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Texas child custody case prompts Amber Alert

An Amber Alert was canceled on Friday, March 3, 2017 when a 10-month-old child was found. He was located safe in Arkansas after he was abducted by his noncustodial parents. He was taken from his grandparents’ home in Palestine, Texas.

The FBI alerted Arkansas authorities that the suspects’ cell phone pinged a local tower. The child was found in his car seat in the back of the car. He was placed in an ambulance to keep warm and then was turned over to the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Texas authorities sent warrants of arrest for the parents. Arkansas deputies arrested the 24-year-old mother and 27-year-old-father on felony charges of interference with child custody. Both are currently in jail on $50,000 bond and awaiting extradition back to Texas.

Child custody battles are not always between two parents. In certain circumstances, children can be raised by grandparents or other family members who have a vested interest in the child when the parents have been proven unfit. A Texas family law attorney can help family members seek a resolution that is in the best interest of the children involved in the child custody case.

Source:, “Child in Texas Amber Alert found safe in Judsonia, parents arrested“, March 3, 2017

Using collaborative law in Texas during a divorce

Divorces involving children can be taxing on both parents and kids. Litigating a divorce in a courtroom setting can have devastating results on Texas families. Using collaborative law to settle a divorce in a friendly, non combative environment, can have an everlasting positive effect on children and parents going through a divorce.

When parents decide that the marriage is no longer a sustainable one, the children involved can still benefit from decisions made by parents who put their kids needs and emotional responses first. Planning to inform the kids during a period when parents can spend time and the emotional energy to help their children adjust is just one aspect to consider. Living arrangements during separation, divorce and after can help all members of the family adjust to the upcoming changes. Some parents can remain under the same roof to allow time for children to grow accustom to the new family dynamic.

Limiting fighting and hurtful words about the other parent in front of the children will help kids feel safe to express their own feelings regarding the divorce. Parents should encourage children to ask questions and answer truthfully but with caution. Family or individual therapy can also help not only the children, but also the parents work through many unresolved issues and feelings.

By setting aside differences in favor of reaching a positive outcome, parents are modeling positive conflict resolution for their children. Collaborative law can help Texas parents reach a successful outcome in a divorce involving children. An attorney can help a client work toward a divorce agreement designed to stabilize family life for children and lay out clearly the rights and responsibilities of both parents.

Source: The Huffington Post, “7 Secrets For A Child-Centered Divorce“, Bari Zell Weinberger, Feb. 24, 2017

Getting a divorce in Texas could become more difficult

The breakdown of a spousal relationship can be tough. Many underlying issues can lead couples to end a marriage. Recently proposed legislation, if enacted, could infringe upon one’s ability to file for a Texas divorce in a private, timely and affordable fashion.

A state representative seeks a new law that would ban no fault divorce filings in Texas. Currently, most couples cite insupportability as the reason for divorce, which helps maintain a level of privacy since doing so does not require proof of fault. The goal of SB 93 and HB 65.SB 93, legislative bills that were filed recently, is to require proof of fault grounds before a divorce will be granted. HB 65 also extends the waiting time to divorce for couples with children under the age of 18. Instead of the current period of 60 days, couples would have to wait 180 days to divorce.

Opponents of bills cite the possible damage that the proposed legislation could have on any children involved and the future of the family court system. Along with the extended waiting period and requiring proof of fault, the proposed law could expose families to turmoil and grudges within the family unit, possibly making co-parenting extremely difficult. If the bills become law, divorce in Texas would become more expensive and more time consuming.

Some suggest that passing the proposals will help to solidify marriage and strengthen Texas families. Others believe the effect of the bills, if enacted into law, would only further hurt already suffering families and prolong the divorce process. Those with an experienced attorney on their side are often better prepared for decision making and are able to choose appropriate courses of action to protect their interests and achieve their goals.

Source:, “Texas bill proposed to make divorce more difficult“, Foti Kallergis, Feb. 13, 2017

Protecting personal business in Texas with prenuptial agreements

A long life of marital bliss is what most Texas couples expect after exchanging vows. Life, growth, raising children and making financial decisions often complicate a marital relationship. When thoughts of divorce are on the horizon, a thorough evaluation of all potential community assets could prove critical to making sure that each partner is left with a fair share. Prenuptial agreements can help ease the uncertainty of business assets should couples go through a divorce.

Business owners who are thinking of tying the knot should have in place a prenuptial agreement to ensure that all properties prior to the big day stay with the party who is most vested in the endeavor. A prenuptial agreement can be drafted and executed by both parties. An attorney well versed in family law can help protect Texas business with a carefully planned prenuptial agreement.

