How can you tell if your spouse has been talking to an attorney about divorce?

How can you tell if your spouse has been talking to an attorney about divorce?

Originally published by Zack McKamie.

By Jeff Anderson

Sometimes, people start a divorce by going to a lawyer, paying a retainer, and signing a contract to start with the divorce proceedings. Others may speak to an attorney and then go home to gather all the necessary documents to plan for the divorce. If you suspect that your spouse might be doing some planning, here are some signs to help you figure that out.

Children

Let’s say you and your spouse have always shared all parenting responsibilities. Dad takes the children to soccer; Mom takes them to dance. Dad works on homework with them or sometimes Mom does.

Then suddenly there is a shift in responsibilities. One parent is now doing everything – taking the children everywhere, making the doctor appointments, setting up play dates, making dinner, and putting them to bed.  There suddenly is a parental superhero in the house, because even though both may still be there physically, only one is doing their share of parenting. A few months of that and suddenly you’ve got a status quo that is hard to ignore.

That goes for other areas of the children’s lives as well. Mom’s family is being pushed to the side to spend more time with Dad’s family. Dad is actively signing them up for their activities – something he never did before. He suddenly opens a savings account for them and he’s putting a lot of money in there.

Another indication could be if the children are suddenly seeing a counselor for the first time. If a spouse is planning for a divorce and thinking ahead about a trial, therapists have a unique ability on the witness stand. If he or she is qualified as an expert, then they can offer an opinion to the court about your children and then tell the judge about the basis of that opinion, which can include everything your children have said to them. If those children have been coached by the other parent on the way to their counseling sessions, they might have said some things you don’t like – things they don’t even mean.

Money

Another sign that your spouse might be preparing for a divorce can be found in your bank accounts.

If your accounts seem to have less and less money, though nobody’s job has changed and the expenses have stayed the same, it might be a sign that your spouse is holding back money and saving it in a separate account. More directly, if your husband or wife has opened a new account and has started putting funds which are out of your reach into it, they might be getting ready for a fight. A stockpile of cash like this can be important because it takes money to hire an attorney, not to mention starting a new life from scratch.

Ultimately, this can be a matter of one side making sure they have enough money, and at the same time, trying to deprive the other of as many resources as they can. Look for signs, such as the opening of a P.O. Box, new credit cards with new limits, or the closing of joint credit cards.  If it looks like your spouse is gathering the monthly bills and financial statements in a newly central and organized way, he or she might have been advised to do so.

Other Things to Look for

If your spouse just started keeping a diary or journal or if you have noticed that they are recording more (audio, video, or photographic) with their phone, they might have been coached to do so.

If you find that your spouse’s social media posts have changed, you might be seeing a sign of impending disharmony. For instance, if the tone of their posts change to a more wholesome tone, then it’s probably a good idea to go back and see if some of the older posts – the ones your husband or wife might not want a judge to look at – have been erased.

Has your spouse changed their passwords or been more secretive with their phone? Are they using new phrases like “best interest”, “community property” or “no fault”?

These could all be signs that they have been speaking to a divorce attorney. You might consider finding a board-certified family law attorney to explore your options and figure out the best course of action.

Jeff Anderson is a partner in the Family Law boutique Orsinger, Nelson, Downing & Anderson, LLP. He has devoted his legal career to family law litigation, with a focus on complex property, custody and enforcement. Jeff is Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and is a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

The post How can you tell if your spouse has been talking to an attorney about divorce? appeared first on ONDA Family Law.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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living with your spouse during divorce

5 Tips To Help You Remain Sane While Living With Your Spouse During Divorce

living with your spouse during divorce

 

Some state laws require that two spouses live apart for a certain period of time if they want to file a no-fault divorce. In other states, however, you have the choice of whether one spouse moves out of the house or whether you continue living together as you wait for the divorce to be final.

If you choose to keep living together, you should keep certain things in mind that can help make the divorce process easier.

Should You be Living With Your Spouse During Divorce?

This is a highly personal consideration, and everyone should consider whether living under the same roof as her soon-to-be ex-spouse is right for her. First and foremost, if you have experienced domestic violence or believe you are at risk of harm by your spouse, you should ensure your safety first. You can leave, or you might be able to obtain a protective order that orders your spouse to leave the house and stay away from you.

If domestic violence is not an issue, you could save money by continuing to have only one housing payment, a set of utility bills, groceries, and more. By saving money now, you might be in a better position following your divorce.

In addition, if you and your spouse own a home together, you might not want to leave the home during the divorce. If you leave, it can be quite difficult to get back in and get property rights to the home following the divorce. Additionally, if you have children, both parents continuing to live together can provide support and stability, as well as help set the stage for healthy co-parenting following the divorce.

5 Tips To Help You Remain Sane While Living With Your Spouse During Divorce

Even though there are reasons why you and your spouse are getting divorced, it is important to set those reasons aside as much as possible if you decide to keep living under the same roof. You should always make an effort to do the following:

Never put the kids in the middle – When spouses argue, it can be all too easy to bring the children into the conflict or say bad things about the other parent to your children. Not only is this unhealthy for the kids, but it also can affect your custody determination. Courts want to know that parents sharing custody will encourage a healthy relationship with the other parent (when possible) and that parents will work together for the best interests of the child. Striving to get along and keeping your kids out of any conflict can only help the custody portion of your divorce case.

Work together with finances – Since you are theoretically saving money by continuing to share a home, you should try to make the smartest financial decisions to maximize the benefits of living together. Decide whether you will pay bills from a joint bank account or split the bills from each of your individual accounts. Remember that now is not the time for big purchases or vacations – no matter how much you might want to get away. Your assets and debts are still part of your marital estate, and wasting those assets or accruing new debts can cause complications for you in the divorce case.

Keep it civil – Spouses who are in the middle of divorce generally have many differences of opinion. However, constant disagreements and fighting can only make the divorce more stressful – or even more expensive. When spouses are civil, they can often agree on the major issues in their cases without court intervention. Doing so often saves significant money and time, as litigation is a costly last resort in a divorce case. If you are constantly fighting, your spouse may decide to cause complications in the divorce and refuse to cooperate, which can lead you right into court.

