EXPERIENCE MATTERS WHEN IT COMES TO TACKLING TOUGH CASES!

Getting a Divorce? Should I Move Out of the Marital Home?

This is a complicated question to answer depending upon the facts of each case.  If you have experienced domestic violence you need to immediately do whatever is necessary to secure you and your child’s safety.  Many times a victim will go to court for a protective order and ask the judge to move the abusive or violent spouse out.  In this situation contact an experienced family law attorney now!

In most cases, absent of violence or risk of abuse, we would not suggest that a spouse move out of the marital residence.

Why is this?  One reason is once you have vacated the residence it may be very difficult to get back in! You have no legal obligation to leave the residence if your name is on the lease or mortgage personally and exclusivity.

Our suggestion to a client might be, to remain in the residence since the person who vacates may still have financial obligations and expenses of the family residence, while paying all expenses on a new residence for themselves. Double expenses are not a desirable result during the divorce process.

The higher wage earning spouse who moves out of the marital home must expect to continue to pay most of the household expenses, including the insurance and mortgage!  What about the personal property and furnishings in the residence?

If an agreement has not been made between the divorcing couple, the moving spouse will generally only be able to leave with personal belongings (clothing & jewelry) until a court rules fairly as to temporary possession.

Secure a court order ASAP to equalize property and household expenses.

Parental Alienation Hurts Your Children – Know the Symptoms

Are you now going through or commencing a “High Conflict” Divorce with children where one Alienating Parent is encouraging or programming the child to reject the other parent without legitimate cause or justification. An alienating parent makes a child choose sides to bolster the alienators own parental identity and to undermine the target parent through denigration and interference with the child’s other parent relationship.  

Parental Alienation is more common than thought in divorce situations and many alienation situations continue throughout the entire relationship with the target parent and the affected child.   

A report from Fidler and Bala (2010) reported increased incidences and judicial findings in parental alienation and estimated signs of parental alienation in 11-15% of divorces with children. Psychiatrist, Dr. William Bernet, Professor at Vanderbilt University and advocate of parental alienation (Sept. 2013) “Almost every mental health professional who works with children of divorced parents acknowledges the PA (parental alienation) affects thousands of families and causes enormous pain and hardship”

What are the warning signs of “Parental Alienation Syndrome”?  Beware when a child starts displaying accelerated signs of hatred and anger rejecting any relationship with the target parent. This is especially transparent when a normal relationship existed before the deviant behavior manifests.

Are you having these types of problems with your children?  What are the basic symptoms of Parental Alienation(PA)? There are many versions but in our law practice, these are the most visible:

    • Under the idea of just being honest, the alienating parent tells the child “the entire family situation” through their opinionated eyes causing the child to think less of the target parent.  Placing singular blame for who caused the breakup of the family?
    • Alienating Parent refuses to allow the target parent access to school records/activities, medical/doctor records/appointments, extracurricular activities, or anything that would be a shared part of the child/parent life together.
    • An Alienating Parent makes demands on the target parent that are contrary to court orders. Allows the child to make choices about parental visits with the target parent contra to existing court orders causing the child to resent the target parent when the changes request cannot or should not happen.
    • Alienated parent may schedule the child in too many activities to assure no time is left for the target parent to visit with the child. Both parents need to be flexible with visitation to respond to the child’s need to have a relationship with both parents.
    • A parent listens in on the child’s conversation with the target parent or does not allow the child to talk with the target parent at the designed call time.
    • Refuses to allow children to takes their possessions to the target parent residence.
  • Alienated parent blames the target parent for financial problems, having a boy/girlfriend, or causing changes in the family lifestyle. Forcing adult issues on a minor to gain advantage.
  • When the child shows constant anger towards the target parent that accelerates to the point where the child avoids being with the target parent. No justified or demonstrative reason is given or exists for the anger and the child will not discuss the issue.
  • The alienating parent will use the child to spy and gather information against the target parent. This can cause the child to demean and fear the target parent while scaring the child’s self-image.
  • Alienating parent asks the child about the other parent’s personal life causing the child extreme stress/tension. A child not alienated wants to loyal to both parents.
  • Alienating parents have secret codes, signals, and words that reinforce very destructive on-going alienation.

In today’s world Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is now taken very serious in family law courts. Please review the symptoms of parental alienation and see if there are common elements in your relationship with your child to determine if parental alienation may be a factor.

If so, take action to help alleviate this this situation with your child.  Contact a medical professional who can help address this form of brainwashing.  The alienating parent always feels like they are helping the child, but in reality, by pushing the child into their way of thinking about the target parent, they are pushing the child into a life of low self- esteem, depression, lack of trust, and self- hate.  Many times the child will turn on the alienating parent when the real family picture comes out or as they grow and mature.

