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For as long as you have been a parent, you've always done what's best for your children. Perhaps you made personal sacrifices in order to make sure your kids didn't go without. Nothing matters more to you than seeing that your children are happy and well cared for.

Now that you and your co-parent are splitting up, of course you want to remain committed to your children. However, you might have concerns about how the future is going to look for your reconfigured family. A brief overview of child custody in Texas might help answer a few questions.

Understanding the terminology of custody

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For most people in Texas, going through a divorce for the first time is daunting. Those who want to minimize conflict may be aware of divorce mediation, which can allow them to avoid litigation. Before going into your first mediation session, it might be best to be as prepared as you could be.

Here are some steps you may want to take in preparation:

  1. Legal guidance — An experienced attorney can provide support throughout the process. The mediator's sole purpose will be to provide a platform for peaceful negotiation and encourage communication and compromise. His or her goal will be to reach a fair settlement in a non-adversarial manner. The mediator may not provide any legal advice. However, each spouse may bring his or her lawyer — not only to advise but also to provide valuable input.
  2. Rights and obligations — You can gather a lot of information from the internet, books, magazines and other individuals without knowing whom and what to trust. However, none will be as valuable as the knowledge you can get from an attorney who has been through the process a myriad of times. Your lawyer can explain your obligations and your legal rights, and, most importantly, answer all your questions.
  3. Emotions — The most difficult part of a divorce may be the need to control your emotions. This is naturally an experience loaded with emotion, which could cloud your judgment and ability to make wise decisions. It may be advisable to build a moral support team, such as friends, family, therapists or support groups. In their company, you can rant, rave, and shed all your emotions to allow you to be focused when you enter mediation sessions.
  4. Avoid arguing — Be prepared to focus on negotiating and avoid falling into a trap if your soon-to-be-ex tries to start an argument. That is the quickest way to get you emotions to take over. Be proactive and embrace the opportunity to be the master of your destiny, rather than having to resort to litigation in which you will have no control over decisions. Be clear about your needs and use the mediator's skills to accomplish your goals.
  5. Financial information — For mediation, you need a list of all your assets and debts. If you set it out on a spreadsheet, it will ease the process. If you do not have a clear picture of this, you might jeopardize your post-divorce financial stability. Include every single asset and all debts — even money lent to or borrowed from a friend or family member. Thorough preparation for the division of assets can allow you to smoothly transition through what can sometimes become a very contentious part of a divorce.
  6. Budget — Drafting a budget can give you a clear idea of you post-divorce financial needs. Prepared with this information, negotiations about money may be easier, and you will be able to justify your needs if it the amount is challenged.
  7. Parenting concerns — Mediation can include much more than financial negotiations. Go prepared with a written list of concerns to be addressed. If you are a parent, many of your concerns may involve your children. Thorough preparation for your divorce mediation could increase the odds of receiving the best possible outcome for your children's future.

Something else that might give you peace of mind is the fact that you need not take any of these steps without the support and guidance of your carefully selected divorce attorney. Throughout the process, your attorney will stand by your side, even if you decide that mediation is not the suitable choice for your circumstances. Your lawyer will advocate for you regardless of your chosen method to end your marriage.

The end of a marriage can bring with it significant financial changes for both parties. For you, these changes can become struggles, and, over time, may develop into genuine financial hardship. If you are struggling to meet your child support obligation each month, you are not alone. Many parents have found themselves in this same situation, but, fortunately, you have options.

Depending on the circumstances of your situation, it may be possible to secure a modification to the original child support order. This will ensure that you remain in compliance and still do your part to financially support your children.

Appropriate grounds for a modification

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Can you imagine coming home to Texas from active deployment in the military only to learn that you lost custody of your child while you were away? While that may sound outrageous and unlikely, it has actually happened in the past.

As a parent, you're obviously concerned with the overall well-being of your children. As a member of the U.S. military, it is also important that you are able to fully dedicate yourself to the mission at hand without stressing over custody-related issues.

Protecting your parental rights

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Many people in Texas are unable to, or simply choose not to, have biological children of their own. Such decisions are intensely personal and circumstances and/or opinions may change throughout a lifetime. If you have decided to welcome children from other birth parents into your home and family, the process, although often joyful and exciting, is not without its challenges. Identifying facts versus myths, as well as seeking clarification of the laws that govern such matters, can help you (and all prospective adoptive parents) make informed decisions, moving forward toward happy and successful futures.

Don't be fooled by adoption myths

Especially, if this is your first time navigating the adoption process in the United States, you may have difficulty determining fact from fiction. Just because a well-intended friend or relative may seem to know a lot about adoption, doesn't mean that the information offered is true. Following is a list of common myths that tend to confuse those considering adoption:

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