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When a couple gets divorced in Texas and children are involved, courts use a set of factors to decide the child’s best interests. These issues address the physical and legal elements of sharing children, known as conservatorship in the Lone Star State.

Judges have wide latitude for determining what is in a child’s best interest, and which parent is best suited for primary conservatorship. However, much of their guidance stems from a 1976 lawsuit over terminating parental rights – Holley v. Adams, 544 S.W.2d 367 (Tex. 1976).

What are the “Holley factors?”

As a result of this precedent-setting case, judges use a list of considerations when determining the best interests of a child in Texas, including:

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When spouses begin the divorce process, emotions typically run high, making it extremely difficult for both parties to share the same space. A contentious split may lead one spouse to move out of the family home to avoid confrontations.

However, from a strategic point of view, the spouse who leaves can be at a disadvantage in the divorce case, and that disparity can be even more significant if the other spouse remains in the home with their children.

Staying in the home has two important upsides

While moving out of the family home technically doesn’t mean you forfeit any legal rights, there are strategic and legal incentives for staying, such as:

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Once a marriage ends and children are involved, the traditional approach for joint custody is a two-household situation, where children are shuttled back and forth. Many of their possessions are either duplicated or also transported from house to house.

However, a relatively new approach called “nesting” is gaining popularity across the country. Also known as bird-nesting, this strategy allows children to stay in the family home after their parents’ divorce, and mom and dad are the ones who take turns moving in and out to care for them.

What are the advantages of nesting?

While many argue this approach creates a more stable environment for children during an anxious and worrisome time in their lives, it’s not just the children who don’t have to move around every few days. What also stays put are:

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Most couples who decide to end their marriage hope for a quick and painless process. But in many cases, divorce turns out to be anything but easy. Tempers can flare as couples argue over money and property or custody of children – in addition to the underlying reasons for the split itself.

But, if a workable agreement with your soon-to-be ex seems unlikely, or they are reluctant or unwilling to come to the negotiating table, is litigation the best or only option? There are many elements to consider before you decide to let a judge here in Texas make decisions for you.

Key considerations for taking a divorce to trial

While anger may be justified in cases where a spouse mistreated you, courts typically take a practical approach over dividing property, and deciding where your children will live. Consider these factors before going to trial:

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Child support payments can make a significant difference in a child’s life after parents decide to end their relationship. It is also one of the most crucial issues to address during a divorce or break-up between parents. Working out who will pay, how much and how the payments can be used typically adds to an already tense situation.

Raising a child is expensive, regardless of whether parents live together or apart. Support payments are calculated by the state, and courts can have the final say on how the funds are used to support a child’s upbringing, ensuring that their basic needs are met and preventing future complications or hardships.

Repercussions for neglecting or refusing to make payments

Texas has stiff punishments for child support evaders. Parents who miss payments can be found in contempt of court. Consequences include:

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Texas considers any assets acquired by a married couple to be community property, meaning both parties own it. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean couples will split marital assets equally when they get divorced.Texas law provides that the division of property is fair and equitable, according to what a judge considers to be “just and right.”

Factors determining a “just and right” split

Assets include wages, real estate, personal property, pensions, employee benefits and others. However, not everything spouses own is deemed community property. These can include items owned before the marriage, assets such as inheritance or gifts received by just one spouse and some personal injury awards. Texas courts apply the “just and right” rule by considering:

  • Reasons for the divorce and who was at fault for the breakup
  • Length of the marriage
  • Who will have custody of children
  • The difference in earning ability for each spouse
  • The health of each spouse
  • Prospects for future employment
  • Need for future support

The Supreme Court of Texas allows courts to consider other factors, such as each spouse’s abilities and capacities, potential benefits that the spouse not at fault would have received if the marriage had continued as well as education, business opportunities and the size of each estate.

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Billions of people across the globe are struggling to find a new “normal” amid the coronavirus pandemic. While lockdown orders and other restrictions begin to ease a bit here in Texas, there is no playbook for how and when to resume regular activities.

