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4 Things to Consider When Choosing a Divorce Attorney
Going through a divorce can understandably be a hard process, with many different considerations to take into account. You and your ex-partner need to think about cost, any property you may share, dividing up possessions and assets and, importantly, family and child custody arrangements if you have kids.
We understand that you want your divorce proceedings to be amicable, quick and fair to both parties, without resulting in an overly large legal bill. Choosing the right divorce attorney for you is imperative to achieving a settlement both sides are happy with and ensuring the proceedings are civil and amiable at all times.
Follow some of our top tips to find the right divorce lawyer for your needs, to overcome some of the legal language and often confusing processes that you may not have had previous experience dealing with.
Divorce proceedings can be expensive, especially since you pay the rate of your attorney by the hour. Sometimes, until you are legally separated, both you and your former spouse will be paying for your individual legal fees using shared savings or income, putting a further strain on your resources. The money you spend now on legal fees may come out of your final settlement, giving you access to fewer funds needed for fundamental basics after the divorce is finalized, such as purchasing or renting a new home for yourself or your family.
Set a budget for yourself of how much you can realistically afford to spend on an attorney and begin your search based on your price range. If it is possible, discuss this with your ex-partner and attempt to agree on a similar range when it comes to legal costs so you can get the best out of your legal team regarding finalizing your divorce. Divorce can be difficult both emotionally and practically, so setting out a plan financially that works for you can help by giving you one less thing to worry about. Different attorneys offer different rates, which can depend on their experience, previous success rates and how specialized they are.
What Do You Want?
Think reasonably about what you expect from your attorney and what you want out of your divorce settlement – this can differ drastically depending on the relationship between you and your former spouse. If the marriage ended amicably, the two of you might have already been able to sit down and come to some informal agreement before getting any legal representation involved; if this was not possible, you might have several particular stipulations that you want your attorney to be aware of during the proceedings. Focus on what you are willing to negotiate or compromise on and state what you wish to achieve during your first meetings with your attorney. Set out a list before consulting your attorney that you can go through realistically when discussing your situation.
You also need to decide which legal route you would like to take, for example, whether you and your former partner can take the mediation pathway, if you can undertake a collaborative divorce, or if litigation is necessary. Each of these steps can require a different type of attorney – it will be less complicated and costly for you if you can identify the type of route you wish to take before hiring your attorney.
Mediation is the quickest and cheapest form of divorce and can be best if you are free of joint child or financial responsibilities. A mediator can help negotiate the terms of your separation. Collaborative divorce works well if you and your former spouse share parenting responsibilities or custody of your children, as your legal representation can negotiate your needs while preserving your parental relationship. Litigation is often the last resort for divorcing couples and is necessary when neither side can agree on a settlement or refuses to compromise. Either side’s attorneys will then negotiate an accepted settlement. Decide how you want to proceed before hiring your divorce attorney to avoid beginning proceedings that do not benefit you.
Identify reputable law firms in your local area and make sure to browse their website or any information you can find about their services and past successes. If you have any family or friends who have recently experienced legal proceedings, speak to them about the firm they used, their relationship with their attorney and their opinions on how they handled their case. Any advice from people you trust should be appreciated, as legal processes can often become confusing, especially concerning procedures like divorce. Research the best attorneys with divorce experience or a reputation for family law.
You don’t have to make a final decision on your attorney without discussing your case with them properly. Most divorce attorneys will provide you with a free consultation before taking on your case, to talk about your particular situation in person and explain to you the approach they would take. These interviews can be helpful in finding an experienced attorney you feel comfortable working with, as divorce can be a long, distressing process, negotiated by your attorney to attain a settlement that is in your best interests. Choose a handful of firms to engage in a consultation with, to avoid receiving any conflicting information that will make the process more complex to deal with. Think about a list of questions to ask your attorney before making any decisions, to find out any information and make sure everything is completely clear to both parties.
Take a trusted friend or family member with you to any initial consultations so you have someone to run ideas and concerns past during discussions to determine the best representative for your needs. Doing this can help you get a better understanding of the processes explained by your attorney and gives you someone to talk to, ensuring time efficiency from your lawyer, saving you time and money. Being accompanied by a close relative you can confide in allows you to seek honest advice to help you decide exactly what you want from your attorney and how you want your divorce to be handled.
If you have a friend or loved one who has also been through a divorce in recent years, their experiences can prove useful when working with your attorney. Research the law firm they used and use their advice to your advantage. Their prior experiences can help you to be realistic about your expectations and the role of your attorney throughout your divorce proceedings. Having someone with a slightly more neutral opinion to support you as you choose your legal representation will also allow you to stay more goals orientated during your divorce proceedings.
Establishing Child Support During a Divorce Case
A parent with children contemplating filing for divorce undoubtedly harbors a number of significant questions. One of these issues is likely to be the manner in which child support will be calculated. In addition, a divorcing parent needs to understand how child support is computed during the time a divorced case itself pends.
Motion for Temporary Child Support
When the decision is made to file for divorce, court proceedings actually commence apace. Simultaneously with the filing of a petition for divorce – or directly thereafter – other preliminary paperwork is filed with the court. This includes materials associated with minor children, including temporary motions for custody and child support.
