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Recent Blog Posts

How to solve co-parenting problems with your ex

 Posted on September 01, 2021 in Co-Parenting

Happily married Texas couples don’t agree about every matter regarding their children. So, there's no reason to expect that co-parenting with your former spouse will be a cakewalk.

The trick is – despite any bitter or angry feelings you may still have for your ex – to put those emotions aside and focus on what's best for your children when parenting disputes arise.

Two ways to problem-solve with your co-parent

Successful co-parenting requires patience, open communication and empathy. That may sound like a tall order for some. Depending on the space you and your ex are in, here are two problem-solving methods to consider:

  • Strategic: This model only focuses on the issues at hand, leaving emotion out of the equation. You and your co-parent identify the problem and work to negotiate a solution objectively.
  • Social-psychological: This method addresses how deeper emotional issues and attitudes cause or contribute to co-parenting conflicts. Talking to your ex about feelings may be difficult unless both of you focus on your kids’ needs and speak to each other in a nonconfrontational manner.

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Understanding the Adoption Process in Texas

 Posted on August 01, 2021 in Adoption

Adoption can be a wonderful way for a child to receive a caring, loving parent. As most readers know, adoption is the formal transferring of parental rights to another person who may or may not be related to the child. The circumstances under which adoption may arise can vary tremendously. In some cases, a stepparent may choose to adopt the child of his or her spouse; in other cases, a person may choose to adopt simply because of a desire to parent a child. Finally, infertility may lead others to adopt. Whatever the case may be, the procedure for adopting a child in Texas is complex and requires expert guidance to fully traverse.

In this post, we will go over the essentials of the adoption process; those who would like to learn more are encouraged to contact The Ramage Law Group for more information.

Adoption vs. Conservatorship

Before discussing the adoption procedure, we should point out that adoption is legally distinguishable from another kind of custody – conservatorship. In the State of Texas, a court may grant a non-biological relative or third-party a conservatorship over a child for numerous possible reasons. This conservatorship bestows upon the holder various rights which are similar to the rights possessed by a biological parent. However, conservatorship is distinct from legal parenthood on several critical points. For one, a child who has a conservator does not automatically have inheritance rights; this is different from a parent-child relationship in which the child has automatic inheritance rights. What's more, the full rights of the conservatorship are actually limited to those which have been specifically identified by the court. This is unlike a legal parent who has full rights. And finally, conservatorships can always be subject to change in the future. In an adoption, the parent-child relationship is established and is not subject to change.

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The Essentials of Spousal Maintenance in the State of Texas

 Posted on August 01, 2021 in Spousal Maintenance

Spousal maintenance – also referred to as “alimony” in many states throughout the nation – refers to financial support given to a person by that person's former spouse. Spousal maintenance can be given for a variety of different reasons in the State of Texas. When considering spousal maintenance, Texas judges conduct a case-by-case analysis and give weight to a range of factors; however, certain conditions must be present in order for a spousal maintenance request to be considered initially. Judges have some leeway in determining whether maintenance is appropriate in a given situation, but Texas law is rather strict in its treatment of the duration and amount of maintenance orders.

In this post, we will discuss the qualifications of spousal maintenance, and the standing presumption against maintenance in Texas. We will also go over some of the factors which play into spousal maintenance determinations, and how duration is decided.

Qualifications of Spousal Maintenance in Texas Law

Under Texas law, either spouse can request spousal maintenance following a divorce. But, in order for a maintenance request to even be considered, the requesting spouse must demonstrate that he or she lacks the ability to provide for essential or basic minimum needs. In addition, once that hurdle is met, the requesting spouse must show that at least one of four conditions are present: (1) the maintenance giving spouse was convicted of domestic violence within the last two years before the filing of the divorce, (2) the couple was married for a minimum of 10 years, and the requesting spouse lacks the ability to provide for basic minimum needs, (3) the requesting spouse possesses a physical or mental disability which impedes his or her ability to provide for basic minimum needs, or (4) the requesting spouse must take care of a child who requires supervision due to a physical or mental disability, and this parental responsibility inhibits the spouse from being self-supportive.

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Why Mediation Can Be a Viable Avenue to Divorce

 Posted on August 01, 2021 in Mediation

At one point or another, most people have heard of the process referred to as “mediation” in family law. Most people understand that mediation is essentially an alternative to the traditional, court-based divorce process. However, few people know much about the details of how the mediation process works. Mediation is an increasingly common alternative, both in Texas and throughout the nation, mainly because it offers several key advantages. Depending on the specifics of the situation, mediation can be a viable method for developing the agreements (i.e. child custody, visitation, etc.) necessary to accomplish a divorce.

In this post, we will go over the essentials of the mediation procedure here in Texas. Then, we will point out the two main advantages of this process.

Basic Overview of the Mediation Process

Mediation has a formal structure which is consistent from one case to another; however, the results of any given mediation depend completely on the facts, circumstances and desires of the parties involved. In other words, although the mediation structure is predictable, the outcome of any given mediation is not so predictable. A single person will assume the role of the “mediator” in the mediation process. This person literally acts as the facilitator who assists both sides of the aisle in coming to agreements on the disputes of the divorce. In mediation, both sides attempt to independently come to agreement on any disputed issues of the divorce, such as child custody, visitation, property division, asset protection, alimony and so forth.

