Absolutely Divorced in Nueces County Maryland

Everyone (at least in my generation) remembers the movie Irreconcilable Differences starring Drew Barrymore as the child.  It was heartbreaking that that parents had to prove they had grounds for a divorce. 

Not only did they have to struggle with the break- up of their relationship, but in New York, they had to tear each other down in order to QUALIFY for a divorce.  

Texas does not follow that model, and the legislature has decided that if either spouse wants a divorce, that’s all it takes. 

They use the word insupportibility instead of irreconcilable differences, but it has the same effect.  You may have heard of this referred to as no-fault divorce.  Instead of having to claim and prove grounds for divorce, such as adultery, abandonment or other undesirable characteristics, a spouse merely has to say the marriage is insupportable due to conflict or discord of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marriage  relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation. 

I have some clients who believe it’s too easy.   Some would prefer their spouse be court ordered to counseling and take steps to the save the marriage.  Although that makes sense, the Texas legislature has determined it best not to force a person to stay married against their will.  If that is the approach, then avoiding all the mudslinging is truly better for families in the long run.

Kelly Koch

Law Office of Kelly Koch, PC

1402 N. Chaparral Street

Corpus Christi, Texas 78401

Tel: (361) 882-8000

Fax: (361) 882-8757

Kelly@kellykoch.com

Facebook and Texas Divorce

If you ask an honest lawyer (no jokes please), he will probably tell you that all of those tools were almost universally problematic.

Except for private investigators, these tools all depend, in varying degrees, upon the honesty of the parties and witnesses.

That is obviously a problem.

Private investigators on the other hand, are expensive and sometimes they just can’t prove the facts we need. The facts which were nearly impossible to ascertain, were those that went on behind closed doors.

Not anymore !! Social media postings, email, text and other electronic info now dominate custody and divorce cases.

In all my years of practice, I’ve had less than five cases where a private investigator made the difference between winning and losing.  Most times I tell my clients not to hire one, because Texas is no fault grounds for divorce, and you don’t have to prove adultery to get a divorce.  But that’s not the only reason for needing a private investigator.

These days, electronic media makes an impact on a divorce or custody case.  And YOU can be your own worst enemy.  .

Today people routinely post things on their social media that previously would cost thousands to uncover, if it could be uncovered at all. Better still, the people in question are usually the ones who author the information. Things like: using drugs, partying and drinking, toxic epithets about the ex and info about cheating on their spouse. You just can’t believe what pearls fall into a custody lawyers lap because of somebody’s 3am blog posting in whatever tired and/or intoxicated state they may be.

The information is not limited to what they say in text. Photographs are just as damaging.  I heard of a case where the Dad posted his picture from a bar. Innocent enough? Nope, he was supposed to be home with the kids.

Colorful screen names are problematic as well. I know you or your son/daughter thought it was the funniest thing ever when u picked: “Doobie Houser”, “Rum-Runner” or “lookn-4-lust” as a screen name.

So play it safe and step away from the electronics.  Text and phone your friends directly.  You never know who is watching from behind the screen.

Kelly Koch

Law Office of Kelly Koch, PC

1402 N. Chaparral Street

Corpus Christi, Texas 78401

Tel: (361) 882-8000

Fax: (361) 882-8757

Kelly@kellykoch.com

Marital Property and Traceability in Divorce

We have discussed previously that marital property is not just “stuff” such as the contents of a house etc.  After all, who wants to pay $350.00 an hour to fight over a used vacuum cleaner.  Some people do, and I call it the pink elephant.  Once everything else is resolved, it’s sometimes hard to let go. 

Marital property is much more than the contents of the house.  It includes houses, land, cash, cars, motorcycles, investments, retirement…basically anything acquired during the marriage that is NOT a gift, an inheritance or a personal injury. 

The definition is straightforward, but the real world is not.   Much litigation is over the “what ifs” and “what about…”  Each variation has a separate rule.  For example, what if the Wife owns a house before marriage.  She marries and she and her new husband buy a house.  Wife rents her old house to Bob.   Well, the rental income is considered community property while the house itself remains her separate property.   Here’s another variation.    After they marry, Wife sells her old house for $50.000 and buys another house that she and her new husband live in and pay taxes.   When it comes time to divorce, the house is community property because it was purchased during the marriage.  BUT, if Wife can prove (or trace) part of the money was from the sale of her separate property house, she can assert a claim for reimbursement.  It is her burden of proof because property is presumed to be community property unless  she proves otherwise.  Keeping good records and separate band accounts goes a long way in these situations.

