The Houston Family Law Blog

October 2011 Archives

Texas HPV Vaccines are a Family Law Issue

In an announcement that is likely to make families even more nervous, the Center for Disease Control said that all 11-to-12-year-olds -- both boys and girls -- should be vaccinated against HPV, which is a virus that causes more than 25,000 cases of cancer per year, reports USA Today.

The topic of HPV vaccination is huge in Texas because back in 2007 Governor Ricky Perry tried to mandate an HPV vaccine for girls entering 6th grade. His critics said that he was trying to encourage sexual promiscuity and blocked the effort.

HPV, which stands for the human papillomavirus is best known for causing cervical cancer. However, it also causes cancers of the vagina, vulva, anus, penis and back of the throat, as well as genital warts. HPV shots inoculate against the virus.

Golddigger's Guide: 3 Things a Prenuptial Agreement Can't Include

Maybe it is the recession, or the legal advice imparted by Kanye West in his song, Golddigger, but pre-nuptial agreements seem to be more popular than ever.

This new state of affairs is useful to everyone, including the legal system, as it helps to reduce the cost of divorce and mediation. However, it also means that when presented with a prenuptial agreement, professional gold-diggers have to up their game and exclude all the provisions that they can legally exclude.

Just as some helpful hints, here are three things that legally may not go into a Texas prenuptial agreement.

Cute: Military Dad Reads Farmer Mickey To Daughter On a Webcam

A video of an in-training military dad reading a story to his daughter on a webcam has gone viral, reports The Stir.

In the video, a military father pre-recorded himself reading Farmer Mickey bed-time stories to his daughter. The two-year-old daughter read along and even asked questions. At the end of the video father and daughter virtually hug.

While this military dad seems to be married, the discussion of virtually interacting with one's children has gained more significance for divorced parents with the passage of a virtual visitation law in Texas. Section 153.015 of the Texas Family Code recognized virtual visitation as part and parcel of regular visitation. It seems that child visitation is one area where the law is keeping pace with the changes in technology.

Texas: Highest Number of Child Abuse Fatalities in America

When it comes to abused children, the State of Texas has the lowest rate of removal of abused children from violent homes and as a result, Texas has the highest number of child abuse fatalities in America, reports the Guardian.

The news about Texas child abuse comes as there is a new spotlight being put on child abuse in America. It turns out, according to the Guardian, that in the past decade nearly 20,000 American children have been killed by their family members. This is more than the number of men and women killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. In fact, America has the worst child abuse record of all the countries in the industrialized world.

According to this report, child abuse in America is triple that of Canada and 11 times that of Italy.

Emancipation of a Minor in Texas

Every family is different. Where some families are close-knit and stay together all the way till reunions in old age, other families are full of individualists and each person goes their separate ways as soon as possible.

In those cases where a child wants to go his or her separate way before the age of 18, Texas Family Law Chapter 31 allows for emancipation of a minor.

Texas is one of those states where interference with child custody or visitation can lead to a civil lawsuit, according to Texas Family Code Chapter 42.

According to the statute, if there is an order in place (either in Texas or in another state), which allows a person possession or access to a child in visitation or custody, and another person interfers with "the possessory right" then that person might be liable for damages.

Ex-Pastor's Son Willaim Fuller Pleads Guilty to Murder

A 21-year-old named William Fuller, who shot his step-mother apparently at his father and the father’s mistress’s behest, pleaded guilty, reports the Houston Chronicle.

William Fuller now faces 5 to 99 years in jail, even though he did cooperate with authorities and gave evidence against his father, Houston pastor Tracy Burleson and his father’s mistress, Tyonna Palmer.

Domestic Violence during Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is designated Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but that seems not to have made a difference to one Texas couple, reports the Austin Statesman.

Officials with the Travis County Sheriff's office believe that 35-year-old Jessica Arellano Salazar was killed by her husband 35-year-old Efren Tapia Salazar. The case is believed to be a murder-suicide.

Ex-Pastor's Mistress Accused of Wife Murder Found Guilty

A jury composed of our Texas peers found the alleged mistress of a former pastor was guilty in the role in the killing of the pastor’s wife, reports ABC 13.

The background of the case involving the mistress, Tyonne Palmer, is long and complicated. The actual shooter, the one that did the execution-style-killing, was the victim’s step-son, William Fuller. And apparently William Fuller had only gone through with the act after his father, Pastor Tracy “TB” Burleson, promised him money from the step-mom’s life insurance policy. After Fuller confessed to the murder, he agreed to testify against his father and his mistress.

Recently Divorced Are Under-Marketed Group

People that have recently divorced are considered to one of the most under-marketed groups of Americans, reports AOL's Daily Finance.

Recently divorced people, marketing experts argue, tend to spend a lot of money to try and normalize life, but the recently divorced are under-marketed. Some of the reluctance towards marketing this group might be illustrated by the somewhat dubious advertisement released by Miracle Whip.

Country Music Star Eddie Montgomery Emerging After Divorce

Country music duo Montgomery Gentry's Eddie Montgomery, a well-known country music star, returns to the limelight after his divorce from his wife of twenty years, reports a Taste of Country.

Eddie Montgomery, who describes his recent experiences as "One hell of a divorce!" will be releasing Montgomery Gentry's seventh studio album next week. It will be called Rebels on the Run.

Texas Virtual Visitation: New Element in Child Visitation

The death of Apple founder Steve Jobs is a good time to think about the impact that our growing technologies for communication and socialization might have within family law. One of the ways that technology is changing the way families relate to one another is through something known as "virtual visitation."

As the name implies, this is a form of child visitation that requires the use of technology -- such as email, video conferencing, video mail, and instant messaging.

Requests for virtual visitation are generally made by the non-custodial parent when the custodial parent seeks to relocate out of the area with a child. Virtual visitation requests may also apply to new child custody and visitation requests, including child custody and visitation in non-divorce cases and visitation requests by unmarried fathers.

What are the Texas Rules for Separate and Community Property?

The laws of nine states -- Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin -- provide that most property acquired during the marriage by either spouse is held equally by husband and wife as community property.

When one spouse dies, his or her half of the community property passes either by will or intestacy. The other half of the community property belongs to the surviving spouse. The major exception to marital community property is property acquired by inheritance or gift. Further, community property isn't automatically transferred to the surviving spouse. When your spouse dies, you own only your share of the community property, and if your spouse wants you to have his share, he or she must give it to you (or anyone else) in a will.

Divorcing? Consider an Out of Court Divorce Settlement

The number of divorces in Texas is just about half the marriage rate, reports the Texas Department of State Health Services. A vast majority of these divorces reach settlement before the case needs to go to trial. This can be as a result of informal negotiations between the spouses (and their attorneys) or through alternative dispute resolution processes like mediation or collaborative law.

But often people try to engage in their own, personal divorce negotiations. And this is a moment in time when the divorcing couple should be very careful, reports the Huffington Post, because you might end up inadvertently saying something that might come back to bite you. Some of the tips the experts give regarding personal divorce negotiations are as follows:

Cohabitation Rates Higher, But, um, What is Cohabitation?

More and more Americans are choosing cohabitation as their preferred form of living arrangement, reports Freakanomics.

Citing a Pew Research Study, entitled “Living Together: The Economics of Cohabitation,” the website reports that the number of 30- to 44-year-olds living as unmarried couples has more than doubled since the mid-1990s.

But while many people are choosing cohabitation over marriage, it is important to understand exactly what is cohabitation. FindLaw’s Learn About the Law provides ample explanation: