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

Community Property issues in Texas family law cases

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

Premarital and Marital Property Agreements are contracts between you and your spouse or spouse-to-be that can have a great deal of importance. A signed, written agreement between the two of you that allocates debts and property into either the community or separate property column will determine how each piece of property is treated in the event that your marriage ends in a divorce. We hear about premarital agreements or “prenuptial” agreements all the time in the media when rich, famous people get married. However, these sort of agreements are not just for the uber-wealthy.

A premarital agreement will go into effect the day that your marriage begins. Most people that enter into these agreements do so to limit the amount of property or debt the community estate will accumulate over the course of their marriage. On the other hand, if you and your spouse were to enter into a similar agreement during the course of your marriage it would be known as a marital property agreement. Essentially both documents are the same, it is just a matter of when the agreement comes into being- before or after the marriage has started.

How a premarital or marital property agreement works in the context of a divorce is that whichever spouse files for the divorce will reference the property agreement within the Original Petition for Divorce. When it comes time for the final orders of your divorce to be filed at the conclusion of your case, a copy of the agreement will typically be attached to those orders as an exhibit for reference purposes.

How is community property divided in a divorce?

If you and your spouse have not entered into a premarital or marital property agreement, then it is the responsibility of the judge to divide your community property and debts. That is, the judge must divide the property in the event that you and your spouse cannot agree to do so in mediation or in an informal negotiation settlement conversation. Keep in mind that although Texas is a community property state, debt and property does not have to be divided 50/50 between you and your spouse. Factors like the size of each of your separate estates, fault in the breakup of the marriage as well as your income will weigh on a judge if he or she must divide your community estate.

In many cases, the community property that you and your spouse own cannot be divided straight down the middle. Let’s consider the most commonly divided large item of property that you and your spouse could have: the marital house. The easiest route that you and your spouse could go would be to sell the house and split up the equity that you would get after the mortgage and other costs of the sale are taken care of. There is relatively little hassle in doing this and allows both you and your spouse to wipe your hands clean of this asset and move on.

However, that is all true when you take the sale of the house in a vacuum. Consider what could change if you and your spouse have a child together. In many cases, a judge will award the family house to whichever parent is named the primary caretaker of your child. Obviously, it would have to be shown that this parent can afford the mortgage payments on their own. The reason a judge would order this would be to allow your child to have some degree of stability and consistency by remaining in the family home after the divorce concludes.

If you are the parent who is not awarded the right to be the primary caretaker of your child then you may be wondering where this leaves you. Would a judge really order you to leave the house, not award you primary responsibility for your child and then not allow you to gain any monetary benefit from the house? The answer to that question is, no.

Many times what a judge will order is that the house should be sold as soon as your child turns 18 and the sale proceeds will be split between you and your ex-spouse at that time. Or, you may be able to exchange any equity in the house for another piece of property in the community estate that could equal the value. For example, if there is a classic car that was purchased during the marriage that roughly equals your equity position in the home, that vehicle could be awarded to you.

The thing to keep in mind is that while a judge will do their best to divide the community estate in an equitable fashion, no judge is perfect. It is an impossible task to ask a judge to learn your family dynamics well enough over the course of a one or two day trial to do a perfect job of dividing the community estate. This is why we encourage people like yourself to do everything that you can to attempt to settle your case in mediation rather than to leave the decision up to a judge.

Will you have to pay spousal maintenance in your divorce?

Simply put, spousal maintenance is a payment that is ordered by a judge to be made from your future income to support your ex-spouse after your divorce has concluded. Although it is not a term that is officially used in Texas, many people know of this relationship as “alimony.” You and your spouse can agree to some degree of spousal maintenance in mediation, so don’t think that you have to go see a judge if you want to push for spousal maintenance payments.

Spousal maintenance is typically ordered towards the benefit of spouses that lack sufficient property to provide for their minimum basic needs. The key is that you and your spouse need to have been married for at least ten years in most cases for a judge to be able to order that you receive spousal maintenance. Other circumstances that could lead a judge to order that you should receive spousal maintenance is if your spouse has engaged in acts of family violence against you in the two year period prior to your divorce or you or your child have a disability that negates your ability to work outside of your home.

How much spousal maintenance can be awarded in your divorce?