If a prenup was overlooked during those blissful dating days, a postnuptial agreement can be made. This type of agreement is made at any time after the wedding day and is also signed by both parties. These types of marital agreements are recognized in Texas as long as they are properly drafted and executed.

Prenuptial agreements typically state clearly what each party in the marriage is bringing to the union. An agreement that is founded on love and mutual respect can help couples navigate the emotional waters of a divorce, should it ever occur. A family law attorney can help business owners prepare a comprehensive prenuptial agreement, creating peace of mind for the couple and the business.

Source:, “Avoiding Company Divorce and Failure“, Lolita Di, Jan. 23, 2017

A Divorce in Texas with children can be challenging

Divorce can be upsetting for adults, but it can be traumatic for the children involved. The separation of parents can leave children wondering why and how it happened and and if they did anything wrong. Texas parents can ease the stress and burden of the uncertainty of a divorce by taking steps to help their children understand the process and to be open and honest about what will happen.

Keeping a family unit together through positive communication is the best way to help ensure that children are not left feeling deserted, angry and guilty. Having both parents involved in conversations regarding the divorce and not throwing blame is important to help in keeping the lines of communication open within the family. Allowing children to express anger, hurt and sadness honestly and openly without lashing out is key to making sure that kids feel valued and heard throughout the process.

Parents can watch for signs of depression in their child by observing behavior. A rebellious and uncooperative attitude can be an outward indication of emotional turmoil; withdrawal from previously loved activities and lack of concern for self or others could be a sign of depression. Should this be the case, there are many resources available in Texas to help parents and their children.

A divorce can prove to be time consuming and emotionally draining. When children are involved, the stakes are even higher. Many parents are able to implement a child custody plan that is agreeable to all parties involved. In doing so, the help of a family law attorney can help parents navigate family law and keep the focus on the family, especially the children.

Source:, “Helping children understand divorce“, Kimberly Barbour, Jan. 16, 2017

Divorce consultations and filings spike upwards in January

Every year at this time, family law attorneys in Texas and elsewhere see an influx of clients filing for the dissolution of marriage. Matrimonial lawyers’ organizations estimate that there is a spike of 25 to 30 percent in business volume each January. Why does the beginning of the year bring a surge in divorce filings, and what can a person contemplating divorce do to make sure that his or her decisions are on solid ground?

For one thing, the holidays mark a period of financial tension for many couples, which may in turn trigger a range of intensive emotional feelings and worries about the marriage and the future. The beginning of the year marks the idea of a fresh start in many people’s minds. In addition, the pressure of having to look and act secure and happy during the holidays may in some cases erupt after those holidays come to an end.

Experienced matrimonial attorneys generally try to assist their clients to make their decisions after the emotions have settled down and clear thinking is reinstated. It is never good to decide out of fear, anger or emotional instability. One of the most difficult situations to handle is where the other spouse has found someone else. Even there, however, calm and logical thinking can reassure the client that he or she has good choices to make and a positive, happy life to anticipate ahead.

Where there are young children involved, it is important for the divorce client to keep them out of the decision itself and protected from any turmoil that is being communicated between the spouses. Focusing on the needs of the children will be a major subject taken up between the attorney and the client. In addition, revealing one’s position to the other spouse is sometimes counterproductive. It is extremely helpful to work out such timing and negotiating techniques in consultation with the attorney prior to having any precipitous confrontations with the other party. These are universal considerations that apply whether you reside in Texas or another state.

Source:, “Avoid these common mistakes if you’re filing for divorce in January“, Quentin Fottrell, Dec. 31, 2016

Child custody case leads to allegations against psychologist

When two parents in Texas struggle to make parenting decisions regarding their child, they often turn to professionals to help facilitate less stressful interactions between the parents. These professionals may include lawyers and also mental health workers. While psychologists, for example, should remain impartial, one out-of-state woman claims that such was not the case during her child custody struggle with the father of her child.

The woman, a former model, and the father of her 11-year-old daughter have been embroiled in a custody battle for several years. Last year, the mother’s contact with the child was severed, allegedly because the mother sniffed inhalants. Although there has been a gag order issued in the case, court records indicate that the mother has recently filed papers with the court claiming that a psychologist hired to serve as a coordinator between the parents actually conspired with the child’s father against her.

The woman says that the psychologist was hired at the suggestion of the child’s father. However, she claims that she was unaware that the psychologist was actually the father’s therapist. Instead of serving as coordinator, she accuses the doctor of abusing his power, alleging that he set up strict rules that she was expected to follow in order to keep him from making accusations of child abuse. Rules supposedly included whether or not the woman was allowed to bed share and the number of books she could read to the girl at night.

