From Hollywood to Highland Park – 12 Reasons Married Couples DON’T Get Divorced

By Aubrey Connatser It seems like Hollywood divorces make headlines everyday. On the flip side, some celebrity couples do make a go of it – many for decades. Just look at Tinseltown marriage veterans Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson, Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld, Will and Jada Pinkett Smith, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, and Sting and Trudie Styler. So why are these Hollywood marriages still going strong? Many of the couples took time to get to know each other before marrying, and they probably work hard to maintain healthy relationships both as couples and parents. The same holds true for couples that live happily ever after away from the spotlight. It doesn’t matter if you’re a celebrity couple living in Hollywood or a traditional couple raising a family in Highland Park. While there are always exceptions, couples typically have enduring marriages for several common reasons, whether they are famous or not. No. 1: They wait to get married until they are older. As divorce attorneys, we regularly see clients who were high school or college sweethearts who didn’t really date anyone else. After a couple of years they start to wonder if the grass is greener on the other side of the fence, or their priorities have changed. Couples who date other people before settling on a mate are more likely to understand that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. No. 2: They don’t marry due to a pregnancy. If the main reason a couple decides to marry is because the woman is pregnant, divorce may be looming around the corner. Starting a marriage as new parents can be difficult, especially if the couple hasn’t spent time getting to know each other, or they don’t really love each other. No. 3: They don’t let in-laws interfere with their relationship. It’s important for couples to tell parents to stay out of their business, or suggest the parents go to in-law premarital counseling where they will learn to mind their own business. The sooner a couple’s in-laws know their place, the less likely their marriage will suffer. No. 4: They are upfront about their desired spousal roles. I always say, hold true to the deal you strike. For example, if a wife tells her spouse she wants to work outside the home versus stay home with the kids (or vice versa), then changes positions after getting married, that might be too big of a hurdle for the husband to overcome. Couples need to be honest up front. No. 5: They don’t abuse alcohol or drugs. Substance abuse tears families apart. If either spouse (or both) is battling substance abuse, they need to address addiction problems head on. Abusing alcohol or drugs is one of the most common reasons people divorce. No. 6: They seek help for mental health issues. As with No. 5, if either spouse is struggling with mental health issues, the couple’s marriage will face challenges. Seeking guidance from a mental health professional can help a spouse cope psychological issues before they spiral out of control. No. 7: They don’t cheat. It’s no secret, cheating is one of the biggest reasons people get divorced. Adultery is typically a sign of a much deeper problem. Couples that want to stay married, need to address the issues in the marriage before straying. No. 8: They don’t marry the mistress. Unfaithful spouses who plan to marry the person with whom they had an affair – need to be wary. Think about it. If the mistress slept with a married person in the past, why wouldn’t she do it again?...

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The Ultimate Divorce Toolkit: 18 Helpful Tools to Survive and Thrive After a Split

Since founding Connatser Family Law in 2013, prominent Dallas divorce attorney Aubrey Connatser and her associates, family law attorneys Abby Gregory, Christine Powers Leatherberry and Alissa Castro have shared insight and advice on the firm’s blog and in television, radio and newspaper interviews. After years of experience representing clients in the Texas family court, we understand that going through a divorce can be overwhelming. So we created a comprehensive Divorce Toolkit with 10 categories and 18 helpful tools to help ease stress and streamline the divorce process. Use this handy Divorce Toolkit to learn: How to hire a divorce attorney. If you are contemplating divorce or are ready to file for divorce, seek out an experienced divorce attorney who is a good fit for YOU and your circumstances. Check out this handy infographic Essential 9-Step Guide to Hiring a Divorce Attorney to learn more. How to get a handle on divorce basics. Wondering what common questions people ask about divorce? What questions they don’t ask but should? Our post, The Top 12 Things You Need to Know About Divorce in Texas, covers most of the bases. (If you don’t live in Texas, consult an attorney in the state where you reside.) How much alimony you can expect to receive or pay. Alimony isn’t a given in a Texas divorce. In fact, the courts typically expect both parties to eventually support themselves following divorce. We cover 11 things you need to know about alimony in Texas in this past post. (Again, contact an attorney in your state if you don’t reside in Texas.) Tips on how to avoid tax and financial woes during divorce. We asked our colleague Todd Amacher, J.D., MBA, CPA, CFP,® CDFA (TM), to share tax and financial insight in this helpful post, Divorce and Taxes: 5 Essential Tips for Avoiding Future Financial Woes. How to manage emotional duress during divorce. We know, going through a divorce can be trying. This is true for the divorcing parties and their children as well. We’ve covered mental health issues on several occasions and encourage you to check out these insightful posts: Emotions Run Sky High During Divorce: 5 Ways to Stay Grounded 7 Sanity Saving Tips for Working Moms (and Dads) 5 Valuable Resources to Help Kids Cope When Parents Split The best ways to co-parent in a peaceful and supportive fashion. At Connatser Family Law, we always say, “Kids come first.” We encourage parents to put their differences aside and focus on the best interests of their children. Co-parenting is another topic we cover regularly in our blog. A few helpful posts include: 10 Essential Tips for Successful Co-Parenting Following Divorce 12 Back-to-School Tips for Newly Divorced Parents Recently Divorced? 6 Tips to Make the Season Bright for Your Kids During the Holidays Steps to take to survive contentious custody battles. Unfortunately, divorcing couples don’t always play nice during divorce and custody battles. In the following two posts, we interviewed two clients who survived and thrived contentious custody disputes. Read their inspiring stories for insight: 5 Crucial Steps Dads Should Take to Get Custody in Texas You Don’t Need to Be Rosie O’Donnell to End Up in a Nasty Same-Sex Custody Fight How you can maintain privacy during high-profile divorce and child custody disputes. If you’re getting divorced in Texas, you’ll be happy to learn that Texas family courts value privacy, especially when children are involved. It’s often easier to seal divorce records here than in other states. Learn how a divorce attorney can help you keep divorce records private in this post we wrote about Blake Shelton...

