Coordinating Child Custody During the Holidays

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.


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!


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


The Do’s & Don’ts of Summertime Child Custody

Summer is nearly upon us and school is ending soon. Your children may be excited about more free time, but summer can pose unique child custody challenges for parents. Here are the do’s and don’ts of child custody plans over summer to help you and your co-parent have a stress free summer.

Do’s of Summer Co-Parenting

  • Do make your summer parenting plan in advance. If your parenting plan doesn’t already address the summertime, it’s time to sit down with your co-parent and develop a plan for the months your child is out of school. Once approved by the court, this modification will be responsible for dictating your custody schedule during the summer months.
  • Do communicate with your co-parent. Summer trips, camps, and activities can be fun for your family, but it’s important to communicate these plans with your co-parent early. Notify them of vacation plans, summer activities, or summer-only changes that may occur before they happen. If you and your co-parent struggle to communicate, a mediator can help.
  • Do consider your kids’ feelings. Even small changes can feel like big changes when you’re young, so don’t forget to take this into account when making summer plans. Seeing one parent less, staying in a different home, or other changes can be uncomfortable and can cause an emotional reaction. Talk to your children about your plans and help them understand what will happen so they feel secure. If they’re older, they may want to help you plan or have plans of their own you may consider.

Don’ts of Summer Co-Parenting

  • Don’t take it personally if your child misses their other parent. If your summer plans are dramatically different than the rest of the year or you’re planning a trip away, it’s possible your child may take some time to adjust and miss their other parent. This is natural, so you shouldn’t feel hurt if they seem to miss the other parent more than they’re excited to see you. You can help ease their worries by planning fun activities but also planning plenty of time to talk with their other parent on the phone or on a web-calling program like Skype.
  • Don’t make legal decisions without talking to your attorney. When making changes to your normal parenting plan, it’s important to remember that custody is a legal issue. Even if you have informal arrangements with your co-parent, the formal custody orders are what will be enforced if there is an issue. Be sure to consult your lawyer before making any changes or if you foresee any issues.
  • Don’t skip your support payments. You may have physical custody of your child more during the summer, but that doesn’t mean you can skip paying child support. Unless you have a modification, you are still legally obligated to pay what has been ordered, whether your child is living with you or not for the summer. If you want to request a modification, talk to your attorney.

Planning ahead can help your family enjoy summertime without the stress, and Adams Law Firm can help! Our experienced Katy family law attorneys can assist you with your child custody and child support modifications for the summer.

Schedule a consultation to discuss your case today. Call (281) 391-9237.


Planning a Vacation When You Have Shared Custody

Summer trips can often create cherished memories with your children, but planning one can be a challenge when you share custody of your children. Don’t give up on your dreams of a camping trip with your kids just yet, though! Here are some tips to help you navigate the process of planning a vacation with shared custody.

  • Communicate. You and your co-parent need to communicate your plans for summer before summer starts. Planning a trip to the Grand Canyon in July? Talk to your co-parent s about it, and see if they will agree. If they won’t, see if there is a compromise you both can agree upon, such as moving the trip, making it shorter, or even going together. Before you book anything, take some time to talk, and use a mediator if you need to.
  • Ask your children. If you have older children, they may have their own desires for summer. Talk to them and see what they want to do, and take it into account. Even younger children may be happy to add their input to the plans, and planning a trip together can be rewarding.
  • Confirm plans in writing. Mix-ups can be frustrating, but they can also place you into legal issues if your custody plans aren’t followed. If you and your co-parent choose to use informal agreements rather than formal modifications to your custody agreements over summer, be sure to get all plans in writing as agreed upon by both of you. This can also help if your co-parent changes their mind or forgets the plans you’ve agreed upon.
  • Consult your lawyer. Remember, custody issues are legal issues. If you’re seeking to make changes to your custody plans or take your kids on a trip out of state, your attorney can make sure it’s handled correctly so you’re protected.

Ready to enjoy your summer vacation? We’re here to help. Our Katy family law attorneys are ready to help you navigate the process of custody modification or to answer your legal questions. Schedule a consultation with the Adams Law Firm today to learn more!

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

The Adams Law Firm Difference

book logo
More Than 35 Years of
Experience

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

courthouse Logo
Top Family Lawyers
by H-Texas Magazine

Recognized as leaders in the field, we have been voted top lawyers in family law for the Houston area. We are known for skilled, dedicated advocacy.

scales of justice logo
AV Preeminent®
Rating

Our firm has garnered this top peer rating from Martindale-Hubbell® due to a reputation for meeting the highest standards in ethics and legal excellence.

paper and pen logo
Personalized
Representation

Our firm has garnered this top peer rating from Martindale-Hubbell® due to a reputation for meeting the highest standards in ethics and legal excellence.