Divorce Dos and Don’ts: What You Should Know

Divorce Dos and Don’ts: What You Should Know

Divorce can be an incredibly stressful experience for most couples. Emotions run high, and you may not understand how your state manages to determine property division, child custody, child support, and other matters included in your divorce agreement. Before you begin, here are a few useful pieces of information to know.

Do

  • Do consult an attorney
  • Do create boundaries for communication between yourself and your ex
  • Do cooperate as much as possible with your ex
  • Do support your children through this process (if you have children)
  • Do research on where to file and what you need to discuss with your ex
  • Do close all joint credit accounts
  • Do get credit accounts in your own name

Don’t

  • Don’t lose your temper with your ex
  • Don’t make plans to take a job out of state or move out of the country until your divorce is final
  • Don’t violate any temporary custody or visitation arrangements
  • Don’t hide assets among friends and family to keep from your ex
  • Don’t start a new relationship
  • Don’t overshare on social media
  • Don’t use your children as pawns or to communicate with your ex

If you and your spouse are thinking of getting a divorce, discuss your options with our skilled Katy divorce lawyers as soon as possible. You have many options for divorcing, including mediation and uncontested divorce, which could save you time and money. Talk to us about your legal goals in a case consultation. Adams Law can offer you more than 35 years of legal experience. Let us use our knowledge and skill to help you and your family through this challenging and emotional process.

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


What to Expect During the Divorce Process

Considering that no two divorces are alike, you cannot truly expect the process to be the same for you as it is for someone else. Depending on how you and your spouse decide to approach this, your divorce could go through litigation or never see the inside of a courtroom. It is all specific to your own set of circumstances. That said, there are some steps that every couple must go through, so this blog will give you an idea of what you can expect. To get a clearer idea of what you can expect, consult with a skilled divorce attorney.

Here are some things you can expect as you move forward with the divorce process:

  • Filing a petition: Regardless of how you and your spouse decide to dissolve your marriage, a petition must be filed, even if both spouses agree to divorce. One spouse will have to file a petition with the court asking for the divorce.
  • Temporary orders: Divorce can take some time, even in the most amicable cases. As such, it is often necessary to request temporary orders, especially in regards to child custody and support. Temporary orders are generally granted within a few days and remain in effect until a full court hearing.
  • Service of process: The spouse who files for divorce also needs to file proof of the service of process, which is essentially the document that proves that a copy of the divorce petition was given to the other party. If the desire to divorce is mutual, it is best for the petitioning spouse to arrange for service of process to the other’s attorney rather than having a process server visit the spouse’s place of employment.
  • Response: When the other spouse receives the service of process, he or she will need to file a response to the petition. If there are disagreements regarding property division, child support, child custody, or any other important issues, this should also be stated in the response.
  • Negotiation: If there is a disagreement on all or even some of these issues, both parties will need to attempt to negotiate their differences. In some cases, it is possible for the court to schedule settlement conferences to attempt to move both parties toward a final resolution. If the issue of contention is related to child custody, the court might order mediation.
  • Trial: When spouses are absolutely incapable of resolving issues on their own, they will have to go through litigation. This process can take more time, cost more money, and sometimes has unpredictable results.

Divorce Attorney in Katy, Texas

If you and your spouse have made the decision to move forward with a divorce, you will need to obtain skilled representation as soon as possible to help you navigate the process. At Adams Law Firm, our Katy family law attorneys have represented countless clients over the past 35 years. Whether you are filing for divorce or were handed divorce papers, we are here to help.

Contact us today at (281) 391-9237 to schedule a consultation.


Stepparent Adoptions: What You Need to Know

If your new spouse has children from a previous relationship, you might want to further unify your family by adopting them. This process is generally easier than adopting a child who is not related to either party, but it can still present some hurdles, depending on the circumstances. In Texas, to adopt a stepchild, one of the following circumstances must apply: the other parent is absent, deceased, unknown, or not involved in the child’s life. Additionally, the child must be in the custody of the parent to whom the petitioning stepparent is currently married.

