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July 10th | THE CONNECTION BETWEEN FAMILY ISSUES AND PROPERTY LAW
Bankruptcy, common law marriages, child custody and custody modifications, adoption, and homeschooling are the topics of the day in this eclectic discussion of family law. Rick is joined by Liza Greene and Amanda Tucker, both attorneys from Laura Dale & Associates, a firm specializing in family law, probate, and bankruptcy. Liza works on family law and bankruptcy; Amanda specializes in child custody issues. Both discuss their backgrounds and how they came to practice in their separate specialties under the umbrella of family law. In the next segment of the show Amanda takes a call from a divorced mother with two children who is concerned that she may be making a mistake by not closely following her divorce decree and what effect this might have if she decides to enter into another relationship and is faced with a potential custody dispute. Liz takes a call from a recently divorced wife and mother whose soon-to-be ex is claiming their house – which is in her husband’s name – as his separate property because it was purchased while they were living together before marriage. [smart_track_player url=”//securemedia.iheart.com/media/station_content/676/2016/08/mp3/default/divorce_talk_radio_0_1472578675.mp3″ title=” THE CONNECTION BETWEEN FAMILY ISSUES AND LAW” artist=”July 10th 2016 | Rick M Goldberg” image=”https://rickmgoldberg.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/player_picture_rick.png” color=”#454545″ social=”true” social_twitter=”true” social_facebook=”true” social_gplus=”true” view=”mobile” social_email=”true” ]
Rick: Happy Sunday morning everyone and thank you for tuning in to Divorce Talk Radio. This is Rick Goldberg and it’s a beautiful day today. I just got back from an amazing five or six days in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I’ve got to tell you, when you’re up in that weather and in the Grand Teton’s, there’s absolutely no humidity. When I got out of that plane in Houston, it was about 95 degrees burst of humidity. It was like, “Oh my gosh! I’m home and I’m so glad I’m home. But man, I miss that cool breeze up there in Wyoming.” It gets down to about 50 degrees every night. It’s so comfortable. It never gets too hot during the day. It’s just an incredible place.
But I want to thank you for joining the show this Sunday morning. Our show is brought to you by Laura Dale & Associates, one of the premier family law firms here in town. And you might be surprised to know that they don’t just practice family law. They have some other areas of expertise as well. I know they do a little bit of probate law. They also do some bankruptcy law.
And with us today are two attorneys from her firm. We got Liza Greene. Liza, how are you this morning?
Liza: Good morning, Rick. I’m doing well. Thank you.
Rick: Good. And Liza, as you’ll come to find out has an expertise in the very complex family issues of property law, OK? And on the other side of the coin, we have Amanda Tucker. Hello, Amanda.
Amanda: Hey, Rick.
Rick: And Amanda specializes in custody issues, which are dealing with the children. So, welcome to the show this morning. Really, we’re glad you’re here. I have to tell you, Laura who has become a really good friend of mine and we went out to a play in fact a couple of weeks ago, speaks very highly of both of you and she is very proud to have both of you in her shop. Wishes she could be here but sends her best to both of you and wonders how come you’re not billing. But she’s going to get off – she’s going to let you off the hook for this hour.
Liza, tell me a little bit about you, how you got started in family law and you also do some bankruptcy work. Just give me a little – give our listeners an overview of what you’re all about.
Liza: Rick, I’ve been practicing law for about 35 years now. I’m board certified in both family law and bankruptcy. I first got involved with family law when I got out of law school. The job I got was primarily handling family cases. And I stayed with that firm for a while and then moved on to another firm that handled just about every kind of legal matter that you can imagine. And one of those was bankruptcy. And I actually fell in love with the bankruptcy practice and have been practicing bankruptcy since 1986.
Rick: Now, when you said that you’ve been practicing law for 35 years, I mean you do not look old enough …
Liza: I hear that all the time.
Rick: … to be practicing law for 35 years. You look like you’re about 10 older than that if even that. So how is that even possible?
