How to Create a Parenting Agreement

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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!

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.

Who Gets Fido? Pet Custody After a Divorce in Texas

Our pets are often beloved members of our family, but legally, our four-legged friends are considered property in the State of Texas. This can lead to some serious stress and conflict if you and your spouse end your marriage. Fortunately, many judges are pet owners themselves or understand the deep ties you may have with your pet, so they may be willing to consider your pet’s custody more carefully and rule in favor of the pet’s best interests. Here are some things you should know about pet custody during a Texas divorce.

Write Down Your Custodial Wishes for Your Pet

If you can’t stand the thought of your pet leaving your side, you may want to write down your wishes for their custody. This information can be included in a prenuptial agreement, cohabitation agreement, or partition agreement. If you’ve already married, a postnuptial agreement can also help.

In child custody cases, the judge will always consider the best interests of the child over the parents’ desires. When it comes to pet custody, however, the law only allows for pets to be treated as property. The judge will need to first determine whether the pet is separate property, belonging to one spouse, or marital property, belonging to both spouses.

If the pet was purchased or adopted before the marriage, it is likely to be considered separate property, and custody will be awarded to the owning spouse. If the pet was gained during the course of the marriage, the pet will be considered community property, and the custody of the pet will need to be determined with the rest of the marriage’s assets and property. If this is the case, the judge is likely to evaluate the roles both spouses play in caring for the pet and obtaining the pet.

What Factors Will Judges Use to Decide Custody?

As with any complex property settlement case, the judge will need to determine the animal’s status as community or separate property before proceeding. If the pet is community property, the judge will delve deeper into the matter. Here are some things judges may consider to determine which spouse is better prepared to care for the pet:

  • Which spouse has been the primary caretaker?
  • Which spouse meets the daily needs of the pet?
  • Has either spouse neglected or abuse the pet in any way?
  • Which spouse has the more pet-friendly work and travel schedule?
  • What are the custody arrangements for any children, and are they close to the pet?

The judge will strive to place the pet in the best household, where its needs will be met properly. If the children of the divorcing couple share a bond with the pet, the judge is likely to place the pet with the spouse who has primary custody of the children.

If there is more than one pet in a divorce, there is a good chance that the judge will split up the pets and award each pet to the spouse who is better equipped to prepare for that pet. Dogs may be awarded to the spouse who will be home more often, while a cat may be given to the spouse who works more or travels more.

Pet Visitation

The judge will not award a visitation schedule for your pet. Unlike your human children, your fur-children cannot legally have a binding visitation agreement determined by a judge. What a judge can do, however, is enforce any arrangements that the spouses can agree upon. Explicit terms spelled out in an agreement, such as a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, can help simplify these issues.

How You Can Protect Your Custody

It can be stressful if you are unsure of your pet’s fate. Laying out your wishes in another agreement, such as a prenuptial agreement, can help simplify these matters. If you don’t have such agreements in place, you’ll need to take steps to prove you are the spouse who should have continued custody of the animal.

You will need to provide evidence that demonstrates your commitment to the animal or animals in your household. This evidence can include:

  • A pet license or adoption application with your signature
  • An affidavit from your veterinarian that states you are the person who tends to the pet’s medical needs
  • Receipts from pet supply stores, grooming, and other pet services with your payment information.
  • Witness statements from neighbors, other dog-park visitors, or friends who can speak to your dedication to your pet’s care and wellbeing.

Contact Our Katy Divorce Attorney – (281) 764-6087

If you’re facing a divorce, you shouldn’t face it alone. At the Adams Law Firm, we’re committed to supporting our clients in every way possible through the divorce process. Our Katy divorce attorneys have more than 35 years of experience under our belts, so you can trust that we’re ready to assist you with your divorce case—no matter how complex.

Begin your case with a consultation. Contact us at (281) 391-9237 today.

Why You Shouldn’t File for Divorce Without a Divorce Lawyer

You may be exploring ways to file a divorce without an attorney, hoping to save money or time during your divorce. While there is no legal reason you cannot file for a divorce without a lawyer, there are many benefits to having one. It may even save you money in the long run. Here are some reasons you shouldn’t file for divorce without an experienced attorney on your side.

Divorcing Without Legal Representation Can Cost You

If you’re considering a DIY divorce—don’t. Even if you and your spouse are ending your marriage amicably, you still should at least hire a divorce attorney to review your divorce agreement terms to ensure they meet the legal requirements of your state and that a judge will agree to them.

