Terry L. Hart, Attorney at Law

Houston Family Law Blog

Making your parenting plan work when school's out

You may not be ready to think about it yet, but it is only a matter of weeks before school is out and the kids are home for summer vacation. While you may have many fun things planned for the children, it is also true that your normal routine will likely go right out the window. This may be especially difficult to control if you are dealing with a shared custody arrangement.

When you and your ex were going through your divorce, custody was likely one of the sticking points. Undoubtedly, you each had your own ideas for what is best for the children, even if you agreed on the big picture. Whether you and your ex have an amicable co-parenting arrangement or you barely get through the custody exchanges, it is a good idea to begin as soon as possible making your plans for the end of the Texas school year.

Divorce mistakes that can be costly

When a Houston couple gets married, they often believe their marriage will last forever. But unfortunately, some marriages run into problems, and a divorce becomes imminent. If a couple is headed towards a divorce, there are certain things they should keep in mind in order to keep the divorce from unexpectedly costing them more than they expected.

When a couple is going through a divorce, there are certain mistakes they may make that can end up costing them. One mistake that many have made is posting too much information on social media. When a couple is negotiating a divorce settlement and one partner is posting about a vacation they just took, that could result in unexpected financial consequences.

Special needs children and child support

Many families in the Houston area have a child with special needs. Families who have special needs children understand the amount of time and money that the child requires. In these cases, it is important for families to keep the best interest of their child in mind when it comes to child support.

When there is a child support issue involving a child with special needs it can be a complicated matter. The Texas Family Code requires that a child is classified as having special needs if they are not able to care for themselves or live on their own due to a medical or mental health problem. Parents can disagree over what conditions may qualify their child as special needs. The courts decide this on a case by case basis, so the parents need to gather all of the information necessary for the court to make an informed decision. The information should include medical records, school records, occupational therapists, mental health counselors, etc. Once a child has been classified as special needs, it is important to figure out what expenses the child has, including medical expenses, travel expenses, special equipment needed, etc. Child support can continue past a special needs child's 18th birthday. In Texas, child support for special needs children does not follow the general child support guidelines so there can be a substantial impact on a family's budget.

Divorce can affect your business

People put a lot of energy and time into creating their businesses and it often takes years before they start earning a profit. When all this development is threatened by a business partner's divorce, Texas residents may feel overwhelmed, but, the truth is, a business partner's soon-to-be ex-spouse may actually be entitled to a portion of the business, unless there are provisions in place to prevent such a situation.

The first factor to consider is how the partner's share in the business will be divided. The divorcing partner may decide to pay out the other with shares of stock, giving the divorcing partner either a say in the business or an opportunity to dump the stock and affect the value of the business. Alternatively, if the divorcing partner must liquidate their stock, then the business faces the difficulty of figuring out where the liquidity will come from. Similarly, as the divorce drags on, the divorcing partner can be distracted from their work and the business's health may suffer as a result.

Facing a threat to your parental rights? You can fight back

As a Texas parent facing divorce or dealing with post-divorce transitions, nothing is more important than protecting your children and the relationship you have with them. Even with a clear visitation and parenting time order, it is not always easy to work with the other parent and make a custody plan work. Due to hard feelings, anger, grief or disappointment over the divorce terms, the other parent may attempt to threaten your parental rights.

Parenting time interference happens when one parent deliberately interferes with the other parent's relationship with his or her children. It can take many forms, but you do not have to stand for it. If you are dealing with this type of treatment and you believe your parental rights are at risk, you can take steps to preserve your custody rights and protect the role you have in the life of your child. 

How is child support calculated in Texas?

Going from one household to two during a divorce is difficult enough, but then managing how much is to be paid in spousal support and child support can further complicate matters. Where spousal support is paid by one spouse to another for a specific period of time to help the receiving spouse get back on their feet financially while maintaining the lifestyle they were accustomed to before the divorce, child support is for the children's financial needs only.

Child support is paid by the noncustodial parent to the custodial parent and the purpose is to fulfill the children's financial obligations. This could include tuition fees, medical expenses and clothing costs or any other matters the parents decide upon. Where most decisions in a divorce that involve children are made in the kid's best interests, child support is calculated based on a specific formula in Texas.

Ways to avoid financial pitfalls in divorce

On a scale of one to 10, how good are you with money? Do you consider yourself a financial guru who sees far into the future and is confident that you're set for life? Perhaps you're more like those who can't recall the last time they looked at a pay stub or balanced a checkbook. Do people even do that anymore?

Maybe you're somewhere in between. You do your best to make ends meet, save a little when you can and at least have some funds set aside in case of emergency. You may also be the type of person who has been married 10 or more years and basically left all finance-related matters up to your spouse. That may have seemed like it was working well, until you decided to divorce. If you hope to avoid financial distress post-divorce, there are several things you should know.

On what grounds can I get a divorce in Texas?

Texas, along with many other states across the country, allows both no-fault and at-fault divorces. An at-fault divorce is one in which one spouse can point to the other's conduct and claim this is the reason for the marriage coming to an end. However, before asking for a divorce based on fault, the alleging party must be able to prove that they should be given a divorce based on the reason they are alleging.

Texas also allows for a no-fault divorce. This means that neither party has to prove that the other is at fault. The petition will cite insupportability as the cause of the divorce. Legally, this means that the marriage cannot be supported due to a conflict of personalities or a dispute that destroys the legitimate ends of the marriage and there is no realistic expectation of a reconciliation. The couple must have been separated for three years to avail this ground.

We resolve complex family law issues in a divorce

Now that you have decided to get a divorce and have begun the legal process for doing so, it might feel like everything is on the line, especially if you have children. For a parent going through a divorce, children are often the most important asset they simultaneously wish to protect and fight over in custody battles.

Some couples may be able to avoid a child custody dispute by coming to a mutual agreement over the terms of the custody agreement. While it's difficult to imagine what life would be like without having a child under one's roof all the time, using this motivation to engage in a lengthy dispute will only create bitterness in an already emotionally charged time. Accepting this reality and working out an agreement that works for both parties and retains the loving, supportive environment that children have become accustomed to works for everyone in the long-run.

Factors affecting best interests of children in custody decisions

Couples with children who are going through a divorce in Texas will most likely find that child custody decisions are the most difficult to make. Going from a house always full of children to a house where children are only present half the time can make divorcing couples more emotionally charged and unable to agree on what the best custody arrangement is. When a couple is unable to make this decision, the court steps in and makes the custody award based on the best interests of the children involved.

The best interests of the child means not only their physical and financial needs, but also their emotional and mental needs as well. Judges can either grant sole physical custody to one parent-known as the sole conservator-or joint physical and legal custody to both parents-called a joint conservatorship.

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Terry L. Hart, Attorney at Law
4265 San Felipe Street
Suite 1100
Houston, TX 77027

Toll Free: 877-576-7390
Phone: 713-581-1773
Fax: 713-968-9817
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