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Tarrant County Right of First Refusal LawyerWhen Texas parents of a minor child share custody of the child, they must create and abide by a legally enforceable parenting agreement. Although courts can set the terms of the parenting agreement (technically known as a “possession agreement” in Texas legal terms), most co-parents find they can create a better, more satisfactory parenting agreement when they work together outside of court. 

One possible option many parents take advantage of in a customized parenting agreement is an idea called the “right of first refusal.” In this blog, we will explore the basics of the right of first refusal and how, under the right circumstances, it can benefit both a child and her parents. 

The Right of First Refusal in Texas

The right of first refusal is a clause that states one or both parents will rely on each other for childcare when they would otherwise hire a babysitter or ask a family member for help. The right of first refusal does not have set terms, but rather can be customized to suit the needs and schedule of the parents. Ideally, it allows both parents to maximize their time with a child whenever possible. 

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Tarrant County Spousal Support LawyerAlimony is a complex subject in any divorce. Few spouses want to pay it, and few spouses who receive it feel as though they are getting enough. When neither side is likely to be satisfied with the outcome of a particular issue in a divorce, it is especially important to understand the law so you know your options and have some idea of what to expect. In this blog, we will give a brief overview of the basics of alimony in Texas; keep in mind that this is not legal advice and that the best source for answers to your questions is an experienced Hurst divorce attorney. 

First Things First: What is Alimony? 

Alimony in Texas is technically known as “spousal maintenance.” The “obligee” is the person who receives spousal maintenance, and the “obligor” is the person who pays it. Spousal maintenance is money given from the obligor to the obligee after a divorce to give the obligee time to become financially self-sustaining after a marriage ends. Alimony is most common in marriages in which one spouse forfeited their career or educational potential to care for children or support their spouse’s career. Spousal support payments today tend not to last as long nor be as large as they have in the past. 

Does the Wife Always Get Alimony in Texas? 

No. In fact, while either spouse can request spousal maintenance, payments are not automatically given to anyone and certain conditions must be met before a judge will order spousal maintenance. These are: 

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texas child custody lawyerFor parents who are getting divorced, figuring out how custody and visitation work in Texas can feel overwhelming. Fathers especially may worry that they will lose access to their children once the divorce is finalized. Fortunately, the trend in Texas is moving towards making it easier for both parents to exercise their parental rights equally and maintain a loving relationship with their children. If one of your goals in your Texas divorce is getting custody of your children, read on. 

How Does Child Custody Work in Texas?  

Child custody in Texas is divided into two important areas: conservatorship, or the ability to make important decisions on behalf of a child, and access and possession, or the ability to spend time with a child as their caregiver (also known as visitation). Texas usually names both parents “joint managing conservators,” meaning parents will both participate in the decision-making process no matter how possession and access are allocated. 

Parents are encouraged to work together outside of court to create a parenting agreement that includes details about both conservatorship and access and possession. Parents are more likely to be satisfied with the parenting arrangement when they play an active role in negotiating its details. If parents have a hard time getting along, a mediator can help them reach a compromise. 

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For many couples who are preparing for a divorce, a high conflict, contentious legal battle is the last thing that they want. You and your spouse may prefer to hire attorneys, a mediator, or both, and privately negotiate an agreement that covers things such as asset division and spousal support, in order to leave as little as possible for the court to decide for you.

This approach can be effective, especially when you have complex assets and you want a greater degree of control over negotiations. As such, you may be wondering what you can do to minimize the possibility of a judge modifying or even throwing out your carefully negotiated agreement.

Challenges to an agreement.

In Texas, if there is a challenge to a divorce agreement, the court has the sole discretion to decide whether a couple’s proposed divorce agreement is enforceable in light of the evidence presented. Out of respect for the parties’ right to contract, judges will typically approve any agreement you bring to them, unless a challenge occurs and the challenger is able to prove that the agreement is unconscionable.

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While the relationship between grandparents and grandchildren is often recognized as crucial in a child’s growth and maturity, grandparents do not often enjoy a legal right of access. During a divorce, the parents often ignore the grandparents while discussing custody, visitation and the parenting plan. This results in the eradication of a loving segment of the child’s life. Fortunately, grandparents can fight to retain visitation rights during and after the divorce process concludes.

Even though the court is hesitant to grant custody rights outside of severe circumstances, the courts often find it more reasonable to grant visitation rights. These are not automatic rights, however, and the grandparent must seek to legally establish these rights. Without legal rights established, one of the divorced parents could argue against visitation on numerous grounds, including:

  • Alienation in which the parent argues that the grandparent is turning the child against him or her.
  • Questioning parental authority by openly discussing with the child the incorrect nature of a parent’s rules or punishment.
  • Refusing to follow the parent’s instructions as they relate to a punishment, entertainment restrictions, food restrictions or bedtimes.

Many of these scenarios can quickly deteriorate into heated familial disputes. Even in a he-said-she-said style argument, grandparents are wise to ensure the court has legally protected them from the loss of visitation rights.

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