Coordinating Child Custody During the Holidays

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Coordinating Child Custody During the Holidays

While the holidays are typically a joyous time of family gatherings and giving thanks, this time of year can be a considerable struggle for families of divorce. In addition to being a reminder of relationships that once were, many parents can often encounter conflict regarding how they will share custody of their children during the holiday season. Fortunately, with the right mindset and spirit of collaboration, coordinating holiday custody and visitation schedules can be accomplished with minimal stress.

To avoid conflict this holiday season, consider the following tips:

  • Determine your priorities: Take some time to reflect critically and determine which holidays and dates are most important to you. For example, you may have a greater attachment to Christmas than New Year’s, while your co-parent may instead favor Thanksgiving. Talk this over with your co-parent and be willing to negotiate a compromise. If both of you prioritize the same days, you may want to consider trading off years or, if you live close enough, share the day.
  • Start early: The earlier you start planning, the more time you will have to identify potential areas of conflict and sort them out. Between shopping for gifts and coordinating travel plans, things can become twice as stressful as the actual date approaches. Likewise, since your child will probably be excited about the season, they will want to know where they will be spending the holidays and with whom. Planning early will allow you to focus your energy on creating a memorable holiday for your children rather than battling with your ex.
  • Write it down: While the initial stages of negotiation may be accomplished verbally or via emails, once you have made an agreement, it is important you memorialize it in written form and have it signed by both you and your co-parent. This will not only ensure that both you and your ex understand your agreement, but it will also serve as important evidence in your favor in the event that they should fail to adhere to its terms.

Unfortunately, not all conflicts can be prevented. If your conflict with your co-parent raises legal questions, contact the Katy family law attorneys at Adams Law Firm today. Having been helping clients throughout Texas sort through complex child custody and family law disputes since 1977, our AV® Rated team of professionals can help you understand your legal options and guide you towards the smoothest resolution possible for your situation.

We want to hear your story. Call (281) 391-9237 or contact us online today to get started.

January a Busy Month for Divorce

January has become a surprisingly popular month for divorce filings. According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, January is one of the busiest times for family law firms, with divorce filings increasing in January and peaking in March. Online dating profiles also tend to increase in January as well. Sites like eHarmony reported a 21% increase in mobile registrations in the beginning of January. So what accounts for this phenomenon? Our blog takes a look at some important factors that influence a couple’s decision to divorce in January.

January is a seemingly popular month for divorce most likely because of the following factors:

  • Braving the holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s is a time for fun and festivities. It’s tough to be the one to ruin the holidays by breaking unhappy news to friends and families. This is why many couples will often wait until after the holiday season to get the ball rolling.
  • New year, new outlook: Having a New Year’s Resolution is still very popular with many people. As the new year arrives, many are reflecting on the past year and what they can do to become healthier and happier – even if this includes ending unhappy marriages.
  • Busy court schedules: Courts are busy during December – there are only less than three weeks of availability in the court calendar. Since there is a high chance of a delay, many people end up postponing divorce filings until after the holidays are over.
  • Winter weather blues: The weather may have an effect on divorces as well. The dark, gloomy, and cold weather might leave some people depressed, which can in turn cause friction in relationships.
  • Stress from the holidays: The holiday season is undoubtedly stressful, both financially and emotionally. Some couples go through a hard time during the holidays and eventually decide to call it quits.
  • Taxes: Delaying divorce until January can offer added tax benefits. A couple’s marital status on December 31 is what determines their tax filing status, so this means that couples can still file jointly if they prefer to do so.

Find the Support You Need During Your Divorce

If you are thinking about divorce or have been served divorce papers, contact Adams Law Firm and speak with our Katy divorce attorneys about how to move forward. We can discuss your concerns, evaluate your current situation, and help you work towards a solution that is in the best interests of you and your family. You are not alone in this – we provide personalized support through each phase of the divorce. From negotiation, mediation, all the way to litigation, we’re here for you.

Schedule an initial consultation with a member of our family law firm today

Common Divorce Myths

Divorce can be a difficult time for many people. However, others find it a particularly comfortable experience. Despite the fact that half of all marriages end in divorce and many people know at least one divorced individual, myths are prevalent surrounding the ending of a marriage. We’ve assembled a few of the most common ones to help disprove them.

