This course emphasizes the Texas marital property regime and the economic consequences of divorce--rather than studying the policy considerations underlying the existing legal system found in the Texas Family Code and related case law. Initially, marriage in Texas and the grounds and procedures for divorce will be identified. Thereafter, four goals emerge. First, understanding the Texas marital property regime; that is, the characterization of separate and community property and their management, control, and liabilities during marriage. Second, the primary focus shifts to the disposition of marital property on dissolution of the marriage by annulment or divorce. Special attention will be given to certain commonly held assets that cause significant problems in litigation, e.g., family homesteads, business interests, retirement benefits, insurance, etc. Third, the social and economic effects on children of the marriage in divorce are dealt with through the initial decision, i.e., a decision combining a divorce and suit affecting the parent-child relationship. Finally, the process of settlement of the issues in a divorce/SAPCR will be examined through the agreement of the parties acting through their attorneys, rather than via contested litigation. Note, post-dissolution enforcement of the divorce decree and agreement incident to divorce, and modification of custody and enforcement of family support are not covered in the course.
Grading is based on a special project to be completed during the last week in April, 2012. The project involves negotiating a divorce decree and property settlement agreement between a typical, upper-middle class couple (with children and modestly substantial property). Students may choose to negotiate one-on-one, one-on-two, or two-on-two. In addition, questions related to the legal issues integral to the fact situations are answered in individual essays. A student who does not wish to engage in the negotiation process is encouraged not tot to enroll. However, in lieu of engaging in the negotiation process a student may submit documents comprising an offer of settlement that either party would accept.