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divorce settlement, debt, jail, Austin divorce lawyer, Austin divorce attorneyOn April 25, 2013, Cherilyn Kinney, of Hunt County Texas was granted a divorce from her husband Robert Kinney. The final decree was May 22, 2013. As part of the divorce settlement, Cherilyn was to pay Robert $40,000. This amount was referred to as a debt in the settlement paperwork. The divorce judge gave her six months to pay the funds to Robert. The final due date was on November 22, 2013.

On November 23, 2013, because Cherilyn had failed to make the payment, Robert filed a contempt of court charge against her. A hearing was held on February 7, 2014, and the judge found Cherilyn in contempt. He ordered her held at the Hunt County jail until the entire $40,000 payment was made.

Her attorneys immediately filed a writ of habeas corpus with the Appeals Court in Dallas. Habeas corpus means a person is required to be brought before a judge or court who can decide if the person is being detained or held unlawfully or without just cause.

 The Appeals Court threw out the lower court's contempt order. In making its ruling, the court cited three Texas laws:

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family business, divorce, division of property, Texas family lawyer, Austin divorceA big task during a divorce proceeding is determining what property is separate property (belonging to a particular spouse) and what property is marital property (to be divided in the divorce). Marital property is all property, other than separate property, acquired during the marriage until the date of separation. Marital property may include the family home, the family car, or a retirement account. Separate property is all property acquired by either spouse before the marriage, or all property acquired during the marriage by inheritance or gift. Separate property may include an inheritance from a parent or a cash gift from a friend.

 For some types of property, determining whether it is marital property or separate property can be challenging. One piece of property of particular concern to many divorcing couples is the family business.  Where the Family Business is Jointly Owned or Separately Owned In some instances, the court may determine that the family business is marital property (i.e., owned by both spouses). For example, a business that was started during the marriage, and with funds acquired during the marriage, may be considered marital property. During a divorce, the court will determine a value for the business and divide that value between the divorcing spouses. Where the court determines that a business is owned by just one of the divorcing spouses, the court will award the business to that divorcing spouse.  Where the Family Business is Part Separate Property and Part Marital Property Determining what happens to the family business can get complicated, however, when the business is a mixture of both separate property and marital property. For example, instances when a business may be part marital property and part separate property include:
  • Income received from a business - Even if a business is considered the separate property of one of the spouses, income received from the business may be considered marital property, provided such income is attributable to the personal efforts of either spouse. For example, if both spouses work at the business producing income, that income will be considered marital property, even though the business is the separate property of just one of the spouses.
  • Increase in value of the business - Even if the business is considered the separate property of one of the spouses, an increase in the value of the business during the marriage may be marital property, provided that such increase was due to the personal efforts of either spouse. For example, if one spouse owns the business before marriage, but either spouse's personal efforts cause the business to substantially increase in value during the marriage, the increase in value may be marital property. Such personal efforts may include labor, effort, inventiveness, skill, creativity, or marketing activity applied to the business.
Attorney Help If you are considering divorce and have questions about a business owned by either you or your divorcing spouse, it is vital that you contact a skilled Austin family law attorney. The attorneys at our firm are dedicated to helping individuals involved in divorce proceedings understand their rights and reach the outcomes they desire. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

protective order, domestic abuse, restraining order, Texas, San Antonio, family law, lawyer, attorneyFor victims of domestic abuse and violence, it may appear that there is no hope for escape. However, that is not the case. The most effective way to escape domestic abuse is through a protective order. According to the Texas Council on Family Violence, a protective order is a "civil court order issued to prevent continuing acts of family violence."

There are three types of protective orders in Texas: temporary ex parte, final, and magistrate's order of emergency protection. A temporary ex parte protective order will provide a victim of domestic abuse with immediate protection. These may be obtained without the presence of the abuser in court, so long as the judge believes the abuser presents a clear danger of violence to the victim. However, an abuser cannot be arrested for violating this type of order. Temporary ex parte orders generally last for 20 days and can sometimes be renewed for an additional 20-day period. Next, we have the magistrate's order of emergency protection, sometimes referred to as simply an emergency protective order. These are issued by the criminal court after an abuser has been arrested for committing family violence, sexual assault, or stalking. This type of order is generally good for 31-61 days, but will last from 61-91 days if the abuser was arrested for assault with a deadly weapon. The third and final type of protective order is called a final protective order. These orders are effective for the time period specified in the order itself-which is typically up to two years. There are a few different circumstances, however, that will allow a final order to be effective for more than two years. The abuser may petition the court to ask for the discontinuation of the order after it has been in effect for one year. Victims of domestic violence may feel that they have no place to turn, but there is hope for safety. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, do not go through it alone. Contact a dedicated Texas family law attorney to assist you in obtaining a protective order.

A recent study, conducted by the Buffalo Research Institute on Addictions (RIA), has linked the differences in a spouse's alcohol consumption habits to divorce. Kenneth Leonard, Ph.D., RIA director and lead author of the study stated,"Our results indicate that it is the difference between the couple's drinking habits, rather than the drinking itself, that leads to marital dissatisfaction, separation and divorce."

alcohol consumption and marriage Researchers followed 634 couples over the first nine years of their marriage and found that close to 50 percent of couples "where only one partner drank more heavily" would end up divorcing, while the divorce rates for other couples was only 30 percent. The study also found that the divorce rate remained the same for couples where both partners consumed large amounts of alcohol, showing that they were just as likely to stay together as couples who were not heavy drinkers or drinkers at all. "This research provides solid evidence to bolster the commonplace notion that heavy drinking by one partner can lead to divorce. Although some people might think that's a likely outcome, there was surprisingly little data to back up that claim until now," stated Leonard.

The study defined a heavy drinker as one who drank "six or more drinks at one time or drinking to intoxication." And while moderate alcohol consumption may not be harmful or lead to alcoholism, MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, reports that "about 18 million adult Americans are alcoholics or have alcohol problems." Alcoholism is a disease with four main features, including craving, loss of control, physical dependence and tolerance.

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texas-open-adoptionAdding a child to your family is a very exciting prospect, but it is also a process that can feel confusing and emotionally overwhelming if it is your first time. One way to ease your anxiety is to work with a family lawyer experienced in adoption. This will give you more information about what to expect and how to structure the adoption in a way that is best for you and the child.

The Minnesota/Texas Adoption research project explored two waves of children who were adopted. In their first wave of research, the project creators found no relationship between adoption openness and self-esteem, but those results changed as time went on, possibly reflecting a greater trend about the desire for open adoption.

The first wave of research worked with adopted children between the ages of 4 and 12, and the second wave worked with children between 11 and 21 years old. For older adopted children, there is a positive aspect of having an open adoption: those teens who had birth mother contact were the most satisfied of all research groups with their level of birth parent contact overall. Most of the adolescents wanted more contract with their birth parents in the future, too.

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