.

Perhaps the state of Texas could come to agree with the Obama administration on the importance of child abuse prevention programs. We reported in an earlier blog post that state lawmakers are now proposing a 32 percent cut in funding to such programs in order to make up for a $27 billion budget shortfall.

Waiting Period For Remarriage After a Divorce

After going through even a dramatic and distressing divorce, it's possible that you will find another person to love sooner than you may think. However, you can't necessarily just go off and remarry a new person immediately after a divorce.

The Texas Family Code Section 6.801 states that "neither party to a divorce may marry a third party before the 31st day after the date the divorce is decreed." Hence, the law requires a 30 day waiting period before a new marriage is possible. This law does not apply to a remarriage between the two spouses named in the divorce. So if both parties agree to re-marry each other again immediately after a divorce, they can legally do so.

Houston Parents Win Child Custody Battle Against CPS

Texas Child Protective Services took two twin girls away from parents Darcy and Tye Miller after they suspected that the girls had been abused. However, the Millers claimed that the abuse allegations were false and hired a family law attorney so that they could successfully regain custody of their children.

The Houston Chronicle reports that the twin girls were born premature and that they saw their pediatrician weekly due to concerns about their weight. A chest X-ray reportedly revealed that the infant girls had several rib fractures that were healing, which led doctors to contact CPS.

Deadbeat Parents Arrested After Child Support Sweep in El Paso

Seventeen non-custodial parents in El Paso County might be learning the consequences of not paying child support the hard way. According to the El Paso Times, the individual parents were arrested in a sweep that targeted people who were delinquent on their court-ordered child support.

The parents had to post cash bonds to get themselves out of police custody after Tuesday’s sweep and they will now face up to six months in jail if convicted of failing to pay child support. Other consequences of not paying child support can include fines, license revocation, and denial of a U.S. passport.

Out of State Same-Sex Marriage Recognized in Washington

The state of Texas does not recognize marriage between two people of the same sex, even if the marriage was performed legally outside of the Lone Star state. However, not every U.S. state has these same rules.

Associated Press reports that the state of Washington now recognizes out-of-state same-sex marriages, thanks to a new bill that was signed by Washington Governor Chris Gregoire. The governor described the new law as a "technical correction" because the state had previously recognized only domestic partnerships and civil unions. Now, people in same-sex marriages can receive the same benefits as well.

Playboy founder Hugh Hefner is about to get married for the third time at 84 years of age, but he’s still saying no to a prenuptial agreement that would protect his multi-million dollar fortune. All Headline News reports that Hefner, who is engaged to 24-year-old model Crystal Harris, won’t bring up a prenuptial agreement in their relationship because he “actually cares” for his young fiancée.

Unless he is confident that his will can cover this new situation, as an elderly man, Hefner could be making a huge mistake by walking down the aisle with no prenup. While he may feel that divorce is unlikely between him and his gorgeous Playboy Playmate, there are other reasons for a prenuptial agreement besides the clarification on how property is to be divided in case of a split.

Houston Couples Honor Their Marriage With "Black Marriage Day"

African American couples living in the Houston metro area were able to celebrate their love for one another over the past weekend on "Black Marriage Day," a day that is annually celebrated by the Wedding Bliss Foundation on the fourth Sunday in March.

Fox News reports that research by the Wedding Bliss Foundation has shown that marriage rates among black people have dropped significantly over the past several decades. In 2008, only 32 percent of black people were married, which is a decline from the 61 percent of black people married in 1960.