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b2ap3_thumbnail_lawyer_20200629-020558_1.jpgWhen you are meeting with attorneys and deciding how to proceed with your Texas high asset divorce, it is incredibly important to ensure that you have the right advocate on your side. While there are many different law firms that may do work in family law, it is essential to hire an experienced Austin high asset divorce attorney who has particular experience working on high net worth divorce cases and ensuring that high asset divorces are handled as smoothly as possible. You also want to be certain that you have an attorney who understands your particular needs and will tailor any legal strategies to fit the facts of your specific case. When you are in the early stages of planning for a high asset divorce, the following are some of the questions you should ask potential attorneys with whom you schedule consultations.

Do You Handle High Asset Divorce Cases?

As we mentioned above, it is imperative that you hire a Texas divorce attorney who has extensive experience handling high asset or high net worth divorce cases under Texas law. Although many different family law attorneys in the Austin, TX area may have experience representing clients in divorce cases, high asset divorces have a wide variety of specific issues that may not arise in a divorce involving middle-class couples.

Can I Speak with Satisfied Clients or Read Testimonials?

Your Texas high asset divorce lawyer should always be willing to provide you with information about successes and satisfied clients. In some cases, a lawyer may be able to put you in touch with previous clients who were satisfied with the outcome of their high net worth divorce, and who can speak to the attorney’s experience handling cases similar to your own. For other law firms, it may be possible to have access to testimonials from previous clients.

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prenuptial agreementIt is rare that a prenuptial agreement is dismissed as invalid in divorce proceedings. But the recent case in New York where a the wife of a Long Island real estate mogul convinced the judge that the prenup she signed before their marriage was invalid is considered precedent setting in legal circles. Elizabeth Petrakis told the court that she was coerced to sign the agreement, only four days before the wedding, because her husband, Peter Petrakis, threatened to call off the wedding. Petrakis said she felt pressured because her father had already spent $40,000 in wedding costs.

In the agreement, Peter Petrakis would keep everything if they should divorce. Elizabeth Petrakis said her husband told her he would tear up the agreement as soon as they had a child. But two children later, he still did not tear it up. Elizabeth Petrakis has been arguing the validity of the agreement for seven years. Two prior Nassau County courts said that Peter Petrakis "fraudulently induced" Elizabeth to sign the agreement and those decisions were affirmed by a Brooklyn appellate court. So what are some of the grounds where a prenuptial agreement could be overturned?
  1. Fraud is one reason why a judge could throw out an agreement. If one party fails to make full disclosure of all their assets, the court considers that fraud.
  2. If someone can prove they signed an agreement while under duress or with coercion, the agreement may be thrown out. Each state does have different standards of what is considered duress or coercion.
  3. If an agreement was signed when a person lacked mental capability, a judge may order it invalid. For example, if the person was under the influence of drugs when the agreement was signed, they may not have fully comprehended what they were signing.
  4. Improper filing of paperwork or incorrectly drafted can also end up making a prenup invalid.
  5. If you sign a prenup without having your own, impartial legal representation can invalidate an agreement.
  6. What the court would consider asinine provisions – such as not having to pay child support in the event of a divorce – will more than likely have a judge stamp the prenup as invalid.
If you are planning a marriage and are discussing drawing up a prenuptial agreement with your future spouse, it's important to have your own independent council. Contact an Austin family law attorney to represent your best interests in this process.

Little-Known Divorce Clause Causes Heartache in TexasA case earlier this year in Texas highlights a little-known immigration clause when it comes to divorce, according to Fox News. When Evangelina Zapata married Steve Summers, he signed an affidavit "vowing to support her so that she would not become a ‘public charge,'" Fox reports. Zapata was born in Mexico, and Summers needed to sign the affidavit as part of Zapata's quest for citizenship. The affidavit is formally known as Form I-864, published by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. According to NOLO, the affidavit is "a legally enforceable contract, meaning that either the government or the sponsored immigrant can take the sponsor to court if the sponsor fails to provide adequate support." NOLO states that the sponsor is responsible until the immigrant becomes a U.S. citizen, or has "earned 40 work quarters credited toward Social Security [about 10 years of work], dies, or permanently leaves the United States."