A judge has limits to how much in spousal maintenance can be awarded in your case. Additionally, a judge can only order that spousal maintenance payments be paid for certain periods of time depending upon the length of your marriage. Your judge will need to determine how much money you would need to meet those minimum, basic needs that we just finished discussing. Either way, a judge cannot order that you receive more than $5,000 per month or 20% of your spouse’s gross monthly income in spousal maintenance. Your spousal maintenance award will be limited to certain periods of time unless you can present evidence that shows due to an incapacitating injury or physical impairment that you would be unable to earn an income to support yourself.

How issues related to your child can impact your divorce

Your Final Decree of Divorce will be the final orders issued in your divorce case. These are the marching orders that you and your ex-spouse will need to follow until you come back and have those orders changed/modified, if you do that at all. Part of those final orders will be a section that covers a Parenting plan for you, your ex-spouse and your children. The conservatorship designation of both you and your ex-spouse, a visitation schedule, child support, medical support and any other issues relevant to your family will be detailed in this section.

The reason why so much detail is put into a parenting plan is to, in theory, minimize the risk that you and your ex-spouse have as far as disagreements and animosity that surrounds co-parenting in your post-divorce life. Of course, this may not be the case for you and your ex-spouse but the intention is to lay out a clear cut path for your parenting to take in hopes to creating some sense of post-divorce harmony. If issues arise in the midst of that post-divorce life there are steps you can take to correct those issues- more on that in a later blog post.

How long does the parenting plan/child support plan go into effect for?

A family court in Texas has the ability to enforce orders regarding your child until that child graduates from high school or turns 18- whichever occurs later in time. In the event that your child has a physical or mental disability that requires that he or she remain in the home for a longer period of time, the court will likely continue in its authority to enforce child support, custody and visitation orders until a later date.

When we talk about custody of a child in Texas, we are really talking about who is able to get physical possession of your child and on what basis. The word “custody” actually does not come up in the Texas Family Code, but it is a term that is used so much in our society everyone involved uses it with regularity. For the most part, you and your spouse will share in custody rights and duties associated with your child.

If it comes down a trial, the judge will need to make decisions in relation to custody of your child that are in that child’s best interests. A joint managing conservatorship is one where you and your spouse share in the rights and duties of raising your child on an even basis. The only rights that will differ significantly are the rights to determine the primary residence of your child as well as the right to receive child support. Only one of your can do those things associated with raising your child.

In rare instances, either your or your ex-spouse may be named as a sole managing conservator of your child. If there is a history within your family of family violence, child abuse/neglect or a protective order has been issued against either of you, then the sole managing conservator designation would be appropriate. Basically, the sole managing conservator is able to be in physical possession of your child much more and also holds more of the rights and duties associated with parenting your child on a daily basis.

A court would also look to whether or not you or your spouse have been absent for long stretches of time from your child’s life or if there has been a great deal of conflict in your relationship with your child and/or your spouse. The parent who is not designated the sole managing conservator of your child does not lose all of their rights, but their rights are curtailed because it is believed that doing so is in the best interests of your child. The sole managing conservator specifically has superior rights when it comes to making decisions for your child in regard to educational and medical issues.

Questions about divorce in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

We were able to cover a lot of information about divorce in Texas today. If you would like to ask us any questions or need us to clarify any of the points that we made please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with our licensed family law attorneys. These consultations are a great opportunity to ask questions and receive feedback about subjects that are important to you and your family.

Our attorneys and staff take a great deal of pride in being able to work with clients from across our area in the courtrooms of southeast Texas. We aim to always provide excellent represesntation of our clients while maintaining a strong sense of integrity and customer service. Contact us today in order to find out more about how we can assist you in your family law case.

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



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Custody Issues that Can Arise during the Holidays

3 Custody Issues That Can Arise During the Holidays

Custody Issues that Can Arise during the Holidays

 

For many people, the holiday season is a time to relax, spend time with friends and family, and engage in various religious or secular traditions. If you are a mother that shares custody of her children with their father, however, it is important that you consider the fact that the holidays can present a virtual minefield of custody issues that can be difficult to navigate.

Fortunately, by recognizing these issues and planning ahead, you can usually avoid them and have a holiday season free from any conflicts or fights related to child custody and parenting time.

Here are some of the most common issues that mothers who share custody should consider as the holidays approach.

3 Custody Issues that Can Arise During the Holidays

1. Not Having a Plan

One of the worst things you can do as the holiday’s approach is failing to make a plan as to how the kids will spend them. This is a recipe for disaster and a ruined holiday season. If your current custody order does not specify how custody is to be divided over the holidays, you should address the matter immediately, either informally or by requesting a modification to the order.

