Top 10 Child Custody Questions

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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!


Dating While Divorcing – Is It A Good Idea?

Now that you and your spouse have made the decision to move forward with a divorce, you might feel like it is the right time to begin this new chapter and dive back into the dating pool. After all, divorce is not only an emotional experience, but a lonely one as well. However, dating before your divorce is finalized is generally an unwise decision as it can have many ramifications on the outcome of settlement and on your personal life as well.

Here are some things to consider if you are wondering whether or not you should date during your divorce:

  1. Strategic Reasons: Divorce is not just about signing papers and dividing assets. It is a highly emotional experience and, when your spouse sees that you are dating someone else, it might feel a lot like someone poking at a very fresh wound. He or she might feel hurt, angry, or resentful and seek revenge to compensate for these feelings by stalling negotiations or fighting you on issues that would have otherwise been resolved with ease. Even if the decision to divorce was mutual, it can stir up some negative feelings that can derail your divorce case.

If you have children, it would be particularly beneficial to refrain from dating until the dust settles. Adding a new partner to the mix can complicate the situation. Given that you will both continue to co-parent even after the divorce, it is best to not add tension and impact how much he or she is willing to cooperate with you.

  1. Legal Reasons: Technically, you are still married until the divorce is officially finalized. In states that recognize fault, dating while going through the process of a divorce might be viewed as adultery and possibly impact how your settlement goes. Play it safe and wait until after the divorce is finalized before you begin dating.
  2. Your Partner Will Be Scrutinized: If you have children and your new partner has a criminal history, this can impact the outcome of your child custody case. Basically, anyone who might potentially have regular contact with your children is subject to investigation, so if your new love interest has a shady past, it might end up costing you custody of your children or even limited visitation rights.
  3. Living With Your New Partner: Having a new special someone in your life can also impact how much spousal support you receive if you end up living together. Why? Well, the courts will assume you are better off since you will be able to share living expenses with your new partner. You would not want to risk receiving a reduced settlement for a relationship that has no guarantee of lasting.
  4. Emotional Reasons: It might feel wonderful to experience the excitement of a new relationship, especially if your new partner lavishes you with the love and attention that might have been lacking in your marriage. However, it is important to question how ready you are for this. People going through a divorce are often incredibly vulnerable and in a state of uncertainty, which is not great foundations for a new relationship that you hope will last. Before you start a new relationship, you will want to feel emotionally and financially ready, so you can truly start fresh.
  5. What If This Person Is the One: It is hard to make permanent choices when your life is changing all around you in dramatic ways. Several studies have shown that the first relationship one enters in the immediate aftermath of a divorce rarely survives. That said, you might still believe this new person is the one for you and it might be true. If this new person is right for you, he or she will be willing to wait.

Of course, many still decide to date regardless of these aforementioned points. If you still want to date, first consult with your lawyer for further advice. He or she might have some sound advice and suggestions for how to keep a new relationship under wraps until the divorce is finalized.

Katy, Texas Divorce Attorneys

If you are considering a divorce or have already been served with divorce papers, now is the time to seek skilled and experienced representation. At Adams Law Firm, we are proud to have represented countless clients throughout the past 35 years, obtaining favorable results and protecting their interests. Our team of Katy family law attorneys is here to provide the exceptional representation you deserve.

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


Divorcing After 50

Over the past 20 years, divorce among couples over 50 has doubled, which has led to the coining of the term “gray divorce.” No matter how old you are, divorce is an emotional and often tumultuous experience that one is never really prepared for. However, for those divorcing later in life, there are some unique hurdles they must overcome.

Here are some key things you will need to complicate if you are divorcing after 50:

  1. The Process: While all divorces ultimately end with two individuals no longer sharing their lives together, the process of how they reach that end can differ greatly and impact the emotional and financial cost. If you believe you and your spouse are able to work out an amicable divorce, you should try to do so. This might involve seeking the assistance of a mediator. However you accomplish this, an amicable divorce is your best shot at saving money and reducing stress.
  2. Your Children: No matter how old your children are, they should always be considered as you go through the process of divorce. If you are over 50, chances are your children are older. There is often a lot of concern for children who are younger, but that does not mean older children should be neglected as you and your spouse sever your shared life. Consider how you choose to break the news to them and try not to create any tension in their lives.
  3. Your Finances: For individuals over 50, this is often one of the most concerning issues. Why? You are past your prime income earning years and likely looking toward retirement. This shift from saving and accumulation to consumption makes both parties less able to recover from financial mistakes, so the division of retirement benefits, such as a 401(k) or IRA, needs to be done thoughtfully. How you and your spouse choose to divide these assets will depend on numerous factors, including life expectancy, age difference, and other sources of available income.
  4. The Emotional Aspect: Since you are divorcing later in life, it is likely your marriage lasted longer than younger couples who divorce, making this a pretty dramatic change for your life. It is important to take some time to examine how you feel about it. The better you understand yourself and what you are going through, the easier it will be to make sound decisions during the process.

No two divorces are alike and, as such, yours will be specific to you and your own set of circumstances. As you embark on this new chapter in your life, address what is within your control and find the right guidance for questions that should be left to professionals.