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The Essential 9-Step Guide to Hiring a Divorce Attorney [Infographic]

At Connatser Family Law, we always experience a significant spike in phone calls after big holidays such as Christmas, Hanukkah, New Year’s and Valentine’s Day. If a post-holiday divorce is your only option, it’s important to do your research before hiring a divorce lawyer. An under-qualified divorce attorney could miss critical issues and handle aspects of your case incorrectly. In addition, he or she might be unable to give you the advice you need to maximize your bargaining power during the divorce process. Before you hire a family law attorney, check out our handy nine-step guide in the infographic below. You can also read an extended version of the guide here....

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12 Back-to-School Tips for Newly Divorced Parents

When the wounds are fresh, it can be difficult to get along with an ex-spouse following divorce. But setting differences aside and putting children first are essential for the long-term health and happiness of your kids. With the new school year upon us, we asked Dallas Divorce Attorney Christine Powers Leatherberry to share advice to help newly divorced parents kick off co-parenting and the school year on the right foot. No. 1: Commit to open communication and inclusion from day one. Communication is the key to successful co-parenting (and is an underlying theme throughout this post). If you receive information regarding your child and their needs and activities, be sure to share it with your ex-spouse. Agree to keep each other in the loop. No. 2: Set up a shared family calendar and update it diligently. This is the key to following through on tip No. 1. As Christine explains, “There are a number of shared family calendars available online and some families even use Google calendars to share information about activities. “Our firm typically recommends Our Family Wizard, because it offers a variety of helpful tools. Plus, many Texas Family Court judges require divorcing couples to communicate through Our Family Wizard and use the shared calendar.” Within your shared calendar, you can keep track of: Extracurricular practices and events. Doctor appointments. Homework and project deadlines. School photo days. Family vacations and more. No. 3: Have a conversation about back-to-school supplies. “In Texas, back-to-school supplies are supposed to be paid for with child support. However, the cost for supplies, school uniforms, sports gear, etc., can often exceed that amount. If you want to start out on the right foot with your ex-spouse, offer to help pay for certain items. This can help set the tone for a more amicable co-parenting relationship. “However, I do recommend paying for those designated items directly, such as taking your child school shopping at Target or paying the school directly for uniforms,” Christine says. No. 4: Drop off your children together on the first day of school. Though this may be a difficult for the newly divorced, it’s just one day that will be tough for you, but an important day that will speak volumes to your child. Says Christine, “This stand of unity shows the child that regardless of his or her parents’ differences, you’re all in it together.” No. 5: Get on the same page regarding homework, deadlines and obligations. Christine recommends that parents agree at the outset to share homework duties as equally as possible. “As a Dallas divorce attorney, I frequently run into scenarios where one parent takes on the bulk of the homework follow up while the other disregards it. This is especially problematic when large school projects are involved. “You don’t want to pick up your child on a Sunday night at 7 p.m. and find out they have a huge diorama or book report due in the morning. This is not a fair way to co-parent and it puts unnecessary pressure on the child. Agree to keep each other informed and share homework deadlines and progress reports regularly.” No. 6: Make sure the child’s backpack stays with the child. Speaking of homework, to help your child stay on track and complete homework assignments on time, his or her assignment folder and necessary books and materials need to accompany him or her from home to home. “You can even use the backpack as a talking point. Take a few moments during the exchange to communicate how far along the child is with completing his or her assignments. For...

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Guys’ Guide to Divorce in Texas

