A Prenup in Texas

Weddings are supposed to celebrate the love of two happy people.  However in legal terms, marriage in Texas (and every other state) is a contract that involves financial rights and obligations.   A prenuptial agreement in Texas helps a couple define their rights and protects both of the parties in cases of divorce or death.  It can also be used for the following:

  • Determining the responsibility for premarital debt
  • Defining the ownership of the home
  • Distribution and estate planning after a death
  • Deciding which items are separate property and community property
  • The resolution of financial disputes
  • Spousal obligations
  • Children support

There are 7 reasons you might want to consider a prenuptial agreement in Texas:

1)       You have children from a previous marriage:  A prenuptial agreement in the state of Texas ensures that your assets are protected for the children in case of a death or divorce.  Many prenuptial agreements in Texas make clear that the agreement won’t be valid after a certain number of years.  If you are supporting children from a previous marriage, you might cancel the agreement in Texas after your children are grown.

2)      You own a business: If you own a business and your marriage comes to an end, it could be possible that your spouse ends up owning a portion or all of your business with a prenuptial agreement.

3)      You have significant debt: If you have a large debt load, a prenuptial agreement can protect your spouse and property.  If your partner has a lot of debt, an agreement protects you from being responsible for the rest of the debt if the marriage comes to an end.

4)      You have property that you would like to remain in your family:  Having a prenuptial agreement will ensure you that your family heirlooms or valuables will remain in your family after a divorce or death.

5)      You have inherited wealth or you make more than your partner:  A prenuptial can be used to limit the amount you will pay in support if the marriage ends.  It ensures that your spouse is marrying you for love and not for money.

6)      You earn a lot less than your partner:  Just as this agreement can be used to protect a spouse, it can be used to ensure spousal support of the person with less income.

7)      You plan to quit your job to raise the children: Quitting your job to raise children affects both future, current and potential income and earnings.  A prenuptial agreement ensures that your financial cost of raising children is shared equitably by both parents and the parent who decides not to work is supported if the marriage ends.

In a perfect world, prenuptial agreements wouldn’t be necessary. But here in Houston, Texas, and the real world for that matter, they can sometimes be an absolute necessity before a couple ties the knot. If you live in the Houston area, and you’re contemplating marriage to a high-income earner or you yourself are a wealthy individual, you need legal counsel that can construct a prenuptial agreement that protects you and your assets in case the marriage fails. You need Lacy LaFour and her team of divorce attorneys at LaFour Law Firm PCReach them today and gain trusted, expert counsel from veteran attorneys who’ve represented hundreds of high net worth clients across Houston.

Repercussions of Hiding Assets during Divorce

When dealing with a high net worth divorce, the process can be arduous and very complicated. It is important however to not become anxious and make a mistake that could jeopardize your validity. The most important thing you will have in the courtroom is your credibility. To put it plainly, the more honest and upfront you are, the faster this process can come to completion. Many people and even less than reputable attorneys will advise you to hide your assets. A popular option is to transfer money to third parties, friends, business partners, and family members. If your attorney recommends this course of action, they should be fired immediately. Lying in the court of law could not only hurt your case, but have you sacrificing much more than what was worth hiding in the first place.

Early in the divorce process, you will need to fill out a financial affidavit amongst other financial documents mandated by the law. Proper inventory and accurate information is critical despite the time consuming nature of the matter. Make sure all the recorded information is current and accurately recorded. Omitting information in these documents could position you to end up holding onto liabilities that wouldn’t have originally been there. You could also end up giving up more assets or paying more in alimony that would have otherwise been the case.

The best course of action, when preparing for a split, is to be transparent with your finances. Although you may end up “losing” more than anticipated, there shouldn’t be any extra problems reverberating from ill-conceived dishonesty. During litigation there is a process called “discovery” where each party searches for any assets the other is in possession of. Both sides are obligated to turn over financial information to the other side. During discovery, you are under oath, and lying in a court of law is highly discouraged. If you are discovered hiding assets, this can be considered perjury. Committing perjury is a punishable crime. You could also face sanctions on top of perjury charges. Think about it from this angle, you might give a little more than you preferred during distribution, but at least you walk away with a clean record.

All in all, hiring a good divorce attorney will give you access to a credible source specializing in these types of matters. If you’re in Houston, Texas, you need an attorney with expertise in high-net worth divorces, an attorney who will protect your interests and seek the fairest divorce settlement possible. That attorney is Lacy LaFour and her team at LaFour Law. Reach them at http://lafourlaw.com/contact or 713.223.7700, today.

Determining Community property and Shared property

When assessing the split of property during a divorce, it is important to understand the difference between “community” and “separate” property.

Community Property/Assets

From the beginning of marriage, all money earned is owed by both parties till the separation date. All property acquired using community money is owned equally by husband and wife. Whomever makes the purchase during this time frame does not matter. When looking at debts, all debt accrued during marriage is also split between both parties as community debts. Community debts may include unpaid balances on credit cards, home mortgages and car loan balances. It goes without saying that it is recommended to cancel all bank accounts, credit cards and joint accounts after divorce.

Separate Property/Assets

Separate property is considered anything owned prior to marriage, inherited or received as a gift during marriage, or anything earned after the date of separation. When one party gives up any property to the other party in writing, the property is then classified as separate property. There are instances where separate property can become tied-in with community property.  Either party may have to show evidence that documents payment paid via “separate” money instead of “community” money. Any debt incurred prior to marriage is considered separate debt, meaning it stays only with the original party who accrued it. Examples of separate debt include student loans, job training loans, or even adult education course debts. If one person covers the down payment on a car, and then pays off the car with community money after marriage, the original down payment will be paid back because it is considered separate property.

