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Fathers’ Rights: Increasing Your Chances of Getting Physical Custody of Minor Children

Fathers’ Rights in Texas Divorce

For most of the history of divorce, mothers have been favored by courts for physical custody, often under what was known as the “tender years” doctrine, a theory that mothers were biologically better equipped to nurture small children. Though Texas has rejected the tender years doctrine, it’s still overwhelmingly more likely that a court will award physical custody (now known as managing conservatorship). As a father, there are specific things that you can do to increase your chances of securing physical custody of your children. Contact a Baytown family law attorney to learn more about fathers’ rights in Texas divorce.

fathers rights in texas divorce

The Best Interests of the Child Standard

For decades, the primary consideration when establishing custody in Texas has been the “best interests of the child.” The court will typically look at a wide variety of evidence and factors, all with an eye toward what will best promote healthy a emotional and physical environment for the child. With that in mind, here are some of the questions the court will likely ask:

  • What has been the nature of your relationship with your child?—How does the child view you? Have you been an active and meaningful presence in their lives? The court will be inclined to grant primary custody to the parent with whom the child has spent the most time and has the strongest bonds. Accordingly, did you participate in all the daily routines—dropping off and picking up at school, disciplinary measures, doctor’s appointments, baths and bedtime? The more you did, the better your chances of getting custody.
  • Can you get along with your ex-spouse?—The courts in Texas prefer that both parents have a meaningful role in the lives of minor children, and look with disfavor on a parent who belittles or denigrates the other parent. If you can show that you will maintain a positive relationship with the child’s mother, that will be viewed positively in custody determinations.
  • Are you prepared to be a parent?—If  you want custody, you have to be able to show the court that your primary focus, after the divorce, will be on parenting your children. If the court perceives that you’ll be more interested in your own personal development, or in new relationships, they may conclude that such a lifestyle is not in the child’s best interests.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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The Impact of Adultery in a Texas Divorce Proceeding

The Impact of Adultery

It’s a well-known fact that marital infidelity is the single most common cause of divorce, both in Texas and across the United States. Even though Texas has adopted no-fault divorce, you can still allege adultery as the cause of the breakup of your marriage, and you can obtain an advantage in divorce proceedings. Contact a Baytown family lawyer for help with the impact of adultery in a Texas divorce.

Adultery and Alimony

Though a court always has the discretion to award alimony in a Texas divorce, the court may deny spousal support if it finds that the spouse requesting alimony was unfaithful during the marriage. The court will customarily look at whether both parties engaged in extra-marital affairs. In situations where the person who participated in an adulterous relationship is asked to pay alimony, and it can be shown that the marital infidelity was the cause of the dissolution of the marriage, the court will almost always require alimony.

impact of adultery

Adultery and Property Division

Under the community property laws in Texas, the fact that one of the parties was unfaithful can be used to reduce that person’s share of the marital estate. In addition, the court can also take money spent on an affair into account when dividing property.

Adultery and Child Custody

As a general rule, evidence of infidelity cannot be entered into proceedings involving custody and visitation, unless it can be shown that one parent abandoned minor children while engaged in an adulterous relationship.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, our family law attorney brings more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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Joint Managing Conservatorships in Texas

Joint Managing Conservatorships in Texas

If you are involved in or considering a divorce in Texas and there are minor children involved, you need to get familiar with this term—joint managing conservatorship.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas.

To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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The Grandparent-Grandchild Relationship in a Texas Divorce

The Grandparent-Grandchild Relationship in a Texas Divorce

Divorce can have far-reaching consequences, reaching beyond the parties to the divorce and their children. Minor children often form strong bonds with grandparents, bonds that are customarily mutual. As a result, in the aftermath of divorce, a child (and a grandparent) can feel a powerful sense of loss, when that relationship either ends or becomes limited. When you need help, contact a family law attorney about your Texas divorce.

