Articles Posted in Divorce

A Texas appeals court recently considered a Texas divorce case in which the trial court had unequally divided the parties’ pensions. In that case, the trial court had granted the divorce and divided the community property. In dividing the community property, the trial court awarded each of the parties 100% of their pensions. The husband appealed, arguing that the trial court abused its discretion in dividing the parties’ retirement accounts by awarding the wife 100% of her FERS pension because her pension was more valuable than the husband’s. The husband argued that as a result, the wife was awarded a disproportionate portion of the community estate. The husband argued the division was unfair because it created an overall division of the estate of 62% to the wife and 38% to the husband.

Division of Community Property Under Texas Law

Under the Texas Family Code, a trial court must divide the estate of a married couple in a way “that the court deems just and right.” However, a trial court does not need to divide a community estate equally. An estate may be divided unequally as long as there is a reasonable basis to do so. A court can consider a number of factors, including the difference in the parties’ incomes and earning capacities, the nature of the property, the parties’ physical condition, the parties’ financial obligations, fault in the dissolution of the marriage, their ages, their business opportunities, the size of their separate estates, and their need for future support.

In the U.S., states can follow one of two methods of distributing property during a divorce; equitable division or community property. Texas is one of nine jurisdictions that follows the community property doctrine. Under this theory, the law presumes that all of the property a couple acquired during the marriage equally belongs to both spouses. Spouses who wish to assert separate ownership over a piece of property must prove sole ownership.

Under Texas Family Code Ann. § 3.0001, separate property is anything one spouse owned before marriage. Further, separate property includes certain property a spouse acquired during the marriage. For example, separate property may include:

  • An inheritance one spouse received.
  • Property gifted from the husband or wife.
  • Compensation for personal injuries.

However, it is essential to note that courts do not consider personal injury damages related to earning capacity loss as separate property. A party contesting community property presumption over an item must prove ownership by a preponderance of the evidence.

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So you want to get married? Or you think you are married? If you are in Texas, there are two different ways to be married. The first is called a ceremonial marriage. It’s what you think of when you picture a traditional wedding or a couple saying their vows in front of a justice of the peace.

What is a ceremonial marriage in Texas? 

The last thing you want to do is have a wedding and not be married. To make sure that doesn’t happen let’s go over the rules for a ceremonial marriage. In Texas, a valid ceremonial marriage requires four things.

Texas Divorce Law is changing in 2021. Starting on 1/1/21 there will be new discovery rules that will apply to all family law cases, including child custody and divorce. What does this mean for people starting the process? It means it’s time to get organized. If you are going to meet with a Texas Family Lawyer in 2021 you must have certain documents and information ready from the start.

What’s changed?

Starting in January 1st, 2021 all parties to a divorce will be required to turn over certain documents within 30 days. So as soon as you are served with a divorce or child custody case you will have 30 days to respond, and as soon as you file a divorce case you will have 30 days to turn documents over to the other party.

Courts are working to head off problems with custody orders caused by the Coronavirus.  If you have a custody order you must keep up with these orders, since they apply to you. The most recent order on family cases in Kaufman County is from March 25th.

Standing Order Governing Possession and Access During the Shelter in Place Order of Kaufman County Judge Signed March 24, 2020

For all cases arising from the Family Law Courts of Kaufman County, the Court ORDERS that:

Coronavirus is impacting family law in Texas, and one of the first areas that had to be addressed is spring break visitation. Most possession orders refer to the time when spring break ends as a time for possession and visitation to change. But what happens when we are under quarantine and spring break is extended by your school district?

Dallas County has just announced that they are going to enforce the original school calendar for issues of visitation, possession, and access. Most courts and counties that have issued statements have adopted the same position. So if you are trying to extend your spring break visitation because of a coronavirus shutdown, you are probably going to have a bad time.

Here is the text of the order-

Most people assume that if you are awarded primary custody, and you have a child living with you the majority of the time, then the other parent will pay you child support. The Dallas Court of Appeals recently heard a case in which Father was ordered to pay child support, even though Father had the child 70% of the time and was considered the custodial parent with primary custody.

How did this happen? Let’s look at In the Interest of ARW, No. 05-18-00201-CV from the Dallas Court of Appeals.

What happened in ARW?

If you file a divorce or child custody case in Van Zandt County, Texas the following standing orders will apply. Standing orders are rules that judges enforce without the parties asking for them. Standing orders are used to preserve the status quo and prevent one party from emptying the bank accounts, selling the assets, or moving away with the children. If you are going to file for divorce in Van Zandt County then you should understand these rules.

These standing are current for 2019.

VAN ZANDT COUNTY STANDING ORDERS-

One of the most common concerns people have in a divorce is who is going to keep the house they have been living in during their marriage. The answer to that question can vary in each case depending on the facts of that particular case. This blog post is going to address some of the things that could happen to your house in your divorce.

If it is your Separate Property, you Keep it.

The concept of separate and community property is sometimes difficult. In Texas, the distinction on property is made based on the date the home is purchased, something referred to as “inception of title.” If the house is purchased in one person’s name before the date of marriage, it is their separate property. If it is purchased after the date of marriage, it does not matter whose name is or isn’t on the deed or purchase documents, it is community property. That means that if the home is purchased before marriage by one party the court doesn’t get to divide the house in the divorce because it is separate property. This doesn’t mean that the other party may not have the right to be reimbursed for value added to the house during the marriage, but it does mean that if it is your separate property, you keep your ownership interest in the house.

Can I Make a Marital Property Agreement?

There has been a lot of discussion about pre-marital agreements in media and it is something most people are probably somewhat aware of. Follow this link: Premarital Agreements in Texas for more information on premarital agreements. So, what about after you are married, are you stuck with all of your property acquired after marriage becoming community property if you didn’t execute a pre-marital agreement? Of course not! I probably wouldn’t have dedicated an entire blog post to this subject if that was the case.

Why Does it Matter?

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