W. Tyler Moore, PC

Houston Legal Blog

What should Texans avoid doing before their divorce is finalized?

The end of a marriage is a time of tumultuous change for everyone in the family, especially if the couple has children. It may be tempting to make rash decisions, especially in heated moments. However, such decisions could be very costly down the road when it comes to settling issues such as child custody (known as conservatorship in Texas), property division and spousal maintenance.

If a couple seeking divorce is still residing together in the family home, it can be tempting for one party or the other to move out as soon as possible, especially if living with their ex has become unbearable. However, this could negatively affect the parent who moves out, particularly when it comes to child custody. Also, parents should avoid saying things they may later regret to their ex. Their ex may be verbally attacking them, but responding in kind can make a parent look bad. Keeping written records of what was said, any financial support given and what expenses a person incurred is also helpful.

Children in Texas need to have access to parents post-divorce

Divorce can be difficult not just on parents, but also on their child. The child deserves to have a healthy and meaningful relationship with both parents. Therefore, when the child is living with one parent, he or she should be able to communicate with his or her other parent. Fortunately, in today's day and age there are many ways for children to keep in touch with their parents, including electronic means.

Texas Family Code Section 153.015 covers a child's ability to communicate electronically with their parents. For the purposes of the statute, electronic communications include the Internet, social media, phone calls, email, instant messaging, videoconferences and communication through the use of a webcam.

How can parents explain divorce and child custody to their child?

When two parents in Texas divorce, they must break the news to their child. Not only will they have to explain to the child that their marriage is ending, but they also must let the child know what their life will look like post-divorce. The following tips may help parents explain these difficult topics with their child, with the ultimate goal of keeping the best interests of the child in mind.

If parents are able, they should sit down with their child together when breaking the news of the divorce. They do not need to give their child every last detail regarding the reason behind the divorce, just what the child needs to understand the divorce. It is OK for parents to acknowledge that the divorce makes them sad. At the same time, children need to be reassured that it is not their fault their parents are divorcing. Finally, children need to be reminded that their parents will always be there for them and that the child is still loved very much.

How can you avoid serious partner disputes?

Anytime you start a business with one or more individuals, you must anticipate possible disagreements. It is difficult to imagine that you and your partner will see eye-to-eye on all aspects of managing the business, determining compensation and making key decisions for your company’s future.

Unfortunately, a serious business dispute can cost your firm significant resources and distract employees from essential business functions. It also produces the ultimate risk of business dissolution. How can business owners minimize the chances of a partnership dispute?

Applying for a mortgage after a high value divorce

When it comes to property division and divorce in Texas, decisions will need to be made regarding the family home. If a party keeps the home, he or she will need to have it refinanced in his or her name. If a party was not awarded the home, he or she will want to buy a new one. And, if the parties agreed to sell the home and split the proceeds, they will both be purchasing a new home. In any of these situations, a person may need to apply for a mortgage. The following are some tips for those who are planning on refinancing or purchasing a home post-divorce.

With regards to assigning debts in the property division process, the divorce decree should not use general language such as "Capital One credit card." Instead, it should include each creditor's name and account number as well as how much is still owed on the card. Also, both parties must make sure they pay their credit card balances on time, to avoid dings on their credit report. In general, unless steps are taken with the creditor to remove one's ex as an account holder, both parties are still responsible for credit card payments, despite what a divorce decree says.

Texas parents going through a divorce can seek legal help

When parents in Texas divorce, decisions will have to be made regarding their children. Texas statutes do not use the term "full custody" when referring to child custody. Instead, the term that is used is "conservatorship." Conservatorship involves the rights parents have to the child. These rights can be awarded to only one of the child's parents, to both of the child's parents independently or they can be shared between both of the child's parents. Conservatorship rights include the right to decide where the child will live, primary possession rights and who will be granted child support.

When it comes to possession of a child older than age three, Texas statutes have a "standard possession order." This serves as a template for determining parental possession rights. However, modifications to this statutory template can be made when appropriate. After all, not all families are alike, and what works for some children and parents will not always work for other children and parents.

Can a parent interfere with their ex's parenting time?

Sometimes when parents in Texas divorce, the bitterness and rancor they have with each other lasts well after the official divorce decree is signed. When a divorcing couple has children, a parenting plan will be established that is supposed to meet the needs of the child. Unfortunately, parents may not always follow the plan. While sometimes unanticipated changes may need to be made, other times a parent purposely interferes with his or her ex's parenting time.

Parenting time interference can be either direct or indirect. Direct parenting time interference takes place when one parent physically keeps the child away from the other parent. For example, the parent may abduct the child, refuse to return the child to the care of the other parent or unlawfully relocate with the child. Cancelling visitation periods or failing to honor scheduled child custody or visitation exchanges also constitute direct parenting time interference. In addition, parents are bound to follow the parenting plan, even if one parent has not paid child support owed to the other parent.

Modifying a standard possession order in Texas

Parents in Texas who are no longer in a relationship with one another will want to see that, despite their differences, they are both able to provide their child with a supportive and stable environment in which to grow. Therefore, the parents will either work out a standard possession (child custody) order out-of-court or one will be decided upon by a judge that meets the child's needs and allows each parent to have a meaningful relationship with their child.

Of course, life always presents some twists and turns. Sometimes a standard possession order that had been working for years is no longer tenable. When that happens, a parent may want to pursue a modification of the order. However, there are certain elements that must be met to modify a standard possession order. These modifications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Divorce turns high school football from pastime to legal dispute

Playing football is seen as a rite of passage for many young boys. For parents, having their son in the sport is a source of pride. Not to say the game is without its downfalls. From minor scrapes to broken bones football can be a dangerous passion. When it comes to concussions, tends to be especially true. As a parent, you are an advocate for what is best for your child and their future. Recently football has become a point of contention in family court. Divorcing couples are battling it out in an effort to decide if their child should be allowed to participate in an activity where the outcome of one bad play could leave lasting damage.

From the field to the courtroom

Who is eligible for alimony under Texas law?

Some people think that, as part of a divorce settlement, one party will automatically be ordered to pay spousal support (also known as alimony) to the other party. This notion may be especially true in a high value divorce where both parties are accustomed to living a certain lifestyle. However, Texas has strict laws on who can receive spousal support, meaning that many spouses will not be eligible for such payments.

In 2011 amendments to the statutes on court-ordered spousal support were made. As the law currently stands a party must, for a specific reason, be unable to make enough money to meet their minimum reasonable means to qualify for spousal support. Before the amendment the spouses' marriage must have lasted a minimum of one decade, regardless of circumstances, in order to award spousal support. However, under current law, the decade-long marriage requirement will only come into play if the party requesting spousal support is unable to make enough money to meet their minimum reasonable means. This means that depending on the circumstances, an award of spousal support can be made if the marriage lasted five, seven or 10 years.

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