Who Gets the Family Pet in Property Division?

Divorce is a very difficult time for most people.  Apart from the obvious issues like support, child custody issues and access, and property division issues, there’s also the matter of who gets the family pet.

Many pet owners have a strong mutual attachment to their furry friends.  A recent report from the American Pet Products Association reveals that pet industry revenues were expected to be more than $75 billion in 2019.  The expenditures are for food, veterinary care, gifts, clothes and even portraits of the pet. In fact, the term “fur babies” has become quite common as more and more people have come to regard their pets almost as children.

Some jurisdictions have taken the divorcing parties’ emotional attachment and the welfare of the pet into consideration.  In 2010, an Alabama appeals court ruled that “where a pet is the subject of a division of property, the courts sometimes consider the best interest of the animal”.  The Vermont Supreme Court said that family courts “may consider … welfare of the animal and the emotional connection between the animal and each spouse”.

However, contrary to how many “pet parents” In Texas view their pets, the courts in Texas (and many other states) regard them as being “marital property” to be awarded or disposed of like any other piece of property such as cars and appliances.   

In property settlements, whether the “property” be animate or inanimate, your wisest course of action is to get the best legal representation available.  

Call The Barrera Law Firm at (956) 428-2822 for a free consultation or complete our online form.

Do I Need a Temporary Restraining Order For My Divorce Even If We Get Along?

woman returned wedding ring to  husband

Texas law provides that one may apply for a restraining order in a divorce case to simply keep the peace, reduce problems between the parties, ensure no one sells off, gifts or gives away property, and to lay the ground rules on what happens while a divorce is pending.

A hearing is set where the matters in the original temporary restraining order are decided as to whether they remain in effect.  Other provisions such as those below are also considered:

1) alcohol around the children;

2) who has control over the home and vehicles;

3) child support;

4) visitation;

5) geographical restrictions;

6) spousal maintenance;

7) and much more.

Temporary restraining orders are a useful tool in ensuring that a well prepared and orderly divorce occur with as little damage as possible.

If you need help with your divorce, call The Barrera Law Firm at (956) 428-2822 for a free consultation or complete our online form.

Texas Divorces — Who Gets the Tax Refund?

Under Texas law, anything of value acquired during the marriage, including a tax refund, is presumed to be community property. That means that both spouses have to split it evenly, right?  Not necessarily. It is not that cut and dry. The court takes into consideration specific factors on a case-by-case basis with the objective of a fair and equitable division of the marital estate.

Sometimes, the parties have been living apart, so the court can divide the return based on the length of time of cohabitation with the children.  Other times, back child support is due as a result of living apart, so the tax return can be taken for the purposes of paying the back child support.

The United States tax laws govern who shall claim the children for tax refunds, so it is always advisable to seek an independent opinion from a certified tax professional.

Ultimately, however, division of the tax refund belongs in the province of the divorce court.

Call us for a free consultation to learn more at (956) 428-2822.

50 Ways to Leave Your VIOLENT Lover; PROTECTIVE ORDERS IN TEXAS

illustration of Restraining Orders title on Legal DocumentsDomestic violence is a serious matter. It is not forgivable. It is not something that gets better with time. It is something that must be addressed so the violent person can be handled or removed from the family unit.

While Paul Simon’s song, 50 Ways to Leave Your Lover, may be about less serious matters, domestic violence is much more serious.

In Texas, Protective Orders are a key tool to accomplishing immediate relief from a violent family member or domestic partner.  The law looks to two major factors:

1) Whether Family Violence occurred; and

2) Whether Family Violence is likely to occur in the future.

A private Texas attorney may draft the application, assist in the preparation of the evidence and affidavits, and the presentation of evidence to get a Protective Order from a judge.

The reasons why Protective Orders are VERY IMPORTANT is that it restricts a person from coming within so many feet, coming to a residence, calling, texting or showing up to work places or schools. This is important because police often have to wait until a crime has been committed before arresting a person, but with a protective order, they may be arrested for simply violating the order itself, for example, driving past your house.

