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BY THE TEXAS BOARD OF LEGAL SPECIALIZATION
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Houston Family Law Blog

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.

The face of divorce is changing for many Texas couples

In the not too distant past, more women than men were the primary caregivers of the home and the children. In recent years, a shift in the family dynamic began, and husbands are taking on these duties in growing numbers. This is changing the way that the divorce process occurs for many couples, here in Texas and across the country.

The days of automatically assuming that the wife should receive full custody of the children and spousal support are all but gone. Men are giving up their careers to allow their wives to pursue a more lucrative career. While their wives are out working, the men are the ones providing the day-to-day care of the family.

Texas man's plight could further fathers' rights

Many Texas fathers understand the need to provide financially for their children after a divorce and work diligently to keep up with their child support payments. However, it is an unfortunate necessity that the child support enforcement systems in place are geared toward people who fail to make their payments. Sometimes, those consequences are thrust upon a father who believes he is complying with his child support order. The recent case of one father could help advance the plight of fathers' rights.

The Texas man believed that his employer was deducting the appropriate amount from his checks each payday. However, it was discovered that a clerical error resulted in the incorrect amounts being deducted from his checks. This garnered the attention of child support enforcement officials.

When should Texas couples consider divorce?

This may be one of the most frustrating and confusing questions many Texas couples have prior to making the decision to end their marriages. No one wants to make a mistake or stay in a marriage that should have ended sooner. Determining when it is time to divorce can be one of the biggest challenges of the entire process.

Some spouses begin to wonder if they should stay together when they no longer want to spend time with each other as a couple. Actively avoiding being in the same room with a person is a good indication that something is amiss. This could certainly be the case if a couple's time together involves more arguing than anything else.

Property division may be simpler by not going to divorce court

Depending on how long a Texas husband and wife are married, they might have accumulated a significant amount of assets together. Further, each party could have brought separate assets to the marriage. If the couple ends up getting a divorce, the division of those assets will most likely be a major part of the process.

When dealing with property division in a divorce, it may be less complicated to negotiate outside the courtroom than to let a judge decide who receives what assets. Judges are bound by certain rules and may require a certain amount of proof before ruling that an asset is separate property. Moreover, judges are also not required to consider how taxes will affect the equality of assets.

Paternity case filed against NBA star Paul George

Many men in Texas are willing to accept responsibility for a child if they are proved to be the father through a court-ordered DNA test. Not every paternity case pits a mother against a father. In many cases, paternity merely needs to be established by the court in order to make the father-child relationship legal.

For instance, NBA basketball star Paul George had a brief relationship with a woman last year that only lasted a few months. As it turns out, the woman -- a former stripper -- became pregnant. On May 1, the 24-year-old woman gave birth to a baby girl, and she claims the NBA player is the father. According to sources, the pair had an informal DNA test done that indicated he is, in fact, the father of the child.

Are money issues why some Texas couples divorce?

Studies suggest that a large number of married couples believe they share similar saving and spending habits. As a result, more than 50 percent of couples, including many in Texas, commingle their money. Even so, money issues remain a compelling reason as to why many couples divorce.

In today's society, the man may not necessarily be the main breadwinner in the family. Nearly one-third of the time, the woman makes more money than her husband at the beginning of a marriage. Somewhere around 43 percent of couples say they make financial decisions regarding retirement together.

Unusual child custody case could affect dads nationwide

In decades past, couples around the country and in Texas who wanted children, but could not conceive, had few options. Now, advances in medical science have opened doors for people wanting children that many never thought possible. As the science evolved, the nation's child custody laws had to evolve as well. Those laws may have to change again at some point in the future as many of the women who used to go to a sperm bank now ask a man they know to help them conceive.

A case involving actor Jason Patric could impact the landscape of child custody laws. This time, the changes are not about science, but about the evolution of relationships and what constitutes a family. Patric donated his sperm to an ex-girlfriend who had a child using in vitro fertilization (IVF). Patric maintained that he wanted to be a part of the child's life, and the mother agreed.

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