Liza: All I can tell you is the birthday that you’ll look on my driver’s license will confirm that I’m actually able to have been practicing for 35 years.
Rick: That’s incredible. I know you all are both lawyers. I’m a psychologist, not a lawyer. But it’s kind of interesting because there are really three kind of lawyers you never really want to be seen out having lunch with. You don’t really want to be seen with a criminal lawyer because you don’t want people to think you might have done something inappropriate. You don’t really want to be seen with a bankruptcy attorney too often because everyone will assume that things are going downhill. And if you’re caught with a divorce attorney, well, you know what that means too.
So, did you ever get anybody kidding you about the fact that you work in two out of the three categories that I just talked about?
Liza: Well, I actually tell people all the time when they ask me what kind of law I practice and I tell them family law and bankruptcy, the type of law that you never want to have to come see me.
Rick: Yeah. So what kind of people and clients are seeing you? How is bankruptcy and family law tie together?
Liza: Well, of course, people that are married have financial obligations and sometimes – especially when they’re getting divorced, there’s a two-income household and they’re separating. They no longer have the financial ability to meet their monthly obligations. So a lot of times I’ll see people who have been recently divorced who are kind of forced into a bankruptcy situation because they cannot continue to make their monthly payments.
I also have people who are still married but have had some sort of catastrophe. One of the parties has lost a job, maybe a major medical illness and that has caused him some financial strain and so they’re having to go through a bankruptcy.
Rick: If you’re just tuning in, I’m Rick Goldberg and you’re listening to Divorce Talk Radio this morning. We’re talking with Liza Greene. Pretty soon, we’re going to be talking with one of her colleagues, Amanda Tucker. Our show today, I just want to let you know is brought to you by Laura Dale & Associates. And you could download this podcast at KPRCRadio.com. And just to remind our listeners, we’re here every Sunday at 8:00 o’clock.
I do want to do a little shout-out. I used to have my boy, Michael Garfield, the high tech Texan, sitting in on the show. He has officially blessed me to do this show solo so I’ve graduated and I want to appreciate all of Michael’s efforts in helping shape me and get me comfortable. Michael, I couldn’t have done this without your love and assistance and help and I really do appreciate it.
And of course, Ramon in the booth, I couldn’t be doing this without you. And my daughter, Lacey, as well who is always rocking and helps out every way she can.
I’m back here with Liza Greene who is family law and bankruptcy specialist with Laura Dale & Associates. What do you prefer, Liza? Do you prefer bankruptcy work or do you prefer family law work?
Liza: I definitely prefer bankruptcy work. It’s a little bit more structured, which I appreciate. And I find that the client seemed to be a lot more appreciative than family law clients.
Rick: I hear your colleague giggling in the background. Why are you laughing, Amanda?
Amanda: I don’t know any really appreciative family law clients. I mean they come at the worst place in their life emotionally or financially or both and then whatever result you get them, it’s just you know, if it’s a divorce it’s not optimal. If it’s half the time with their child, it’s not optimal. So it’s a tough area for the attorney.
Rick: Now, Amanda, tell our viewers a little bit about you. It’s Amanda Tucker, another colleague of Liza and another attorney at Laura Dale & Associates. How long have you been practicing law and what’s your area of expertise?
Amanda: I’ve been practicing law over seven years. My area would be within family law would be custody. I like high conflict custody modifications. Obviously, custody within a divorce. And I also actually really enjoy doing adoption. It’s like the one side of family law that I think is really positive and you do get satisfied clients. They’re just not enough of them unfortunately.
Rick: I guess when you’re doing adoptions, you’re really not going against another party. You’re really in the spirit of trying to help a couple or an individual adopt a child, right?
Amanda: Yeah. I mean sometimes you might have a termination situation to get to the adoption. But at the end of the day, the result is a good one for the clients.
Rick: And so when it comes to litigation, I mean do you look at yourself as a litigator?
Amanda: Yeah, I think so.