Here’s another situation.  Sally lives in Houston, and her mother dies and leaves her an enviable inheritance of one million dollars.  The money comes from her late mother’s estate in a single check.  Wife buys a one year CD in her own name and it earns 5% interest.  At the end of the year, wife rolls the money back into another CD etc.  It matures and wife takes out $50.000 to go on vacation.  She puts the interest from the last three years and $150,000 in a hedge fund that does so well they go on another vacation, knowing they have invested well because there is a million dollars, a CD and a hedgefund.  When they get home, the market has slipped so Wife takes money out and pays off the house.  Now we have lots of problems. 

Life happens and we don’t make decisions based on future divorce.  But your bookkeeping should be clear and concise.  You can spend a little money on separate accounts where there is no co-mingling, or pay lawyers to sort it out.  I hope you are reading this before it is too late and you find some helpful hints herein.

Kelly Koch

Law Office of Kelly Koch, PC

1402 N. Chaparral Street

Corpus Christi, Texas 78401

Tel: (361) 882-8000

Fax: (361) 882-8757

Kelly@kellykoch.com

Preserving Your Right To Modify Alimony In Texas

There are two types of spousal support, commonly known as alimony.  One arises from Chapter 8 of the Texas Family Code (statutory), the second is arises from contract law (contractual). 

To be eligible for statutory spousal maintenance (commonly known as alimony) you must meet one of the following criteria. 

  1.  Paying spouse committed and was convicted (or received deferred adjudication for) family violence against the spouse and/or child within two years before divorce is filed or while divorce is filed; OR
  2. Spouse seeking maintenance is unable to support him/herself according to his/her minimum reasonable needs because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability; OR
  3. Has been married for at least ten years and cannot support him/herself according to his/her minimum reasonable needs; OR
  4. Is the custodian of a child of the marriage who require substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability that prevents that spouse from earning sufficient income to provide for his/her minimum reasonable needs.

Contractual alimony does not have any prerequisites, and the parties can negotiate terms as they would do in any contract.

If you choose statutory spousal support, it can be decreased if the circumstances warrant.  There is no provision for an increase.  If you choose contractual alimony, the terms can only be modified by written agreement of both parties. 

In some cases, it may be better to allow the Judge to determine the amount and duration of your alimony rather than reaching an agreement.  An agreement may prevent you from seeking to modify the alimony in the future if circumstances change. 

There are exceptions to every rule.  If you reach an agreement in mediation, you can agree to establish statutory spousal support which will allow a judge to reduce later, if needed.

As you can see, there are many considerations and lengthy discussions to have with your attorney when accessing what is best for YOU.

Kelly Koch Attorney at Law

Contact us by phone at (361) 882-8000 or through our online form to schedule your consultation and learn more. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with evening and weekend consultations available by appointment.

1402 N. Chaparral St., Corpus Christi, TX

Best Divorce Lawyer in Corpus Christi?

How do you define what constitutes the “Best Lawyer” in a given practice area?

The “Best Bankruptcy Lawyer” might have very little experience in handling a criminal law case

The “Best DWI Lawyer” could very well be less than effective in handling a probate law case

The “Best Divorce Lawyer”, as in any “Best Anything” can be difficult to precisely define

For example, in Criminal Law… one could look at a lawyers “win/loss” statistics, but that wouldn’t be enough.  A lawyer could “win” the case by negotiating a plea agreement for probation instead of jail time, etc.  The same applies in Family Law.  Winning could be decided in many ways.   Did you keep the house?  Did you get the children at times you wanted?  Did you get to keep all of your retirement?  Did you get to move out of the county?   Nobody gets everything, but knowing your priorities helps customize your settlement.

I like to find out what is important to my clients, and negotiate accordingly.  I like to keep communication open between parents, after all, you will be involved with the other parent forever.  Even after your children graduate, there are weddings and grandchildren to consider.

Your lawyer should fit your personality, and be someone you can rely on to tell you the hard truth.  You will spend a lot of time with your attorney and their legal assistants, so choose someone with whom you like to spend time but also, that you trust and will listen to. 

Many clients have told me, “you’re the best, thank you.”  I greatly appreciate their confidence in me.  There are many good lawyers to choose from and I hope to meet with you soon. 

Kelly Koch Attorney at Law

Contact us by phone at (361) 882-8000 or through our online form to schedule your consultation and learn more. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with evening and weekend consultations available by appointment.

1402 N. Chaparral St., Corpus Christi, TX

Can I be Awarded The Marital Home?

A judge will normally do one of three things.  Award the house to the Husband, the Wife or order it to be sold.  Sometimes it is great to  keep the house, other times it’s better to cash out and let your spouse keep the house or sell it and be debt free. 

Notwithstanding sentimental value or moving hassle, the main objective is to be sure you don’t lose the value/equity of the house. 