Grandparent-Grandchild Relationship in a Texas Divorce

Like other states, Texas has enacted laws governing custody and visitation by grandparents of minor children of divorce. A judge in a divorce proceeding in Texas has the discretion to grant visitation rights with a grandparent, but the grandparent must first show that doing so is in the child’s best interests. Once that has been established, it must also be shown that one of the following situations exists:

  • The child’s parents are divorced
  • The child’s parents neglected or abused the child
  • One of the child’s parents is incarcerated, dead or has been found legally incompetent
  • The court has terminate the parent-child relationship
  • The child has resided with the grandparent for at least six months before the visitation request

The right of visitation by a grandparent is always at the discretion of the court. Furthermore, if the minor child is adopted by anyone other than the child’s stepparent, all grandparent rights terminate.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our family law attorney office is open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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Relocating after Divorce in Texas

Relocating after Divorce in Texas

Often, in the aftermath of divorce, you want a change of scenery. However, there can be other reasons for seeking to relocate after a divorce—you may get a new job or a promotion, you may want to be closer to family, or there may be a specific benefit for your children. What are the restrictions, if any, on moving after a divorce, particularly when there are minor children involved? If you are relocating after divorce in Texas, contact a Baytown divorce lawyer for further assistance.

Under Texas law, as part of your divorce order, the court will set up a “managing conservatorship,” essentially what was formerly known as custody. As a general rule, the court prefers (and will establish) a joint managing conservatorship, consistent with the state’s stated objective of keeping both parents involved with the life and upbringing of the child. Achieving that objective can be complicated, though, even when both parents live in near each other. It becomes even more of a challenge when one of the parents wants to relocate.

Relocating after Divorce in Texas

You Must Get Permission from the Court

Almost universally, the court order in a Texas divorce prohibits the custodial parent (referred to as the “primary parent”) from relocating outside a certain area without first seeking and obtaining permission of the court. In most instances, permission must be sought if the custodial parent wants to move outside of any county contiguous with the county where the parties currently reside.

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Moving Forward after a Divorce

Moving Forward After a Divorce

In the aftermath of a divorce, you can be ready for a new life and a new direction. Here are some recommendations to help you put the past behind you and get on with your life. If you need help moving forward after a divorce, contact a Baytown family law attorney today.

Open New Financial Accounts

You should actually do this as soon as you know you are going to be a party to a divorce proceeding. Once you start putting your money into your own separate account, your ex won’t have access to it. You should also close any joint accounts you had during your marriage.

Close All Credit Card Accounts

Terminate any joint credit cards immediately and consider whether you want to open new accounts. Your finances may be unstable for a little while, so you may want to operate primarily on a cash basis until you have a greater sense of security and stability. In addition, divorce can be an emotional time—if you are prone to spending money in response to emotional trauma, you might be better served not opening a new credit card.

Moving Forward after a Divorce

Change Your Beneficiaries

If your ex is named as a beneficiary on any type of insurance policy, IRA, retirement plan or in a will, contact the provider and change the beneficiary immediately. With respect to insurance, you may want to obtain a life insurance policy on your ex (owned by your ex) to cover alimony or child support in the event of his or her premature death. In addition, if you have a will or trust, you want to meet with a lawyer to change the provisions.

Notify any Government Agencies

The IRS and the Social Security Administration should be notified of your divorce.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, our divorce attorney brings more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas.

To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online . We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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The Factors to Be Considered for an Alimony Award in Texas

Alimony in Texas

Though the frequency with which alimony or spousal support is granted in divorce proceedings has dropped significantly over the last half century, either party to a Texas divorce still has the right to petition the court for some type of payment from the other spouse to defray the cost of living. Alimony in Texas or Texas support orders typically take one of three forms:

  • Temporary support—An award for a very specific, and usually short, period of time, designed to be primarily transitional, until the recipient becomes self-sufficient.
  • Rehabilitative support – Also a temporary award, but put in place to allow the recipient to undergo training or education to develop skills that allow for gainful employment.
  • Permanent support—Typically granted when the recipient is either too old to reasonably become self-sufficient, or has some other condition that will likely preclude self-sufficiency.

Alimony in Texas

When determining whether alimony is warranted and how it should be structured, the court may consider a wide range of factors, including:

  • The needs of the potential recipient and the ability of the other spouse to make payments
  • The financial resources of both parties
  • The length of the marriage
  • The age and health of both parties
  • The employment history and potential earning capacity of both spouses
  • Whether either of the parties engaged in the dissipation of marital assets
  • The contribution by one party to the earning capacity of the other party
  • The contributions of one spouse as a homemaker
  • Whether either spouse engaged in marital misconduct
  • Any pre-marital property owned by either party

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, our family law attorney brings more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online . We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

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What Not to Do When You Are a Noncustodial Parent

Noncustodial Parent Time

There’s simply no way around it—divorce is hard on kids and it’s hard on parents, too. Unfortunately, with good or bad intentions, custodial and non-custodial parents can make the situation much worse. Here are some of the most frequent ways adults complicate matters for children of divorce. If you have questions about your noncustodial parent time, contact a Baytown divorce lawyer for assistance.

