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A Problem with No Fault Divorce

Here is a divorce (or no divorce) story from the UK which has relevance here as there is a bill before the Texas legislature to remove “no fault” divorce in Texas, which I’ll blog about later.  But here is what could be the case if the sponsor of the bill gets his way: Woman ‘trapped in loveless marriage’ after judges refuse divorce Unusual ruling by court of appeal in case of 40-year marriage prompts call for parliament to introduce ‘no fault’ divorce- A woman says she has been left trapped in a “loveless and desperately unhappy” marriage after senior judges refused to allow her to divorce her husband of 40 years on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour. The highly unusual ruling by the court of appeal triggered calls from divorce lawyers for parliament to introduce “no fault” divorce and warnings that the decision would force separating couples to make more aggressive allegations to justify marital breakdown. Tini Owens, 66, who lives in Worcestershire, had applied to overturn a ruling by the family court that her marriage to her 78-year-old husband, Hugh, who is a retired mushroom farmer, had not broken down irretrievably despite her having an affair. Her husband opposed her application, denying the allegations made against him. He told the hearing – held on Valentine’s Day – that he did not want to get divorced because they still had a “few years” left to enjoy. One of the three appeal court judges, Lady Justice Hallett, said she had reached her conclusion “with no enthusiasm whatsoever”, adding: “It is for parliament to decide whether to amend [the law] and to introduce ‘no...

Is Your Spouse Thinking About Divorce?

January is a busy month for divorce attorneys.  Some want to see if they can make it through the holidays, some are waiting for that Christmas or year-end bonus to kick in.  Some just want a change in the new year.  The following is from Bravo Blog and sums up the situation. If Your Spouse Is Considering Divorce, They Are (Secretly) Doing This First January is “considering my options” month, says one famous divorce lawyer. While they’re trying to keep up with their New Year’s resolutions, hitting the gym and eating salads, many are also (secretly) visiting a divorce lawyer’s office to see if they want to proceed with a split—and often their partner never finds out. It’s called “considering my options month.” Just because you’re not divorced, doesn’t mean they weren’t looking into it. Top New York divorce lawyer, Jacqueline Newman, managing partner of Berkman Bottger Newman & Rodd, LLP, says there is a massive spike in divorce inquiries during January. That’s when one half of a couple gathers information on what a divorce would look like- without having discussed it with their partner. There are two reasons January is the time people are snooping around to find how how much a split is going to cost them and how long it will take to finalize. “The spike follows the stressful December holidays. Couples often consider divorce an off-limits holiday topic,” Jacqueline says. But New Year/ new beginnings and stress-exposed fractures in the relationship coincide in January.” Following January, actual divorce filings will spike in February when decision/plan/lawyer are in place. “In my experience I’ve seen in January people want to start...

5 Topics You Need To Discuss With Your Divorce Lawyer

5 Topics You Need To Discuss With Your Divorce Lawyer Great article from Huffington.  In Texas, spousal support is rare, but support to children is not, and we do need to discover if spousal support is possible.  I love articles like this that divorce clients and potential divorce clients can read and see a road map to an initial family law attorney meeting. 5 Topics You Need to Discuss With Your Divorce Lawyer By Vikki Ziegler When clients first contact me, they are often highly emotional, and understandably so. Divorce is complicated. Whether they arrived at their decision after months or years of thought or found themselves forced into the process after discovering their spouse was cheating, time and time again I watch them grapple to make sense of the life change they face. Compounding their struggle are the financial and legal issues involved in dividing marital property. To advocate on my clients’ behalf and negotiate the best possible settlement for them, it is important that I have a full understanding of their financial picture as well as their short-term and long-term goals early on in the process. Though it may mean some forethought and legwork for clients at the outset, their investment will pay off, resulting in less billable hours and a comprehensive agreement that protects them now and in the future. As you prepare to meet with your divorce lawyer, here are five areas on which to focus. 1. Property. Marital property refers to any property the couple acquired during the marriage. It can include but is not limited to the marital home, cars, furniture, jewelry, furs, and...

What are Bond Conditions and Do I Have to Obey Them?

