Episode 24 - Keeping Your Cool in a Polarizing Divorce

Welcome to the top Texas Lawyers podcast. This podcast is brought to you by the law firm Abercrombie and Sanchez PLLC.

Your hosts are Bryan Abercrombie and Samuel Sanchez. Bryan has been practicing law for 18 years and his board certified that sort of legal specialization in the area of family law. Sam has been practicing for 13 years, is licensed in both Texas and Florida, and is a certified mediator. This podcast is for informational purposes only and all views are the opinion of the hosts. It’s not designed to provide legal advice for your particular legal matter, and it should not replace the advice of competent counsel. Welcome. And we hope you enjoy the top Texas Lawyers podcast.

Morning, Sam, and welcome to the Top Texas Lawyers Podcast. It’s been a couple of minutes since we last recorded. We had some ballot drops, we had some elections, we had some election challenges. We had all kinds of stuff in the intervening couple of weeks since we last recorded.

Yeah, for sure. For sure. It’s been a minute. It’s been a hot minute.

So, yeah, we want to talk about divorces and custody issues over the holidays, especially in a year like this year with the COVID and how everything’s kind of a little bit different. But before we get started, let’s talk a little bit about celebrity divorces and celebrity divorces in the news.

Yeah, we’ve got some good ones. I mean, obviously, we’ve touched on, you know, Dr. Dre’s in the past that’s heating up. She’s she’s saying, OK, well, there was no prenuptial. And he’s threatened to compel attendees at the wedding to come to testify about how she was walking around saying, hey, will I sign this prenup? And I totally doesn’t matter to because I love you. It’s not about the money. So apparently she changed her mind, but just not this.

I also want to talk a little bit about the Kelly Clarkson divorce, that that’s a bit of a bit of a hot button.  A custody case.

Yeah, I think so. She was the first American Idol, right? She’s the one that came out first.


Obviously, she’s put together a pretty good career. And now that she’s enjoying the fruits of their labor, apparently he wants to enjoy the fruits of her labor as well.

So what I understand is going on is we’re talking four hundred and thirty six thousand dollars a month in temporary support payments that he’s looking for. That my friend, if you’re doing the math, that’s $301,000 in spousal support and $135,000 in child support and two million in attorney’s fees.

So the guy’s got to eat. I mean, I don’t know if you’ve been to Montana. I know you have, but getting groceries out there, it’s expensive. So I’m sure, you know, that is Daddy’s gonna figure out a way to pay those kids got to travel back and forth from L.A. to Montana and a private jet.

Of course, you know, I mean, look it’s COVID season. You don’t want them exposed to the general public. So, yeah, that’s a that’s a that’s a big number. That’s a big number that’s going to obviously spend some time in the courts.

I think if I’m if memory serves me correctly, I don’t think he got primary custody. I think she got primary physical custody. But he still wants one-hundred and thirty-five thousand a month in child support.

Well, you know, I mean, you don’t want your children to step down their standard of living. You know, you want them to kind of be on the same path as where they were before. You know, celebrities are always interesting in that regard, Bryan, because we’re talking about such huge numbers. But the principles still apply, right, even to the everyday person who’s out there, because we look at it and we’re like, well, that’s just outlandish. We can we can live on quarter of that. You know, for as far as spousal support, obviously in Texas and in Florida, the laws are different about how they calculate child support. When you look at it as a percentage of your income, typically, no matter where you are and her income is huge. And you know, what I try to tell people is you’re going through a divorce, right? You’re going to know how you’ve lived leading up to the point that you file is going to become very relevant to the court’s consideration about what they do on a temporary basis.

And that seems like. Yeah.

And it’s everybody it’s kind of the old talk where I heard them interview the CEO of Exxon one time and they were talking about, well, Exxon makes this much money off of oil, off of an oil well and blah, blah, blah… And his explanation was, “do you know how much it costs?” It’s a business of big numbers and you don’t know how much it costs to drill an oil well. And the profit margins may be relatively small, but the numbers look really, really big. And and now that’s probably like you said, I mean, that goes to maybe the income that they they acquired while they were married. Know I don’t know what if there was a prenup, not a prenup, whatever the case may be on that. I know he was some sort of manager for her at one point in time.

So maybe he’s got some interest, some business or other business interests there. And, you know, obviously, he’s got a he’s got a life, too. And, you know, I don’t know what kind of lifestyle they’re leading, but, you know, it’s a it’s a fairly substantial one.

Well, you know, people always say we live to our means, right? Whether you have minimal means or you have substantial means, usually live to them.

