Terry L. Hart, Attorney at Law

Houston Family Law Blog

Co-parenting during spring break doesn't have to be hard

Even if it feels like the school year just started back up after the winter holiday, spring break is already around the corner. This week-long break is a popular time for families to travel for vacation, and you might even have plans in the works. But co-parenting during spring break can actually be more difficult than you might think.

Working within the parameters of your child custody agreement is important, even if spring break seems insignificant in the long run. From kindergarten through high school, he or she will only have 13 of these breaks. Sure, that might seem like a lot. However, when you think about how quickly the years pass, it really is not.

Asset division in community property states like Texas

While most American states have adopted the equitable division model when distributing assets in a divorce, Texas remains a community property state. Unless you have already experienced a divorce, you may be one of the many residents with a poor understanding of what community property means. Learning about this part of your divorce is vital to ensuring that you walk away from your divorce with a fair share of the marital property.

In basic terms, community property means that you and your spouse own the property acquired during your marriage equally. At the same time, however, this does not always mean that you will get exactly half of your marital property. In some cases, what you may think of as marital property may be separate property in the eyes of the law. Below are several examples of separate property.

  • Gifts--before and during the marriage--made to an individual spouse
  • Inheritances--before and during the marriage--bequeathed to an individual spouse
  • Property that you and your spouse designated as separate in a written document
  • Property that an individual spouse purchases using his or her separate assets

Is divorce mediation always the best solution for Texas couples?

Divorce mediation is quickly becoming a popular choice for couples looking to end their marriages with as little stress as possible. The process of mediation involves working with a neutral third-party toward the goal of resolving any disputes couples may have regarding divorce.

While divorce mediation is an excellent option for many couples in Texas, it may not work for everyone. If you and your spouse are calling it quits, it might benefit you to learn more about mediation and how it can help you get divorced. One way you can get the facts about mediation is by consulting with a law firm that handles divorce mediation. In the meantime, it can help to explore some of the pros and cons associated with the process.

How difficult is it to adopt your spouse's biological children?

Texas families come in all shapes and sizes, and there is no one right way to establish a home. Sometimes, the bond that stepparents have with their stepchildren is significant enough to where the stepparent wants to formalize his or her relationship through adoption. This can be a wonderful way to grow your family and legally establish your role in the life of your kids.

Even if you and your spouse are ready to move forward with this process, it can be more complicated than simply making the decision to do it. Stepparent adoption can be tricky, especially in cases where the other parent does not consent or is not around. Because of the sensitive and potentially complex nature of these types of cases, you would be wise to work with an experienced attorney from the very beginning.

Can changes to my employment modify my child support?

In Texas, when there is an order to pay child support, the employment situation will play a significant role in how much is to be paid. Given the fickle nature of the job market, it is not uncommon for a person to lose his or her job and experience a changed financial circumstance during the time they are paying or receiving child support. Job loss or making less money can be a challenge. It is important to understand how this can affect the payments and for how long.

The mere fact that a person's job status has changed does not mean the child support does not need to be paid. There is an option that the case be subject to review by the Office of Attorney General (OAG) to decide how to proceed for everyone's benefit. There might be a modification option. The person who lost the job or has a lower paying job should contact the OAG immediately to inform them what has happened.

Pet custody disputes increase among divorcing couples

One of the most difficult parts of a divorce when a couple has children can be coming up with a parenting plan that is fair to both parents, and of course, is in the best interests of the child. But what happens when that "child" is a four-legged furball? Divorcing couples in Texas often find themselves fighting over man's best friend, arguing over who gets to keep the family pet.

A 2014 survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reports that pet custody cases increased by 27%, and approximately 88% of them involved a dog. Some experts say that many people are forgoing having children and purchasing a home, and instead are focusing all their attention on their pets.

January has become known as 'divorce month'

The holiday season is in full swing, but many Texas couples may be focused more on the end of their marriages than parties and holiday shopping. Google Trends has found that the topic of divorce peaks the week of January 6 through 12, right after the holiday season ends, and Pinterest saw a 21 percent rise in searches for 'divorce party' from December to January in 2017, 2018, and 2019.

In fact, January has now become known as 'Divorce Month' due to the increase in divorce filings during this time. However, divorces and annulments decreased eight percent from 2007 to 2017, and fewer people are getting married in general.

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.

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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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