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The Houston Family Law Blog tag:houstonfamilyattorneysblog.com,2009-03-23://55 2010-12-16T22:14:04Z Houston Family Law News and Information Movable Type Enterprise 4.24-en Why Get A Prenuptial Agreement In Texas? tag:houstonfamilyattorneysblog.com,2010://55.18985 2010-12-17T15:02:42Z 2010-12-16T22:14:04Z Some people in the Lone Star state might see the signing of a prenuptial agreement as unromantic, but Texas family law attorneys say that such a contract is a smart way to protect your finances during and after a marriage.... Laura Fishman Some people in the Lone Star state might see the signing of a prenuptial agreement as unromantic, but Texas family law attorneys say that such a contract is a smart way to protect your finances during and after a marriage.

If you're thinking that prenuptial agreements are not traditional, think again! The Economic Times states that prenuptial agreements have been in existence in Europe and Far Eastern countries for thousands of years in some form or another. Prenups used to be most common in royal or rich families in order to protect their wealth and assets.

]> Yet prenuptial agreements are not just for the wealthy in our modern day society. In addition to protecting one party's assets, FindLaw states that a prenuptial agreement can determine how property will be passed upon death and can clarify financial rights and responsibilities during a marriage. Most importantly, establishing a contract before entering a marriage can prevent long and costly disputes in the case of a divorce.

The Economic Times reported that more and more couples are choosing to sign prenuptial agreements over time, where 20-25 percent of couples recently said that a prenup is a ticket to marital bliss in a survey. Couples may also want to consider signing a postnuptial agreement if they're already married or a cohabitation agreement if they're living together before getting married. In the state of Texas, there are Houston family law attorneys that draft such marital agreements. To find a lawyer in your area, see FindLaw's Houston Family Law Attorney Directory.

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Texas Schools Teach the Financial Consequences of Sex tag:houstonfamilyattorneysblog.com,2010://55.18972 2010-12-16T18:05:40Z 2010-12-16T17:50:12Z Laura Fishman High school students across the state of Texas are learning about the financial aspects of relationships, marriage, and children. Through programs like Parenting and Paternity Awareness (PAPA) and No Kidding, teenagers will learn about their legal obligations as parents and the costs associated with child support, parenting, and paternity.

USA Today reports that child support and paternity are at the basis of the PAPA program, where PAPA's 14-hour curriculum teaches teenagers about importance of father involvement and the value of paternity establishment. Students can also learn about the emotional and financial challenges of raising a child.

]> The program No Kidding consists of 50-minute sessions, where teen parents share their personal stories with high school students. The teen parents specifically focus on their personal experience related to their legal and financial obligations of parenting. No Kidding is currently only available in the Austin, El Paso, and Houston communities of Texas.

Being a single parent can be difficult as a teenager, but Texas family law attorneys can help non-married parents receive financial assistance from the other parent once paternity is established. Attorneys can also inform teenagers of their rights and legal obligations as young parents in the state of Texas

Data from the National Center for Health Statistics revealed that Texas had the third highest teen birth rate in the country in 2008. The teen birth rate was at 63.4 births per 1,000 girls ages 15-19. The national average was at 41.5 births per 1,000 teen girls.

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Skype Marriage In Texas Annulled tag:houstonfamilyattorneysblog.com,2010://55.18803 2010-12-13T18:03:08Z 2010-12-10T22:45:06Z A same-sex couple in Texas thought that they found a loophole to the state's ban on gay marriage by having a Washington D.C. based officiant perform their marriage via Skype. Congress.org reports that the couple Mark Reed and Dante Walkup... Laura Fishman A same-sex couple in Texas thought that they found a loophole to the state's ban on gay marriage by having a Washington D.C. based officiant perform their marriage via Skype. Congress.org reports that the couple Mark Reed and Dante Walkup walked down the aisle earlier this year in a Dallas hotel while on a teleconference call  with Sheila Alexander-Reid, who officiated their wedding from the nation's capital. Prior to the wedding ceremony in Dallas, the couple had traveled to Washington D.C. to pick up a marriage license.

