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Dallas Family Law Blog

Custody battle forces tennis star to miss US Open

Tennis fans across Texas will not see Victoria Azarenka compete in this year's US Open. As the New York Post reports, the tennis star has been ordered by a judge not to leave the state of California with her baby boy until she has settled a custody dispute with her ex-boyfriend, Billy McKeague. The tennis player, who was previously ranked first in the world until being beaten by Simona Halep at Wimbledon, had to choose between her child and her career. 

The custody documents were filed by McKeague in California, where Azarenka maintains a residence. The athlete was originally born in Belarus, and a judge has warned her that leaving the state with her son before the end of the custody suit, which is believed would be completed in October. Since the US Open begins in New York at the end of August, and Azarenka does not want to leave her son solely in the care of his father, this means she must miss the tournament. Azarenka's lawyer stated that they offered to pay for McKeague's travel and accommodations during the tournament so they could all be in New York, but the judge declined the arrangement.

Marital residence: Do I stay or do I go?

The family home: It can naturally be a wellspring of good memories and comfort for a married couple. However, when the couple gets divorced, the family home can quickly turn into a source of contention.

Spouses who are going through divorce in Texas may desire to keep the family home for a wide variety of reasons. Some prefer to keep the home due to the emotional connection they have with it, whereas others want it because they will assume custody of the children and want to keep the children in the home. A few things are important to consider when contemplating keeping the marital residence in Texas.

What is the Hague Abduction Convention?

If you are one of the many separated or divorced spouses in Texas who has minor children with your former partner, you will understandably be concerned about the strength and validity of any custody agreement you enter into. You know that even getting to the point of agreeing on how to share your parenting time can be a major undertaking. However, for some people there may be the added concern that the other parent may not always abide by the agreement.

Taking children out of the United States is one way that some parents attempt to circumvent a child custody decision or order. If this happens to you, you may be able to seek help under the Hague Abduction Convention. As explained by the United States Department of State, the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction is a treaty that multiple nations have voluntarily entered into. It aims to help custody issues be heard and decided in the appropriate jurisdictions.

These jobs most likely to lead to divorce before 30

Texas couples know the strain that comes from work can make marriage more difficult. As MarketWatch notes, nearly 41 percent of first marriages end in divorce. Depending upon the career path a person chooses, there could be added stress, and a recent study shows that certain industries have more divorces before age 30 than others.

Topping the list with a 30 percent divorce rate by age 30 is first-line enlisted military supervisors. Out of the top ten most likely to divorce by age 30, three of the positions were in the military. This may not be a surprise, due to the separation that often occurs during a deployment. One study shows that for each month a couple is apart from one another, their divorce rate increases. Mental health issues can also play a part. Veterans who have been in Afghanistan or Iraq report having problems with post-traumatic stress disorder or depression at a rate of 20 percent.

A checklist can help you better navigate your divorce

You organize all kinds of things in your life with checklists. It's so much easier to tackle a tough, multi-step process when it has been broken down into smaller component parts. You can choose to handle the end of your marriage in the same way. Just because there are a myriad of details, doesn't mean that you can't use a checklist to prepare for divorce. In fact, you may come out a few steps ahead by using a checklist.

Many common mistakes can be avoided by using the following divorce preparation checklist:

  • Gather financial records before the divorce
  • Pull your credit report
  • Get a P.O. box
  • Change your passwords and get a new email account
  • Make copies of important files now
  • Plan for the first year of co-parenting
  • Determine what is important to you regarding child custody
  • Transfer retirement funds
  • Update your beneficiaries
  • Plan for your health care
  • Collect important sentimental items

Olympic skater surprised by divorce filing

Michelle Kwan skated into hearts across Texas as a two-time Olympian, but reports say that her divorce has turned as cold as ice. As the Providence Journal explains, Kwan, who had been living apart from husband Clay Pell since November, learned of her husband's divorce filing from Twitter and a story in the New York Daily News. The documents, citing irreconcilable differences, were filed in California. Days later, Kwan filed for divorce in Rhode Island, where she has been living for the past year.

With tensions between the couple rising, Kwan attempted to serve divorce papers ten times, and Pell refused to respond. Finally, the divorce papers were taped to his front door. He is trying to get the case in Rhode Island dismissed so that his case can proceed in California. According to her filing, Pell has labeled his belongings in their shared home, including luggage and a mattress. She has asked him not to come to the house in Newport, Rhode Island, which is currently being renovated. It was purchased in 2014 for $1.5 million, and Kwan wants the home to be put on the market so both parties can be reimbursed.

What causes parental alienation syndrome?

Texan parents who get a divorce have a lot to consider when it comes to raising their child, as divorces on their own can be quite traumatic. While some may feel that alienating their child from the other parent is the best route to go, you can actually cause more harm than good by doing so.

Secluding a child from one of their parents can create parental alienation syndrome, or PAS. This can create emotional hostility that would not have otherwise existed, or confusion and even shame if they are being taught that they should not hold affection for one parent but still do.

Pay child support or no car registration

Late or missing child support checks are a problem for single parents across the nation, but Texas is attempting to crack down on child support payments that have fallen into delinquency. As CBS DFW reports, the ability to register a car is now linked to a driver's child support payments being in good standing. The program, which went into effect in September 2016, prevents drivers who have not paid the child support from being able to renew their cars' registration. More than 4,600 cases have received payment since the law was enacted.

The primary custodial parent is often the mother, and 48 percent of single mothers in the Lonestar State have incomes below the poverty line. In the past, the government tried to recoup these payments by withholding tax refunds, the garnishment of wages, and even taking lottery winnings. Other licenses have also been denied for being behind in child support payments. 

Mediating a divorce: Divorce doesn't have to be a battle

As you begin the divorce process in Texas, fear of the unknown naturally may grip you. This is particularly true if you are unsure about how you and your spouse will tackle issues such as property division or child custody. Fortunately, just because you are getting divorced does not mean you have to brace for battle. The process can be much more amicable if you choose mediation.

Divorce mediation is a method of alternative dispute resolution that you can choose rather than litigating your divorce. Unlike going to trial, it is a non-adversarial process. By mediating a divorce, you and your future ex may be able to achieve a mutually satisfactory divorce settlement.

Former Spice Girl’s divorce include domestic violence allegations

Fans of the show “America’s Got Talent” across Texas have likely already heard about the messy divorce of former Spice Girl and current talent judge, Mel B (nee Melanie Brown) to Stephen Belafonte. The Los Angeles Times reports that Brown filed for divorce on March 23, 2016 and shortly after requested a restraining order due to allegations of domestic violence. The details of her divorce have been making headlines in the news due to salacious details including blackmail with sex tapes, an alleged explicit affair with the couple’s nanny, and the fact that there has been speculation for some time amongst Brown’s fans of an abusive relationship.

Belafonte has a previous conviction for domestic violence from 2003, and a temporary restraining order has been granted to Brown, which prevents him from threats or any contact. Brown alleges that she suffered multiple physical beatings at the hands of Belafonte, but that she could not leave him because he threatened to ruin her career with sex tapes he made without her consent.