Coping with your spouse in a houston divorce

Coping with your Ex: Texas Divorce

Divorce 101: Coping with Your Ex

When you’re going through a divorce, even making it through the day might feel like a small victory. Once you’re on the other side of that divorce, you’re ready to take your first tentative steps on your own. The fact remains, however, that if you have children or a shared social circle, you now have an ex-spouse whom you’ll very likely have to deal with on at least a semi-regular basis. Unfortunately, exes don’t come with instruction manuals, so it’s a good idea to have a game plane for how best to proceed. In general, tread lightly, but be prepared to protect your best interests when necessary.Houston divorce attorney

Keep Face-to-Face Communications to a Minimum

Every divorce is unique, and while some couples divorce amicably and carry on with a lively friendship post-divorce, this is the rare exception rather than the rule. If your divorce is less of a fairytale and more like real-life, proceed with caution. If you share children, you’re going to need to confab with your ex, so set some personal ground rules.

As time goes by, you and your ex will likely find that communicating with each other will become more and more comfortable, but until you find this happy place, your interactions are likely to be fraught with emotion. In the early days, which sometimes seem to go on indefinitely, it’s usually a good idea to limit your communications to those that are strictly necessary and to conduct them through the least personal channels possible. If an email or text will suffice, stick to that. When it’s more time sensitive or complicated, make the call. Limiting face-to-face interactions to picking up and dropping off the kids can save you a lot of heartache in the long run.

When It Comes to Your Kids, Proceed with Caution

In general, it’s best not to include your children in your chain of communication with your ex. First of all, you don’t want your children to feel like they’re being used as a protective barrier between the two of you – or to feel like they should harbor allegiances (one way or the other).

Sometimes, however, it’s useful – and it makes sense – for your children to negotiate with your ex on their own behalves. There’s a lot of gray area on this one. Families are messy, and children are resilient. There are no hard and fast rules here. But if you have something you need to discuss with your ex, don’t finagle it through your children; go directly to the source.

Post-Divorce Emotional Support

If there’s ever a time that you’re going to need emotional support, it’s after a divorce. Look to your family members and trusted friends whom you know you can count on. That’s what friends and family are for; there are also divorce support groups that can be especially beneficial. Remember, too, that your Houston divorce attorney is there to answer your logistical questions and doesn’t expect you to become a divorce expert overnight.

What you don’t want to do is look to your ex for the emotional support you need. While it’s natural to feel the tug of the familiar – after all you were a team throughout your marriage – it’s rarely a good idea to succumb to that inclination. Foster a community in which you and the other members support each other, and you’ll find yourself back on the road to emotional strength and stability.

Get the Support You Need so You Can Be There for Your Kids

It’s vital that you get the support you need so you can be there for your children. As difficult as divorce is on you, it’s even more harrowing – and confusing – for your kids. If you aren’t taking care of your own emotional needs, you’ll be less capable of supporting your kids during these trying times. And cut yourself some slack, no one is looking for perfection here – do the best you can for both yourself and your kids.

Finally, it goes without saying that you should never turn to your children for emotional support. When times get tough, call a friend or family member.

Court-Awarded Financial Support

If the court has awarded you child support or spousal support, that is money that is due you – it is not a gift and it in no way leaves you obligated to your ex (the payor). If your ex intimates that the payments he or she makes to you according to your divorce settlement give him or her leverage, your ex is mistaken. Don’t be bullied or intimidated into abdicating your rights and responsibilities as spelled out in your divorce settlement. If your court-ordered payments aren’t forthcoming, it’s time to contact your Houston family law attorney. Don’t wait for things to fix themselves; they rarely do. Be proactive, and allow your experienced divorce attorney to outline your options.

Maintaining Friendships with Your Ex’s Family Members

You’ve no doubt heard the saying that blood is thicker than water, and divorce is a prime example. No matter how close you and your ex’s family are, it’s usually a good idea to give them some breathing space after the divorce. If nothing else, they don’t want to give the appearance of not fully supporting their own son/daughter/brother/sister. Give them the time and space they need to heal, and you very well may find your way back to a satisfying and rewarding relationship with your ex’s family – especially when children are involved.

Divorce Isn’t a Walk in the Park; You Need a Dedicated Houston Divorce Attorney

If you will have to interact with your ex in the future, you should be sure to protect your rights during your divorce. A divorce settlement or decree that is equitable goes a long way in minimizing future conflict. The dedicated legal team at the Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., in Houston, focuses exclusively on divorce and family law, and we’re here for you every step of the way. For a free initial consultation, please contact or call us at 713-781-7775 today.

divorce and property division

Property and Debt Division in Texas -What you should know.