Adopting a stepchild in Texas

Before you embark on this rewarding journey, it is important to understand the process. Here are the steps a stepparent must follow in Texas:

  • File a petition: Every stepparent adopting begins with the stepparent filing a petition to adopt his or her stepchild, which should be filed with his or her local family court.
  • Termination of parental rights: After filing a petition, your adoption attorney can move forward to the next step, which is to obtain a termination of parental rights from the absent parent, if the parent is known and still living. The other parent must consent to terminate his or her parental rights before the stepparent adoption can be done. If he or she refuses, the case will move to court where a judge will determine if the adoption is in the best interest of the children involved for the parent’s rights to be terminated.
  • Social study: If the court determines that it is indeed within the best interests of the children for the other parent’s rights to be terminated, the next step would be a social study of the prospective family. This would involve a visit to the home, evaluation of employment and financial records, observations, and an initial screening with the parents and children. The results of this process are meant to assist the judge in determining the fitness of a stepparent to adopt his or her stepchildren.
  • Amicus attorney: After the social study is complete, an amicus attorney will be appointed. This attorney is non-biased and appointed by the court to repeat some of the previous evaluations to help determine if the situation is best for the children and the family. The opinion of the amicus attorney and the results of the social study will both be presented to the court with a recommendation regarding whether or not the adoption should be finalized.

Adoption Attorneys in Katy

Adopting your stepchild is a wonderful way to bring your family together. While the process is easier than other types of adoptions, it still requires the legal assistance of a skilled adoption attorney. At Adams Law Firm, our Katy family law attorneys can greatly assist you in a number of ways and will ensure all paperwork is properly completed and filed in a timely manner.

Contact our office today at  (281) 391-9237 to get started on your case.


Does Religion Affect Child Custody Arrangements?

If an interfaith couple has decided to divorce, philosophical disparity is likely only the first of their disagreements, and things can get even messier with children involved. When it comes to child custody, the good news is that a court will not show partiality to one parent merely because they hold a particular faith. However, religion does play an important role in raising children and is not irrelevant in the court’s decisions about primary custody, living arrangements, etc.

What if My Spouse’s Religious Activities Are Bad for Our Children?

When making decisions about who will live with whom, which parent will hold certain responsibilities, and other details of a child custody arrangement, the court will always weigh both the rights of the individual parents and the best interests of the child. However, the best interests of the child will ultimately take precedence, and the court even reserves the right to override one or both parents’ First Amendment rights and parenting rights if doing so is in the best interest of the child.

While parents are still free to practice their respective faiths as they wish and parent as they see fit, it can get thorny when one parent accuses the other of engaging in religious activities that are directly detrimental to the wellbeing of their children. In such cases, the court will investigate a parent’s practices and, if they are found to be actually, substantially harmful to the child, the court reserves the right to limit such faith-based activities.

Custodial parenthood significantly simplifies things, because a custodial parent holds the exclusive right to make decisions about their child’s wellbeing. If divorce renders one party a custodial parent and the other a noncustodial parent, the custodial parent will, legally speaking, have the final say and the court will defer to their preferences.

What Constitutes Actual, Substantial Harm?

Interfaith divorce and parenting arrangements are a relatively new legal frontier, so standards for determining custody in relation to religious beliefs vary from state to state. However, there are a few standards that arise regarding what constitutes actual or substantial harm caused by a specific parent’s religious activities:

  • Being exposed to various religions does not harm children. As such, a court is not likely to restrict either parent’s religious practices merely because they are different from the other’s.
  • Strict religious traditions do not necessarily harm children. Abuse of rituals and traditions may result in inappropriate or harmful behavior. However, the court does not view religious customs in and of themselves to be inherently detrimental to the wellbeing of a child.
  • Physical abuse and the threat of abuse do constitute actual or substantial harm. If a parent’s religious activity or sharing of their religious views is found to be directly harmful, such as in cases of deliberate physical harm and threatening behavior, the court can and may levy restrictions on that parent’s First Amendment rights as a condition of their continued involvement in the life of their child.

What Happens When Interfaith Couples Receive Joint Custody?

The court does not consider exposure to two different religions to be inherently harmful to children and, unless there is evidence of a direct threat to a child’s wellbeing, a child’s religious involvements will be up to the parents.

Worried About Your Child’s Future? Talk to a Katy Divorce Lawyer Today.

Contact a member of the Adams Law Firm and let us help you navigate your divorce as smoothly as possible. Call us at  (281) 391-9237 today or contact us to receive your complimentary consultation.


Online Divorce Service in Texas

The average cost of divorce in Texas is just under $25,000. (You read that right.) Major disagreements about property division and child custody can lead to protracted court battles and much larger attorney fees than you would otherwise pay. Even couples without children or any major disagreements can expect to pay at least $15,000 in attorney and court fees.

While the price tag on divorce can be daunting (and perhaps even an incentive to working out your differences with your spouse), sometimes divorce is still the best option for couples who are unable to resolve their differences. Some couples who decide to divorce the cost look to online divorce services in order to save money. However, wanting to save money isn’t what makes an online divorce service a good alternative. In fact, an online service can further complicate your divorce if you aren’t careful.

