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Houston Divorce And Family Law Blog

Moving out of state with children after a divorce

At Fabio & Merrill in Texas, we know that starting a new life with your children after your divorce can be exciting, but also challenging. This can be especially true if the company for which you work decides to relocate you to another state. Then things can become very complicated and highly emotional.

As the Texas Family Code sets forth in Section 153.001, Texas public policy is to accomplish the following three things regarding the children of divorced parents:

  1. Assure that both you and your former spouse have continuing and frequent contact with them
  2. Encourage you and your former spouse to share parenting time and duties after your divorce
  3. Provide your children with a stable and safe environment in which to grow up

An attorney's role in an uncontested divorce

You and your spouse have agreed that you want a divorce, and the two of you have even agreed on how you want the settlement and the parenting plan to look. Neither of you want a lawsuit, and the low cost and speedy outcome of a Texas uncontested divorce is appealing. We at Fabio & Merrill often provide legal advice and assistance to couples who want to save money and time by choosing this route.

The agreement you and your spouse have come to is not set in stone until the judge finalizes it. What happens if you get five months down the road and discover that you made a mistake during negotiations? Unfortunately, nothing happens; you have a court order that makes everything in the document legal. There is no going back. 

Your business might be an issue in your divorce

Owning a business with your spouse is a life goal for many people. This is a wonderful thing, but if the marriage falls apart, the business might become an albatross around your neck. You need to think carefully about some specific points if you do realize that your marriage is heading toward divorce.

For some women who are married to a business owner, the insider knowledge of the business and finances might lay only with the husband. This could work during the marriage, but it can spell disaster if a divorce is imminent. Here are some points you need to know about a phenomenon known as sudden income deficit syndrome:

How to get your child's other parent involved after the divorce?

You have always been the parent who takes care of the primary responsibilities such as going to school conferences, shuttling your child to various sporting activities and making the doctor and dentist visits. After your Texas divorce, though, you may expect the other parent to start participating more. After all, his or her time is now limited by the custody schedule, and these responsibilities provide opportunities for more interactions with your child. How can you encourage more involvement?

A good parenting plan will go a long way toward making sure your former spouse has adequate time to keep the parent-child bond strong. However, according to HelpGuide.org, your relationship with your former spouse is one factor that will make a difference in whether he or she participates. Let your ex know that you are in the business of raising your child together as co-parents, and try to leave personal feelings out of your interactions. It may help to keep all your communication focused on your child and what he or she needs. 

Preventing adoption before paternity is established

Many men in Texas may have casual relationships or lose touch with former significant others and later find out that a child will be or has been born. While some may want to deny paternity, others may want to become a father in every sense of the word. However, without a marriage certificate, there is a chance that the child could be adopted without any say from the biological father, ending any rights he may have had.

According to the Texas Department of State Health Services, there is a form that a man can fill out if he believes he may have fathered a child. This form, the Notice of Intent to Claim Paternity, can be filled out before the birth or within 31 days after, or even if he only suspects that a child may have been conceived. It is designed to protect the parental rights of men who are not in a relationship with the mother and are not on an Acknowledgement of Paternity or named a presumed father on the child's birth certificate.

Will you encounter issues with property division during divorce?

If you and your spouse are seeking a divorce in Texas, you may have begun to recognize that the process is often more complicated than it initially sounds. Reaching beneficial agreements with your former spouse requires time, effort and patience. Depending on the length of your marriage and the conditions surrounding your divorce, one of the things you will need to work out is the division of property the two of you may share. This aspect of divorce can be complicated, but you may be able to avoid costly problems with a basic knowledge of some of the issues you will need to work out.  

According to Live About, some of the issues you may encounter along the way include the following:

  • Assigning values: Each of the items awaiting the process of division will need to be assigned a monetary value. 
  • Asset identification: During the legal process, all pieces of property will need to be identified as either something that is marital or non-marital. 
  • Co-owned items: Chances are you and your ex have items that you share or own together. These items will need to be determined and fairly separated.

Research indicates parental alienation may not be what it appears

For many couples seeking a divorce in Texas, they are faced with the uncertainty of creating a new life of independency and self-reliance. Often, difficult decisions must be made regarding property division and spousal support. However, the most complicated cases are often those involving couples who have had children together. In many unfortunate circumstances, children may be misled by one parent to believe that the other parent is abusive or neglectful. 

While this may be true in some instances, new research suggests that not all cases of parental alienation may not be what they appear to be to an outside observer. A study of children with divorcing parents revealed that 11-15 percent of minors experienced parental alienation. However, evidence suggests that oftentimes, children may alienate their parents out of their own will, uninfluenced by parent intervention. Additionally, they often have logical and personal reasons for doing so. 

How can you determine your equal share of personal property?

You and your spouse may have already come to an agreement about how you want to divide the family home in your Texas divorce. What about the items in the home, though. If you have antiques, artwork and collections of value, these may change the way the judge determines an equal division of your marital property.

According to the Journal of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, any couple with valuable personal items should consider the benefits of hiring a professional appraiser. Before you make this decision, you should conduct a thorough inventory of all your personal property, including descriptions and photos of each item. If you are not sure whether an item is worth the cost of the service, you may be able to come up with a general idea of its value online before proceeding. 

Your credit, divorce and financial future are tied together

Now that you've made the decision to divorce, you probably realize that your life is going to change in a lot of ways. Some of these ways are fairly minor, such as not wearing a wedding ring any longer. Other ways are more serious, such as having your finances turned upside down.

One way that your divorce is going to affect your life is that it will impact your credit. This may not seem like too big of a deal now, but you might find that it is life altering in the near future.

Making the most of your mediation meeting

As you may be beginning to notice, divorce is rarely a seamless and smooth process. No matter the reason you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage, chances are contention will be inevitable as your divorce proceeds. Fortunately, there are valuable tools such as mediation where you and your spouse can utilize professional intervention to reach beneficial solutions. At Fabio + Merrill, we have been able to assist many Texas couples through the often complex process of divorce. 

Getting the most out of your meeting with mediation professionals is due in large part to how proactive you are about preparing ahead of time. According to the Huffington Post, there are several things you can do to get yourself ready for a productive mediation meeting. These include the following:

  • Have the right mindset: Your purpose should be to negotiate and reach solutions, not to argue and put up a vehement defense.
  • Verbalize your concerns: If you are concerned about remembering all of the points you wish to discuss, do yourself a favor and verbalize them or list them in a document.
  • Organize your finances: Coming with neatly organized financials is an excellent way to facilitate productivity and keep things moving in the right direction. 
  • Know your rights: Do not allow yourself to be taken advantage of. Do your research ahead of time and be familiar with your rights so you can feel confident about getting a fair outcome.

Fabio+Merrill Attorneys At Law

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