The court does set a temporary child support order designed to remain in force while the divorce case itself is pending. In some instances, the amount of child support ordered in a temporary order remains in place once a final divorce decree is issued. In a majority of instances, the temporary order is replaced by a difference decree governing the permanent child support obligation of the non-custodial parent.
The motion for temporary child support must contain basic information about the income of the spouses. It also must set forth any special circumstances that exist which impact the amount of money necessary to support a minor child during a divorce proceeding. For example, if a child has special health considerations, this needs to be noted within the motion for temporary child support.
Soon after a divorce case commences, financial disclosure statements must be filed by both parties. These documents are prepared and signed by the parties under penalty of perjury. They contain fairly detailed information about the financial status and affairs of the divorcing spouses.
The financial disclosures of the parents are utilized to support the contentions made in a motion for temporary child support filed with the court. They are also utilized in support of any response to a motion for temporary child support the other party may file in a particular case.
Child Support Guidelines
All states utilize child support guidelines to ascertain the base amount of child support in a particular case. Deviations from the guidelines are possible in some instances when the facts and circumstances of a particular case warrant an adjustment.
The best interests of the child are furthered when both parents contribute financially to the care and maintenance of that minor. Accomplishing this objective necessitates prompt issuance of a temporary child support order as soon after divorce proceedings commence as is practical.
Is Your Marriage Worth Saving? Five Questions to Ask Yourself
Every relationship experiences change, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Learning to incorporate another human being into almost every decision you make can be incredibly stressful, even when you’re a newlywed experiencing the highs associated with falling in love. Challenges can be opportunities in disguise that serve as teachers, guiding you and your partner into developing a more substantial relationship.
However, if you and your significant other have been living in an unfavorable situation for a long period of time, it might be a good idea to ask yourself a few key questions before deciding whether your marriage is worth saving or not. While this decision might be a hard one to make, it is important to be fair to both you and your spouse by being honest about how you feel.
Do You Feel That You Still Have Your Own Identity?
A healthy marriage will enhance positive character traits and will promote participation in outside activities. You should never feel that you must include your spouse in everything you do or that you can’t have other healthy relationships in your life. One of the biggest signs of an unhealthy relationship is isolation; if you find yourself constantly pulling away from other important people that are in your life or disengaging in activities you used to value, there is a good chance that your marriage has reached a state of codependency rather than true partnership. More importantly, you should never feel that your spouse is jealous of your other relationships. Possessive behavior is simply not acceptable in a domestic setting, and if left unchecked, can even lead to more serious problems developing in the future.
Do You Feel Uncomfortable in Your Own Home?
Everyone experiences an occasional uneasy feeling during an argument. While marriage conflict is normal, it is never normal to feel unsafe or uncomfortable in your own home. If you constantly feel like you’re walking on eggshells, that you must always watch what you say or what you do or that if you don’t appease your partner your kids could deal with the repercussions, it might be time to call it quits. These are dangerous, unhealthy signs that it may be too late to salvage your marriage because no relationship is worth you or your kids feeling unsafe.
Would it be More Beneficial for Your Kids if You Left?
A common mistake many parents make is to assume their kids should be shielded from experiencing anything negative. Kids need to learn that conflict is a part of life, and if they are never exposed to any disagreements their parents are having, they might find it more difficult to be able to handle any conflicts that arise in their future relationships. Don’t assume that your kids would be better off if you left simply based on the fact that you and your spouse don’t see eye-to-eye 100 percent of the time. However, if yelling or fighting is an everyday occurrence in your home, it might be better for your kids if you and your spouse at least separate until you can get outside help.
Did Your Spouse have an Affair?
There are no black or white rules when it comes to an affair. If you have discovered that your spouse has cheated on you, it’s really your preference about whether you decide to leave or stay. You may have to ask yourself if you will ever be able to forgive or trust them again before you come to an ideal conclusion. Before you call it quits, however, it is also a good idea to ask yourself if you might have contributed to the affair in some way, as hard as that may be to do. A relationship is a two-way street; if your partner has admitted to cheating on you and seems repentant ask why they felt the temptation to have the affair in the first place. You may discover that the root reason behind their choice had more to do with a hurt within your marriage, rather than a bad intention.
Are You Willing to Do Whatever It Takes to Preserve the Relationship?
While it might be an easier decision to dissolve a marriage if abuse or neglect is present, it can be more of a challenge to decide to end a marriage if you simply don’t have anything to emotionally invest anymore. Not every divorce happens because of a serious problem that can’t be reconciled, just as not every relationship that ends should be considered a failure. Many couples make the decision to end a relationship because they determine they simply don’t know how to get along anymore, or have completely different goals in life. If you fit into this category, try not to beat yourself up too much. Remember that no one is perfect, and chances are if you feel deeply unsatisfied in your relationship with your partner, he or she most likely feels the same way.
Before you decide to end your marriage, try to think about what lasting repercussions might be a factor. It might be a much better idea to separate, let things cool off and get help from a marriage counselor before permanently ending things. Most divorce attorneys offer an initial free consultation, so contact your Family Law Attorney before making any decisions.
