If you are going through a divorce, a primary concern is often your children and your child custody arrangements. It’s difficult for any parent to contemplate not having their children living with them all of the time, but it can be even more difficult for mothers who have a close bond with their children.
If you and your husband cannot come to custody terms that you both can sign off on, the court will need to decide the matter for you. While many people think that mothers have a natural advantage in such disputes, the truth is far more complicated. Understanding the basics related to child custody can help you navigate the process while standing up for your own parental rights.
Custody is divided into two major concerns that include physical custody (related to with whom the children reside at any given time) and legal custody. It’s important to recognize that in the vast majority of divorces, both parents share legal custody, which refers to a parent’s rights to make important decisions on behalf of their children. These decisions include:
- Matters related to your children’s health and well-being, such as medical care
- Matters related to your children’s education
- Matters related to your children’s religious upbringing
These are fundamental issues that shape your children’s lives, and it’s very likely that you and your divorced spouse will continue to make these important decisions together, although one parent is sometimes given tie-breaking authority.
Physical custody relates to with whom your children reside primarily and to their visitation schedule with the other parent. While many people believe that mothers have an advantage when it comes to physical custody, this really isn’t an accurate assessment in many cases.
Do Mothers Have an Advantage in Custody Disputes?
The Court’s Stance
If you and your divorcing spouse cannot come to mutually acceptable terms regarding your children’s custody arrangements, the court will intervene and make a determination of how you will split custody rights.
The court will always favor what is in the best interest of your children, but this is obviously open to interpretation, and it’s important to remember that the court has considerable discretion in the matter. You obviously know your children in a way that the judge never can, and you know what’s best for them.
Courts often favor the status quo when making child custody decisions. In other words, if the mother has been the primary caregiver and she and the children are living in the family home while the case is pending, the judge may be hesitant to upset the balance and may be more inclined to award the mother primary custody.
This is generally more a function of how things are commonly arranged than it is a function of favoring the mother or of the mother having an advantage in the matter.
The Considerations at Hand
In determining child custody arrangements, the court is guided by the children’s best interests, but in the process, it takes a wide range of variables into consideration, including:
- The emotional connections between each parent and the children
- Each parent’s ability to provide the children with a loving home and a healthy life
- Any criminal history
- Any history of domestic abuse – either physical, emotional, or sexual
- Any substance abuse issues
- Any pertinent parental considerations that could affect the decision, such as age or disability
- The location of each parent’s residence (who lives closer to the children’s school, for example)
None of these issues are gender-specific and, as such, the court’s decision cannot favor the mother. Many mothers, however, are already providing primary custodial care, and courts are not fond of dramatically disrupting children’s lives when they’re already going through the emotional challenge of divorce. After all, divorce is hard on everyone, but children are especially vulnerable.
Your Children’s Voices
Many parents wonder if their children’s preferences will guide – or should guide – the court’s custody decisions. The fact is that many judges will speak to your children privately (especially older children) and will take their preferences into careful consideration, but the decision is simply not up to your children.
The court is making determinations related to your children’s custody exactly because they are children who need custodial care. When your children are adults, they’ll make their own important decisions, but for now, those decisions must be made for them. Your children’s voices, nevertheless, may help guide the court’s ruling.
Reaching a Resolution
If you’re going through a divorce, emotions are inevitably running high. The stress and heartache of divorce leave many couples unable to reach mutually agreeable terms on many important issues. Both of you, however, naturally put your children first, and if you can find a way to hammer out custody arrangements that you can both live with, the court and its considerable discretion won’t need to be involved in the process.
Reaching a compromise with your children’s father can come in many forms. If you aren’t able to work together personally (which isn’t uncommon), your attorneys can attempt to negotiate an arrangement, and you can also address the issue via mediation – with the legal guidance of your respective divorce attorneys.
The divorce mediation process requires both spouses to engage in conversation and discussion with the mediator acting as a facilitator.
The post 6 Points to Consider Before Choosing the Divorce Mediation Process appeared first on Divorce Magazine.
