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BY THE TEXAS BOARD OF LEGAL SPECIALIZATION
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Houston Family Law Blog

Relocating the children after a Texas divorce

When a parent is given primary physical custody of his or her children, the majority of the day-to-day decisions most likely rest with that parent.  Therefore, it can be disconcerting when that parent must obtain the consent of the other parent and/or the court to relocate the children from Texas to another state or country.  This may not be something that either parent considered at the time of the divorce.

If the custodial parent does want to move out-of-state, the easiest course of action would be to work things out directly with the noncustodial parent.  If an agreement can be reached without involving the court, that would save everyone the time and expense of going to court.  However, it does not always work out that way, and the other parent has the right to object to the relocation.

Monetary considerations in a Texas divorce

In many marriages, one spouse takes care of the finances. Therefore, the other spouse may not be involved very little -- if at all -- in the family's money matters. This may work well for a Texas couple while they are married, but if they get a divorce, this could cause issues in the future.

In some cases, one party will be eligible for alimony or spousal maintenance. However, relying only on an ex-spouse to continue supporting him or her after the divorce is final can be problematic. Any number of things can happen that will leave the person receiving the support without an income. Further, a Texas court may only award temporary support until the receiving party is able to obtain gainful employment.

Protect your parental rights as an unmarried, biological father

Many men and women in Texas are not married when their children are born. This creates a problem for an unmarried couple because a biological father is not considered to be the legal father of the child until paternity is established. Therefore, it is important to protect your parental rights by becoming recognized as the legal father of your child.

At the time of the child's birth, both the mother and biological father of the child can sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP). This form is sent with the birth certificate to the Bureau of Vital Statistics by the hospital. The father's name is then put on the child's birth certificate, which establishes paternity and makes the you the child's legal father.

Considerations for granting Texas grandparents visitation rights

For one reason or another, some Texas grandparents are denied the right to see their grandchildren by the children's parents. It is possible to petition the court for the right to see them. Whether granting grandparents visitation rights is in the best interests of the child depends on many factors.

In general, the safety, welfare and emotional and physical health of the children are the most important factors in granting visitation to grandparents just as they are in custody decisions. The wishes of the adults involved may be taken into consideration, but only insofar as they do not interfere with the well-being of the children. In addition, the wishes of the children may be considered as long as each child is old enough to make his or own decisions.

Dealing with child custody arrangements for the school year

When Texas parents get divorced, one of the primary issues to resolve relates to the custody of the children. Child custody arrangements in the summertime can allow for time that is more equal with the children since they are not in school. However, children spend the bulk of the year in school, so any custody agreement needs to focus on how to work around the children's school schedule and any extracurricular activities.

Regardless of what terms are agreed to by the parties, consistency is paramount. When everyone knows where the children will be and when, not only is there something to which to look forward, but it limits confusion. This can be especially helpful during the school year.

When an older child wants to change a child custody agreement

Texas parents can spend a good deal of time and money negotiating a custody agreement during a divorce. As the children age, however, one of them may decide he or she wants to live with the other parent. If the parents are willing to discuss this option, it could require some changes to the family's child custody agreement.

Simply letting a child move in with the other parent is not enough. The current arrangement may not give the non-custodial parent the authority he or she needs in order to make decisions necessary to properly care for the child. If both parents agree that the child can move in with the current non-custodial parent, going to the court to modify the existing agreement may be necessary.

Announcing the desire for a divorce takes finesse

Some Texas couples come to the decision to end their marriage together. After they have tried everything they can think of to work out their problems, they realize they just are not meant to be together. In any other couples, however, one person is ready to get a divorce, and the other party may not be aware of it.

Broaching the subject of divorce can be tricky. If the news seems to come out of the blue for one party, that person's reaction could shape how the interactions will be moving forward. When one person does not have time to process the news, hurt, anger and resentment can drive how that person deals with the issues involved in the divorce.

What Texas children expect from the divorce process

Most Texas residents who have been through a divorce can attest to the fact that it can be a challenging experience. Sometimes, it can be even more difficult for children. They expect certain things from the divorce process, if it is clear that their parents are not going to stay married.

Children need to be reassured that both parents still love them, and they will often put additional demands on each parent's time. Even though parents tell their children that they both still love them, and it is only the marriage that is over, this can be hard to comprehend, depending on the age of the children. Therefore, as hard as it may feel at times, parents will want to make sure that they give their children a substantial amount of attention during the divorce -- especially if one parent has already moved out of the family home.

How is it decided where a family pet goes in a Texas divorce?

Beloved family pets exist in a legal limbo between being considered members of the family and pieces of property. When a Texas couple files for divorce, it is the rules of property division that apply. However, the situation is not as simple as that for the families to whom these pets belong.

The number of couples wanting custody agreements for their pets is on the rise, and many people are negotiating visitation schedules. For families with children, it seems that pet visitation is being coordinated with a parent's visitation with the children. This makes sense for many families due to the attachment formed between pets and children.

It is normal to feel unprepared when a spouse wants a divorce

Some Texas couples make the decision to end their marriage together. However, more often it is one spouse who has been contemplating divorce for some time before announcing his or her intention to the other spouse. The spouse who did not ask for the divorce may feel unprepared for the divorce process -- especially when compared to the spouse who had time to make a plan.

Fortunately, the divorce process takes time, and that could give the unprepared spouse time to formulate a plan. Hopefully, the other spouse has not already put plans in motion that could put the other party at a disadvantage. If that happens, however, the Texas courts are available to provide the party with the time needed to identify, assess and locate all of the marital assets.

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