Parenting is difficult under the best of circumstances. It can be especially complicated for parents in Texas who are no longer in a romantic relationship, prompting them to seek the help of professionals to guide them through the decision-making process in child custody cases. While it is likely that each parent has an attorney, some chose to work collaboratively with professionals they consider impartial. Unfortunately, the perception that a collaborator did not act impartially as intended could prompt additional court action.

Source: New York Post, “Mom convinced shrink ‘conspired’ with baby daddy in custody battle“, Kathianne Boniello, Dec. 18, 2016

Dividing an IRA in a divorce

The process of legally ending a marriage can be a complicated one due to the division of assets as well as the emotions involved. While it may be easy to forgo an asset, such as a share of a retirement plan, in favor of the family home, for example, this may not be in a person’s best interests. For many couples in Texas, retirements funds account for the couple’s liquid assets that are worth the most money, making it important for those going through divorce to seek a fair division.

There are a variety of different types of retirement accounts. How an account is divided and the process that division follows often depends upon the type of account. For example, some accounts, such as 401(k)s, require an order by the court, known as a qualified domestic relations order, to proceed.

Special considerations must also be made in order to avoid tax penalties. The division of an IRA, for example, must be indicated as an incident of divorce during a transfer. Failure to properly category a transfer could result in tax penalties to both the recipient and sender. If an IRA transfer does not take place within a year of the settlement, it could become the subject of an IRS review.

Even couples who are committed to a peaceful divorce require advice when it comes to certain matters, especially in regards to asset division. By having an experienced attorney guide the process, Texas couples can potentially avoid costly mistakes that could result in additional penalties. Additionally, such a professional can provide advice on a variety of different issues surrounding the end of a marriage.

Source: Forbes, “Divorcing? How to Split Up Retirement Nest Eggs“, Duncan Rolph, Nov. 23, 2016

Information for Texas business owners seeking divorce

People in Texas who start their own business put a great deal of effort and money into ensuring the company’s success. As a result, a business owner can become extremely protective. However, having a business can require special considerations during a divorce. Unfortunately, some people receive some misguided advice regarding businesses as part of asset division.

Even if the person’s spouse put little money into the business, it is likely that he or she contributed in some way — either through working at the business or helping to bring in customers or clients. It is difficult for a judge to determine exactly whose contributions are more valuable, likely resulting in an equitable division. Fighting to show which person’s contributions were more meaningful could result in longer and more costly proceedings.

Some may be tempted to agree to take the whole business, leaving everything else to his or her spouse. While such an agreement could resolve a divorce sooner, it could also lead to feelings of regret. Unfortunately, once an agreement is made, there are few things that can be changed. To alter terms already decided upon often results in significant expense.

Because of the emotions involved with the end of a marriage, many people want to rush through proceedings in order to begin the next stage of their lives. However, taking time to make decisions based on rational thought rather than emotion can be beneficial in the long term. Many in Texas have also found the advice of an experienced divorce attorney to be beneficial as they make decisions that will impact the rest of their lives.

Source: Portland, OR The Business Journals, “3 suggestions business owners going through a divorce should ignore“, Lewis I. Landerholm, Nov. 15, 2016

Rocker claims he was never married in divorce

As most people in Texas are aware, marriage is hard, but celebrity marriages can often be especially challenging. In addition to the regular strains placed on a marriage, celebrities often feel additional stress due to the media spotlight and hectic schedules. As a result, some couples decide that it is in their best interest to seek a divorce.

Such may be the case for guitarist Slash and his estranged wife Perla Ferrar after the couple announced their intention to end their marriage. However, Slash has recently complicated proceedings by claiming that he and Ferrar were never legally married. According to court papers, Ferrar was briefly married to a different man in 1993. She filed for divorce soon after the marriage, but discovered some time later that certain papers were not filed and a final judgment had not been issued.

Ferrar claims that the issue was resolved several years ago when a judge ordered that her divorce was valid from 1994, when papers were initially filed. However, Slash apparently disputes this assertion. He argues that they were never legally married, and as a result, she does not deserve any of the millions of dollars he has reportedly earned throughout his career. The couple has previously filed for divorce only to reconcile, and they share two children together.

Regardless of the degree of celebrity a couple experiences, people are often left facing the decision of whether to end their marriage. In many cases, the decision to seek a divorce is in the best interest of all involved. Although allegations regarding whether a couple was legally married can complicate matters, all those seeking a divorce in Texas can likely benefit from the guidance of an attorney with experience with family law.

Source: People, “Slash Divorce Drama: Guitarist Claims He Was Never Married to Ex Perla Ferrar: Report“, Jordan Runtagh, Oct. 31, 2016

Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. 12000 Huebner Rd #200 San Antonio, TX 78230 Telephone: (210) 349-9933 Fax: (210) 349-9988
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