Amanda: I mean I really enjoy being in the courtroom and doing trial work and I much prefer that to being in the office.
Rick: And what got you into litigation? Do you have a family of lawyers in your background or are you the first one to become a lawyer?
Amanda: I have a huge family of attorneys but I am the first family law attorney. So they think I’m a little odd.
Rick: Why do they think you’re odd?
Amanda: Because kind of like Liza, they dealt in more structured areas of the law and didn’t have to deal with the stress and the drama and the emotion that is wrapped up in family law. So – but yeah, I got into it because I used to teach and enjoyed doing work with children and started off doing juvenile law and CPS work and then it just kind of evolved into family law.
Rick: And what area do you like? What’s your least favorite area?
Amanda: Public property.
Amanda: The structured part of family law.
Rick: So at Laura Dale, do you ever work as teams if you have a case that is pretty complex and you’ve got heavy custody issues and some pretty complex property issues? Do you find like do you and Liza work together on cases?
Amanda: I do property but if it’s a really complex case, typically, I’ll go to a colleague that has – either prefers it or has more experience in that area.
Rick: Now, have you two teamed up on a case before?
Amanda: We have. I’ve actually done a probate case with Liza, which was my first. She has a ton of experience in that area and I enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I always thought probate be kind of boring. And this had plenty of excitement in it to go around.
Rick: Well, we’re going to take a break in just a moment. And coming up after the break, we’re going to go into talking about one of the cases maybe that you’ve all collaborated on, how you worked together as a team. Again, if you’re just tuning in, you’re listening to Divorce Talk Radio with Rick Goldberg. We are on KPRC 950. We’ll see you right after this break.
Rick: Welcome back everybody. It’s Sunday morning, a little bit after 8:00 o’clock. We’ve just finished our first segment of Divorce Talk Radio with Rick Goldberg. This is Rick Goldberg. In the studio with me today is Liza Greene and Amanda Tucker, both attorneys from Laura Dale & Associates who is our sponsor of the show this morning. Laura Dale & Associates, 10 to 12 fine attorneys specializing in family law, probate, bankruptcy. They also have a flavor of doing international law working with expats and really complicated law that travels across the borders here.
As you know, you can call in at 712-212-5950 if you’ve got any kind of question. And we do have a caller on line 1 and it’s Judith. Let me pick it up and say hello. Judith, are you with me?
Judith: Yes. Hi. How are you guys?
Rick: Hey, doing good. Thanks for calling in this morning. How are things going?
Judith: Going good, going good. I’ve been listening to your show and I know you guys are taking questions today so I have something that I would like to ask you guys.
Rick: Go ahead. Before you start, I just want – you must have shared with my producer out there that today is a special day. It’s your birthday. So we want to wish a happy birthday.
Judith: Oh, thank you so much guys. I really appreciate it. That’s awesome.
Rick: Sending you big love through the airwaves out to wherever – are you in Houston?
Judith: Yes, in Houston. Thank you so much. I appreciate that.
Rick: You got it.
Judith: It’s my birthday. But the question I had is my ex, I’ve been divorced for about three years now, and my ex and I have two children and we have a decree like everybody else has, a divorce decree but we really don’t follow it. And I’m wondering if I’m making a mistake by not following it because we usually just do what’s convenient for us like when we drop the boys and so forth. But if I were to get into another relationship, am I making a mistake by not doing that?
Rick: That’s a really good question, Judith. I’m going to spin our little arrow here and it’s spinning around and it’s landing on Amanda to take this question. Amanda, what do you think?
Amanda: Hey, Judith. Happy birthday.
Judith: Hey, Amanda. Thank you.
Amanda: Good. So listen, it kind of depends I think, I get asked this a lot by clients, how are not following the decree? Like what are significant ways that you’re deviating from it?
Judith: Well, as far as with the kids, when we have custody of the kids like we’ll do it where sometimes – on the decree, it states it’s one week with him and one week with me.