Many women who are married to narcissistic husbands become fed up with the situation and decide to get a divorce. While separating and filing for divorce might bring an immediate sense of relief from the challenges of living with a narcissist, the challenges might very well continue throughout the divorce process.
Divorce is difficult enough without the complications that a spouse with a narcissistic personality disorder can bring to the table. You might face unexpected and unnecessary conflict throughout the legal process, as your spouse might repeatedly attempt to make the divorce as trying as possible for you. Even if you have been dealing with their behavior for years, it can be challenging to stand your ground and ensure that you fight for your rights in the divorce.
How Narcissistic Traits Can Create Complications
In many divorces, both spouses will recognize that – despite their differences – compromise and cooperation will save them money, time, and stress.
However, narcissistic personality traits can make it nearly impossible for your spouse to agree to compromise. Some common personality traits of narcissistic people can include:
- Unjustified sense of entitlement
- Inflated superiority and self-importance
- Putting down those they believe to be inferior to them
- Expecting constant admiration or recognition
- Expecting others to comply with their wishes without question
- Being unable to realize the needs or feelings of others
- Inability to calmly handle stressful situations
- Difficulty adapting to change
- Constantly changing their wants and desires
- Reacting with angry outbursts or even vengeance if they believe they are not getting what they want at the moment
Because they believe they are superior and in the right, narcissists tend to think that everyone else is in the wrong. Even if your spouse caused most of your marital problems and conflict, expect to be blamed and for them to present themselves as the victim in the situation.
To make matters worse, once your spouse starts blaming you, they will likely be unwavering in this position. They will likely start to believe this narrative themselves.
Expecting Too Much
Because your spouse might believe they are the victim of the divorce, and they might already have an inflated sense of entitlement, they likely will feel entitled to much more than their share in the outcome of your case. They might refuse to agree to a reasonable division of property, custody arrangement, or financial support order.
This might also be the case if your spouse is feeling vengeful and trying to “get back” at you by trying to take everything away from you. This fight to “get everything” can cause serious complications in your legal case.
First, divorce is always simpler and faster when spouses can reach their own agreement. Whether you can agree on the major issues on your own or through mediation, presenting the court with an agreement upfront can save the time and expense of litigation. You should not have to give up more than necessary, however, just because your spouse demands it.
If your spouse is making unreasonable demands that deprive you of property or custody rights under the law, you should stand your ground, no matter how difficult that might seem.
How the Right Divorce Lawyer Can Help in this Situation
Narcissists know how to manipulate a situation to get what they want, so it is important that you have the right divorce attorney on your side from the start of the process. An attorney can look at the situation objectively and keep reminding you of your rights and what you deserve in the divorce outcome.
An experienced lawyer will not take your spouse’s actions and words personally and can help you stay the course until your divorce is final with a fair outcome for you.
In many cases, having an attorney act as an intermediary between your soon-to-be-ex and you can give you the time and space you need to see your situation clearly. In addition, not communicating with your husband directly can prevent you from falling into the unhealthy patterns of communication that likely played a role in the demise of your marriage.
This can often facilitate reaching an out-of-court agreement, which will almost certainly save you a significant amount of time and money.
In some cases, it may be a good idea to ask your spouse to agree to a psychiatric evaluation in order to establish evidence regarding his personality disorder. This is particularly true in cases where you believe your children may be put in danger of emotional or physical harm due to his issues. An official recent diagnosis could be used as evidence in your favor when it comes to the determination of child custody.
Just because your spouse has narcissistic personality traits does not mean you should give up your rights in your divorce case. When you meet with your lawyer initially, be honest about your spouse’s personality, so your lawyer knows what they will be dealing with right from the start. They can then plan a strategy to help you obtain a successful outcome as efficiently as possible.
The post How Narcissistic Traits Create Complications During Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.
My parents divorced right after I was born and I was raised by my mother. She was a social worker for the New York State Division for Youth. She worked there for decades and I can remember going into her government office, in Syracuse, New York, and raiding the office’s supply closet. Money was always tight.