And so we try to tell clients like whatever whatever the river is that you’re going to set as the path for your life accord is going to consider that river and how it’s flowed leading up to the point that you encounter a court as to what to do going forward. So, I mean, all relevant considerations like we are talking about.

I mean, divorces can be crazy. Divorces and custody cases can be crazy around the holidays. So what do we see and what do we see in these days?

Oh, my gosh. You know, I mean, I’ll be honest with you, COVID and the silly season are a highly combustible mix. I’m seeing that people obviously have much less patience for each other than they’re much more distrustful of one another. And their actions, whether that’s our president or our president elect or whoever is creating this situation. I will tell you, like I’m just saying that clients are really less less inclined to want to be flexible. They’re much more rigid in their perceptions and their positions, which is making for a lot of very difficult and complex litigation. Because honestly, when you take those kind of positions in a complicated situation anyways, it’s very difficult for a court to be able to entertain like what the best solution is.

And getting into court isn’t the easiest thing in the world right now. I mean, nobody’s made it to our judges are like, maybe you can get in, maybe you can. Some of them are in person. Most of them are not, you know, everything.

And you have the normal and you have kind of the normal end of the year.

I want to get my divorce finished. Rush along with compounding that with limitation on courts, depending on which county you’re in and depending on the like you said, the kind of ratcheting up of temperature of of various things. So, yeah, I mean, whereas I think at the beginning of this kind of crisis, we had parents, kind of more parents than more than not they were trying to work with each other. I think now the bloom off the rose, so to speak, and they’re you know, they’re a little less inclined to work with each other anymore.

Yeah. And it seems like more and more maybe you’re seeing something different. I’m just seeing that clients want to take polar opposite positions, you know, whether it be COVID, whether it be the holidays, whether it be how we travel during the holidays, you know, states like Texas have where we travel. Right. Those restrictions vary by county and COVID positive percentage rates or hospitalizations.

And so, you know, everybody, instead of kind of taking a position where they look at it and say, oh, yeah, we’re going to we’re going to kind of be able to work this out, we’ll approach it as a team. It’s more and more like it’s my way or the highway. And that highway option is is more complicated than people think.

And the courts have already said you can’t use COVID as a basis for denial of parental possession time.

So at least in Texas anyway, I mean, they’ve been very, very adamant about you can’t not send the kid over on a possession schedule because you’re worried about I mean, that’s not going to fly.

No, no. You know, the thing that’s really kind of complicating things, I will tell you, I got a former client reach out to me. He’s in California. Obviously, states locked down. Kids are with him. He’s like, I can’t send my kids, you know? And that’s that’s a complicated thing. He’s like, you know, we’re not supposed to go anywhere. I’m sure as heck not going to violate the court’s order or the state’s mandate to take him to the airport. We’re not supposed to. Travelers will stay home. Moms on the other side saying, oh, hell no, it’s my holiday and they are coming. So, you know, it’s it’s putting people in very difficult positions. And the holidays are tough anyways. And you and I both know, like, if there’s if the things are going to go sideways, when they’re going to go sideways about the day before Christmas school lets out for Christmas visitation.


Yeah. And most of those orders that people are dealing with, they kind of look at the holiday possession schedule when they’re getting divorced is like boilerplate. We really don’t pay a whole lot of attention to it when they should. And then. By the time they get to that point where they’re looking at it and it’s complicated, they don’t understand the requirements or the prerequisites to getting something done. Whose responsibility is it? What can and can’t they say no to? And instantly people are sidewards.

Yeah, let’s talk about that for a second, so just for ease of clarification, if you’re in Texas and you have a possession schedule, typically one parent will get from the time school depending on the year. This varies by year. But one parent will get from the time school releases the twenty eighth at noon and the other parent has from twenty eighth at noon to the time school returns. So and that’s flipflopped every year. So if you had Thanksgiving, you’re going to get the second half of Christmas. If you had if you didn’t have Thanksgiving this year, you’re going to get the first half. So you know the twenty at the noon is a big day.

Yeah, it really is. You know, Florida is a little different in that regards because most Florida orders are kind of custom possession schedules. So it can absolutely vary and the terms can vary. The pick up, the drop, you know, the responsibility of who’s paying for the plane ticket from Florida to California, you know, all these kinds of things are really stuff. You need to have a very good understanding of one before you sign it. But even if you didn’t when you signed it, it’s probably worth rereading or getting an attorney’s opinion to kind of give you some insight on how best to handle it, if you have any questions.

