Lewisville Family Law Blog

DIVORCE MAKES SHARKNADO SEEM REAL!

  • 01
  • August
    2014

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ted ogilvie_SMALL.jpgCan you imagine a divorce playing out with the same unreal intensity as the movie Sharknado? I have seen divorces that make Sharknado, and the freshly caught-and-released Sharknado 2, seem real and believable. Now that's scary!

Some married couples and unmarried parents approach a break-up of their family unit with over-the-top drama and outlandish flare that rival the film-maker's artistry. I've seen it in those cases that involve the Bentleys and Bimmers, and I've seen it mirrored in the cases that can't even afford an old beater-car to get to work. Human drama and senseless destruction know no boundaries.

Here are a few sharks that I've seen swirling in the air over the many years I've been practicing family law.shark1.jpg

What to do if a parent illegally takes the children?

  • 30
  • July
    2014

johndenke_SMALL1.jpgSometimes parents are faced with a crisis situation when the other parent of the children takes the children in violation of the court ordered custody or possession schedule. This can happen inside the state or it can also cross state lines. When this occurs, the first thing a parent needs to do is to look at the custody order to see what rights are designated for both parents regarding the children, and, more importantly, what type of possession schedule is ordered.

If it is clear that one of the parents is being denied possession due to the unlawful keeping of the children by the other parent, then it may be necessary to file what is called a writ of attachment in the court located in the county where the children are being held. Whether this is in the same county that the prior order is based out of, or if it is across the country in an entirely different state, the writ of attachment will need to be filed in that location. Oftentimes, this will require hiring an out of county or out of state attorney and coordinating the filing and prosecution of the case from a distance.

A parent will surely need the custody order to present to the court to obtain a writ of attachment, along with any other evidence showing they are entitled to possession of the children. Once the writ is obtained from a judge, then it can be served on the parent or individual holding the children so that they may be returned to the proper parent.

The handling of a writ of attachment is very time sensitive as the children, already being illegally possessed, risk being moved by other parent in an attempt by that parent to avoid being taken to court over their wrongful conduct. A writ of attachment takes careful planning and swift execution, but, when done right, the children can be delivered safely back to the parent who is entitled to their possession.

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Citadel LLC founder files for divorce

  • 30
  • July
    2014

Residents of Texas who are going through a high-asset divorce may be facing some issues similar to those of hedge fund firm owner Kenneth Griffin and his wife Anne Dias Griffin. Anne's attorney alleges that she was not given notice of her husband's recent divorce filing that cited irreconcilable differences as the reason for the separation. The two have a number of assets owned both separately and together.

The couple signed a prenuptial agreement in 2003, and it is presumed that Kenneth Griffin's Chicago firm Citadel LLC is protected. However, Anne Griffin may still mount a claim. She is a founder and managing partner of the firm Aragon Global Management LLC and is said to be the force behind the couple's reputation as top art collectors. The couple also formed a charitable foundation in 2009 known as the Kenneth and Anne Griffin Foundation.

Texas spousal support issues

  • 24
  • July
    2014

Texas residents may be familiar with the concept of alimony as funds that flow from one former spouse to the other following divorce. However, what many people do not realize is that alimony is not automatically awarded in every divorce. There are two types of awards: statutory and contractual support.

Statutory support may be awarded over the higher-earning former spouse's objection. Historically, the law required that people be married at least 10 years before a lower-earning spouse could seek support. However in 2011, the legislature amended the law to allow support if there are specific reasons that the former spouse seeking support is unable to earn a sufficient income, such as the former spouse's disability or the disability of a minor child living with the person. The 10-year requirement does not apply to those under these special circumstances. The length of alimony depends on the length of the marriage, and it does not necessarily continue indefinitely. The judge can order that support be paid for five, seven or 10 years. However, if the basis for awarding support is that the former spouse is disabled or caring for a disabled child, then support may be extended as long as the disability lasts.

Plan Ahead When Dividing the Marital Home

  • 21
  • July
    2014

Deciding how to split the house can be the most difficult part of the divorced process for many estranged Texas couples. The home is often the most valuable asset a married couple owns, so its division drastically affects the split of the remaining marital assets.

Even if the couple can agree on an amicable split of their assets, they may encounter problems related to dividing the marital home. A situation often arises where one spouse gets to keep the home but both parties are still legally obligated on the mortgage. In most cases, the spouse who received the home would contact his or her bank and refinance without the ex-spouse on the new loan documents. However, this may not be possible if the new homeowner cannot qualify for a mortgage without the income of the ex-spouse.