Some of your options include assigning fixed holidays to each parent (for example, you get Thanksgiving and their dad gets Christmas), alternating holidays, or splitting a holiday in half. The arrangement that works best for you will depend largely on the specifics of your living arrangements and the things most important to you.

2. Traveling Out of State

If you are considering traveling out of state this holiday season to see friends or family, it’s critical that you ensure that you check the terms of your custody arrangement prior to making firm plans. In some cases, your child custody arrangement may require you to obtain permission from your kids’ father in order to travel out of state – but it also may not.

Even if your child custody order does not require you to obtain their father’s permission to travel out of state, it’s not a bad idea to discuss the matter with him anyhow. First of all, it’s a show of good faith that you are willing to engage in open communication and co-parenting; secondly, it can work in your favor should a dispute arise in the future.

3. Unusual Custody Schedules During Winter Break

Unfortunately, an existing holiday custody schedule does not always make things go smoothly during this often hectic time of year. First of all, a departure from normal schedules can be hard on children, so it’s important to keep them aware of what’s going on and why. Furthermore, there are often logistical issues regarding holiday custody schedules.

For example, if your arrangements involve your children spending more consecutive nights with their father than they normally do, make sure that you pack enough clothes and discuss any issues that may arise with their other parent. Similarly, your normal schedule for dropping off or picking up the kids may not work because of holiday commitments, so make sure that these potential problems are discussed ahead of time.

Avoiding Custody Issues Now and in the Future

Fortunately, these and other issues related to child custody can usually be avoided with some simple planning and communication. If you and your child’s father have an amicable relationship and are able to talk, it’s not a bad idea to try and work out a holiday custody schedule yourself. In the event that your relationship is not so good, it may be necessary to petition the court to modify your custody schedule and assign holidays to each of you. In either case, it’s highly advisable to discuss your custody goals with a family law attorney in your jurisdiction.

Making New Traditions

One regular concern for mothers – especially those who are newly divorced – is how to maintain the family’s regular traditions for the holidays. The reality is that you might not be able to keep all of the same traditions, but the good news is that you can make new traditions with your children.

While you might normally have a special breakfast you make for Christmas morning after your kid’s open presents, you might be switching off Christmas morning with your ex-spouse. This means that you might miss the morning tradition, but maybe you can make a new special-breakfast-for dinner tradition for Christmas Eve.

That being said, if you have a special tradition with your family that your ex-spouse does not have with his family, you might want to negotiate to ensure you can continue that tradition since it means more to you.

Find Support with Family and Friends

No matter how well you plan ahead for custody issues, the holidays can still be difficult when you are not always with your children. It can be difficult to adjust, so you want to make sure that you have the support you need emotionally. When you do this, you can ensure you are in the best possible position to celebrate the holidays when your children are with you. If you need to adjust custody for the future, never hesitate to seek legal support from a trusted attorney, as well.

The post 3 Custody Issues That Can Arise During the Holidays appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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What court will hear issues about your child in relation to an international divorce?

What court will hear issues about your child in relation to an international divorce?

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

What court will hear issues about your child in relation to an international divorce?

There is a great deal of uncertainty associated with divorce. For starters, you have no idea how long your case could last. You’ve probably heard horror stories about divorces that have taken years to complete and are worried about yours ending up the same way. Tied to that concern you may be wondering how you are going to afford to pay for the divorce. Attorney’s fees, court costs are just the tip of the iceberg from what you can tell.

What if you were also in a position where you didn’t even know where you would need to ask for a divorce? Many Texas residents know that all we would need to do in order to file for divorce was to submit some paperwork at the local county courthouse in order to start the process. You may not be in that same position, however. If you have resided outside of the State of Texas- or outside of the United States altogether- you may have questions about what court will be able to hear your case in the first place.

Beyond any immediate concerns about yourself, you are likely concerned with what outcome your children will encounter because of your divorce. Kids are the innocent by-standards in any divorce. Because you and your spouse are ending your marriage your children are now facing up to the effects of that choice. You want to do every possible to shield them from the brunt of the divorce but are unclear on some issues associated with your potential case. For starters, what will happen if your child has ties to more than one state- or more than one country?

Custody options that are available when a child has lived in multiple countries

Knowing what options are available to you as well as what courts are available to issue rulings regarding child custody matters ought to be one of the first issues that you explore as you prepare to file for a divorce.