Yeah, and just like I said, I think if you kind of line that stuff out, I mean, I think this is where a lot of courts require parents to take a parenting class before they get divorced or or in the process at some point.

And this is probably the time when when that stuff comes in very, very handy, is dealing with stressful situations. Holidays are always stressful anyway at a at a pandemic where things are not shut down. What’s your what you’re trying to do and then add add to it the normal in the normal back and forth that goes between couples and or divorcing couples. And you’ve got to kind of the perfect storm brewing, right.

Yeah. Yeah, for sure. You know, I mean, you know, it’s funny that we’re kind of on side. We’re kind of dealing with COVID in the holidays. But I would tell you, like, you know, one of the big things that’s really come up to Bryan as we’re kind of talking through this is testing, right. So like more and more families are saying, like we’re we’re still going to travel. It doesn’t matter. Kind of. Yeah, we know there’s a concern. We feel comfortable with it. How do we minimize it? You know, I’ve got I’ve been taking a lot of questions from clients about, hey, so my kid’s been covered, tested, you know, two weeks ago, obviously. Yeah. We still go places, but he’s feeling fine. You know, now my ex is saying he’s going to take him to another test. You and I both experienced took tests. You know, they’re not the most pleasant things you’re going to ever encounter. So, you know, at some point parents like I don’t I don’t want my kid to take another one and the other. Parents like, I don’t care what you want. He’s going to take another one or she’s going to you know, these are the kind of things that we just it’s just like the stick, you know, stick a wire, tickle particular brain. I don’t know if this like that’s not a fun process, you know, and so really. But I get it. I mean, how do you kind of navigate these waters if you’re in two households? Two completely different perspectives. You know, one household is a massive household. The other household is like, hell, no, man, it’s a free for all. It’s a bunch of bullshit, you know? Well, OK, there’s there’s not always a middle ground there. Obviously, we’re finding that kind of just in the country in general. So parents are different, right.

You can find an M.A. mascot head down the street to the grocery store. Some some people are adamant about it. Some people aren’t.

So, you know, what do you do if you’re the parent that likes wants everything to be as locked down as possible and trying to keep your kids safe? And the other one is kind of more of a laissez faire. One would take my opportunities and travel because, hey, Disneyland is only half full.

Exactly. Yeah. You had the best time to go. Short lines. Disney World, rather. Yeah. I mean, and so those are things, you know, when you’re married, at least you have a meeting of the minds when you’re not you know, you’ve been separated for a long period of time. You don’t really like each other all that much anymore. It adds some layers of complexity. And going back to the Kelly Clarkson divorce, you know, situations like that. So they find themselves in litigation, Early-Onset litigation in a very difficult time. Right. So, like, if you’re contemplating hey, no, I think I’m ready to in in Montana.

I mean, L.A. has got one of the some of the harshest lockdown measures in the entire country in Montana. I don’t know. I I think they’re pretty wide open. So you’ve got two super contrasting, super contrasting government responses to this, you know, at play as well.

Yeah, for sure. For sure. Yeah. I mean, so those are things that I think that we’re definitely seeing it play. The other piece of it, I would tell you, you know, business is really having a tough time with the current situation.

We obviously we’re lucky we you and I are firm. We were kind of at the forefront of doing stuff more virtually really kind of utilizing the technology that’s available to lawyers. And a lot of businesses don’t have the ability to do that. I’ve been contacted by a couple small business owners that are like, hey, man, do I have any kind of recourse to be able to keep my business open?

I own a bar. I own a restaurant. These things actually legal, what they’re imposing upon us, you know, those are very difficult and complicated questions as well, because obviously public health is something that they have to adhere to. The health department comes down and shut you down in 90 days of no, and it’s probably worse than 90 days of minimal income.


Yeah, I mean, they’re talking about, you know, 60 percent of restaurants, especially small restaurants, may not and may never reopen as a result. So.

Yeah, so, I mean, those are you know, it’s just such a crazy time, brother, and then layer on that. So on a side note, so we were talking a little bit at the beginning. We haven’t talked since the election, at least on this, obviously talk to you. And we haven’t talked like on our podcast. And I will tell you, that still is not a settled matter and not even close the from what I’ve been reading.

I mean, I know I know media wants to report one thing and certainly other media wants to report other things. But I mean, there’s a there’s a brief to the Supreme Court tomorrow. So there’s going to be a ruling on something.