What Researchers Discovered about Infidelity
A University of Montreal study estimated a fairly high probability (between 40 and 76 percent) that a person will be unfaithful. Given this painfully high likelihood of infidelity and its destructive consequences to families, it is understandable that countless researches have been made in order to understand what drives people to cheat and how best to spot the likelihood of it ever happening during the course of a relationship.
Have you cheated on your significant other or were you the one who had been cheated on? In the latter case, have you examined your motivations for doing so? Is infidelity, in all its myriad iterations, attributed solely to overwhelming sexual impulse or low self-control? Here are research findings to help you better understand and possibly detect signs of sexual or emotional infidelity in your partner.
Who Are More Likely to Cheat?
The paper “Infidelity in Heterosexual Couples: Demographic, Interpersonal, and Personality-Related Predictors of Extra-dyadic Sex” that appeared in an issue of the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior detailed the personality traits of people who are more likely to be unfaithful to their partners. There is very little difference in the infidelity rates (23 percent for men and 19 percent for women) between the two sexes. What sets the two sexes apart is their motivation for cheating.
There’s a definite personality predictor for cheating men but not in women. According to the study, men prone to cheating are those who are easily aroused sexually and are known to take risks. For women, however, they are more than twice as likely to be unfaithful if they are not happy in the relationship. Also, women who feel that they are not sexually compatible with their partners are around three times more likely to stray. Generally, women are driven to cheat by relationship factors, while some men tend to be wired to do so because of their risk-taking and sexual performance anxiety behaviors.
Non-breadwinners Are More Likely to Have Affairs
The University of Connecticut sociologist Christin Munsch published an astonishing finding regarding a bite-the-hand-that-feeds factor correlated with unfaithfulness. The paper “Her Support, His Support: Money, Masculinity, and Marital Infidelity” that appeared in the Journal American Sociological Review demonstrated that for both men and women, their economic dependency on their spouses makes them more likely to have affairs.
Among non-breadwinning men, the cheating tendency was more pronounced. In an average year, financially dependent husbands are 15 percent more likely to cheat on their wives. Financially dependent women, on the other hand, were five percent more likely to be unfaithful. The study also finds that the least likely to cheat are women who are primary breadwinners.
Hormone Levels in Women Can Influence Cheating Behavior
The paper “Estradiol level and opportunistic mating in women,” which appeared in an issue of the journal Proceedings of theRoyal Society of London: Biology Letters, demonstrated the behavioral impact of high levels of the primary female sex hormone estradiol. High estradiol levels among females were associated with an increased self-perception of physical attractiveness, as well as a tendency for “opportunistic mating.”
Gene that Spells Propensity for Uncommitted Sex
A study, “Associations between Dopamine D4 Receptor Gene Variation with Both Infidelity and Sexual Promiscuity,” whose results appeared in the journal PLoS ONE, showed that people with a variant of the DRD4 gene tend to have history involving one-night stands and cheating. The DRD4 gene, which was long known for its impact on the brain’s chemistry and a person’s behavior, is a dopamine receptor D4 polymorphism gene. It is a gene that is associated with sensation-seeking activities like gambling and alcoholism. This genetic tendency, of course, is not a be-all and end-all; a person’s self-restraint still very much figures largely in whether or not he or she ends up cheating.
A Cheater’s Dead Giveaway–His or Her Voice
Do you suspect your spouse to be cheating on you? Then you can easily verify that by just listening to his or her manner of speaking. People change their pitch and voice modulation when speaking with those they are romantically involved in. This voice alteration is apparent to other people, according to a study that appeared in an issue of the Journal of Nonverbal Behavior. The vocal samples analyzed in the study were telephone conversations with “how are you?” and “what are you doing” as the opening questions. A few seconds of listening to only one end of the conversation were enough to correctly guess whether or not a person was calling a friend or a lover.
Emotional and Sexual Infidelity: Which Is More Hurtful?
It depends on whether the offended party is male or female, according to a Chapman University study. “Upset Over Sexual versus Emotional Infidelity Among Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Adults,” a paper in an issue of the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, detailed the findings of a large-scale study that is very much consistent with evolutionary differences between men and women. Men are most devastated by sexual infidelity, while women would be most upset when their cheating partners fall in love with other women. When heterosexual men were asked to choose a more upsetting form of infidelity, 54 percent of them chose sexual infidelity. Conversely, 65 percent of heterosexual women answered that emotional infidelity would anger them more.
An issue of the journal Proceedings of theRoyal Society of London: Biology Letters contained the paper, “Stay or stray? Evidence for alternative mating strategy phenotypes in both men and women,” which showed the results of a landmark study that correlated promiscuity and the length of the ring finger relative to the index finger. A person with a longer ring finger compared to the index finger had been exposed to more testosterone during the prenatal stage, which increases his or her genetic inclination to be promiscuous and thus to stray.
However, it is also possible that a morally-sound upbringing would have trumped a person’s genetic inclination to be unfaithful. Keep in mind that, on top of an underlying genetic tendency to cheat, cultural, sociological, and environmental factors also play major roles in determining whether or not a person will stray.