Go Ahead, Divorce Form-User, Make My Day

  • 21
  • July
    2014

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ted ogilvie_SMALL.jpgThe use of pre-made, or check-the-box, forms in a Texas divorce can be perilous for one or both of the parties in a divorce. The result is usually that one or both of the parties retain lawyers within a couple of years to straighten out the mess created by the use of the non-attorney prepared form. These scenarios often remind me of the old Clint Eastwood character, Dirty Harry, and his catch phrase, "Go ahead, make my day!"

Let me explain. In the 1970's movies, Harry Callahan was the street guardian who solved crimes and helped those being vandalized and victimized by people who wanted to get ahead the easy way. The easy way for them was just to ignore the law, which really got under Harry's skin. After giving the perpetrator a stern warning to think about what was going to happen, while the perp looked down the barrel of Harry's Smith & Wesson .44 Magnum, the perp got to choose the next move. He (or she) could correct the action or accept the fate dealt by Harry's .44 Magnum.

Splitting Recordings, Books, and Other Copyrighted Assets in a Divorce

  • 17
  • July
    2014

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ted ogilvie_SMALL.jpgDividing intellectual property in a divorce can be tricky sometimes. I've had the pleasure of representing artists, singer/songwriters, and authors over the years. These cases often don't look any different than other cases where you usually see the flat screen, the sofa, the family sedan, the Harley, the boat, and the IRAs lined up under either "Property Awarded to Husband" or "Property Awarded to Wife" in the decree. But assets containing copyrights, royalties, patents and other intellectual properties require special attention to ensure the division, or award, is clear, correct, and thorough.

My good friend and attorney, Tamera Bennett, practices in the area of intellectual property and she has guided me through many of these issues. She has stressed to me over the years how important it is to identify the potential issues early on so they can be dealt with properly to begin with. Otherwise intellectual property issues can become problematic very quickly, and the effects can be very long-lasting.

Tamera recently wrote an article for the July 14, 2014 edition of Texas Lawyer titled "Divorced in Motown: Who Gets the Rights?" dealing with such an issue. You can access the article on her blog where she discussed a recent case involving Smokey Robinson and his former wife for the past thirty years, Claudette Robinson.

Consider future financial needs during divorce

  • 14
  • July
    2014

Family law attorneys in Texas and around the country now handle "gray divorce" cases more frequently. The term describes divorces of married couples who are aged 50 or older. A divorce at any age involves the issue of property division, including who keeps the family home. However, with retirement looming on the horizon, older couples may want to focus more on what they need to support themselves in retirement.

Most divorces use negotiations and settlements rather than court proceedings to come up with agreements regarding issues such as alimony, custody and property division. However, emotion-based decisions made at the end of a marriage can prove costly. Younger individuals have more time to make up for financial mistakes made during divorces, but older individuals face pressure to get the details of their divorce right.

Who Gets the House in the Divorce?

  • 09
  • July
    2014

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ted ogilvie_SMALL.jpgNo where is it written what a divorcing couple must do with the marital residence. But very often one party presumes he or she MUST stay in the house.

That conclusion as to who gets the house could be ill-founded and unsupported by reason. The facts may absolutely elude the spouse fighting tooth and nail just to keep "the place where memories were made" or "the only place the kids have known as home."

This can make the marital residence award a burden rather than a good decision. Here's what realtor and Certified Real Estate Divorce Specialist Jolie Williams* says about this:

"Handling the division of the marital home as a purchase ensures the party staying in the house is making a good decision when buying out their spouse's interest in the property. When purchasing a home, any responsible buyer would evaluate their financial ability to purchase the property; would look at comparable properties to evaluate value; would have a home inspection to evaluate the condition of the property; would obtain a title insurance policy; and would obtain a copy of the deed recorded with the County. Anyone purchasing their spouse's interest in the marital home should follow the same guidelines."

Texas man begins jail sentence for late child support

  • 07
  • July
    2014

A Texas father who was sentenced to six months in jail for nonpayment of child support began his jail sentence after his appeal was rejected. The man owed more than $3,000 in back child support when he realized the money that was being garnished by his employer was not forwarded to the court so it could be sent to the mother of his young son.

Though he was able to pay all of the overdue child support and an additional $1,000 before his sentence began, the man was still taken into custody due to a change in the law regarding his case. His attorney filed an appeal with the 14th District Court of Appeals but was unable to get the sentence overturned. At the time he surrendered to law enforcement, his attorney stated she held out hope that the judge would suspend the sentence so he could continue to work and spend time with his child.