Risks of Using an Online Divorce Service

If you are considering using an online divorce service, do your research and understand the risks before proceeding. Here are some of the main pitfalls of using an online service:

  • A one-size-fits-all approach does not work for contested divorces or divorces involving children. If you and your spouse have any points of disagreement or conflict at all (as most divorcing couples do), an online service will not help you resolve them. When you sign up for an online service, you are given the basic legal paperwork necessary to obtain a divorce, but you and your spouse are left to work out your differences on your own, which can bring you to a stalemate if you cannot compromise on a certain issue. An online service also does not give you the ability to address child custody and support.
  • Legal counsel is not provided. You may have access to general legal advice and instructions about how to complete certain documents, online services do not provide contextual legal counsel in light of the circumstances of your divorce or any personal assistance completing certain documents properly. There is also no one to look over your shoulder and ensure you are not making any major clerical errors, which can occur and create great difficulty for you once they are included in the final divorce decree.
  • You will likely have to pay additional fees at the end. When you use an online divorce service, the advertised price is always significantly lower than the actual price. You could get stuck pay multiple times the initial price.

Speak with One of Our Katy Divorce Attorneys Today

It is far more expensive and complicated to change your divorce agreement later than it is to get it right the first time. Having an experienced divorce attorney assist you in filling out paperwork correctly can save you a lot of time, trouble, and money in the long run. It can also give you peace of mind at pivotal points during your divorce, especially when you are resolving important disagreements with your spouse, such as matters of alimony, child support, child custody, property division, and so on.

At the Adams Law Firm, we are committed to making divorce as smooth and straightforward as possible and helping you work toward a divorce settlement you are happy with. And when it comes to cost, we’re willing to work with you and are committed to making sure you know what you’re paying for and what to expect.

Speak to a member of our team about scheduling your complimentary consultation by emailing us or by calling  (281) 391-9237.


How To Talk To Your Children About Divorce

Divorce is a challenging time for the entire family. Many parents worry about how they will announce their divorce to their children, and what to say when they make the announcement. Here are some tips to help you have this difficult discussion with your family.

Talk to the Whole Family

While you may be tempted to have private discussions with each child, you can place an unfair burden on your children. Telling older children first means that they may feel stressed about keeping this news a secret from their younger siblings. Your younger children may also feel hurt that the news was kept from them. For these reasons, it is best to plan a time to have a family discussion when the whole family can be present.

Choose Your Time Carefully

You should choose a time that will allow your children time to process the news. Monday morning before school is obviously not the best option, since your kids won’t have time to work through their feelings and ask questions. Often, the start of a quiet weekend at home can be a good choice. It is important to be available to your children during this time, as well. They may need extra comfort or have many questions to ask you.

Present a United Front

No matter what fighting has happened between you and your spouse, it is important to set it aside before you talk to your children. It is imperative that you do not blame each other when discussing your divorce with your children and that you do not discuss your reasons for getting divorced. Instead, focus your discussion on how people change, and explain that your relationship doesn’t work anymore. Take turns talking, and be sure to avoid pointing fingers.

Support Your Children

There will be a lot of changes that occur during your divorce. Take some time to discuss what may change, and what will stay the same. Preparing your children with some idea of what they can expect can reduce their fear and stress. You also should be sure to remind them that the state of your relationship isnot their fault, and that they will still be loved and cared for, no matter what the divorce may bring. If they have questions, try your best to provide answers.

Get Help From Our Katy Divorce Attorneys – (281) 764-6087

No matter how complex your divorce case may be, our team at the Adams Law Firm is here to help you through your case. Our Katy divorce lawyers are backed by more than 35 years of collective experience in a variety of family law issues, including child custody, child support, and divorces. Learn how our driven, compassionate attorneys can help you by scheduling a consultation to discuss your case.

Contact our offices by calling (281) 391-9237.


How Can Child Custody Affect Child Support Payments?

As a parent, you probably help to shoulder the cost of raising your children with their other parent. Whether you have full custody or joint custody, you still will need to understand child support payments in Texas.

In many states, your child support obligations may be dependent on the amount of parenting time you have. In Texas, however, your child support payments are not calculated according to the amount of custody you have. In Texas, child support payments are calculated based on the non-custodial parent’s income and the number of children receiving support.

If you are the custodial parent, you can expect to receive child support payments calculated using the other parent’s income. If they make less than you do, their child support payment is smaller than you would pay if the situation was reversed. However, your income will not play a role in the amount of child support you receive.