Five Common Questions About Divorce
Many people have general questions concerning family law and I hope you find this information useful. The following five questions and answers pertain specifically to divorce. If you’re interested in future blogs regarding family law, please subscribe to this blog and if you have any questions on more specific topics regarding divorce or any other family law issues, please contact us.
1. Am I “legally” married if I don’t have a marriage license? Yes, it is possible. Common law marriage is a legal marriage in the State of Texas. If it is established you are common-law married, it is just as valid as if you had a marriage license. To establish a common-law marriage, three elements are necessary–1) must have had an agreement between the parties to be married,” 2) must have lived together in Texas, and 3) must have held each other out to the public as husband and wife in Texas, such as introducing each other as husband and wife or filing a joint tax return.
2. Can I get an annulment instead of a divorce? Texas may be one of the most difficult states in the country to receive an annulment. You have to have specific grounds for an annulment. It’s not based upon a mistake. It’s not based on the amount of time you’ve been married. Texas law is very specific for the grounds for annulment. Generally, the person who files for the annulment cannot be the “wrongdoer” per se. A marriage can be annulled if, at the time of the marriage, one party was underage; if the person asking for the annulment was under the influence of alcohol or narcotics; if one party concealed a divorce recently; if the marriage took place less than 72 hours after the license was issued; permanent impotency; fraud, duress, or force; or mental incapacity.
3. Is there a waiting period for divorce? Yes, generally there is a mandatory 60 days after filing. Why? The 60 days is the Texas legislature’s “cooling off” period. In other words the Texas legislature has mandated a 60-day waiting period for people to re-think their reasons for wanting a divorce. However, for cases filed after June 19, 2009, the 60-day waiting period may be waived if the respondent has either a final conviction for family violence or there’s a protective order granted based upon a finding of family violence.
4. If I have joint custody of our child(ren), does that mean equal time with the child(ren) and I don’t have to pay child support? No. Usually both parents are appointed joint managing conservators, however, “joint” does not mean equal. Usually, one parent is appointed the primary joint managing conservator. The primary joint managing conservator determines the residence of the child(ren) and, therefore, the primary joint managing conservator is the person the child(ren) generally live with and the other person has visitation and pays child support.
5. Can I receive alimony in Texas? Yes, however, alimony is referred to as spousal support in the State of Texas. The court may order spousal support for either spouse if, generally, either 1) the parties were married 10 years or longer, or 2) the spouse the support is requested from has a conviction for family violence. Spousal support can be granted on an interim basis and in most cases is limited to a maximum of 3 years after a divorce.
Good News for Military Parents
The Texas legislature passed a law that went into effect on September 1, 2009 that concerns divorced military parents that are deployed, mobilized or sent for temporary duty that says a custodial parent in the military will no longer be required to “permanently” relinquish custody of their children solely because of military deployment. Under this law, the court may temporarily amend existing orders regarding possession and/or access to the children and child support, and the court may temporarily place the children with the non-custodial parent. After the deployed parent returns to his/her usual residence, the temporary orders may terminate and the terms of the court order that was in existence prior to notice of deployment would go back into effect.
Prior to this law, a military custodial parent would generally lose custody of the children to the other parent when they were deployed. The courts reasoned that the military custodial parent being deployed a substantial distance (e.g. Iraq or Afghanistan) could not take their children with them; therefore, it was impossible for the military custodial parent to care for the children. The law was silent as to what rights a military parent had upon their return.
Changes have also been made to allow for an expedited hearing if short notice is given for deployment. Also, this law affects non-custodial parents as well. Whether you’re the custodial or non-custodial parent being deployed, you may be able to designate a person to exercise your visitation rights in your absence. Furthermore, the law may allow for an increased period of visitation with the children when the military parent returns from their deployment. I encourage parents involved in a military divorce to take advantage of this law.
How to Determine If a Divorce Attorney Is the Right One for Your Case
f you’re about to face the fact that your marriage is failing, then you also need to determine which divorce attorney is the right one for your case. A divorce can be stressful, so it’s important to find an attorney with whom you can establish a good rapport, feel confident about, and trust unreservedly. Doing so will help to minimize the strain and anxiety you experience during this situation. Here are a few tips to help you with the task of figuring out whether or not an attorney is going to be the right one for your needs.
Meet Face to Face with the Attorney
The best way to determine whether or not you are going to like your divorce attorney is to meet face to face. A personal meeting allows you to look into your attorney’s eyes, listen to the sincerity of his voice, and make a judgment based upon what you hear and see.
Choose an Attorney Whose Style Matches Your Intentions
If you and your spouse are trying to resolve your divorce amicably, then you should look for an attorney who is prepared to help you avoid a hostile and contentious battle. Avoid attorneys who appear to have an aggressive approach that is directed toward getting you everything and leaving your spouse nothing.
Discuss Fee Arrangements
As you might have already guessed, your divorce is not going to have an inexpensive price tag. If you have limited funds, you’ll want to find an attorney who is willing to offer you some type of payment plan that is flexible enough for you to be able to afford it. Until your divorce is finalized, it will be difficult to figure out just how much it is going to cost. Having flexibility in your payments might be more important than you think.
