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Recent Blog Posts

4 myths about special education in Texas

 Posted on December 01, 2021 in Special Education Law

If your child has special needs due to a disability and qualifies for special education, you may worry that it places a label on them that will be hard to overcome. The federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Texas laws rule that children with disabilities are eligible for a free, appropriate public education.

This education often means school-provision of special education and related services designed to meet your child's unique needs and help them prepare for additional education, employment and independent living. As a parent, you are an integral part of designing and measuring your child's educational progress.

Overcoming special education myths

Many Texas parents worry that unfair and untrue notions about special education may adversely impact their children. Here are four common myths about special education and the facts:

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What types of adoptions are available in Texas?

 Posted on November 01, 2021 in Adoption

November is National Adoption Month, which raises awareness of the urgent need for adoptive families for children in the foster care system. If you are considering adoption, you have several options to choose from in the Lone Star State.

During the 2020-2021 fiscal year, which ended Oct. 31, nearly 4,600 adoptions occurred while about 3,000 other children await their “forever homes,” according to the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services.

Options for adoptive parents

As long as you are a responsible adult (age 21 or older) and meet some basic requirements, you are eligible to adopt a child in Texas. Here are some ways to become an adoptive parent:

  • Private: Also known as an “independent adoption,” this method establishes direct placement between the adoptive parent or parents and the birth mother.
  • International: “Intercountry” adoptions are largely complex immigration cases. While they may take longer and cost more, they remain a popular and rewarding option for starting or growing your family.

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Do I need an attorney to adopt a child in Texas?

 Posted on November 01, 2021 in Adoption

Texas does not require you to hire a private attorney when adopting a child. However, consulting with a lawyer who regularly deals with adoptions can help make the complicated process smoother.

Experienced adoption lawyers understand the challenges and can guide you through the application process, court proceedings and protect your rights and interests every step of the way.

Requirements for adoptive parents

In the Lone Star State, you can pursue a private adoption or choose to adopt through the Texas foster care system. While the journey is different for each route, the requirements for adoptive parents are the same. You must:

  • Be 21 or older, financially stable and a responsible, mature adult
  • Provide background and lifestyle information
  • Have references from family and non-family members
  • Agree to a home study, which includes visits with every member of your household

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Can I adopt a Native American child in Texas?

 Posted on November 01, 2021 in Adoption

A Texas couple, who are not Native American, attempted to adopt a part-Cherokee and part-Navajo boy but were stopped by the Navajo Nation. After a years-long legal battle, the Navajo tribe withdrew its objection, and the couple was able to adopt the boy.

Native American tribes have the right to object to non-Native parents fostering and adopting Native American children. This is because of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) that became federal law in 1978.

What is the Indian Child Welfare Act?

The ICWA laws were passed over 40 years ago as a reaction to decades of separations involving Native families during the 19th and 20th centuries. For decades, children were often forcibly removed from their homes and sent to boarding schools run by white missionaries.

Those federal laws have been challenged in courts around the country. Now, the U.S. Supreme Court may weigh in on the constitutionality of the 1978 Act in Haaland v. Brackeen. Parties for and against the law, including the state of Texas, petitioned the nation's highest court to hear the case.

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How to avoid a frightful Halloween with your co-parent

 Posted on October 01, 2021 in Co-Parenting

The holiday season is filled with a lot of joy and fun activities for Texas families. But some divorced parents look to them with dread when navigating parenting time with their former partner.

Parenting plans typically include major holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving, but others like Halloween are frequently left out. The keys to keeping the day “scary but fun” for your children are planning and cooperation.

Halloween options for co-parents

Since Halloween falls on one night per year and is a community-based holiday focused on trick-or-treating, it can be more challenging for parents to divvy up. Still, many options exist, such as:

  • Alternating years taking kids trick-or-treating
  • Splitting the day's festivities, with you going to school functions and the other taking the child trick-or-treating, or vice versa
  • Scheduling who will attend public or private events happening on different days
  • Putting differences aside – attending events and taking your children trick-or-treating together

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Avoid these obstacles when dealing with your child's other parent

 Posted on October 01, 2021 in Child Custody

Divorce can be a very “me-centric” experience for Texas parents, and that's understandable. We’re all human, and when your once-loving marriage ends, it's understandable how bitterness and anger can threaten to consume you.