]> Yet Mark Reed and Dante Walkup recently received news from the D.C. Marriage Bureau that their wedding ceremony via Skype was no valid and their marriage is to be annulled. Apparently, a marriage ceremony in Washington D.C. must be performed within the District of Columbia with all parties in physical attendance. Mark Reed and Dante Walkup will now either find Texas family law attorneys to challenge the judge's decision or they will travel back to D.C. to be officially married.

It's clear that the Skype marriage between Mark Reed and Dante Walkup was not just about getting married, but was also a form of protest of bans on gay marriage in the state of Texas and across the country. The couple said that they knew there was a possibility of their marriage getting challenged.

"We got so many messages from people saying that we inspired them," Mark Reed said on Congress.org. "I'm sure there are going to be a lot of disappointed people out there."

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Does Divorce Affect Our Economy? tag:houstonfamilyattorneysblog.com,2010://55.18715 2010-12-09T18:02:46Z 2010-12-09T01:39:43Z A 2002 study called "Does Marital History Matter? Marital Status and Wealth Outcomes Among Preretirement Adults" suggested that high divorce rates can have a negative impact on the economy. The Huffington Post reports that the study cites court costs, welfare,... Laura Fishman A 2002 study called "Does Marital History Matter? Marital Status and Wealth Outcomes Among Preretirement Adults" suggested that high divorce rates can have a negative impact on the economy. The Huffington Post reports that the study cites court costs, welfare, food stamps, public housing and increased bankruptcy as factors that are associated with divorce. These factors are known to have a strong effect on the country's economic climate.

]> Yet some experts might argue that the issue of divorce affecting our economy isn't as straightforward as the study makes it out to be. It could be a coincidence that our country is cycling through a tough economy at a time where divorce rates are at their highest. MSNBC reports that many distressed couples are actually choosing to put off their divorce in such tough economic times because the cost of divorce is expensive.

It's true that divorcing in Texas can be expensive, but dissolving a marriage is usually only costly if the spouses are in disagreement on issues of property division, child support, child custody, or other terms. The Harris County District Clerk's Office states that the filing fee for a divorce with no children is $235 or $233 if you would like to exclude the $2 certified copy judgment fee.

It's a good idea to consult with a Houston family law attorney before proceeding with a divorce in Harris County. Some Texas family law attorneys in the Houston area will offer free consultations for divorce cases. To find an attorney, see FindLaw's Houston family law attorney directory.

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Jamie McCourt Entitled To Equal Ownership Of Dodgers tag:houstonfamilyattorneysblog.com,2010://55.18649 2010-12-08T23:20:59Z 2010-12-07T23:32:16Z It seems that the lengthy divorce case between Frank and Jamie McCourt is close to ending. Los Angeles Judge Scott Gordon ruled yesterday that Jamie McCourt is entitled to half of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team as part of... Laura Fishman It seems that the lengthy divorce case between Frank and Jamie McCourt is close to ending. Los Angeles Judge Scott Gordon ruled yesterday that Jamie McCourt is entitled to half of the Los Angeles Dodgers baseball team as part of her divorce from her ex-husband Frank McCourt, according to Yahoo! sports. Attorneys representing team owner Frank McCourt tried to argue that a marital agreement excluded the Dodgers team from the couple's community property, but the judge's ruling shows that Frank McCourt was ultimately defeated in this property division battle.

]> Frank McCourt tried to argue that he was entitled to sole ownership of the Dodgers because he bought the team with a company that he had formed before he was married. In community property states like California or Texas, community property usually only applies to property that was accumulated during the marriage.

Many fans of the Dodgers are now questioning what exactly will happen to the team. Will the divorced couple still work together as business partners? Will one McCourt buy the other person out? Will the McCourts sell the team and split the proceeds? The latest rumors say that Jamie McCourt is trying to buy out her ex's half.