Choose an Experienced Divorce Attorney
Most attorneys are qualified to practice several areas of the law. Finding one who is experienced in divorce law will streamline the process, simply because your attorney will have familiarity with many of the standard aspects of divorce as well as those issues that are not as common.
Get a Recommendation
If you have a friend or family member who has recently gone through a divorce, you might want to ask for a recommendation. Be sure to ask questions about the attorney’s fees, personality, and experience, so that you can get a good idea of whether or not the attorney will be a good match for your needs.
I Want a Divorce. How Do I Get My Spouse Out of the House?
If your marriage isn’t working for you anymore, it’s more than likely that you’d like your spouse to move out of the home when you ask for a divorce. This isn’t always an easy task though, particularly if your spouse doesn’t want to split up. In many cases, the common belief is that the spouse who remains with the home is going to get possession of it. This idea alone is enough to create some push back from your spouse. Additionally, if your spouse is the one paying the bills, he isn’t likely to want to leave the home while paying the mortgage on it. Despite these obstacles, it is possible to get the court’s assistance in getting your spouse out of the house once you decide you want a divorce. Here are a few strategies that you can use to accomplish this task.
Reach a Negotiated Agreement with Your Spouse
Recognized as one of the best ways to dissolve a marriage, reaching a negotiated agreement with your spouse can actually resolve the issue without causing undue stress or tension, which is extremely important if children are involved. During the negotiation process, both spouses gain an understanding of each of the following clarifying facts:
Whether or not two households can be maintained on their existing salaries
How this separation is going to affect each of them as well as the children
The diminished rights, responsibilities, and contact the spouse who leaves will have with the children
Whether a divorce is what they actually want
Bring a Fault Divorce Action
If you want your husband out of the home because you have been suffering through frequent bouts of physical cruelty, numerous cases of adultery, or habitual drunkenness, you have the right to bring a fault divorce action. If you have evidence against your spouse, it will provide leverage that you can use to get him out of your home. A hearing is held, and the court decides whether or not to issue an order for your spouse to leave.
Bring a Separate Maintenance Action after Moving Out
Sometimes it is necessary for one spouse to move out in order to get the ball rolling. Once the two of you have been separated, you can bring a separate maintenance action requesting for the removal of your spouse from the home. Even though you have moved out of the house, you still have the right to request that you be permitted to live in the home while your spouse is sent out of it.
Prove Domestic Abuse Has Occurred
Filing a domestic abuse action is a valid way to get your spouse out of the home, provided you are being truthful. Under this type of filing, it is possible to obtain temporary possession of the home prior to a permanent ruling. The threshold to prove domestic abuse is relatively low, particularly since it encompasses the threat of physical harm as well as an actual assault.
Lock Your Spouse Out of the Home
Perhaps the most confrontational method, choosing to lock your spouse out of the house does work, at least some of the time. Changing the locks can keep your spouse from entering easily, but you should be prepared for the anger that is sure to occur. Your spouse might even attempt to break into your home through a window. Since your spouse hasn’t been ordered legally to leave the home, you have no grounds to have him charged for trespass or breaking and entering.
It’s important for you to consider the fairness of the situation when asking your spouse to leave for no other reason than you want a divorce. If you want possession of the home, or at least the right to live in it for now, you should be prepared to make some concessions.
Divorce in the 21st Century: Bird’s Nest Child Custody
In divorce cases that involve minor children, custody can be a contentious issue. In all jurisdictions, decisions regarding custody must be made in the best interests of the minor child. The concept of bird’s nest custody exists as a means of promoting the protection of the best interests of a minor child during and after divorce proceedings.
Overview of Bird’s Nest Custody
In the standard child custody scheme, each parent maintains his or her own residence. The minor child divides time between each of these parental residents. The division of time in each residence occurs as part of a shared custody arrangement or when one parent has primary residential custody and the other has parenting time (or visitation).
Under a bird’s nest custody arrangement, the child always remains in a primary residence. Rather than the child moving from one parental home to another, the parents reside at the child’s residence during their designated custody or parenting time periods. The analogy is made to a bird’s nest in which both the mother and father can be seen spending time with their babes in the nest itself.
Benefits of Bird’s Nest Custody
The most significant benefit of bird’s nest custody is stability for a minor child. A child at the center of this type of custodial arrangement is secure in knowing that he or she will not be required to volley back and forth from one residence to another. Enhanced stability is always an underlying objective when it comes to devising a child custody and parenting time (or visitation) plan in a particular case.
Parents oftentimes can save money through a bird’s nest custodial arrangement. Rather than maintaining two residences fully equipped to meet the needs (and expectations) of a minor child, they need only maintain one home in that manner.
Drawbacks to Bird’s Nest Custody
A common drawback of bird’s nest custody is the fact that it deviates from expected paradigms associated with child custody. In many cases and in many jurisdictions, parents and court personnel alike simply are not well versed in this type of custodial arrangement. Indeed, the laws in some states may not be written in a manner to permit this type of structure.
