Want to see the joke of the day? The Texas Constitution requires state lawmakers who have a personal or private interest in a proposed law to disclose it to the House… and not vote. Now you will understand why fathers rights groups are furious and are demanding a vote on a bill for equal parenting after divorce. We agree.
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Narcissistic parents harm their children whether there is a divorce or not. Add divorce to the mix and the narcissist become vindictive, suffers a narcissistic injury and goes full-force vindictive.
It’s almost as if they are hell-bent on making their ex and children pay for the suffering they are experiencing do to the narcissistic injury.
With a lack of insight into their behavior the narcissist is either unable to see the damage they do, or, due to their lack of empathy doesn’t care about the damage they do. If you’re the other parent, I’m sharing insights into their behavior plus personal experiences from my son’s relationship with their narcissistic father.
8 Ways the Narcissistic Parent Can Cause Harm
1. Your Child Won’t Be Heard or Validated
As I’ve said in the video, the narcissist doesn’t consider consequences before acting and if he doesn’t something that hurts your child, he doesn’t consider your child’s voice or opinion. He doesn’t care or take into consideration how his actions impact his children. Only he deserves validation, everyone else will be immediately shut down by him.
2. Your Child Will Learn That Being Real Isn’t Safe
The narcissistic parent defines what is and isn’t real. If your daughter is uncomfortable meeting his new girlfriend, he will dismiss her discomfort and something she is making up because of what she has heard from her Mom. If your son writes an email that is grammatically correct with no spelling errors he will accuse the son of letting Mom write the email. The narcissistic parent deflects what is real to your child onto what is real to him.
3. The Narcissist Will Share Too Much With Your Child
No information is sacred to the narcissistic parent. No child’s emotional state is of importance to the narcissistic parent. If it’s information that can make you look back, it will be shared with their child and the child will be told it’s a secret. “Don’t tell Mom.” This puts the child in the precarious position of having to carry around harmful information and no one to soothe their emotional upheaval.
4. Your Child Won’t Be Emotionally Nourished.
Asking for or expecting emotional nourishment from a narcissist is like asking a 2-year-old to carry on a conversation about quantum physics. They don’t have the emotional IQ to offer other’s emotional nourishment. And, if it is offered, it’s only because the narcissist is in a situation of trying to look good in front of others.
5. Your Child Is Expected To Be There For The Narcissistic Parent
The narcissistic parent won’t be there for the child. My ex goes 6 and 7 years at a time without contacting or seeing his sons. Why? Because he thinks it is their place to contact him. It is their place to be there for him, not the other way around. It’s sick!
6. Your Child’s Needs Won’t Be Met
The narcissistic parent cares about no one’s needs but their own. They will plow right over their own children if it means getting their needs met. They, at no time, put any thought or effort into meeting their children’s needs. This can lead to feelings of worthlessness in your child and it’s imperative that you take up the slack when it comes to meeting their needs.
7. The Narcissistic Parent Will Shame and Humiliate Their Child
If it will make the narcissist feel better about themselves they have no qualms about shaming and humiliating their child in front of others. They will compare your child to others, disparaging the way your child dresses or even looks. This can lead to low self-esteem in your child and I, personally have no problem with you telling your child that their father is sick and twisted and unable to behave like an adult.
8. Your Child May Suffer Mental Health Issues
There is a high probability that exposure to the narcissistic parent will cause PTSD symptoms, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues in your child. My youngest was diagnosed with Bi-Polar disorder at 17-years-old. After my ex had a session with the psychiatrist, the psychiatrist told me this, “That fucking narcissist has nearly destroyed his son’s life.”
Please, at the first sign of distress, get your child into therapy.
Parenting The Child With a Narcissistic Parent
The narcissistic parent, parents without empathy. They have no ability to feel empathy so it only makes sense they would parent without it. You have to do the opposite and parent with empathy and love.
To maintain a close bond with your children, it is essential for you to focus on being lovingly responsive in your interactions with them. You want to relate well with them, sense what they are feeling, help them put their thoughts and feelings into words, and anticipate their reactions as well as their needs.
Validate Their Feelings
Validating a child means letting them share their thoughts and feelings without judging, criticizing, ridiculing or abandoning them. You let your child feel heard and understood. You convey that you love and accept them no matter what they’re feeling or thinking.
Coach Your Child Through Negative Emotions
Emotion coaching is the practice of talking with children about their feelings and offering kids concrete strategies for coping with emotionally difficult situations.
Get Them Into Therapy
In the video, I advise parents to get their children in therapy at the first sign of distress. If you’re 100 percent sure your are dealing with a narcissistic ex, you may not want to wait until you see signs of distress.
If you can do the 4 things above you have a very good chance of countering the harm the narcissistic parent will do. You have the opportunity to counterbalance and fill up the gaping holes the narcissistic parent will leave in your child’s heart.
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Adjusting to life after a divorce can be hard. There are many things that a divorced mom must get accustomed to in order to properly move on and thrive. For instance, she will not have a partner to rely on and she will have to weather certain storms alone. Then, she might lose certain friends and family members.
Most importantly, there is the fear of limiting her time with the children, depending on the custody arrangement. Unfortunately, these are the realities of divorce but they can be handled with some effort.