So, yeah. And, you know, the crazy thing is you would think, like, how is that really even playing the families? But I got a request for a protective order for it within a family because of the political situation. Like one person’s like, hey, president elect, this is done. You know that it’s a crazy person that stayed in the office. We need to dynamite him out. The other person’s like are total sham’s, the complete rip off in getting into an altercation. There’s criminal charges now. They want a protective order. And I’m like I mean, it’s just it’s so much that has been compiled in these couple of months on on families. And it’s just so easy, I think, to find ourselves in a season that typically people look around and they’re like, oh, you know, the holiday season, it’s this time of cheer and togetherness and giving. And I think this is just definitely going to be a unique one for for us all.

Yeah, I think I mean, you know, I follow a couple of things on Twitter, and you see pretty closely that the you know, the protests were once peaceful.

You know, I know the Antifa protests have been peaceful, but I know I’ve noticed that the pro-Trump people and the Antifa people are trying to clash a little bit. It’s getting a little bit more. The temperature is just getting escalated out that much more. And it’s happening in a lot of the major cities. I think for the most part. I mean, I’m hopeful that the civil unrest and the kind of die down a little bit as these court cases kind of get decided because there’s nothing that can be accomplished in the streets.

But people are adamantly adamant in their position. Like you said, you get one person, get him out of there, get him out of the White House. The other person is, no, this election was a sham. And, you know, those are across the Thanksgiving table. Those are probably the best discussions to have or maybe a family Christmas to have is whether he’s going to win the Georgia state election or or who who won the White House. So.

Yeah, and I mean, there certainly is.

It certainly is a lot leading to a lot of a lot of problems and families, especially families that live in different parts of the country. I mean, there are certain parts of the country that are diametrically opposed to other parts. It’s a it’s a very, very interesting time to be living in.

And it is rather. It is. And well, you know, you layer on top of that like, you know, most of know, there’s obviously as Americans, we treasure our Second Amendment right to bear arms. And so, you know, there’s a lot of, you know, speculation, conjecture, concern over what happens with that. Right. Obviously, you know, a lot of open carry now. And so I guess I saw something on the news where, you know, Michigan’s governor was like, hey, there’s about about 20 people that are armed outside my gate chanting like it was a fraud, get you out of office, know? And I think like we’re in a time where. Know people are very passionate about their beliefs, right? Right, right, rightfully so. I mean, we’re not dealing with anything that isn’t critical. We’re talking about issues that are important to us personally, families personally, but to the nation as a whole. And, you know, when you talk about whether it be COVID, whether it be individual liberties, whether it be who is going to lead our country, whether it be state, local, federal, I mean, these are all real things that are adding tremendous amount of pressure on every aspect of our lives. Right. And I’ve seen it. It’s businesses and families.

This is Bryan so theory, but you can take it for what it’s worth, but I kind of think the over the course of the last 10 or so years, I kind of think the middle ground where everybody in the the number of years ago, you can always find some middle ground between two two conflicting positions. But I think slowly over the last 10 years, I think the middle ground between two different issues is slowly being eroded away. And it’s either, you know, X or Y, and it’s becoming as it becomes more polarized, there’s less middle ground to find. And I’m sure there’s a middle ground out there for people that want it, want to think about it. But I don’t know that people are thinking about middle ground right now. People are pretty tired. I mean, but like I said, rightfully so, because, like you said, people are becoming so polarized in their positions that there’s the middle ground is being slowly whittled away. I don’t know that there’s a lot of room left.

Right, and I think that’s bleeding down into the family. It’s definitely been bleeding down into the stuff that we’re handling more and more. But the good news is the good news is, is that I can be a good example.

I had a I had a client that that was let’s put it this way.

They’re divorced. He’s a he’s a pro Trump guy and she’s an avid, avid. I hate Trump. You know, I hate Trump supporters. So, I mean, that was a discussion that that was had between, you know, he wants to get the kid America. He he opposed to it.

So, you know, he got to the point where he was like, we don’t even I don’t even tell the kids what we’re doing. So I don’t want them going back home and and telling mom they’re going to vote, I’m going to vote for Trump or whatever the case may be, because it just creates so much animosity between an already, you know, acrimonious situation with with people that don’t see eye to eye anyway, which is why they’re not married anymore. And people with just extremely passionate feelings on one side or the other just, you know, adding that much more of a layer because they they’re like Trump. I don’t like them. It just creates that much more animosity and just their little families and the family circle and they’re their exchanges become more heated. The have to pick up and drop off. There’s less cooperation. It’s just it’s just it’s just tough.