Bird’s nest custody necessitates a situation in which parents communicate effectively. In addition, parents must be willing to share the same space, albeit at different times. In reality, these elements do not always exist in the aftermath of divorce proceedings and the collapse of a relationship.
Is Your Social Networking Presence Going to Destroy Your Chances of Getting Child Custody?
Social networking has become so commonplace today and is so ingrained in the daily lives of many people that few individuals actually think twice about the things that they say or the images they post online. After all, whether you are using Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, Pinterest, or Tumblr, you are simply trying to stay connected with friends and family, while sharing a few personal details.
The fact that this information could, one day, be used against you has probably never even entered your mind. From your preferences in food and music to your thoughts on everyday politics to which movie is the best, your thoughts turn you into an open book for everyone who has access to your social networking presence to peruse.
Unfortunately, the “cool side” of yourself that you post online to make friends laugh or relatives smile isn’t always a good thing when you are trying to obtain custody of your child. Electronic evidence has become an effective tool that is often wielded by family law attorneys in order to diminish an individual’s standing as a responsible parent. User profiles, images, and postings are often reviewed for anything that can be used against one of the participants involved in a custody battle.
How Do Personal Photographs Posted on a Social Networking Site Hurt Your Child Custody Case?
The actual ramifications of posting certain types of information or images on the internet are huge. In fact, in many cases, the pictures a parent posts online are quite damaging. Just think about how many online photos you have seen that portray the use of nudity, alcohol use, illegal drugs, marijuana use, or other forms of criminal activity. Even pictures showing you participating in legal activities such as gambling, gun collecting, or smoking can be used against you in conjunction with other types of behavior in order to prove that you are not a suitable choice as a custodial parent.
Date and Time Stamped, oh my!
All too often, date and time stamping can create as much of a problem as the actual post. From your relationship status to your personal state of mind, your social profile displays it all. Nothing remains a secret, and everything is exposed. Anyone who has access to view your profile can find you wherever you are and photograph whatever it is that you are doing, placing you at risk of having negative activity come up in during the child custody litigation.
Is Your Social Networking Presence Going to Destroy Your Chances of Getting Child Custody?
The answer to this question really depends upon what you have posted online as well as what you are currently engaged in doing. Even if you have deleted certain accounts or removed specific pictures or posts, the information has probably been obtained already, particularly if your custody battle is aggressively hostile. If you haven’t done anything illegal or irresponsible, you might be okay, but you have to consider whether or not the judge will agree with you on both of those points.
Your Take-Away Message
Always think about the ramifications of anything you post online. Even if you aren’t currently engaged in a custody battle, the possibility exists that you might be at some point in the future. The divorce rate hovers somewhere near 1 in 2 marriages, so you have at least a 50% chance that what you post online could come back to haunt you one day as the judge determines how fit you are to be a responsible parent.
How Computer Forensics Can Affect Your Divorce Case
People are spending an increasing amount of their lives on digital and electronic devices, such as laptops, smartphones, and computers. In many cases, such digital information can have a significant impact on divorces and child custody cases, such as by providing evidence of adultery or child neglect. Family law is responding to this increasing prevalence of digital information with the use of computer forensics. In the past, a divorce case may have involved evidence gathered by a private investigator. Nowadays, computer forensics is no different: hiring a computer forensics investigator can help unearth important information that can significantly affect the outcome of a divorce or child custody case.
What is computer forensics?
Computer forensics investigators are the private investigators of the digital world. These experts use high-tech hardware to retrieve digital information that is stored on an electronic device, such as on a smartphone or laptop. Computer forensics investigators are different from a simple computer expert that a person might use to fix a broken computer. For one, Texas law provides that computer forensics investigators must be licensed by the state’s Private Security Board. Furthermore, such investigators rely on software and hardware that simple computer experts do not have access to. For example, computer forensics experts may be able to retrieve digital information that has been deleted or damaged.
Computer forensics in divorce
While Texas grants no-fault divorces, meaning that a divorce can be granted without the need to prove fault on the part of one of the spouses, at-fault divorces are still possible under Texas law. An at-fault divorce can have a significant impact on how marital property and assets are divided between the divorcing spouses. One of the most common reasons for an at-fault divorce is adultery. However, adultery needs to be proven in order for a judge to rule that it serves as grounds for a divorce. A computer forensics investigator can help retrieve digital information, such as emails, text messages, voice mail, and call records, that can help prove adultery. At the same time, it is important to keep in mind that adultery alone will not necessarily result in a greater share of the marital estate being distributed to a person whose spouse cheated on him or her. Instead, the spouse must prove that the adultery led to the breakup of the marriage or resulted in the cheating spouse taking a share of the marital estate to support his or her affair. For example, computer forensic evidence may be able to show that a cheating spouse used a portion of the marital estate to buy gifts for the person he or she was having an adulterous affair with. To prove that adultery was the cause of marital breakdown, a divorcing spouse should always consult with an experienced divorce attorney.