Myth #1: Divorce Is Always Contentious

It is definitely true that many divorces can be emotionally painful, but this doesn’t mean all partners going through a divorce can never agree on anything. In fact, couples who can agree on most issues in a divorce, such as child custodyalimony, and property division, can get what is called an uncontested divorce. This is usually the easiest and cheapest route to take when getting divorced, as contested divorce often requires hiring attorneys, attending mediation proceedings, or even setting and attending court dates.

Myth #2: Adultery Can Cost You Everything

Even in states that allow at-fault divorces, your part in ending the marriage will only be taken into consideration when the judge considers equitable property division. Likewise, adultery isn’t necessarily an indication you are an unfit parent, and in child custody decisions, all that matters is what is best for the child or children involved. If, however, adultery was combined with a wasteful dissipation of marital assets, you could be forced to compensate your spouse as a result.

Myth #3: Mothers Always Get Child Custody

While this may have been true years ago, the law has updated along with the times. Custody is awarded to whichever parent is most capable of taking care of the children in question. Texas law takes into account several factors when determining custody, including the fiscal earnings of each parent, the relationship between the child and each parent, and even the child’s inclination if they are old enough.

Myth #4: Only Women Get Spousal Support

Like the custody myth, this practice, too, is a relic of earlier times. Alimony used to be awarded to women because they were less likely to be able to support themselves in a male-dominated society. Now, typically both spouses earn an income in order to support the entire family. Likewise, sometimes men become the caretakers if they stay at home with the children while his wife earns an income. Any spouse that is out of the workforce for an extended period of time through the course of the marriage will require some level of spousal support until he or she is able to find a job.

Myth #5: Divorces Always Go to Court

Couples do have to file divorce papers with the court, but this doesn’t mean all questions in the separation must be settled by a judge. More and more couples are opting for what is called alternative dispute resolution. This process involves sitting down informally and discussing the terms of the divorce with a mediator or negotiator present. Mediation is not only faster and less formal, but it is significantly less expensive than attending several court sessions to hash out asset division and spousal support. In some states, an attempt at mediation is even required before legal proceedings can take place.

Myth #6: Assets Are Divided Equally

In divorces where both spouses are on a relatively equal footing, property division is rarely exactly equal. Rather, a judge will look at how both spouses are likely to survive on their own after the divorce. For example, if one spouse has a lower potential for earning income following the divorce, he or she may get spousal support. In another case, a partner who earns more income per year may be allowed to keep the family home because he or she is able to afford the mortgage payments. Property division, while not always divided down the middle, will usually be equitable. Fairness is the goal.

Myth #7: Children Can Pick Who They Live With

Children are never allowed to choose the parent they live with. The court determines what is in the child’s best interests, whether or not it aligns with his or her desires. However, what the law does allow is for a child at least 12 years of age or older to make his or her wishes known to the judge. According to Texas Family Code 153.009, any party to the suit can make an application, and the judge must interview the child in chambers to determine the child’s wishes. The law further specifies the interview doesn’t diminish the court’s discretion in determining the best interest of the child. While a child may want to live with one parent over the other, living with that parent may be detrimental to the child’s safety, health, or stability.

Myth #8: If You Don’t Pay Child Support, You Can’t See Your Kid

Child support isn’t paying for the privilege of seeing your child. If you neglect your child support payments, your spouse can’t prevent you from seeing your kid. Parents have a right to visitation. The issue of visitation and child support are two separate legal matters. Your spouse can inform the judge of your reluctance to pay child support, and the judge could decide to impose penalties; however, you are still allowed to visit your child. A judge may be forced to impose wage garnishment, liens on your property, or seize your tax refund as punishment, but you will never lose your visitation rights as a result of failing to pay.

Myth #9: Divorce Comes with Social Stigma

Divorce is a highly common occurrence. Earlier in U.S. history, stigma might have been attached to divorce because women were more dependent on men financially. Now, if either spouse gets divorced, they are typically capable of holding a job and earning their own income. Marriage is also more secularized. While some more conservative religions view divorce as morally reprehensible, other faiths are more tolerant. Some marriages were even entered into without regard to any religious institution, meaning the couple has no conservative religious community who will judge them for it. Whatever your particular case, almost 50% of all marriages end in divorce, so it is much more common and socially acceptable.