If your marriage is ending in a less-than-friendly way, you’ll benefit from having the insight and experience of a divorce attorney to assist you. Even if you and your spouse manage to negotiate the terms of your divorce on your own, your lawyer can serve as a representative on your behalf, advise your decisions, and help you understand the long-term impact of your choices.

In litigation, your attorney will represent your best interests and help to ensure you receive a fair share of your marriage’s assets, a favorable custody or visitation schedule with your children, and even advocate for a fair amount of child support payments. Without a strong, knowledgeable legal advocate on your side, it’s easy to make mistakes that can end up costing you considerably at the end of the divorce.

Your Attorney Has Considerable Knowledge to Share

Are you familiar with the judges in your local family law court? Do you know the divorce laws of your state? Are you able to calculate and understand the tax impact if you choose to try and keep the house, rather than selling it and splitting the profits? You may not know all these things, but it is the job of your lawyer to know it. Why struggle through your divorce alone, when your attorney can provide invaluable insight, experience, and knowledge?

Attorneys Help Prevent Mistakes

It’s natural to make mistakes when encountering something you’re unfamiliar with. Unfortunately, small mistakes can equal big consequences in a divorce. Your lawyer is there to make sure your case goes smoothly, to manage the details of it, and to mitigate mistakes, so you can receive a favorable outcome, no matter what your goals for your divorce are.

Ready to Begin Your Divorce? Call Our Katy Divorce Lawyers – (281) 391-9237

At the Adams Law Firm, our compassionate team is ready to fight for your needs. We understand the unique challenges of a divorce, and our Katy divorce attorneys will work closely with you to develop a legal strategy for your needs and goals.

Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Divorce Attorney

If you’re considering a divorce, you may also be considering hiring a divorce lawyer to help you through the process. Finding the right divorce attorney, however, is easier said than done. If you’ve never worked with a lawyer, you may have no idea what to expect. Family law and divorce cases are their own unique area of the law, which can make it even more challenging to know if you’re making a good choice when choosing an attorney. Let our Katy divorce lawyers take the guesswork out of hiring an attorney with these questions you should ask a potential lawyer:

  • Do you specialize in divorces, or are they only one aspect of your practice? You’ll want to know more about their experience with divorce cases, so it’s important to find out how long they’ve been handling divorce cases, what percentage of their practice is devoted to divorces, and if they have any certifications, such as being a certified family law specialist.
  • What is your strategy for my case? You’ll want to work with an attorney who will work towards your goals. If their strategy won’t meet your goals, keep looking. You also should find out how long they estimate it will take to resolve your divorce.
  • How will you communicate with me? Get the details on how long it should take for a phone call to be returned, who will be calling, who you can call, and how you can contact your attorney in the event of an emergency.
  • Who else will be working on my case? Many law firms have multiple attorneys, paralegals, assistants, and administrative professionals working there. Find out who you can expect to be involved in your case, what they will be doing, and what their experience is. It also doesn’t hurt to find out if you can meet them.
  • How will I be charged? Learn more about their hourly rates, how they will bill you, and whether you will be billed for time spent talking to paralegals, legal assistants, or others in the office. You should also ask about their retainer fees.
  • What costs, besides attorney fees, do you expect during my case? Filing fees, court costs, document handling, investigators, forensic accountants, psychologists, mediators, and other costs can all add up quickly, so it’s important to know what you may be paying for ahead of time.
  • What’s your best estimate of the cost of my divorce? Beware of attorneys who give you a low price, since they are trying to just get your business. An honest lawyer should explain to you how different factors can affect the cost and how they may affect your overall divorce expenses.
  • Do you permit me to negotiate directly with my spouse, or are there other tasks I can handle to reduce my costs? While you are hiring your lawyer for their expertise and insight, you also do need to consider your budget. They may have certain tasks you can carry out or recommendations to help you save money.
  • Based on your current knowledge of my case, how do you think a judge would rule? This can be another thing that is difficult to predict, but your lawyer may be able to provide some insight, especially if they are familiar with the local family court judges.
  • Can you help me understand the tax impact of the decisions I will need to make? Divorce means a lot of decisions, and you should have an understanding of the long-term effects of these decisions.

At the Adams Law Firm, we are dedicated to helping you and your family make it through this difficult time. Our compassionate and experienced legal team is on your side, and our Katy divorce attorneys will fight for your best interests.

Ready to get started? Contact our firm to schedule a consultation by calling (281) 391-9237.

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

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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.