Child custody and support
Computer forensics can also have an important impact on child custody and support cases. For example, an investigator may be able to find digital evidence showing that one spouse has neglected to properly care for a child. Such evidence can include information stored on smartphones, such as photos, videos, texts, and emails. In some cases, even if the offending spouse has deleted such evidence a computer forensics investigator may still be able to retrieve that data. Additionally, even if neglect or abuse problems are not at issue in a child custody or support case, other factors may come to light through a computer forensics investigation. An investigation, for example, may uncover evidence that a parent who is subject to a child support order has been less than honest about his income. This evidence can be used to modify and potentially increase child support payments.
As digital and electronic information take on a bigger role in Texas divorce cases, it is important for any divorcing spouse to know how such evidence may impact their particular case. An experienced divorce attorney will not only explain how computer forensics may help a client’s divorce or child custody case, but he can also help clients get in touch with experienced and trusted computer forensics investigators.
The 5 Longest Prison Sentences Ever Handed Out
Prison sentences have been baffling and down right shocking for as long as the legal process has been active. Most prison sentences leave us wondering why. Some prison sentences make it seem like the criminal is getting away with murder (no pun intended) while others are given 1000’s of years for much smaller infractions. We decided to take a look at some of the bigger prison sentences and find out what nefarious act the perp committed to warrant such drastic prison sentences.
Here are the 5 longest prison sentences ever handed out.
On Halloween night in 1976, a man named Dudley Wayne Kyzer went to his mother-in-law’s house to confront his estranged wife, Diane. Upon entering the house, Kyzer encountered a college student visiting the house and shot him to death while he was on his knees begging for his life. Kyzer’s mother-in-law was in the bedroom trying to call police for help when she was shot pointblank in the forehead. Kyzer’s estranged wife, Diane tried to run with her six year old son but was shot in the chest. She made it to a neighbor’s yard where she collapsed and died while urging the boy to keep running. After a four day search, Kyzer was apprehended. A jury spent less than an hour to find him guilty and sentence him to death by electric chair.
But, In 1980, the Alabama Supreme Court decided his death penalty was unconstitutional because the jurors were not thoroughly instructed that a lesser sentence could have been issued. After four years on death row, Kyzer was given a new trial. Prosecuters decided that due to the death penalty laws being unclear, they would make sure Kyzer would never be released. On December 4,1981 in Alabama, Dudley Wayne Kyzer was handed a 10,000 year sentence and three life sentences for each of the victims he killed.
Our fourth longest prison sentence comes from Tulsa Oklahoma where a woman was driven off US Highway 75 by three men who ended up kidnapping the woman and driving her around the highways of Oklahoma where they eventually ended at the victim’s home where she was assaulted and raped repeatedly. She was able to get to a phone and call for help. In 1994, one of the men, Allan Wayne McLaurin was sentenced to 21,250 years. He was sentenced to 2,000 years on each count of rape, 2,000 years on each count of forcible sodomy, 1,750 years for assault with a deadly weapon, and 500 years for burglary, larceny, and robbery. On appeal, it was eventually reduced by 500 years, but still leaves him in the number 4 spot. On an interesting side note, one of his accomplices was a man named Darron Anderson who holds the number 8 spot for rape and kidnapping. Interestingly, Anderson was sentenced to 2,200 years and also appealed. He was found guilty again and sentenced to 11,250 years. His parole date is the year 12,744 AD. They were both sentenced by Judge Clifford Hopper, who told the jurors that their recommendations were appropriate and reflected their “disgust at the nature of the crimes committed.”
Claiming the number three spot is Charles Scott Robinson. He is a convicted sex offender that was found guilty of assaulting a three year old. He was convicted of rape, two counts of forcible oral sodomy, and three counts of indecent or lewd acts with a child. When the jury was advised that they could not assess a life sentence without parole, they recommended 5,000 years on each of the six counts against him and District Court Judge Dan Owens agreed. He was sentenced to 30,000 years in prison.
Coming in at number two for the longest prison sentence on the books involves a criminal case in Thailand. In 1989, Chamoy Thipyaso was handed a prison sentence of 141,078 years. What was her crime? Corporate Fraud. Ms.Thipyaso actually holds the 2006 Guiness World Record for largest corporate fraud sentence. She was found guilty of defrauding more than 16,000 Thais in a pyramid scheme that was worth $204 million. In case you’re wondering, Bernard Madoff falls in at the 18th spot of the countdown.
And the Winner is……
Finally, our prison sentence winner is Gabriel March Grandos of Spain. It is safe to say that the government in Spain is not a fan of mail fraud. In 1972, 22 year old Gabriel Grandos failed to deliver 42,768 letters. He was convicted of fraud for not delivering them. How much is a life worth? I’m not sure of an exact value, but France has deemed a letter is equivalent to 9 years. Gabriel was sentenced to 9 years for every letter he did not deliver. Our longest prison sentence ever handed out goes to Mr. Grandos with a grand total of 384,912 years. I think everyone who’s been 22 years old has some regrets and maybe wishes they had a “do-over,” but Gabriel probably wishes that every single day of his life – behind bars.
Basics of the Divorce Process
When you get a divorce, you must do so through the court. Even so, the process does not necessarily need to be complicated. Typically there are only 10 basic steps are involved in getting a divorce.
