Lewisville Family Law Blog

Appealing Your Case - The Process

  • 02
  • March
    2015

Thumbnail image for johndenke_SMALL1.jpgAt the conclusion of a family law proceeding, a party can feel that the decision of either the judge or jury was incorrect. In such a scenario, it may be proper to appeal the judgment or verdict to a higher court. The process of appealing a trial court judgment to an appeals court can be a lengthy process, but can also ultimately result in the overturning of an unjust decision.

The timetables for filing an appeal begin to run when a final order is signed by the judge in a particular court handling the case. Generally, a party has thirty days from the date the order is signed to file their notice of appeal with the trial court. This will let the trial court know that a party is appealing the judgment to a higher court and put the appeals process into action.

Once notice of appeal is filed, the appeals court will be notified of the intention of a party to appeal a case. At this point, it will be the duty of the appealing party, or appellant, to obtain the records of the proceedings in the lower court. This will be both the record of pleadings, or clerk's record, along with the transcript of the trial, or reporter's record. These must be obtained with some urgency as the appeals court will want them turned over on a timely basis.

Once the clerk's record and reporter's record are obtained, the appellant will have to submit a brief in support of their position why the lower court's judgment should be overturned. The brief must lay out the issues challenged in the trial court's judgment and argue why those issues should be found in the appellant's favor, with citations to supporting case law and statutes. The other party seeking to uphold the lower court's judgment will need to file a response brief to the appellant's brief. The briefs are very important as the appeals court will review both of them before making a final decision on an appeal.

Sometimes, the parties will request oral argument before the appeals court before they make their decision. This will let both parties present their position to a panel of judges from the appeals court as to why their position on the appeal should be followed. The time is limited in oral argument for the parties, and the court will not always allow it to be presented.

Once the appeals court has reviewed the briefs and heard oral argument, if allowed, they will render a written opinion on the appeal. The opinion will state whether the lower court's judgment is upheld or reversed and give the basis for the decision by citing to pertinent law. The entire process from filing the notice of appeal to the receiving of the written opinion can take a year or longer. If you are considering filing an appeal on your case, an attorney familiar with the process can help you follow the pertinent deadlines and craft a brief and argument that will hopefully persuade the appeals court to see the case in your favor.appealatejudges.jpg

What's Going to Happen to "My Stuff" during my Divorce? The Fate of your Personal Property at the Hands of the Judicial System

  • 26
  • February
    2015

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Been unable to find separate places for your "stuff" between you and your divorcing spouse? Can't reach that agreement on who takes the 55" HDTV and who gets the Entertainment Center in which the HDTV once sat? Well, you aren't alone. This predicament seems to come up in 75% of divorces. Now, dividing up your stuff through the formal procedures of litigation becomes very costly. Here are 4 processes you may have to go through to get your "stuff" divided:potpoan3.jpg

1. Listing it all in an Inventory and Appraisement. You are going to be required to make that list of all of your "stuff" in detail as part of your Inventory and Appraisement with detail, certainly, and subject to strict scrutiny. The list I suggested you make in the last Blog which could have been done without time restraints and pressure now gets guided by your legal team and strict adherence to a set of rules on what must be included gets put on you. If you forget to claim something as your separate property, then it could be deemed a judicial admission and the car you had wanted and he gave you for your birthday may become community property subject to him getting it. Forget to list something, and then it could become undivided property subject to another round of lawyers and courts. Value some of your stuff that you think the other side is going to get too high, then there's a real good chance you are going to get to keep that "stuff" at the inflated price you said it was worth in the Inventory. The stakes on dividing your "stuff" get much higher now.

2. A Motion for Contempt. The "stuff" you didn't think was important and took to Goodwill without her permission now becomes a Motion to have you put in jail for disposing of property without a court order. Having a garage sale to decrease the amount of all your "stuff" and make a few dollars, throwing "stuff" away because your estranged spouse didn't pick it on time, or moving your spouses stuff to a storage or a friend's house that somehow gets "lost" or "stolen" all may result in a Motion for Contempt against you seeking return of the "stuff", fines, attorney fees, and even jail time. The personal property now gets used as leverage to achieve a bigger issue or gain advantage in the lawsuit.

