Soheyla Dixon is the newest attorney at The Draper Law Firm, and we thought you should get to know her a little bit!  We asked her a few questions and here are her responses:

1.What made you decide to go to law school?

Everyone deserves someone to fight for them. I wanted to go to law school to fight for what is right. My father grew up in another country, and my female relatives who live there don’t have the opportunity to earn advanced degrees or work in the legal profession. I felt it was my duty to my clients and my family to advocate for people who otherwise may not have a voice.

2. What do you enjoy most about family law?

I love how no case is the same as the last. Everyone’s family is different. Even if families are structured the same, the family dynamics are different. I enjoy getting to know my clients and what is important to them. The real joy is helping them navigate some of the toughest times in their lives.

3. How would you describe your philosophy as a family lawyer?

I prefer helping families come together and reach amicable resolutions in family law cases. After all, each family going through litigation will have to work together moving forward one way or another. When they make decisions together, they typically have more success in the long run.

4. Tell us a little about your family / pets

I am married to my high-school sweetheart. We have one daughter, Amira, who is 3 and a dog, Chloe.

5. What is the favorite place you have been to in the world and why?

Iran – my entire family (on my dad’s side) is there other than my dad.

6. What is your dream travel destination?

I would like to travel to Africa.

7. What are three little known facts about yourself?

I broke my ankle tripping off a water bottle.  I went to college on tennis and academic scholarships.  While in college, I met another girl with my same first AND last name – in MAGNOLIA ARKANSAS!

8. What are your hidden talents?

I can sing.

9. Favorite professional sports team(s)?

Dallas Cowboys (I know, I know)

10.  What sports do you enjoy playing?

Tennis

11. What do you enjoy doing for fun outside the office?

Reading, spending time with family, and anything outside.

12. What are your pet peeves?

Smacking gum and clicking pens

Soheyla Dixon

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Many people have made peace that their marriage is ending before the divorce process ever begins. There are many reasons for this including disappointment, adultery, emotional abuse, domestic violence, a generally unhappy marriage or a host of other reasons. While everyone deserves a happy, love-filled marriage, unfortunately, every marriage is not like that.

The divorce process can take anywhere from 61 days to several years in Texas, depending on the parties and issues involved. It can be incredibly frustrating feeling like your life is frozen while you are going through a divorce, especially if you’ve known for some time that the marriage is over. Regardless, it is not a good idea to begin a new relationship before finalizing a divorce.

Remember, you are still married until the final decree of divorce is entered and signed by the Judge. Emotions are high when a divorce is pending. Both parties are usually very guarded and should be on their best behavior. Starting a new relationship can be a risky move while you are still technically married and is generally not a good idea. For one, an otherwise amicable divorce may become much more contested if your spouse finds out you’ve already moved on.

Dating during a divorce may impact the final determination of custody in your case as well, especially if you have allowed your new romantic interest to be around your children. If you are dating, that person will be around your children at some point. If that person has a criminal record or other issues in their background, the court may consider that when determining who should have primary custody of your children. The court will focus on the best interest of your children and may find that certain behaviors of one parent are simply not in the best interest of the children. The court will then order custody and possession accordingly.

If you begin a new relationship during divorce, your spouse may choose to file adultery grounds. This is even more likely if you began seeing that person before divorce was filed. Your spouse can feel that adds insult to injury or is a slap in the face. A finding of adultery in a Texas divorce means that it will be on record that the divorce was the adulterer’s fault instead of the tamer “no-fault” ground. If the court finds that you committed adultery, your spouse may receive more of the community property as a result.

While divorce is a difficult process to navigate, it is important to remember that patience is a virtue. Give your divorce the attention it needs and, once it has been finalized, you can get the attention you deserve. Treat yourself, spend quality time with your kids. When you truly feel ready, after the divorce is final, you may decide to date again.  If you are going to date during your divorce, keep the new person away from your children, keep all information about the new relationship to yourself, and keep everything about the new relationship off social media.

Blog post by Soheyla Dixon

Divorce

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Texas is a community property state, and all property belonging to either spouse is presumed to be community property.  Property that either spouse had before the marriage, along with any property either spouse received as a gift or through inheritance, is the separate property of that spouse.  The burden is on the spouse claiming separate property to prove it.  Although there are a number of ways of proving separate property, below are a few issues that commonly arise.

The longer a couple has been married, the harder it can be to prove what one spouse had before the marriage.  Most people do not keep financial records when they get married thinking, “I’d better keep this statement so I can show how much was in my 401(k) at the time of marriage just in case we divorce in 20 years.”  Often people switch jobs and 401(k)s get rolled over, sometimes multiple times, which can make tracing back to the beginning of the marriage a challenge.  The spouse trying to prove separate property will need to show how much was in the account at the time of marriage and that it never went below that amount during the marriage.

Certain types of property are easier to trace than others.  For example, if one spouse owned a home before the marriage, it is easy to look at the property records and show that he or she purchased the house before marriage.  Be warned, though, that if you ever add your spouse to the deed, it will likely be presumed that you gifted your spouse half of the house.  This seems to happen regularly when a couple wants to refinance a separate property house.

When one spouse receives a gift or inheritance during the marriage, that spouse will also need to trace the money in order to confirm it as separate property.  If separate property is co-mingled with community property, this can become more difficult to do.

Example A:  In 2004, Husband receives a $10,000 inheritance.  Husband puts it into a bank account in his name alone and never puts other money in that account.  In 2014, money from the account is used as a down payment on a house for the couple.  In 2017, the couple divorces.  Husband should easily be able to trace the down payment back to his separate property account with a cancelled check or confirmation of a wire transfer, plus proof of where the funds in that account originally came from.  His chances of receiving his money back from the down payment are high.

Example B:  In 2004, Husband receives a $10,000 inheritance and puts it into a joint bank account. Over the years, the parties deposit their paychecks into the account and pay their bills and various other expenses out of the account.  In 2014, money from the account is used as a down payment on a house.  In 2017, the couple divorces.  Husband will have a much more difficult time proving that the down payment came from his separate property inheritance.  He would need to hire a forensic accountant to trace the funds in the account, which could cost just as much as the separate property at issue.

Establishing separate property can be a difficult task if the parties do not keep good records or if they co-mingle funds.

The Draper Law Firm, P.C.

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