Protecting Your Family's Future
 

Texas Man “Camped Out” on Million Dollar Marital Property

Sharafat Khan, a 69-year-old Lakeview resident, spent nearly six months living in the front yard of his seaside mansion after his wife asked him to leave, demanded his keys, and changed all the locks. Though Khan maintained that he had no access to any money, rendering him essentially homeless, he admitted that his camp-out on the couple’s front lawn was essentially a protest, telling reporters that he could stay with friends, but prefers to be on “my own property.”

Khan has let it be known that he is diabetic and has high blood pressure, concerns that have brought visits from the Lakeview police on more than one occasion. After neighbors and passersby started bringing him food, his wife posted a sign on the front lawn, asking people not to leave food for him. “If you want to feed him, take him to your house,” the sign read, also expressing concern that any food left might become infested with maggots.

Khan’s family, however, has not shared the sympathy with his situation that his neighbors have. His 30-year-old son, Zain, said that Sharafat Khan physically and emotionally abused his wife, citing a September 2008 incident where Sharafat Khan was arrested for domestic violence. Zain also said that his father stole money from marital accounts to give to relatives in California. Zain has taken his father for medical and psychiatric treatment, but says his father always leaves and returns to the front lawn of the marital home.

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At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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Divorce and Property

The Division of Property in a Divorce

It’s a common misperception that you only need to worry about the division of property in a divorce if you had a substantial net worth. Whether you lived in an apartment or a mansion, drove an old pickup or a Mercedes, lived from paycheck to paycheck or on a trust fund, you can still amass a substantial amount of marital property, and a lot of debt. When the marriage is over, you want to get your fair share of the assets and you don’t want to be responsible for more than your fair share of the debt.

In an ideal situation, you and your ex will amicably divide debts and assets, making adjustments if one of you keeps a large asset, such as the family home. Unfortunately, when you’ve struggled to agree in a marriage, it’s equally difficult to agree on the disposition of assets and liabilities when it ends. In Texas, if you can’t come to a resolution on your own, your property and obligations will be allocated under the state’s community property laws.

Under the community property laws of Texas, assets owned or used by couples in a marriage are identified as either community property or separate property. Any property owned by one of the parties before the marriage will be deemed separate property and will be returned to the owner as a part of the divorce proceeding. Assets that are purchased during the marriage are considered community property and their value must be divided equally between the parties. All property retains the character it had when acquired. Accordingly, a house purchased with a mortgage before marriage will remain separate property, even though it is partially paid for during the marriage.

There are limited exceptions to the community property rule in Texas:

  • Any property obtained by gift or inheritance is separate property
  • Any property purchased during marriage with funds earned before marriage is separate property
  • Any property that the parties legally agree is partitioned or exchanged by written agreement is separate property

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-420-8020 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

I’ve Inherited Money During Our Marriage. Do I Have to Split that If I Divorce?

You will not have to split money that is inherited with anyone except Uncle Sam. That is the case whether or not you divorce. The money you inherit is yours. It is not considered marital property.

If, however, you have signed that money over to your spouse, or placed that money in a joint bank account, the money then becomes marital property. So, it is wise to keep inherited money separate if you are anticipating a divorce.

The inheritance and any gift given to you alone for that matter, is yours and yours alone. Community property is everything that a husband and a wife own together. Community property would include such objects and assets and earnings that were acquired during the marriage. These would include a business and a house, regardless of who purchased it and whose name it is in. This would also include al debts that are contracted during the marriage.

Separate property includes inheritances and gifts received during the marriage, anything that was owned by one spouse before the marriage began, and anything either spouse had earned after the couple separated.

Divorce, Property and Inheritance Division Questions? Family Law Attorney, Baytown, Texas

Stewart Law, PLLC, located in Baytown, Texas, provides legal counsel to individuals involved in support and custody matters, divorce, and other family law cases. If you have questions about keeping an inheritance that you were given during your marriage, property division, divorce, or any other family law matter, we can give you advice that will help you decide how to proceed. For an initial assessment and consultation, contact our family law firm online or call our office at (281) 420-8020, at a reduced fee of $50.

What Is the Difference Between ‘Separate Property’ and ‘Community Property’?

“Community property” and “separate property” are the core concepts when it comes to property division during a Texas divorce.

The definition of separate property in the Texas Family Code is:

  1. “The property owned or claimed by the spouse before marriage”
  2. “The property acquired by the spouse during marriage by gift, devise, or descent” (“devise” means inheritance)
  3. “The recovery for personal injuries sustained by the spouse during marriage, except any recovery for loss of earning capacity during marriage”

Separate property can change forms but remain separate property. For example, if the husband had a $25,000 savings account before the marriage, and he used the money to buy a car after the marriage, that car would be separate property.

The definition of community property under Texas law is, “Everything else.”

But let’s go into a little more detail. Community property is all the property acquired by either spouse during the marriage or while the divorce is pending. Community property also includes earnings from separate property. For example, if the husband kept his $25,000 in the bank instead of buying the car, the $25,000 would be his upon divorce but the wife would have a legal right to a fair share of all interest earned on the $25,000 during the marriage.

One item of property can be both separate property and community property. For example, a husband and wife buy a horse costing $5,000. They pay $2,500 from husband’s separate bank account that he had before the marriage and they pay the remaining $2,500 from a joint bank account containing their earnings during the marriage. Upon divorce, the horse would be 50 percent the separate property of the husband and 50 percent community property.