During an uncertain time, we can be part of the problem or the solution. That’s true for every individual as well as parents who share custody of their children. Co-parenting is difficult even during the best of times and has become even more challenging during the past several weeks.

Co-parenting stress relievers

Everyone has been affected differently by the pandemic, and it’s essential that parents take steps to protect their physical and emotional well-being for everyone’s sake. Actions that can help reduce stress include:

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Divorce can be a traumatic experience for both spouses after a once-loving relationship disintegrates. A split can lead to overwhelming disappointment, anger and anxiety over the future. Those feelings are also intense for children when their parents decide to go their separate ways.

Kids will have many questions, such as where they will live, where they’ll go to school and whether they’ll have to leave their friends. They’ll also wonder what will happen to them during school vacations and summer break. Perhaps most worrisome is how often they’ll be able to see BOTH of their parents.

Breaking the news requires a thoughtful approach

Parents who decide to end their marriage must be ready for these questions and ready to discuss the fears and anxiety their children will likely have. As a parent, you should consider:

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The current quarantine is affecting marriages worldwide.

Marriage is hard. It takes two people to show up, sometimes as their best selves and sometimes not, and steadfastly face the joys and challenges of sharing a life.

Social distancing has brought many couples together. Having time to slow down has put a spark back in many marriages.

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Posted on in Child Custody

Father’s Day is just around the corner. Are you a concerned dad? Concerned about your children and your rights? Custody is not just for moms. If you are a dad seeking custody, consider these three things.

First, ask yourself why. Why is this important to you? Are you looking for equal time with your children? Are you afraid the courts will only see you as a weekend dad? Or, are you the more stable parent? Is your spouse a risk to your children? The answer to these questions will make a difference in court and a custody agreement.

The second thing you should do is look around and gather evidence. Do you have videos, pictures, or audiotapes of you and your children showing you to be the best dad you can be? If you’re concerned about your spouse or that your spouse is a risk to your kids, do you have evidence that shows what that risk is. If you want to fight for custody, you need to be prepared with evidence so the court can see that and make a decision that is in the best interest of your children.

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Receiving the best possible financial outcome is vital when you are going through a divorce. But dividing marital assets can be complicated when one spouse receives his or her income through various means, including bonuses or stock options.

When compensation comes solely from a salary, negotiations are likely to be straightforward, and the timing of the divorce will typically not make a difference. However, it’s vital to understand where your earnings come from and how the process could impact them.

Types of income and possible effects of divorce

If your compensation package includes any of these provisions, an experienced family law attorney here in Texas can help you protect these assets during negotiations:

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Many families in Texas may welcome the extra time spent together due to Gov. Greg Abbott’s stay-at-home order during the current health care situation.

But for others, the increased interaction may aggravate an already tense situation between spouses whose marriages were previously strained. Many believe it will lead to an increase in divorces.

Weighing the economic impact

But some experts are saying, “not so fast.” While some marriages may be strengthened during this period, others believe the number of divorces could actually decrease due to financial considerations related to lost income.

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The past two months have turned everyone’s lives upside down. It’s been especially difficult for those are divorcing and had to postpone the process until the health emergency settles down.

Governor Greg Abbott allowed his stay-at-home order to expire on April 30. It is only a few days until the courts reopen. How have you fared during this stressful time?

Finding hope after a “pandemic divorce”

While it hasn’t been an easy time, there are steps you can take to reclaim a positive outlook for the future, both in your professional and personal lives:

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Posted on in Child Custody

There’s an App for everything. So why not an App for Co-parenting?

Children need stability, calm and security as they grow-up. Which parent are they spending the weekend with? Who needs to sign their school field trip note? The concern of these parental jobs is not their burden, and it’s our role as parents to have it covered, allowing our kids to be kids.

Some parents can move into co-parenting rather seamlessly, while others feel like they have fallen into the deep end of a murky pool. And the ones’ who can suffer while you’re treading water are the children.