In late 2014, cable network Bravo launched a new, scripted television series called “Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce.” The comedy follows the travails of Abby, a self-help book author who turns to her girlfriends for support after splitting from her husband. Each of the series’ episodes focuses on a different rule such as, Rule No. 21, Leave Childishness to Children and Rule No. 8, Timing Is Everything. Last year we even published a post, Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce in Texas, as a nod to the series. Recently though, we got to thinking, what about the guys? After all, Connatser Family Law represents both men and women during divorce and child custody disputes. While many of “The Rules” are the same for both men and women, Dallas Divorce Attorney Christine Powers Leatherberry says her advice to men can cover different topics. This is especially true when the husband has been the main provider for the family. So what “Rules” does Christine recommend to male clients during a divorce? Rule No. 1: Get on Top of Your Finances “The first thing we advise any client is to track down all financial records, so they know what is at stake,” says Christine. Key financial records to locate and assess include: Bank accounts; 401ks, IRAs (individual retirement accounts), pensions and other retirement accounts; Investment accounts; Trust accounts; Stock portfolios; Wills; Safe deposit box; Insurance policies (auto, home, health, life, etc.); W2s and other tax documents; and Logins and passwords for financial accounts. Rule No. 2: Preplan Your Divorce with a Reputable Texas Divorce Lawyer According to Christine, “You should consult an attorney as soon as possible for divorce pre-planning. We have many clients come to us several months or even years before they file for divorce, because they want to be prepared. There is no substitute for preparedness. A reputable divorce attorney can give you guidance regarding what to expect during the process, what information you will need to gather and what you should or should not do in the days leading up to filing for divorce. He or she will also work with you to clarify your goals for the divorce and plan the best strategy for securing the outcome you hope to achieve.” Rule No. 3: Set the Tone for the Divorce from the Get Go As Christine explains, “When telling your wife you want to divorce, it’s important to set the tone early. Let her know that it is your goal for the divorce be an amicable and fair process. Emotions run sky high during divorce, so the more you can assure her that you will do your best to be fair, the better your odds will be for avoiding a contentious divorce.” Rule No. 4: Promise Complete Transparency (and mean it!) If your spouse finds out you’re holding back information pertaining to the divorce, your finances, the children, infidelity, etc., any trust remaining between the two of you will be lost. “You should be as open and honest as possible, in part, because the truth helps everyone heal. This transparency can help reduce tension and smooth the divorce process. It’s important to consult an attorney about what and how to share information with your spouse before and during the divorce proceeding. Otherwise, you could jeopardize your legal strategy and goals,” says Christine. Rule No. 5: Don’t Destroy Evidence of Bad Behavior While those Facebook photos of you at your buddy’s bachelor party may look incriminating, destroying the photos isn’t only a bad idea – it’s illegal. Such destruction of evidence is referred to as spoliation and can cause you more...

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Josh Duggar’s Unsavory Past Serves as Cautionary Tale for Parents

Dallas Divorce Attorney Offers 5 Tips for Protecting Children from Sexual Abuse Whether you love them or hate them, the subjects of the now defunct TLC show “19 Kids and Counting” keep making headlines. Last May, son Josh Duggar (not to mention his family) faced public outrage when a family secret came to light – Josh allegedly molested four of his sisters and a babysitter while he was a teenager. According to Dallas Family Law Attorney Aubrey Connatser, parents need take a proactive approach to protect children from sexual predators who are both known and unknown to them. “Unfortunately, stories of child molestation by a family member or known acquaintance – as is alleged in the Josh Duggar case – are not uncommon. The fact that pornography is one click away on most electronic devices, doesn’t help matters,” Aubrey says. As the Duggar family fought unsuccessfully to save their TLC franchise, more unsavory allegations about Josh surfaced: Cheating accusations due to the Ashley Madison affairs website hack, treatment for pornography addiction and now a civil lawsuit alleging battery has been filed by an adult film star. While the Duggar revelation was shocking to the family’s legion of fans, Aubrey finds many parents underestimate the growing risks children face today. You Child’s Smartphone Offers Easy Access to Pornography “A colleague of mine who works closely with Child Protective Services recently equated the iPhone to what she calls a ‘Porn Pod.’ Technology (smartphones, tablets, computers, etc.) provides children with a direct avenue and easy access to pornography – and we all know how tech-savvy kids are today. That’s where kids get these ideas and why they are learning more about sex at an earlier age. There also aren’t enough parental controls on these devices to block all access. It’s just a sad reality, but you have to protect your kids from that kind of influence as best you can with the tools available to you (see tips later in this post),” Aubrey says. Your child might also be exposed to a friend’s smartphone or tablet – and explicit materials – during a play date or at school. Technology is everywhere, and other kids’ parents might not take measures to block pornography from their children’s electronic devices. For that reason, Aubrey says it’s important to keep an open dialogue with your child and tell them to inform you if a friend shows them something disturbing or unusual, because it’s not OK. Innocent Sleepovers and Weekend Getaways Put Children at Risk Mention the words slumber party or weekend trip, and most kids will say – sign me up! The problem is many parents don’t know or bother to ask who will have access to their child while they’re away from home and their watchful eyes. As Aubrey explains, “Parents need to ask questions. You should never let your child stay at a friend’s house (or lake home, condo in Hawaii or lodge in Aspen, etc.) if the friend has older brothers who will be there. That’s when incidents of molestation frequently happen. Unfortunately, we see these instances often, and the long-term psychological damage can be devastating.” It may also be difficult to control who has access to your child following a divorce, especially if you share custody. “We see sexual abuse in biological families, step families and when other people get access to a child due to a parent’s new relationship (i.e., girlfriend’s adolescent son, boyfriend’s cousin, etc.). Ask your child who they have been introduced to as these new relationships or marriages evolve,” Aubrey says. 5 Tips for Protecting Kids from Sexual...

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