To be able to take care of herself and her kids, a divorced mom will often look for a job. However, if they were a stay-at-home mom before, this may seem a bit difficult. Luckily, there are so many career opportunities out there and some of them don’t even require leaving the home. So, in case you’ve found yourself in this situation, keep on reading to see how a divorced mom can excel at her telecommuting job.
Divorced Moms Can Excel in a Work From Home Job
Finding the Right Job for Their Circumstances
The first step should be looking for a job that can be done in your current circumstances that will allow for financial stability. For starters, consider your skills and see what you can be doing. Then, do some budgeting and figure out how much money you will need on a monthly basis and how much each job pays. Finally, you need to establish work hours for yourself in order to have free time to spend with your kids and run your everyday errands.
For example, if you like working with kids, you can provide other busy parents with childcare services. They can drop the kids off at your place and you watch over them, feed them and play games together.
Then, if you prefer working with numbers, you can consider accounting and bookkeeping. An office can easily be run from your home and considering the overheads, the profit can be very good. Lastly, you can consider all sorts of online jobs, from content writing and proofreading through coding and graphic design to even being a virtual assistant. The options truly abound and you will surely be able to find something that fits your skills and meets your needs.
Creating a Productive Environment
Now that you’ve decided on what you will be doing, you need to create a space for your operations. Seeing as how you might not have the luxury of a separate room for your job, you will have to make the most of what you do have. Come up with a list of things that you require in order for the work to go smoothly and slowly start acquiring them.
For instance, if you plan on providing childcare services, you will need to ensure the area where the kids will be is childproof and has all the necessary toys and entertainment options. Bookkeepers and accountants will find that proper software is vital for keeping everything tidy and accurate. In addition to your computer and phone, you will also need some other essentials such as a strong internet connection, a wireless printer/scanner along with the necessary apps for printing on the go. These things will allow you to streamline all processes and get everything done much faster.
Finally, the environment should be pleasant and motivating so make sure there is enough natural light. If the area is quite dim, layer light fixtures so that your eyes don’t get strained. Then, get an ergonomic chair if you will be spending a lot of time in front of the computer. Add some calming but inspiring colors and think about introducing some plants as they have many health benefits.
Balancing Your Private and Professional Life
Last but not least, while developing your career is important in order to feel fulfilled and take care of your family, you cannot forget about having a balance between your private and professional life. It is very important to create boundaries for both yourself and other people.
People need to understand that working from home doesn’t mean that you are available to them whenever they need you. You should set working hours for yourself and explain to them that you are not to be disturbed during that time. In terms of your kids, it might be best to look for a period when they are at school or daycare.
To stay on top of everything, you should do your best to plan your time well and stay organized. Knowing the schedules of everyone in the family will help with this a lot. Make sure you make the most of your free time together and truly create a bond with your kids.
Working overtime might seem tempting if you need more money but spending this precious time with your little ones can never be replaced. Plus, you cannot forget about your own health and wellbeing so make sure you are taking good care of yourself as well.
To fuel your career from home, you will first need to find a profession that you are good at and that fulfills you; then, you must create a productive environment for yourself in order to make the most of this job; and finally, work on finding the balance between work and your private life as spending time with your kids is priceless. Good luck on this new adventure!
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If you are going through a divorce, or are about to go through a divorce, you have many important legal rights. The Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as the laws of many states, guarantee you a number of rights and protections.
Your ex-spouse may try to “run you through the wringer.” However, you have legal rights, which can prevent him from doing that. Some of the many legal rights, which frequently arise in divorce cases, include:
11 Legal Rights for Women During Divorce
The right to notice and opportunity for a hearing
The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution says that no state can deprive you of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. The Supreme Court has held that this means that, before a court takes any action against you, the court has to notify you, and the court has to give you an opportunity to present your argument in court. Thus, a court cannot grant your ex-spouse a divorce, or make any ruling regarding custody, visitation, property division, or alimony, without first notifying you and giving you an opportunity to respond.
The right to a neutral decision-maker
The Supreme Court has also held that the “due process” clause guarantees you the right to a judge who is neutral. Thus, if you have a judge who is biased (for example, is your ex-spouse’s relative or friend) then you have the right to ask that the judge recuse himself from your case.
The right to file your divorce petition for free, if you can’t afford the filing fee
Most states require you to pay a filing fee when you file your divorce petition. But, in Boddie v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court ruled that the state cannot deny you the right to a divorce if you can’t afford to pay the filing fee. So, if you want to file for divorce and can’t afford to pay the fee, ask the court clerk for a “pauper’s affidavit” which will allow you to file for free.
The right to remarry someone of another race
In Palmore v. Sidoti, the mother, who was white, divorced her husband, and obtained custody of their three-year-old daughter. The mother then remarried an African-American. The trial court then changed custody of the child to the father; the trial court held that, because of the “social consequences of interracial marriage,” it was not in the child’s best interests to grow up in a household with a stepfather of a different race.
The Supreme Court reversed the trial court. The Supreme Court ruled that the trial court could not take the race of the stepparent into consideration when awarding custody. The mother had the constitutional right to marry anyone regardless of race. So, it the mother married interracially, the trial court could not penalize the mother for her marriage, by removing the child from her custody.
The right to custody of your children if your ex-spouse dies
The Supreme Court has stated that, if your ex-spouse dies, the state must return your children to you, unless a court rules that you are an unfit parent. A court cannot rule that you are an unfit parent unless the court first gives you notice and a hearing.