The Texas State Historical Association has an interesting article explaining the history of Texas community property laws.

Property settlement agreements are final, meaning that divorced spouses cannot return to court to ask the judge to divide community property in a different way. You need to make sure you get a fair and equitable distribution the first time around. Stewart Law, PLLC, located in Baytown, Texas, has provided legal counsel to men and women in divorce and child support matters for 8 years. For an initial assessment and consultation of your divorce case, contact our family law firm online or call our office at (281) 420-8020, at a reduced fee of $50.

How to Keep Expenses Down in a Texas Divorce

Divorce is expensive. There’s no doubt about it. If you are thinking about getting a divorce, it is wise to think ahead about how to save money before, during, and after the divorce process. You might think it strange that a divorce attorney would offer suggestions for saving money, since we make our living from the fees our clients pay. However, at Stewart Law, PLLC, we are committed to our clients’ best interests, which includes saving money during the legal process. Here are our suggestions:

  • Resolve as many disagreements informally as possible. Divorces get expensive when the conflicts get heated. That’s when attorneys’ fees pile up. It benefits your bottom line to limit your disagreements to those that are absolutely critical to your future happiness and success. Don’t fight every step of the way.
  • Agree with your spouse ahead of time that you will strive to keep costs low. This only works, of course, if you are involved in an amicable divorce.
  • Don’t forget about tax implications. Every divorce has implications for your future income taxes, and it can save a lot of money in the future if you consult a certified public accountant before you sign any agreement.
  • Don’t overlook any assets. Texas is a community property state, which means that assets acquired or enhanced during the marriage are presumed to be equally the property of both spouses. Really comb through your marital history to recall any and all assets that you can make a claim to.
  • Make a realistic assessment of whether you need financial help from your spouse to get back on your feet and into the workforce. Alimony may be almost dead in Texas, but it has not breathed its last. In some situations, for example in the case of a stay-at-home parent who must rejoin the workforce, Texas divorce judges will still grant temporary spousal maintenance.

You can estimate the amount of child support you will receive or pay using the Texas child support calculator offered online by the Texas Office of the Attorney General.

Looking for additional information about lowering costs during a divorce? Stewart Law, PLLC, can provide advice and guidance. Located in Baytown, Texas, we have provided legal counsel to men and women in divorce and family law matters for 8 years. For an initial assessment and consultation of your case, contact us online  or call our office at
(281) 420-8020, at a reduced fee of $50.

No Prenuptial Agreement for Janet Jackson

Recently, former fiancée of Janet Jackson, Wissam Al Mana, announced that he would be avoiding a pre-nuptial agreement to protect his billion dollar fortune.  At the advice of his lawyers, he did draw up an agreement that stated if he and Jackson ever got divorced, she would take with her $500 million, upon the condition that they must have been married for at least five years. However his rejection of this initial prenuptial agreement was seen as declaration of true love.  This is being criticized, however, by those who believe that marriage is also a business arrangement, and that it would be in his best interest to protect his assets before marriage. Full article.

In Texas, parties can enter into written premarital contracts which focus on the disposition of their separate property as well as future community property before entering into marriage.  However, the agreement cannot violate any laws, and it cannot be against public policy.  Agreements must be signed by both parties before marriage.  These contracts then become effective on the date of marriage. Additionally, premarital agreements terminate on the death of one of the spouses.  In a divorce though, the court is only allowed to split property during that is deemed to be community assets.  It is imperative that parties seek independent legal counsel before signing a premarital or post-marital agreement.

It is wise to consider a prenuptial agreement to protect your assets in the event of a separation or divorce. Stewart Law, PLLC, will help you know your rights and advise you in these matters as they have over 8 years of experience in the area. They provide legal counsel to men and women in divorce and family law matters across many Texas State counties.  For an initial assessment and consultation of your case, contact us online or call our office at (281) 420-8020, at a reduced fee of ($50).

 

Understanding Do-It-Yourself Divorce Forms and its Value

Do-it-yourself divorce forms are popping up around the country, giving much concern to many attorneys across the nation. In 2012, the Texas Supreme Court introduced these do-it-yourself divorce forms. The idea behind these forms is that people who cannot afford a divorce attorney will be able to get divorced on their own. However, in practice, this poses many dangers for people engaging in a do-it-yourself divorce. Because this is a legal process, while designed to be quick and easy, many times, the process takes much longer than expected. Additionally, these individuals that chose to go it alone are without important legal advice, which can be very valuable in a contentious divorce. Read more here.

Texas, just like California, is a community property state. This means that by law all property held by either or both spouses at the time of divorce is considered to be community property. Therefore, the court can divide this property upon divorce. However, it is possible for one party to prove that his/her property is separate. Three specific types of separate property in Texas are property that is owned by a spouse before marriage, property that was received as a gift or inheritance, and an individual spouse’s personal injury awards.

Stewart Law, PLLC works hard to achieve the best results for their clients with a focus on what is in the best interest of the client and children involved in a separation, divorce or court proceeding. Stewart Law, PLLC can offer you an initial assessment and consultation of your case at a reduced fee of ($50). Please contact us online or call our office at (281) 420-8020, at a reduced fee of $50.

 
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