The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) has been adopted by all fifty states and seeks to address jurisdictional problems that are relevant in our country and across the globe. Asking and answering a few questions within the framework of the UCCJEA can tell you a great deal of information about what court is the appropriate venue to file your divorce or child custody case within.

For starters, you will need to determine where your child has been a resident for the past six months. Next, consider whether or not your child has a true home country. If you and your spouse have moved so frequently that it would not be fair to call one country or another their “home” for the purposes of a divorce then you would be going off of where your child has lived during the past six months.

If your child does have a home country where he or she has been raised and is attending school, the next question you need to ask yourself is whether or not a court in that country has already stated that jurisdiction is proper there. However, consider that if you now reside in the United States and have done so for at least six months it may be better suited for your family to file your divorce in the U.S. All of these considerations go out the window if an emergency arises that requires intervention by a court at a moment’s notice, such as when an abduction of your child occurs.

Jurisdiction in international child custody cases is far from simple

As we have seen in the past few blog posts on our website, determining child custody jurisdiction in international cases is not simple at all, unfortunately. You need to be able to balance complex issues with one another while balancing what is in the best interests of your child throughout the evaluation.

Under the UCCJEA a court in the United States may be required to apply the custody laws or another nation in enforcing a foreign court order or even creating a brand-new order for you and your child. As with anything associated with family law, it is strongly recommended that your attorney not only have experience handling child custody cases but also have experience in handling cases that involve the UCCJEA.

Be aware of child abduction issues in connection with international child abduction cases

It is not uncommon to encounter child custody cases wherein one parent attempts to ignore, brazenly, the child custody laws of one country in order to gain entry to a nation whose circumstances are more advantageous. If your child’s other parent believes the laws in their country of origin are “better suited” for him or her then it is not out of the question for him or her to attempt to remove your child without your permission from the United States or whatever country, you currently reside in.

I do not tell you all this in order to frighten or intimidate you. I mention it because it is a relevant consideration in an age where mobility has never been easier. Courts in the United States hear issues all the time of international child abduction cases. The goals of these courts are to quickly and correctly address the issues in that specific case with the goal of returning the children to their home country.

When courts are effective in addressing issues and returning children back to their parents, they not only help the family who is involved in the case but also discourage parents from taking matters into their own hands by attempting to create jurisdiction over a child by means of abduction. What these parents do not consider is that almost every country in the world has signed on to the UCCJEA and would apply the laws of the nation where the child just left in any custody case.

How you can present a case to have your child returned to you 

In the event that you are left behind by your child’s other parent, there are concrete steps that you can legally take in order to have your child returned to you. First, you must be able to establish that he or she was consistently a resident of that country. As a parent, you must next show that based on the laws of your home country you had parental rights. Keep in mind that if you are an absentee parent this could cause problems for you, given that those parental rights must be acted upon. If you do not have a minimal amount of contact with your child it will be difficult to convince a court to have your child returned home.

What can the “other” parent argue in a contested child custody hearing regarding abduction?

If you are in a position where your child has been removed from the United States and taken to another country, you may have some concerns about what your spouse or child’s other parent may be able to argue as far as why the abduction was justified under the law. As I just mentioned, one of the most effective means of legitimizing the actions of the abducting parent would be to argue that you as the non-abducting parent has not attempted to exercise your parental rights. Your not taking an active role in the life of your child could come back to haunt you if this is the case.

Next, if you agreed to the removal of your child from the United States at any point this could also hamper your argument that your child needs to be returned. An email from a few weeks ago where you and your child’s other parent outlined an agreement between the two of you to allow him to take your daughter to Saudi Arabia can diminish the strength of any arguments you have as to why your child needs to be returned to you.

At the very least, if the abducting parent can show a court that while you did not exactly endorse the move if you were not vociferous or took no action to prevent the abduction then it probably cannot properly be called an abduction at all.

Finally, your child’s other parent may attempt to present an argument that your child was facing a serious risk of harm by remaining with you in their “home” country. If there is an issue related to your family, or to the political climate of your home country this can be an effective argument to make. The best interests of your child are going to bee at the forefront of the decision making any court utilizes and showing that child abuse had been ongoing can be an effective tool to utilize.

