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February 2013 Archives

Texas law takes conservative approach to alimony

Fans of the Los Angeles Lakers and one of its star players, Kobe Bryant, may have heard that the All-Star shooting guard has reconciled with his wife, Vanessa. Although she filed for divorce in 2011, the couple -- who married in 2000 and have two daughters -- appear to have patched things up. The reconciliation comes as a bit of a surprise considering their history of marital problems, including a very public sexual assault case filed against the basketball player in 2003.

Texas grandma raising 4 shares struggles, successes with others

Raising four young children is an enormous challenge for any two parents, but imagine what a struggle it would be for a single grandmother. That's what one Texas woman has been doing for years, having no other choice when the children's mother turned to drugs.

Divorced dads can bond with daughters through sports

Many fathers have a hard time finding common ground with their daughters as they grow into adolescence. After a divorce, it can be even more difficult to form a good relationship or maintain the bond they had in earlier years, especially if the father is the non-custodial parent. As time goes on, father and daughter may grow more distant and even develop a strained relationship. By the time the daughter is in her teens -- an age where many kids tend to block off their parents emotionally -- she might feel like a stranger.

Heavy drinking a clear path to divorce, study shows

The decision to marry often includes, in wedding ceremonies, the vow to remain together "until death do us part." That promise, however, appears to be losing much of its iron-clad connotation: divorce rates have steadily risen in the past decade as the challenges of maintaining a tranquil union become more and more pronounced.

Father arrested in Texas after defying child custody order

Divorced parents know that having to divide the time they spend with their children is one of the most difficult aspects of ending a marriage. The transition from seeing one's children every day to every other weekend can be especially hard for non-custodial parents. Not only do they miss their children terribly, but parents may not trust the guidance and judgment of the other parent. (This may or may not be justified, but the feelings are virtually the same.)

Secret bank accounts can empower spouses, but watch for pitfalls

Today millions of Texans will celebrate Valentine's Day, some more extravagantly than others. Many couples will keep the affair low-key with dinner and a movie. Others will exchange lavish gifts. How you do it may depend on your household finances; if you and your spouse keep all of your money in a joint bank account, it becomes the thought that counts, since both of you have probably contributed to that account. But some couples choose to set some funds aside in a private account, allowing them to spend their money in whatever way they choose.

Prenuptial agreements aren't just for wealthy, anxious couples

Regular readers of this blog may already know that a prenuptial agreement can be a positive undertaking for any couple about to be married, even if they end up staying together until death do them part. While they're most common among engaged couples with a high net worth, there are plenty of reasons for Texas residents of any income level to consider drafting and signing a prenup.

'Mummy' star wants child support, alimony payments reduced

When a couple in Texas divorces, it's standard procedure to determine whether one spouse will make support payments to the other. If the couple has children, the parent who obtains child custody will usually receive monthly child support payments from the other. The amount of these payments is typically determined using the non-custodial spouse's current income as a guideline.

Same-sex couples must take early steps to protect rights, part 2

In our last post we discussed the challenges that same-sex couples have when it comes to establishing their rights as non-biological parents. These challenges may also apply to heterosexual couples in which one parent isn't biologically related to their child. Putting legal protections in place is especially important in Texas, where marriage between two men or two women isn't recognized.

It takes a village (or a few extra people) to get a divorce

The Texas Supreme Court recently decided that residents of the state can file for divorce by completing ready-made forms instead of relying on an attorney to put in the work. These forms may offer a solution for divorcing couples who have no disagreements over the terms, including child custody, child support and alimony. But for most spouses looking to get out of their marriage, they're a poor substitute for professional guidance.

Same-sex couples must take early steps to protect rights, part 1

Most couples who make plans to have a child assume that their relationship is solid and in no danger of falling apart. And for a good percentage of those couples, that assumption will prove correct. But for those unions that do unravel, there are legal protections in place to ensure that both parents will have access to the child after the relationship ends -- unless the state doesn't recognize your relationship as legal. For same-sex couples in Texas, this can be a serious problem.