What are Bond Conditions and Do I Have to Obey Them?   Before defining what bond conditions are, let me go ahead and say “Yes, you have to obey them,” so it will begin to sink in.  Bond conditions are the tiny things you must or must not do while you are out on bond.  If you do not obey your bond conditions, you could be sent to jail until your case is resolved. What are some of these things you ask?  Let’s take a DWI case for example.  It would not be uncommon to have a bond condition to not drink alcohol or have a monitor placed on yourself or vehicle if your blood alcohol content was high or you have a prior DWI arrest or DWI conviction (I had a client with no prior convictions but 3 DWI arrests within 2 months – judge placed interlock on his car).  Also, commit no new offenses.  That means if you get arrested again, the judge will revoke your bond.  S/he will probably grant you a new bond but in Tarrant county, they will usually double the old bond.  Not following the judge’s conditions can cause problems. If you get caught drinking or violate the ignition interlock, you might go to jail for a weekend while your case is still pending.  If we need a favor from the judge in a plea deal, your actions in violating a bond condition could have an effect on the outcome of such a request.  Basically, when you get arrested, and are out on bond, lead a quiet existence until the mess is over....

A Brief History of Divorce

A BRIEF HISTORY OF DIVORCE   With the debut of HBO’s new show DIVORCE, the topic of divorce is coming up in the national media.  Time magazine posted this article (reprinted below) and you can find other relevant pieces throughout the internet.  One thing I found surprising about the article is the rise of divorce in the 19th century.  My parents divorced in the 1970s and they seemed like pioneers at the time.  As a lawyer I found out the State Bar of Texas did not even have a family law section when the 1970s began.  Family law was not a specialty. I thought it was in the 1980s with L.A. Law and divorce specialist Arnie Becker was a top producer at the drama’s firm. If you are going through divorce and I would have no recommendation on the new show DIVORCE.   I saw a news video with a group of females.  Two were married, one single, the other divorced.  The divorced woman found the most humor in the show.  Alas, it has only been one episode so that is also why I hesitate  to give an opinion.  But, it has brought us the divorce history below. A Brief History of Divorce in America: From Legal Rarity to Dark Comedy Ashley Ross The legal concept of “irreconcilable differences” dates to 1969 Sarah Jessica Parker’s return to television on HBO’s Divorce follows the story of a woman as she uproots her life with the hope that liberation from a 17-year marriage will solve all her problems. The series not only sheds light on divorce, it makes light of it, too. But the history has not been kind...

Changing Social Attitudes on Divorce

Changing Social Attitudes on Divorce   Great article from the Huffington Post on the attitudes on divorce for one recently divorced author. Everyone does seem to take a position akin to a funeral at the end of a marriage.  There was a book titled “It’s Called a Breakup Because It’s Broken.”  We lament what once was, but one is in this position because it is no more.  Perhaps the author, Galina Nemirovsky, is correct in that we should take a more celebratory tone.  An old friend of mine has been doing just that on social media after her divorce and I, for one , have enjoyed reading her posts and her sheer delight at her new life and the doors that have opened.  The article is posted below or view it here.   THE BLOG I’m Part of the Divorce Welcoming Committee 09/12/2016 09:10 pm ET | Updated 13 hours ago Galina Nemirovsky Writer and Blogger; Join in my discovery of Life Clubs, my 365 Project @HeartsEverywhere.com When I was getting divorced, no one told me, “Congratulations!” or “Good job!” Instead, they frowned, rubbed my shoulders and wanted to cry. Only, I was euphoric; I was liberated from my controlling husband and it wasn’t easy taking the final steps to leave. Getting divorced takes courage and strength and whether you’re the initiator or the receiver, you’re both victims who feel like the rug has been violently pulled out from underneath you, left free falling into a black hole. Pursuing happiness isn’t always easy and often involves jumping over some messy and complicated hurdles such as hurting someone I once...