In many states, you cannot be denied custody simply because you are a woman
In much of the nineteenth century, the husband was considered the “head and master” of the household, and the husband would automatically obtain custody of the children when the parties divorced. Then, in the late nineteenth century, many states changed their laws and created the “tender years doctrine,” which held that courts were to prefer the mother in child custody cases.
Since the 1970s, many states have passed laws stating that the predominant consideration in custody cases is the “best interests of the child,” and that a court may not prefer to award custody to either parent because of the gender of that parent. The Supreme Court, however, has not yet ruled on this issue, and the laws vary from state to state. It would be wise to consult an experienced family attorney to see what the law in your state says on this issue.
If a third-party, who is not a parent, seeks visitation with your child, the court must give your decision “special weight.”
In Troxel v. Granville, the Supreme Court held that parents have a “fundamental right … to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.” Troxel held that a consequence of this right is, if someone other than a parent seeks visitation with a child, the court must give the parent’s decision “special weight.” This holding often comes into play when grandparents seek visitation.
This does not mean, however, that a court may never award visitation to a non-parent. The Supreme Court did not specify exactly how much weight a trial court must give to a parent’s decision; the Court said, “We do not, and need not, define today the precise scope of the parental due process right in the visitation context.” However, Troxel makes clear that a court may not award visitation to a non-parent simply because the court believes visitation would be in the child’s best interests.
The right to have your case heard in a state with which you have some contact
In general, you must have some contact with a state, in order for a court of that state to have jurisdiction to hear your case. The state in which your case may be heard depends in part on the issues being adjudicated.
Granting of a divorce – which state may hear the case?
A court may grant a divorce decree if either spouse resides in the state where the petition is filed. Thus, if your husband files a divorce petition in his state of residence, the court may grant him a divorce decree even if you have no connection with the state. See Williams v. North Carolina. However, the court may not adjudicate financial issues, or custody issues, unless you have some type of contact with the state.
Adjudication of financial issues – which state may hear the case?
The Supreme Court has held that, in a divorce case, a court may not adjudicate financial issues (for example property division and alimony) unless the defendant has “minimum contacts” with the state. In Kulko v. Superior Court, the father, who lived in New York, bought his daughter a one-way plane ticket to California, where the girl’s mother lived. The mother then filed a motion in a California court. In the motion, Mother asked the California court to modify Father’s financial obligations which had been entered in the original divorce decree.
Father’s only connection with California was that he had bought his daughter a one-way plane ticket to go there. The Supreme Court held that Father’s buying his daughter an airline ticket to California was not enough to give a California court jurisdiction to rule on financial issues related to the divorce. In the Supreme Court’s view, Father did not have minimum contacts with California.
The Supreme Court has not precisely defined “minimum contacts”, and the law on minimum contacts is highly complex and takes up the space of many law school lectures and textbooks. However, other Supreme Court cases have said that in order to have minimum contacts with a state, a person must have “purposefully avail[ed] [her]self of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State,” and “the defendant’s conduct and connection with the forum State [must be] such that he should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there.”
So, in order for a court to have jurisdiction to rule on financial issues in your divorce case, you must have purposefully availed yourself of conducting activities with the state, and your conduct and connection with the state must be such that you should reasonably anticipate being haled into court there. (The Supreme Court has also held that, if you do not have “minimum contacts” with a state, a court of that state may still hear financial issues in your divorce case, if you are served with the summons when you are present in the state.)
Adjudication of child custody and visitation – which state may hear the case?
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) governs the venue for child custody decisions. The UCCJEA is state law, not federal law, but, because all fifty states have adopted the UCCJEA, then your rights under the UCCJEA are similar anywhere in the country. The UCCJEA is highly complex, and cannot be fully discussed here. However, to sum it up, the UCCJEA says that a court may not make a child custody determination unless at least one of the following is true:
The state is the child’s home state on the date the case was filed or was the child’s home state less than six months before the case was filed, but a parent or person acting as a parent continues to live in the state; or
No other state has jurisdiction, or a court of the child’s home state has declined to exercise jurisdiction, and
The child and the child’s parents, or the child and at least one parent or person acting as a parent, have a significant connection with the state other than physical presence, and
Substantial evidence is available in the state concerning the child’s care, protection, training, and personal relationships.
All courts of states having jurisdiction have declined to exercise jurisdiction; or
No court of any other state has jurisdiction under the above criteria; or
An emergency exists.
Also, if any court has made a child custody determination, that court has “continuing, exclusive jurisdiction” over any future cases involving custody of the child. “Continuing, exclusive jurisdiction” means that no other court may modify or change the child’s custody decree unless a court determines that the child, the child’s parents, and any person acting as a parent do not currently reside in the state.
NOTE: The above description only scratches the surface of the UCCJEA. There are other provisions of the UCCJEA that may allow, or not allow, to hear your particular case. If you have further questions about the UCCJEA, consult an attorney.
Know Your Rights and Protect Them!
If you are in the process of a divorce, and you believe that a court has violated any of your rights mentioned in this article, speak up and assert your rights. Your ex-husband may want to trample on you, but courts and legislatures have determined that you have the constitutional right not to be trampled on.
