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'Everything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.' We are all familiar with this phrase and have heard it dozens of times in movies, in TV shows, and maybe once or twice during a routine traffic stop. However, while this phrase often evokes images of interactions between police officers and criminals, it does not immediately bring forth the image of a family court room. Yet, just as with criminal cases, what you say to your spouse while your divorce case is pending and even after it has been finalized can be used against you in property division and child custody proceedings. This is even true of text messages.

For instance, if your soon-to-be-ex-spouse admitted to spending the family money on a trip to Barbados with his mistress in a text message, that would be plenty of ammo for you to recover that lost money in your portion of the divorce settlement. However, you cannot just tell the judge,'He admitted to it in text.' You need to be able to show proof, in the form of official records. Because the judge wants to know that you did not doctor text message records, he or she will want records from the cell phone carrier itself, which you can obtain via a subpoena.

Now, it is important to bear in the mind that cell carriers generally only retain text messages for two to three days max, so if your former spouse does admit to wrongdoing in a text, you need to file for the subpoena either that very same day or the next. Secondly, thanks to the federal Stored Communications Act, most cell carriers will not release the data without first receiving consent from the cell phone subscriber. If you and your spouse still share a cell plan, that makes things exponentially easier; if you do not, you may have trouble getting the proof that you need.

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' Separation' is a term that is used all the time, but what does it really mean? Sometimes clients will come to us knowing that their marriage is in trouble, and knowing that they need time apart from a spouse, but not knowing whether or not they want to pursue an actual divorce. When this happens, we present the option of a separation. Unfortunately, though a separation is not technically legally permanent, one can still be difficult to pursue, as the type of separation you choose to pursue will impact your property rights. Because of this, separating from your spouse will still require the assistance of a Dallas family law attorney.

The Four Types of Separation

Unbeknownst to most people, there are four types of separation that a couple can go through. They are:

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Divorce is undoubtedly difficult, but many times, couples will make the process more difficult than it has to be. From fighting over pointless items such as the couch or TV to being unreasonable regarding child custody arrangements, many couples unnecessarily turn their divorce into an all-out war. At the Law Offices of Stephen Clark we believe in helping couples achieve a collaborative divorce. A collaborative divorce is one in which both spouses agree from the very beginning of the process to work with attorneys who will act more as 'settlement specialists' and who will do everything in their power to avoid litigation entirely.

If a collaborative divorce sounds like something that you might be interested in, contact our Dallas divorce attorneys to learn more about how we make divorce easier for our clients.

Reasons to Choose a Collaborative Divorce

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One of the most common questions that divorcing parents ask before a Texas child custody agreement is drawn up is, 'When can my child choose which parent to live with?' The answer is, 'Never.' At the Law Offices of Stephen Clark, we try to explain to our clients that how the judge determines child custody depends on a number of factors, including the child's age and emotional maturity. Under Texas law, a child of at least 12 years of age or older has the option of stating their preference to the Texas courts, but it is ultimately up to the judge to make the final custody determination. If your child has expressed an interest in living with one parent over the other, contact our Dallas child custody lawyers to learn more about how we can help you and your child make your wishes known to the judge.

How a Texas Judge Makes a Determination

Under Texas Family Code, 153.009, upon an application to the judge by any party to the suit (parent, lawyer, legal representative of the child, or the judge himself), the judge must interview the child in his or her private chambers to determine the child's wishes regarding conservatorship and primary residence. However, even if the child states his or her preference, it does not mean that the judge will automatically place the child in the care of the parent whom the child prefers. Under section 153.009(c), the interview is used as guidelines for the judge, but 'does not diminish the discretion of the court in determining the best interest of the child.'

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A prenuptial agreement is a great way to protect yourself and your assets in the event of a divorce, which is why our Texas family law attorneys recommend that every individual entering into a union with his or her significant other creates and signs one. However, every once in a while an individual will enter the divorce proceedings assuming that his or her premarital contract is going to provide protection, but instead is informed that the prenuptial agreement is in fact invalid.

This is probably one of the most devastating revelations that individuals going through a Dallas divorce can make-especially if they have a large amount of assets, or particular assets they want to protect. At the Clark Law Group, our Dallas divorce attorneys aim to minimize conflict in divorce as much as possible for our clients. Many times, this means negotiating a divorce settlement that both parties can benefit from. And other times, it means ensuring that all premarital contracts comply with Texas prenuptial requirements so that they are valid and legally binding.

What Can a Valid Prenuptial Agreement Do?

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