Judith: And what we actually do is they end up being with me all week and then with him on the weekends or vice-versa so it kind of changes.
Amanda: OK. But you say you’re still keeping it at a 50-50 between the two of you and the amount of time you have with the kids?
Judith: Yes, I think I am. Yes, we are.
Judith: Unless a trip comes up or something, we’re very flexible with each other but I’m afraid that if we get used to that, that is – am I making a mistake?
Amanda: Well, I mean to be honest, I think – I tell my clients and hopefully most attorneys tell their clients that the decree is a piece of paper that’s basically a default agreement between you and it’s really nice when the parties even though they’re divorced can work together and be cooperative and be flexible and do what’s in the best interest of the kids.
I mean the only concern I would have and it doesn’t appear that this exists is if one of you is having substantially more time with the kids that was not a 50-50 which it seems like what you’ve agreed to because then if somebody wanted to go back and modify the decree later, they might have a leg up if they’ve had more time with the kids and you’ve been allowing that to happen or vice-versa.
I don’t think a new relationship has anything to do with it. I mean that might stir up some inflexibility on your ex’s part. But in the meantime, if everything is working for you guys and even though the time is different, you’re not actually having a disparity in the amount of time you’re spending with the kids. I don’t see any concerns.
Judith: Awesome. Well, thank you for that. And …
Rick: Judith, are you – Judith, this is Rick. I didn’t mean to interrupt you but it’s my show, I’m going to interrupt you from time to time. All right. Let me ask you. So are you in a relationship right now or remarried at all or …
Judith: No. No. And actually, that’s what I wanted to ask Amanda. I’m glad you have a woman there that I can ask some advice.
Rick: You want some advice? Dating advice I bet.
Amanda: Rick has got two women today.
Judith: This is more dating advice.
Rick: Oh well, we could be a dating show too. Ramon might chime in as well.
Judith: OK, cool! So my question is this. I’ve been divorced for three years and I recently ended a relationship like maybe three to six months ago.
Judith: I am not ready – oh yeah. I’m not ready for a new relationship. I want to spend time with me and me only. However, I have been getting a lot of invites and I don’t know how to turn these men down nicely without – you know what I’m getting at. I don’t want to be mean but I want to make sure that they’re aware that I’m just not available. So how would I do that?
Rick: Well, let’s go around the horn. We’re going to let Liza start you off and let’s hear what Liza’s advice to you is.
Judith: Hi, Liza.
Liza: Hi, Judith. Happy birthday.
Judith: Thank you. This is awesome.
Liza: Well, first of all, I would say kudus to you for wanting to take time for yourself. I think that’s very important and of course, you need to be comfortable with yourself before get involved in any long-term relationship. And you also have your kids to consider as well.
As far as what to tell any man that’s interested in you, I would just be straight up tell him, “I’m taking time for myself right now. I appreciate your interest but the time is not right for me at this particular point.” And wish him the best.
Judith: Right. Does that mean – the thing is, I don’t mind the friendship. I just am not interested in relationship so I mean should I just – if someone is interested in a relationship, should I just avoid them because I know that’s what they’re only interested in or I guess that’s where the confusion rises for me.
Liza: Well, I think that’s going to have to be on a case by case basis. If this is someone that you’ve known for a while and you know that they’re capable of remaining just friends and not trying to push you into a relationship that you’re not ready for, then I say great. If it’s someone that either you just met or you are not sure if they’re willing to respect your boundaries then you’re probably going to just have to walk away from it until you are ready to be in a relationship.
Rick: Let’s hear what Amanda has to say on this topic. Amanda, what do you got for Judith?
Amanda: I think Liza gave great advice. I mean I think you’ll know when you’re ready. And if somebody is – I would think right now if you are really that interested in someone, you would do something about it. So if you’re not that interested than they are, I think Liza is right like it’s a case by case basis. But if you can maintain a relationship with someone as a friendship whether or not it turns into something later then I think that’s always a positive. But if you can’t, you can. And you just move on to the next.