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Family law cases are among the most difficult of all areas of the law because of how intimate the subject nature is. True, you may not be worth millions of dollars like a multinational corporation but your family case deals with subjects that are more important than money. Your marriage, your children, your personal behaviors and that of your spouse are all relevant in a family case. While an investment banker’s work habits may require some embarrassing information to be disclosed in a trial, nothing compares to having to discuss your marriage to a room of strangers in a divorce trial.
Sometimes the material that is relevant in a family law case is more than just intimate or embarrassing. On occasion there is subject matter that relates to family violence, the safety of your children and even mental health disorders that become a huge part of family law cases. In these situations, you need to be able to know what to expect to encounter when dealing with problems associated with matters that are best kept private but are nonetheless relevant to your current family law case. Whether you are concerned for the well-being of your kids, yourself or even your soon-to-be ex-spouse I want to share some tips on how to handle these sorts of circumstances in your own family case.
What to do when you are worried about the safety of your children
If you find yourself worried about the safety of your children there is no time to waste in attempting to do something to remove those concerns from your life and theirs. Imagine being in a position where you had suspicions or thoughts about a hazard in your child’s life but did nothing to remedy that hazard. The next thing you know, something bad happens to your child and you end up blaming yourself for having identified a problem but having done thing to stop that problem from impacting your child.
This happens all too regularly with family law cases, I am afraid to say. For some reason our instincts as parents are inhibited by all of the hoopla associated with a family law case. This is ironic because at the core of what you are doing, no matter if it is a divorce or child custody case, is a desire to improve the lives of your children. The best advice that I can give to you is that you can improve your child’s life by addressing any concerns regarding safety immediately after you learn about them.
First and foremost, concerns about your child’s safety should be addressed by police and Child Protective Services (CPS). It is probable that the police will contact CPS anyways, but you should see to it that the police are aware of any concerns that you have for your child’s well being. If your child comes home from their mother’s house and tells you that her friend is acting inappropriately, your first step should be to talk to your child about any incidents that have occurred. Next, contact the police if that voice in your head tells you to. Better to be safe than sorry.
You need to know that if your spouse has a history with CPS, that will be an especially relevant bit of information that will need to be discussed with the judge. Family violence is a serious subject as judges want to, above all else, keep your children safe. Any words that you or your spouse use towards one another that could be construed as violent or threatening can and will likely be brought up again.
What does this mean to you on a practical level? Well, for starters, you need to get into the mindset that anything and everything that you say can be recorded and documented. This means those words can be taken out of context, potentially, and used against you and to the advantage of your spouse. Meaning: choose your words carefully. Especially choose how you text and email your spouse. Take a moment before responding to a particularly mean or nasty email to consider how your response can be utilized against you by your spouse.
Next, certainly never put your hands on your spouse for any reason. Even if you are justified in touching your spouse do not do it. Remove yourself from any situation that may rise to violence, animosity or anger. It is not worth it to you to be involved in any discussion that is heated. Use your attorney to convey difficult messages if you don’t believe that your spouse can be respectful of you and your opinions. Even if you are merely defending yourself, it can be a disaster to your case if you were to injure your spouse (especially if you are a man).
One thing that I have seen in recent years is people fighting over cell phones. Grabbing for a phone to see if someone has contacted your spouse or for any other reason can be dangerous. Mostly because those sort of actions can quickly escalate and lead to further use of violence or at the very least coarse language. Nothing contained in that phone is worth potentially losing time with your kids over- or even going to jail for. Be aware of your surroundings and do what you can to de-escalate any situation that you believe could lead to heated tempers.
Is protective order relevant to your situation?
A lot of clients ask about protective orders at the beginning of a child custody or divorce case. The thought being that one could potentially serve the purpose of de-escalating potentially dangerous situations. A protective order can serve a purpose when family violence has occurred in the home recently and that the violence is likely to continue but for the obtaining of a protective order.
If you get a protective order against your spouse that can be severely detrimental to his case in a divorce or child custody matter. You would need to decide whether or not to pursue a protective order that protects you and your kids or just you. While in today’s world we do not ordinarily consider these situations all that often, the fact is that men can be abused, as well as women. Think about all the information we are told about how women are reticent to come forward with details about abuse that they have suffered. The same can be said for men. Men are typically even less willing than women to come forward with details about abuse that they have suffered.
Handling issues regarding mental health in conjunction with a family law case
These are two subjects that come up all the time in family law cases. In some cases they are the primary reasons why there are child custody issues or circumstances that have led to discussions about divorce. Whether your spouse has been diagnosed with having a mental impairment or other mental health difficulty, or you suspect him or her of having a condition like this, mental health problems shine through brightly in many family cases.
Do you suspect your spouse of being bi-polar, having anxiety or being depressed? Some clients of mine in the past have commented that their spouse must be bi-polar considering how hot and cold he/she is. One minute they could be having a conversation together, and the next minute that same spouse could have grabbed a knife to attack our client. Behavior like this that is inconsistent and aggressive can be downright dangerous.
Another problem that clients frequently run into are issues related to a parent’s inability to take their medications as prescribed. The result is comments that relate to how good a parent your spouse might be when he or she is taking their medication, but if that medication is not taken as prescribed your spouse may be the most disagreeable person on earth. It is understandable to not want to take medication when those medicines cause you to feel out of sorts, but that concern needs to be balanced against the desire to keep your safe.