3. Division in Mediation. At some point, if you and your soon to be ex don't settle your entire case, including who gets what of your "stuff", you will be sent to mediation. To start off, you are going to have a new 3rd party now join the process of dividing your "stuff" along with all your other assets and liabilities. This day will not be inexpensive. The mediator, your lawyer, and your spouse's lawyer all committed to a full day of negotiating. The issue of splitting your "stuff', I have found, comes at the end of the day. All the seemingly hard issues of kids, support, asset and liability issues get handled and then the attention turns to your "stuff". The preferred method is always the "division in kind". The mediator will ask what "stuff" each person wants from the other. If early in the case one spouse has vacated the marital residence leaving the other spouse and a houseful of "stuff", there is going to be a lot that is wanted. The other approach I see is where one spouse values the "stuff" the other has a some exorbitant amount and then graciously will allow the other person to keep all that expensive "stuff" in return for he or she taking cash or other liquid assets worth the same amount. Finally, if all those fail to carry the day, then the suggestions get down to a flip of the coin start with the winner picking the first item of "stuff" and the other having the next pick and alternating thereafter until no more "stuff" is to be picked. Another method is one spouse gets to put all their "stuff" into two piles with the other spouse getting to pick which pile they want. Lot's of strategy involved in this one. If everything else gets agreed upon except for the "stuff", then the case winds up in front of a judge whose paid job is then to divide your "stuff".

4. Division by a Judge. This is really the last place you want to be. Putting on evidence about kitchen appliances, furniture, and bric- a -brac is not economical at any level. But, it happens. So, what can you expect? The Judge has to hear the testimony if that is an issue that has to be decided to finish your case - but they won't like doing it. And, you won't like the result utilizing this method. The entire process is now officially out of your hands and into the hands of a person who will meet you, and decide in a few hours why the "stuff" you accumulated over many years should be split. I guarantee no matter how great your lawyer is there is going to be a message lost in the translation and something you treasure will wind up with your ex. In Texas, trial courts are not allowed by case law to make you flip coins, do lists, go outside the courtroom and not come back in until you have split your "stuff" - but, in my career, I have seen all of the above used in an effort to avoid trying (what is affectionately called) "the pots and pans". And they will - but not as a first choice.

Get your "stuff" divided early with your estranged spouse. Save you, the kids, and your soon to be ex a ton of money, argument, and time. It's going to be split so do it quickly and early. Just remember, after the divorce is over all your new "STUFF" is just yours! potpan.jpg

3 Play Therapist Roles During a Divorce/Custody Process by Christy Graham, LPC-S

  • 25
  • February
    2015

Thumbnail image for christygraham.JPGYou are sitting in your lawyer's office, talking about your children. Painful memories, hurt and helplessness fill your heart as you describe your life with your children's other parent. There are financial ties, business ties, legal ties between you and this person whom you no longer like or trust. None of these ties are as emotional and personal as your child. In the midst of this upsetting meeting, your lawyer looks at you and says, 'Your children need a therapist. I recommend this one.' You dutifully put that on your list of homework and wonder what this person may do for or to your children. You also wonder if you can afford this process-emotionally and financially.

Play Therapist's Role #1: Boundary Coach

Even before the first session, play therapists help set boundaries. We must have court documents on our client's custody arrangements. We want to contact each parent in the first few weeks of counseling. We desire relationships with each important person in the child's life. In meeting these requirements, we communicate to the parents the need to work together and show possible ways to cooperate without harming each other. We coach you about the boundaries we have in session, about your information privacy, about boundaries your child has to have and those they don't absolutely need.playtherpy2.jpeg

While you are going through divorce and custody issues, boundaries and trust shift. Relationships change and are reframed as good/bad, safe/unsafe. Ties that have bound people for years are being removed, reconsidered, reframed. Your lawyer can give some boundaries by talking about what is legal, what helps your case, what the strategy is. However, who is an objective person who can say this is safe for your child's emotional life?

Play Therapist's Role #2: Teacher

Play Therapists spend much of their continuing education focusing on children. Most of their practice is children. In order to be a registered play therapist, we must have specialized education and supervision focused on children. We choose to know and understand as much as we can about children. So in our first few sessions, we may teach you a lot about how a child sees the world and the situation they find themselves in. We may talk about why nesting works for most children, but doesn't work for your situation. We may teach you how to calm your child with relaxation techniques, or talk about how to phrase or present new ideas/changes that are occurring. We can help you to express yourself to your child in an honest, healthy, age appropriate way.

