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Many people ask: Can my children decide where they want to live in a divorce? There are many ways for a court to consider children’s input about where they want to live.

The first way is simply allowing children to talk to the judge. Section 153.009 of the Texas Family Code allows a parent to request that a judge interview the child in chambers to determine the child’s wishes regarding certain aspects of custody. If a child is over the age of 12, it is mandatory that the judge interview the child on the request of a parent. A judge may also interview a child under age 12. It is important to know that 12-year old children cannot actually decide where they where they want to live. They will not be providing the “final say.” Instead, the child’s wishes will just be one factor that the Court considers in addition to other important information. Another thing to keep in mind is that this process can be traumatic for children. Sitting in a judge’s chambers can be very intimidating for a child, and a child could be negatively impacted by the pressure of such a weighty decision. However, many times, a child’s input can be very important in a child custody dispute, and so there are other means to obtain the information indirectly.

Another way to get a child’s input in child custody litigation is through a Child Custody Evaluation. In Texas, the only mental health professional that may make recommendations as to possession and conservatorship for children is a child custody evaluator. The Texas Family Code provides very detailed requirements for a child custody evaluation, which includes interviews of each parent and anyone living in a house with the child, interviews of the child, and observations of the home environment and each parent’s interactions with the child. The child custody evaluator will therefore be able to talk to children about where they want to live, and will do so in conjunction with a much broader study into the children’s home environment and what will ultimately be in the best interests of the children.

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Surrogacy is the process of a mother carrying a child for a family who can’t conceive. The process can be a godsend for parents who do not have the option of traditional conception. As surrogacy works in Texas, it involves a life-altering event for at least three parties– the intended parents and the gestational mother. Naturally, it is a delicate process with many emotions and moving parts. Surrogacy can be a great option for many reasons- whether the parents are a same-sex couple, medical issues prevent a mother from carrying a baby, or if either parent is concerned about passing down a genetic disorder or defect. For anyone thinking about growing a family through surrogacy, keep in mind that the legal process is just as essential as the biological process. Continue reading →

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I know what you’re thinking…. “I’m already married; how is it not too late?” Don’t worry; the solution is a postnup! The Texas Family Code allows for couples to enter into a postnuptial agreement (or marital property agreement), which will offer many of the same protections and advantages that a prenuptial agreement offers.

Current Property. At the time of marriage, both spouses often have separate property interests and liabilities that were acquired prior to marriage. Without a prenup, the spouses’ separate property estates often become commingled and indistinguishable from the community estate of the spouses that begins upon marriage, especially if the spouses have been married for a substantial period of time. For example, during marriage, a spouse may inherit a large estate from a relative, gifts, buy a house, sell or trade property, or put separate property money in the same bank account. Although you and your spouse did not execute a premarital agreement, it is not too late to distinguish your separate property in a marital property agreement.

Chapter 4 of the Texas Family Code, Subchapter B, outlines the statutory requirements and guidelines for a marital agreement. Section 4.102 states:

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A Court in Houston recently reinforced the importance of honesty and full disclosure during the Collaborative Law process when it found that a husband potentially committed fraud by failing to disclose changing job circumstances. See Rawls v. Rawls, 2015 WL 5076283 (Tex. App.–Houston [1st Dist.] 2015, no pet.).

A husband and wife in Houston chose to use Collaborative Law to complete their divorce proceedings in 2014. They successfully reached a settlement that included provisions for the wife to receive portions of her husband’s bonus over the next few years. Unfortunately, before the settlement agreement was signed, the husband received a job offer, which he failed to disclose to his wife, and he resigned from his job. Full and complete disclosures of such information is a critical part of the Collaborative Law process, because the goal is to make both parties feel safe to make informed decisions.  The Houston Court is currently examining whether the husband committed fraud and breached a fiduciary duty under the Collaborative Law agreement he signed by concealing his job change from his former spouse during the collaborative law process.  Continue reading →

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Nearly a year after separating, Mandy Moore and Ryan Adams are still trying to negotiate a settlement for divorce. The reason for the drawn out divorce? Alimony. Continue reading →

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Cloud-based software, such as iCloud from Apple, has made sharing information like pictures, text messages, and communication a breeze. Families often link accounts to share music, pictures, and other media. Apple explains, “Set up iCloud on all your devices. The rest is automatic.”  And when Apple says everything, it means everything.  Lately, iCloud has provided a new way for spouses to learn about infidelity–when it pops up automatically on their screens.

Monique Honaman, a writer at the Huffington post, recently brought up some of the issues that accompany the automatic sharing of all of the data on your phone.  In a column titled “iCaught on iCloud,” the author posts stories of people who found out about infidelity on iCloud. Continue reading →