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Houston Business and Family Law Blog

Is your ex impossible to communicate with?

You have probably had enough of dealing with your partner's drama. You may not like the person you become when you are confronted with the high emotion that causes a conversation to escalate into an argument and an argument to explode into a fight. In fact, now that you have decided your marriage is over, you may be looking forward to the time when you have limited contact with him or her.

Nevertheless, you may have to face the fact that your situation may not completely absolve you of interactions with your high-conflict ex. If you work together, share assets or have children, you may have no choice but to deal with your volatile partner from time to time. Although it may take some practice, there are ways that you can communicate with your ex without losing your dignity.

Is your spouse hiding assets during your divorce?

Perhaps one of the greatest concerns you may have as you prepare for your divorce is whether you will be able to survive financially on your own. Even couples who have been married only a few years quickly come to depend on each other's salaries, and those who have been together for decades may have an especially difficult time learning to manage on one income.

This is why a fair equitable division of marital assets is so important. By receiving a fair share of your joint assets and debts, you have a better chance of making a smooth transition into your new life with fewer struggles. However, a fair division of assets will not be possible if your spouse is hiding assets from you.

High asset divorce moving slowly amid dispute over art collection

In Texas and throughout the United States, a high asset divorce will have many issues in dispute. For those who have collected items of significant value like artwork, this can be the foundation for a long-term legal battle. Such is the case for a husband and wife whose art collection is one of the world's most valuable.

Libbie and David Mugrabi's art collection is at the center of their divorce. The couple initially filed for divorce in 2018. The collection has items of great value including pieces by Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. The art is just part of their portfolio. They also own substantial real estate.

Domestic abuse and physical custody awards

While the common perception is that mothers in Texas and around the country are far more likely to be awarded primary physical custody of their young children by a family law judge, this has been changing in recent years. Most courts now believe that having equal access to both parents is in a child's best interests after the divorce has been finalized. However, it may come as a surprise that many courts still grant at least partial custody to fathers who have been accused of domestic violence or child abuse.

In one Maryland case, a mother became concerned when she noticed her toddler acting inappropriately with his younger sibling. After she questioned him, the 4-year-old boy admitted that he had been sexually abused by his father. Shortly thereafter, she and her children relocated to another state to be closer to her family. Eventually, the older child disclosed to a social worker that his dad had abused him as well.

Helping children adjust to a new relationship after divorce

In a Texas divorce, it's easy for the spouses to get caught up in their own issues. Children can often recede into the background of a case even as custody and support are in dispute. However, the child's needs should always be at the forefront.

Since divorce can have a negative impact on children, understanding how to help them get through the process can be key. Kids might wonder if they need to choose which parent they prefer. Parents should remember that this frequently hinges on what the child wants rather than any emotional preference. This does not mean the child no longer loves the other parent.

Effective coparenting after divorce

One of the most difficult aspects of divorce for parents in Houston is co-parenting with an ex-spouse. A healthy co-parenting arrangement can help children adjust. While communication is an important element of functional co-parenting, this does not mean parents must carry on in-person conversations if it is difficult for them. They may want to use text, email or even online tools specifically designed to facilitate conversations about custody. Parents should never use their children as messengers.

While there will generally be a custody schedule in place and parents should try to follow it, they should also be flexible. For example, if one parent proposes a fun outing but it is during the other parent's scheduled time, that parent may still want to allow it if it is in the best interests of the child. Parents should try to be consistent in terms of rules and expectations. Many experts say this can make children feel more secure.

Winning custody means fighting for your child's best interests

The last thing you wanted was for the bitterness that defined your breakup to affect your children. Nevertheless, here you are facing a brutal custody battle. Whether your ex is fighting for full custody or you are trying to protect your children from a bad situation, you probably know how much the outcome will affect your life and the lives of your kids.

Understanding the factors Texas family courts consider when making custody rulings and how they weigh those factors is critical to your case. The most important thing to keep in mind is the best interests of the children. This is the goal of the court, and the judge will likely be looking for signs that it is your goal, too.

How taking early distributions may affect an IRA split

Houston couples who are getting a divorce may need to divide a retirement account. Some types of retirement accounts, such as 401(k)s, require a document known as a qualified domestic relations order. To divide an IRA, it is only necessary to submit the divorce decree to the custodian of the IRA.

This process may be less straightforward if the owner has begun taking distributions from the IRA before the age of 59 1/2. In certain situations, this is permitted without a 10% penalty. However, if there is a modification to the account, the penalty is retroactively applied to all the distributions. IRS regulations do not specifically address what happens in the case of a divorce and if splitting it is considered a modification.

What to know about virtual visitation

Ideally, Texas divorced parents would be able to spend time with their children on a regular basis. However, some parents live too far from their children to make regular visitation worth pursuing. Those who aren't able to physically visit with their children may be entitled to virtual visitation sessions. Virtual visitation may involve exchanging emails, text messages or videos on a regular basis.

It is important to note that virtual visitation is not designed to replace actual time spent with a son or daughter. Instead, it is meant as a tool to help parents and children maintain a relationship when they can't be together. Custodial parents are encouraged not to take steps to interfere with the noncustodial parent's ability to communicate with a son or daughter. This generally means allowing the parent and child to have contact on a regular basis and in a manner that isn't censored by the custodial parent.

Divorce may bring out the worst in your spouse

No matter how mutual or agreeable the decision to divorce is between you and your spouse, it is not unusual for the divorce process to quickly turn ugly. Often as the process moves forward, a spouse may feel like he or she is losing control of the situation or may get some bad advice. Before you know it, you are in the middle of a war.

While you certainly don't want to be the one to stir things up, you also want to be alert to signs that your spouse is taking steps that may hurt you financially or to disrupt or prolong the divorce process. You may also face the real danger that your spouse will try to negatively influence your chances for a fair custody arrangement.

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Laura Dale & Associates, P.C.
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Houston, TX 77056

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