But when you have children, it's crucial not to let those feelings overwhelm you and your former spouse's responsibility to lessen the pain for your kids. Many have also found that conquering those negative feelings by focusing on their children's well-being can provide relief.

Don’t give in to these co-parenting “don’ts”

Our last article focused on two approaches to co-parenting with your ex and added some tips for healthy problem-solving outcomes. Here are some common actions every co-parent should try to avoid:

  • Don’t trash talk: Making rude or angry comments about the other parent in front of a child can be seen as a way to sabotage their relationship. In many cases, this backfires, and the child may come to resent one or both parents.

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Is divorce planning easier when you don’t have kids?

 Posted on October 01, 2021 in Divorce

“Just be glad you don’t have children.” Statements like that often come from well-meaning friends or family members trying to console others who choose to end their marriage.

While divorces not involving co-parenting issues may be less complicated for some Texas spouses, the experience is just as painful and one that requires diligence in protecting your future.

Divorcing later? Plan now!

The first days of fall have arrived, and the holidays are right around the corner, so you may have already decided to wait until next year to file for divorce. That may seem like a lot of time but use it wisely. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Gather financial information for you and your spouse. If you’re not sure what to look for or where to find it, talk to an experienced family law attorney.
  2. Stay organized by constructing a “divorce folder” digitally or on paper. You may also want to create a new email address for communicating with your lawyer.

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Texas adopts 3-day weekend rule for co-parents

 Posted on October 01, 2021 in Child Custody

New legislation went into effect on Sept. 1, 2021, affecting Texas parents with 50/50 or shared custody orders. The new law expands the beginning and ending times for weekend stays with the child's noncustodial parent.

The reason for the law is to provide children more time with their noncustodial parent (called the “possessory conservator” in the new law). With these new beginning and end times, the possessory conservator is able to have about 46% of the total time with their child.

Here's how it works

The new law allows for an Expanded Standard Possession Order (ESPO). If you are the noncustodial parent, this order will extend your child's time with you. Instead of picking your kids up from school on Friday, you will get them after school on Thursday until Monday morning when you drop them off at school.

This change is not retroactive. This means it won’t apply to you if you already have an order in place. Instead, it applies to custody disputes that are pending as of Sept. 1, 2021 or were filed after that date. The new law automatically applies to custody orders created after that date if certain criteria are met.

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Strategies for Coping with the Emotional Toll of Divorce

 Posted on October 01, 2021 in Divorce

No matter how your divorce unfolded, there is no question that divorce can be one of the most challenging experiences a person can go through. Divorce can be a stressful and emotionally draining experience for multiple reasons. For one thing, divorce represents the breakup of a very powerful relationship, the type of relationship which many people expect to last a lifetime. In addition, the divorce process itself is complex and can require an enormous amount of time, energy and money. Given the heavy demands which divorce can impose, people should take the time to develop strategies to cope with the toll of divorce. People in any stage of the process can benefit from these tips – those at the beginning, middle, or finish line.

#1: Reach Out to Friends for Support

As your divorce comes to a close, it can be tempting to isolate yourself from others. Some people withdraw because this seems like a good temporary way to cope with the situation. The truth, though, is that you should try to reach out to your friends for emotional support during this time. Divorce represents the end of a relationship, and this is all the reason to reach out to friends and embrace the existing relationships you have. Your friends can be a tremendous source of comfort and support during this challenging time.

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Best holiday gift for your kids? Peaceful co-parenting

 Posted on October 01, 2021 in Co-Parenting

Thanksgiving and Christmas are full of robust and joyful times. But if you and your child's other parent have a challenging relationship, the season can be anything but jolly.

You and your co-parent have many factors to consider when scheduling parenting time, such as your kids’ ages, the distance between households, family religious beliefs and traditions.Much of what you decide depends upon how well the two of you get along. If it's a combustible relationship, it's best to put differences aside and focus on your children's happiness.

Setting a sensible schedule

Holiday schedules are usually included in your Texas parenting plan, but co-parents typically choose one of two ways to share time.

  • Trading years: One parent keeps the kids for the entire winter break on odd years, and the other gets them during even years. They flip-flop possession for Christmas and Thanksgiving, so that each parent can spend one of the major holidays with their children.

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