If you have any questions about divorce that weren’t answered here, give our experienced Katy divorce attorneys a call (281) 391-9237Adams Law Firm has more than 30 years of legal experience in family law, and we can help you work toward a favorable resolution of your divorce proceedings. Let us provide you with the representation you deserve. Contact us today to schedule a case consultation.

Should You Get a Prenup? Pros and Cons

prenuptial agreement (prenup) is a contract a couple signs before they get married. An increasing number of couples are signing prenups before they marry, and these contracts are even more popular when couples remarry for the second time. However, they do come with a long history. People have been signing contracts before marriages for years. So, where does the problem come in?

Let’s start with the cons. For years, people have regarded prenups with a modicum of suspicion. If you plan on staying together for the rest of your lives, why do you need a document that will protect your assets during a divorce? People have the strange idea prenups imply mistrust. In some cases, they might, but for people who want to be prepared for the future, prenups are a natural step before making a lifetime commitment. The largest con to prenups, therefore, is stigma. If you ask for a prenup, your future spouse may take it as a lack of trust or an unromantic gesture.

Other cons include a prenup requiring you to give up your right to inherit from your spouse’s estate if he or she dies, and not being entitled to claim a share of a business if you divorce (even if you contributed to its success and growth). Likewise, if you and your partner eventually divorce, the low- or non-wage earner may not be able to sustain the lifestyle to which he or she will become accustomed during the marriage.

However, there are many pros to a prenup as well. Part of the reason prenups have become more popular is they help a couple address more of the financial aspects of marriage before the wedding takes place. Discussing finances before signing any contracts can help couples negotiate financial problems before they become an issue in the future. Likewise, the document is meant to protect both individuals in the event they get divorced.

It’s impossible to predict how the future will proceed. However, you can protect the inheritance rights of your children and grandchildren with a prenup. You can also protect the business that you created before you even met your spouse. If one spouse has more debt than the other, a prenup can also protect the debt-free spouse from having to assume the financial obligations of the other. For those with larger incomes and financial assets, a prenup can also protect his or her financial interests.

If you want to discuss the potential pros and cons of a prenuptial agreement further with a skilled lawyer, call us today. Our Katy family law attorneys have more than 35 years of legal experience to offer you. The Adams Law Firm is fully prepared to provide you with excellent personalized service.

Contact us at (281) 391-9237 or fill out our online form to schedule a case consultation today.

How to Create a Parenting Agreement

If you choose to get a divorce and have children from your marriage, then you will be required to create a parenting plan as part of your divorce agreement. A parenting agreement essentially dictates the terms of your relationship as independent adults while taking on parenting responsibilities for your children. This includes things such as visitation and custody terms, rules for communications between parents, and any mutually agreed guidelines for how children will be raised.

Creating one of these plans is a huge undertaking, but it doesn’t have to be difficult, provided you and your spouse come to the table ready to negotiate and work together to create a mutually-beneficial solution that fits your family’s needs. Here are a few tips for creating a parenting agreement from our Katy divorce attorney.

Review All Documents Before Beginning

If you’re in the middle of your divorce or have already begun child custody proceedings, you will want to review all paperwork, you have received from these matters, including any court documents, any correspondence from your attorneys or mediators, any previous agreements, and any reports from school officials, counselors, or therapists who have insight to your children.

These documents have important information regarding the lives of your children and can help you better understand what kind of an agreement can help you stay involved in their lives to the best of your ability while placing their needs and benefits first. The best parenting agreements will always keep their children’s needs at the forefront, ensuring they live the best possible lives going forward.

Consider Using a Mediator

If you and your spouse have worked together well and are on good terms, you may be able to create a parenting agreement on your own. However, it’s strongly advised that you seek the assistance of a mediator who can help you create an agreement that is both fair and enforceable as part of your divorce. Mediators are excellent at making ground and getting seemingly stubborn and unwavering spouses to begin talking and working together without needing a court to intervene.