When it comes to property division in a divorce case, it's best to get legal experts involved. The city of Houston is home to some of the most skilled family law attorneys in the country. We reported in an earlier blog post that Frank McCourt even recruited a Houston family law attorney to work on his case in Los Angeles. See FindLaw's directory for a list of Texas family law attorneys in the area.

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Marriage To Stepchild Or Stepparent In Texas tag:houstonfamilyattorneysblog.com,2010://55.18528 2010-12-06T18:03:50Z 2010-12-04T00:03:15Z While there's not usually a blood relationship between a stepchild and stepparent, it's still not legal for a stepparent to marry their current or former stepchild in the state of Texas. Section 6.206 of the Texas Family Code states that... Laura Fishman While there's not usually a blood relationship between a stepchild and stepparent, it's still not legal for a stepparent to marry their current or former stepchild in the state of Texas. Section 6.206 of the Texas Family Code states that a marriage is void if a party is a current or former stepchild or stepparent of the other party.

Hence, a marriage between a former stepchild and stepparent pair can be grounds for annulment in Texas. Furthermore, a marriage between parents and children or a marriage between grandparents and grandchildren is illegal in every U.S. state. These types of incestuous marriages can be void by the family courts through an annulment. A marriage is also subject to annulment when one party is already married at the time of another marriage (bigamy).

]> An annulment of a marriage is rare in the state, because an annulment can only legally be granted under certain conditions. FindLaw states that courts will order an annulment if a party was temporarily insane at the time of the marriage, if one party was a minor and proper consent was not obtained for the marriage, if either spouse was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of marriage, or if the marriage was obtained by fraud or duress.

To learn more information about marriage laws in the state of Texas and annulment procedures, contact a Houston family law attorney. An attorney can provide guidance and determine if you're qualified to get a marriage annulled.

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Fraudulent Divorce Filing Leads To Lawsuit tag:houstonfamilyattorneysblog.com,2010://55.18413 2010-12-02T18:09:00Z 2010-12-02T00:38:01Z A woman from Harris County filed for a divorce from her husband George J. Prappas, but was surprised when she found out that she was no longer married. The Southeast Texas Record reported that the wife Noelia Ayala Sunesara found... Laura Fishman A woman from Harris County filed for a divorce from her husband George J. Prappas, but was surprised when she found out that she was no longer married.

The Southeast Texas Record reported that the wife Noelia Ayala Sunesara found out through her Texas family lawyer that her husband had already filed a divorce petition in January 2003. The attorney Scott P. Ogle discovered the already filed divorce petition when filing for the divorce on behalf of Noelia Ayala Sunesara.

]> The woman claims that somebody other than her signed her name to the divorce document filed in Jefferson County District Court. Hence, the dissolution of marriage was finalized years ago without Noelia Ayala Sunesara's realization. In a lawsuit, which was filed last month, the woman is now alleging fraud and breach of contract against her ex-husband.

Through the lawsuit, the woman is seeking actual damages, injunctive relief, pre- and post-judgment interest, costs, attorney's fees and other relief the court deems just. Obviously, there could be serious consequences for committing fraud on a dissolution of marriage form.

Noelia Ayala Sunesara's case shows the importance of following the proper divorce procedures in the state of Texas. Not only is it illegal to forge a spouse's signature in order to get a divorce in the state, but a petition with a fraudulent signature cannot be upheld in court. The person that committed the fraudulent act can also get hit with an expensive lawsuit. More information on the divorce process and divorce procedures can be found through our Related Resources pages or by speaking with Texas family law attorneys.

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Children Adopted In Houston During National Adoption Month tag:houstonfamilyattorneysblog.com,2010://55.18298 2010-11-30T18:03:58Z 2010-11-30T01:19:54Z More than 60 children that were once wards of the state now have permanent families after prospective parents went through the process of adoption. ABC News reported that on Friday November 19, a ceremony honored new families as 61 children... Laura Fishman More than 60 children that were once wards of the state now have permanent families after prospective parents went through the process of adoption. ABC News reported that on Friday November 19, a ceremony honored new families as 61 children that were in the custody of Child Protective Services were adopted on this day.