Give each other space – If you have come to the decision to end your marriage and see little hope for reconciliation, it is only natural that you and your spouse will start to drift apart – even if you are living under the same roof while the divorce is pending. It is not a bad idea to move into separate rooms if you haven’t done so already. In addition, you should cultivate a life outside of your marriage and encourage your spouse to do the same. If your marriage is truly over, you need to let go of expectations of how much time you spend together or what night of the week is “date night.”

Don’t Be Afraid to Move Out – If it becomes clear in a few weeks or months into your attempt to live together that it’s not going to work, do not be afraid of throwing in the towel and moving out (or asking your husband to move out, if that makes more sense). There is no point in making yourselves miserable for another few months while you wait for your divorce to be final.

Many people decide to live together while they get divorced, and there is no right or wrong decision in this situation. If you choose to live together, you should keep in mind how doing so might affect the outcome of your divorce case.

The post 5 Tips To Help You Remain Sane While Living With Your Spouse During Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Divorce Based on Abandonment in Texas

Originally published by Family and Criminal Law Blog.

Why might I choose to file for divorce based on a fault ground?

Forty years ago, the first no-fault divorce was granted in California. Prior to this time, couples seeking a divorce were required to list a valid ground for divorce, which often included adultery, abandonment, and cruelty. If one of these grounds did not exist in the marriage, but the spouses nonetheless wanted a divorce, they were forced to fabricate a grounds for divorce. Recognizing a need for more honest and efficient divorces, California, and soon after every state in the union except for New York, adopted a version of no-fault divorce.

Most couples in Texas looking to file for divorce today will file for a no-fault divorce, in which the parties will list that the marriage cannot continue because the spouses can no longer get along in the marriage and there is no chance of reconciliation. However, per Texas law, several fault grounds for divorce continue to exist. At times, it can be advantageous or even necessary for a spouse to seek a divorce based upon one of these fault grounds. Below, our Midland, Texas divorce lawyers discuss divorce based on abandonment in the state.

Abandonment Can Influence a Custody Award and Division of Assets

Abandonment occurs when one spouse deserts the other spouse with the intention to end the marriage. Proving abandonment by your spouse can influence the court’s decisions when it comes to custody of your minor children. To successfully demonstrate abandonment, you will need to show that your spouse has been absent for one year or more. Further, filing for divorce based on abandonment might become essential if you cannot reach your spouse.

Family courts in Texas take the position that generally it is in a child’s best interests to have a relationship with both parents. However, where one spouse has abandoned the family, this will negate that presumption. A judge weighing the custodial rights of a spouse who left his or her family is less likely to award joint custody and will likely allow for just limited visitation.

Further, a judge may take your spouse’s abandonment into account when determining how your marital assets will be divided. Texas is a community property state and marital assets will be divided in accordance with what is just and right. While this typically means equally, where one spouse abandoned the family, a judge may be included to issue the other spouse a disproportionate share of the assets. Your divorce lawyer will review the circumstances surrounding your spouse’s abandonment to determine your best bet in filing for divorce from your spouse. Armed with full knowledge of your individual situation, your attorney can develop a divorce strategy that will benefit you and your family.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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productive co-parenting communication

Developing Productive Co-Parenting Communication

productive co-parenting communication

 

Parenting can be difficult even in an in-tact household wherein even residing together the time spent together as parents, uninterrupted in thought and time for discussion, results in many discussions occurring through text, email and in passing.

Of course, the hustle and bustle of the world we live in as parents leave much room for errors in schedules, forgotten appointments, and confusion as to who is where. This is even more difficult for two parents who do not reside together yet share in one mutual goal- raising and being involved in their children’s schedules and lives on an equal basis.

Productive Co-Parenting Communication

Married or not, raising children takes a lot of communication. Unfortunately, communication in relationships that have broken down for one reason or the other is made even more difficult and can create a host of issues for couples attempting to co-parent absent a close relationship or any at all for that matter. As family law attorneys, we are often faced with questions, concerns and issues from our client stemming from the lack of communication, i.e. the other side not providing information or not being responsive.

Other times, the absence of communication is used to assert control and intentionally keep the other parent out of the loop. On the other hand, some parents utilize communication in a manner which is harassing such as incessantly texting, calling, or making things difficult. Either way, the reality is that communication in strained relationships can be incredibly difficult and as a result, children suffer by missing activities, homework assignments, family outings, etc.

Therefore, focusing on simple ways to communicate, absent the need to involve lawyers and judges, is the most productive and cost-effective way to co-parent when the relationship with the other parent is less than ideal. The reality is that the involvement of lawyers and the court’s not only costs thousands of dollars, but there is also a delay in resolution by virtue of the time needed for everyone to respond.

Therefore, it is simply not practical on any level to require the use of your lawyer to communicate about everyday issues regarding your children.

It is significant to note that communication is one of the primary statutory factors the courts consider in determining custody and parenting time arrangements. Moreover, just not getting along is not enough to prove that two adults cannot communicate in a manner which would cause a court to minimize either parent’s role.

In fact, the New Jersey Supreme Court has long held that joint legal custody is the “preferred” custody arrangement and that this requires sharing the responsibility for jointly making “major” decisions regarding the child’s welfare, developing a productive way of communication is key to the success of not only the co-parenting relationship but the children’s success overall.

That being said, family law attorneys, as well as Judge’s, are mindful of the difficulties parent’s may have communicating during less than ideal times. Therefore, the focus and trend have been to encourage the use of apps that parties can utilize to limit and focus the communication to just the issues versus the text message and/or email chains that seemingly increase in hostility with the back and forth involved.

For example, one method of communication often utilized by co-parents, either by way of agreement or more frequently now being Court Ordered, is Our Family Wizard.  Our Family Wizard obviously cannot circumvent the use of communication as a weapon in contested or tension ridden co-parenting relationships, however, it is designed to assist parents by having categories that limit and narrow the issues and minimize the probability of misinterpretation of miscommunication.

Parents can download the children’s schedules, they can monitor parenting time changes in their schedules, and even scan in the children’s expenses, none of which can be altered if needed for use in Court. In other words, it is a protected forum which allows communication between parents about the issues relating to their children and provides clearer documentation in the event that communication (or lack of same) is the overriding issue.

In sum, learning and finding a way to communicate is essential to raising children regardless of the status of your relationship. Utilizing applications such as Cozi, Our Family Wizard, Truece, and other applications which permit scanning, scheduling and limit the opportunity for emotions to supersede the issues is beneficial to everyone’s quality of life, especially and most importantly the children involved.