It will take more than one meeting to complete your agreement. Be prepared to spend quite a bit of time in these sessions. However, the best thing you can do is come to the table ready and willing to work with your spouse. Don’t rule out anything that isn’t extremely important to you personally—you may find that you are better off with an agreement that isn’t necessarily what you originally thought.

Add the Agreement to Your Divorce

It’s a good idea to add your completed agreement to your divorce file. When a judge signs off on this agreement, it becomes legally enforceable and you can use it to protect your rights to custody, visitation, child support, and more should your spouse ever begin to act outside the agreed-upon terms. Remember, just because an agreement is signed off on and goes into your final divorce file does not mean you are permanently bound by the terms: you may request modifications if circumstances require you and your spouse to change the terms of your parenting plan.

If you need help creating a high-quality and thorough parenting plan, a Katy divorce lawyer can assist you. The skilled family law team at Adams Law Firm is dedicated to helping you protect your rights and stay involved in the lives of your children, no matter how your family circumstances might change. We place the highest priorities on your input and your time in order to help you achieve the satisfaction and success you are seeking in your family law troubles. It is this unwavering dedication to client service and ethical conduct that has earned us numerous awards, including being named one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers.

Whether you’re in the middle of a divorce or are considering getting started, call the Adams Law Firmtoday at (281) 391-9237 to schedule your initial consultation!

How to Divorce in Texas

The divorce process varies depending on which state you live in. Some states require you to live in the state for at least 6 months before divorcing, while others might need a shorter amount of time. We’ve outlined the steps to getting a divorce in the state of Texas.

Step 1: Determine Eligibility

You and your spouse must have been living in Texas for at least 6 months before getting a divorce. This doesn’t mean you must have been married in the state of Texas. If one of you lives out of state, you can still file for divorce in Texas if at least one of you is still in residence in the state. If neither of you has lived in Texas for at least 6 months, you must wait to divorce until you can meet the residency requirement or you can file for divorce in your previous state of residency.

Step 2: Establishing Grounds

In Texas, you do need to have grounds for divorce. There are 7 reasons Texas will allow you to divorce, including the following:

  • Insupportability
  • Cruelty
  • Adultery
  • Conviction of a felony
  • Abandonment
  • Living apart
  • Confinement in a mental hospital

Insupportability is the only ground that doesn’t place fault on either spouse. By claiming this reason, you would be saying there are differences in the marriage that can’t be overcome.

Step 3: Determining the County

When you file a petition for divorce, you will need to do so in the county where you or your spouse have been living for at least 90 days. This will be the county in which all of your filings, hearings, and other court appearances will happen. If neither of you has lived in the county for the required 90 days, you will need to wait to file until you meet the requirement.

Step 4: Determining Your Type of Divorce

There are two types of divorce you could get in Texas—uncontested and contested. In an uncontested divorce, you and your spouse can agree on all the key issues in a typical proceeding. However, you are only eligible for an uncontested divorce if you have no children together under the age of 18, you both want to end your marriage, you do not have an ongoing bankruptcy case, you do not own property together, you have no retirement benefits to divide, and neither of you is seeking alimony. If you don’t meet these requirements, you will have to proceed with a contested divorce.

Step 5: Hiring an Attorney

While people have proceeded with divorces without the assistance of an attorney, divorce lawyers can help couples navigate through the often complicated process of dividing property and determining custody. If you and your spouse have a hard time agreeing on anything, or your spouse is trying to get more out of the divorce out of spite, a skilled advocate can help build your case and protect your interests. If you decide to hire an attorney, make sure to do your research. Talking to friends, family, and coworkers about their recommendations is a good way to get in touch with a lawyer. There are also online search engines designed to help people find the right lawyer for their particular case. Once you find a good candidate, talk to him or her in an initial consultation. This will help you get a feel for the attorney and his or her style of communication. Ask him or her questions you have about the process and how his or her billing process works. You will want to consult an attorney with a good track record of handling divorce cases.