So before deciding if you want the home, you need to know what it’s actual (not sentimental) value is. 

To determine what the house is worth to you, you will need to know what the fair market value is, and what the outstanding balance, lien and other debts on the house (such as home equity loans) are.  Fair market value is what a reasonable buyer would pay a reasonable seller. 

The same house may be worth more or less depending on the real estate cycle.    For example, in 2008, house values went down. Start with the tax roll or Zillow.   You could also call a realtor for a comparable market analysis and learn for what amount other houses in your neighborhood have recently sold.   As mentioned, it won’t be the exact number, but it’s a start. Subtract the outstanding mortgage or other debts attached to the house and that is the value.  

Now that you have an estimated equity value, you can better determine if you can/want to keep the house and pay your spouse for their portion. Remember, the house is just one piece of the puzzle.  Retirement and debt can be traded to make up the difference in equity. 

Of course it’s never that simple and there are other considerations, but I’ll leave those details for your chosen professional. 

Kelly Koch Attorney at Law

Contact us by phone at (361) 882-8000 or through our online form to schedule your consultation and learn more. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with evening and weekend consultations available by appointment.

1402 N. Chaparral St., Corpus Christi, TX

Do I have to have a reason for divorce in Texas?

Texas is known as a “no fault” State.  That means, if a person wants to get divorced, the Courts will grant the request for any reason or no reason at all.  

This general ground is called insupportibilty, and has been called irreconcilable differences in other states.  It just means the marriage has become “insupportable” due to conflict or discord of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and there is no reasonable expectation of reconciliation.   

Sometimes clients don’t want the divorce, but there is no way to stop it if one person wants it.  Years ago, courts would encourage counseling, but that is no longer the case.

Sometimes litigants plead (ask) for divorce based on “grounds” or specific reasons such as cruelty, adultery, conviction of felony, abandonment, confinement in a mental hospital or living apart. 

The most common of these are adultery and cruel treatment.  Because the divorce can be granted based upon insupportibility, these claims are unnecessary and used primarily  to obtain a larger settlement (more than half). 

Whether or not you should add these grounds to your divorce depends on several factors, including the size of the community estate and your desire for privacy. 

Kelly Koch Attorney at Law

Contact us by phone at (361) 882-8000 or through our online form to schedule your consultation and learn more. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with evening and weekend consultations available by appointment.

1402 N. Chaparral St., Corpus Christi, TX

Happy Holidays for All

Texas law suggests a minimum amount of time the non-custodial parent should have with their child, it’s called the Standard Possession Order.  It sets out weekends, holidays and summer time that a parent should have under normal circumstances, and presumes this is in the best interest of the child.  Of course, if your case has extenuating circumstances, you need to let that be known.

The Holidays contemplated by the Texas Family Code are Thanksgiving, Christmas, New’s Years, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, child’s birthday and Spring Break.  The Family Code does not include Easter, Memorial Day, Labor Day, 4th of July, Halloween, President’s Day or Valentine’s Day.  Religious holidays are discussed below.   If you want to be assured of time with your child during holidays other than Christmas, Thanksgiving, Spring Break, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, you should make desires known.

It is designed that each parent have equal time during Christmas, New Year, Thanksgiving and Spring Break over a two year period.  Depending on the school calendar, this may not be an equal day by day breakdown.

The following is a typical visitation schedule:

1.            Christmas Holidays in Even-Numbered Years – In even-numbered years, PARENT B shall have possession of the child beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28, and PARENT A shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that Christmas school vacation.

2.            Christmas Holidays in Odd-Numbered Years – In odd-numbered years, PARENT A shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28, and PARENT B shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that Christmas school vacation.

3.            Thanksgiving in Odd-Numbered Years – In odd-numbered years, PARENT B shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Thanksgiving holiday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the Sunday following Thanksgiving.

4.            Thanksgiving in Even-Numbered Years – In even-numbered years, PARENT A shall have the right to possession of the child beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Thanksgiving holiday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the Sunday following Thanksgiving.

5.            Child’s Birthday – If a parent is not otherwise entitled under this Possession Order to present possession of a child on the child’s birthday, that parent shall have possession of the child and the child’s minor siblings beginning at 6:00 p.m. and ending at 8:00 p.m. on that day, provided that that parent picks up the children from the other parent’s residence and returns the children to that same place.

                6.            Father’s Day – FATHER shall have the right to possession of the child each year, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the Friday preceding Father’s Day and ending at 6:00 p.m. on Father’s Day, provided that if FATHER is not otherwise entitled under this Possession Order to present possession of the child, he shall pick up the child from PARENT A’s residence and return the child to that same place.