The post Developing Productive Co-Parenting Communication appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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things to do before you file for divorce

8 Things You Need To Do Before You File for Divorce

things to do before you file for divorce

 

Filing for divorce is a big decision, to say the least. There are several issues that may need to be resolved before you can officially end your marriage, including the division of your marital assets, spousal support, child custody, and whether you will pay or receive your child support.

With so much on the line, it’s extremely important that you fully evaluate your options and goals before you file for divorce.

Here Are 8 Things You Need To Do Before You File for Divorce

1. Have Certainty

It’s critical that you are sure that you want to get a divorce before you file for one. Filing for divorce can irrevocably change your relationship and may start a cascade of events from which there is no coming back. You should never file for divorce as a bluff or in response to a particularly bad fight.

While there are certainly cases in which it’s justifiable to file for divorce without letting your spouse know, in most cases, it’s a good idea to discuss the matter before you file any paperwork with the court.

2. Gather Important Documentation

As soon as divorce is even a consideration for the future, you should take the time to gather important documentation and information. This way, you will have everything organized when the time comes to file for divorce, and you will not have to worry about your spouse attempting to conceal critical information – such as financial accounts – from you. Some documentation you should organize in a file includes:

  • Social security numbers for you, your spouse, and your children
  • Insurance policies
  • Account numbers for all bank, investment, and retirement accounts
  • Deeds to real property
  • Titles to vehicles
  • Appraisals of valuables, including art, musical instruments, or jewelry
  • An inventory of your personal property
  • Usernames and passwords for all online accounts

With all of this information upfront, your lawyer will have the full picture of your situation, and you will not need to delay your divorce while you search for documentation. Keep in mind that if you plan to move out, you should be sure to get these documents before you actually leave – many divorcing spouses who leave the marital home find it very difficult to get back in once they are out.

3. Have A Plan for Custody

If you and your spouse have children, and one of you is planning on moving out, it’s a good idea to discuss how you want to handle child custody while your divorce is pending. You can always hammer out a final custody order at a later date or have the court decide the issue for you, and it’s a good idea for your children’s sake to figure out how you will handle parenting time and decisions until your divorce is finalized.

If you’re having trouble coming to an agreement with your spouse, keep in mind that a judge can impose a temporary custody order during this period.

4. Have A Support Network

Divorce can take a toll on your finances, but it is also a highly emotional time. No matter who is seeking the divorce, ending a marriage and breaking up your family can be a draining task. You should avoid taking out your emotions on your children, but it is important to have a separate emotional support network.

Dedicated friends or family members can lend an ear when needed, and they can also help with your kids or other tasks that can be difficult to complete on your own.

5. Have A Clear Understanding of How Your Actions Could Affect the Outcome of Your Divorce

The period between filing for divorce and the date your divorce is final can be a complicated one. Many people are anxious to get on with the next chapter in their lives and do things that may be out of character or start dating immediately. It’s important to understand that the things you do while your divorce is pending may have an effect on the outcome of issues like child custody, the division of marital assets, or spousal support (maintenance).

For this reason, you should refrain from engaging in any activities that could call into question your judgment or emotional stability. In addition, since you are still married in the eyes of the law, it’s a good idea to refrain from dating or starting a new relationship while your divorce is pending.

6. Have A Financial Plan

There is no doubt that divorce can affect your financial situation. For many people, losing the financial support of a spouse can be difficult, and there are ways to plan ahead to ensure you are in the best financial position possible post-marriage. Some aspects of a strong financial divorce plan include:

  • Do not accrue any unnecessary debt before or during a divorce
  • Watch any joint accounts for over-spending on your spouse’s part
  • Stick to a strict budget and minimize your spending
  • Determine how much income you will need to cover your bills and expenses on your own

7. Have A Place to Live

Many people wonder whether they should move out prior to filing for divorce. Sometimes, moving out can make it more difficult to retain any ownership in the family home after the divorce, so you might consider staying until the divorce is final. However, if the situation at home is untenable or unsafe, you should secure a place to live that is affordable and appropriate for your children to visit.

8. Hire An Experienced Divorce Attorney

Finally, if you are considering filing for divorce, it’s in your best interest to at least consult with a family lawyer in your jurisdiction. Divorce is a complicated legal matter that can affect the most important aspects of your life, including your finances, your ability to spend time with your children and make important decisions about their lives, and whether you can stay in your current home.

Consequently, it’s highly advisable that you consult with an attorney before you decide to take any steps that can affect your legal rights.

The post 8 Things You Need To Do Before You File for Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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modify child custody agreement

Can I Modify My Child Custody Agreement Myself, Without Going to Court?

modify child custody agreement

 

As an experienced Somerset, NJ divorce and family law attorney, I can tell you that the answer is yes, of course! But I don’t advise it, because when you and your ex alter your child custody arrangements on your own, you are creating more problems than you are solving.

Who suffers? Ultimately, your children.  Read on to find out how you can best protect your children and your parental rights.

Can I Modify My Child Custody Agreement?

The Child Custody Agreement

How a child custody agreement is reached varies by state, but in general, it is negotiated as part of your divorce and a court decree is entered setting forth the child custody terms. When parents agree on what living and legal arrangements are best for their children, the process goes smoothly.

When parents disagree, this is where the court steps in, attorneys negotiate, and a compromise is reached. Most often, compromise satisfies neither party and there are continuing ill feelings. But at least there is a court order in place, and either you or your ex could ask the court to step in if one of you fails to comply with it.

Generally, the initial child custody agreement will establish who has physical and legal custody, and whether there is joint custody shared between the parents or one parent has sole custody.

Physical vs Legal Custody

In most states, legal and physical custody are different rights. The child lives primarily with the parent who has physical custody. Either parent or both may have the right to make decisions for the child, and this is called legal custody.

When parents are married, both have physical and legal custody of their children.  When married parents divorce, these rights must be either divided or shared.

Joint Custody vs. Sole Custody

These are what they say they are:  where children live with both parents, this is called Joint Custody. In this situation, both parents as a practical matter often retain joint legal custody.

Sole Custody is the term for when one parent has both physical and legal custody of a child. Usually, for the other parent to lose these rights, there is a hearing and the judge will make that determination based upon factors that vary by state.