1.)Separate from your spouse. People who are contemplating divorce sometimes separate on a trial basis. This type of separation is not true legal separation. It is merely a way for you and your spouse to decide whether you are happier apart. To get legally separated, you have to file a petition in court, just as you do for divorce – in fact, the legal separation process is similar to the divorce process overall. Not all states recognize legal separation.In these states, you have to file for divorce outright and get a temporary order of separation. Then, if you decide you don’t want to go through with the case, you can put the divorce on hold via your attorney while enjoying the protections of the temporary order. Regardless of whether you opt for trial or legal separation, you will need to meet the separation requirements for your state to get a divorce. This means you have to show you and your spouse were living apart for a specified period of time.
2.File the petition for divorce. Once you have met the separation requirements for your state, you can get an attorney to file a divorce petition for you, or you can file it with the court yourself. This petition sometimes is called the “Complaint for Dissolution of Marriage.” Within the petition, you must identify one or more grounds for the divorce, as well as list items that will be an issue through the divorce.
3.Serve your spouse with a copy of the petition. To get divorced, your partner has to be aware of your intent. Once you’ve filed your petition, you must present a copy of the petition to your spouse, which you normally do through a representative of your local sheriff’s office. If your spouse cannot be located, you may be able to serve your spouse via a public publication such as a newspaper in your jurisdiction. In either case, your attorney must present evidence of notification. States have individual requirements about how long you have to wait after serving your spouse to proceed with the divorce.
4.Wait for your spouse’s response. If your spouse agrees with the petition, he can sign a “Voluntary Appearance” document. This document is an acknowledgement of the filing that essentially states your spouse has no dispute with the petition. If your spouse doesn’t agree with the petition, he must write a formal response to the court, typically within 20 to 30 days of being served. If your spouse doesn’t respond at all, you can ask the court to issue a default judgment in your favor. Serving your spouse is also important because it starts the clock on your state’s waiting period –your divorce is not final until this waiting period is over. It establishes a formal date of separation and provides other benefits such as setting automatic restraining orders.
5.Petition for temporary orders. Temporary orders cover issues such as child custody or spousal support. These orders are legally binding, but they last only until such time as the divorce is finalized. The divorce agreement can pick up where the temporary orders left off.
6.Discovery. Discovery is a legal term for the period during which both parties in a divorce gather information about each other that the court needs. The data obtained shows your claims are truthful, what your situation is, and other factors such as what assets and property are involved.
7.Mediation. During mediation, you and your attorney meet with your spouse and his attorney, along with an independent mediator. You discuss issues surrounding the divorce and try to determine whether the divorce is still necessary. If you and your spouse want to go forward with the divorce, you try to settle any disputes. If all is amicable and you can reach an agreement, you do not need to take your divorce to trial.
8.Trial. If you and your spouse cannot agree on one or more issues surrounding the divorce, your divorce may go to trial. You will have an opportunity to present your case to a judge. The judge examines all the evidence presented by both you and your spouse to come to a final decision.
9.Creation of divorce agreement and issuance of Order of Dissolution. If your divorce is fairly amicable and you are able to avoid trial, you can create a formal divorce agreement with your spouse to handle issues such as alimony and then submit it to the judge. If you go to trial, the judge will look at what is best for both parties to create the agreement. Once the agreement is drafted, if you and your spouse agree to the terms, you and your spouse sign it. At this point, the judge will issue an Order of Dissolution.
10.Appeal. If you don’t agree with the judge’s decision, you have the right to appeal and request a new hearing. The likelihood of you winning an appeal is low, but if you lose, you can appeal to a higher court.
When there are children involved or during your marriage you have accumulated assets, you should not be surprised when the divorce seems to turn into a long, drawn out process. The Family Courts are trying to protect the interest of all parties involved in a divorce action, so be patient.
When your family faces a legal crisis such as a divorce, it is wise to get an experienced legal advocate on your side as soon as possible. Your financial security, your rights and the best interests of your children may be on the line. At our Law Firm, we provide experienced advocacy and sound counsel with the steadfast goal of achieving optimal results for my clients. We are detail-oriented and hardworking. We always keep our clients’ needs at the forefront of every decision.
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I am both a dedicated family law attorney and a former educator. I am adivorce lawyer with a great deal of experience communicating with people about their most important concerns. I am prepared to advise you clearly and effectively as you approach divorce or other family law issues.
Are you considering divorce? During your initial consultation with me, don’t be surprised when I ask if you are sure divorce is right for you. Some people talk to a lawyer while they are in the divorce planning stage, and that is a wise move. It is also important to understand all the ramifications of divorce before moving forward. I can advise you at every stage of the process.
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As a family law attorney, I know how important it is for us to work collaboratively to resolve your dispute. I want my clients to feel confident and comfortable in discussing their lives, their worries and their long-term objectives. We will work together to identify your goals and develop a comprehensive solution to protect your rights, your children, and the best interests of your family.
When couples agree on terms of divorce, I can guide clients through the steps of divorce efficiently. When there are children involved, I urge my clients to work together for the best interests of the children and to stay positive for the children’s sake. Mediation may be the best path to resolution of challenging family law conflicts.
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