Finally, you need to speak to your attorney about your own history involving drugs and alcohol. The reality for many parents is that if there is a history of drug or alcohol abuse, you probably do not want to share those details with anyone. However, the worst thing that you can do is to keep that history a secret until a mediation or hearing date. Having your lawyer blind-sided by an opposing attorney who disclosed a history of drug and alcohol abuse is not a good plan to have.
Beware of back and forth bickering
Sometimes it is inevitable that you and your spouse will get into an argument. That happens even in the best functioning of marriages. Those arguments usually go nowhere and just leave everyone involved stressed to the max and angry that the discussion was ever started in the first place. Many times, we can see these discussions/arguments happening ahead of time and it takes a little bit of self-control to simply avoid them altogether.
There is nothing more awkward and potentially detrimental to your case to get into an elaborate game of bomb throwing in a courtroom. It typically will happen like this: both you and your spouse have allegations that the other acted inappropriately, was emotionally abusive or generally did something that was harmful to the kids. You then use your time on the witness stand to defend yourself and then hurl a few bombs her way.
What this ends up being is a back and forth game of unsubstantiated allegations. Instead of using your time productively to testify credibly for yourself and against your spouse, you are going to alienate your judge and distance yourself so far from the facts of your case that you may have trouble getting back on track. I have seen this happen many times in other cases and even in my own cases. Emotionally it may be satisfying to fire back at your spouse when he or she makes allegations against you, but in the long run that sort of behavior rarely if ever turns out to work to your advantage.
The people in your life that you trust are there to be your support system
We all have moments in our lives that require the support of others. Whether it is during a difficult family law case, a death in the family or the loss of a job, we cannot always be at our best. It is during those times that we rely on others to prop us up and support us. With that said, keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with doing so. At some point in the future it is likely that you can repay that person by being there for him or her when they need you.
Remember, also, that your mental and physical well-being matters. Staying in a marriage for the sake of your kids is noble, but ultimately self-defeating. Your kids deserve a parent who is at their best. You cannot be at your best when you are involved in a marriage that is emotionally
unfulfilling or worse yet- violent. We will discuss this topic when we pick up where we left off today in tomorrow’s blog post.
Questions about family law cases in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan would like to express their sincere appreciation for your interest in today’s blog post. We post articles like this every single day in order to share some of the knowledge that we can have gained through serving people in our community just like you.
In order to speak to one of our licensed family law attorneys about your case, please do not hesitate to contact us today. A consultation at our office is absolutely free of charge and can go a long way towards helping you better understand your circumstances and how to help your family and yourself.
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Typically, child custody and visitation agreements are solidified by both parents, then ordered by the court. The result is a legal, enforceable agreement between both parties. When one parent violates that agreement, there can be serious legal consequences.
What’s Considered a Visitation Violation?
A visitation violation occurs when one parent doesn’t comply with the terms set forth in the visitation agreement. There are many ways a parent can violate this agreement, including:
Keeping a child for a longer length of time
Failing to drop a child off at the stated time or place
Contacting or visiting the child at times not specified in the agreement
Taking the child on a vacation or extended trip without approval
Purposely keeping the child from the other spouse
If you find that your ex is violating your visitation agreement and you feel that your child is in danger, we recommend calling the proper authorities. You should also reach out to an attorney who can help you navigate what to do next.
What Are the Consequences of Violating an Order?
It’s important to remember that agreements between you and your ex that don’t involve the court won’t be upheld in court. Court-ordered visitation agreement violations are enforceable, however, and carry serious legal consequences.
For example, the court may reward extra parenting time to the other parent. For serious violations or repeated violations, the court may choose to change the visitation plan, perhaps stripping the parent’s rights completely. Other consequences include possible jail time, as well as civil penalties and fines.
If you and your ex feel that a current child custody agreement isn’t working, you must inform the court and seek a modification, instead of attempting to create a new arrangement on your own. Trying to do so may cause you both to violate the agreement, leaving you both at risk for legal consequences.
Struggling With Your Child Custody Agreement? Call an Attorney.
Has your ex violated your visitation agreement? Are you concerned about the safety of your child? Our team can help. To learn more about our legal services or for answers to your questions, send us a message.
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Being able to maintain strong relationships with your children during a divorce or child custody case, as well as determining what sort of financial commitment your Texas family case will cost are two of the most frequently asked questions that I receive. This is with good reason. A family court case involves children and money, almost exclusively. There are very few issues that are relevant in your case other than these two. Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan will seek to provide you with some guidance on these subjects.
Money concerns in relation to family law cases
Almost every person wants to know the same things associated with a family law case: how much is the case going to cost? How much child support will I be responsible for paying? The flip side to this question relates to how much child support will you be receiving. Other considerations center around health insurance, spousal support and contractual alimony. The bottom line is that people in your position are frequently concerned that their family law case (usually a divorce) will end up ruining him or her from a financial perspective.
Let’s talk first about how much it costs to hire a family law attorney to represent you in your case. The overall cost of your case depends in large part on you and your opposing party. If you and your spouse are not communicating at all and have no desire to do so, it means that your case will likely take longer to complete. The more time that is needed to be devoted to a family law case means that more money will need to be spent, as well.