Asking the Court to Alter The Child Custody Agreement

Parents who change the terms of child custody through the courts are doing the most they can to protect their rights as parents because the court issues an order memorializing those changes.  Thereafter, the new child custody terms can be enforced by the court should one party fail to keep to them.

Altering the Terms of Child Custody on Your Own

Of course, you and your ex can agree to change the child custody arrangement outside of court.  It’s quick, easy (assuming you both agree), and cheap in that there no attorney fees or court filing fees. But beware of the following pitfalls of changing the child custody agreement on your own:

The court will not and cannot enforce your new child custody terms.

If your ex wakes up one day and decides not to stick to the new child custody arrangement, there is nothing you can do about it. Only a court order is legally binding on your ex. There is no way to enforce your informal agreement with your ex.

Your ex can get the court to enforce the terms of the original child custody agreement.

You might be acting in good faith and sticking to the changes you and your ex worked out.  But your ex could still haul you in front of the judge and demand that the court enforce the original child custody order.  That would be well within his rights, and the court would find that you are the party who violated the order.

Changes in child custody may work out at first, but if you allow one informal change, where does it end?

It is common for an ex to take advantage of the situation when you are willing to make informal changes, either planned or on-the-fly.  Your life could become a hell of variables and resentment, with your ex constantly demanding little changes to the child custody schedule and you feeling powerless to say no because you allowed such changes in the past.

In short, making informal changes to child custody might seem convenient and harmless at the time but you end up laying the groundwork for future conflict between you and your ex. Didn’t you go through the pain of divorce to end that conflict? Your children also suffer, not only from the revived conflict between you but from the uncertainty in their parenting schedule. Parents who remain civil, a calm, stable environment, and a predictable schedule all help children heal from divorce.

Let the court help you and your children, and your ex, move forward in an orderly and predictable way by memorializing any needed change to a child custody agreement with a court order.

The post Can I Modify My Child Custody Agreement Myself, Without Going to Court? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Child Support Custody And Visitation

Guidelines The Court Uses To Determine Child Support, Custody, And Visitation

Child Support Custody And Visitation

When going through a divorce with minor children or determining paternity, one of the many decisions you will need to make is how much time each parent will spend with the minor children.

It is important to note that the amount of time spent with the children can also affect child support.

The goal of any agreement affecting children should be to protect the children’s best interest.

However, due to the emotional nature and financial implications of custody and visitation, many parents struggle to reach an agreement.

In the event parents are unable to find an agreeable solution the Court will intervene and create child custody and visitation orders based on several factors, including the children’s best interest.

Once the Court determines child custody and visitation, it will then use guidelines dictated by statutes and a child support worksheet to determine which spouse owes the other child support.

Determining Child Support, Custody, And Visitation

Child Support

In California, both parents are financially responsible for minor children. However, child support can be ordered to help provide for the children’s housing, clothing, food, extracurricular activities, and other needs.

Child support is based on several factors including each parent’s gross income, mandatory deductions, tax deductions, amounts paid for healthcare, time spent with each parent and more.

Most often, the higher-earning parent will pay child support as they have more disposable income. For families who have 50/50 or close to equal timeshare with the children, the parent who claims the minor children as dependents could be ordered to pay the other parent support.

With so many factors and variables in determining support, it is important to speak with a professional to review all available options and develop the best child support agreement for you and your children.

Imputing Income

If you or the other parent is unemployed or underemployed, the Court can still order child support. In either situation, the Court will review employment records and education history to determine if gainful employment is feasible and determine what their earning capacity may be.

The Court may also consider other factors, including the length of time you have been out of work and the current state of the job market.

If the Court finds one parent is underemployed or willfully not working, the Court could assign income to that parent based on previous salary or current earning capabilities determined by work or educational experience.

The assignment of income, also known as imputing income, can result in Court-ordered child support.

If a parent fails to meet their financial obligation and does not pay child support as ordered, arrears will accrue, and the parent could face additional penalties.

State Disbursement Unit (SDU)

In the past, child support was paid directly to the receiving parent. When a child support order dictated automatic deductions, the paying parent’s (payor’s) employer would withhold the amount ordered and send it directly to the other parent.

However, in 1996 the federal government passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Reconciliation Act, requiring states to create a centralized location where parents pay child support. The creation of State Disbursement Units facilitated payment by collecting child support and distributing to the receiving parent.

When a child support order utilizes SDUs to facilitate payment through employers, payors can have up to 50 percent of their wages deducted.

In addition to facilitating payment, the 1996 Act changed how payment was distributed if a payor had more than one child support order.

Prior to the implementation of the SDUs, child support orders were prioritized by date. For instance, if a payor had orders to pay child support for children from a previous relationship and for the most recent relationship, and the amount ordered for the first relationship more than 50 percent of their income, the first family would get the full amount while the second family would receive partial payment or nothing.

After 1996, a paying parent’s child support amount can change based upon how much the payor parent earns or if there are other child support orders or arrearages are owed by the payor parent.

The SDUs can adjust the distribution of child support to ensure all children receive support. This can result in a reduction of child support received if the amount owed for all orders exceed 50 percent of the payor’s income.

However, the original amount ordered is still due and arrearages will build up unless the paying parent pays the difference directly to the SDU.

Child Custody and Visitation

California recognizes two types of custody: legal custody and physical custody.  Legal custody refers to the ability to make decisions that affect the child’s health, welfare, and safety. Legal decisions include what doctors the child sees, what school the child attends, participation in religious activities, when the child can get a driver’s license, and more.

If one parent has sole legal custody, they are not obligated to consult the other parent when making decisions.

However, if parents have joint legal custody, they will both be able to make decisions. Ideally, both parents would communicate and agree on any decisions that affect their children.

Physical custody refers to the time spent with each parent and where the child resides. Joint physical custody, when children live with both parents, is the most common arrangement and the goal of California Courts.

However, it is not the best solution for all families, especially if domestic or substance abuse is an issue. If one parent has primary or sole custody, the other “non-custodial” parent has visitation.

Visitation schedules can vary depending on the relationship between parents and their children and work or school schedules. Common visitation schedules are unsupervised visits every other weekend, bi-weekly visits, alternating major holidays, or supervised visits once a week.