We want to teach these same skills to your child's other parent.safty.jpeg

Play Therapists also teach children how to understand divorce, express their complicated feelings about divorce, and learn to live with the life they now have. Reading stories that focus on children's feelings about divorce, role playing with parents and children on how to express themselves respectfully and honestly, playing out stories of conflict in the play room and finding a way to resolve it: These are all my favorite part of working in a divorce situation.

Play Therapist's Role #3: Safety Coach

Most of the time when parents come to me during a divorce or custody hearing, this role is the only one they are thinking about. While the entire extended family is under extreme pressure during social studies, legal hearings, changes to lifestyles and schedules, allegations of abuse or neglect, and their relationships are being redefined in mostly negative ways, while everyone is focused on the negative: parents need someone to assure their child's safety. This need is primal and can be overwhelming. It is also intricately woven into each of the stresses that are occurring. Lawyers, judges, friends and family all ask if the kids are ok, are the kids safe with him/her. And you don't know.

Play therapists, by and large, focus on hearing what the child is saying, what they are feeling, and are not forensic. In fact, many refuse to testify in any way. We understand that there are huge repercussions emotionally if a child feels like they told on their parent, or chose one parent over another. But we do get to be the child's voice when there are safety issues. If your child tells you, the parent, about something scary going on in the other home or at school or at the daycare, your hands can easily be tied due to the custody proceedings that are ongoing. However, if they report to their therapist the concern, the therapist can tell the judge or CPS or the other parent. We can be a bridge to help set a boundary: everyone must be safe.

These are only a few of the roles a play therapist can play in the life of a changing family. My hope is that after reading this article, you know our job better and whether we can help you.Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for images (14).jpeg

Do you have questions or concerns about a child in your life? Call Christy Graham, LPC Supervisor and Registered Play Therapist Supervisor. If I can't help you, I can find someone who can. If you enjoyed this article, consider signing up for my Parent Education Program. You'll get articles sent to you regarding parenting and an extra podcast a month focused just on parenting issues. Being a client is not the only way to learn more about being a parent!Thumbnail image for images (16).jpeg

What's Going to Happen to my "Stuff" if I Divorce?

  • 23
  • February
    2015

Thumbnail image for wfneal_SMALL.jpgThe comedian George Carlin made a reputation out of his epic routine talking about everyone's "stuff" and how important it is to each of us. Carlin died in 2008, but his point is still alive and well today. While he doesn't address it in his routine, keeping your "stuff" is never more relevant than in a divorce.

We all want our "stuff". As Carlin says, we need a house to store our "stuff" so we can go out to ". . . GET MORE STUFF"! Well, in a divorce, the task is to split the "stuff".

The reality that I have seen in my career is that this "stuff" accumulated by the parties over the duration of their marriage has -more emotional impact than the house that holds it or the retirement benefits they have amassed to see them through their final years. From the Lenox China inherited from Grandma Bee and used religiously once a year at Thanksgiving to the Big Green Egg Barbeque cooker used in the backyard family get-togethers over the years, every piece of a divorcing couples "stuff" comes with a story. Dividing the "stuff" can be done systematically and logically. Separating the story from the "stuff" is what, in my opinion, makes this the most traumatic, emotional, and long lasting bitter pill that they must endure.carlinstuff-19.jpg

To save yourself angst, time, money, and receive continual pats on the back from your legal team, do the following now:

1. Make a list of your "stuff"! Do a spreadsheet, take pictures, and make videos of all your "stuff". Put down where and when you got it. Enter notes on each item of your "stuff"-include the story about that piece of "stuff" if there is one. In addition to your divorce case, a detailed list of your "stuff" can be invaluable in a homeowner's insurance claim, taking IRS charitable deductions, and for letting your kids know what items of your "stuff" are valuable when you leave this planet. You can't take your "stuff" with you.

images-77.jpeg2. Separate on your list anything that would be separate property. If you inherited it, had it before marriage, or received it as a gift, you own it. If you prove it as your separate property, the Judge has to let you keep that "stuff". Pay special attention to "stuff" your spouse gave you. Your spouse, in the divorce, is going to claim that gift was an investment you both made and not a gift to you. Write down the occasion; find the card that came with the gift on your birthday, and write down the names of any witnesses that can back you up on the facts.

3. Get your "stuff" out of the residence. If you know you are going to file for divorce and your spouse doesn't, before filing move the most important emotional "stuff" out of the house. If you are the one that will have to move out of the residence during the initial split, take any agreed "stuff" or any "stuff" ordered by the Court for you to have with you - right then. Don't leave it for a later pick up time! This rule is never to be broken if you want to keep your "stuff". Leaving any of your "stuff" behind gives you a 90% chance you'll never see it again. If you have to, rent a storage unit.

