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Cox, Arquette divorce provides lessons for Texans

Legal experts in Texas and elsewhere are watching as the divorce of actors Courteney Cox and David Arquette proceeds, wondering if Cox has erred in her actions.

Cox, who is best-known for playing the super-organized Monica Geller in the hit television show "Friends," is feared to have done two things in her divorce that her television alter-ego never would. Instead of hiring a lawyer to answer Arquette's divorce filing, Cox did it herself, just as he did. And it appears that they did not sign a prenuptial agreement. That could mean that all monies they earned while married will be considered community property. Her assets reportedly total $75 million and his $18 million.

An expert said those actions could cause her to lose much of the fortune she amassed while working on "Friends," which began airing before the couple married. Texas also has community property laws.

First, the expert said, Cox must use the services of an attorney. Even though Cox and Arquette, who are parents of an 8-year-old daughter, seem to be on good terms, the expert said a lawyer should help her to navigate the financial concerns of a divorce.

Those include tax issues, splitting retirement plans and stock options, the disposition of real estate and dividing intellectual property. Their case also could require professional assistance in dealing with child custody and other parenting concerns. Without the help of a lawyer, both parties could make mistakes that could have long-lasting financial and parental implications.

Hiring an attorney does not mean a divorce will be a battle. Instead, the expert said it is the best way to make difficult and emotional decisions easier.

A prenuptial agreement would have spelled out terms of their divorce before their wedding. It would have included agreements about alimony, what would be considered marital or separate property, and how any property should be divided.

Source: Forbes, "What Would Monica Geller Say About Courteney Cox's Divorce Strategy?" Jeff Landers, June 19, 2012

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