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BY THE TEXAS BOARD OF LEGAL SPECIALIZATION
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Houston Family Law Blog

Creating a child custody agreement that benefits everyone

Parents will often do whatever they feel is necessary to ensure the happiness of their children, including staying together. Eventually, however, many Texas parents who are in unhappy marriages come to the decision that everyone -- including the children -- will be happier if they divorce. Creating a child custody agreement that benefits everyone may go a long way toward helping everyone.

Maintaining two households can be a challenge, but with a comprehensive plan, it can be done. One of the first issues parents may want to consider is continuity between the households. If the rules are the same in both places, it will reduce the number of confrontations parents may have and lets the children know that their parents are working together to give them stability.

Texas parents can create their own child custody agreement

It can be argued that many people feel the least amount of control over their lives during a divorce. With what seems to be an uncertain future looming ahead, each party struggles for some normalcy and control over what will happen to them and their children. Fortunately, Texas parents can regain at least some of that control by negotiating their own child custody agreement.

It is not necessary for a Texas judge to be left to decide your family's fate. Judges are guided by state laws that outline what rights and responsibilities each parent will have when it comes to their children. These decisions will most likely not line up with how you and your ex-spouse would divide their parental duties given the chance.

Study shows wife's illness could be a predictor of divorce

As people in Texas live longer, the likelihood of one spouse contracting a debilitating illness increases. A recent study shows that which spouse becomes ill has an effect on whether the couple will divorce. If the wife is the one who suffers from an illness, the divorce rate is higher than if the husband is the one who requires more care.

The study looked at divorce rates in couples in which one spouse suffered from one of four chronic and/or disabling conditions: stroke, heart disease, cancer or lung disease. The study compiled data from 2,701 couples over the course of 20 years. The study required that at least one participant was aged 51 or over when the time began.

A contentious divorce is not necessary for Texas parents

Nearly every parent in Texas will attest to the fact that having children changes life forever -- for the better. This often makes parents hesitant to go through the divorce process. However, the process does not need to be contentious and end with the parties at even worse odds than they were when the decision was made to end their marriage.

In fact, parents can have an amicable post-divorce relationship that will benefit both parties and their children. The use of mediation or collaborative divorce can give the parties the ability to negotiate their own settlement. If any conflicts arise, the parties' attorneys, the mediator and the other professionals involved can help solve them.

Things to consider when parenting after a Texas divorce

Ending a marriage is an emotionally challenging time for everyone involved -- especially since nearly every aspect of the lives of the family members will change. Texas couples who have children will most likely spend a great deal of time during the divorce process developing a parenting plan. How that plan is created and the issues it covers could affect the way the children deal with the divorce and its aftermath.

In recent years, many Texas parents have made a conscious effort to be more communicative and cooperative with each other in order to ease the tensions of the situation for their children. The negotiation process can help develop a new way for the parties to interact with each other now that they will no longer be a married couple. As the process progresses, the parties may discover certain triggers that spark conflict between them. The parenting plan can include provisions to outline how any potential confrontations will be resolved.

Prepare for a Texas divorce logically, not emotionally

Nearly everyone in Texas who has been through a divorce would say that ending a marriage is fraught with emotion. However, letting anger, hurt and other intense emotions dictate how an individual moves through the divorce process could result in a missed opportunity to shape his or her future. Simply putting away the emotions may not be an option, but being able to deal with them could make way for more a more logical approach.

Viewing the process of getting a divorce as a way to plan for the future may help alleviate some of the anxiety that typically accompanies it. It is essential for a person at the beginning of a divorce to have as complete an understanding of his or her financial situation as possible. This can help protect against a soon-to-be ex-spouse who may consider hiding assets. Doing so could also assist with preparations for settlement negotiations.

Understanding family finances before filing for a Texas divorce

Divorced Texas residents may know better than anyone else how much a person's finances will change after the proceedings are final. Many people may look back and wish they had taken more time to understand the family finances before filing for divorce. Without a clear understanding of where the couple is money wise and where each party needs to be after the proceedings are over, any settlement reached may not be fair.

Taking inventory of all of the couple's debts and assets prior to filing is a good place to start. Any assets or debts not dealt with during the proceedings could end up haunting one or both parties later. In addition, it would be more difficult for one spouse to hide assets from the other if an accurate inventory is obtained. It is also necessary to have a realistic view of what an individual's living expenses will be once he or she is newly single. This could materially affect any settlement negotiations.

Child custody battle between Ludacris and child's mother is over

Texas fans of rapper Ludacris may know that he has been locked in a battle with the mother of his child over custody and child support. Recently, that child custody battle ended when the court granted him full custody of his daughter. He joins a growing number of men who have been given primary physical custody of their children.

Despite his celebrity status, Chris Bridges, professionally known as Ludacris, was not simply handed the victory. A guardian ad litem was appointed to provide the court with a report, witnesses were called and both sides presented other evidence for the court's consideration. The judge then reviewed all of the available information before making a decision.

Child custody issues when custodial parent desires to relocate

At times, custodial parents desire to move out-of-state after the divorce for a variety of reasons. However, that parent cannot simply leave the state with the child or children. If you are a custodial parent and wish to relocate the children, certain procedures need to be followed in accordance with Texas child custody laws. Attempting to relocate without going through the legal process could have serious repercussions -- the least of which being that you will be unable to relocate with the children.

The non-custodial parent is entitled to 60 days' notice of your intent to move the children. The notice must contain a proposed address and when you intend to move. He or she has the right to contest your request to take the children out-of-state.

Steps to take before and after announcing a Texas divorce

Ending a marriage has been compared to dissolving a business. During the divorce process, a Texas couple divides the assets and debts accumulated during the marriage before going their separate ways. Taking certain steps might increase the likelihood of amicably reaching a fair settlement.

There is something to be said of the Boy Scout's motto to be prepared. Gathering information regarding the joint and separate debts and assets of each party before proceeding with the divorce could ensure that none of this crucial information disappears. Having some indication of how the divorce will go and how long it will take may also help in initial discussions with the other partner.

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