Judith: That sounds like great advice.
Rick: Judith, let me ask you this. Do you kind of have a hard time with friends and even with your boys say no from time to time?
Judith: I do.
Rick: Are you kind of a people pleaser from time to time? I’m not saying that’s bad because I’ve got some people pleaser in me too. But are you sort of a people pleaser?
Judith: Yes, and that’s actually why I want to be by myself so I can work on these things and I can learn to set very healthy boundaries for myself and for repeat the past again.
Rick: Right. Well, the hardest thing for us, people pleasers, to do is to just simply say that 2-letter word which is NO. And you could put the thank you after it especially in a dating type environment. But it’s just really easy to look someone in the eye and just say, “No, thank you. And I really appreciate it.”
And you don’t actually owe them anything else because I don’t believe they’re really close enough to you yet especially if they’re just getting to know you to be revealed that, “I’m working on my stuff. I’m just over a relationship. I want to spend time.” That’s like your proprietary information and it’s not anybody else’s business yet. If you develop a relationship with someone and someone peaks your interest and you want to go there at that time then that’s the opportunity to go there. So just practice everywhere in life, just saying the simple no and realized that that’s OK, you’re not going to make everybody happy all the time and no is not a bad thing to say.
Is there anything else we could do Judith to help you with our dating advice on our dating show today?
Judith: Actually, you guys have been amazing, the best birthday gift ever. And I will take your word to heart and I will learn to practice to say no. Thank you so much.
Rick: All right. Well hey, have a great Sunday and a great happy birthday. I hope you celebrate and have a blast with all your friends.
Judith: Thank you.
Rick: Sorry. I think I cut Judith off a little bit there at the end. Hey, we’re going to be right back after this break. We’re halfway through our show. It’s Divorce Talk Radio with Amanda Tucker and Liza Greene from Laura Dale & Associates. See you after the break.
Rick: Good morning everybody and welcome to Divorce Talk Radio. This is Rick Goldberg where we talk about all thing divorce whether you are currently going through a divorce, if you’ve gone through a divorce in the past, or if you’re thinking about getting divorce in the future, this is the show for you. And actually, if you are with us last segment, this is also a show where you can get some dating advice by not only me but two of my co-stars today, Amanda Tucker and Liza Greene, attorneys from our sponsor, Laura Dale & Associates. You all, when are we going to get Laura on to the show?
Amanda: That’s the question of the year.
Rick: She is so busy, right?
Amanda: She is.
Rick: I mean what is she working on these days?
Amanda: She has got a jury trial this month. She has got a jury trial next month. Busy.
Rick: Now, I’m sure Laura is listening. So let’s tell our listeners a little bit about Laura Dale. What can we tell them? Other than I could tell you that she is incredibly insightful, very empathetic and I she fights like hell for her client. But what else can we tell our listeners about her and her firm?
Liza: Well, I’ve been with Laura for – well, since 2009 and she has been a lot of fun to work for. She makes life around the firm enjoyable to practice law. She pretty much lets us do what we need to do to represent our client. She doesn’t do a lot of interfering. She is very supportive. And she is very good at what she does.
Rick: So if you are a competent divorce attorney here in town, you’re maybe looking to make a move, Laura would be the best boss to have?
Liza: I would say so.
Rick: And Amanda, what about you?
Amanda: Yeah. I know she is a great boss. She has got a good sense of humor. She is very fair both to her colleagues and to her clients. And she knows her stuff.
Rick: Now, Amanda, you kind of remind me of trickster a little bit. I think you got a little coyote in you. Do you ever like play any practical jokes on Laura?
Amanda: I might have a time or time. When she is on, you can ask her about it.
Rick: Liza, you’re laughing. What do you know that I don’t know?
Liza: Well, my lips are sealed.