]> We reported in an earlier blog post that November was National Adoption Month, an initiative by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to raise awareness about the adoption of children and youth from foster care. Child Protective Services oversaw a mass adoption at the Juvenile Justice Center in downtown Houston on November 19 in celebration of National Adoption Day, where in just one morning 61 children were adopted. There are still more than 1,600 children that are in the custody of CPS in Harris County and surrounding counties in Texas. More than 5,800 children across the state of Texas are also in foster care waiting to be adopted.

Prospective parents are often not familiar with all the bureaucratic issues and legal issues that are associated with an adoption. Many people choosing to adopt either through a public adoption agency or private adoption agency will need a Houston adoption attorney to handle the legal work that is involved in their adoption case. An attorney can ensure that the birth parents or birth relatives of a child don't later come back and revoke an adoption. More information on the legal issues of adoption can be found through our Related Resources pages.

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Child Custody: Virtual Visitation in Texas tag:houstonfamilyattorneysblog.com,2010://55.18224 2010-11-29T18:04:04Z 2010-11-29T18:32:29Z Laura Fishman Many non-custodial parents are taking advantage of the Web cam technology offered through Google, AOL, Yahoo, and Skype. Parents are now able to "visit" their children without actually being in the same room as the kids through the use of video communication devices.

FindLaw KnowledgeBase states that Texas has a virtual visitation law in place through Family Code ยง153.015, which permits courts to order electronic communication with the child. Parents in Texas can also agree independently to an electronic communication schedule as part of their visitation plan through out of court proceedings. Texas became the third U.S. state to pass a virtual visitation law in 2007 after Utah and Wisconsin passed similar laws. Virtual visitation laws were later passed in Florida and North Carolina.

]> Electronic communication in virtual visitation agreements is defined very broadly in Texas; where regular telephone calls, video telephoning, e-mail, instant messaging, video-conferencing and the use of Web cams are all considered forms of electronic communication. Issues of how often electronic communication should take place and how long each electronic visit should last are some considerations that should be specified when drafting a virtual visitation agreement.

There are many Texas family law attorneys that now recommend that parents put virtual visitation in their child custody and visitation agreement. However, many attorneys say that face-to-face time through technology should not replace the in-person visits. Instead, the online visitation should be supplemental.

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Where Will Tony Parker and Eva Longoria Divorce? tag:houstonfamilyattorneysblog.com,2010://55.18129 2010-11-23T18:07:49Z 2010-11-23T00:19:49Z San Antonio point guard Tony Parker filed for a dissolution of marriage last week in Texas just after his estranged wife Eva Longoria filed for the divorce in Los Angeles, CA. There seems to be some disagreement as to where... Laura Fishman San Antonio point guard Tony Parker filed for a dissolution of marriage last week in Texas just after his estranged wife Eva Longoria filed for the divorce in Los Angeles, CA. There seems to be some disagreement as to where their case should be heard.

The Los Angeles Times reports that there are probably a few reasons why Tony Parker wants the divorce case to be heard in the Lone Star state. First of all, there's a shorter waiting period for divorce cases in Texas, where an uncontested divorce can be completed in as little as 60 days from the date of the divorce filing. California, on the other hand, has a six month waiting period for a divorce.

]> Secondly, alimony would not be awarded in the case between Tony Parker and Eva Longoria if their divorce was to be heard in Texas. DivorceSource.com reports that spousal maintenance can only be awarded in Texas if a spouse was convicted of family violence within two years before the date the petition for divorce was filed or if the duration of the marriage lasted at least 10 years. In this case, neither spouse has a family violence conviction and the celebrity couple have only been married since 2007.

The majority of spouses that file for a divorce in Texas do not qualify for spousal maintenance. If spousal maintenance is awarded, it's usually only enough money to provide a spouse with minimal needs. It's usually a good idea to get Texas family law attorneys involved in a divorce case where one spouse qualifies for spousal maintenance to ensure that a reasonable amount of spousal maintenance is awarded and that the amount is not excessive.