Step 6: File Your Petition

To start the process, you will have to prepare a petition for divorce. This is a court document you will have to fill out that asks the court to rule on and finalize your divorce. Your local court will likely have a physical copy available at the court or a website with all the paperwork available. This petition will ask you for your personal information, what level of discovery you will need, how you are going to provide legal notice to your spouse, dates of marriage, grounds for divorce, and information regarding your children, any history of violence, and property questions. It will also have space for a request for judgment, which asks the court to accept your divorce. Once you fill out the paperwork, you will need to file a copy with the court clerk, get it signed, and pay a fee. If you have an attorney, he or she will help you with this process.

Step 7: Giving Legal Notice

State law requires you to serve your spouse with the divorce papers. If your spouse is aware of the divorce, or you are filing for an uncontested divorce, your spouse can sign a waiver and file it with the petition for divorce. If your spouse is unaware of the divorce or doesn’t agree with it, you will need to send a sheriff or other qualified person to serve your spouse with the papers. If you cannot find your spouse, you can notify him or her through publication, which involves publishing your notice of divorce. Your spouse then has an opportunity to answer the claims in the divorce.

Step 8: Wait

After you file your petition for divorce, you are required to wait 60 days before the divorce can be finalized. During this time, you and your spouse can go through mediation if the divorce is contested. Mediation can help you finalize the details of your divorce before your hearing. There could also be interim court hearings for important and immediate issues, such as temporary orders for child custody or restraint. If you and your spouse have kids, you both may also have to go through specific classes discussing divorces and children during this time.

Step 9: Finalizing the Divorce

The last legal document you will have to prepare and file is a decree of divorce. The document verifies all of the final decisions made by you, your spouse, and the court, including decisions on custody, money, property, and support. You and your spouse will then need to attend a divorce hearing, which is the final step. If your divorce is uncontested, the judge will look over the divorce decree, and he or she will sign it if it is satisfactory. If the divorce is contested, the judge will listen to both sides and decide how to end the marriage, which could include how property will be divided and who gets child custody. The judge’s decisions will be formalized in the divorce decree, and the judge will sign it.

If you’re interested in discussing your particular case with a skilled Katy divorce attorney, don’t hesitate to call us. Adams Law Firm has more than 35 years of legal experience to offer you and your family. We understand this may be a difficult and emotional time for you, so we do our best to make our clients feel comfortable calling us at any time. Our lawyers are also highly rated and have built a strong reputation for excellence in family law and civil trial representation. Let us see what we can do for you.

Contact us at (281) 391-9237 or fill out our online form to schedule a case consultation today.

Questions to Consider Before Hiring a Child Custody Attorney

Divorce is rarely easy for anyone, but for parents, it can be particularly challenging. If spouses can’t agree on who gets custody after the divorce, both of them either need to hire their own attorneys or a mediator to work with both of them. There are thousands of divorce attorneys across the country, so it may feel overwhelming when trying to narrow down the list. What you need to remember is the ultimate goal of a child custody hearing is to do what is in the child’s best interests. Choosing an attorney who will help you reach that goal is paramount. Consider these questions when researching child custody lawyers in your area.

Question 1: What Is Your Budget?

Divorce can be expensive. According to one survey, the average cost of a divorce in Texas is $15,600, most of which include attorneys’ fees. The cost increases depending on whether the couple has kids and how much they can agree with each other on the specifics of the divorce. So, when considering hiring a child custody lawyer, calculate how much you can actually afford to pay. When you research, ask the firm about the anticipated costs up front. In some cases, you may be entitled to free legal aid or low-cost representation through the family court.

Question 2: How Complicated Is Your Case?

If your case isn’t too complicated, you might want to think about forgoing an attorney. If you and your spouse can agree on child custody, for example, you won’t need to hire a child custody attorney. However, if your spouse is trying to obtain full custody of the child without your consent, you will need to hire a lawyer to help defend your rights as a parent. Some cases are even more complex; for example, out-of-state divorces could involve the intersection of two state’s separate laws regarding child custody. A skilled attorney would be able to help you navigate that kind of legal snarl.

Question 3: What Is the Attorney’s Reputation?

Many businesses live or die by their reputation. A poor attorney will have bad reviews, while an experienced and skilled attorney will have good reviews. Pay attention to how an attorney treated his or her previous clients. You should also ensure you hire an attorney with experience handling child custody cases. For example, you don’t want to hire a criminal defense attorney for your family law case. Make sure the lawyer you speak to has handled many similar cases successfully. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for references and case results.