It is highly suggested that both parents work together to create a parenting plan detailing visitation, pick up/drop off times and more.  If you are unable to reach an agreement, a family law attorney can help you create a parenting plan that not only benefits the children but considers the parents’ schedules. In the event, you are unable to come to an agreement the Court can hear your concerns and create custody and visitation orders.

However, court orders will dictate the amount of time each parent spends with the children, which can result in orders that neither you nor the other parent agree with and have financial ramifications for many years.

Custody Disagreements

In some cases, the parents may not be able to come to a custody agreement. Regardless of how you feel about your spouse, you should not bring your children into the argument.

Nor should you try to dissuade your children from seeing the other parent. The Courts will consider this when making a custody decision.

In most cases, the Court will not let a child testify as to which parent the child wishes to stay with as it is not fair to make the child choose.

When determining custody, the Court will review several factors such as the amount of time each parent spends with the children, domestic violence issues, substance abuse, involvement in educational or extracurricular activities, and general care.

Child Custody Evaluations

In some situations, the Court may order a child custody evaluation to help resolve a custody dispute. If ordered, the court can appoint an evaluator, or the parents can choose a private evaluator.

In either situation, both parties are responsible for the cost of the evaluator. The evaluator’s role is not to treat patients, but to provide an objective evaluation with informed opinions to help the Court determine the most appropriate custody outcome. The evaluator will conduct an investigation and interviews to decide which parent can provide the best situation for their children.

Evaluators weigh several factors to make their decision, including reviewing interactions between parents and their children, if the parents allow contact or visits with the other parent, and how the children behave in front of each parent.

Spoiling a child will not get you extra points!  Once the evaluator has completed their investigation, they will submit their opinion to the Court for consideration.

An Attorney for the Child

In addition to a child custody evaluation, or in place of an evaluation, the Court may appoint an attorney for the child, referred to as Minor’s Counsel.

The role of Minor’s Counsel is to protect and advocate for the child’s best interest. As with the evaluator, both parties share in the cost of the child’s attorney. While the Minor’s Counsel generally has wide discretion in their investigation, it often involves multiple interviews with the children, and sometimes the parents.

Upon conclusion of their findings, Minor’s Counsel will present their recommendation and the children’s wishes to the Court for consideration when creating orders.

Following Court Orders

Parents who fail to follow court orders can be in contempt of the Court, resulting in fines or worse.

Parents of children who refuse to visit the other parent according to their visitation orders can also be held in contempt and face financial fines or even jail.

However, the success of contempt charges depends on several factors, including the child’s age and the concept of parental control. If your children are refusing to see their other parent, it is imperative you contact a family law attorney as soon as possible.

An experienced attorney can listen to your situation, advise the proper course of action to protect parental rights, and against contempt charges.

The Best Outcome

Even if you and your spouse cannot get along, it is better if you are able to create a parenting plan with the help of your attorneys.

The focus of any agreement should always be protecting the best interest of your children.

Consistent, cordial communication with your co-parent can help you and your children transition to the new family dynamic.

Additionally, discussing decisions surrounding the children’s health, safety, and welfare together can help avoid the stress of costly court appearances. In the event an agreement can’t be reached, an experienced family law attorney can help you protect your children and your parental rights.

The post Guidelines The Court Uses To Determine Child Support, Custody, And Visitation appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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The Thriver’s Guide To Co-Parenting With A Narcissist

The Thriver’s Guide To Co-Parenting With A Narcissist

 

Narcissists don’t co-operate with joint parenting, and co-parenting with one can seem IMPOSSIBLE.

They like to disagree with anything you suggest; refuse to turn up or stick to prior arrangements and mess with your children’s appointments, possessions and their heads!

Are you feeling POWERLESS to get this person to see sense and act decently for the sake of the children? Are you sick of watching your children get hurt, distressed, disappointed and even blatantly abused?

If so, then I offer you this complete guide to a different way to parent with a narcissist that offers real healing solutions.

 

 

Video Transcript

When it comes to co-parenting with narcissists, it really seems impossible because they are not cooperative.

When co-parenting with a narcissist, he or she will commonly use the children to trigger you, affect you, keep you bound up in court and custody battles, and mine narcissistic supply from you.

This is a common way that narcissists continue to abuse ex-partners.

What can help significantly is Parallel Parenting, because this can create space, healing and power for you. It keeps your children removed from their parents’ battles, and also helps you have enough healing and detachment to be the solid, powerful influence that your children need you to be.

Okay, before we get started, thank you everyone who has subscribed to my channel for supporting the Thriver Mission. And if you haven’t yet subscribed, I want to remind you to please do. And if you like this video, please make sure you hit the like button.

Now, let’s dive in.

 

What Is Parallel Parenting?

Parallel Parenting is a co-parenting experience where the parents are disengaged from each other and have limited direct contact. Parallel parenting is about enforcing boundaries and then holding them.

Parallel parenting means that you have separate parenting experiences. At first it can seem really counter-intuitive to do this, yet I promise you that this is the healthiest thing for your children.

One of the ways that continued contact between you and your narcissistic ex damages your children – even more than you could possibly imagine – is if they see you traumatised, feeling powerless, acquiescing and handing away yourself, rights and boundaries.

This sets up your children’s template to be abused or abusive when they get older. It’s what they will likely work from because it forms the foundations of their inner, learned Love Code.

The narcissist can also line you up by triggering you to then turn your children against you – by making you out as the ‘bad’ one.

Naturally, it can be very confronting for you to adopt that level of detachment, especially when the narcissist has your children.

Most definitely we would love to have input into our children’s wellbeing when they are with the narcissist. But the narcissist knows this, and it becomes one of the greatest hooks he or she will use to abuse you and potentially your children.

 

Doing What is Instinctively Natural DOESN’T Work.

Monitoring, lecturing and prescribing to a narcissist does not make them better parents. In fact, it energises them to act up against you and the children, and to use whatever it takes to keep triggering and punishing you.

This doesn’t just result in the children being disappointed, let down, neglected or abused. It also means that you become more traumatised and distraught, which then affects your ability to be a solid, stable, calm and peaceful influence for your children.

So, above all else, you want to take this power away from the narcissist. The more victimised, brutalised and resenting of the narcissist and the situation you feel, when trying to co-parent, the more painful the feeling of being victimised, brutalised and resentful will be, and the more you will co-generate, with the narcissist, these experiences.