4. Put a value on it! Painful process - yes, it is but necessary if you and your spouse can't find a way to spit the household items between yourselves. Remember, the value under the law is fair market value - not what you paid for it.

5. Try to get an agreement on dividing your "stuff" with your soon to be Ex. If there is a place that you can save money on legal fees during your divorce, it's right here. Unless you have a house full of antiques or rare collectibles, none of your "stuff" is going to be worth the cost of letting lawyers and courts divide it. You could almost furnish a brand new residence for what it will cost to let the judicial system split the "stuff" for you. Put aside the bitterness, rancor, sadness, and spite for a couple of hours and sit down with your spouse and divide all your "stuff" in a way that makes sense to both of you - sentimental attachments and all. Keep in mind, successfully splitting up "stuff" will require compromise.

Using Non-Attorney Professionals in a Divorce

  • 12
  • February
    2015

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for ted ogilvie_SMALL.jpgIn almost any divorce that involves a sizeable marital estate, a troubled parenting plan, or other complex issue, we look to incorporate various professionals to help resolve as many of those issues as possible.  For instance, when a man and wife have retirement accounts they have either earned or contributed to over the many years of their marriage, having these accounts investigated and uncovered is crucial to any settlement and just and right division.  The general population has no idea how different each account can be, even down to whether or not an account is divisible or not.  On the surface, it is not easy for attorneys to discern that either, so we rely on other specialists to advise us.  A divorce financial professional can easily verify the character of each account and help the client understand the nuances of each account, including what domestic relations orders the plan administrators will need to effectively divide certain accounts.

As another instance, consider the man and wife who are having difficulty coming up with an agreed schedule for their kids who now face separating parents.  There are many wonderful counselors, social workers and psychologists who can help the couple establish a reasonable parenting plan that will benefit the children involved.  These fine professionals help couples come to agreements as to geographic restrictions, possession and access, as well as how to share the rights and duties of a parent.

I love doing collaborative law cases where the parties agree to utilize a financial professional and a mental health professional during the course of settlement talks and negotiations.  I find these parties have more successful results down the road because the allied professionals ensure the parties have the tools to succeed.  It allows everyone to communicate on the same level and with the same vocabulary, and more importantly it keeps the parties on a road to success.

Thwinwin.jpgese non-attorney professionals can be used outside of the collaborative law process, too, if the parties choose to enlist their help.  It is such a great gesture for the parties to agree to use a single neutral party to help them understand difficult issues through the divorce process, instead of each party hiring its own competing professional.

There are ways to resolve the high conflict in a divorce without having to go to court at every turn.  I would encourage you to ask your lawyer questions about collaborative law, cooperative law, and other ways to mitigate the conflict that usually accompanies a divorce.  For more information about collaborative, please visit www.dentoncountycollaborativeprofessionals.com to see other practitioners and neutrals locate in Denton Countycollaboranonpro.jpg.

Divorce and the Marital Residence - Determining Who Gets What

  • 10
  • February
    2015

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for johndenke_SMALL1.jpgDuring a marriage, husband and wife typically acquire a variety of types of community property together.  One of the most common types is real estate in the form of a marital residence where the parties reside.  When spouses intend to file for divorce and go their separate ways, determining who what happens to the marital residence can present an issue for the parties that they may have not completely thought through.

There are several options that are available when deciding how to deal with the disposition of a marital residence that is owned by the parties in a divorce.  The simplest way to address this is for one party to be awarded the house with the other moving out and finding their own residence.  The party giving up claim to the residence will likely be given a bigger portion of another asset in the marital estate in exchange for giving up their interest in the house.

Anohousemoneyyy.jpgther option would be to sell the marital residence and to split the proceeds of the sale between the parties.  The proceeds would be the remaining amount of the sale after payment of closing costs and taxes.  While this may seem like an easy option, many spouses do not want to choose it as they want to remain in the house post-divorce.  Whether this is for sentimental reasons or for more substantial reasons such as it being the children's home, spouses may seem reluctant to sell the house.

If a party chooses to keep the house but there are not other significant community assets to award to the other party to make up for the award, a spouse can choose to grant the other spouse a lien in the house to secure that other spouse's financial interest in the house.  This type of lien is called an owelty lien and can essentially reserve an interest in the house so that when it is sold in the future that party will receive their share of the equity which was established during the marriage.