If you’re concerned about your child custody case, don’t hesitate to call us. Our skilled Katy divorce attorneys have more than 35 years of legal experience to offer you and your family. We understand this may be a stressful and emotional time for you, which is why we do our best to make this process go as smoothly as possible. Our firm tries to keep clients updated on their case status, and we have built a reputation for strong and effective communication. Let us see what we can do for you.

Talk to us about your case in a consultation. Call us at  (281) 391-9237 or fill out our online form to schedule one today.

10 Tips for Living with Your Ex During the Divorce Process

While divorce is rarely easy for most couples, some have the misfortune of not being able to move out after the decision to get a divorce has been made. Staying in the household usually has to do with finances. If one spouse is out of a job or is making a small income, he or she may not be able to afford to rent an apartment right away. If you find yourself in this situation, here are some of our top tips for managing to share a space with your soon-to-be ex.

Tip #1: Establish Routines

If you want to avoid spending too much time, or any time at all, around your spouse, the best way to do this is to both establish routines. Establishing a routine means doing a similar activity at a particular time throughout the day. This allows both of you to know where each of you is at any point during the day. For example, if Spouse A knows Spouse B likes to spend time watching TV after he gets home from work, Spouse A can avoid the living room until Spouse B leaves. Being predictable in your comings and goings will allow you to stay out of each other’s ways.

Tip #2: Be Civil

You may not like your spouse much right now, but your day-to-day life will be much more unpleasant if you are both treating each other with hostility. When you have to speak, do so with politeness. Manners are something you adopt even for strangers. In order to make your lives a little easier, practice using them with your ex whenever everyday conflicts arise.

Tip #3: Discuss When to Tell the Kids

If you and your spouse have children, it’s important to decide when to tell them. Some couples would rather not bring it up until one of the spouses can move out. Others prefer to be completely up front with their kids, especially if the couple is now sleeping in separate rooms. Whatever you both decide to do, make sure you agree about how much to tell the kids and when. Neither of you wants to be caught off guard.

Tip #4: Do Not Use Your Children as Pawns

Divorce isn’t a game, so there are no winners or losers. However, not all couples believe this. Some are so distracted by their own bitterness and ill-feeling they decide to sacrifice the well-being of their children to get back at their ex. However, children aren’t pawns, and if they’re old enough to observe your behavior, they won’t appreciate being used as such. If you don’t want to talk to your ex at all, don’t use your child to send messages. Instead, send your ex a letter, text, voicemail, or e-mail to convey what you need. Alternatively, you could just gather your courage and talk to them yourself, despite how unpleasant the prospect may seem. Communicating with each other without using the kids should be a condition of continuing to live together. Make sure to discuss it as soon as possible after deciding to divorce.

Tip #5: Make a Plan

Neither of you wants to be stuck in this situation forever. At some point, one of you will have to move out of the house. It’s best to make a plan with moving forward with the divorce rather than living in this limbo state indefinitely. You can both do this by both making a list of the goals you each want to accomplish in the next three, six, and twelve months. Let’s say your job doesn’t cover the expense of the full mortgage without the help of your spouse’s income. You should make a plan to find a higher-paying job or an additional source of revenue within the next three to six months.

Tip #6: Make a Budget

Part of what’s keeping you under the same roof is finances. If either you or your spouse can’t afford to move out, make a budget that will allow you to save as much money as possible. A budget will help you cut down on needless expenses and maximize your savings, so you can make plans to leave. It can also contribute to paying for the costs of hiring a divorce lawyer.

Tip #7: Find a Counselor

If you haven’t already seen a psychologist or counselor before, make time to do so now. You will be living with your spouse potentially for months. You both should know how to best resolve conflicts with each other and how to proceed with living together in a way that minimizes the adverse effects on yourselves and your children. Finding a counselor for your kids can also help them cope with the change.

Tip #8: Hold Off on Dating

You may be ready to move on, but in reality, you’re still living with your ex. Not only would dating be discourteous to your ex and your children, but it’s also discourteous to the potential romantic partners you will be seeing. Try to keep from dating at least until you’ve moved into your own place, if not until the divorce is completely finalized.