Divorce Attorneys in Katy, Texas

At Adams Law Firm, we understand the challenges associated with divorce and all the emotions this process can stir. We have represented countless clients over the past 35 years, obtaining favorable resolutions and protecting their interests. Our team of Katy family law attorneys is ready to provide you with the outstanding representation you deserve.

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


When Is My Divorce Final?

Divorce is not an easy experience and no one really wants it to draw out any longer than is necessary, especially since it will only cost more, add stress, and make you feel as though you are stuck in limbo. You might be wondering when your divorce is officially considered final, so you can move forward with a new chapter in your life. Here is what you need to know about the final step in your divorce:

  • The Divorce Decree: Your divorce decree contains all of the important information about your divorce settlement, whether it was reached through litigation or negotiating with your spouse. It is essentially everything you have worked for over the course of months or even years, depending on your specific circumstances.
  • The Divorce Certificate: Not to be confused with the divorce decree, your divorce certificate is not a court document, but rather a document that is issued by the state for record-keeping purposes. It will not contain the details of your divorce settlement. It basically serves to prove you are divorced from your spouse.

Your divorce will officially become final once a judge signs your divorce decree. It will be sent to your attorney and he or she will send you a copy. The date on your decree is the date of your divorce.

Divorce Attorney in Katy, Texas

Deciding to get divorced is never easy, but it is sometimes necessary. If you and your spouse have chosen to call it quits, you will need skilled representation on your side. At Adams Law Firm, we have proudly represented countless clients throughout the past 35 years, assisting in obtaining favorable resolutions to their divorce proceedings. Let us do the same for you.

Contact our office today at (281) 391-9237 to schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable member of our Katy legal team.


Why You Should Stay Off Social Media During Your Divorce

Social media is no longer the rarity it once was when it began. Nowadays, just about everyone is plugged in, sharing their thoughts, pictures, and even the smallest details of their lives with friends, family, and acquaintances. While this is generally not a problem for most, it can pose a major risk for those who are in the midst of a divorce and can ultimately affect the outcome of their case.

You might be wondering how something as seemingly innocuous as social media can negatively impact your divorce. Here is a list of some of the main reasons:

  1. Pictures can say a lot: If you are familiar with the old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words, then it should be clear that posting pictures on social media can say a lot more than a simple status update. Pictures can reveal your lifestyle, which might suggest that you are not fit to be a parent if you are engaging in questionable behavior.
  2. It reveals your spending habits: Of course, no one usually posts how much something costs on social media, but if you are posting about lavish vacations or your swanky new electronic device, people might assume you are a big spender and are probably doing well. This in itself is not an issue, but if you are fighting for lower spousal or child support payments, posts that hint at your expenses or income are only going to make you look like a liar.
  3. Your friends might out you: Chances are you share plenty of mutual friends with your soon-to-be ex-spouse, especially if you had a relatively lengthy marriage. Some of these friends are going to feel the need to choose sides, which means those that are loyal to your ex-spouse might share information that you post on social media with him or her. Since you cannot know for certain which friends are loyal to you or to your ex, it is best to simply not post anything that might be incriminating.

If you absolutely cannot stay off social media, carefully consider every post you make. If you would not want a judge to see it, then do not post it at all. Too much is at stake, so do not gamble with your future.

Katy Family Law Attorney

If you and your spouse have decided to move forward with a divorce, now is the time to obtain the skilled and experienced representation you need to smoothly navigate you through this emotional and complex process. At the Adams Law Firm, our legal team has over 35 years of experience, which we will put to use for you to ensure that your interests are protected.

Contact us today at (281) 391-9237 to get started.


What Is Contempt of Court?

Contempt of court is what happens if a person defies a court’s authority, disrespects a court, or prevents the court from doing its job. Someone who does any of the above could face civil or criminal contempt of court. In cases of divorce, most instances where a spouse might cause a disturbance or ignore a court order will incur civil contempt of court.

A person doesn’t necessarily need to be in court to defy court orders. Indirect contempt of court, for example, could happen when a spouse is ordered to turn over financial records within 30 days and fails to do so.

Civil contempt sanctions aim to either restore the rights of the party who was wronged by the other party’s failure to comply with a court’s order or move an underlying proceeding along. These sanctions usually end when the party in contempt complies with the court order or when the case is resolved.

If someone refuses to comply, he or she could be incarcerated. However, unlike those charged with criminal contempt, people held in civil contempt are not given the same constitutional rights. They must be given notice of the contempt sanctions and an opportunity to be heard, but they are usually not guaranteed a jury trial.

If a person triggers contempt of court in a divorce case, he or she is unlikely to be looked on favorably by a judge in a court case. A person who incurs contempt of court during a child custody case, for example, will unlikely get full or even partial custody, as they may have demonstrated a lack of personal responsibility by failing to comply with court orders.

Talk to our skilled Katy divorce attorneys if you’re considering a divorce or are facing contempt of court. Adams Law Firm can take a look at your case and offer you experienced recommendations about your best course of legal action.

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


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 Firm 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.

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