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Will Tony Parker and Eva Longoria Divorce in Texas or California? tag:houstonfamilyattorneysblog.com,2010://55.18128 2010-11-22T23:47:49Z 2010-11-22T23:53:09Z San Antonio point guard Tony Parker filed for a dissolution of marriage last week in Texas just after his estranged wife Eva Longoria filed for the divorce in Los Angeles, CA. There seems to be some disagreement as to where... Laura Fishman San Antonio point guard Tony Parker filed for a dissolution of marriage last week in Texas just after his estranged wife Eva Longoria filed for the divorce in Los Angeles, CA. There seems to be some disagreement as to where their case should be heard.

The Los Angeles Times reports that there's probably a few reasons why Tony Parker wants the divorce case to be heard in the Lone Star state. First of all, there's a shorter waiting period for divorce cases in Texas, where an uncontested divorce can be completed in as little as 60 days from the date of the divorce filing. California, on the other hand, has a six month waiting period for a divorce.

]> Secondly, alimony would not be awarded in the case between Tony Parker and Eva Longoria if their divorce was to be heard in Texas. DivorceSource.com reports that spousal maintenance can only be awarded in Texas if a spouse was convicted of family violence within two years before the date the petition for divorce was filed or if the duration of the marriage lasted at least 10 years. In this case, neither spouse has a family violence conviction and the celebrity couple have only been married since 2007.

The majority of spouses that file for a divorce in Texas do not qualify for spousal maintenance. If spousal maintenance is awarded, it's usually only enough money to provide a spouse with minimal needs. It's usually a good idea to get Texas family law attorneys involved in a divorce case where one spouse qualifies for spousal maintenance to ensure that a reasonable amount of spousal maintenance is awarded and that the amount is not excessive.

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Greg Abbott's Child Support Division Receives Award tag:houstonfamilyattorneysblog.com,2010://55.18072 2010-11-22T18:07:44Z 2010-11-22T16:43:47Z Did you know that for the past three years the state of Texas has ranked number one in the nation for the total amount of child support that it collects? Perhaps this is why Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Child... Laura Fishman Did you know that for the past three years the state of Texas has ranked number one in the nation for the total amount of child support that it collects? Perhaps this is why Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott’s Child Support Division was given the “Outstanding Program” award from the Western Interstate Child Support Enforcement Council (WICSEC) last week.

The Cherokeean Herald reports that each year WICSEC recognizes a state, regional, county or tribal child support program with the Outstanding Program award. The award is supposed to honor a particular program that carries oust effective child support enforcement.

]> Apparently, child support collections in the state of Texas grew by 4.4 percent from 2008 to 2009, while the national average of child support collections declined by four percent during this time period. Greg Abbott has been known for heavily cracking down on child support evaders and has had the Child Support Division conduct sweeps across the state to roundup deadbeat parents.

Even with a child support order is in place, it could sometimes be difficult for custodial parents in Houston to get the child support money that is owed to them. When the non-custodial parent is delinquent on child support, the custodial parent can contact the district attorney’s office or a Houston family law attorney to learn about what action should be taken to ensure that a child support order is enforced. More information on child support enforcement can be found through our Related Resource pages.

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More Non-Traditional Families Emerging in U.S tag:houstonfamilyattorneysblog.com,2010://55.17996 2010-11-19T15:06:26Z 2010-11-18T19:31:01Z Studies by the Pew Research Center and U.S Census Bureau indicate that marriage is becoming obsolete. According to Associated Press, data shows that marriage rates are at an all-time low, where only 52 percent of adults over the age of... Laura Fishman Studies by the Pew Research Center and U.S Census Bureau indicate that marriage is becoming obsolete. According to Associated Press, data shows that marriage rates are at an all-time low, where only 52 percent of adults over the age of 18 are married.