Texas Child Support Amounts:

  • One Child: 20% of the non-custodial parent’s income
  • Two Children: 25% of the non-custodial parent’s income
  • Three Children: 30% of the non-custodial parent’s income
  • Four Children: 35% of the non-custodial parent’s income
  • Five or more Children: 40% of the non-custodial parent’s income

Joint Custody & Child Support

In Texas, “custody” is actually considered conservatorship, meaning the parents are there to “conserve and protect” their children. While it may be called custody, conservatorship means that the child is not seen as a possession, but rather an individual over which parents have certain rights to protect. Even when conservatorship rights and duties are evenly shared, they will not affect child support.

Joint Managing Conservatorship may mean that the parents have agreed to equally sharing physical conservatorship and legal conservatorship duties, but it doesn’t guarantee an even split. For this reason, visitation and custody are seen as a separate issue from child support.

Have Questions? Ask Our Katy Family Law Attorneys – (281) 764-6087

Child custody and child support negotiations can be stressful. Our highly knowledgeable team at the Adams Law Firm is backed by more than 35 years of collective legal experience. Our Katy child custodyattorneys can help you understand the details of your case and can explain your legal options to you so you can make fully informed choices.

Schedule an appointment with our team today. Contact our offices by calling (281) 391-9237.


Tips for Fathers: How to Win Child Custody

As a father, you have as much right to be a parent to your child as their mother does. It can be a challenge to enforce your parental rights, however, especially when you’re trying to gain custody of your children. Despite the challenges, that doesn’t mean it is impossible to gain custody as a father. Here are some tips to help you build your case for custody.

1. Pay Your Child Support Payments

If you want custody of your child, it is important to make sure you are current on your child support payments. Failing to keep up with your payments can be interpreted as a lack of interest in raising your child. If you have informal arrangements, it’s important to maintain your own records and proof of payment. If you find yourself struggling to make payments, request a modification.

2. Build a Strong Relationship with Your Child

Even if your child isn’t in your custody, it’s critical to try to maintain a strong relationship with them by calling and visiting whenever possible. Communicating with your child regularly, supporting them at their events, and checking on their progress can help your child feel secure in your relationship and reassure them that you are there for them.

3. Maintain Your Own Records

You will be expected to demonstrate your involvement in your child’s life, so it is important to maintain your own records of your visitation schedule, parenting plans, and other ways you are involved in your child’s life. Developing a parenting plan can help you in court when your child’s custody is being decided.

4. Attend Important Meetings & Events

If you want custody of your child, you need to show commitment to supporting their life, including their important social, educational, religious, and other events. These could be school plays, sports games, baptisms, birthday parties, parent-teacher meetings, and playgroups. The court will interpret this involvement as evidence of a meaningful relationship with your child.

5. Prepare Their Own Space in Your Home

Your child will need their own space in your home. Even if you live in a small apartment, you should try to set aside a special place for your child in your home. The court will want to know about your accommodations during the custody hearing. Be prepared to respond to these inquiries.

6. Have a Plan for Your Child’s Needs

The judge will want to know about your plans for your child’s continuing care and support. Will they have their own space? Do you have the financial resources to support them well? Do you have plans in-place for their education, afterschool activities, child care, and more? You should be ready to articulate your preparations for your child’s care.

7. Be Respectful

Court proceedings can be stressful, but it is important to show appropriate respect towards all involved, including the child’s other parent, the judge, and your child. The judge will use your attitude to help them make the custody decision, so be sure to keep any negative feelings in check.

8. Be Honest with Yourself

We understand how badly you can want custody of your child, but you also need to ask yourself if it’s in your child’s best interest. It’s a fact that you probably have many other responsibilities, such as other children, education, or your career. Your responsibilities may interfere with your ability to take custody of your child, especially if you are seeking full custody. It is important to be honest with yourself about your abilities.

9. Ask Someone Who Has Been There

Experience is an important asset when fighting for custody. It can be helpful to talk to another father who has fought for custody of his child and ask about his experiences. You also should seek the help of an experienced child custody attorney. They will know the ins and outs of custody proceedings and be able to assist you effectively.

10. Consider Alternative Dispute Resolution for Your Custody Case

Mediation or arbitration can be an easier way for fathers to negotiate custody. A court hearing can be stressful and expensive, but many parents can come to an agreement in a mediation session with the guidance of a neutral third party. If these methods fail, you can always escalate your case to a hearing before a judge.

At the Adams Law Firm, we know how difficult it can be for fathers to gain the custody they seek. We are committed to protecting the rights of fathers and helping them remain involved in their child’s life. Backed by more than 35 years of collective experience, our Katy child custody attorneys are here to fight for you. Learn more about our services by scheduling a consultation.