The little-known clause of the matter is that the sponsor, according to Fox, is still on the hook for the person he or she sponsored—even if the marriage dissolves. Divorce is not a reason for the sponsor to not fulfill his obligations. According to NOLO, "yes, a divorced immigrant spouse could decide to sit on a couch all day and sue the former spouse for support." NOLO suggests having a separate contract that states the immigrant spouse would not do this, but admits that the courts may not uphold a contract agreement such as this.

This, of course, is exactly what's happening in the Summers case. The couple divorced four years ago, according to Fox, and the affidavit "is being held up by Zapata in her push to get Summers to pay her alimony. She has sued Summers in federal court for breaking the contract to support her at 125 percent of the poverty level." The problem, as one attorney told Fox, is that people sign these documents, they get filed, and people forget. And then they're on the hook for something they hadn't even considered after divorce.

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Posted on in Family Law

Divorce in Texas- The BasicsKeeping kids sane during a divorce—especially one that's particularly nasty—can be one of the greatest challenges for divorcing couples. There's no shortage of psychological writings and evidence that points to the fact that divorce can be bad for children, though recent reports state that if the marriage was particularly difficult it may actually be better for kids that their parents divorce.

An article reported by Scientific American earlier this year stated that "researchers have found that only a relatively small percentage of children experienced serious problems in the wake of divorce or, later, as adults." Scientific American cites a Pennsylvania State University study that followed children of divorce "into later childhood, adolescence or the teenage years, assessing their academic achievement, emotional and behavior problems, delinquency, self-concept and social relationships." The study found that children of divorced parents had similar results to those from intact families, "suggesting that the vast majority of children endure divorce well."

That's good news for parents who are considering divorce—but there's still the question as to how to break the news to the kids and just how much information the kids should know. According to the Huffington Post, keeping the details of your split private—not allowing the children the details of your broken marriage—is likely much better for the kids and their future relationship with each parent. Knowing that their parents can't be together, and are no longer in love, is enough, clinical psychologist Edward D. Farber told the Huffington Post. "Your child has absolutely no need to know the reasons Mom and Dad don't love each other," he said.

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The cost of divorce doesn't always just refer to the price tag for an attorney's services. Especially for marriages in which one spouse was the primary earner, the process of sorting out the financials is difficult and sometimes complicated. Oftentimes women get stuck with a financial burden that's too much to bear. Knowing what to do before a divorce is essential for either spouse, but it's especially important that the non-primary earner take steps before a divorce to maintain financial solvency after the split. According to WIFE.org, "divorce is the largest single financial transaction of most people's lives." Important first steps include canceling all joint accounts and opening private accounts that your spouse doesn't have access to. In the same vein, before you separate (especially if the divorce is your idea, it's not necessarily slated to be amicable, and you're not the primary earner) WIFE.org suggests to "use joint funds to repair your automobile and home, buy clothes for yourself and your children, and other family expenses." Starting off the split with joint expenses paid will save arguments down the line as to who should be responsible for paying them.  Maintaining Financial Solvency Through Divorce IMAGE

Having said that, if you didn't prepare financially for divorce before the process was in full swing, it doesn't mean it's too late. According to CNN Money Magazine, the three most important "fixes" to financial insolvency after divorce are to "follow the money, reschedule retirement, and keep renting." To follow the money is to carefully (obsessively, even) track what you're spending and how you're spending it. Adjusting to a single income after becoming accustomed to two isn't necessarily an easy process. You can do "a thorough analysis of cash flow using a program like Quicken," according to CNN.

Retirement plans will likely have to be flexible upon divorce—that may mean working another five years, or planning to put away more into a 401k or other retirement plan each year. Another life plan that may have to be reconsidered is home ownership. For many divorced or divorcing couples it's smarter to keep renting and put the money you may have used on a down payment away for emergencies.