The Division of Debt Is an Important Component of Your Houston Divorceexperienced houston divorce lawyer

If you are facing divorce, you are undoubtedly stressed and there is a good chance that you are unsure about how best to proceed. Cut yourself some slack, and remember that – no matter how you’re holding up – you’re not alone. Every divorce is difficult, and every divorce is as unique as the two individuals involved; you need an experienced Houston divorce attorney to help protect your interests. Other than child custody issues, the division of financial assets is typically the most emotionally fraught issue in any divorce. The distribution of marital debt is an important component of this division of finances.

Texas Takes a Unique Approach to the Division of Debt

The great State of Texas likes to go its own way a little bit, and this stands true when it comes to the division of debt in a divorce. While some states take a direct approach that simply divides the debt amassed during a marriage between the spouses, Texas courts look at each marriage’s unique circumstances individually. This means that the court considers the debts themselves – and their sources. It’s important to remember that any debt you are allotted in your divorce settlement can play an important role in the financial outcome of your Houston divorce.

Community Property

Texas, along with eight other states, is a community property jurisdiction. In brief, this means that most assets that a couple acquires during marriage are owned equally by each spouse. Notable exceptions to this rule include assets that were owned by one spouse prior to the marriage, gifts to one spouse, and assets that are inherited by one spouse. Marital debt is closely intertwined with marital assets, and as such, can greatly affect the outcome of a divorce.

Debt and Your Divorce

Debt is most likely to play an important role in your divorce if you own a business or multiple properties together or if your finances are generally more complicated. If one or both of you entered the marriage with significant debt, it may ultimately be considered community property. Again, Texas courts are looking for what they consider an equitable distribution of debt – and not for a 50-50 division of that debt. A skilled family law attorney with experience in equitable debt division will fight to help ensure that you get the financial settlement you are entitled to.

The Division of Debts

In the course of your Texas divorce, the court will consider your marital debt as a whole and will determine which, if any, specific debts are solely attributable to only one of you. If such a determination is made, that specific debt will be assigned solely to that spouse in the divorce settlement. In a Texas divorce, marital debt isn’t simply taken at face value but is, instead, carefully considered in relation to a few key questions that help the court make its determinations related to whom the debt belongs to:

• Which spouse initially incurred the debt in question?
• Why was the debt originally incurred?
• When was the debt originally incurred?

The answers to these critical questions will help guide the court’s decisions.

Shared Debt

Even in Texas, some debts are routinely considered shared debts. Typically, these include debts that were taken on to run your shared household. When the money you owe was used to feed, shelter, clothe, and generally support your family, the debt is considered a shared debt for divorce purposes. But as with so many things in a Texas divorce, there are gray areas. For example, even if you take out a credit card in your name alone but use the line of credit to support your household, the debt will likely be shared between both you and your spouse in your divorce settlement. If, on the other hand, you take out a credit card in your own name for the sole purpose of purchasing luxury items for yourself, it’s likely a different story. Few things in life – or divorce for that matter – are this black and white, and the court will use its considerable discretion in determination of debt responsibility.

The Discretion of the Court

Texas judges have considerable discretion when it comes to the division of debt in a Houston divorce. In fact, the allotment of marital debt in the divorce proceedings is often more complicated than the division of assets. Ultimately, Texas courts aim to divide marital debt in a way they deem equitable and fair. This determination, as discussed, is far from straightforward, however, and you need an experienced Houston family law attorney to help protect your rights.

The Presumption of Shared Liability

In general, the court will take the approach of considering your marital debt as shared debt – until it’s proven otherwise. This means, you may have to build a defense that illustrates why you aren’t responsible for your soon-to-be-ex’s debt. In other words, it’s complicated. And the more complicated your finances, the more complicated it gets. Paying careful attention to the debt in your divorce can help ensure that you get a truly equitable divorce settlement.

Further Complications

Even if the court assigns specific hefty debts to your ex in the divorce, this does not mean that the debtor involved won’t seek you out if the debt goes unpaid (and if your name is connected to it). You don’t want your credit rating to hinge upon debt that you aren’t responsible for and that you have no way of controlling. An experienced Houston divorce attorney can help.

