Assisting Families Since 1980

Read Our Blog From the Greater Houston, TX, Area

What About the House?

House at Twilight
Is the House Your Most Valuable Asset?

Is Your Home the Most Valuable Asset?  It may be if there fails to be large retirement accounts or liquid financial accounts.  Indeed, one of the most important issues to address during the divorce remains who gets the house.    Often, the house constitutes the largest marital asset.  Therefore, the divorce process breaks down when couples “heat” up over who gets the house.  At C. E. Schmidt & Associates PLLC, we strive to put out the fires by telling it like it is.  If our client maintains an unrealistic attitude about the marital residence, we know that more fighting is bound to result.   An experienced attorney addresses multiple issues relative to a couple’s  marital residence in as plain a way as possible.

Is the Residence Community or Separate Property?

First, the marital residence must be “characterized”.   Don’t let the fancy word fool you!  Quite simply, was the home purchased during the marriage?  Or, did a spouse own the home prior to the marriage?  The magic point in time in which a spouse gains title to the home determines the “characterization”.   Specifically, did you buy it prior to marriage = separate property?  Was it purchased during marriage and with community property funds = community property.    However, a spouse who marries a home owner may gain an ownership “interest” in different ways.

Don’t Try to Figure This Out on Your Own!

Ending a marriage requires a great deal of patience and fortitude.  Much of the road ahead challenges even the most steady person.  Therefore, seeking an experienced attorney remains vital.  At C.E. Schmidt & Associates, PLLC our team remains dedicated to you.  We focus our energy on your well-being. We constantly strive to produce the best possible outcome.  Call 281-550-6650 today for a free consultation.





The Child’s Best Interest and Modification

Child's Best Interest and Modification
Child’s Best Interest and Modification

Divorce Decrees, Children, and Best Interests!

Certainly, the child’s best interests and modification of an existing order can restore balance to a broken parenting plan.  The best interests of the child demand that the Divorce Decree works well.  Modifications of an existing divorce decree remedies a poor plan.     The child’s best interests may not be served by an existing divorce decree.  Modifying an existing order is a complex and difficult process.   Typically, difficult issues arise when parties remarry or children undergo big changes.  The parenting plan consist of conservatorship, possession or access.  Conservatorship relates to the rights and duties that a parent may have.  Those rights include the right to say where the child primarily lives.   When a parent has a child in their company without the other parent, the child is in the parent’s possession.  On the other hand, access occurs when a parent is only in the child’s presence.

What are “best interests” anyway?

Routinely, Courts look at the Holley factors when making decisions about a child’s best interests.   The child’s best interests and modification of an existing order involve specific factors.  Firstly, those factors include which parent will best provide for the child’s physical, psychological and emotional needs and development.  For instance, Courts always examine the physical and emotional danger posed by a parent.  Similarly, the stability of the home, plans for the child, and parenting skills provide clues as to which parent makes the better primary caregiver.   Sometimes, Courts might consider the child’s preference, geographic proximity and sibling relationships.

Let’s make a change please!

Importantly, the four grounds for modification are as follows:

  • parties agree plus best interests of the child point to a modification;
  • Child’s preference and best interests;
  • Voluntary relinquishment plus best interests;
  • Material and substantial change and best interests.

In order to make an informed decision and determine an action plan that will prove successful, an experience attorney is invaluable.  With decades of experience in family, C. E. Schmidt and Associates can guide you through the process.  Call 281-550-6650 today for a free consultation.


Divorce – Whose Fault is it Anyway?

divorce help

No Fault Finding = Insupportability and Divorce

Many times when couples seek to end their marriage, they do not wish to “throw stones” at one another.   Often spouses decide that they are better off containing the nuclear weapons to avoid “mutual assured destruction”.   The Texas Family Code provides that “insupportability” allows a court to grant a divorce without fault.  Spouses perhaps consider the potential damage to their children, their spouse, and even themselves when they seek divorce based on insupportability.  This “no-fault” path works for many, on the other hand, there are times when one party created the break-up because of their bad behavior.  A profoundly hurt spouse perhaps feels that refraining from fault-finding may result further victimization of themselves.  Pain compels a spouse to speak up.

Mental Cruelty and Adultery – Are you married to a Cheating Spouse?

Two most common fault grounds upon which divorce is granted are mental cruelty and adultery.  One appellate court defined cruel treatment this way: “incapable of being borne, unendurable, insufferable, intolerable.  Mere arguments don’t prove cruelty.”  On the other hand, adultery means voluntary sexual intercourse, and direct or circumstantial evidence can prove it.  However, the facts must be clear and positive.   A cheating spouse can’t “cover-up” forever.

Fault Equals What?

