Future spouses may enter into a premarital agreement any time prior to their marriage. The complexity of the drafting of a premarital agreement is often directly proportional to the complexity of the estates of the future spouses. It is important to consult with an attorney regarding drafting, reviewing, and negotiating the terms of a premarital agreement, which will include terms for potential division of assets and liabilities, as early as possible and ideally as soon as the engagement to be married commences, if not before. Finalizing the terms of a premarital agreement early on will reduce added stress near the time of the marriage ceremony, deter the risk of the ceremony not occurring, and will minimize the chance of a spouse prevailing on any future claim that the agreement was signed involuntarily.
If I Delete All my Emails, Can my Spouse Still Find Them?
Simply put, yes. When trying to delete something that is electronically stored, rarely does deleting the file ever completely delete it. Tools exist and are frequently used which can gather metadata, small bits of information about the email and its contents that can aid someone in learning about who a person associates with and what they might talk about without ever having the actual email. There are, however, alternatives to the normal everyday email services which can safeguard personal privacy and security such as ProtonMail, Tutanota, or HushMail. These services provide end-to-end encryption and “self-destructing” emails which makes tracing the message contents or gathering the metadata virtually impossible. It is also important to be cognizant of potential claims that you are spoliating evidence if you intentionally delete your e-mails while you are in litigation.
Is it True my Wife will be Awarded Custody of our Child Because She is the Mother?
No. Section 153.003 of the Texas Family Code provides that the court cannot discriminate based on the sex of a parent, but only look to his or her qualifications as a parent. Our law firm has represented many fathers who were awarded custody based on their individual circumstances. If you anticipate having a custody dispute with the other parent of your child(ren), then you should strongly consider hiring an attorney who is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Legal Board of Legal Specialization.
Can the Evidence of Bad Acts I Have Found on my Spouse’s Facebook or Cell Phone be Used in a Divorce?
The answer is – it depends. If you view the data through a device in which you both have permitted access to use the Cloud, which is often the case with a shared wireless data plan, it will not matter what device the data was initially saved on as it is legally shareable information. However, if your spouse has a reasonable expectation of privacy on his or her devices, you could be subject to significant repercussions. Before you record anything or take screen shots of anything, you should always consult with your attorney, preferably one who is board certified in family law.
I Have Been Contemplating Divorce, but I am Nervous About it Destroying my Financial Portfolio. What is the Best Way to Make Sure the Assets are Protected and Distributed?
Our law firm has attorneys and CPA knowledgeable in tax matters, but if you don’t already have a financial professional involves with your personal finances, start working with one. A financial expert can advise on the best way to achieve an equitable distribution of assets without triggering unnecessary tax gains, losses, or penalties. Additionally, valuation experts might be helpful for appraising assets such as real estate or closely held businesses. You will need to provide your attorney with financial documentation, so a complete and accurate list of assets and debts can be assembled. Assets and debts not allocated upon divorce can lead to future litigation.
Can our Teenage Children Decide Which Parent They Want to Primarily Live with Once we Have two Separate Homes?
Not exactly. Although teenagers may be given the opportunity to voice their preference on which parent they want to live with, courts consider a number of additional factors before determining the primary residence of the children. The children’s best interest is always the primary concern when making certain decisions in a custody case, such as where the children should primarily reside. The courts, however, can consider the preference of the children in a “best interest” analysis. While teenage children can be given the chance to voice their opinions, the courts retain the final discretionary power in determining the children’s primary home.
Are my Personal Earnings and Bank Accounts and Assets Titled in my Name Considered Separate Property?
In Texas, all property acquired by either spouse during marriage is presumed to be community property, including personal earnings and assets acquired during the marriage exclusively by one spouse or held solely in the name of one spouse. With a few exceptions, separate property is property owned or claimed by a spouse prior to marriage; property acquired by a spouse during marriage by gift, devise, or descent; and recovery for personal injuries sustained by a spouse during marriage.
My Spouse Thinks I'm Cheating. Are There Apps or Programs They can use to Track me?
Spying and cheating are hot topics in family law. With so much personal information readily available on our smart phones, it's easier than ever to track a suspected cheating spouse. Some apps, like Find My iPhone, will simply show a device's location. Others are more involved. mCouple is an app that allows each partner to track the other's GPS location, phone contacts, text message history, call log, and Facebook chats. Some apps, like mSpy, have keystroke tracking and "geo-fencing" features-they will notify you if a device crosses a boundary into an allowed or forbidden zone. If you think your spouse is deleting records to hide their activities, Dr. Fone is an app that allows you to recover an enormous range of deleted data. Computer-based programs like eBlaster and Spector Pro have advanced monitoring capabilities that record and analyze almost any computer activity imaginable, including screenshots and file transfer recording. Be careful though-if your spouse has a reasonable expectation of privacy in the device and does not consent to some of these apps, you could run afoul of anti-wiretapping laws. Be sure to contact an experienced lawyer if you are not sure what you are doing.
On the Reverse Side, are There Apps That my Spouse Might be Using to Hide His or Her own Infidelity?
Yes. For every spying app on the market, there are a handful that help frustrate prying eyes. Some are as simple as Snapchat, where you can send a picture that disappears in seven seconds. Others are disguised with a pedestrian appearance and a secret purpose. For example, Vaulty Stocks appears to be an app for tracking Wall Street; in reality, it is a secret storage vault for photos and videos. CATE, the "Call and Text Eraser;' allows you to hide call and text records for certain contacts or to delete the records with a shake of the phone. Counterintelligence? There's an app for that, too. Nosy Trap is an app that masquerades as the phone's home screen while covertly photographing any would-be intruder. Cyber Dust is a texting platform where the messages self-destruct after they are read. The messages are fully encrypted and are never stored on any hard drive-the app even prohibits screenshotting to protect private exchanges. Many of these apps are marketed to a broader audience, but their appeal to the cheating spouse is obvious.
My Spouse Always Handled our Taxes, and I don't Know How to Find our Tax Returns Before Filing for Divorce. How can I Get Financial Information Without my Spouse Knowing?
The IRS now makes your tax documents available for immediate download on their website at http:/ /www.irs.gov/Individuals/Get-Transcript. After entering your personal information and answering several privacy questions, you can immediately access, download, and print your tax return transcripts from prior years. This can be a valuable tool to quickly get up to speed on your personal financial picture.