Rick: Oh my gosh! Attorney co-host privilege. I don’t understand what’s going on. You’re with Rick Goldberg if you’re just tuning in here on KPRC Divorce Talk Radio. You can listen if you don’t catch us live on Sunday. It’s at 8:00 o’clock. You can catch us on our podcast at KPRCRadio.com. We are talking about all things divorce.
And we have another caller. Our number if you’re just tuning is 713-212-5950. We’ve got Tammy on line 3. Tammy, are you there?
Tammy: Hi! I’m here.
Rick: Hey. Thanks for calling in this morning.
Tammy: Thanks for having me. I love the show. I listen to it as often as I can.
Rick: All right. I love hearing that. What’s going on? Is there a question somewhere in the custody or property area that we might be able to help you out? One of these great lawyers from Laura Dale & Associates can help you out with.
Tammy: Yes. I’m having an issue regarding property. I was – I’ve been with my husband for 18 years. We’re going through a divorce. We have a common law marriage for four years prior to the ceremonial wedding. We bought a house but the house is in his name only. It was not in my name because we were not legally married them.
Prior to our ceremonial wedding, we file taxes together, we have a daughter together. So we finally ended at getting married. And now that I’m going through this divorce, he is trying to claim that it’s separate property. And I don’t know what to do in this situation because to me, we lived in the same house together for 18 years, been married, and we were together four years before that. And he is trying to say that I am not entitled to anything at all, that he should get the house and I get nothing.
Rick: So I could tell that you’re upset by that. So I want to encourage you to just take a breath and we’re going to spend our little dial and send this over to Liza.
Liza: Hi, Tammy. How are you this morning?
Tammy: I’m good. How are you?
Liza: Good. So from what I hear you saying is that prior to your getting ceremonially married that you lived with your husband in the same house. Is it the same house we’re talking about that’s being divided in the divorce?
Tammy: Yes. So we lived in a separate property for four years. But the house that’s being divided, we lived there about six months before we were actually married and then for another 18 years together while we were married.
Liza: OK. I heard you say though that before you actually were ceremonially married, you were filing tax returns together and you had a child together. Is that right?
Tammy: Yes, that is correct.
Liza: OK. So first of all, it’s a possibility that you could establish a common law marriage dating back to when you first moved in with another. And I’m getting a lot of feedback. Excuse me.
Tammy: That’s a part of a radio world. We’ll just have to grind through it.
Liza: So, you would have to be able to produce copies of your tax returns that you filed jointly, establish that you were actually residing together as husband and wife and that the community considered you as husband and wife. So sometimes that’s a bit of a hurdle to overcome in establishing a common law marriage. But let’s just assume that you don’t want to go down that road and you’re just concerned about the house that was purchased six months before the marriage.
If you don’t establish a common law marriage and the property was purchased in your husband’s name only prior to your marriage then it would be considered his separate property. However, did you make mortgage payments on the property?
Tammy: Yes, I did.
Liza: OK. So the community was making contributions to that property during the marriage. And so, the community would have what’s called a reimbursement claim against any equity that happens to be that property. If you’ve been in that property for about 18 years and you’ve been making all your payments then I would anticipate that you would have some equity, possibly some considerable equity in that property and the community would be entitled to whatever payments were made during the marriage. And that reimbursement claim is based on essentially the contributions that the community made to his separate property home.
So, I would encourage you to speak to your attorney about making a reimbursement claim and possibly making a claim of common law marriage for the prior four years if your attorney thinks that you have enough evidence to support that.
Rick: Now Tammy, I don’t want you to tell us the name of your attorney but what’s your attorney telling you through this process?
Tammy: Well, I mean I have copies of the tax returns. I even went back because this was back in ’94, ’95 that I had to dig back to all this paperwork and I have like my first mother’s day card that he put, “To my wife”, tax returns, state statements where we shared our bank account but they just don’t think that it’s enough for the common law. They think it’s just – it’s very difficult to prove.