If the court grants divorce based on fault, a spouse can receive a larger share of the marital property.  More than that, a spouse may need that “moral victory” to heal and move on.  Contact our office at 281-550-6650 for a free consultation to discuss your options today.


Why Have a Premarital Agreement?

divorce help

Many couples may have valid concerns when considering whether to marry.   Often this occurs when couples consider a second marriage.  But a Premarital Agreement can help resolve the worry.  A Premarital Agreement is basically a contract between two parties. It may be a good idea even when one enters into a first marriage.  Under the Texas Family Code, after marriage almost all income is considered community property.   If a party has financial obligations to former spouses or children from the previous marriage, this may present complications.   This is why you want to consider a this contract.

A future spouse may want to make clear intentions about many topics.  A future spouse may want to preserve a family’s existing assets for children from an earlier marriage.  Spouses may want to eliminate or limit any future alimony obligations.  Spouses may want to keep a party’s income separate to pay off premarital debts or meet financial obligations to a former spouse.   Actually, some famous couples included “bad boy provisions” into agreements!

Drafting a Premarital Agreement requires careful consideration and skill.  Our attorneys have decades of experience and know how to draft agreements that are clear and enforceable.

Premarital Agreements = Peace of Mind

Our attorneys have the experience to help you accomplish your goal!  Contact our office at 281-550-6650 to set up a free consultation to discuss the benefits of a Premarital Agreement!

Alimony – Spousal Support – Post Divorce Maintenance

Texas was the LAST state to adopt a post-divorce spousal maintenance (sometimes referred to as alimony) statute. 

Many believe it is because Texas is a community property state.   Texas wants a win-win outcome.  But what if there is no money or property to divide?  What if one spouse stayed home and the other spouse was a high earner?   Then, spousal maintenance may be a vital tool.  Some refer to post-divorce financial support as alimony.  However, the Texas Family Code, uses the term “maintenance”.  The law provides for periodic payments from the future income of one spouse for the support of the other spouse.

What does Texas Law Provide?

The requirements for a spouse to receive “periodic payments” may be confusing.   The requesting spouse “ONLY” seeks  maintenance if that spouse will lack sufficient property to meet the spouse’s “minimum reasonable needs,  AND

Family Violence Occurred

(1) the spouse from whom these payments are requested has been convicted of family violence or received deferred adjudication within two years before the date of the initial filing of the divorce action or while the suit was pending.

A Disability Exists

OR (2) the spouse seeking the payments has a serious physical or mental disability that prevents that spouse from earning sufficient income; OR

10 Year Marriage and Incapable of Providing for Oneself

(3) the spouses have been married for 10 years or longer and one lacks the ability to earn income to meet that spouse’s minimum reasonable needs;

Disabled Child (Adult)

(4) the spouse is the custodian of a disabled child (or adult) who requires substantial care and supervision that prevents the spouse from earning sufficient income to provide for minimum reasonable needs.

Why C.E. Schmidt and Associates?

An experienced attorney sorts through the facts to help you decide if post-divorce spousal maintenance is in the cards.   Those seeking a divorce need to know what is possible and what is impossible.  While no attorney guarantees an outcome, an experienced attorney clears up the confusion.   An understanding of what is reasonable and what is unreasonable provides peace of mind.  We offer free consultations to assist you in making a better choice.  Call today to schedule a free appointment!

Avoiding a Financial Train Wreck

Divorce not only may result in emotional devastation, but financial disaster may occur also.  So often, parties divide retirement accounts to equalize the divisions of the marital property.  Importantly, Texas Community Property law mandates, “In a decree of divorce or annulment, the court shall order a division of the estate of the parties in a manner that the court deems just and right.”

The Texas Family Code provides that “In ordering the division of the estate of the parties to a suit for dissolution of a marriage, the court may consider: (1) whether a specific asset will be subject to taxation; and (2) if the asset will be subject to taxation, the the tax will be required to be paid.”   And it is important to remember that family law attorneys are not certified public accountants – tax advice is best obtained from those professionals who have a complete grasp on the Federal Internal Revenue Tax Code.  A mistake may cost the party substantial sums of money, so it is vital to obtain solid advice going into the process.

How Does Mental Illness Impact Your Parental Rights?

young father showing something to his son at the lookout

A parent’s mental illness is taken into consideration when it comes to child custody, and a judge looks at various factors to determine if your mental illness will impact your custody. Parents who have difficulties with mental health often have issues with child custody schedules, especially at the beginning of the custody negotiations.

The goal of the court is to look out for the best interests of the children, which sometimes means limited access for a parent with mental health problems. Although, as the condition improves or specific arrangements are made, the parent who suffers from mental illness may have the opportunity for more access and time spent with children.

