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Fort Worth Family Law Blog

Sociologists discuss why women seek divorce more often than men

Texas residents may be aware that research has found wives ask for a divorce more often than husbands do, but they may not have known that this may not be the case when couples decide to live together without getting married. Researchers came to this conclusion after studying the responses of over 2,000 opposite-sex couples to questions about their relationships. The findings were discussed by the researchers during a presentation before the American Sociological Association.

According to the research, 69 percent of divorce proceedings are initiated by women, but unmarried men and women who live together are equally likely to seek an end to their relationships. The Stanford University professor who led the study speculated that married women may be less happy than their cohabiting contemporaries due to outdated gender roles. The professor points out that gender equality has improved greatly in the workplace and society in general, but wives are often still be expected to fulfill most housekeeping and child rearing responsibilities.

Can the Ashley Madison leak affect a divorce?

Infidelity is one of the reasons people seek divorces, and when cheating is involved, Texas residents know that the tension and hurt are usually more intense. The discovery of an infidelity might make it more challenging for the wronged spouse to think logically about the divorce situation. The leak of the email accounts of 37 million Ashley Madison users leads to the questions if and how a spouse's Ashley Madison account can impact a divorce.

People might think that finding out that a spouse has an Ashley Madison account might automatically result in the wronged spouse getting all they want in a divorce decree. The reality is different, and even if a person's spouse was using the site to look for extra-marital affairs, judges still need to focus on the state law when granting a divorce. All states have some version of no-fault divorce laws, which means the reasons are not taken into consideration.

How does location affect child support?

Texas parents know that after a divorce life can change drastically. One of the big changes that can occur is a move to another state by one or both of the parents or even the minor children of the former marriage. When this occurs, a question that might arise is which state has jurisdiction over any child support issues.

The Uniform Interstate Family Support Act addresses this question and has been codified by all states. The act, which provides guidance to states as to which one has jurisdiction over child support modifications in situations such as this, declares that the state with jurisdiction over such matters is the the one in which the payer, the recipient or the child involved in the case make their home after the divorce.

Preparing for the initial divorce consultation

Many people in Texas who are contemplating divorce may not know what to expect. Once an individual has selected an attorney and made the first appointment, they should gather information and be prepared to answer questions. The attorney's objective will be to understand the circumstances surrounding the divorce to the greatest extent possible.

During the initial consultation, the attorney will get basic contact information and basic information about the marriage, any children involved, employment and finances. Financial information covers all assets including homes, vehicles, retirement plans and other financial accounts as well as any mortgages or other outstanding debts. The attorney will ask about what assets each party brought into the marriage and whether either party received an inheritance during the marriage.

Rockers Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale file for divorce

Texas music fans may be interested to learn that Gwen Stefani filed for divorce from Gavin Rossdale on Aug. 3. The two rock stars have been married for 13 years. According to court papers, which were filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Stefani cited irreconcilable differences as the reason for the split. Stefani and Rossdale are seeking joint custody of their three children, and they have issued a statement that they were committed to raising their sons in a happy and nurturing environment.

The musicians were married in September 2002. Their sons are ages 9, 6 and 1. Stefani fronts the Southern California band No Doubt and is a judge on NBC's "The Voice." Rossdale, who is British, fronts the band Bush.

Avoiding legal pitfalls in Texas divorces

Texas couples often make many mistakes when it comes to filing for divorce. These mistakes can range from benign to criminal, with consequences ranging from needless legal expenses to making unnecessary financial concessions in the final decree. How this plays out depends on the couple and the specifics of a given case, but for couples who do not choose their fights wisely, they can win every battle and still lose the war.

One costly mistake many divorcing spouses make is failing to obtain an exact figure regarding marital assets and finances. This can lead to expensive litigation later, or require amending the divorce decree, meaning more legal fees. Fighting over how much child support a noncustodial parent must pay is another pitfall. An extra $100 per month in child support is worth the legal investment for a child of age 3, but typically not for a 16-year-old.

The Garner and Affleck divorce and prenups

While many Texas residents may be following the news that Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner are divorcing after a fairly lengthy marriage and three children, they may not be aware of some of the implications of when the divorce was filed. In California, where the couple resides, marriages are not deemed to have been long-term ones until they have reached the 10-year point. In the Garner and Affleck case, Ms. Garner filed for divorce 10 years and one day after their marriage.

Waiting for 10 years may have implications on the amount and duration of spousal support to which the lower-earning spouse may be entitled under California law. Although both Mr. Affleck and Ms. Garner entered into their marriage with significant assets, it may have been a consideration Ms. Garner was instructed to follow by her attorneys. Another possibility is that the couple had a prenuptial agreement, which are becoming increasingly popular. Many such agreements establish per-year settlement amounts to be awarded by the higher-earning spouse to the lower-earning one. Some condition settlements upon reaching certain milestones.

Factors that help courts decide who keeps the pets in divorces

Courts in Texas and around the country have traditionally viewed family pets as personal property in divorce cases. However, many couples consider their pets as family members. As a result, instead of awarding ownership to whoever is listed as the owner on the animal's registration or license, courts in some states are basing their rulings on the best interests of the pets.

One factor that is considered is which spouse takes care of the family animals on a day-by-day basis. This includes who feeds them the most, makes sure that they have water, takes them for walks or cleans the litter boxes more often, and who gives them the most affection.

Relationships with parents matter to family law courts the most

Courts in Texas and other states typically try to act within the best interests of any minor children in divorce cases, and this means that judges will usually fashion orders that will allow both parents to have some involvement in a child's life. Therefore, certain issues a parent has might not automatically invalidate his or her chances for custody. To highlight how the child custody process might work, many are speculating about what could happen to the children after the high-profile split of Kourtney Kardashian and Scott Disick.

The reality tv show stars have three children, and one attorney mentioned that Scott's colorful past does not necessarily bar him from gaining custody of his children though his history of substance abuse could make it difficult. While one parent could have trouble in family court when struggling with addiction or joblessness or having a history of spousal abuse or mental illness, some parenting rights may still be granted especially if the other parent is not in opposition.

Divorce requires division of marital debts

Texas is a community property state. This means that, in the event of a divorce, an equal split of property will be the default approach unless negotiation and documentation determine otherwise. Included in the separation of financial affairs are debts, and the couple will need to account for loans, credit card balances, medical debts and mortgages during the divorce process.

When looking at credit cards, the debt is typically assigned to the person whose name is on the account. A joint account, however, would obligate both ex-spouses to divide and pay the debt, even if only one of the parties was responsible for charging purchases on the card. This approach could be expected to apply to other consumer indebtedness.

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