The specific subject matter that you are in disagreement with your spouse about matters as well. If your big disagreements center around who gets the silverware, then your case can likely be resolved quickly. If your big disagreements center around your children, then you likely have a longer case on your hands. If you and your spouse are willing to compromise and meet one another halfway on any issues that need to be sorted out then your case is not going to be a marathon length nightmare that your friends have warned you about.
Finally, issues like medical support and spousal support may be relevant in your case. These are factors that many people do not consider in the lead up to their case. Keep in mind that the better prepared your attorney is to help you, the better shape you will be in. You can work to tell your attorney about relevant information at the beginning of your relationship with him or her. You can also save money by organizing materials that your attorney asks you for. If you leave that responsibility to your attorney or their staff then you will end up paying for services that you could have done yourself.
What happens to your credit as a result of a divorce?
When it comes to divorce cases specifically, it is easy to imagine a scenario where your credit score takes a hit. You may have started out your divorce with having no credit score to speak of. Taking out loans or spending on credit may have been something that you never had to explore. Once you find yourself involved in a family law case your income is going to be stretched to an extent and you can find yourself needing to rely on credit cards and loans to pay your bills and even pay your attorney.
Decision making in a family case carries with it a potential financial impact
For each decision that you make in conjunction with your family law case, there is a certain amount of financial impact that is inherent in doing so. One of the first questions you will need to ask yourself when it comes to a child custody or divorce case is whether or not you will want to hire an attorney to represent you.
Think about what is at stake in your case and the circumstances you find yourself in. If you believe that you will not gain enough of an advantage or enough benefit from hiring an attorney, it is likely that you will not do so. People hire attorneys because they are not legal experts and believe that the benefit that they derive from hiring an attorney will outweigh the financial costs associated with doing so.
It is essential that you understand what is at stake in your family case and how you can go about achieving your goals. Going to court or negotiating with an opposing attorney is not as simple as you may think. Certainly, the field of work that you are engaged in has subtleties that take time to learn. The same can be said of the legal world. Leaving these sorts of things to chance by not hiring a lawyer may save you money in the short term but will almost certainly cost you much money in the long term.
In the event that you do decide to hire an attorney, you need to put forth a great deal of effort into that relationship in order to get your money’s worth. Look for an attorney who you believes reflects your values and offers you the best opportunity to reach a timely and fair resolution with your opposing party. It may be necessary for your case to go all the way to a trial. However, keep in mind that the vast majority of cases settle in informal settlement negotiations or in mediation. Hiring an attorney who understands how important negotiation is essential to your escaping from your family law case.
I have seen many family law cases where the parties have worked out an agreement between themselves wind up in court because the other attorney did not believe the agreement to be fair or equitable. I will admit that many times those informal agreements do need to have some specifics worked out. However, if you and your spouse settle your case informally it is not a good sign if your attorney attempts to void that agreement over issues that are not important to you. This is your case, after all. You are the final decision maker as to what is and what is not important.
Maintaining the relationship that you have with your kids during a family law case
Probably the most frustrating circumstance associated with a family case is that which involves the other parent withholding your children from being able to visit with you. Being in a position where you would do anything to be able to see your children but having an unwilling parent on the other side is enough to drive a person to file a family law case.
Other circumstances that can lead to the filing of a family case is if you are the primary caretaker for your kids and you are not receiving any financial assistance from their other parent. No matter if you live with your child, you owe him or her a duty of financial care and support. If you and your significant other split up and he or she is not helping to support your child then you have the right to initiate a child support case in order to remedy that situation.
Still, other situations that involve your relationship with your child are related to your desire to simply spend more time with him or her. Maybe you are operating under a prior court order where you were only given weekend visitation with your kids. Now you find yourself in a position where you are working in a job where you have more flexibility with your schedule. Or, your children may have voiced a desire to live with your primarily instead of your ex-spouse.
It is crucial that your children have access to both you and their other parent. The whole system of family law in Texas is based upon the premise that children are more likely to thrive when exposed to both parents. Your kids seek attention and love from both of their parents. Your ability to return that love and affection is as important to their upbringing as any other factor in their lives. Coming to a resolution with your spouse on how to divide up time with your children can be among the most important factors when it comes to saving time and money in a family law case.
Will the debt be a relevant factor in your child custody or divorce case?
Maybe the least discussed, yet most important, a topic that I can think of in conjunction with divorces is that of debt. The way it works out in Texas is that you may become responsible for the debts incurred by your spouse. Obviously, you want to minimize your exposure to the debts of your spouse- especially if those debts are completely unrelated to you.
Deciding how to divide debt up in your divorce can be just as important as deciding how to divide up property in your divorce. Debts can come in all shapes and sizes. From the smallest credit card debt to a home mortgage, you need to be aware of what debts exist in your name and your spouse’s. I recommend to clients that they pull a copy of their credit report early on in the case. This way you can know exactly what credit accounts are in your name without any surprises popping up at the end of your case.
Another issue that is very important but not often considered is what will happen to your mortgage after your divorce. For example, suppose that you agree to leave the family home and your wife agrees to take over the mortgage payments in exchange for being awarded the house in your divorce. This all sounds fine and dandy until you begin to consider what can happen in the event that your ex-spouse falls behind on the mortgage. If that mortgage bears your name you will be taking a hit to your credit- no matter what the divorce decree says.
