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7 steps to prepare you for divorce mediation

 Posted on March 29, 2017 in Divorce

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.

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What happens if I am no longer able to pay child support?

 Posted on January 27, 2017 in Divorce

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

In order to secure a modification to a support order in Texas, there must be proof that the non-custodial parent has undergone a substantial change in circumstances. Qualifying circumstances include:

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Preventing child custody problems while serving on active duty

 Posted on December 07, 2016 in Divorce

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

Your custody or visitation rights should never be penalized because you are serving your country, nor should you have to worry about official court decisions being made that bear significant impact on your life when you are unable to be present as an active participant in a hearing. There are several things to remember to protect your rights:

  • State laws vary: Some states have very specific laws pertaining to child custody issues as they relate to members of the military. You will want to be aware of the laws in the state that has jurisdiction over your children's custody to avoid any negative surprises while you are deployed.

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Overcoming obstacles during the adoption process

 Posted on October 31, 2016 in Divorce

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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How virtual visitation can help if relocation becomes necessary

 Posted on October 26, 2016 in Divorce

For a non-custodial parent, keeping a strong parent/child bond after a divorce is finalized can certainly be challenging. Visitation schedules can be arranged to help with this, but, sometimes, the amount of time granted is limited due to a parent's personal circumstances - such as the need to relocate. Thankfully, parents in Texas have the ability to seek virtual visitation schedules.

What is virtual visitation?

If you are granted virtual visitation as part of your parenting agreement, this means that you will be able to keep in contact with your children by using some form of technology. Depending on your individual circumstances, this may grant you free access to contact your children as often as you want or it may come with limitations as to how and when you are able to reach out to your kids. In either case, it is a great option for those who are unable to have a significant amount of physical visitation time.

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Why Do Divorce Rates Spike In March And August?

 Posted on August 24, 2016 in Divorce

If late spring and early summer are a never-ending parade of weddings, interestingly "wedding season" seems to be sandwiched between two different divorce seasons. Divorce filings hit their peaks in March and August every year.

According to the American Sociological Association (ASA), couples who are on the outs seem to want to tough it out during the holiday season, even though most couples fight about money during that time.

You undoubtedly know that the holidays can be a really tense time, on account of all the spending and travel: buying holiday gifts, paying for plane tickets, massive credit card bills in January, and holiday parties. If you have strained relationships with your in-laws, those obligatory trips on Thanksgiving and Christmas may only add fuel to the fire.

Waiting until March to file for divorce makes sense, said the researchers, because people are still usually rebounding from holiday spending in February, and it's emotionally difficult to shoulder the thought of divorce around Valentine's Day.

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How Will Daycare Be Covered After The Divorce?

 Posted on July 13, 2016 in Divorce

Divorce automatically delivers a new life full of changes and unknown variables that need to be worked out. For many parents, they must entirely rethink the way they parent and how they will care for their children.

One major variable here is the cost of childcare - particularly if one parent must now return to work. Daycare is expensive. It is a lot for one person to bankroll on their own. Many people assume that child support payments factor in this expense and will cover it.

The standardized formula for determining child support, however, does not factor in the cost of daycare, generally. In some cases, the court will address the expense in its divorce decree, mandating that both parents pay a certain percentage of the bill.

If the court does not directly provide instructions here, however, it is important that you and your spouse determine exactly how child care will be covered between the two of you following the divorce.

Child support payments do not cover various other expenses, including extracurricular activities and certain medical expenses. You need to have conversations before the divorce is finalized regarding exactly how these expenses will be divided between the two of you. If your spouse seems unwilling to share in these costs, your attorney should be prepared to advocate on your behalf to have directions for these expenses included in the final divorce decree.

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What every grandparent needs to know about visitation rights

 Posted on June 01, 2016 in Divorce

As a grandparent, looking out for the best interests of your grandchild or grandchildren is not always easy, especially when the traditional family structure falls apart. If your family has suboptimal circumstances that you believe negatively impact your grandchildren, there are steps you can take. While your legal rights may be diminished when compared to biological parents, you are not completely without options.

What are my rights?

The first step to providing a stable environment is to understand your rights. In Roxel v. Granvill, the Supreme Court ruled that grandparents do not have a constitutional right to visit their grandchildren. This means that your visitation or custody rights are not federally protected. Instead, laws about visitation vary by state. In Texas, there are laws in place that create a clear avenue to file for visitation rights or custody of grandchildren.

How can I exercise my visitation rights?

If the child's biological parents are denying you visitation, then you will likely have to pursue legal action. You can file under Chapter 156 of the Texas Family Code if one or more of the following conditions exist:

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Determining the Value of Community Property in a Texas Divorce

 Posted on March 14, 2016 in Divorce

Whether you've been married for a few years or for several decades, property division may be the most complex aspect of your divorce, especially if you've accumulated significant wealth.

For many people, property division at divorce forms the foundation of their financial lives for many years to come.

Fair and realistic property valuation is crucial to obtaining a fair divorce settlement.

In Texas the assets and debts acquired during the marriage are presumed to be community property, which is divisible between the spouses. In addition to the house, vehicles and bank accounts, community property may include complex assets such as your business, stocks and bonds, international asset holdings, intellectual property, retirement savings, and more.

While Texas law calls for a "just and right" division of community property, a 50/50 split is not always a foregone conclusion. In fact, an even split would be inappropriate in many situations, and a comprehensive valuation of assets is needed to achieve a settlement that is truly fair.

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Why Do Military Service Members Tend to Marry Young?

 Posted on January 06, 2016 in Divorce

In contrast with older generations, many Americans these days are waiting until their 30s or even later to get married. The story is different, though, with military members.

Consider these statistics from the U.S. Department of Defense Demographics Report:

  • Of all active-duty service members, about 43 percent are aged 25 or younger.
  • About 23 percent are between the ages of 26 and 30.
  • And slightly more than 56 percent of active-duty members are married.

Out of all the military branches, the Army has the highest percentage of married service members — at nearly 60 percent.

So why do service members tend to get married young?

There is no easy answer to that question, of course.

In the United States, we generally assume that people get married for love, but it's also true that love isn't the only factor that guides people into matrimony. Security; tax, health and estate benefits; economic gain; family pressure; the desire for children and a family legacy; impatience — these can all play separate parts in a couple's decision to marry.

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