The following are questions frequently asked by persons at the beginning of divorce litigation. The answers provided are general. You should ask me to discuss the specifics of your case.
When can I begin to date?
It depends on what you mean by “date”. Generally, not until the divorce is final. Adultery is a ground for the granting of a divorce based upon fault. Your legal status as a married person does not change until a divorce is granted (the Decree is signed by the Judge of your court). Although some judges are lenient regarding dating while a divorce is pending, you should be cautious about taking this risk. The fact that your spouse may be dating should not be an excuse or justification for your conduct, You need to wear the "white hat." If you do decide to date, you should know that it may impact adversely on a child custody dispute. In no event should you introduce the children to your dates. No community funds should be spent for the entertainment of third parties or for gifts for your new, special pal.
How do I get a "LEGAL SEPARATION"?
There is no such thing as a "legal separation" under Texas law. Even though temporary orders may be entered by the court, they are not to be construed as a legal separation. AND, COMMUNITY PROPERTY AND DEBT CONTINUE TO BE AMASSED UNTIL YOU ARE DIVORCED.
Can I open my spouse's mail?
No. If you receive any mail addressed solely to your spouse, it should be forwarded to him or to her by you or through me. But, make a copy of the envelope if it looks suspicious or seems to involve financial, romantic or other evidentiary matter. Make a note of the date you mailed it to your spouse.
Should I close bank accounts and/or credit accounts?
If you have been served with a Temporary Restraining Order, you will be prohibited from closing accounts. If you have not, you are free to close the accounts. However, as with every action you take, you should consider the possible consequences. Closing an account without notice to your spouse may cause unnecessary embarrassment or may also increase hostility and mistrust. Of course, if your spouse is already hostile and untrustworthy and those personality traits are provable by evidence, you may need to do it to validate his general, negative personality traits. Under certain circumstances, a court may wonder why you didn’t close accounts, if your spouse is presented by you to the court as an amoral thief and sociopathic liar. It’s similar to wanting sole managing conservatorship of your kids due to your spouses’ violence toward you and the kids, yet you let your spouse freely have possession of the kids without a court order and return to him/her to live or wanting a disproportionate share of the community property due to your spouses’ fraud and breach of his trust relationship (“fiduciary” is the term) to you, and you continue to show by your actions that you trust him/her.
If your spouse is likely to spend or hide money in an account or run up large balances on a credit cared, it may be a wise decision to close accounts. If you close bank accounts, you should not spend the funds as the court may take that into consideration in ways that you would not appreciate. The best plan is to deposit all the funds from the closed account into a new account, solely in your name, so that you can fully account for the transaction later. You can retain or pay me out of such an account, usually without court sanction (punishment) since attorney’s fees, quite remarkably, are considered “necessaries”, such as food and mortgage payment.
Can I record telephone conversations?
Wiretapping is a felony and can subject you to state and federal criminal prosecution. However, it is lawful to tape record a conversation as long as one party to the conversation consents to the recording OR IS PARTICIPATING IN THE CONVERSATION AND TAPING IT HIM/HERSELF. Therefore, you may record a conversation between yourself and another person. You may NOT secretly tape a conversation or install a recording device so as to intercept conversations between others. To do so is a felony. The whole issue of recording telephone conversations is very sensitive and the law is very clear. You should carefully discuss it with me before doing anything in this regard. YOU SHOULD ALWAYS ASSUME THAT YOU ARE BEING TAPE RECORDED IN EVERY CONVERSATION WITH YOUR SPOUSE OR HIS/HER FAMILY AND FRIENDS.
Can a witness testify by affidavit?
No, except in very limited circumstances relating to business records. Generally, testimony must be given in person at the time of trial, or by pre-trial deposition. This gives each side the opportunity to examine and cross-examine the witness. An affidavit cannot be cross-examined.
Contact me today if you are looking for a board-certified family law attorney by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization who will provide you with experienced counsel and personal attention to your needs. I serve clients in Houston, Texas, and all surrounding communities.