Sunday, April 26, 2015

Possible signs you should talk to a divorce lawyer

The following list certainly does not cover all possibilities that your relationship/marriage is in trouble.

But these are some the most common signs that I see in my office:


1. Your spouse, who never cared about finances, suddenly wants to be involved and/or starts asking a lot of questions about the family's finances.

2. Your spouse's bills quit coming to the house - perhaps your spouse has changed his/her address to a post office box or another address.

3. Your spouse is unwilling to share financial information.

4. Your spouse changes passwords for online access to bank accounts and/or credit cards.

5. You notice that cash is being withdrawan from bank accounts. When asked your spouse is evasive or gets mad.

6. You find receipts that seem strange - restaurants, hotel rooms, stores that your spouse never goes it.

For example, a friend of mine found a monthly statement from a major department store that showed her husband had purchased a woman's suit in size 4 -- but she wore size 12 - busted!

Or, the woman that always wears underwear from Target suddenly starts shopping at Victoria Secret. Or, the man that always wore white underwear suddenly starts buying colored underwear.

7. You receive a financial statement in the mail from a bank or other financial institution that you have never heard of before.

8. Your spouse is unwilling to make long-term financial commitments - such as a trip scheduled 6 months to a year from now, re-financing the house at a lower interest rate, making a major purchase such as a new home, second home or a new vehicle.

Generally, your spouse begins behaving differently than they have in the past.  And, your spouse does not have a good excuse for this sudden change in behavior. Or, your spouse becomes "secretive" and if you ask questions a fight ensues or they claim that you are "controlling".


If your spouse suddenly begins behaving differently regarding the children, the spouse might have talked to an attorney and is trying to "look good" when you go before a judge.

1.  A spouse that suddenly becomes more involved in your child's school or homework, showing up for lunch or attending more school events than usual. Suddenly taking an interest in progress reports and attending parent-teacher conferences. Or even asks the name of the child's teachers and principal. If they never cared before, then why the sudden interest.  Your spouse starts communicating with the children's teachers when they never did before.

2.  Your spouse wants to take the children to the doctor or dentist. Or, even asks the name of their doctor and dentist. If the parent was never involved before, then why are they suddenly interested?

3. Your spouse begins commenting on your bad parenting skills. If they never cared before, why the sudden interest in parenting?

4. Your spouse suddenly begins getting the children ready for school, fixing their breakfast, preparing lunch for school, coming home earlier, offering to pick the children up from school, suddenly being more involved.

5.  And the reverse, a parent that used to be active suddenly "disappears" and does not offer an explanation on where they have been.  Suddenly you have to pick up all the work with the children.  That is a big signal that the spouse has a "friend".

6.  Your spouse suddenly attends the children's extra-curricular activities. Or even starts volunteering and/or talking to all the other parents. Or, even taking lots of photos of children & spouse "doing" things.

7.  Your spouse takes the child on week-end shopping or outings when they never used to do so.  Your spouse takes the child shopping and is keeping all receipts.

8. Your spouse takes the children to their family's events and you are not invited.

9. Your spouse begins putting the children to bed at night. Asks the children lots of questions - what is their favorite color? favorite toy? favorite book? favorite DVD? favorite subject in school?

10. Your spouse suddenly begins being affectionate and loving toward the children. Or, buying the children lots of "stuff" -- toys, clothes, cell phone, I-pad, etc.

Many times your spouse is trying to create a new image of being an involved and caring parent who can handle all aspects of the child-rearing without you.

Warning signs of a possible affair:

1. With the internet, many people innocently begin "talking" to someone and eventually begin having an "emotional" affair. Unfortunately, many times their "new friend" is playing a game and is not who they claim to be.  I have seen several marriages end and when the spouse tries to finally meet the friend -- all communicate ceases, it turns out the person is a total liar or even someone of the same sex that has just be "playing games".

2.  If your spouse suddenly adds a password to their cell phone, changes their password, gets upset if you attempt to look at their phone or gets a "burner" phone, you might be in trouble. If you see a change in your data usage on the phone or a huge increase in text messages, something might be up.

If your spouse suddenly won't let you see the cell phone bill, be suspicious.

If you see lots of "unknown" or "blocked" numbers, or calls from the same number and you don't know who it is, be suspicious.

2. Lack of physical intimacy. Excuses why they don't want to have sex. If this area of your life has changed, your spouse might be having their needs met elsewhere.

3. If your spouse suddenly starts looking better. If they start watching their weight or exercising or they start changing their hair and their "look" you might need to be suspicious.

4. Your spouse suddenly wants to get extensive dental work or plastic surgery or hair transplant.

5. Your spouse spending a lot more time on the computer or on their cell phone & they are very secretive about what they are doing.

6. Your spouse goes on a trip with "a friend" - usually a cruise or somewhere that's fun. And you cannot verify that the spouse is actually with the "friend". Lots of time "friends" will cover for the person.  Of course, with cell phone technology today, you can often pinpoint where they are actually located.

7. Your spouse begins traveling a lot for business and their cell phone does not work or they don't answer your calls.  Many cell phones do not work on cruises. If you unable to get a copy of their travel plans and they always used to tell you in the past, begin to worry.

8. Your spouse begins accusing you of having an affair, suddenly begins checking your cell phone, and saying that you are "controlling".

Divorce (or ending a relationship) is never easy.  However, you need to keep your eyes and ears open. Don't ignore all the warning signs. If you see any indications that your spouse has been having an affair or is doing something unusual financially, it is important that you speak to a family law attorney in your county about options available to you.

Sometimes paying for an hour of an attorney's time can be very enlightening.

Please ignore your friends and relatives unless they are a family law attorney in the county where you live.

Remember even thought there is a Texas Family Code each judge has certain preferences and Texas judges have a lot of latitude in their decision making. Appellate courts generally do not like to overturn trial judges unless it is an obvious and glaring misstatement of TX law or a judge's judicial discretion. Plus, appealing a trial judge is very expensive. Lastly, an appellate court might not rule for over a year on an appeal.

I am amazed at the really bad (and often damaging) advice from friends and family.  I'm sure they are trying to help but I withdrew from a case where the father (a non-family attorney not licensed in the State of Texas) "helped" his daughter even though I insisted that he stop. He had her write several of her husband's relatives telling everyone what a "bad" man he was & also having her admit to some bad parenting she'd done -- he also helped her eventually lose primary custody of her children. The daughter was intimidated by her father & did whatever he said -- she went through several attorneys and none of them could "fix" the mess the father had created.

Elderly divorces -- If the spouses are elderly and one spouse suddenly begins to act differently. Take the person to a doctor - could be diabetes, stroke, dementia, or several other medical problems.  I have had this come up at least 10 times in the past 25 years.  Every time I had the spouse tested by a doctor there was a medical reason for the person's change in behavior.  So if there has never been domestic violence and suddenly one spouse attacks the other spouse, have them evaluated by a doctor. If the spouse has been married for years and suddenly one spouse is claiming the other is having an affair or hiding things, seek out a medical opinion first. I personally have not seen a lot of 80 year old women suddenly having affairs -- I'm not saying it could not happen but it usually means that the husband has a medical issue.

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