There are 50 ways to leave your lover if they commit Domestic Violence and The Barrera Law Firm, PC can help you.  But first and always, seek emergency police assistance in the event you are in danger and call the law firm after that.

How to Get A Court to Punish Violations of Divorce Decrees in Texas

As the holidays approach, many of us look forward to seeing our families and friends, spending time with our children and teaching them the religious and cultural traditions that we grew up with.

Sadly, the enemy of the judicial system shows its ugly head all too often.  That enemy is intentional disregard for court orders.

Intentionally disregarding court orders is a very expensive, embarrassing, and sad situation for the person who decides to be that “enemy.”

Courts can be ruthless if it is proven that someone is intentionally violating court orders.  The consequences of intentional violations can include both financial punishment and/or jail time.

Get a free consultation with The Barrera Law Firm, P.C. at (956) 428-2822.

Uncontested Divorces in Texas – How do I File?

Uncontested divorces in Texas are unfortunately common. The law requires that there be no expectation for reconciliation, so if you have consulted your church, your trusted friend or parent, or your conscious, and ultimately you decide it’s time to divorce for the greater good, then you should probably call a professional attorney with experience in divorce law to do it for you.

The WORST thing you can do is separate and then wait to divorce after you both have moved on as you are still legally obligated to each other financially and in other ways.

Some people attempt to file a divorce on their own and later discover they are still legally married, when they honestly thought their divorce was complete. Others pay to download forms online and find that those forms are not appropriate to a Texas divorce and waste their money. Others download proper forms and encounter a clerk at the courthouse who is unable to help or direct them because of the law prohibiting them from giving legal advice. And finally, others put their trust in a non lawyer, notary, or friend and take the gamble that they can navigate through the complex laws and issues and get their divorce. Some are successful and later find out they cut themselves out of thousands of dollars in community property and other things they were entitled to including permanent restraining orders, child support, health supporter, name changes, orders against unrelated adults around their kids or overnight, and much more.

There are three general rules you must know to successfully pursue an uncontested divorce:

1) Are you actually married in the first place?

2) Where should you file in order for the divorce to be legal?

3) What are you even entitled to in the first place?

If you do not sort out the three issues above, you may be clawing around in the dark and have a very frustrating experience.

If you or a loved one needs help with an uncontested divorce, call The Barrera Law Firm at (956) 428-2822 for a free consultation.  Get what you deserve and get it done right.

Two Main Changes to Texas Family Law for 2018

If your lawyer does not know this, keep looking. Laws change and a good lawyer has to stay on top of those changes or bad things can happen.

On September 1st, Texas Courts will obligate the non custodial parent to cover dental insurance at a reasonable cost in addition to health insurance. The cost will also be deducted from the non custodial parent’s monthly net resources for child support calculations.

Another very big change has to do with the modification of child support when the parents reach an agreement on a payment amount that does the guidelines in the Texas Family Code. If the parties agree to an order under which the amount of child support differs from what would have been awarded in accordance with the Texas Family CodeTWO guidelines, then the court may modify the order only if the circumstances of the child or person affected by the order have materially and substantially changed since the date the order was rendered.

There are more changes that occurred.

It is important that you get a lawyer who knows the law. If a lawyer does not know the law, you may be damaged and embarrassed as a result.

For more information on divorce and Texas child custody cases, call the The Barrera Law Firm, PC, for a free consultation at (956) 428-2822.

Temporary Restraining Orders in Divorce and Custody Cases

In the Texas Family Code, Temporary Restraining Orders may be issued by the court to protect the parties, to protect the children, to protect the property, and to provide for child support and fees to one or both parties for support of the children and property. These orders are signed based on limited information provided to the court when they are petitioned for. They become effective on the party once they are served upon that party. They only remain active for 14 days unless extended, unless the parties agree to an arrangement, or unless the judge makes temporary orders after an evidentiary hearing.

It is important that once you are served with a Temporary Restraining Order, you read it completely. Violation of such an order can result in negative consequences and can even ruin a case. There should always be a hearing date somewhere on the Temporary Restraining Order or attached to it. If you are served and you do not show for the hearing, the court may proceed without you and orders will be issued that may result in negative consequences for you.