Dividing the Property

In some states, the parties’ community property has to be divided “equally.” That does not mean that each item of community property has to be divided equally, but the distribution has to be nearly equal division of the total value of the community property. Many community property states, allow the court to make an “equitable” division of community property that is “fair” to both spouses. In these states, the courts will consider various factors when making the division, such as each spouse’s current income and future earning potential. Some states will consider a spouse’s fault in causing the divorce or fraud in dealing with the parties’ property or assets during the marriage lifespan. Sometimes the “community” property tag is automatically put on most assets in the divorce, and each party must provide documented evidence of its “separate” value.

The Bottom Line

If you’re going through a divorce in Houston, Texas, and you have a spider web of properties and assets at stake, you need an experienced Houston Divorce Lawyer from LaFour Law to work directly with you and provide the legal representation that’s necessary to ensure an outcome in line with your best interests. Please call LaFour Law today at 713.223.7700 or reach us at www.lafourlaw.com.

 

Disparity Between Child Support and Custody Enforcement

Judges and other officials use different methods to shame parents who owe child support. There’s the “man ordered not to procreate,” edict.  Or, “the man who is forced to tell any woman he meets that he owes child support,” order.  Or finally, “the dad that is forced to display signs proclaiming himself a “deadbeat.”  By the way, the term “deadbeat dad” can may be offensive to some, but it’s attractive to news papers and media outlets looking for an eye-catching law-and-order legal story. And, it’s probably a strong deterrent to future child support delinquency.

All that said, less attention is paid to primary custodians that defy the court’s orders respecting the noncustodial parent’s access to and participation in their children’s life. The disparity between custodial interference and the enforcement of failing to pay child support is detrimental for fathers, in particular, who represent 87.1 percent of child support payers and 82.6 of noncustodial parents, according the U.S. Census.

One person might argue that the incongruity is evidence that the responsibility of daily rearing of a child is held in a higher regard than the emotional connection a parent – in this case, a father – has with a child.  What happens to a father who is not able to maintain his payments even after only a few months of failing to pay?   Enforcement can be swift and forceful, with the custodial parent (usually the ex-wife) hiring a private counselor, or  using a local child support enforcement office.  On some occasions the individual owed child support won’t have to ask for any assistance, especially if the offender has met some type of threshold for noncompliance, such as failure to pay for a few consecutive months.

Depending on the jurisdiction, several of the penalties might be carried out “extra-judicially” without needing any judicial intervention.  The offending individual might receive notice that their driver’s license is going to be suspended, their vehicle is going to be repossessed, their passport is going to be confiscated, or their federal tax return will be intercepted. Although it is very rare, jail time is still a very real possibility for many fathers.

Consider the situation where the ex ignores the court ordered scheduled gatherings and keeps the children from the other parent. The father goes to pick up the kids but the ex-wife won’t let them leave the residence.  The dad is supposed to have Father’s Day with the children, but the ex-wife took them to see their grandfather.  As the noncustodial parent, your initial reaction would likely be to pick up the phone and call the police.  In Texas, however, law enforcement does not typically help enforce visitation.  Rather than ask for assistance from a local authority or wait for a Texas state agency to step in, know that visitation is treated as a civil matter.  An individual must choose a family law attorney or navigate the Texas legal system on their own.  When your family is choosing a lawyer, fighting for child support or custody enforcement in Houston, Texas, choose the LaFour Law Firm.  Visit www.lafourlaw.com to schedule a consultation today or reach them via phone at 713.223.7700.

C-Level Divorce

Divorce is never an easy road to travel. Whether you or a spouse files for divorce, the resulting legal process is a complex, arduous, mentally exhausting journey.  If children are present, it’s more difficult as you navigate the challenges of custodial rights, child support and other related legal guidelines that will shape the future of your child’s life.

If there are large financial interests or complex marital properties at stake, however, the divorce process can become inexorably difficult as you struggle to divide valuable property assets that go beyond the single family home. If you’re married to a C-level executive, for instance, and there are prenuptial agreements (or not) in place that dictate who gets the vacation house, and how the estate is divided, and who retains possession of the retirement accounts and insurance policies, you’ll need an experienced Houston Divorce lawyer with the background and knowledge necessary to untangle your high net worth marriage relationship. Marriage is rarely easy, nor are high net worth divorces where the stakes are extremely high.

Expert legal counsel is indeed an absolute necessity as you extricate yourself from this marriage relationship while preserving your hard-earned financial assets. At LaFour Law Firm PC, Lacy LaFour and her team of Houston divorce lawyers specialize in providing individualized service for high net worth clients across Houston, including those with unique divorce components like the handling of business entities, private equity interests and joint ventures, valuations, retirement accounts and many other challenging financial issues.  LaFour Law works to protect and maintain the financial assets of our clients, reaching favorable resolution on their behalf when the divorce process is over.

Whether you’re a successful business owner or investor with large financial stakes in multiple entities and a spouse who’s looking to take it all, or a CEO with millions of publicly traded shares on the line and a spouse who was at one time a business partner, the Houston Divorce team at LaFour Law will provide astute, focused, aggressive legal advocacy for you and your interests. Call LaFour Law today at 713-223-7700 to set up a consultation with a member of LaFour’s Houston High Net Worth Divorce team today!