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BY THE TEXAS BOARD OF LEGAL SPECIALIZATION
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Houston Family Law Blog

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.

Determining separate vs. community property in a Texas divorce

One of the most complex, and sometimes frustrating, aspects of ending a marriage is property division. Determining what property is the separate property of each party and what property is marital property can be a challenge. Understanding the difference between each is essential in any Texas divorce.

Not only the property that each of you brought into the marriage is considered separate property. Any money or property inherited during the marriage is also considered separate property, along with any damages for bodily injury or pain and suffering from a personal injury suit. However, what is done with the money or property can affect whether all or a portion of it remains separate property for divorce purposes. It is up to the party making the claim to prove through clear and convincing evidence that the property should be designated as separate.

Woman files paternity case to remove ex-husband as father

Most states, including Texas, presume that the father of a child born during a marriage is the mother's husband. Of course, real life rarely so neatly fits into any definition, even a statutory one. In fact, the highest court of another state has agreed to hear a paternity case in which a woman is asking that her ex-husband's paternal rights be revoked since he is not the child's biological father.

The child was born in 2011, during the couple's four-year marriage, and was nearly 2 years old when the parties divorced in 2013. During the divorce, the husband's parental rights were agreed upon and extensive visitation rights were granted to him. Soon after the divorce was granted, the legal father discovered he was not the child's biological parent. Instead, the father is a man with whom the mother had an affair during her marriage. Apparently, she is currently married to and resides with that individual.

Protect your parental rights in Texas with a SAPCR suit

SAPCR stands for Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship. Regardless of the circumstances under which a child was conceived and subsequently born, both biological parents have rights and responsibilities where the child is concerned under the laws of the state of Texas. If you believe you are the father of a child, but the child's parentage is not certain, or you were not married to the child's mother, it is crucial that you protect your parental rights.

Whether the court makes the determination regarding paternity, or the parties come to an agreement on their own, an order must be entered by the court to establish your legal status as a parent. Once the paternity order is entered, you will then need to determine the rights and responsibilities of each parent. Even if the parties amicably negotiate a parenting plan, engaging the services of an attorney could help ensure that your interests are represented and your concerns are adequately addressed.

Wife of Deion Sanders jailed for violating child custody order

During Texas divorce proceedings, a court typically has the last say concerning the terms of a marital dissolution. This includes decisions about child custody, child support, spousal support and property division -- among others. Following the final judgment, the former parties are legally required to adhere to the terms of the divorce decree. Failure to do so can result in significant consequences and, in some cases, can even result in time behind bars.

It turns out this is exactly what happened to the former wife of ex NFL star Deion Sanders. Pilar Sanders, his ex-wife, was recently sentenced to seven days behind bars in a county jail for not complying with a child custody agreement. The judge ruled that she was in contempt of court for ignoring court orders concerning parenting time.

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