The reason for this is that your loan with the lending company is not impacted by your divorce decree. You can agree to whatever you want with your spouse in the divorce, but that will not necessarily impact how your loan is treated by any lender. What you agreed to with them years ago when you took out your loan is what will still be controlling- not what is contained in your final orders. You will need to have a plan to remove your name from the mortgage, and if that is not a possibility (as with a refinance), you need to have a backup plan in place to handle future missed mortgage payments by your ex-spouse.
Credit cards that allow your spouse to be an authorized user and even cars titled to you but used by your soon to be ex-spouse are other concerns that relate to debt which may arise in your divorce case. Do you know how to handle these situations? Does your attorney? Ask yourself these questions before your divorce even begins so that you can wisely choose an attorney to represent you.
Issues of safety and family law cases will be discussed in tomorrow’s blog post
In tomorrow’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we will discuss topics that center around your safety and that of your children. As much as I would like this to not be the case, family law cases frequently involve issues regarding family violence, child abuse, and generally hot tempers. Learning how to keep yourself and your kids safe during a family case is of the utmost importance, as a result.
If you have any questions about the material that we covered in today’s blog post or are seeking clarification on any other subject in Texas family law 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 to have your questions answered and issues addressed by an attorney with experience working with people in situations just like yours.
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Do you find yourself having difficulty letting go and relaxing about what your children do while they are with their other parent? Focusing too much on your children’s time or activities at your ex’s house can potentially damage your relationship with them and undermine their connection with both parents. When a parent communicates anxiety and becomes too vigilant about custody exchanges (or parenting time) they may be taking on the role of a gatekeeper.
What is a gatekeeper mom?
According to child custody expert Robert Beilin, P.h.D., a gatekeeper is a term often used in a negative way to describe how parents (usually a mother) attempts to control their children’s time with the other parent. Since traditionally mothers tend to be gatekeepers, this article will focus on mothers but the term could apply to fathers as well.
According to author Kerri Kettle, the term “gatekeeper” is generally brought up in child custody cases. Kettle, an attorney, advises mothers to beware of being a gatekeeper and to avoid adversarial interactions with their ex. After all, it could lead to additional legal costs and have a negative impact on children. She writes, “If you think you might be acting a little like a gatekeeper, try saying “yes” more often than saying “no” for a while. Start with something small, like giving up a few hours of your custodial time for a special occasion or simply not asking questions about what happened at their dad’s house.” She also advises parents that they will save legal fees by being a cooperative co-parent.
Let’s face it, it’s easy to see how a parent could slip into the gatekeeper role. After my divorce, I had trouble adjusting to our co-parenting schedule and I found myself overly concerned about what my children did when they were with their father and the amount of time they spent with him. It took several years for me to realize that this was my way of trying to gain control over the situation. While I never did anything consciously to sabotage my children’s relationship with their dad, my questions, and concerns about their activities with him didn’t demonstrate confidence in our parenting plan.
Further, children have a way of sensing tension and worry and so a mother’s fear or concerns about time spent away from her may be a red flag that heightens their anxiety. Without awareness, a parent could be bringing undue stress on your children without intending to. My research shows that the two variables that had the most negative impact on children of divorce into adulthood were limiting their access to both parents and experiencing high conflict between their parents post-divorce.
A crucial aspect of healing after divorce is realizing that you can’t control what goes on with your ex and so need to respect the decisions that he makes regarding his time with your children. You can’t change him and are wise to let go of unrealistic expectations. For instance, you might not approve of him taking your eight-year-old to a movie rated PG 13 – but in the end, it’s not going to make or break their emotional development. So it wouldn’t hurt to simply let it slide sometimes.
On the other hand, if you have legitimate concerns about activities that your kids participate in with their father, it’s a good idea to send him a friendly, business-like e-mail expressing your concerns. Divorce expert Rosalind Seddacca CCT writes, “If you’re intent on creating a child-centered divorce that strives for harmony between you and your ex, you need to initiate the conversation and model win-win solutions. If your ex doesn’t want to cooperate, that’s when your patience will certainly be tested. Look for opportunities to clarify why working together as co-parents as often as possible will create far better outcomes for your children.”
Eileen Coen, an attorney, and trained mediator states that one reason mothers tend to be gatekeepers is that trust is often lost in a marriage. Other reasons cited by Coen are economic and a lack of confidence in their ex’s parenting skills. However, she cautions us that on-going conflict between parents is the primary reason why mothers are gatekeepers – making it virtually impossible to have adequate, healthy parenting time with their children.
Studies show that kids benefit from access to both parents. There is evidence that cooperative co-parenting actually reduces conflict between divorced parents – which has a beneficial impact on children into adulthood. Scheduling appropriate parenting time for both parent’s post-divorce and keeping lines of communication positive can be a challenge but it’s paramount to building resiliency in your children. When a parent takes on the role of gatekeeper, they communicate discomfort and anxiety to their children and diminish their sense of belongingness with both parents.
Joan Kelly, a renowned researcher who has conducted decades-long studies on divorce, found that the more involved fathers are post-split, the better off the outcomes for children. Children benefit from strong relationships with both parents post-divorce. According to Linda Nielsen, author of Between Fathers and Daughters, the child’s relationship with their father is often the one that changes the most after marital dissolution. Sadly, Dr. Nielsen notes that only 15% of fathers and daughters enjoy the benefits of shared parenting.