Contact our team online or call (281) 391-9237 to speak to a member of our team.


What Are Grandparent’s Rights in Texas?

Texas is one of the strictest states for grandparents seeking visitation with their grandchild. In 2005, Texas adopted far stricter standards after the Supreme Court ruling in Troxel v. Granville. The state now holds the view that they have no place intervening in family affairs so long as the parents of the child are fit to care for them. So what does this mean for grandparents?

When Can A Grandparent Not Seek Visitation?

Before you learn what you will need to prove to request visitation, you should know if you even are able to request visitation through the court.

Grandparents may not request visitation if:

  • Both parents of their grandchild are dead or have had their parental rights terminated.
  • The child has been adopted by anyone, except for stepparent adoption, or an adoption is in progress.
  • Both parents of their grandchild have relinquished their parental rights to child services or any other organization acting as a managing conservator of the child.
  • The grandparent’s child is the grandchild’s parent who still retains their parental rights.

In these cases, you will not be able to sue for visitation rights.

In What Circumstances Can a Grandparent Seek Visitation?

In Texas, the court is reluctant to interfere with the decisions of the parents of the child, unless there is good reason to do so. The court generally holds that, provided the parents are fit to raise the child, the court should not intervene on behalf of the grandparents. There are some circumstances in which the court can be prompted to make a decision on the matter.

Grandparents may request visitation if it is in the child’s best interest and:

  • The parents of the child are divorced.
  • The parents have abused or neglected the child.
  • One parent has been incarcerated, found incompetent, or has died.
  • A court has terminated the relationship between the child and one parent.
  • The child has lived with the grandparent for at least 6 months.

What Is the Harm Standard?

In 2005, Texas adopted the Harm Standard for making decisions on child visitation for grandparents. What this means is that grandparents must demonstrate that the child will suffer considerably if they are unable to see their grandparents. This can be a very strict standard to meet, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Expert testimony has been a successful tool in recent cases. Unfortunately, it can be a challenge to obtain expert testimony when the grandparent does not have access to their grandchild, school, or medical records. Your attorney may ask for a preliminary hearing, in which a professional evaluation can be requested for the purposes of expert testimony. At this hearing, your lawyer can also request relevant records to support your case.

Get Help Today! Call Our Katy Family Law Attorneys – (281) 764-6087

As a grandparent, it can be devastating to be denied the chance to participate in your grandchildren’s lived. At the Adams Law Firm, we have more than 35 years of collective experience to help you fight back. Our Katy family lawyers can help you protect your rights as a grandparent.

Start your case with a consultation. Contact our team by calling (281) 391-9237.


What Is the Difference Between Marital Property & Separate Property?

Texas community property laws are the laws that dictate how property and debts are to be divided up when a couple goes through a divorce. These laws can often be confusing, but it’s important to work with an experienced divorce lawyer who will advocate for you and help you get a fair share of your marriage’s assets. You may come across the terms “marital” or “community” property and “separate” property. Understanding what these terms mean is important to helping you end your marriage with a favorable outcome.

Community Property in Texas

Known as marital or community property, this refers to the property that you and your spouse have acquired during the course of your marriage, with some exceptions. Texas is considered a community property state, but that doesn’t mean that you can expect a perfectly even split of your assets. You can expect that the court will be more interested in providing an equitable and fair division.

One way that Texas courts determines the status of contested property is the “inception of title” rule, which relies on the property’s status at the time it was acquired. The state considers all property (with the below exceptions) gained by either spouse during the course of the marriage to be community property. It is on you or your spouse to otherwise prove that a piece of property is separate property.

Separate Property in Texas

According to Texas laws, separate property is any property owned or claimed before the marriage, and property acquired after the marriage by gift, devise, or descent. This means that there are some pieces of property that don’t fall under equitable distribution.

Separate property may include:

  • Birthday gifts
  • Family heirlooms
  • Property or assets purchased before the marriage
  • Inheritances
  • Personal injury awards (unless the recovery is for lost wages, medical bills, or other shared property)

Still Have Questions? Ask Our Katy Divorce Lawyers – (281) 764-6087

If you’re considering a divorce, you need an experienced legal team on your side. With more than 35 years of experience behind us, the Adams Law Firm is well-equipped to handle even the most complex divorce cases. Don’t wait to get the knowledgeable legal counsel and caring client service you deserve. Our Katy divorce attorneys are ready to address your concerns, answer your questions, and advocate for your best interests today.

Contact our team by calling (281) 391-9237.

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