Deion Sanders' Divorce

Deion and Pilar Sanders’ divorce began on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 in Collin County and is anticipated to continue through this upcoming week. Deion Sanders filed for divorce from his Wife, Pilar, in 2011 and the last two years of litigation has culminated into a jury trial of their peers.

Texas permits jury trials in divorce actions on very limited issues. In the Sanders divorce, the issues to be decided by the jury is which parent should be the “primary” conservator of the children and whether there should be a restriction on where the children may reside. In Texas, there is a presumption that two parents should be Joint Managing Conservators which means that they have equal rights and duties to the children. What makes a parent the “primary” conservator is that the parent has the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the children. The jury in the Sanders divorce will decide whether Deion or Pilar should have the exclusive right to designate the children’s primary residence.

The second issue the jury will decide is whether there should be a geographic restriction placed on the residence of the children. There is a presumption in Texas Family Law that continuing contact with a child by both parents is in a child’s best interest. The best way to ensure continuing contact with a child by both parents is to impose a geographic restriction on where a child will reside. The Sanders jury will not only decide which parent should have the exclusive right to designate the children’s primary residence but also whether that primary residence should be restricted to a geographical area. In Texas, depending on the evidence that is presented to a judge or jury, geographic restrictions range from a certain county, to a certain county and any county contiguous to that county, to the state of Texas or no restriction at all.

Both of the issues of who should be the primary conservator and whether there should be a geographic restriction on the residence of a child generally involve the same types of evidence. Important issues to address with a judge or jury is each parent’s level of involvement in a child’s life from education to extracurricular activities to medical as well as a parent’s ability to co-parent with the other parent. The Sanders jury has heard and will continue to hear evidence regarding each parent’s involvement in these areas and it is anticipated that the jury will begin deliberations by the end of this week
 

Collin County family court judge Angela Tucker of the 199th Court

I enjoyed reading Reginald Hardwick (@regihardwick) article about Judge Angela Tucker of the 199th District Court in Collin County Texas. See Collin County’s First Black Judge Holds Court.  It’s nice to see positive press on people who are working hard in our community at times when there’s not an election or other reason to write an article. 

Judge Angela Tucker was sworn in on June 29, 2012, to replace retiring Judge Bob Dry. She is the first African American judge in Collin County and only the second African American elected official. As a child of divorced parents, Judge Tucker saw that knowledge of the law was power and that inspired her at a very young age to want to be a lawyer.  She went to UT on full scholarship and then to SMU law school.  She worked as a prosecutor in the Collin County DA’s office, then went into private practice. Judge Tucker considers herself “a proud American, a Christian, and a Texas woman” and she ran as a conservative Republican. 

Judge Tucker has proven to be a fair-minded judge who gives all the litigants who come before her the opportunity to be heard.  As a 20+ year Dallas divorce lawyer, I say you can’t ask for more than that! I think we are lucky to have a conservative woman on the bench who understands the perspective of children of divorce and works hard to provide everyone a fair hearing in her court. 

Learn more about Judge Tucker here: 

Introducing the Honorable Angela Tucker by J. B. Blocker at Lone Star Reporter @jbblocker

Collin County’s First Black Judge Holds Court (also watch the video interview with Judge Tucker) by Reginald Hardwick @Regihardwick

Learn more about Judge Tucker’s staff, docket, and local rules here: Collin County 199th District Court

 

Collin County Lawyer Appointed Divorce Judge

Collin County Lawyer Scott Becker, who ran successfully for the 219th District Court judgeship, has been appointed to start his term early.  He will take the bench on October 5, 2010, as a Perry appointee and will serve until his elected term begins in January.  The 219th Court is a general jurisdiction court, which means it hears divorce and family law matters, but it also hears criminal and civil cases. Mr. Becker is an assistant district attorney in the Collin County District Attorney’s Office. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas, Collin County Bar Association and Collin County Young Lawyers Association. Becker received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas and a law degree from Southern Methodist University School of Law.

Judge Curt Henderson has been the judge of that court for 22 years and is a widely respected and trusted jurist. 

Collin County Texas Divorce Standing Order

In Collin County, Texas, every divorce that gets filed has the Collin County Standing Order attached to it, which is effective against both parties to the divorce.  The Standing Order replaces the previous procedure to apply for the standard family law restraining orders.  The purpose of the Standing Order is to provide some general rules of behavior for parties during a divorce. It prohibits behaviors such as changing the child's school or day-care, making harassing phone calls, or opening the other parties mail.  It also prohibits either party from changing beneficiaries on life insurance or disconnecting utilities at either party's residence.

As far as enforceability... the Standing Order is not very enforceable.  So, if there's some behavior you are particularly interested in curtailing, the better course of action is to get an order from the court directed specifically at the party to prohibit the action. 

Hidden Assets in Divorce

Frequently we are asked what recourse is available when one spouse attempts to hide assets of the marital estate during a divorce.  Not only is such conduct highly unethical, it is fraudulent as well.  Typically a forensic accountant is called in to help search for hidden assets.  In our experiences, here are some reoccurring methods used to hide assets:

  • Purchasing lavish antiques, artwork or hobby equipment.  Often times property such as this is overlooked and undervalued;
  • Collusion with an employer to delay the payment of bonuses, stock options or raises;
  • Setting up a custodial account in the name of a child;
  • Repaying a "debt" to a family member or friend when such payments were no previously made;
  • Salary paid to a non-existent employee if the spouse is a business owner;
  • Money paid to close friends or family members for "business" services not actually rendered; and
  • Investment in municipal bonds or Series EE Savings Bonds for which no interest is reported on tax returns.

If you suspect you spouse is hiding assets it is a good idea to review all financial records prior to filing for divorce.  If you are responding to a divorce we suggest you retain the services of a qualified forensic accountant.