Board-Certified Family Lawyer

Houston Family Law Blog

Harold Hamm's ex-wife not happy with divorce settlement

Nearly anyone in Texas who has watched the news lately has heard about the divorce between oil tycoon Harold Hamm and his now ex-wife. Recently, she was awarded nearly $1 billion -- $995 million -- in the divorce. However, she does not think the settlement was fair and is appealing the decision.

The settlement represents about 6 percent of the couple's fortune. The cash portion of the award is to be paid in installments over the course of years, beginning with a $323 million payment by Dec. 31. Hamm's ex-wife was also given two homes with a total value of approximately $19.7 million.

Modifying a custody and visitation agreement

When a Texas couple with children gets divorced, child custody arrangements are made based on the information available and the family's circumstances at that time. As time goes by, those conditions could change. When there is a substantial change, it may be possible to modify the custody and visitation agreement.

Texas law provides that the court may issue a temporary order modifying the current child custody arrangement. However, the evidentiary requirements are the same for both temporary and final orders. Therefore, judges are not always amenable to issuing temporary orders.

Going from a couple to an individual during the divorce process

Many Texas couples going through a divorce have the tendency to focus on the past. It can be difficult to change from thinking about "us" to thinking about "I" until the divorce process is over. However, the process is about untangling two people's lives so that they can live as individuals.

Most people benefit by looking at the future instead of looking to the past. Doing so could help the parties focus on what they need to move forward. Creating a budget might be a good place to start since, in many cases, the parties are going from two incomes to one. Without proper planning, the change could come as a shock.

Child custody can be affected by who comes into the child's life

One of the advantages of being divorced is that an ex-spouse does not have a say in how a person spends his or her time or with whom. That may be true if the Texas couple did not have children, but when it comes to child custody, an ex-spouse may have some say after all. If either party believes that the children could be at risk, he or she could go back to court to revisit the issues of custody and visitation.

For instance, Texas fans of the realty television show "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" may already be aware that Mama June and Mike "Sugar Bear" Thompson are parting ways. It appears that Mama June has begun dating a man who is a convicted child molester who was recently released from prison. However, she has repeatedly denied that any relationship exists.

Fathers' rights issue highlighted by Halle Berry's court battle

Halle Berry fans in Texas may know that she has a daughter with Gabriel Aubry, a model from Canada. Since their breakup, the couple has shared custody of the 6-year-old girl. A recent petition filed by Berry regarding child support highlights a fathers' rights issue.

Berry is asking the court to lower the child support she pays to Aubry. Currently, her monthly support obligation is $16,000.  She wants it lowered to $3,000 because she says he has made no effort to find a job. The question is why Aubry's situation is any different from that of a woman in the same situation.

Prosecutors fight child custody request of grandmother

Many parents in Texas could never imagine abandoning their child, but it happens more often than anyone would like to believe. In a recent out-of-state case, a teenager's abandonment of her newborn son resulted in prosecutors filing charges against her for attempted first-degree murder. Now, the child's grandmother is attempting to obtain child custody, and prosecutors are fighting that request.

At present, the teenage mother is living with her mother -- the boy's grandmother -- while she is on home detention awaiting the disposition of the criminal charges. The local office of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) believes that the best interests of the child necessitate him being placed with a biological family member. Prosecutors argue that leaving the baby with a foster family better serves his needs.

Emotions and finances do not mix during a Texas divorce

Regardless of what a Texas couple decides are the issues that led to the end of their marriage, it is most often a conclusion based in emotions.  That may serve the parties in making such an important choice, but it could be counterproductive when it comes to making financial agreements during the divorce process.  If one or both parties approach the division of their assets and liabilities from an emotional standpoint, the futures of both individuals could be in jeopardy.

Dealing with the couple's finances requires more than just deciding who gets what after a cursory review of the assets and liabilities.  The value of an asset is more than a number on an appraisal.  Those numbers do not take into account any money that will be required to maintain or grow the asset and/or the tax implications associated with a particular piece of property.  This is true whether it is the marital home or a retirement account.

What are the two types of child custody in Texas?

Parents going through a divorce are often primarily concerned with what will happen to their children.  The first thing that parents need to know is that child custody in Texas is described as a conservatorship that outlines the legal responsibilities and rights of each parent.  Two types of conservatorships are used in our state -- sole managing conservatorship and joint managing conservatorship.

In a sole managing conservatorship, one parent is responsible to make certain decisions on behalf of the children.  These decisions include where the children will live, go to school and what treatment the children will receive medically, dentally and psychologically.  This parent is also entitled to child support from the other parent and is considered the children's emergency contact, if needed.  The other parent will be afforded visitation with the children based on a schedule created or approved by the court.

Creating a school friendly child custody agreement

Texas parents who are going through a divorce have a plethora of logistical issues to resolve.  As the school year begins, it provides an important reminder for parents to incorporate school related provisions into their child custody agreements.  Doing so could forestall any future miscommunications or confrontations.

For instance, each child's school will need contact information for both parents, but the agreement can designate one party to be the primary contact.  That parent would also be responsible for providing the school with any information, documentation or the like.  This not only helps the parents, but also reduces any confusion on the school's part. The agreement can also outline how the parties will split school-related expenses.

Relocating the children after a Texas divorce

When a parent is given primary physical custody of his or her children, the majority of the day-to-day decisions most likely rest with that parent.  Therefore, it can be disconcerting when that parent must obtain the consent of the other parent and/or the court to relocate the children from Texas to another state or country.  This may not be something that either parent considered at the time of the divorce.

If the custodial parent does want to move out-of-state, the easiest course of action would be to work things out directly with the noncustodial parent.  If an agreement can be reached without involving the court, that would save everyone the time and expense of going to court.  However, it does not always work out that way, and the other parent has the right to object to the relocation.

divorcing? custody matters? let us help.

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.