Sometimes, a party just wants to get the mortgage on a house out of their name.  In this case, the house can hopefully be refinanced to allow for the house to be put in only one party's name.  If this cannot be done, the party receiving the house can execute a deed of trust to secure assumption to the other party.  This will put the deed to the house in trust and allow for foreclosure on the house in case the party the house was awarded to does not pay the mortgage in the future.

As can be seen above, there are a multitude of options that exist when it comes to dealing with the marital residence in a divorce case.  While not ideal, they can serve to get the parties moved on from one another while not feeling that the other got the best of them.  If you want to see how to best dispose of the marital residence in your divorce, an attorney experienced in family law should be able to assist you with making that determination.

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Calculating Child Support - The Basics (with 2015 Child Support Chart)

  • 04
  • February
    2015

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for johndenke_SMALL1.jpgWhen a parent is given primary conservatorship of a child in a family law suit, meaning they will have the right to designate where the child resides, the other parent is typically ordered to pay support for the child in the form of child support.  The court and the attorneys for the parents will employ a variety of methods for coming to an appropriate amount of support for the non-custodial parent.calcchild.jpg

Child support is traditionally based off of a parent's monthly net resources that they earn from either employment or self-employment.  In addition, the court can take into consideration income derived from retirement, such as a pension, or social security benefits a parent receives.  The net resources means the gross amount of income a parent receives each month reduced by federal and state taxes, social security taxes, union dues, and expenses for health insurance for the child or children.

Once a court arrives at an amount of monthly net resources for a parent, they will apply a percentage to the amount to obtain an amount of child support that will be payable by the parent.  The percentage is based on the number of children before the court in the pending lawsuit, such that one child will be 20% of the net resources, 2 will be 25%, 3 will be 30%, 4 will be 35%, 5 will be 40%, and 6 or more will be at least 40%.  If there are children that a paying parent has who are not before the court but that the paying parent has an obligation of support, that will generally reduce the percentage owed for child support by 2.5% for the first child, 1.5% for the second child, and 1.25% for the third child. 

A high income earning parent will want to consider that the court will typically only use the first $8,550.00 of monthly net resources that a parent may have, such that a parent having more than this amount in net resources will only have his or her first $8,550.00 of net income considered for child support.  This means that for one child, the usual maximum for child support is going to be $1,710.00, while the maximum for two children will be $2,137.50. 

The court can deviate from these guidelines with sufficient proof from either party of extraordinary circumstances concerning things such as educational or medical expenses, possession and access, travel costs for exercising possession, and underemployment or unemployment.  Also, if a child is receiving social security or disability benefits as a result of a paying party's old age or disability, these can act to reduce the amount of child payable to the custodial parent.

If you face the possibility of being subject to a child support order of the court, you will need to consult with an attorney to help make a proper determination of the child support that you may owe under a family law order.  An attorney can help you find the proper calculation of net resources as well as finding any credits or deductions from net resources that will hopefully result in a manageable amount of money being paid by you for child support.2015taxchart 23.jpg

The Role of Attorney as Counselor In Divorce-What does that mean?

  • 02
  • February
    2015

Thumbnail image for jimsmall.jpg"The practice of counselor at  law is more than a mere trade or business, and those who engage in it are the guardians of ideals and traditions to which it is right that they should from time to time dedicate themselves anew."Thumbnail image for couseloing 1900.jpg

Hugh Patterson McMillan, Scottish lawyer, Ethics of Advocacy, 1916

Recently, I was sitting in my office and happened to glance up at my law license which reads "Attorney and Counselor at Law".  I paused for a minute and realized that I had never given much thought to the "Counselor" aspect of my profession.

After doing some research, I realized that this is an important part of our profession.  The public views attorneys as warriors.  "Hired guns".  Sometimes, that is true.  Law school teaches us to be that way, and courtroom fights are glorified on television, movies, in the press, and often sensationalized to the point that what is being portrayed in those mediums is beyond reality.

The role of attorney as counselor begins when a client comes to the office to discuss what their legal problem is and to rely on the attorney to give them a solution to the problem. An experienced attorney and counselor is a good listener and gathers the necessary information to help the client achieve their goals. This may or may not involve litigation.  It could involve asking your spouse to attend counseling.  If your spouse is willing, it has been my experience that sometimes families stay together with the help of an experienced counselor.  In any event, this initial consultation is an opportunity for you to tell your story to an independent professional who actually cares about your legal problem and your situation.  The attorney's expertise and insight is critical to help you, the client make an informed decision.  After hearing your story, the attorney can discuss options and develop a litigation strategy. It is critical that you are honest in your consultation with your attorney so he or she can develop a plan for you.

