The Houston Family Law Blog

February 2012 Archives

Summary of Texas Laws On Dividing Marital Property

When people in Texas get divorced they are aware that they will have to separate their assets from those of the other spouse.

And while people know the general idea, they have probably never looked at the Texas laws on dividing marital property very closely. A close look at some of them might ease some of the anxieties and questions related to property division.

Breast Milk Donation Documentary Comes Out Of Houston

Breast milk has been getting a lot of attention around Texas.

First it was the lactation discrimination case, as reported by FindLaw's Houston Family Law Blog. Now, a documentary about breast milk donation is making the rounds, reports The Houston Chronicle.

The project, which is the brainchild of a local filmmaker, Kevin West, came up when his wife lost a baby late in her term. Since she was able to produce milk, she began donating it through her network. This led Kevin West to write a script about his wife's experiences.

Katy Parry Divorce: Is that All There Is?

In the media circus that celebrity divorces can be, Katy Perry's divorce seems to have come and gone with remarkably little ruckus, as they seemed to have settled quickly and without much noise, reports Chicago Sun-Times.

This is pretty astonishing, given that roughly $44 million was at stake -- that was what Katy Perry earned during her marriage to Russell Brand. Yet, Brand seemed not to make a play for any of that money. Not even half, which he might have been entitled to under the California's community property laws.

Discussing Texas Anti-Bullying Law After Watching Glee

Fans of the hit show, "Glee," were presented on Tuesday night with a hard-hitting story line about bullying, reports Time.

This not being a blog for TV criticism, judgment about the quality of the programming will be left up to Time. However, "Glee's" bullying episode does seem useful in starting a discussion about Texas bullying laws.

Child Tied To Bed In Texas House With Ten Kids

A Dayton, Texas, house with ten children came under the spotlight after a two-year-old child was found tied to his bed there, reports KHOU.

Eight of the ten children were found living in a dark ten by ten room. Three of those children were reportedly tied to their beds. The woman who owns the house is named Tanda Smith, but it was not Smith who was allegedly responsible for the restraints. One of the family's male members is also a registered sex offender. The children do not attend public school, but are all home schooled in a Christian curriculum.

Claudia Veronica Estrada-Chavez Abducts Children and Returns

A mom from Pasadena, Texas, apparently abducted her children and took them to Mexico before returning and being charged with a felony, reports the Houston Chronicle.

The Pasadena mom, Claudia Veronica Estrada-Chavez, lost custody of her children upon her return. The woman’s sister-in-law is now the temporary legal guardian of the children. The children were turned with help from a CPS child abuse expert.

The Texas Family Code contains a number of detailed provisions related to international parental abduction of children and whether or not custody should be granted.

Will Lactation Discrimination Affect Divorced Working Mothers?

The recent “lactation discrimination” controversy caused by a Houston judge related to breast-pumping at work has been largely understood as an employment law matter, as discussed on FindLaw’s Houston Employment Law Blog.

And, yes, whether or not women have a right to breast-pump at work is an employment law matter.

However, if lactation discrimination is allowed to go on, there is also a second issue that could crop up; this one within family law. The issue is of child support for divorced working mothers.

How to Modify Child Support in Texas

How to modify child support in Texas is a question that many divorced parents are faced with. Modification requests can come up in all sorts of circumstances, whether it is because a parent has lost a job, or because the paying parent has won the lottery and the custodial parent believes he or she should receive more money.

The first step towards child support modification in Texas is to make sure that you have an open child support case in the Office of the Attorney General.

If there is no open child support case, the parent or guardian who has possession of the child may complete an online application.

Hidden Assets in Divorce and Where to Find Them

Many divorces hinge on how the marital assets are distributed. This is especially important here in Houston, because Texas is a community property state.

In Texas, separate and community property is governed by Texas Family Code 3.001 — 3.410. A spouse’s property is considered separate only if:

  • The property is owned or claimed by the spouse before marriage;
  • The property is acquired by the spouse during marriage by gift, devise, or descent; and
  • The property is recovery for personal injuries sustained by the spouse during marriage, except any recovery for loss of earning capacity during marriage.

Any other property (which is often a majority of marital assets) acquired during marriage would be considered community property.

Teenage Birth Rate Down Big time

There have been a good number of stories that the current crop of American teenagers are far more conservative and careful compared to generations preceding them.

Well, now there is statistical evidence for it, too. Turns out that the teenage birth is down. In fact, the teen birthrate in 2008 was 40.2 births per 1,000 women, reports the Houston Chronicle. This was 35% lower than the peak rate of 61.8, reached in 1991.

Not only that, but the overall teen pregnancy rate in the USA is seven percent.

Spanking Children Not A Good Idea, Study Finds

Twenty years worth of research on physical punishment for children has found that the use of punitive measures like spanking is detrimental, reports the Houston Chronicle.

The study, carried out by Joan Durrant of the University of Manitoba and Ron Ensom of the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO?), found essentially that imparting physical violence upon kids makes them become more likely to externalize such things.

CPS Adoption Festival Helps With Adoption in Texas

Nearly 70 children between the ages of 8 and 17 spent Saturday meeting prospective families at the Child Protective Services' Adoption Festival, reports the Houston Chronicle.

About 30 families attended the event, which was a good chance for local families, like Jim and Maureen Maudlin, to meet prospective adoptees, writes the Chronicle.

Generally, after the annual Adoption Festival, about ten adoption matches usually get made.

Jealous Husband in Texas Attempts House Burning, Cuts Wrists

A jealous husband in Texas apparently set his house on fire after his wife had gone out and had dinner with another man, reports the Houston Chronicle.

Jason Simmons, a 36-year-old, living in the 15000 block of Tallshadows confronted his wife, Nancy Simmons, in the front yard of their house after she came back from having dinner with a friend named Ramon. Once she went inside the house she found the stove burners in the on position and Jason Simmons apparently started flicking the striker of a cigarette lighter.

Houston Millionaire Adopts His Girlfriend

Houston millionaire, John Goodman, made his girlfriend his daughter by adopting her, reports the Houston Chronicle.

Goodman, the heir to a fortune from air-conditioner manufacturing, legally adopted 42-year-old Heather Laruso Hutchins. The move, it is speculated, is designed to allow Hutchins to control a trust fund that Goodman set up for his other two children. Since the trust is set up so that beneficiaries can't take from it until they are 35, Hutchins can take from it, since she is 42-years-old.

But adopting his girlfriend may not just be for giving a girlfriend access to a trust-fund.

Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry Parenting Classes Looming?

When there are children involved, a break-up or a divorce is not the clean break that it seems at first. Halle Berry and Gabriel Aubry are learning this the hard way. And sometimes you even have to be taught how to manage this new walk of life.

It turns out that the Los Angeles Department of Children & Family is recommending that Berry and Aubry take parenting classes, reports the Huffington Post.