Being raised by a single mother was challenging, for sure, but I was very fortunate that my mother was emotionally intelligent. In fact, had I been raised by my father I suspect my life would have been far less purpose-driven and more focused on self-centered endeavors. I am a very lucky man in that respect.
I am now a divorce and family attorney with a family of my own. I speak with people every day about divorce, custody modifications, relocation, decision-making and everything else one would expect of someone managing a large family law firm. I watch competitors everyday market to their “target audience.”
Marketing Based on Fear:
We have a lot of “Men’s Rights Firms” here in our state, and they get many clients calling every day. We have law firms locally that market “aggressive representation” (admittedly I did as well in the beginning) and messaging similar to “We Win Family Law cases.” Nobody wins these cases. I see no value in advertising expertise or specialty related to the sex of a client. It’s marketing based on fear, and it’s natural for parents to be fearful as they contemplate major life changes.
I disagree with the idea that you need to have any plan in place other than being very deliberate and thoughtful about choosing an attorney.
He cheated on you.
He lied to you.
He isn’t a good dad.
He used marital money to buy his mid-life-crisis answer.
If someone told you, when you are raw and emotional, to get aggressive and hire Lawyer X to fight for you, I suspect you would think that is a good idea. I suspect I would feel the same way. But that is really, really bad advice.
The Secret to Hiring an Effective Attorney: Emotional Intelligence
Fighting and being aggressive has its place in every family law case, but how you fight and how you are aggressive is the key. Understand that you are extracting yourself from a dysfunctional relationship. There is pain, fear, anger and every other emotion open and available for you to experience.The feeling you do not want is regret with your choice in representation.
I strongly suggest that you seek representation that does not mirror you, your emotions, or your anger…at least at the outset. Do not hire an attorney who gets you motivated to destroy him. If your case warrants a parenting time restriction, or a protection order, a private investigator or a Child and Family Investigator then the right attorney will guide you only after he or she understands your case, your relationship with your husband and children, and your goals.
Choose an emotionally intelligent lawyer.
What exactly is that?
Emotionally intelligent people are…aware. That’s all. But that’s huge! An emotionally intelligent attorney uses all her tools in her toolbox. She doesn’t react to opposing counsel who thinks being a jerk is in the job description.
An emotionally intelligent attorney uses data, strategy and thought in accordance with a communicated plan of action geared towards a successful outcome. They think about their actions and advice, understanding the raw nature of the situation, and they don’t exploit the client’s fears. Emotionally intelligent attorneys can inspire and protect clients, oftentimes, from themselves.
Think about it. Your husband cheated on you with someone you know. He is clearly a piece of trash and shouldn’t have parenting time because he can’t be trusted. Right? Or, even more cutting, he introduces your children to her as he and your babies “accidentally” run into her while grocery shopping. You want it to stop. You want him to pay dearly. That mindset will have many lawyers licking their chops to follow your strategy and blow it all up…and bill you for it all.
Emotional intelligence is not a weakness. It is the epitome of strength and most lawyers don’t have it. Emotional intelligence is seeing the case from both the 30,000-foot view, anticipating behaviors based on the data, and having the legal and factual knowledge to make strategic decisions that benefit the client in the short term and long term.
Emotional intelligence is not ripping off scathing emails to opposing counsel, at your behest, because you are hurt. Emotional intelligence is using your narcissist husband’s abusive texts to your advantage by waiting until he portrays himself the way he sees himself and opposite to what the facts, collateral witnesses and written or recorded communications conclusively portray him to be.
If your “aggressive lawyer” did what you asked, or on her own, acted, by emailing opposing counsel and threatened your husband you will feel better…and you likely lost the benefit of all the data because you allowed the lawyer to tip off your husband that he has bad facts to overcome.