Even if litigation occurs, the attorney's role as counselor continues in the form of guiding you through the complex legal process of a divorce, discussing strategy, settlement options, and other emotional issues that may arise.

It is not an overstatement to say that in this way, as counselor, we use our skill in an effort to heal--not just the immediate problem presented to us, but the person as well. In a very real sense, society benefits as well from this counselor approach. And we should not underestimate the professional fulfillment we derive from our privilege to serve in this capacity.cousloing 1.jpg

 

Your Case is Final and the Court Ordered Child Support, What Happens Next?

  • 29
  • January
    2015

paralegals2.jpgYour Final Order (which could be a Final Decree of Divorce, Order In Suit Establishing the Parent-Child Relationship or a Modification Order) along with a Employer's Wage Withholding Order are entered with the Court, in most cases, at the same time. Court mandated forms are completed so the District Clerk knows where to send the Employer's Wage Withholding Order. The order is then sent to the employer of the parent responsible for paying child support. There is a $15.00 fee that must be paid to the District Clerk in order for them to forward the Employer's Wage Withholding Order to the employer. Upon receipt of the Employer's Wage Withholding Order the employer will deduct the child support from the paying parent's wages from the next pay cycle and forward it to the State Disbursement Unit to be applied to the child support account.childsuport3.jpg

The State Disbursement Unit in San Antonio is set up from the forms received from the District Clerk's office. You will then receive correspondence from the State of Texas with information related to your account which includes the Attorney General Case Number, instructions to allow you to determine how you wish to receive your child support, and the information necessary for you to set up and access the Texas Attorney General's website, which you can access at https://childsupport.oag.state.tx.us/wps/portal/csi There are options available to you as to the manner in which you can receive your monthly child support payments which include direct deposit or you may elect to receive a Texas Debit Card. The Attorney General's website will maintain records of child support payments and disbursements.

This entire process may take up to 30 days to complete. You should then begin getting your child support payments in accordance with the Employer's Wage Withholding Order in the manner in which you elected to receive child support payments.childsupport.jpg

Coming Soon: Temporary Child Support and Child Support and Small Business Owners

The Big Question: Should I Get a Divorce

  • 27
  • January
    2015

ted ogilvie_SMALL.jpgOccasionally in our office we consult with new clients who question whether or not they really should get a divorce. They aren't sure if their marriage is ripe for such a drastic measure. After all, divorce is new to them, and they have no barometer to tell them when the storm in their life requires them to take cover. It kind of reminds me of our fickle Texas weather.

If you've lived in Texas long, then you know tomorrow may not be what the meteorologist on this morning's news said it will be when you were sipping your coffee and getting ready for work. And having lived in Tornado Alley nearly all of my life, even though you can rely slightly on what the prediction will be, you have to be alert and watch the signs around you. If swirling clouds are all around you, pay attention and take appropriate cover. My dad would always look at the cluster of gauges hanging on the wall in our house, paying particular attention to the barometer. He was checking to see if there was a big dip in pressure to know for sure if a tornado was in our midst. Now, I have no idea if that works, but he insisted he could always telltornade.jpg.

I feel like clients are doing the same thing when they present in our office for an initial consult. "Should I get a divorce?" is not a question your attorney can answer. Only the client can answer that. As the lawyer, I can advise how to prepare, what steps to take, when to put up certain shelters, and what the road may look like if the divorce does happen. But I simply cannot answer that paramount question. I can agree that a divorce may seem appropriate under the circumstances, and I can say that grounds exist to legally justify a divorce, but the call is not mine to make.

Under the Texas Family Code, Section 2.501(a) requires each spouse to support the other spouse. So when you are going through a rough time, remember your duty to support your spouse. Often we consider only the failure of the other to support us, but this duty runs both ways. I always run through the mutual duty scenario to help determine where my clients fall. If they need to be more supportive of their spouses, then they need to try this before heading to the divorce alter. The Texas Family Code speaks mainly to financial matters in this section, but it's not much of a stretch to consider the other relationship supports that are often needed in a marriage.

The big question, then, is usually much more clear, and clients can much more readily make that ever-so-important decision: Should I get a divorce?souldi.jpg