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We all know Texas is not to be messed with, and while that seems reason enough to us, there are far more practical incentives that might have lured Sandra Bullock to seek out a divorce in the Lone Star State instead of in California.
And no, a hope for privacy was not one of them. Distance (and cunning) might have bought her a couple of days under the radar, but she can kiss any further anonymity goodbye.
While we may not know for sure why she filed in her adopted hometown of Austin, we're confident that the following encouraged her decision:
• No alimony. No doubt Bullock and Jesse James earn enough that they wouldn't need to go digging into the other's back pockets, but one never can be too sure these days. "Texas doesn't have an alimony statute," Austin-based family lawyer Daryl Weinman, who is not involved in the Bullock-James case, told E! News. "So there is no way she would ever have to pay him anything here." And while California is a community-property state, Texas is a fault state—not that Bullock pointed any fingers in the filing. "Anything that came into the marriage, unless it was inheritance or a gift, is community property. I'd be surprised she is not claiming it as a fault divorce because then the court can really take into a whole list of factors including who is at fault for the breakup of the marriage."
• Quickie divorces are possible. Texas may be the closest thing to Divorces 'R Us Bullock could find. While California's unlucky-in-love couples have to wait six months from the date of their divorce filing to get their split formalized, Texans wait just two. "That is another benefit," Weinman said. "If it is going to be done by agreement, it can be final in as little as 60 days in Texas."
• Jury trial option for divorces. Put it this way, if you were Jesse James, would you want to face a jury of your peers? Particularly when the court of public opinion has already spoken loud and clear? Didn't think so. Should the divorce take a turn for the acrimonious, it's possible the stars would be forced to plead their cases in front of a jury, as Texas is one of only two states (the other being Georgia) that allows jury trials for divorces.
• Stepparents' rights are recognized. It's no secret that Bullock is close to James' kids (That necklace little Louis is wearing on his first People cover? Made by Sunny.), and filing in Texas could theoretically net her some parental rights at a later date. "Texas has just recently started to recognize stepparent rights for visitation depending what the relationship has been between the parents and children and is it going to be in the best interest of the children," Weinman said. Speaking of kids, if you were wondering why her son failed to net a mention in the divorce filing, it's simply because the adoption process is not yet complete. "If she hasn't legally adopted the baby yet, then there is no child of the marriage yet. She might have just custody, but in Texas, the person who is adopting must have home studies done for at least six months before the courts can approve an adoption."
• Texas supported her crafty use of initials. "I've never heard of anyone doing it that way," Weinman said. "I don't know if she may have received some kind of special permission for that. I don't know how she could have gotten permission to do that, but she may have."
(Originally published April 28, 2010, at 12:26 p.m. PT)
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Look back on the couple in happier times in our Sandra & Jesse: Monster Love gallery.