Narcissists are a spiritual soul mirror of the most ferocious magnitude. Simply feeling traumatised by them, even without contact, feeds these people the physic energy to keep doing what they are doing.

I know it’s tough; I know it’s horrific.

My heart goes out to you in spades, because I don’t think there is anything more traumatising and serious than when our children are affected.

To survive this and then Thrive for you and your children, regardless of the narcissist co-parent, means that you need to find another way to deal with the situation – a way that works.

You need true solutions for you and your children, and now I’m going to give them to you in four significant steps.

 

Step Number 1 – Acceptance

To get started on the healthiest track for you and your children, it’s vital to accept that this co-parenting experience is happening; that you are not dealing with a reasonable person; and that the normal rules of engagement don’t apply.

Stop expecting this person to do the right thing, comply or make co-parenting harmonious. Let go of that requirement, and all your triggered trauma regarding it, and start focusing on your Being and generating what you CAN to make the best of the situation.

Know that you are in for the long haul, and accept this too. If you keep mired in the victimised feelings of the situation, not only is it going to be hard to emerge from it victorious, it is also going to be deeply detrimental to your children.

The greatest gift we can ever grant our children, is the knowing that life can deal lemons and that we DO have the resources and the way to make lemonade – regardless of how awful it is.

Passing on our victimisation to our children, means they too will remain trauma ridden and will continue the cycles of abuse/abused in their life and their future generation’s lives. The cycle will continue with them attaching themselves to people who make them feel victimised, let down and abused.

I promise you it is NOT true that both us and our children can’t heal when co-parenting is involved.

There are more people in this community having parallel parenting healthy experiences with narcissists than you could imagine. This isn’t some fluke – it’s because they have accepted their situation, rolled up their sleeves and worked very hard at their Beingness and putting in place what is necessary to achieve this.

What else is there to do?

 

Step Number 2 – Emotional Healing and Detachment

What it is that feeds the narcissist the energy needed to keep hurting you, are your emotional triggers.

Triggers that if left unattended inside you, above all else, will derail you. There are no bigger terrors, I believe, than the ones attached to our children being hurt, or the fears of losing them. And I know this is some of the most difficult inner work you can ever do.

Yet, no matter how counter-intuitive it is and hard it is to do, if you release these traumas you will emerge from them powerful and solid. You will absolutely be able to take action in powerful, clear ways without being derailed by your inner triggered trauma.

Then, in everyday shenanigans with a narcissist, you’ll know when a certain message does not require a response, whereas before it might have sent you into a spin.

You will be able to have boundaries, hold them and enforce them without fear.

And you will be able to gently, lovingly and solidly respond to your children, in ways that empower them rather than make them drown in deeper victimisation.

This STEP is completely foundational, essential and is truly the difference between struggling with co-parenting and achieving parallel-parenting that works. I can’t emphasis this enough!

If you try parallel parenting, whilst still feeling non-acceptance of the situation, triggered and victimised, you won’t be able to create solidness and safety. This is because the entire time the narcissist is still receiving the psychic energy from you to keep going after you for narcissistic supply.

Also, you will discover that the right people, assistance, answers, and breakthroughs DON’T come if there are unreleased traumas still screaming inside you.

What comes instead, is Life generating within you, to the letter, more of your already existing traumatised inner programmed beliefs about your situation.

My Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program (NARP) helps you release the trauma of co-parenting with a narcissist. It is the tool, these people who successfully parallel parent, use.

Over the years, I have had parents tell me that they don’t have time to NARP, because of the kids and the battles with the narcissist. But, truly, this is when we need to be doing this inner work the most. It is the only way I know of to start getting off the trauma hamster wheel with a co-parenting narcissistic ex.

 

Step Number 3 – Create Boundaries and Accountability

The key to successful parallel parenting is to legally create a strict Parenting Plan that contains as much detail in it that you feel necessary.

The Parenting Plan is about parenting separately. It means you don’t do children’s birthdays together. You have your own designated times for school and sporting events. You don’t have contact when dropping off or picking up the children. And it also means your ex can’t just turn up at your house at any time.

It’s vital to put a lot of thought into the Parenting Plan so that there are no grey areas and all contact – other than third party channels – is eliminated.

Also, you need to include a third-party communication hub such as Our Family Wizard (OFW). OFW is a favoured parallel-parenting communication tool in the Thriver Community.

Once set up, this portal is the only way you and the narcissist communicate. All communication is recorded, can’t be erased, and is admissible in court.

If the narcissist changes the plan for the parenting access or doesn’t even make contact – it is recorded. There is no need for you to, react, fix or mop up the pieces – and it is most important that you don’t!

Your boundaries – coupled with working hard with NARP on any triggers that go off within you – means that you can answer any request that comes through OFW as, ‘This is what I am prepared to do and this is what I am not prepared to do.’ Do not comply to the narcissist’s demands and changes. Stick to your agreed Parenting Plan.

Then just record, date and collate every incidence. Stay calm, keep shifting out what arises, and DON’T bite back.

The golden rule of using OFW is this: ‘Anything personal or abusive or accusatory, I remove myself from it and don’t reply to it – period. Any changes to the plan, I don’t comply to.’

See your solicitor to enforce necessary boundaries. Don’t try to bargain, reason with or get the narcissist to understand – that feeds them exactly the attention they are trying to get from you.

Again, every step of the way, keep shifting out any fear or pain that is triggered off within you with NARP.

When you use the portal correctly, keep releasing inner triggers, and don’t respond, the narcissist gets no payoff. He or she can’t extract narcissistic supply, and what they are trying to do gets completely exposed.

The narcissist will despise getting nothing from you. And if you are in court, give them nothing either. Don’t look at the narcissist or his or her solicitor, and only speak directly to the judge.

Then, when finally you have become emotionally disinterested in reacting to the narcissist’s games, and are simply dealing in your empowered, inwardly calm and solid way – everything shifts.

Many narcissists truly stop their ridiculous behaviour at this point. And I’ve even seen countless narcissists capitulate and give people exactly what they asked for regarding custody and settlements.