                7.            Mother’s Day – MOTHER shall have the right to possession of the child each year, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the Friday preceding Mother’s Day and ending at 6:00 p.m. on Mother’s Day, provided that if MOTHER is not otherwise entitled under this Possession Order to present possession of the child, she shall pick up the child from PARENT B’s residence and return the child to that same place.

Religious Holidays And Family Traditions

Jewish holidays and other religious holidays sometimes coincide with the Christian equivalent seasonal holidays for example, Passover versus Easter and Chanukah versus Christmas. Furthermore, school districts are attempting to meld administrative holidays.

If the parents are of a divergent religion from one another, it is absolutely necessary to put the respective holidays in any agreement. Just because your Jewish or Christian partner did not celebrate religious holidays does not mean his family won’t. Consider also, that the emotional tumult surrounding divorce and single parenthood can make people of any faith move closer to their respective roots.

Lastly, if you have special family traditions such an annual reunions, don’t trust that your ex will believe they are as important as when you were together. It is very rare for parents to lament that their holiday access schedule is too specific so always spell it out.


Kelly Koch Attorney at Law

Contact us by phone at (361) 882-8000 or through our online form to schedule your consultation and learn more. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with evening and weekend consultations available by appointment.

1402 N. Chaparral St., Corpus Christi, TX



Imagine You’re a Custody Judge in Texas

Imagine you are the Judge and have to decide with whom a child should live. 

Dad says he is the better parent, and Mom says, are you crazy, of course the kids should live with ME. 

When you ask each of them why with you, they both say, “cause it’s what is best for them.” 

Well, that is a vague answer, and doesn’t give you as the Judge, much guidance.  In fact, both parents may have something to offer.  But who is right or wrong is rarely clear cut. 

You as the Judge have to give both parents time to present their case.  Mom and Dad can whole heartedly believe each is best, but the opinion that matters is the Judge. 

You, as Judge, need to look for objective factors, such as

  1. Does the parent get the child to school on time? 
  2. Are there tardies and absences? 
  3. How is the child performing at school?  Too tired? 
  4. Is one parent trying to avoid child support, or the other using child support to supplement their own household? 
  5. Is a parent playing games with discovery requests or other deadlines.   
  6. Are medical and dental appointments made regularly?  Who attends?  What hours do the parents work? 
  7. What child care is available in absence of a parent. 

Many factors come into play.  In addition, clean hands is important.
That means litigants and parents shouldn’t bicker like children and expect to get your way. 

If  Mom/Dad responds to nasty texts by sending their own nasty texts, don’t expect to say, “Well she/he did it first.” 

Once a parent starts throwing mud, they have lost.  Take the high road and expect all texts, emails, phone calls etc to be shown to the Judge and act accordingly.  It’s hard in the heat of the moment, but will pay off with better results and happier children. 

Remember, imagine YOU are the Judge and think about what behavior in and out of the court room you would want a child exposed to.

Kelly Koch Attorney at Law

Contact us by phone at (361) 882-8000 or through our online form to schedule your consultation and learn more. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with evening and weekend consultations available by appointment.

1402 N. Chaparral St., Corpus Christi, TX

Joint Managing Conservators – not custody

Courts in Texas do not use the term “custody” when referring to children, but rather use the word “conservator.”  In Texas, the starting point is that both parents will be named as joint managing conservators.  This does not mean each will get equal time, but that they share equally rights and duties regarding the child or children. 

Some typical examples are the right to be notified in case of school emergency and to consent to medical treatment in emergencies.  Parents will most often share the right to direct the moral and religious training of the child while with the child, as well as reasonable discipline.  This list is not exhaustive, and parents who are joint managing conservators retain the rights and duties existing by virtue of the law. 

In most cases, one parent will be named primary joint managing conservator.  That parent typically has the right to determine the residence within a specific geographic area, the right to make educational decisions (where the child attends school), to receive child support and the right to claim the child as a dependent for income tax purposes.  Mostly, each parent sets the rules for their own household.

Under extreme circumstances, a court will appoint one parent as sole managing conservator and the other as possessory conservator.  Most often this occurs when there has been a history of domestic violence or drug abuse.  

Whatever the conservatorship label, the time each parent spends with the child needs to be decided.  Anything the parents agree upon can be done.  If there is no agreement, the court will decide what possession and access schedule each parent will be awarded.  

Although I have stated what are generally accepted practices, the Court must always do what is in the best interest of the child. 

Kelly Koch Attorney at Law

Contact us by phone at (361) 882-8000 or through our online form to schedule your consultation and learn more. Our office hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., with evening and weekend consultations available by appointment.

1402 N. Chaparral St., Corpus Christi, TX