The age of your child may be a relevant consideration, as well

Even if your spouse or child’s other parent cannot effectively present an argument such as the ones, we have just been discussing it is possible that if your child is old enough, his or her preference to remain in the new country could bolster the case of the abducting parent. The opinion and/or wishes of your sixteen-year-old are likely to be taken a lot more seriously than those of your six-year-old child, mind you.

Do not delay if you seek to challenge the abduction of your child to another country

Act quickly if your child has been abducted from the United States. Under the relevant international treaty, a case requesting the return of your child to this country must be filed within a year of the removal. Once you get beyond this one-year time-frame it is simpler for the abducting parent to make an argument that your child has become more familiar and comfortable in their surroundings. Finding a home, a place to go to school and friends will create a home-like atmosphere that will be tougher for you to counter with arguments of your own. Keep in mind that if you file your lawsuit to have your child returned to the United States within a year of their removal then the opposing party cannot present this argument.

The bottom line is that you need to have a sense of urgency when it comes to your actions that are taken in the time period immediately following the abduction of your child. I’m sure that this will not be difficult, as I can only imagine the fear and anger that would arise in me if this happened to one of my children. Do not let fear or the unknown or concerns about external issues weigh you down and prevent you from making a decision that could save your family from a great deal of hardship,

If you find yourself in a position where you need to hire an attorney to help you fight for you, make sure that you verify that the attorney has experience in international child custody matters. Family law experience is not good enough for one of these cases. When your relationship with your child is concerned you cannot afford to take any chances. Seek out representation that has had proven results in order to give yourself the best chance at a successful outcome.

Questions about international divorce or child custody cases? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

Thank you for your interest in this topic. If you have any questions about the material that we presented today or seek clarification on anything 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 where we can answer your questions and address your concerns in a comfortable and pressure-free environment. Our attorneys and staff take a great deal of pride in providing comprehensive, family law services to our clients.

No matter where you live in southeast Texas, we are here to serve you. From Baytown to Waller and up to Conroe, our attorneys will put your interests first and advise you to take steps that will seek to improve your family’s well-being.

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



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Handling issues related to the Right of First Refusal in Texas family law cases

Handling issues related to the Right of First Refusal in Texas family law cases

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

The right of first refusal is an issue that comes up in family law cases that can cause even the most creative and experienced family law attorney to scratch their heads on how to proceed. Essentially, the right of first refusal allows a parent who is not entitled to possession for a specified period of possession to be able to take possession of the child if the other parent is not able to do so. Allow me to provide you with an example of how this situation could arise in real life.

Suppose that your ex-husband is scheduled for a visitation period with your son beginning at 6:00 p.m. on this Friday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday. In the morning on Thursday, he receives a phone call that alerts him to the fact that he will need to work this weekend. Since your divorce decree contains a right of first refusal, he must contact you as soon as he becomes aware of this scheduling conflict and provide you with your right to refuse visitation that is offered to you. You have the option to take possession of your son this weekend even though the divorce decree states this is your ex-husband’s weekend for possession of him.

We also see issues that arise when parents like yourself begin dating again after a divorce has concluded. If you are not able to take possession of your child for a weekend visit, you may want your girlfriend to be able to pick your child up from his mothers’ home and then drop him off the following Sunday. Since you are able to designate an adult to pick your child up in the event that you are unable to, what’s the harm in having that same adult care for your child during a weekend that you’re not able to see him? Your girlfriend may really want to see your child, and after all- it’s your weekend so it should be your call, right?

How is the right of the first refusal defined in your custody orders?

This is the first question that we need to ask ourselves in relation to your particular circumstances. If you are considering whether or not to include a right of first refusal in your child custody orders, you and your attorney need to first think about how that term is going to be defined and applied as it pertains to your family. What is the specific period of time that a parent cannot be with the child that will cause the right of first refusal to be triggered?

You may be able to negotiate that if you or your new spouse is unable to be present with your child during a period of possession (sometimes lasting between four and eight hours), then you must contact your ex-spouse and allow him or her to come and pick up your child for that certain period of time. Whenever the predetermined/agreed to amount of time is over, your ex-spouse would then return your child to your home and allow you to complete your period of possession as scheduled.

Even when you get specifics as this handled, you need to consider the effects of including that kind of language in your order. If your ex-spouse gets home from work at 12:00 a.m. do you have to get your son dressed and over to the other parent’s house within the hour? That would seem impractical and not necessarily in your child’s best interests, but strict language regarding the right of first refusal could theoretically make this a necessity. A compromise could be that if the parent were to become available to possess the child at a time after 9:00 p.m., the parent in possession of the child on a temporary basis could wait until 9:00 a.m. the following day to drop the child back off at the other parent’s home.