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But you’re not married to your child’s mother. Does it matter? Legally, yes.

The definition of “family” is changing, and studies show that unmarried parents are becoming increasingly more common today. You and your child’s mom may sail blissfully into the future, parenting your sweet bundle of joy as a happy family unit. But if you and the mom decide that you must go your separate ways, what rights do you have regarding your child?

Under Texas law, there is no presumption of paternity if the parents of a child are not married at the time of conception or the time of birth. What that means is that the father has no parental rights or obligations. Without a court order, the mother can refuse to allow you to see or care for your child. And this refusal can affect your extended family as well. Or the mother can move out of state without your permission.

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A new survey shows a radical shift in the economic structure of families in the United States as more women say they are outearning their husbands than ever before.

The research by TD Ameritrade says nearly half of the women who took part in the survey say they make as much or more than their partners. That’s a seismic change from 1960 when only 3.8% of women were the chief breadwinners, according to the Pew Research Center. Women now comprise more than half of the workforce in the country, and the percentage of those becoming the primary wage earner is expected to rise.

Marital strife over changing roles

Researchers found clear signs of a generational shift as millennial women are nearly twice as likely as their baby boomer counterparts to earn as much or more than their partners. But this often leads to conflict between couples. More than one in five millennials say their relationships feel more strained because one partner earns more than the other, while only one out of every 10 baby boomers say the disparity in earning status causes friction.

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If you got married after completing your college education, the student loan debt you brought into the relationship will most likely still be yours alone if you divorce.However, it’s not always cut and dried how that debt is distributed if you took out student loans while you were married. Any loans you receive after tying the knot in Texas are typically considered marital debt.

Figuring out a plan of action

Everyone’s circumstances are different when their marriages end. An experienced family law attorney can help you find your own best course of action, including these considerations:

  • Community property: Texas is one of nine states that consider all marital debt as community property. Both spouses are equally responsible for the repayment of student loans taken out during a marriage, even if only one spouse did the borrowing or attended school.
  • Co-signing a loan: If you are a co-signer when your spouse refinances premarital student loan debt, you become equally responsible for its repayment going forward. You can detach yourself from that debt, in some cases, by refinancing again, or going through a lender that offers a co-signer release provision.
  • Income-driven repayment: If repayment of a federal student loan is based on income, it’s essential to notify your lender immediately upon your divorce and submit a new income certification. Income-driven plans usually combine both spouses’ earnings to determine monthly payments.

Will a prenuptial work for you?

As the negative stigma formerly attached to prenuptial agreements wears off, many marrying couples welcome the peace of mind they offer. If you have substantial assets (or debts), make certain your prenuptial agreement contains all the legal provisions it should.

Divorce is a challenging process for both spouses, but it can be especially tricky when you have children. While there are likely to be some rough moments, there are actions both parents can take to make the transition smoother for everyone.

The first step is being open and honest with your kids. Trying to spare their feelings by telling them, “nothing is going to change,” won’t work and may increase their anxiety. It’s crucial to be upfront and let them know that what’s happening is not their fault.

Prioritize the needs of children

Being honest with your kids about their future should be the priority, even if it means that you don’t have all the answers. There are things you can do to help make them feel safe, such as:

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The best interest of the child?

Your child.

Your children.

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Posted on in Divorce

Affairs are soul crushing. Not only does infidelity destroy families and reputations, but cheating is a huge sign of disrespect. It can affect your trust in future partners and destroy your own self-esteem, in addition to playing a role in the dissolution of your marriage.

We are all attached to our phones now more than ever, so it’s often our personal devices that reveal where we have been, who we have been talking to and what we are doing. If you suspect an affair, you should be on the lookout for the following apps on your partner’s devices, as they can only spell trouble:

Adult Friend Finder: This app has been around for decades, first releasing back in 1996. It is targeted towards those who are looking to hookup, casually have sex, and just meet someone who’s attractive. Basically, it’s the ultimate app for someone who is cheating.

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