A Texas premarital agreement can help protect each party’s assets in the event a marriage ends in divorce. Premarital agreements may also include other provisions, including a requirement to submit certain issues to binding arbitration instead of for determination before a judge or jury. In a recent case, a husband attempted to vacate an arbitrator’s decision, arguing he had exceeded his authority.
Courts often keep siblings together; however, in some Texas child custody cases, it is in the children’s best interest for them to be split up. When one or more children live with one parent and one or more children live with the other parent, each parent may be obligated to pay child support to the other. A father recently challenged how the court calculated the child support the mother would have to pay him after he received custody of one of their four children. In issuing its ruling, the appellate court’s opinion turned on the definition of “multiple households” under the Texas Family Code.
Fault in Divorce
Divorces may be granted without fault, but Texas still allows divorce to be granted on fault-based grounds in certain situations. For example, a Texas divorce may be granted in one spouse’s favor if the other committed “cruel treatment” that makes the parties continuing to live together “insupportable.” Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 6.002. Physical abuse can constitute cruel treatment, but physical abuse is not required for a Texas divorce court to find cruel treatment. When the court finds fault-based grounds for divorce, such as cruel treatment, the court may consider the fault in dividing the property. Specifically, the court can award a disproportionate share of the community estate to the spouse who is not at fault. A husband recently challenged such a disproportionate property division in his divorce.
The wife said the husband stopped paying attention to her after his business partnership went sour. She also said he had called her names and accused her of cheating, in addition to being violent against her around four or five times.
The wife alleged that, during one incident, the husband had closed a door on her arm after he had filed for divorce. She called the police, and the husband agreed to leave. The husband, however, claimed that he had simply closed the door after the wife left the room, but she forced it back open. He claimed the door hit him, then whipped back toward her and hit her elbow. He said he agreed to leave for a few hours after the police arrived, but ultimately decided to leave permanently so their child would not see them argue.
Texas, unlike many states, still recognizes common law marriage (also known as an “informal” marriage). Unlike with formal marriages, a common law spouse often has to prove that the marriage even existed before getting a divorce. A party may prove that an informal marriage exists by showing that the parties agreed to be married, then lived together as spouses in Texas, and represented themselves to others as married. TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. § 2.401(a)(2).
In a recent case, a woman challenged a determination that she and her former romantic partner had not established the existence of an informal marriage. After they broke up, the man filed for a declaratory judgment that there was no informal marriage, but the woman counter-petitioned for divorce, alleging that they were informally married. The woman argued they had an informal marriage starting in August 2014, but the man argued they had only been “boyfriend/girlfriend” or domestic partners.
In an ideal situation, child custody may be resolved by agreement, potentially following mediation. In some cases, however, Texas child custody cases become long protracted affairs with disputes that last for years.
Unfortunately, former spouses do not always comply with all of their obligations under a Texas divorce decree. When that happens, the other party may need to take action to enforce those obligations. A father recently challenged a court order charging his interest in certain business organizations with judgments the mother obtained following the divorce.
After the mother was unable to collect on two judgments against the father related to his obligations under the divorce decree, she filed an Application for Charging Order. She alleged the he had “a position of authority” in five business entities. She alleged he received distributions from one or more of the entities, through funds disbursed to him and funds paid by the entities for his personal living expenses.
In his response, the father acknowledged holding an ownership interest in one of the organizations, but denied having an interest in any of the other named organizations.
Sometimes, couples’ lives remain intertwined even after divorce. If the parties continue to mingle finances, own property together, or keep or take out loans together after the divorce is final, the divorce may not finally resolve all of their issues.
In a recent case, an ex-husband sued his ex-wife regarding property she had been awarded in the divorce years earlier. The parties purchased a vacation home during their marriage. The ex-wife was awarded the vacation home in the divorce decree, but a geographical restriction on where the children could live prevented her from living in it.
The ex-wife put the house up for sale after the divorce, but did not sell it after the husband offered to pay the mortgage. The ex-husband received the statements and made the payments. The ex-wife testified she was aware her ex-husband was paying the mortgage.
Recently a Twitter user named @cxkenobkerry shared her advice on 20 things that people should do before getting married. While Twitter may not seem like the most traditional place to seek relationship or marriage advice, the Twitter thread went viral and was even featured on the Daily Mail. With this list reaching such a wide audience and with it now being October and therefore wedding season in Texas, it seems appropriate to analyze its contents from a perspective focused on family law in the Lone Star State.
A Texas court may order child support beyond a child’s 18th birthday if the child is still in high school, whether a public school, a private school, or course that provide joint high school and junior college credits. The child must comply with the minimum attendance requirements in the Education Code or the private school’s minimum attendance requirements. Tex. Fam. Code. Ann. § 154.002. A mother challenged the termination of child support for her son after his 18th birthday in a recent Texas custody case.
The divorce decree ordered the father to pay monthly child support until one of the listed events occurred. Child support would continue if he was in compliance with the requirements in Tex. Fam. Code. Ann. § 154.002.
The father petitioned to terminate child support in September 2018, following the son’s 18th birthday in April. The mother claimed the son was enrolled in an accredited secondary school. She then filed a petition for continuation and increase of child support and alleged her son was enrolled full-time in a private secondary school.
In a Texas custody case, the court may grant certain rights and duties to one parent exclusively even if both parents are named conservators. The court may limit the rights or duties of a conservator parent if it finds, in writing, that doing so is in the child’s best interest. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 153.072. Courts may grant exclusive rights to one parent when the other reuses to cooperate with respect to those aspects of the child’s care. A father recently challenged a court order granting the mother a number of exclusive rights.
The mother petitioned to modify the parent child-relationship. She requested the exclusive right to designate the primary residence without a geographic restriction so she could accept a job and move to Louisiana.
The mother took a job in Monroe, Louisiana in 2015. The father also moved to Monroe, and they all lived there for several months. The mother testified he was abusive toward her. She also said he took her green card and moved with the children back to Texas.