Continue reading

Business Owners and Divorce


Business Owners and Divorce

Attorney Michelle Schmidt understands small businesses having owned her own first small business at the age of 17.  She also spent 10 years assisting business owners at both JP Morgan Chase and American Express Business Finance with complex issues such as business financing, asset valuation, inventory issues, intellectual property, good will and everything else that a small or medium size business owner faces including intangibles.  That knowledge and experience makes Michelle uniquely qualified to assist business owners as they navigate the divorce process.   Division of business interests in divorce can be one of the most complex issues in the community property division equation.

With Nearly 40 Years of Experience Our Firm has Represented Business Owners through the Divorce Process Hundreds of Times

Whether your business generates $250,000 in revenue or $250,000,000, a thorough understanding of the various types of business entities makes all the difference. A Business evaluation and forensic accountants who know what they are doing ensures that accurate information is obtained.  “Garbage in, Garbage out” must be avoided.  If the data that an expert is providing is faulty, there can be no just and right division of any community property interest that a may exist in the marriage.  Understanding the exact nature of your business entity and the business organizational documents filed with either the Texas Secretary of State or another State entity requires sophistication that is beyond many family lawyer’s experience.

These challenging issues, require experience, attention to detail, and business sophistication – please contact our team as early in the divorce process as possible in order to avoid any unforeseen consequences.  We do provide free consultations – read our blog post to understand why we offer consultations at no charge – it will make a lot of sense.

Call us 281-550-6659 to schedule an appointment and if possible bring your business organization documents to jump start the process.

4 Things to Know Before Going to Your Divorce Mediation

One of the biggest steps in some divorce processes is the mediation. Through mediation, the parties and their attorneys meet and discuss the division of assets, along with other elements of a divorce like child custody.  It is important to note that a mediation is by far the most cost effective manner in which to settle a heated divorce case.  In most counties in the Houston are, mediation is REQUIRED prior to a formal temporary orders hearing.  Mediation is also REQUIRED prior to trial.

In many cases, the mediation process gives each spouse a chance to split up assets fairly without the decision being put to a judge through a trial. The idea of a mediation may be overwhelming for many people, so preparation is often key.

Continue reading

Contested, Uncontested, Flat-fee, Hourly … WHAT?

Why am I being charged hourly instead of having a “flat fee”?

Many lawyers and law firms that work in the area of family law, label cases and “categorize” a case by looking at the level of conflict that exists between the parties.  Are the parties calm, cool and ready to proceed with their lives, or are they angry and bitter and itching to fight.

Many attorneys and firms such as C.E. Schmidt and Associates classify a case as an “amicable” case when the parties to the conflict are in agreement with respect to the terms and conditions of the ultimate outcome.  For instance, if the spouses have been able to set aside strong emotions and have worked together to make difficult decisions such as how the equity in the house will be divided or with whom the children will live the majority of the time – a flat fee – one fee that covers the legal work from beginning to end is the way to go.  When couples agree to be agreeable and can formulate a workable plan, the attorney can execute all the procedurally necessary legal steps to bring about the ultimate concluding order — the Agreed Final Decree of Divorce.   The legal fees that result in such a divorce process can be quite modest and affordable.  This is the beauty of a flat fee divorce.

On the other hand, the high octane fire that is burning in a extremely contested case makes it impossible to set a flat fee.  Will depositions be taken?  What about “discovery” (the litigation tool that enables each side to fully examine the evidence that the other side has) – will we need a formal Temporary Orders hearing or will a mediation suffice?  Ultimately will the case go to trial?  Going through a highly contested divorce process can be analogized to receiving cancer treatment.   Depending on the type of cancer and one’s oncologist, surgery may be recommended, radiation, or multiple rounds of chemo.  As each body reacts differently to various forms of treatment, ultimately bringing cancer into remission can be a totally unpredictable process .  Similarly, each divorcing spouse may react differently to being questioned during a deposition or having to answer interrogatories (a fancy lawyer word for questions).   Will a party crumble on the stand in a formal hearing or will that party conduct themselves in a calm, cool, and collected manner.  This is the contested case – the case where a client is charged by the hour — most experienced family law practitioners know better than litigate such a case on a flat fee basis.  If an attorney doesn’t understand the quicksand they might be in, they will figure it out very soon — your case may suffer considerably in the process.

The conclusion of a highly contested case may take 6 months or 2 and a half years — 35 hours of work or 100 hours of work.  To predict the required time frame requires a crystal ball.  The lawyer that can “see” what is in the “contested case crystal ball” is most likely not the lawyer with enough experience to understand what they are getting into!

What is your situation?  Schedule an appointment with C.E. Schmidt and Associates PLLC today for a free consultation and let us give you the straight story on what may likely be required to conclude your family law matter.

Call Us to Schedule a Consultation