The other issue that we need to discuss is what your child would be comfortable with as far as a substitute adult to possess him or her when you or the other parent is not available. It sounds ok enough for you to have your mother, father, aunt or girlfriend available to watch your child for half a day when you have to work unexpectedly. However, if your son doesn’t get along with any of those people then it would not seem like it would be in his best interests to leave him with any of those folks. Unless you and your child’s other parent have a group of people that are able to care for your child in these situations then a right of first refusal may not be a wise thing to include in your orders.

How will extracurricular activities be handled?

In this day and age, there are camps, classes, training sessions, and other activities for any sport or extra-curricular event under the sun. Odds are decent that you and your ex-spouse may not see eye to eye on your child’s potential or the role of these activities in the life of your child. For instance, you may believe that your child should only be involved in extracurricular activities to the extent that they can make friends and build their self-confidence. However, your ex-spouse may believe that these additional activities are essential for the development of your child and that he or she has the potential to become a professional ball-player, musician or dancer. How can this fundamental disagreement be solved?

I have seen some families achieve success when each parent is allowed to select one activity for their child to participate in each semester of school. The costs for activities would then need to be divided up in some manner between parents. Additional activities (camps, classes, etc.) would be paid for by the parent who selected that activity. Transportation to and from activities would also need to be determined. If you and your ex-spouse earn similar incomes the costs could be split evenly. Otherwise, a proportionate split may be more appropriate.

Another issue that may be relevant to discuss for your family is whether or not both parents may attend practices or rehearsals. If you and the other parent can be around one another without issue then this is not a problem. However, if you all have shown an inability to be in close proximity to one another you may have to limit attendance to the parent who paid for the camp or activity. Both parents in most cases can attend performances and games, no matter what parent is in possession of the child on that particular day.

How will you be reimbursed for uninsured medical costs?

As a part of any child custody order, you or your child’s other parent will be made to be responsible for providing health insurance for your child. Whether it is insurance provided for by one of your employers, insurance through the private marketplace, Obamacare or Medicaid, your child will need to be covered. One of you will pay for that insurance or will reimburse the one who pays for medical coverage.

However, not every cost that your child will incur for medical treatment will be covered by insurance. These are called uninsured medical costs. Suppose that you take your child to a pediatrician appointment and he orders a test for your child that is not covered by insurance. Once you receive a bill for that test you would need to submit the bill to your child’s other parent so that he can pay you back for the test you paid for (in the event that it is his responsibility to pay uninsured medical expenses).

What I will advise clients to do is to negotiate to include a deadline by which medical bills have to be submitted for reimbursement purposes. For instance, a provision in the order that specifies how much each parent has to pay towards uninsured medical costs, as well as a deadline to submit the relevant bill to the other parent, is a good idea.

I would tell you that it is common to have parents agree to split 50/50 uninsured medical costs. Since it is usually the primary conservator who takes the child to the doctor or for unscheduled visits to hospitals and such, it will be that parent who has to pay the bill upfront. What I tell parents in this position to do is to set up a reminder on their phone to submit bills by the end of the month to the other parent to be reimbursed, However, a good practice is to simply scan and email the bill to the other parent as quickly as you can. That way you have a record that the bill was submitted and you can be paid back as quickly as possible.

Issues related to military parents

If you are the primary conservator of your child and have been deployed overseas as a member of our military, you have the ability to designate an adult to exercise your possession and conservatorship rights while you are overseas.

The law in Texas is there is an order of preference as far as assigning that right. For example, you should first give preference to the other parent. That other parent would not normally have the right to determine the primary residence of your child, but you could allow him or her to act in that capacity for as long as you are overseas and unable to do so yourself. However, if selecting the other parent to take these rights on a temporary basis were not in the best interests of your child, then a nonparent may be chosen instead.

Special provisions for special needs children

When you are involved in a case with a special needs child then you and your attorney will need to pay especially close attention to the rights and duties that you and your opposing parent have in relation to that child. There are likely aspects of your special needs child’s life that are extremely important to spell out in the order. Unfortunately, a “typical” child custody order will not do so. You all need to take the extra step and include provisions to protect that child’s interests and well-being.