Liza: It is difficult to prove but it sounds like you got some good evidence so I would kind of press your attorney a little bit more on trying to establish that because if you can in fact establish that there was a common law marriage then the purchase of that home even though it’s in just your husband’s name would still be presumed to be community and then you wouldn’t have to go through the proof to establish the reimbursement claim I was talking to you about earlier.
Rick: Good point. Tammy, is there anything else that we could assist you with? Amanda, anything you want to throw in?
Amanda: No. I was thinking the same thing Liza was when she started talking about their relationship prior to the marriage. And it is hard and we have clients that come in and want to claim a common law marriage but it does sound like she has got a lot of really good solid evidence that they held themselves out as husband and wife. The filing of joint tax returns is huge. So I would also press my attorney or maybe just get a new one.
Rick: Good feedback. Well Tammy, thank you so much for calling and thanks for being one of our loyal listeners. Really appreciate it. And I hope it all works out for you.
Tammy: Thank you. Thank you for having me on the show. It was great advice.
Rick: You got it. Well, you’re listening to Divorce Talk Radio here on KPRC 950. After this break, we’re going to come back and we’re going to debrief what Tammy is going through and talk about maybe some things that she could do or if you’re going through something similar, things that you could do to protect yourself a little bit better. Stay tuned.
Rick: Welcome back everyone to the last segment of Divorce Talk Radio. This is Rick Goldberg. And you are listening to us on 950 KPRC. If you can’t catch our show live, you can always catch us on the KPRC website online at KPRCRadio.com. You’ll find a little button that says Media Podcast. You click on that. Scroll down. Right below some of those other great hosts here at KPRC, you will see Rick Goldberg Divorce Talk, click on that and then there’s a listing of all of our shows. We’ve been on the air for – coming up on three months now and having a blast, having a good time. And I know that we’re doing some good things out there.
We just had a call last segment with Tammy who is going through sounds like a pretty rigorous battle and there’s nothing we can do for Tammy unfortunately right now. You all don’t represent her and that’s – we’re not giving legal advice here on the show. But what can we offer our listeners who are maybe in similar situations, maybe finding themselves in common law marriages, how can they protect themselves and their interest a little bit more, so maybe what is happening to Tammy may not happen to them. Liza, what do you think?
Liza: Well, the first thing that I think everyone needs to know is that there is a common misconception about common law marriage and most people think all they have to do is live together for a certain period of time and they become common law married. And that’s not the case in the state of Texas. So you have to be able to show that yes, you did live together as husband and wife but you also have to be able to establish that you considered yourself husband and wife, you represented yourself to the community as husband and wife and that the community also views you as being husband and wife.
In Tammy’s case, she has the joint file tax returns which are as Amanda stated earlier, a huge piece of evidence when you’re trying to establish a common law marriage. She also had the, I believe it was a mother’s day card from her husband that referenced her as a wife. That would also be a really good piece of evidence.
Other things that she might want to look for, any witnesses who might be willing to come in and testify, “Yes, every time I saw them, they introduced themselves as husband and wife.” If they go to church together and everyone there at the church considers them to be husband and wife. So it’s really finding that outside support that supports your position that you in fact were considering yourself as husband and wife.
Rick: You know what comes up for me is that if you’re fighting over let’s just say a $100,000 in equity in this house, I know by the cases that you all worked on, that’s not a significant amount but for a young couple, that’s a lot of money that $100,000. And to be able to think that you can get $50,000 of that if husband, let’s say, does the right thing versus zero, you got to weigh in what it’s going to cost to basically go after it? Because the cost, it’s not cheap going after this.
Liza: Well, that’s true. And I do talk to my clients about that as far as what they want out of the divorce and what it’s going to cost them to accomplish that and we weigh those factors. And certainly if you’re on a budget, the cost is something that’s going to be a little bit more important to you perhaps than if you have a lot of income or resources available to you to fund the divorce process.