There are many compelling reasons why mothers are wise to encourage their children to have strong bonds with their father post-divorce. Studies show that these reasons include: Better grades and social skills, healthy emotional development, higher self-esteem, and fewer trust issues. Lowered self-esteem and trust wounds are especially a concern for girls who may be more vulnerable to the breakup of the family home because they are socialized to be nurturers and caretakers. Your kids may also have better access to extended family members and therefore intergenerational support if they spend close to equal time with both parents.
Here are 4 Reasons to avoid the gatekeeper trap:
1. Your children will gain trust in both parents and feel more confident about their relationships with both of you.
2. You will build trust in your ex’s ability to effectively parent your children.
3. There’s a possibility you’ll have the added benefit of more leisure time – when you can relax and worry less about your children’s well-being.
4. You’ll create a new story for your life built on reclaiming your personal power rather than letting your divorce define who you are or the choices you make.
Focusing your energy on what’s going on in your home and encouraging your children to have a healthy connection with their father will pay off in the long run. Another important reason to avoid being a gatekeeper is to respect your child’s and ex-spouse’s boundaries. When your children are with your ex, honor their time together and try not to plan activities or partake in excessive communication with the other parent (phone, text, etc.). Since parental conflict is a factor that contributes greatly to negative outcomes for children after divorce, keeping disagreements to a minimum is a key aspect of helping your child become resilient. You owe it to yourself and your children to avoid playing the role of a gatekeeper.
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While everyone comes to the decision to divorce via their own personal path, and every divorce is unique to its own set of circumstances, women often face concerns that are specific to them. And things women need to know about divorce.
If you’re facing a divorce – whether you are the spouse who’s instigating the dissolution of your marriage or not – understanding the basics of divorce can help you make better-informed decisions and help you better protect your rights throughout the divorce process.
What Women Need To Know About Divorce
Choosing the Right Divorce Attorney
Whether you are contemplating a divorce, are facing a divorce, or fear that divorce is imminent, you need an experienced divorce attorney on your side. The outcome of your divorce will affect you and your children’s future significantly, and you don’t want to leave anything to chance.
When searching for a divorce attorney, look not only for someone with considerable experience, skill, and knowledge but also for someone with whom you feel comfortable working very closely. In the course of the divorce process, you’ll need to share the private details of your marriage, and choosing a compassionate, understanding divorce lawyer is a great place to start.
The Primary Elements of Your Divorce
While every divorce is indeed unique, certain issues must be resolved before any divorce is final. These include:
The primary concern of most divorcing parents is their children. Mothers have traditionally been their children’s primary caregivers throughout their marriages, and if you are facing a future in which your children won’t be living with you 24/7, it can be especially difficult. The fact is that more and more fathers are fighting for and receiving enhanced visitation schedules – and even 50/50 custody.
While it’s almost always in your children’s best interests to spend a considerable amount of time with both of their parents, this fact does not mean that you should give up on your plans to be the primary custodial parent. It does, however, mean that you’ll need to work closely with your dedicated divorce attorney to help you obtain custody arrangements that work for you and your children.
The court’s primary goal is always to do what’s in the best interests of the children involved, but this goal is quite vague, and the court has considerable discretion in the matter. If you’re moving toward divorce, it’s never too early to start thinking carefully about your child custody goals and how best to achieve them.
The Division of Marital Property
After child custody arrangements, the division of your marital property is generally the most important divorce concern. Marital property typically refers to the property, assets, and debts that you and your spouse acquired as a married couple. In your divorce, these assets will generally be divided in a manner that is considered fair – if not exactly equal.
Again, however, the court has vast discretion in this determination. The division of your marital property is an extremely important consideration that will likely affect your finances well into the future, and it should be given the careful legal attention that it deserves.
Spousal support refers to what you may know as alimony. Confusingly, it can also be referred to as spousal maintenance in certain states. Traditionally, women receive alimony more often because women are more likely to have stalled or left their own careers to run their homes and to raise their children in support of their husbands’ careers. Spousal support is by no means a certainty, and it is usually just a temporary measure to help the spouse with fewer assets get up to financial speed post-divorce.
Spousal support is most common after a long marriage, but many different variables can play a role. While there is no guarantee that you will receive spousal support, it can play an important role in your ability to move forward after your divorce, and you and your divorce lawyer should explore this potentiality.
The Issue of Fault
Divorce can be complicated by any number of intervening factors, and many women have questions about specific concerns. For example, the issue of fault often comes up. If your spouse was having an affair, spending down your marital assets, or engaging in any number of other nefarious activities, it may have played a critical role in the dissolution of your marriage.
Most states are No-Fault divorce states, which means that courts don’t take either spouse’s fault in the matter into consideration. This being said, however, the presiding judge in any given divorce proceeding always has wide discretion when it comes to the important decisions, and as such, your spouse’s actions may be factored into the outcome of your divorce. Again, it’s a complicated issue that requires the professional legal counsel of an experienced divorce attorney.
Divorce is one of life’s most difficult challenges, and it requires a good deal of heartache and hard work. If you’re facing a divorce, do yourself and your children a favor by working closely with an experienced divorce attorney who will help protect your rights while aggressively advocating for an outcome that works for you.
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