Both you and your child’s other parent will need to be able to provide to one another more detailed information regarding the child’s educational, medical and psychological needs. Trading information and updates may be difficult for you all if communication is not your strong suit. As a result, it may be necessary to have some special orders included in the parenting plan that requires you to share updated medical information with the other parent on an as-needed or regular basis.

You would need to come to terms with what your child’s specific needs are and then determine how frequently updates need to be provided to each other. If your child sees the doctor on a weekly basis, and you are the parent who always goes to the appointment, it may be necessary for you to provide a weekly update to your ex-spouse on your child’s condition via email or another electronic means.

More information on special needs children to be provided in tomorrow’s blog post

The issue of special needs children is an important one. As such, we will continue today’s discussion in tomorrow’s blog post. We will introduce additional topics related to special needs children that we have observed in our years of practicing family law in southeast Texas. If this is a topic that is relevant to you or your child, it is a good idea to head back to our blog tomorrow to read more.

In the meantime, if you have any questions about the material that we covered in today’s blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys are available six days a week to meet with you at no cost. These consultations are a great opportunity to ask questions and receive direct feedback about your particular circumstances.

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



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9 Issue that Will Need Your Attention During the Divorce Process

9 Issues that Need Your Attention During the Divorce Process

Changing your estate plan, qualifying for a mortgage and going back to work may be things you face post-divorce. The sooner you start to address these issues, the better off you will be.

The post 9 Issues that Need Your Attention During the Divorce Process appeared first on Divorce Magazine.

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Tax Issues in Divorce

Tax Issues in Divorce

Its tax time and the new tax law changed things. These articles can help you out.

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financial issues ruining your relationship

Are Financial Issues Ruining Your Relationship?

financial issues ruining your relationship

 

Financial issues tend to be the number one reason behind relationship problems and divorce. Many couples want to sweep the subject under the rug rather than meeting this important subject head-on. There are fewer conflicts when it comes to budgeting, spending, and saving when couples work on understanding each other’s relationship to money.

Unfortunately, many couples think that leaving their financial baggage at the door is the answer to avoiding conflict. The reality is that couples need to be open and honest with one another regarding their financial expectations and spending habits. Putting off dealing with money issues will only create deeper wounds that lead to trust issues and ultimately breakups.

The good news is that if you discuss these issues early on, money problems don’t have to develop into a major relationship hurdle. In fact, the more you and your partner communicate about ‘difficult’ subjects like money, the closer you will become. Learning how to work together to resolve money problems and save for a promising future will only strengthen your partnership for the long haul.

Make sure to approach the subject of finances with an open mind.  Realize that both of you have different views about how money should be handled.

Try this 5 step process to effectively address financial issues ruining your relationship:

Step 1: Lay it all out in the open

It’s important to show your partner just how much money you are responsible for managing. Look at debts, loans, credit lines, investments, and accounts.  A successful relationship is one where both partners can be open with each other, so don’t be afraid to bring out your credit card and loan statements. If something happened to you, your partner would need to understand everything that you’ve been managing. Hiding things now will only lead to bigger issues down the road.

Step 2: Determine who manages money best

Often times, there is one person in every relationship that is better at dealing with money.  That person is often the one who regularly tracks their spending, has the best credit rating, and doesn’t hesitate to open bills and make sure things get paid on time. This person should be designated the relationship “money manager”.

Step 3: Define spending boundaries

Decide together on an amount of money that each of you can spend without consulting the other. Let’s say the amount is $500. If a purchase is over $500, then you agree to make a joint decision about that item. You may also feel more comfortable having one joint account that you both contribute to for household bills and two individual accounts for personal spending.

Decide what makes the most sense to you based on the number of accounts you want to manage and how you tend to spend money. For example, if one of you spends down whatever is in the account each month, and the other always leaves extra, your spending and saving styles may benefit from having individual personal accounts.

Step 4: Create a backup fund

Decide how much you’ll set aside from each of your paychecks to be used as an emergency savings account. Discuss what kind of emergencies you might expect to draw from the account for. Determine if you would like to consult each other first before using any emergency funds.

Step 5: Discuss future financial situations

Consider the birth of a child, job changes, parents who need care, and retirement expectations. For example, it’s important to discuss whether one partner will stay home after the birth of a child. Or what will happen should someone lose their job?  Would you consider taking in a sick parent and providing a caretaking role? What ages do you expect to retire? Always communicate about possibilities so you are ready for whatever setback or life change may come your way.

The post Are Financial Issues Ruining Your Relationship? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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