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A recent research study highlights the connection between individuals feeling depressed and a lack of support from their spouse. The study found a strong link between the relationships that an individual has with their loved ones and their likelihood of experiencing depression in the future. There's a strong association between fighting and lack of support early on and emotional problems for the individuals in the future.

Laura Austin divorce attorney,Anyone who noted strain on their current marriage or relationship was much more likely to face depression later on. Knowing about the signals of a bad marriage can help a person know when it's time to file for divorce. A strained marriage can put a lot of pressure on not only the people in the marriage, but their children and other loved ones as well. A lack of support can have a serious impact on the other spouse, including emotional problems and issues making new friends. This kind of problem can also cause resentment to build within the marriage. What is unique about this study is that those without a spouse did not face any increased risk of depression down the line.

It's well documented how much a positive marriage can impact a person's life, but there can also be devastating consequences when the spouse is simply not supportive or helpful to their partner. The study determined that those with the "lowest quality" relationships (meaning those where severe strain and emotional troubles were already reported) face nearly double the risk of depression when compared with those in the best relationships.

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Posted on in Divorce

DivorceWhile it's a common fact that divorce rates have been on the rise since the 1950s, it's been several decades, according to the Huffington Post, since Americans have done much to curb the consequences of divorce on families. It was for the reason, reports the Huffington Post, that in 2001 interested parties "launched the Coalition for Divorce Reform (CDR), a non-partisan coalition of divorce reform leaders, marriage educators, domestic violence experts, scholars and concerned citizens." The goal of the coalition is to increase awareness about the consequences of divorce, and to put an end to a nearly-four-decade-long silence about frequent divorce.

By and large, the divorce rate has decreased since 2000, according to the Center for Disease Control, when it was 4.0 for every 1,000 people. In 2011, the most recent year for which data is available, that number had dropped to 3.6—yet this was an increase from 2008 and 2009 when the divorce rate per 1,000 people was slightly lower at 3.5. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the 1990s, the percentage of family households "maintained by divorced, separated, or never-married married had risen from about 70 percent in 1950 to 93 percent."

These statistics are why legislators in North Carolina and Georgia, according to the Huffington Post, are working with the CDR and are taking "bold and courageous steps toward reducing unnecessary divorce and promoting healthy marriages." North Carolina introduced the Healthy Marriage Act in March 2013, which reverses a law that mandates couples must live apart before divorcing. This law "encourages reconciliation and alleviates some of the financial burdens some couples face by being required to live apart." This act also changes the one-year waiting period to two, and requires couples that are parents to take courses on the impact of divorce on children, in addition to courses on conflict resolution and improving communication. The new bill does not change the waiting period for victims of domestic violence.

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The days of living separately before marriage are long gone in the United States, according to a recent Center for Disease Control (CDC) report  that was published on CBS News. The rise in cohabitation before marriage is initiated mostly by women, according to the CDC; "48 percent of women were living with their significant other but not married to them." This is, according to CBS, a "sharp increase from the 43 percent reported in 2002 and the 35 percent that reported the same situation in 1995." A sociologist at John Hopkins University told USA Today that before the recent numbers were released, it was thought that the United States "has long had the shortest cohabiting relationships of any wealthy nation." And now these relationships are lengthening.Cohabitation on the Rise, Can Lead to Divorce IMAGE

The CDC findings were calculated after following the relationships of nearly 12,300 women between the ages of 15 and 44 between 2006 and 2010. "Seventy-four percent of 30-year-olds said that they had cohabited with a partner. Fifty-five percent said they did it by the age of 25," according to CBS News.

While conventional wisdom might dictate that living together before marriage is a good idea to determine if it's possible for a couple to work together in the long run, a 2009 study reported on by NBC News found that "couples who shack up before tying the know are more likely to get divorced." In 2009, nearly 70 percent of couples cohabited before marriage—and this could lead to getting married for the wrong reasons. Feeling as if there's no way out of the bad relationship after cohabiting, the study suggested that people moved into marriage without being sure that the person was "the one." This, of course, can lead to divorce.

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