Emotionally intelligent lawyers see the forest through the trees and effectively save you from your emotions, while at the same time advancing your effectively strategized case towards a successful resolution. Sophisticated, emotionally intelligent representation can be lulling your husband to sleep with false confidence, only to trap him in his lies at mediation or trial.
That is effective, and even aggressive, representation and is done at the highest level by very few attorneys.
There is nothing worse than lining up a narcissist with his own words/actions/behaviors only to see this leverage disappear because a lawyer was lazy, greedy or both.
The post The Secret to Hiring an Effective Attorney: Emotional Intelligence appeared first on Divorced Moms.
Originally published by Francesca Blackard.
Texas family law allows the parties to a divorce to enter into a binding mediated settlement agreement (MSA). If the agreement meets certain requirements, a party is entitled to judgment on the agreement. In some cases, however, one party may wish to challenge a mediated settlement agreement. In a recent case, a wife challenged the enforceability of a mediated settlement agreement.
The couple was married for about 10 years when the wife decided to end the marriage. She sought a mediator, and the parties attended mediation without attorneys and executed a written MSA.
The MSA made the parents joint managing conservators, with the husband having the right to designate the kids’ primary residence. The parties agreed the husband would keep the marital home and the wife would not pay child support. The MSA required the wife to file the divorce petition within 10 days. The MSA further provided the case would be finalized any time after May 1, 2015.
The husband filed a divorce petition nine days after the MSA was executed. He asked the court to approve and render judgment consistent with the MSA. The wife filed an answer with a general denial. The husband and his attorney appeared in court, but the wife did not receive notice of the hearing and did not appear. The trial court rendered oral judgment on the MSA at the hearing.
The wife moved to set aside the verdict, and alternatively, for a new trial. She also moved to revoke the MSA, arguing it did not comply with the Family Code because it was signed before the divorce petition was filed. She also argued the hearing had violated her due process rights because she had not received the required notice. Finally, she argued the husband breached the MSA when he filed the divorce petition because the MSA provided she would do so. The trial court denied the wife’s motions and incorporated the terms of the MSA into its final decree.
The wife appealed, and the appeals court reversed. The appeals court held there must be a pending suit for divorce for an MSA to be statutorily binding. The parties had executed the agreement before the divorce petition was filed, so it was just an ordinary contract. The appeals court also found the wife had been denied due process when she did not receive notice of the hearing. The appeals court held she was entitled to 45 days’ notice because she had made an appearance by filing the answer.
The husband petitioned for review by the Texas Supreme Court. Pursuant to Texas Family Code Section 6.602, a mediated settlement agreement is binding if it includes a prominent irrevocability provision, is signed by both parties, and signed by any party’s attorney present. If the agreement meets these requirements, it is binding on the parties and the court generally must adopt it in the divorce decree.
The wife argued the MSA was not enforceable because there was no divorce suit pending when it was signed. The appeals court based its decision on language in the statute that a trial court “may refer a suit for dissolution of marriage to mediation.” The Texas Supreme Court rejected this reasoning, noting that the statute allows a court to refer a divorce suit to mediation, but does not require it. The Texas Supreme Court also noted that a trial court only has authority to order mediation once suit has been filed. The statute does not restrict the parties’ right to voluntarily participate in binding mediation.
The Supreme Court of Texas held there was no requirement under the statute that the divorce suit be pending when the MSA was signed. This MSA met the enumerated requirements of the statute and was therefore binding on the parties.
The Texas Supreme Court then considered whether the wife’s due process rights were violated. Tex. R. Civ. P. 245 requires at least 45 days’ notice for contested cases, but provides that “[n]oncontested cases may be tried or disposed of at any time whether set or not…” The husband argued the parties had resolved their disputes through the MSA and the case was therefore not contested at the time of the hearing. The Texas Supreme Court rejected this argument.
The Texas Supreme Court noted the wife had filed a general denial in answer to the petition. She had made an appearance and put the matters raised in the petition at issue. The case was therefore contested and the wife was entitled to notice. The Texas Supreme Court also noted that MSA’s are often challenged and therefore the existence of an MSA does not make a case uncontested. The trial court erred in rendering judgment without the wife having notice of the hearing.