Nothing is ever gained by demeaning actions by one family member on all other members of the family unit. Many times it may also be necessary to contact a legal profession who is knowledgeable in Parental Alienation situations to legally intercede and help correct family issues before the child and parent regress to a non- existent relationship with each other.

Getting Even by using a child is never fair play.  The child has two parents and should be able to have a loving relationship with both.

Thinking of a Texas Divorce? Prepare A Divorce Financial Checklist For Your Next Move

Preparing for a Texas Divorce: Assets

Going through a Divorce is painful no matter what the circumstances are. Before you get into the Texas Divorce Process, reduce expense, stress and conflict by making sure you are financially prepared. Planning ahead helps you in making sound decisions, start preparing for post-divorce life, and avoid many post-divorce pitfalls. Below is a list of items you need to gather before counseling with an attorney. Financial Documents are a must to show what your true assets and liabilities are in your marriage.
We have included many assets that you may or may not have. This is only a financial checklist of multiple assets for your review so you will not miss an important asset that needs to be reported.

Documents:

1. Tax Returns (at least three years) or Tax Liens and all IRS related documents

2. Wills and Trusts with all attachments reflecting corpus and trust holdings

3. Listing of all liabilities (including mortgages, credit card debt, personal loans, automobile loans, etc.):
—Name of entity, address and telephone number
—Account number
—Amount owed
—Monthly payment
—Property securing payment (if any)
—Most current statements and account status of lenders

4. A Listing of all Real Property, address and location, including (includes time-shares and vacation properties):
–Deeds of Trust
—Notes including equity loans and second liens
—Legal Descriptions
—Mortgage Companies and Loan Servicers (Name, Address, Telephone Number, Account —Number, Balance of Note, Monthly Payments)
—Current fair market value
—Appraisals

5. Motor Vehicles (including mobile homes, boats, trailers, motorcycles, recreational vehicles; exclude company owned):
—Year
—Make
—Model
—Value
—Name on title
—VIN Number
—Fair Market Value
—Name of creditor (if any), address and telephone
—Persons listed on debt
—Account number
—Balance of any loan and monthly payment
—Net Equity in vehicle

6. Cash and accounts with financial institutions (checking, savings, commercial bank accounts, credit union funds, IRA’s, CD’s, 401K’s, pension plans and any other form of retirement accounts):
—Name of institution, address and telephone number
—Amount in institution on date of marriage
—Amount in institution currently
Account Number
—Names on Account
—Company loans and documents related to benefits

7. A listing of separate property (property owned prior to marriage, family heirlooms, property gifted, inherited property):
—Records that trace your separate property. These assets will remain yours if properly documented

8. Retirement & Pension Benefits:
—Exact name of plan
—Address of plan administrator
—Employer
–Employee
—Starting date of contributions
—Amount currently in account
—Balance of any loan against plan
—Documents

9. Publicly traded stock, bonds and other securities (including securities not in a brokerage, mutual fund, or retirement account):
—Number of shares
—Type of securities
—Certificate numbers
—In possession of
—Name of exchange which listed
—Pledged as collateral?
—Date acquired
—Tax basis
—Current market value
—If stock (date option granted, number of shares and value per share)
—Stock options plans and related documents

10. Insurance and Annuities Policies and Inventory:
—Name of insurance company
—Policy Number
—Insured
—Type of insurance (whole/term/universal)
—Amount of monthly premiums
—Date of Issue
—Face amount
—Cash surrender value
—Current surrender value
—Designated beneficiary
—Other policies and amendments

11. Closely held business interests:
—Name of business
—Address
—Type of business
—% of ownership
—Number of shares owned if applicable
–Value of shares
—Balance of accounts receivables
—Cash flow reports
—Balance of liabilities
—List of company assets
—Possible hobbies or side businesses that generate income

12. Mineral Interests (include any property in which you own the mineral estate, separate and apart from the surface estate, such as oil and gas leases; also include royalty interests, working interests, and producing and non-producing oil and gas wells:
—Name of mineral interest
—Type of interest
—County of location
—Legal description
—Name of producer/operator
—Current market value
—needs leases or production documents related to the asset

13. Money owed by spouse (including any expected federal or state income tax refund but not including receivables connected with any business)

14. Household furniture, furnishings and Fixtures
—photos
—purchase receipts and documents

15. Electronics and computers including software and hard drive

16. Antiques, artwork and collectibles (including works of art, paintings, tapestry, rugs, crystal, coin or stamp collections) Other large collections need to be appraised! (Guns, quilts, action figures, books)

17. Miscellaneous sporting goods and firearms

18. Jewelry including appraisals

19. Animals and livestock

20. Farming equipment

21. Club Memberships

22. Safe deposit box items

23. Burial plots including documents of ownership

24. Items in any storage facility

25. Travel Awards Benefits (including frequent flyer miles)