Discuss the Division of Your Marital Debt with an Experienced Houston Divorce lawyer

Divorce is always difficult, and the division of your marital debt may be the furthest thing from your mind. Such debt, however, can play a pivotal role in your financial situation once your divorce is finalized. For this reason, you need experienced legal guidance. The dedicated legal team at the Rudisel Law Firm, P.C., in Houston, focuses exclusively on divorce and family law, and we’re here to help you. For a free initial consultation, please contact or call us at 713-781-7775 today.

Visitation and Contempt- Do your part.

People often contact my office when a parent has failed to allow them to exercise their court-ordered visitation.  Failing to allow a parent to exercise court-ordered visitation can result in an enforcement action being filed against the non-compliant party.  If a court finds that a party willfully violated a court order, that party can be held in contempt, fined and ultimately sent to jail.  Although it seems simple enough (violate a court order and be punished), the complaining parent often times has not done their part in following the order.  Contempt actions are criminal in nature and the violations alleged must be precise in order to be successful.

In order for a parent to be held in contempt for denying access to a child, the complaining parent must follow the order and make an attempt to retrieve the child. For example, if the order says a parent is entitled to visitation on the 1st, 3rd and 5th weekend of the month at 6:00 p.m., that parent must attempt to pick up the child, at that time and on those dates.  If the order says the parent shall pick up the child at a specific address, that parent must appear at that address. Many times, a parent will receive a text or other communication letting them know the child will not be available.  That parent then fails to follow the order and attempt to pick up the child; the thought being “why show up if I know the child is not going to be there”?

The answer is, “show up so you can document the violation and address it in court if necessary”.  A contempt action must show that the complaining party attempted to exercise visitation at the date, time and place specified in the order.  If any one of those components are missing, the enforcement action will fail.  The exercising parent has a right to exercise visitation and the other parent has a duty to release the child in accordance with the order.  The other parent cannot violate an order by failing to release a child if the exercising parent does not show up to take possession of the child.

It is always better to attempt resolution to these issues prior to filing a contempt action however, if all else fails, hire an attorney to properly represent you in an enforcement action.

This above is a quick look at visitation and contempt in Texas and is not meant as legal advice.  This area of family law is very complex .  If you have question regarding the topic above, contact your Houston divorce lawyer, Shawn M. Rudisel,  for a complimentary consultation today.

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Child Support, Medical Support and now Dental Support in 2018

Under current Texas law, the Family Code requires that the non-custodial parent pay child support to the custodial parent.   It is presumed to be in the best interest of the child that the obligor (parent responsible for paying support) pay child support in an amount determined by the guidelines set under Chapter 154 of the Texas Family Code.  Click here for more information about the child support guidelines.

Medical Support

The Code also requires that the court order a parent to provide medical coverage at a reasonable cost for the child (Tex. Fam. Code 154.181).  The cost of the medical insurance premium for the child, among other things, are deducted from the obligor’s gross monthly to compute a net monthly income of which the guidelines are applied.  The Code defines “reasonable cost” as no more than nine percent of the obligor’s annual income.

Dental Support

Effective September 1, 2018, courts will begin ordering the obligor to cover dental insurance at a reasonable cost for children as well.  The cost of dental premiums will also be deducted from the obligor’s gross monthly resources to compute child support. The Code defines “reasonable cost” for dental coverage as no more than 1.5 percent of an obligor’s annual resources.  In short, the obligor will now pay medical support and dental support in addition to child support beginning next year.

If you are facing the possibility of paying support, contact your Houston Divorce lawyer at The Rudisel Law Firm, P.C.  We can calculate your potential support amount or review a support order put in place previously.

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Divorce Jurisdiction in Texas- Where to File Your Suit

When filing a divorce, the first question is usually, “Where do I file”?  Please read the outline below for a basic review of venue and divorce jurisdiction in Texas.

Residency Requirements in Texasdivorce jurisdiction

A suit for divorce may be filed in Texas so long as at least one of the spouses have lived in Texas for at least 6 months and has lived in the county of filing for at least 90 days (Tex Fam. Code, Section 6.301).  Only one party to the suit must meet this requirement.

Example:  Husband and wife separate.   Husband remains in Harris County, Texas and wife moves out of state.  Wife decides to file for divorce one year later.  Wife may file in her state of residence, assuming she meets that state’s requirements, or she can file in Texas because husband has been domiciled in Texas for six months and has been a resident of Harris County for 90 days (Tex. Fam. Code, Section 6.302).