The Texas Supreme Court remanded the case to the trial court, but pointed out the court and parties would be bound by its holding that a pending suit is not required for the MSA to be binding under the statute.
The Texas Supreme Court has now resolved the question of whether a mediated settlement agreement is binding if it is signed before the divorce petition is signed. If you are facing a divorce, an experienced Texas divorce attorney can guide you through the entire process, including mediation and trial if necessary. Call McClure Law Group at 214.692.8200 to schedule a consultation.
Originally published by The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC Blog.
It has become a trend in recent years for courts in southeast Texas to mandate that parties must attend at least one session of mediation (and likely more) before they ever are able to have their case presented in front of a judge during a trial. As far as alternatives to having to go the “distance” in a contested child custody case, mediation is at the top of the list as far as places to go when you need a resolution to your case.
The benefits of meditation are many. You and your opposing party are able to take an active and participatory role in the process that will determine the outcome of your case. This is the case to an extent in a trial, but keep in mind you are only able to present evidence once you get in front of a judge. It is the judge who will be making the final decision in your trial.
Domestic violence and mediation in Texas
Child custody cases that involve domestic violence can be especially troublesome when taken in the context of mediation. For one, if you are the victim of acts of domestic violence as perpetrated upon you by the opposing party in your child custody case that you may not be able to negotiate to the fullest extent possible. This is often times the case because you are not only fearful of your own well-being during mediation but can also be “under the thumb” of the opposing party due to their role in supporting you economically. If you haven’t worked in a decade or more, how freely can you negotiate in mediation knowing that your well-being is tied up in the other person paying your bills?
It is for this reason that the requirement for you and your opposing party to mediate your case is waived in many southeast Texas courts when family violence is an issue. Furthermore, even if the requirement to mediate your case is not waived automatically due to family violence being involved, it can happen that if you object to having to go that the objection will likely be upheld by the judge.
In cases where there is domestic violence that has occurred between you and your opposing party do not be surprised if the judge takes extraordinary steps to ensure your protection. I have seen judges appoint third parties to attend mediation as an extension of the court in order to help prevent additional acts of violence from occurring. Many judges have “go-to” mediators who have specific experience one expertise in handling cases where there have been acts of domestic violence perpetrated by one party against the other.
If you have been the victim of family violence it is ultimately up to you whether or not you will attend mediation in your case. Some people believe that there are still benefits to be had with the process if, in fact, you feel that you can negotiate freely, considering the circumstances. On the other hand, you may feel constrained for multiple reasons and can choose to opt out of the mediation requirement of your court. Either way, this is a decision that is fact-specific and ought to be discussed at length with your attorney prior to arriving at a final decision.
International divorces- how where you’re from can impact your Texas divorce
In a city like Houston, it is not at all uncommon to encounter families who have one or both parents born internationally or at least have roots in another country. You may be in a position where you are currently living abroad while your spouse lives here in the United States. Or, you both may live here in the United States but you could own property in foreign countries. Your having had children may have created opportunities for you to visit family abroad more often. There are certainly numerous ways that your family could have international ties.
Family law in Texas becomes a tad more complicated when you consider the implications of an international divorce. The more diverse the set of facts and circumstances, the more crucial it becomes for you to be able to sort through them in a logical and clear-headed manner. In today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we will discuss this topic in greater detail.
What are the main issues relevant to an international divorce?
From my experiences, there are basically six topics that we have to discuss that relate in some way to an international divorce. Those issues would be jurisdiction, service of process, choice of law, discovery, property division and then the enforcement of the orders that are arrived at in the child custody or divorce case. While we can say with some confidence what the issues are that we need to discuss, the fact that they are all interconnected can make things more complicated.
Let’s take each of those six issues and discuss them in greater detail.
Jurisdiction- who gets to decide what?