Perhaps the definition of family is changing. About 29 percent of children under the age of 18 now live with a parent or parents that are unwed or no longer married. When asked what constitutes a family, AP reported that 80 percent of people surveyed thought unmarried couples with children or a single parent with children were a family. About 60 percent of people surveyed said that a same-sex couple with children should be considered a family. Non-traditional families seem to become more accepted in society as well.

]> “Marriage is still very important in this country, but it doesn’t dominate family life like it used to,” Professor Andrew Cherlin of Johns Hopkins University told Associated Press. “Now there are several ways to have a successful family life, and more people accept them.”

The Census Bureau is now looking to publish information that moves away from the traditional concept of a family and release supplemental poverty figures that include information on unmarried couples, such as same-sex partners, as well as foster children who are not related by blood or adoption. In the Lone Star state, Texas family law attorneys are also working more with new types of non-traditional families on a variety of legal issues.

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Harris County Judge Dismisses the Divorce Case for Beyonce's Parents tag:houstonfamilyattorneysblog.com,2010://55.17916 2010-11-17T18:05:25Z 2010-11-16T23:37:43Z Beyonce Knowles’ parents filed for divorce almost a year ago in Harris County after 29 years of marriage, but MTV News reports that Tina and Mathew Knowles didn’t show up for their scheduled divorce hearing on Monday. Hence, a judge... Laura Fishman Beyonce Knowles’ parents filed for divorce almost a year ago in Harris County after 29 years of marriage, but MTV News reports that Tina and Mathew Knowles didn’t show up for their scheduled divorce hearing on Monday. Hence, a judge dismissed the Texas dissolution of marriage case.

This could be a lesson to spouses that are seeking divorce. If you don’t show up to the hearing, the divorce can’t be finalized. Rumors have emerged through the media that Tina and Mathew Knowles have reconciled their relationship and might not be wanting a divorce after all. However, there has been no official news from Mathew or Tina’s reps about a possible reconciliation.

]> While a Texas divorce can be a long process for some couples, DivorceNet reports that divorce in the state can be finalized in as little as 60 days. The waiting period for a divorce in Texas is 60 days. So if both parties are in agreement on the terms of the divorce, the divorce will automatically become final on the 61st day from the date of the divorce filing. Yet if there are disputes over issues of property division, child custody, child support, visitation, or other family law issues, the divorce process can take much longer to become finalized.

Once the divorce decree is signed in Texas, FindLaw states that neither party can remarry until at least 31 days have passed from the day of the decree signing. More information on the requirements of divorce in Texas can be found by speaking to a Houston family law attorney.

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Texas Family Law Attorneys Recommend Prenup For Business Owners tag:houstonfamilyattorneysblog.com,2010://55.17833 2010-11-15T18:58:49Z 2010-11-15T16:57:02Z If you have a family business and you’re about to get married, it would be a good idea to consider signing a prenuptial agreement with your spouse-to-be. This is because a divorce can be especially complicated when there’s a family... Laura Fishman If you have a family business and you’re about to get married, it would be a good idea to consider signing a prenuptial agreement with your spouse-to-be. This is because a divorce can be especially complicated when there’s a family business or great deal of money involved.

Delmarva Daily Times states that anybody who owns a business or who is in a position of potential ownership of a business shares that status with a spouse. A prenuptial agreement can ensure that a family business doesn’t end up in the hands of the wrong person in the case of a divorce.

]> So how do you draft a successful prenuptial agreement? Each party must have his or her own Houston family law attorney involved in the prenuptial agreement process, so that both of the soon-to-be spouses can be fairly represented. Neither attorney should be affiliated with the business. The prenuptial agreement should also be drafted at least a month before the wedding, so that there’s a reasonable amount of time to consider what the contact is asking.

FindLaw provides further criteria for a valid prenuptial agreement in Texas, which includes the fact that a prenuptial agreement cannot be made as a result of duress. The agreement is supposed to describe each party’s rights in the case of a divorce or in the case of a spouse dying. The contract will say what each party is entitled to in the case of divorce or death. More information on the criteria of prenup can be found through our Related Resource pages.

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