Uber Departure Does Lead to More DWI’s in Austin

Uber Departure Does Lead to More DWI’s in Austin   It had been speculated and the early returns did not show the anticipated result,  but the bigger picture is starting to indicate that the ride sharing services of Uber and Lyft did affect the number of DWI arrests in Austin.  In a previous post, I discussed the departure of the companies from Austin after the city wanted more regulation.  An argument for the programs to remain was the impact they had in DWI arrests.  Many thought this was a smoke screen and invalid, but the numbers in May don’t lie. From May 9 – May 31 2016, Austin had 359 DWI arrests, up from 334 the previous year, which is an increase of 7.5%.  That’s about 8 per week.  Over a year, that is over 400 DWI’s that may have been prevented with alternative transportation.  The number is big.  The city of Austin needs to rethink it’s stance and work with Uber and Lyft to get the services back on the road and potential DWI’s off of it. Below is the article from KEYE: DWI arrests have spiked since Uber and Lyft left Austin. The Austin Police Department released new numbers to KEYE TV that show there were 359 DWI arrests from May 9, the day Uber and Lyft shut down, to May 31st of this year. Last year during the same time period, there were 334 arrests. That’s a 7.5 percent increase in the weeks following their departure. “It’s an everyday pain that you live with,” said Deborah Tatum. Tatum wishes for one more day with her son...

What To Do If Pulled Over for DWI

WHAT TO DO IF PULLED OVER FOR DWI As we have hit the first day of summer and the 4th of July is just around the corner, I thought it was good to post some knowledge of what one should do if pulled over for DWI.  There are also great checkpoint videos on youtube.  In Texas, sobriety checkpoints are illegal, but that doesn’t stop some law enforcement from thinking that a driver’s license checkpoint in an area filled with bars at 2am is not a de facto sobriety checkpoint.  On to the tips: 1. Pull Over Immediately Of course, wait for a safe place to pull over, but don’t delay.  Some cops will think you must be intoxicated because it took you so long to pull over and question why you didn’t pull over three blocks back.  Other cops might try and slap you with an evading arrest charge, which would be a felony, in addition to a DWI. 2. Don’t Get Out of the Car Until The Officer Tells You You may think this is unjust, but don’t jump out of your car and start pleading your case.  This is not the time.  I often have clients ask if they have to get out of the car.  If you don’t, they will pull you out and that won’t look good to a jury if we have to go there on a DWI case. 3. Be Nice Nobody, not the police, not the prosecutor, and not a jury, will help someone who is a jerk.  You might need some favors in a DWI case.  Be someone that anyone would help....

Probation Do’s and Don’t’s

Probation Do’s and Don’t’s Many people end up on probation and of those who do each year, many have never been involved in the criminal justice system.  I get a number of calls regarding probation revocations and have seen many get revoked for stupid, irresponsible behavior. Sample case:  Client comes to me with a new DWI.  She had been a 4 year probation for a burglary in which she received deferred adjudication probation.  Client was in early 20’s and was on the 6th year of the 4 year probation.That means if she completes probation successfully, there will be no conviction on her record.  Client was in early 20’s and was on the 6th year of the 4 year probation.  How does that happen?  She needed to complete 40 hours of community service and did not so the judge extended probation for a year.  After year 5, community service hours still not done, so he extends for a year.  It was in year 6 that she was arrested for DWI.  This case, by the way, was a felony.  Client was in early 20’s.  Full disclosure: I did not handle the revocation case.   What happened is with the new arrest, the judge had enough and revoked the probation.  All she had to do was 40 hours of community service and had 5+ years to do so.  She didn’t and went to the state pen for a couple of years. First thing, do your requirements and do them quickly.  If you get a DWI, you have a DWI education class or DWI repeat offender class to complete if not your first...

Child Support Amnesty Project Great Start for ND, Can Texas Do It?

Child Support Amnesty Project Great Start for ND, Can Texas Do It?   North Dakota announced an amnesty program for past due child support which, to me, sounded better in headline then in actuality, but reality had to kick in.   There obviously can’t be any kind of forgiveness as no one owed child support will forgive child support payment arrears.  You’re dreaming if you think your ex would do something along those lines.  But while forgiveness of child support payments is out of the question, there are some good points to the program. If a North Dakota citizen enters into the child support amnesty program, they will get credit toward past due paid and will get any license suspensions dropped.  It sounds like a good idea.  At least someone is trying to do something.  But the reality is that this, like other amnesty programs like the Texas DWI Surcharge Amnesty program, is a public relations gimmick that really isn’t going to solve anything. To solve the problems of arrears, real legislative changes are necessary.  For example, eliminate arrears prior to DNA test where the father doesn’t meet presumptive status.  That would probably end a substantial amount of arrears.  I also find that taking away a driver’s license is counterintuitive to getting money since most need a license to get to work or to simply be employed.  A lot of the punitive measures are a bit of cutting off one’s nose to spite their face.  It’s time for a change and at least one state is thinking about...