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My child is 18 years old. Why am I still paying child support?

 Posted on August 01, 2021 in Child Support

In most cases, child support payments end in Texas when your child graduates from high school or turns 18 years old, whichever comes last.For example, if your child is still enrolled in high school after turning 18, support continues until they graduate. If they graduate at age 17 or younger, support typically ends the same month they turn 18 years old.

Support may continue for children with disabilities

There are exceptions. Support payments may be required beyond a child's 18th birthday and high school graduation in certain circumstances. If the child has a disability, support can be ordered for an “indefinite” period. For that to happen, the court must believe that:

  1. The child requires substantial supervision and treatment.
  2. The child cannot care for themselves due to a mental or physical disability, regardless of whether they live at home or in an assisted living facility.

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How can social media affect your divorce?

 Posted on August 01, 2021 in Divorce

Going through a divorce can be a devastating experience. It can be even more challenging under the bright lights of the social media age. If you are a fervent user of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other platforms, it's vital to your future to understand how these applications can affect the outcome of your divorce.

Social media dos and don’ts during divorce

So many Texans’ lives are chronicled these days on social media. But once you decide to end your marriage, you need to change your social media habits, since anything you post may be used against you in court. Here are some general rules for managing your online presence:

What you should do with your social media accounts:

  • If possible, stop using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram until your divorce is final
  • Change your passwords so your spouse or others can’t access your accounts
  • Change your security to the highest level possible to restrict what others can see

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The Basics of Visitation Rights in Texas

 Posted on August 01, 2021 in Child Custody

One of the central aspects of child care is parental visitation. When a married couple breaks up, they need to develop a child custody agreement. The custody agreement determines certain things such as who will have primary physical custody, shared legal custody, and so forth. Visitation rights are another key part of caring for the child shared between the parties. In this post, we will lay out the basics on how the State of Texas deals with this critically important matter.

Texas Believes in the Necessity of Dual Parental Involvement

The first thing to know when it comes to visitation rights in Texas is that our system believes that the welfare of children is best promoted by having involving from both parents. This is sort of the “first principle” when it comes to understanding how our visitation rights work. Unless a parent is unstable, or potentially dangerous, the State of Texas adheres to the notion that a child should have regular contact with both parents. This principle informs Texas's laws on visitation, as is reflects in Texas's “Standard Possession Order,” which we will discuss below.

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Yes, you can serve divorce papers through social media and email in Texas

 Posted on August 01, 2021 in Divorce

If your spouse or partner avoids being served legal orders through conventional methods, Texas now allows service of process through social media and email. This change took effect at the beginning of 2021, after the Texas Supreme Court approved changes to rules in the state.

Some people try to evade service processors, so they can avoid receiving divorce petitions, custody orders, and other legal documents. The law change makes it much easier for you to serve legal documents on a current or former spouse. However, you still have to try the old-fashioned ways first.

First, try to serve documents the traditional way

Your first attempts to serve legal documents must include these traditional methods:

  • Serve the papers in person (usually through a process server) and provide the court with proof of service
  • Send the papers by registered or certified mail with a return receipt requested

Second, ask permission to serve another way

If those efforts are unsuccessful, your attorney can file a motion with the court listing the likely location where the defendant (the person you want to serve) can be found. You and your lawyer must also offer proof that traditional attempts to serve the defendant were unsuccessful. The court may then authorize service of process by:

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How to file for divorce without wrecking your finances

 Posted on July 01, 2021 in Divorce

The thought of ending a once-loving relationship can be bad enough on its own, but adding an uncertain financial future to the equation presents an extra layer of fear and anxiety to any divorce between Texas spouses.

But the good news is there are steps you can take to protect your new life as a single person. First, consult with an experienced and compassionate family law attorney who can guide you through the process.

Five steps to protect your future financial well-being

In addition to charting a budget for paying monthly bills, including mortgage or rent, utilities and other expenses, it's vital to take steps to protect assets by:

  • Establishing a legal separation date: Until this date is set in writing, all income you earn and assets you acquire may be subject to division.
  • Checking your credit: Get a copy of your credit report from Experian, Equifax or TransUnion and check for any potential errors or damage resulting from your spouse's actions.

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The Basics of How Texas Courts Treat Prenuptial Agreements

 Posted on July 01, 2021 in Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements – also referred to as “premarital agreements” in Texas – are a curious thing in the context of marriage. On the one hand, many people insist that these agreements are necessary to ensure that no spouse is unfairly impacted by a divorce. On the other hand, prenuptial agreements are not exactly the most romantic things, and in some ways seem incongruous with the general purpose of marriage to begin with. The best approach is likely to be somewhere in the middle: use prenups when necessary, but they may not always be necessary. Texas is a community property state, which has a decisive role in property division in divorces without a prenuptial agreement. If a couple feels that this default position is fine, then perhaps a prenup is simply not necessary.

In this post, we’d like to give a basic overview of how courts treat prenuptial agreements. Most readers have at least a general idea of how these agreements work. A prenuptial agreement is a contract which predetermines things such as property division, asset protection, inheritance, debt responsibility, and so forth. But how do courts treat these agreements? Let's discuss in a bit of detail.

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