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Posted on in Complex Divorce

Texas complex divorce attorney, Texas high asset divorce lawyerIn Texas, couples who wish to terminate their marriage must fulfill certain legal requirements before the divorce can be finalized. Ensuring that all of these requirements are met and that all appropriate paperwork is completed and submitted on time can make an already stressful situation even more emotionally taxing, so if you are considering a divorce, it is important to contact an experienced divorce attorney who can help you navigate the process as smoothly as possible.

Residency

In order to obtain a divorce in Texas, couples must meet specific residency requirements, including that one of the parties:

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Posted on in Contested Divorce

Texas high asset divorce lawyer, Texas complex litigation attorney, Texas complex divorce lawyer, What bearing does the recent data breach at the adultery site Ashley Madison have on high-asset divorces in and around Travis County?

The Toronto-based company now faces several class-action lawsuits after hackers broke into the site and obtained personal information of about 39 million users, many of whom paid an additional $19 for a "permanent account deletion" that apparently never happened. Canadian lawyers quickly filed a class-action lawsuit against parent companies Avid Dating Life and Avid Life Media, demanding $578 million in damages. The lead plaintiff there is a Canadian man who joined the site briefly after his wife died from breast cancer.

Several similar lawsuits are already pending in Missouri and California.

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Posted on in Contested Divorce

Texas high asset divorce lawyer, Texas marital laws, Texas complex litigation attorney, Although the vast majority of Texas divorces are filed under the no-fault law, there are times that an evidenced-based action may be more appropriate, particularly in a high-asset divorce.

For many people, a no-fault divorce is not a good option for religious or moral reasons. An evidenced-based divorce helps them paint a picture of an out-of-control relationship which was far beyond salvaging. In a similar vein, some spouses may want to portray themselves as victims. There is another reason. Texas is rather unique in that a judge may consider fault in the marriage as a basis for an unequal property distribution. Specifically, "marital misconduct" is one of the listed factors to determine the amount and frequency of maintenance payments.

The grounds for divorce, as well as some possible defenses, are laid out in Section 6 of the Family Code.

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Texas divorce attorney, Texas complex litigation attorney, irreconcilable differences,Texas is a no-fault state, and the vast majority of divorces are based on "insupportability," which is Texan for "irreconcilable differences." However, a spouse may still obtain a divorce based on adultery, cruelty, or some other evidence-based ground. An adverse ruling – or a favorable ruling, depending on your point of view – can have a significant impact on a future property settlement in a high-asset divorce.

Section 8 of the Family Code states that "marital misconduct" is a factor when determining the amount and duration of maintenance payments. The statute specifically mentions adultery and cruel treatment, but other types of fault may also be applicable. Meanwhile, Section 7 states that a spouse may be punished in the property settlement, if there is evidence of fraud on the community. Such fraud could include a husband who spends community funds to buy a present for his girlfriend or a wife who has part of her paycheck deposited into a separate account, without her husband's knowledge or consent.

Fault

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cheating spouseIn Texas, there are two ways to file for a high-asset divorce—either via fault or no-fault. A no-fault divorce is one in which neither party is being cited for causing the breakup of a marriage. However, if a spouse files for a divorce based on the "fault" of the other spouse, he or she may use one of the following as grounds:

  • Cruelty;
  • Adultery;
  • Conviction of a felony (with a minimum one-year prison sentence); abandonment (for at least one year); living apart (for at least three years); or,
  • A spouse has been committed to a mental institution with no hope of recovery.

In many high-asset divorces, adultery is often the grounds for which a spouse will file for divorce. In order to claim adultery, however, there must be proof of infidelity. Moreover, there are several methods available to track an untrustworthy spouse, including hiring a private investigator and using computer software to monitor a spouse's emails, social media accounts, and other computer use.

Additionally, one may monitor a spouse's whereabouts via smart phone. Both iPhones and Android phones with Google have hidden settings that actually track a person's locations. This setting is not an app, but is actually on the phone itself. The phone manufacturers say they use this information only to learn about locations that may be significant to their users, and it is kept exclusively on the device itself.

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Texas Divorce Code, grounds for divorce, Texas divorce lawyer, Austin divorce lawyerAlthough Texas does allow for no-fault divorces, the Texas Family Code also allows for fault ground divorces. One of those grounds is adultery. In TFC  6.003, adultery in a divorce proceeding is defined as "voluntary sexual intercourse of a married person with one not the husband or wife of the offender". It's important to note even after the parties have separated and divorce has been filed, any acts would still legally be considered adultery.

Accusations of adultery are not enough to bring to court. You must provide solid evidence of the adultery. Text messages, emails, receipts, photos and any other evidence should be gathered and presented to the court. Adultery is also grounds for a judge to award a disproportionate award of the marital estate. TFC 7.001  states, "In a decree of divorce or annulment, the court shall order a division of the estate of the parties in a manner that the court deems just and right, having due regard for the rights of each party and any children of the marriage." In a recent case that occurred in The Woodlands, an appeals court awarded the wife 81 percent of the marital estate after she proved that her husband had committed adultery. The couple decided to separate in March and the wife moved out of the marital home. The wife had hoped to reconcile and suggested counseling, which the husband refused. In June, she suspected he was having an affair, but really had no evidence at this point. The wife filed for divorce in August. In September, after finding another woman's underthings in the master bedroom of the marital home, the woman hired an investigator to gather proof of the husband's infidelity. Although the wife had already moved out and filed for divorce before she was able to obtain evidence that her husband was cheating, the court ruled that the husband was at fault for the breakup of the marriage.  The marital estate was worth $1.6 million. The wife received over $1.3 million and the husband received a little over $300,000. If you have discovered your spouse has been cheating and you are considering a divorce, contact an experience Austin family law attorney to make sure you receive the divorce settlement that you deserve.

ReflectionDeciding to file for divorce can be arduous and stressful.  Occasionally that is because the filer is not aware of how the process works.  First, when the decision is made to initiate a divorce, there are certain requirements that need to be met.  For example, there are residency requirements in Texas.  Either spouse must live in the state for at least six months before filing.  Also, either spouse must have lived in the county where the suit is filed for the past 90 days.

After meeting with an attorney and discussing the divorce, that attorney will file an Original Petition for Divorce with the District Clerk of your county.  The spouse who initiates the divorce proceedings is called the petitioner and the other spouse is called the respondent.  The petition will list the grounds for divorce, children from the marriage, any protective orders existing against either spouse as well as a list of separate property not to be considered in the division of marital property.

The petition initiates the divorce proceedings in court, but does not notify the other spouse.  That is accomplished by a citation that is issued at the time the petition is filed.  A citation includes the case number, information about the court, addresses and names of the petitioner and respondent and the date when the citation was issued.   It also sets a deadline for the respondent to answer the lawsuit without a judgment being made by the court.

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divorce planDivorce is a whirlwind of emotions.  These emotions can occasionally cause those involved to act emotionally rather than rationally.  It is an important event in your life so avoiding mistakes is essential.  Learn from others to avoid these common errors that people make when thinking about divorce.

1. Not reviewing your relationship

When emotions run hot, it can be easy to let them cloud your decision making process, but try to focus long term.  Do you still love your spouse? Do you still have a spark for your partner?  Have they done something to you that you can't forgive and forget?  No one should be forced to settle, but make sure you take enough time to know what you want before you make a life changing decision.

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