There is nothing more disconcerting for a narcissist than trying to affect a person, who is no longer affected by them. Additionally, this empowerment and calmness often enrages narcissists, who then metaphorically hang themselves with huge outbursts of nastiness. A narcissist unravelling may be recorded on OFW or appear for all to see in a courtroom.

From your side, please don’t ever diagnose the narcissist as having a personality disorder. Don’t try to expose character, but rather calmly present factual evidence regarding their behaviour.

Many a Thriver has legally won against a narcissist, because of this happening. I promise you, the narcissist is nowhere near as powerful as you may think.

Step Number 4 – Become A Thriver For You and Your Child

I totally believe that all of us, including our children, have at soul level made no mistakes about the learning, healing and growing journeys that we go through.

I know how well my son and countless children of other Thrivers have fared in this Community, because of what we went through with them and because we led the way. Instead of staying victimised and telling our children how bad our life and their lives were because of being with narcissists – we do something completely different.

We keep shifting out trauma and becoming wiser, more real, solid and true, regardless of what happened to us, what we lost or what the narcissist continued to try to do.

Leading by example, we teach our children incredible healing and empowerment because of what happened to us.

As a result of working hard on our inner wounds, we can clean up all the internal barriers to being self-generative. We can start emerging healthier and more able to create security, lifeforce, joy and resources. We are able to release the hooks of dependency that make us hand our power away to abusers.

By doing so, we become more evolved parents, despite circumstances, than we have ever previously been.

When Zac, my son, and I did a Facebook live presentation together recently, he shared how previously he couldn’t stand being around me – my victim energy was so toxic. Because of not healing myself effectively, I was completely absent for him. It wasn’t until I knew my biggest mission for Zac was to get well – that he did as well. And thank goodness I realised, because I nearly once lost him to parent alienation and then again to a drug and alcohol addiction.

All of these things are now in the past – and we couldn’t be closer as Mother and Son.

Such a shift within us as parents means that when our children are dismayed by the narcissist’s poor, disappointing or hurtful behaviour, you can fully validate how hurtful this feels, but stop reinforcing their helplessness and victimisation. This will happen when you don’t rubbish the other parent but empower your children instead.

You can do this by teaching them their worth, boundaries and rights through your own calm, clear actions. Also, by expressing to them how much you love them, see them and believe in them, regardless of what anyone else is or isn’t doing (including the narcissistic parent).

I have found that so many Thriver’s children gravitate to the Thriver parent, detach more and more from the narcissistic one, and become wise and empowered beyond their years.

And I can’t tell you how many special children, who are connected to Thriver parents in this community, are doing their own internal, organic versions of Quanta Freedom Healing, as a result of living with their Thriver parent. Even young children.

Imagine being four years of age and letting go of internal trauma and filling up with Source Energy, as a result of living with a parent who does this! It is happening. We are leading the way for these little Quantum Beings!

As adults, these children, as the result of a healing and evolving parent leading the way, will not need to continue unconsciously being involved in abusive relationships in order to awaken to their healing and evolution back to themselves.

What an incredible gift to get this out of the way so young! Can you imagine if we could have? Can you understand how this sets up the future generations to be conscious, authentic and free from abuse?

I so hope this video has helped.

As I said before. It is completely my belief that if you are co-parenting you need all the support, power and inner shifting you can get – for you and your children.

I invite you to join me in my free webinar, where I will take you through a Quanta Freedom Healing to get you started.

You can do this by clicking this link.

And if you want to see more of my videos, please subscribe so that you will be notified as soon as each new one is released. And if you liked this – click like. Also, please share with your communities so that we can help people awaken to these truths.

As always I am greatly looking forward to answering your comments and questions below.

*Affiliate link

 

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Divorce and Immigration Status

Originally published by Family and Criminal Law Blog.

Will I Lose My Right to Remain in the United States If I Divorce My Spouse?

Divorce can create much stress for any family. Couples going through a divorce may worry about finances, who will remain in the family home, custody matters, alimony, division of assets and much more.  For some couples, there is the added stress of a potential immigration issue. If you are in the United States on a visa that was granted based upon your spouse’s application, you could potentially lose your legal ability to stay in the U.S. should you divorce or separate. Below, our Midland divorce lawyer discusses the potential impact of divorce on immigration status.

Divorce for Conditional Residents

Conditional residents who have immigrated to the U.S. within the past two years on the basis of a spouse’s status as either a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident could be affected by a divorce. To have the conditions of your residence removed, you must file a Form I-751 within the last 90 days before your green card is set to expire. Generally, you and your spouse will file this form together. However, if you are separated or divorced you may still seek the removal of the conditions of your residency.

You will need to file the same form, with a waiver to file on your own. You will have to show that the marriage was entered into in good faith. Good faith typically means that you intended to live together as spouses when you wed. Evidence of your life together as a typical married couple will often suffice. This may include evidence of your joint bank account, health insurance policy, a joint mortgage or lease, and the like. If you are already a permanent resident by the time of your divorce, your status will not change.

Further, if you are here on a green card that is not dependent on your spouse’s status, such as a green card based upon your job, your status will be unaffected.  If you are a conditional resident concerned about your immigration status should you divorce your spouse, you will want to discuss the matter with your divorce lawyer as soon as possible.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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Want to resolve your Texas family law case outside of court? Remember these rules of engagement

What do military parents need to do to ensure their children are cared for prior to deployment?

Originally published by The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC Blog.

Military parents have a great deal on their minds, both before setting off for deployment and while overseas. If you count yourself among those people who serve in our armed forces I would like to first thank you for making that sacrifice for all us here in southeast Texas. We are indebted to you for your willingness to go above and beyond in protecting our country. The sacrifices that you make are especially difficult if you are a parent.

Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is geared towards helping you to know what is recommended for you to take care of prior to your being deployed. Obviously, it will be very difficult for you to focus on anything other than your mission once you are overseas, so it is much wiser to start focusing on these issues now rather than later. Financial, medical and emotional support for your children is essential to their being able to grow up and become positive contributors to our country.

Does your child have a legal father?

This is not the same question as asking whether or not your child has a father. If you are a mother who was not married to your child’s father at the time your child was born, he or she could be lacking a legally recognized father. When two parents are married, there is a legal presumption that when a child is born the mother’s husband is the father to the child. No further action needs to be taken by the couple to have this legally established. However, that presumption does not exist when parents are not married.

