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BY THE TEXAS BOARD OF LEGAL SPECIALIZATION
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Houston Family Law Blog

It is normal to feel unprepared when a spouse wants a divorce

Some Texas couples make the decision to end their marriage together. However, more often it is one spouse who has been contemplating divorce for some time before announcing his or her intention to the other spouse. The spouse who did not ask for the divorce may feel unprepared for the divorce process -- especially when compared to the spouse who had time to make a plan.

Fortunately, the divorce process takes time, and that could give the unprepared spouse time to formulate a plan. Hopefully, the other spouse has not already put plans in motion that could put the other party at a disadvantage. If that happens, however, the Texas courts are available to provide the party with the time needed to identify, assess and locate all of the marital assets.

The face of divorce is changing for many Texas couples

In the not too distant past, more women than men were the primary caregivers of the home and the children. In recent years, a shift in the family dynamic began, and husbands are taking on these duties in growing numbers. This is changing the way that the divorce process occurs for many couples, here in Texas and across the country.

The days of automatically assuming that the wife should receive full custody of the children and spousal support are all but gone. Men are giving up their careers to allow their wives to pursue a more lucrative career. While their wives are out working, the men are the ones providing the day-to-day care of the family.

Texas man's plight could further fathers' rights

Many Texas fathers understand the need to provide financially for their children after a divorce and work diligently to keep up with their child support payments. However, it is an unfortunate necessity that the child support enforcement systems in place are geared toward people who fail to make their payments. Sometimes, those consequences are thrust upon a father who believes he is complying with his child support order. The recent case of one father could help advance the plight of fathers' rights.

The Texas man believed that his employer was deducting the appropriate amount from his checks each payday. However, it was discovered that a clerical error resulted in the incorrect amounts being deducted from his checks. This garnered the attention of child support enforcement officials.

When should Texas couples consider divorce?

This may be one of the most frustrating and confusing questions many Texas couples have prior to making the decision to end their marriages. No one wants to make a mistake or stay in a marriage that should have ended sooner. Determining when it is time to divorce can be one of the biggest challenges of the entire process.

Some spouses begin to wonder if they should stay together when they no longer want to spend time with each other as a couple. Actively avoiding being in the same room with a person is a good indication that something is amiss. This could certainly be the case if a couple's time together involves more arguing than anything else.

Property division may be simpler by not going to divorce court

Depending on how long a Texas husband and wife are married, they might have accumulated a significant amount of assets together. Further, each party could have brought separate assets to the marriage. If the couple ends up getting a divorce, the division of those assets will most likely be a major part of the process.

When dealing with property division in a divorce, it may be less complicated to negotiate outside the courtroom than to let a judge decide who receives what assets. Judges are bound by certain rules and may require a certain amount of proof before ruling that an asset is separate property. Moreover, judges are also not required to consider how taxes will affect the equality of assets.

Paternity case filed against NBA star Paul George

Many men in Texas are willing to accept responsibility for a child if they are proved to be the father through a court-ordered DNA test. Not every paternity case pits a mother against a father. In many cases, paternity merely needs to be established by the court in order to make the father-child relationship legal.

For instance, NBA basketball star Paul George had a brief relationship with a woman last year that only lasted a few months. As it turns out, the woman -- a former stripper -- became pregnant. On May 1, the 24-year-old woman gave birth to a baby girl, and she claims the NBA player is the father. According to sources, the pair had an informal DNA test done that indicated he is, in fact, the father of the child.

Are money issues why some Texas couples divorce?

Studies suggest that a large number of married couples believe they share similar saving and spending habits. As a result, more than 50 percent of couples, including many in Texas, commingle their money. Even so, money issues remain a compelling reason as to why many couples divorce.

In today's society, the man may not necessarily be the main breadwinner in the family. Nearly one-third of the time, the woman makes more money than her husband at the beginning of a marriage. Somewhere around 43 percent of couples say they make financial decisions regarding retirement together.

Unusual child custody case could affect dads nationwide

In decades past, couples around the country and in Texas who wanted children, but could not conceive, had few options. Now, advances in medical science have opened doors for people wanting children that many never thought possible. As the science evolved, the nation's child custody laws had to evolve as well. Those laws may have to change again at some point in the future as many of the women who used to go to a sperm bank now ask a man they know to help them conceive.

A case involving actor Jason Patric could impact the landscape of child custody laws. This time, the changes are not about science, but about the evolution of relationships and what constitutes a family. Patric donated his sperm to an ex-girlfriend who had a child using in vitro fertilization (IVF). Patric maintained that he wanted to be a part of the child's life, and the mother agreed.

True collaborative divorce does not shy away from conflict

A lot of pressure is placed on Texas couples to get along during their divorces. It is as if any hint of conflict should send the couple straight into divorce court. That is not necessarily the case. A true collaborative divorce does not automatically shy away from conflict.

An agreement that is reached amicably without a bit of confrontation may sound good in theory, but is rarely achieved in reality. Some sources say that if no one is arguing at all, neither party will be happy with the results. The parties should feel free to speak their minds in negotiations, regardless of the fact that it may upset the other party. The goal is not to eliminate confrontation, but to manage it in a way that will provide both parties with a satisfactory result.

Paternity tests can protect fathers' rights

Many Texas men are willing to take responsibility for their children and want to be part of their lives. However, when they have doubts as to whether a child is really theirs, paternity tests are one way to protect fathers' rights. For many men, wanting to be sure is not only about child support, it is about investing something much more valuable than money a father's love.

For instance, Kirk Frost, star of "Love & Hip-Hop Atlanta," wants to be sure that the child he has with Rasheeda is actually his. He expressed this concern on the show, and even took a swab from the child for a paternity test. He claims that just because a woman says a child belongs to a particular man does not make it true.

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