The evidentiary hearing provides an attorney with little time to prepare and discover evidence against the other party. A court will usually try to do its best to keep in place whatever arrangements have been there for children, they will do their best to preserve the property and evidence, and they will ultimately do their best to protect the children and provide for their temporary support.

If you have been served with or need a temporary restraining order in a divorce or child custody dispute, call Attorney Ricardo A. Barrera with The Barrera Law Firm, PC at (956) 428-2822.

 

Talking to Children About Divorce

Research shows that children of divorced couples are as psychologically sound as those who come from intact family units. However, as the Huffington Post online reports, they also tend to experience “lingering distress” for years after their parents split.

divorce children barrera law firm
Communication with children about a divorce is vital. As is proper legal assistance. Call The Barrera Law Firm for a solid divorce attorney.
The main reason this seems to happen is because most parents do not talk to their children about their breakup. One study has shown that “less than 20% [of young adults from divorced families] said that both of their parents had talked to them in advance of the divorce” and that “only 5% reported that they had ever been given an opportunity to ask questions” about the process. This lack of communication creates “anxiety and helplessness” in children.

By contrast, those children whose parents do include them in the conversation about divorce reported “less painful memories and more positive attitudes” about their parents’ breakup. Following are some tips to help you decide what your children need to know about an impending divorce and how much say they should have in the matter:

  • Once you and your spouse have definitively decided to call it quits, tell your children. If they are young, it may be easier to tell them that “Mommy and Daddy may not be living together but that [they] will be with one or the other parent at all times.”
  • Give your kids a chance to ask questions, such as those pertaining to possible moves, school and schedule changes.
  • Accommodate their wishes as much as possible. That way, they’ll feel more in control of what’s happening to them and that their opinion counts.

Divorce marks the beginning of a sometimes painful adjustment period not just for the parents, but also any children they may have. If you are looking to dissolve your union, seek qualified legal assistance to help you and your spouse reorganize your lives—but don’t forget your children in the process. What they don’t know and aren’t given a chance to express about a divorce can hurt them in the long run.

Prenuptial Agreements and Divorce

You and your spouse drew up a prenuptial agreement before taking that long walk down the aisle. Now that you’re thinking of getting a divorce, you’re wondering what you can expect to happen when you bring the document forward and seek its enforcement or abrogation.

A premarital agreement is a contract that prevents the creation of community property. In Texas, community property is subject to a “just and right” division.  The 50% rule does not exist. This means that assets can be divided according to a 70/30 or some other percentage split.

What the court cannot do is divest an individual of his or her separate property. This means that a husband and wife can contract that the property owned by one or either of them will remain separate.  This can also include the income derived from that separate property. Under community property laws, that income would normally be considered  income held in common. This also applies to anything purchased without income.

All of this is to say that a prenuptial agreement can address any property issue that might arise in context of a divorce. However, only the court can decide on matters pertaining to child support.  Furthermore, the Texas Family Code stipulates that this kind of an agreement must be in writing. It must be signed and dated by both parties and goes into effect on the date of marriage. Amendments can be made in writing anytime afterwards.

A pre-nup becomes null and void if the party against whom enforcement is requested is able to prove that:

  • the document was signed under coercion,
  • the agreement itself was unconscionable when it was signed,
  • he or she was not provided a reasonable and fair disclosure of the other individual’s property or financial obligations,
  •  he or she did not voluntarily waive any right to disclosure of said obligations in writing,
  • he or she did or could not have had full knowledge of those obligations.

No matter how carefully you prepare for the possible end of a marriage, life and its attendant complications happen. And when it does and you find yourself  unsure of how to proceed, that’s when you need to contact the Barrera Law Firm. Our attorneys are experts in Texas divorce law and can help you sort through any issues pertaining to a prenuptial agreement. When protecting your rights and assets matter, we’re there.

Photo credit: David Castillo Dominici
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