If you and the other parent were not married when your child was born you could have completed a voluntary acknowledgment of paternity (AOP) that is your statement under oath that this child is your biological offspring. If you and the child’s father fills out one of these forms and files them with the state, no further action will need to be taken. The father of your child will from that point forward be the legal father of your child. While an AOP may not have been completed, a court order may have been obtained previously that legally recognizes the father of your child.

Or, you could find yourself in a position where fatherhood was not acknowledged voluntarily and you have not yet been to court. Some people in your position find themselves not knowing at all what the situation actually is. Does your child have a legally established father or not? If this sounds like where you are, then you can choose to go one of the two routes I described above. You and your child’s father can voluntarily acknowledge paternity or you can file a paternity lawsuit and have paternity determined through a court case.

Are there orders in place from a court that deals with custody, visitation and child support?

This is another big issue that you need to attend to prior to going overseas. It is likely that you and your child’s other parent will share parental rights and responsibilities. A possession order will determine how much time you will be able to spend with your child and when. With your going overseas it is seven more important that you know what the visitation you will have with your child is going to be like once he returns from overseas. Most parents who have gone through family law cases are joint managing conservators. You can ask a court to have your ex-spouse or child’s other parent to be able to determine the primary residence of your child while you are outside of the country.

Rights and duties relevant to the possession of your child

While most parents in Texas share on a near equal basis in the rights and duties associated with raising their child, one right that is not held equally is the right to determine the primary residence of your children. Either you or your child’s other parent will hold this right individually. The parent who has this right is known as the custodial parent. The other parent is known as the non-custodial parent. The non-custodial parent has their time spelled out in the court orders under a possession order.

An important question to ask yourself is who will be able to have custody of your child while you are deployed overseas. As mentioned a moment ago, you can ask the court to be able to allow the other parent to be able to determine where your child lives while you are away overseas. Likewise, if you are the noncustodial parent to a child then you can ask the court to assign your visitation time with your child to another adult.

What is the parenting plan going to look like while you are deployed?

A court order goes into a great amount of detail regarding a number of different subjects related to you and your child, but it typically will not discuss with much detail what will happen with your child should certain contingencies occur in your lives. There just simply is not enough room to work every hypothetical situation into this document.

What you and your child’s other parent can do is create an agreement/roadmap that will go into the level of detail that you would like. That way there will be no question as to what will happen when you are deployed and are not able to fulfill your duties as a parent when you are shipped overseas.

What about child support? Will your child still be able to receive support even after you are not ln the country. A child support order includes two requirements. The first is that financial support be provided to your child and the second is that medical support will also be provided. If you are the noncustodial parent, then you need to be aware that your net monthly resources will be what is needed in order to determine how much child support you will pay.

It happens on occasion that sometimes parents who are deployed overseas seas is that their income can change- either positively or negatively. If this occurs, you can request a modification of the current court orders to show exactly what degree of an income increase or decrease has occurred. This could be true even if you are the parent of a child who will not be deployed but who raises a child with a person who will be. You can also ask to have a modification of the amount of child support that you receive done.

You may want to see if you can arrange it so a relative of yours has access to your bank accounts while you are overseas. This can come in handy if your child needs someone to help him or she pays for something while you are deployed.

How to get child support set up before you go overseas for deployment

If you and your child’s other parent have never been able to agree upon how much child support should be paid, then it is a good idea to attempt to get this number established by a court prior to your being deployed.

Many parents find themselves in a position where he or she will agree with the other parent on an amount to pay in child support, only to see that other parents increase the amount for seemingly no reason at all. Thus, if you want to avoid the chances of your child’s other parent asking for an increase in child support while you are deployed, it is wise to attempt to get a court order before you even leave the country. Since custody, visitation and other aspects of parenting are also taken care of in a child support case, there are even more reasons to attempt to establish a fixed amount of child support prior to deployment.

Can you designate another person to receive information about the amount of child support that you pay or receive when you are out of the country on deployment?

You are able to designate another person to receive information about your child support case by filling out a form and sending it into your local child support office. You can go to the Office of the Attorney General’s website for more information on this. Likewise, you can also revoke this form when you return from deployment.

What happens if you are already deployed and your child is born?

As far as logistics is concerned, it would be a lot easier for you if your child is born before you are deployed to another country. However, sometimes you cannot control when these things happen. In the event that you are overseas when your child is born and you are not married to the child’s mother, you can still establish paternity via an Acknowledgment of Paternity being completed.

You may not be sure if you are the child’s father. If that is the case you should not sign any paperwork until you can have genetic testing administered. Free DNA testing is offered through the Office of the Attorney General.

If you are beyond the point of establishing paternity, you should do whatever you can to maintain a relationship with your child when you are overseas. Technology has made this task much easier given that phone calls, email, Skype, social media and text messaging are all prevalent. It is true that you will not have as much of an opportunity to take advantage of these methods of communication but you should seek them out when you have the available time. You can have a profound impact on your child even when you are thousands of miles away.

You can also check in with your child’s other parent so you can maintain a sense of decision-making capabilities when it comes to the daily life of your child. School activities, extracurricular events, doctor’s visits, and many other occurrences will go on in your absence. You can feel less homesick and distant from your child by keeping up to date with what is going on in their life as best you can.

What should you do when you get back home from deployment?

You should get in touch with the Office of the Attorney General’ child support division in order to re-establish who is to receive child support on behalf of your child and who can access information about your child now that you are back home.

Noncustodial parents should ask the OAG to review your case if your income has increased or decreased as a result of being deployed. The child support that you pay no longer be correct based on those changed circumstances.

Finally, you should spend as much time with your child as possible. While he or she is likely very happy to have you back home, it may take some time for him or her to adjust to your being home instead of overseas. You can learn about your child’s life and how it has changed. This will help you to make decisions with your child’s other parent about your child’s well-being.

Questions about family law issues in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

Do you have any questions about the content in today’s blog post? If so, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week. These consultations are a great opportunity for you to ask questions and receive direct feedback about your particular circumstances.

Our attorneys and staff take a great deal of pride in being able to help the people that live in our community. We practice in all of the family courts of southeast Texas and work every day to help our clients achieve their goals. If you are facing challenging circumstances related to your family, you need to look no further than the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to assist you in whatever capacity you need.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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