Personal Jurisdiction

Now lets assume under the example above that husband wants to file for the divorce in Texas.  He may do so but he must have “personal jurisdiction” over the wife.  Personal jurisdiction is the court’s power over a party to a lawsuit.  Husband would have to show the court that 1.) Texas is the last marital resident of the spouses and that the suit for divorce was filed within 2 years of the spouses separation or 2.) there is a constitutional basis for jurisdiction under State or Federal law (Tex. Fam. Code, Section 6.305).  The second prong is commonly proven by demonstrating to the court that the out of state spouse has meaningful ties to the state i.e., has worked in Texas, owns property in Texas, is served in Texas or has other “minimum contacts” with the state.

Children Must Be Included

When there are children involved in a divorce and no other court has rendered an order regarding the children, they must be included in the divorce suit (Tex. Fam. Code, Section 6.406).  Often times, separated parents file a suit for child support or visitation instead of divorce.  When this happens, a court renders and order of support, thus becoming the court of continuing and exclusive jurisdiction over the children.  If the spouses file for divorce at a later time, they cannot include the children in the suit for purposes of changing the terms of the prior child support order.

Example:  Parents separate and file a child support case in Harris County, Texas.  The child support case is finalized ordering supports payments and visitation.  A year later, the spouses file for divorce.  They will include the children in the divorce but will not be able to change the provisions of the child support order.  In order to alter the child support order, they would need to file a separate law suit to modify that order.

If one spouse files a suit concerning the child and the other spouse files for a divorce in a different county, both suits must be joined with the divorce court having jurisdiction (Tex. Fam. Code, Sections 6.406 and 6.407).

Example: Parents separate and wife moves to San Antonio.  She later files for child support in Bexar County, Texas.  Husband learns of the suit and decides to file for divorce in Harris County, Texas.  Even though wife filed first, husband’s suit will be dominant and wife’s suit must move to Harris County.

Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Subject matter jurisdiction is the court’s ability to hear a certain type of case or subject matter.  In order for the court to render orders regarding children, the court must have subject matter jurisdiction over the children.  A Texas court can make orders regarding children if:

(1) Texas is the home state of the child when the divorce is filed or was the home state of the child within six months of filing for divorce and the child no longer lives in Texas but one of the parents still reside in Texas.

(2) No other state as acquired jurisdiction as described by (1) above or a court of another state has declined jurisdiction because Texas is a more appropriate forum, and:

     (A) the child and at least one parent have significant connections with Texas; and

     (B) there is substantial evidence available in Texas regarding the child.

(3) all courts having jurisdiction  (1) or (2) above have declined to exercise jurisdiction on the ground that a Texas court is a more appropriate forum.

(4) no other court has jurisdiction under (1), (2), or (3) above (Tex. Fam. Code, 152.201).

Example:  Spouses marry in Georgia and have a child.   Upon separation, husband moves to Texas.   After six months in the state and 90 days in Harris County, husband files for divorce against wife. Husband will be able to divorce in Texas (assuming the court has personal jurisdiction over the wife) however Texas will not have subject matter jurisdiction over the child.  In short, they can divorce in Texas but cannot render orders regarding the child.

This above is a quick look at venue and jurisdiction in Texas and is not meant as legal advice.  This area of family law is very complex and has some very important federal law implications.  If you have question regarding the topic above, contact your Houston divorce lawyer, Shawn M. Rudisel,  for a complimentary consultation today.

Connect with me on Google+ at +Shawn Rudisel

Houston child support attorney

Houston Child Support Lawyer: Above the Guidelines

As mentioned in a previous post, the Texas Family Code establishes guidelines for the courts to follow when ordering child support.  The guidelines translate to a percentage of an obligor’s net monthly income, which is also explained in that post. (Click here for the child support article) Client’s often ask if the guideline maximum amount of child support per month ($1,710.00 for one child, $2,137.50 for two and so one) is absolute.  As a Houston child support lawyer, I have to tell them, no.  Though not common, a court does have discretion to deviate from the guidelines if the evidence indicates that the guideline amount is not in the child’s best interest and it warrants a variance from the guidelines. The courts can look at the age and needs of the child, the financials of both parents, day care costs, etc. when determining the amount of support an obligor should pay.

Contact a Houston Child Support Lawyer today.  Call The Rudisel Law Firm, P.C. for a confidential and complimentary consultation.
Connect with me on Google+ at +Shawn Rudisel