Tip #9: Create Your Own Private Space

It may be hard to grieve the end of your relationship while your ex is still living with you. You may not feel as free to fully experience your emotions as you would if you lived alone. You should try to create routines that allow you to deal with your feelings, such as journaling, getting together with friends and family, and taking a daily walk while listening to your favorite podcast or music.

Tip #10: Voice Your Needs

Part of what can create resentment between people is the inability for one person to read the mind of the other. Such an ability would certainly make communication much easier because nothing is more frustrating than not getting your needs met. The best way for things to go smoothly as you live together is to state your needs to your ex, friends, and family members. Be specific about what you need from them or what you would like them to stop doing. There’s nothing wrong with voicing your needs and putting yourself first (or at least second, behind your kids). Additionally, getting into the habit of stating what you need from other people will empower you to continue to do so when building your new life after the divorce.

If you and your spouse would like to get divorced, talk about your options with one of our skilled Katy divorce attorneysAdams Law Firm has been helping families through the divorce process for more than three decades. We have also built a reputation for treating our clients with respect and compassion. Let us help you navigate your family law case.

Contact us at (281) 391-9237 or fill out our online form to schedule a case consultation today.

Top 10 Child Custody Questions

Divorce can be complicated, but one of the things that can snarl the process further is having children. When a couple has children together, both spouses want to spend as much time with their kids as possible. To this end, they both might want physical custody of their children, and this legal battle is typically what lengthens a divorce process. If you’re a parent, you might have some questions about the child custody process and Texas laws regarding it. Here are a few questions that might address your concerns.

Question 1: What’s the Difference Between Legal and Physical Custody?

If you heard someone refer to legal or physical custody, you might not know the difference between the two. Legal custody is something both parents typically share. This type of conservatorship is the ability to make important decisions on behalf of your child, such as where the child goes to school, what religion to teach him or her, and where he or she receives medical care. Physical custody refers to where the child lives. Some parents share physical custody by splitting time with the child, while in other cases, only one parent has primary physical custody.

Question 2: Does an Unmarried Mother Need to File for Custody?

Under Texas law, mothers who aren’t married are automatically the sole legal and physical custodians of an infant at birth. However, if paternity has been legally established, an unmarried father has the right to file for custody in family court.

Question 3: How Do Courts Determine Who Gets Custody?

The goal of family law courts with regard to children is doing what is in each child’s best interests. The court will evaluate the home environment each parent offers, the distance between each parent’s homes, each parent’s ability to serve as a caretaker, whether the parents can work together, each parent’s financial circumstances and employment situation, and the child’s preference (if he or she is at least 12 years old). Most courts will try to award equal time to both parents unless child abuse is involved.

Question 4: What Do Courts Mean by the “Best Interests of the Child”?

Family law courts make child custody and child support decision based on what is considered the child’s best interests. This refers to what is the “best” or most ideal situation possible for him or her. These standards will vary from state to state, but the court will generally presume it is best for a kid to maintain relationships with both parents to whatever extent possible.

Question 5: Do I Need a Child Custody Lawyer?

Hiring a legal advocate can be expensive unless you are eligible for no- or low-cost representation through various organizations. Divorcing parents who can agree on most points regarding child custody will likely not need a lawyer. However, if your ex is demanding full custody of your child, you may want to consider hiring an advocate. If you need to appear in court, a lawyer will present your case best and will give you a better chance of meeting your goals.

Question 6: If I Have Custody, Will I Receive Child Support?

The court will determine how much child support will be necessary based on the child’s needs. Usually, the parent who has primary physical custody of the child will receive child support payments from the other parent. Both parents are required to pay child support, but the expenses of housing, feeding, and caring for a child account for the primary custodial parent’s share.

Question 7: Can I Refuse to Allow Visitation If My Ex Doesn’t Pay Child Support?

The short answer is no. Visitation is ordered by the court, and violating this order is against the law. However, if your ex is not sending in what he or she should, you can ask the court to take action on your behalf. The court has the power to garnish your ex’s wages or even impose a jail sentence if he or she still refuses to pay the support amount.

Question 8: Can My Child Decide Which Parent to Live With?

