Terry L. Hart, Attorney at Law
713-581-1773

Houston Family Law Blog

Our attorneys can help you through your divorce

Deciding whether to divorce your spouse can be one of the most difficult decisions you ever have to make. However, once you have made the decision, it is important that you and your spouse keep emotions aside and deal with the realities of your situation. For many couples, that's easier said than done. Because divorce is such an emotional process, having an experienced attorney on your side can be a gamechanger.

No matter how straightforward your divorce seems to be, it is important to have someone on your side throughout the entire process. In many cases, couples that are seemingly on the same page at the beginning, end up in a contentious situation as the process continues. With over 30 years of experience, Terry L. Hart has helped countless Houston residents navigate the complexities of their divorce.

Divorcing? Here are 4 topics to keep off your social media

If you routinely use Facebook or other social media to release your frustrations, you may want to think carefully about your social media use during your divorce. Social media is not private no matter how private you keep your settings.

During a divorce, not all your friends will remain loyal. You may post something that quickly gets back to your ex, and that can be detrimental to goals. Some experts believe there are several topics you should avoid while you are going through a divorce.

Is your co-parenting plan holiday ready?

In Texas and throughout the country, most households are gearing up for this year's holiday season. Do you cook a large feast for family and friends on Thanksgiving? Perhaps, like many other people, you travel to a loved one's home or take a mini-vacation with your family; after all, beach house prices are typically a lot lower in the off-season. As a recently divorced parent, you might be wondering how the changes in your life are going to affect your children during the holidays.

It's definitely a common concern among parents in similar situations. If you and your ex are on friendly terms, are willing to compromise and can work together for your children's sake, you can likely anticipate a joyful holiday season ahead. On the other hand, if your relationship is a bit contentious, you'll want to make sure you create a solid plan ahead of time to avoid confusion and arguing during the holidays.

How do courts determine whether a parent is unfit for custody?

As previously discussed on our blog, when it comes to child custody arrangements, Texas courts prefer to split time and child care responsibilities equally between the parents. However, in cases where one of the parents is unfit to raise the child, joint child custody arrangements may not be in the best interest of the child. If you believe your ex cannot handle their parenting responsibilities, you will need to prove to the court that they are unfit to parent your child.

Courts will consider a number of factors when determining whether a parent is unfit to raise a child. Generally, Texas law defines an unfit parent as someone whose involvement with the child would negatively affect the child's physical or emotional health and development. Courts will first look at whether there is a history of abuse or neglect. If the court finds the parent is physically or sexually abusing the child or failing to provide the basic level of child care, the court may deem the parent unfit.

Tips for making co-parenting easier

In 2019, it is more likely than ever for a Texas court to encourage 50/50 child custody agreements. The basic idea is to make sure that the child gets an equal amount of time with both parents and keep both parents equally involved in the child's life. There are a few ways to implement 50/50 custody arrangements. In some cases, one parent will be given physical custody of the child for an entire week before the child is transferred to the other parent's house, where they will stay the following week. In other cases, the child may stay with one parent for the first couple of days of the week and the other parent for the next couple of days, and each parent would have the child on alternate weekends.

No matter what your shared child custody arrangement is, it is important that you and your ex learn to effectively co-parent. Many newly divorced couples struggle to get along and find it difficult to put their differences aside for the sake of the children. According to experts however, there are a number of ways to make the co-parenting process much easier.

How can I modify my child custody agreement?

When a couple with children gets divorced, there are parts of the divorce decree that specify child custody arrangements, child support owed, and other details relating to the children. However, life is always changing, and sometimes the arrangement that worked for you a year ago no longer makes sense. In such cases, Texas courts may allow for a modification of your child custody agreement.

If you need to make a change to your child custody or support agreement, it is important that you file for a modification with the court even if you and your ex agree on the change. Without an official court order, the original agreement stands, and any violation could result in serious penalties for the parent that violates it.

What does the divorce process look like in Texas?

If a person thinks their marriage may be headed for divorce, they might have many questions. A divorce can feel like the end of the world and emotions are running high. It might be helpful for those contemplating a divorce to understand how the divorce process works in Texas.

A Texas divorce process begins when one spouse files a petition for divorce in their county's district court. The spouse has the paperwork delivered to the other spouse. The respondent has 21 days to file an answer. During this time, the court may also consider temporary orders, including child support and visitation and spousal support while the divorce is pending. From here, the divorce process can include mediation or a collaborative divorce, so that couples can work together to form a divorce agreement. A litigated divorce is also possible.

Should you think about the possibility of divorce?

Recently engaged Texas couples may find themselves excited about the possibility of planning a wedding, going on a honeymoon and preparing for their lives together. During this period of planning and looking ahead, it's smart not to overlook the need for a prenuptial agreement. Despite the many benefits that this type of legal protection can provide, couples often don't want one or don't think they really need one. 

Prenuptial agreements are contracts that outline how property division will work in case of a divorce, and address certain financial matters that will come up during the marriage. You may think that it seems unromantic to talk about divorce before you've even made it down the aisle, or that you could be jinxing your marriage, but that is not true. Thinking and planning ahead is smart and practical -- for both you and your soon-to-be spouse.

Child support and visitation rights

Many Houston area couples make the decision to no longer remain together. Whether they were married or not, when a couple splits after having children together, the relationship can get complicated. If a parent has been ordered to pay child support, sometimes this support doesn't come through in a timely manner. There can be many questions in these situations.

If an ex-partner has not been paying child support, many may wonder if they still have the right to see their children. Visitation orders have been established by a court to make sure the children's best interests are met. When a parent has not been receiving child support payments, they may feel angry and upset, along with wondering how they will meet the basic needs of their children.

If you leave the family home, is that considered abandonment?

When a Texas couple gets married, they believe their marriage will last forever. In many cases, this is what happens, and they stay together for decades. But, when a divorce becomes inevitable, there are many things a person needs to consider. A couple doesn't usually want to live in the same house at this point of their relationship but leaving the family home may not be a good idea.

When a couple decides that a divorce is their only option, one of the spouses will probably move out. Before a person moves out, there are a few things they should keep in mind. If the spouse intends to seek primary custody of the children, they should not move out until a temporary order has been completed. If a person moves out before the temporary order is created, then the court may not grant them primary custody. If a couple does not have children but a person wants to keep the marital home, then they should not move out until they have had an initial hearing with the court. If a person moves out of the marital home before a hearing, it could look like they have another place to reside and may not be awarded the marital home.

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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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