  • Discuss things in front of the children that should be addressed privately—It’s not realistic (and probably not healthy) to expect that you’ll never have a disagreement with your ex. But don’t air that laundry in front of your children!! Your kids aren’t mature enough to understand that disagreements can be worked out. In addition, they may assume they have caused the problem.
  • Use visitation as a tool to either punish or reward an ex-spouse—Visitation is a right of the child, as much as it’s a right of the parent. Custodial and non-custodial parents should never use it as a bargaining chip or to punish an ex. The ones who suffer the most from this type of behavior?—the children.
  • Make a child feel guilty about being with the other parent—It may often be entirely unintentional, but when you tell your children that you will miss them when they are with the other parent, they may have a vision of you as sitting home sad and alone..and they may blame themselves for your condition.
  • Let your children make the decisions about when and how long they will visit their non-custodial parent, or when they will go home—This puts unnecessary pressure on the child, as they don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings, but find themselves in a no-win situation.
  • Set your expectations too high—It’s common, especially for non-custodial parents, to want the time spent with children to be special. That puts a lot of pressure on your kids. Try, instead, to integrate your children into your life. Don’t plan all your activities around your children, but let them participate with you in deciding what you’ll do. But do as many of the things you normally do as possible. That’s how your kids really get to know you.

Noncustodial Parent

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, our divorce lawyer bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online . We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Understanding the Community Property Laws of Texas

Community Property Laws of Texas

In a divorce, determining how to divide of the assets and obligations accumulated and incurred during the marriage can be a challenge. For centuries, the prevailing approach was the concept of “equitable distribution,” where the court would try to find a “fair” solution if parties could not come to agreement on their own. In those jurisdictions, unfortunately, significant time and money can be spent trying to determine what is fair. If you have questions about the community property laws of Texas, contact a Baytown family law attorney.

Texas, however, has joined a minority of states in implementing a different system, one designed to simplify the process—the community property approach. Under the Texas community property laws, the court starts by identifying the character of marital property—is it separate property or is it community property. As a general rule, any property owned and brought into a marriage is separate property and rightfully goes back to the owner in the event of divorce. All other marital property is considered community property, with two exceptions:

  • Property obtained by gift or inheritance
  • Property that both parties agree is separate property

It’s also important to understand that all property generally retains its character as separate or community property, even if it changes form. For example, if you own a home before the marriage, but sell it, the cash proceeds will be separate property, unless you commingle it with marital property. Accordingly, you don’t want to put proceeds from the sale of separate property into a joint marital account.

The parties to a divorce can agree to property settlements that are contrary to the Texas community property laws, but the court will always have the discretion to review and reject such agreements, should there be evidence of fraud and misrepresentation, undue influence or duress.

Community Property Laws of Texas

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, our family law attorney brings more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online . We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Understanding the Tax Implications of Divorce

Tax Implications of Divorce

During a divorce, your focus is on custody and visitation, child support, alimony (perhaps) and the division of marital debts and assets. It may not even occur to you to consider the potential tax consequences until the divorce is finalized. But thinking about the tax impact beforehand can benefit both parties. Contact a Baytown divorce lawyer with questions about the tax implications of divorce.

The Treatment of Child Support and Spousal Support for Tax Purposes

With both child support and alimony, one of the parties is receiving income from the other. However, for tax purposes, the two types of payment are treated differently.

Under IRS rules, child support payments are not considered as income by the recipient. Accordingly, the person paying child support cannot claim any kind of deduction for the payment.

As a general rule, however, spousal support qualifies as reportable income and must be included on state and federal tax returns, as long as the payments are made because of a valid divorce or separation agreement, and the payments are monetary—gifts of real or personal property, or services (gifts in kind) are generally not taxable. If the payments qualify as income to the recipient, they can also be deducted by the payer.

Tax Implications of Divorce

What Filing Status Should You Claim?

If your divorce in still in process at the end of the tax year, you can still choose to file a joint return, or you can file as “married filing separately.” However, if the divorce decree is entered before the end of the tax year, you must file as either single or as “head of household.”

To claim your children as exemptions on your return, you must generally be considered the custodial parent. In most instances, the parent with whom the child spent the most amount of time will be considered the custodial parent for tax purposes. You can, however, claim your child if the custodial parent waives the exemption in writing.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, our divorce lawyer brings more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

 
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