Under Texas law, a child has a right to make it known to the court which parent he or she wishes to live with if he or she is 12 or older. However, the court will not take this as the sole factor when making the child custody decision. It will be one among many factors a judge will consider regarding a child’s best interests.

Question 9: What Is a Parenting Plan?

A parenting plan outlines the rights and duties of a parent regarding his or her child. Some rights and responsibilities include primary residence, making decisions on health care, deciding the child’s education, child support, and more. Every case involving children will need a parenting plan. Some divorcing couples can agree on what this looks like before even beginning the divorce, making the entire process that much faster.

Question 10: What Is Mediation?

Mediation is a nonbinding process involving a neutral third party helping a couple hash out the details of their divorce. More couples have been opting for mediation rather than going to court because it tends to be faster and cheaper. A qualified mediator can help divorcing couples come to a decision regarding property division, child custody, child support, and spousal support.

If you have more questions regarding child custody, don’t hesitate to give us a call. Adams Law Firm has more than 35 years of legal experience to offer you and your family. Whether you need help with the entire divorce process or just with child custody proceedings, we can help. Our Katy family law attorneys are dedicated to helping families through the difficult emotional process of divorce. Let us see what we can do for you in a case consultation.

Contact us at  (281) 391-9237 or fill out our online form to schedule a meeting with us today.

How Can I Figure Out How Much Spousal Support I’ll Get?

Spousal support, also known as spousal maintenance or alimony, is an incredibly old practice. These days, it’s become rarer as couples work to contribute two incomes to the household prior to the divorce. In some cases, however, spousal support may be necessary if one of the spouses quit their job to work as a full-time parent or the divorcing spouses are already retired. If you think you need spousal support, you should consider whether or not the court will consider it necessary before you consider how much the alimony is likely to be.

In Texas, family law courts have two types of spousal support—court ordered and contractual. Court ordered spousal support will be alimony one spouse will be ordered to pay the other involuntarily. The payments can be temporary, short-term, or long-term, depending on the case. Contractual maintenance is voluntary and is paid according to an agreement between the spouses. If you think your spouse will be amenable to contractual maintenance, you both can calculate together how much you think you will need following the divorce.

If your wife or husband doesn’t agree to contractual maintenance, the court will take several factors into account before deciding whether or not to award you spousal support and how much you should receive. Eligibility requirements in the state will obligate you to prove there will not be enough property to meet your minimum reasonable needs after the divorce. You must also prove at least one of the following:

  • The marriage lasted 10 years or longer, and you made efforts to earn sufficient income or develop necessary skills while the divorce is pending
  • The other spouse has committed domestic violence
  • You have an incapacitating disability
  • Your child has a physical or mental disability that prevents you from earning a sufficient income

If a judge decides you are eligible for spousal support, he or she will decide on how much you should get and for how long. In most cases, the upper limit of the amount is the difference between your monthly expenses and your income. However, the judge will also consider the following factors:

  • Each spouse’s financial resources after the divorce
  • How child support affects both spouses’ abilities to pay their bills
  • One spouse’s contribution to another’s education, training, or increased earning power
  • Each spouse’s education level and employment skills
  • How long it would take for you to get education and training to improve your earning power
  • Your age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition
  • Whether either spouse spent community funds inappropriately during the marriage
  • Homemaker contributions
  • Domestic violence
  • Marital misconduct of either spouse

Likewise, the court isn’t able to set spousal support above $5,000 per month or 20% of the paying spouse’s average monthly gross income (whichever is lower). The court will also usually limit spousal support to the shortest reasonable time that allows the receiving spouse to earn enough per month to meet monthly expenses unless you have a mental or physical disability.

If you’re concerned about whether or not you’ll get spousal support after the divorce, discuss the details of your case with an experienced Katy divorce attorneyAdams Law Firm has more than 35 years of family law experience to offer your case. Our lawyers are ready to provide you with skilled and compassionate legal advocacy and advice. We understand this may be a difficult and emotional time for you and your family, so we will do our best to help you reach your goals. Let us see what we can do for you.

Contact us at  (281) 391-9237 or fill out our online form to schedule a case consultation with us today!

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More Than 35 Years of

Since 1977, our Katy divorce attorneys have served clients throughout the greater Houston area with dedication and skill.

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