If we’re talking about a young couple, a $100,000 and that’s really their primary asset, truthfully, the cost of – if we’re talking about trying to establish a common law relationship, the cost is going to be a little bit higher than if we’re just talking about we purchased this house during marriage, we now have this equity and we want to divide it. That’s not going to cost as much because we have – we know we have a marriage.
And so – but to answer your question, yes, you definitely have to weigh in the cost of pursuing whatever you’re trying to get in a divorce situation.
Rick: So, I heard you talked about some of the boxes that you have to check in order to establish a common law marriage. Do you have to check all the boxes or just like one of the three or four boxes?
Liza: You have to check all the boxes.
Rick: You got to check them all. So tell our listeners again what those boxes were.
Liza: Well, you have to live together as husband and wife and there’s really no time period for that. You have to have considered yourself husband and wife and represented yourself to the community as a husband and wife and the community has to consider you as being husband and wife.
Rick: That’s interesting. We’re almost to the end of the segment. I want to remind our listeners that you’re listening to Divorce Talk Radio here on KPRC. We are broadcasting every Sunday morning at 8:00 o’clock.
Amanda, what is one of the more unusual cases that you’ve ran across when it comes to child custody issues?
Amanda: Unusual, we definitely get quite a few. I’ve got a case right now, maybe not totally unusual but it has definitely become really complex and it’s set for jury trial this month. And it’s about – it involves alcohol abuse. So we’ve got two small girls that are caught up in that and it’s really – the reason it has become so complex is we’ve got one parent that’s just really refusing to own any of the issues.
And so, we are kind of like Liza said, we’re spending a lot of resources on an issue that might not cost as much if it was kind of more of a black and white situation. And so, that’s kind of when you – I think when you began the litigation, sometimes it seems really black and white like in this case for example, but the other side is always going to present its own hurdles and complications. And so this case is going on about a year and we’ve got a big jury trial coming on an issue that probably should have been settled by now.
Rick: Yeah, it is really kind of interesting what issues are out there that husbands or wives, moms or dads dig into. I’m working on a case right now where the issue at the end of the day is pretty simple. Mom wants to continue to home school a couple of her girls. She has got four kids. She wants to continue to home school those girls the last couple of years of high school.
And dad is dead set against it even though the boys are doing well from home schooling. They’ve done private school and they’re off to college. They are spending a lot of time, resource, money, energy, effort and it just – it splits them and splinters them from their kids. They can’t really show up in the united front for the kids. And it’s sad because at end of the day, the kids are big losers in that case.
Have you all ever had cases with home schooling issues? And I think the vernacular that I heard lately, it’s heads, meds, and eds. And heads being psychological decisions, eds being educational decisions and meds. But what’s your all’s feedback on or opinion about home schooling and if you think it works, if it doesn’t work and have you had cases where that has been the issue between mom and dad?
Liza: I have had cases where that had been the issue and it is typically a highly contested issue for whatever reason, even the case that you’re talking about, even though they’ve been doing it sounds like for quite some time. As Amanda said when we first started with you this morning, anytime you see someone that’s going through a divorce, they’re at their one of their worst points in their life. They’re not thinking clearly. They’re acting out on emotions. And so, it’s difficult for them to take a step back and look at what’s best for my child, what’s best for me in this particular circumstance considering my availability of resources and so forth.
So, home school is something that parents really, if they don’t agree on it, I find typically it’s not going to work because you need the support of both parents for a home schooling situation to work.
Rick: Well, you’re listening to Divorce Talk Radio. We’re about at the end of our show here this morning. And what I want to just remind everybody is just to cherish your children. I have an expression that I kind of coined, “Don’t wait until somebody sneezes to bless them.” And the same thing is true with your kids. If you just see little things that your kids are doing great, honor them, acknowledge them, tell them how wonderful they are, remind them that you’ve got their back, remind them that they can do and be anything that they want to be.
For Amanda Tucker, Liza Greene and our sponsor, Laura Dale & Associates, this is Rick Goldberg saying have a great Sunday and I’ll see you next week right here on Divorce Talk Radio.
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