Oh, yeah. And, you know, I mean, I’ll even give you one that I’m dealing with right now. I mean, I’m an avid hunter. I know that you like hunting, too. And I will tell you, like there was I have a client who called me, said, hey, you know, I want to take my son opening weekend deer season. And his mom is like refusing to do it. And he’s like, well, it’s I he’s there over a hundred miles in Texas, over a hundred miles. You get the ability to flex your weekend. He elected that weekend and she showed up and said, hey, you know what, if you’re going to take your money, he’s not going. And he’s like, where’s my weekend? I mean, like, I’m I’m taking him. You know, I’m fine. I’m entitled to it. I got it just became something completely unnecessary. The child in placed in the middle because his mom has been working on him for a month saying, like, this is so terrible. Your family, bambina, you’re shooting Bambi’s mom or Bambi’s dad. How would you like it if somebody shot your dad? You know? And so obviously then he’s just really upset, which upset the client and clients like, hey, can’t we why does she have to approach it that way? I don’t want her to be the person, the only person who has a say in how he grows up and his perspective on life. And, you know, that’s just a really challenging situation that we find ourselves in more and more about more and more things. I mean, that’s just you know, obviously that’s always been a kind of hot button topic between some dads and moms. But I will tell you, like, it just seems to be like we’re finding more and more of those kinds of things.

Oh, absolutely. I think that’s just that’s just one example of many.

I mean, you name it, whether it’s what church they go to or, you know, what the what or if they go to church or not go to church or, you know, it’s just becoming, like I said, more and more polarized. And there’s less and less middle ground. There’s less and less, I guess, coexistence between people, for lack of a better word there.

There’s less live and let live going on right now.

Well, yeah. And, you know, we’re talking about the silly season and how those orders I was kind of the topic that we wanted to touch on is to say, like, hey, make sure you understand these orders and I’ll give you a good example. Like we do a lot of custom provisions and arguments start in the funniest ways. But I did a case in the past where there was a big dispute about when do we do Christmas? Kids were very young. And so his family did Christmas Eve gifts, her family did Christmas Day openings. And so to compensate for both of those parents while the children were young, obviously didn’t want Santa Claus. They’re like, hey, you can have Christmas Eve until X amount of time. It was ten o’clock. Then the children will come to me at ten o’clock. And that way they’ll wake up at my house for Christmas morning and be able to do Christmas morning there. That sounds great when they’re little, right? You’re kind of slaughtering them all up and you’re exchanging stuff. But then all of a sudden you’re like, hey, you know, they’re nine. And they’re like, I don’t want to go over there. All my favorite cousins are dads. And so, like, why do we have to exchange at ten o’clock on Christmas Eve? You know, these are things that potentially you might have to revisit. And if you’re in that position, then I would highly encourage you to. It’s not locked. These are things that if a parent if parents can agree, you can change relatively easily. So it’s really just kind of like reach out to a competent attorney, licensed attorney, somebody who can help walk you through all these types of custom provisions. And if you don’t have custom provisions and you have concerns because of what’s transpiring, then you still need to have that conversation with the competent counsel to really give you some good advice.

Yeah, and I think that that goes without saying. And if you want something changed in the order, you know, I first try to sit down because anything, at least on the Texas order, anything can be worked out by agreement. So the parties are if they agree to something, they’re allowed to do anything they want, if they want to change it. Eight forty seven on the nose on Christmas Eve, they can do that.

It’s just you’ve got to have that agreement or you have to change the order. So, yeah, definitely having that discussion with a competent attorney can definitely help.

But on a side note, before we wrap this sucker up, do you have a guest guest appearance, you that you want to make?

Let’s see that I do. I have a little ahead of brand new guests. She wanted to appear on the podcast. Like, exactly. Like say hello.

I’m the new addition, the Christmas Edition to the family. This is Berkley.

Yeah, this is a looking dog, so she’s a good looking one of us to the bear. She’s the best looking one of the three of us, right? Yeah, that’s for sure. I’m sure we’ll get plenty of feedback on that.

All right, man. Well, we will. We have a lot of exciting new topics coming in the New Year.

We’ll be talking a little more about firearms and in your rights with respect to firearms. And we’ll be covering some more of estate planning and stuff like that.

So until then, my friend, I will I thank you very much for the time and we will talk soon. All right. Sounds good bye.

Thank you for listening, and we hope you enjoyed the Top Texas Lawyers Podcast. If you’d like to schedule a consultation with either Bryan or Sam, please call 1-888-981-7509. Or visit us on the web at www.aswlawoffice.com. Once again, that’s www.aswlawoffice.com. Thank you very much.

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