If you are like most people who go through a divorce, you are likely chomping at the bit to have the important questions of your case decided. Who gets what property? How much child support are you going to have to pay? To what extent will you be able to see your children? These are all relevant questions that need to be answered. Unfortunately, they are questions that cannot be answered without first determining whether or not Texas has jurisdiction to hear the case. If, in fact, the state of Texas lacks jurisdiction to hear your case then you are in a position where you need to figure out what venue is appropriate.
Simply put, jurisdiction refers to a court’s authority to make rulings and issue orders in a specific legal matter that is brought before it. These rulings, in a divorce context, are usually tied to property rights and child custody. In an international divorce, you not only have to contend with the questions of whether or not Texas has jurisdiction over your case but whether or not any U.S. state has jurisdiction over your case.
Personal jurisdiction is the first issue that we have to tackle. Ask yourself whether or not you and your spouse have sufficient ties with Texas in the event that it is here that you want your case to be heard.
Next, you will need to determine whether or not a court in Texas has the authority to handle your divorce case and all the issues that are connected to it.
Finally, it could be the case that Texas and another jurisdiction both have equally strong claims to hearing your case. In that event which court should and would your case be heard in?
From the beginning of your case until its end, these are the dominant themes and questions that you will be asking yourself. The difficult part of the process is that determining jurisdiction is not always a straightforward issue. A judge in Texas may have jurisdiction over your case while a judge in another country may have an equally strong claim to having jurisdiction. In those type of situations, you and your attorney will need to determine where your case ought to be filed from a strategic standpoint.
What country’s laws should apply to your international divorce?
Family laws differ significantly from state to state in our country so I’m sure it wouldn’t surprise you to find out that the laws of divorce can vary even more so from country to country. Once you have determined which court will actually be hearing your case the next question that needs to be asked is what set of laws will be determining the contested issues in your case.
First of all, how will you file for divorce? Do you need to assert “fault grounds” for your divorce? Texas allows you to file for divorce for any reason under the sun- including no particular reason at all. However, some foreign countries do not allow you to do so. Will you need to prove adultery or domestic violence in order to get your divorce if you have to file in an international divorce?
Next, does the law of the country that will govern your divorce require that you divide the property up in your divorce along with a 50/50 basis? Texas is a community property state that, absent other circumstances, will usually require a fairly even split of the marital assets (property that came into being during the course of your marriage).
Will prenuptial or postnuptial agreements be honored?
The concept of prenups has become fairly well known through our popular culture in the United States. Coming to an agreement with your spouse-to-be while you are still on good terms regarding certain property related issues is a good idea in the eyes of the State of Texas and property agreements like this are honored in most cases.
This may not be the case for your foreign courts. When considering where you should file your divorce and attempt to establish jurisdiction this is a question you need to ask yourself: whether or not you have come to an agreement on a premarital or post-marital agreement. If you have done so it would be unwise to file for divorce in a jurisdiction that would not honor the agreement.
Spousal maintenance: to pay or not to pay?
If you are in a position where you will need to be requesting spousal maintenance be paid from your spouse to you at the conclusion of your divorce you need to do your homework to determine what laws are most favorable in this regard. Texas only recently began to allow judges to impose orders regarding the payment of spousal maintenance. Even then, these payments are typically only allowed for a relatively short period of time and under limited circumstances. The length of your marriage, for instance, must be at least ten years and you must also show that you cannot provide for your minimal basic needs otherwise.
Service of process issues for international divorces
Typically, when you file for divorce in Texas you will have a constable or private process server pick up the divorce paperwork from the courthouse, drive out to your spouse’s residence or business and have him or she served personally with notice of your lawsuit having been filed. The process can take a few days but it is typically a low-key and simple transaction to complete. It is important, nonetheless, because your case cannot proceed without your first having provided notice of the lawsuit to your spouse.
There are international treaties that are in effect that govern how you can provide notice to any person who is a resident of a country that has signed on to that treaty. While the United Nations has a treaty in place that governs this subject, each member nation interprets its contents a bit differently. From personal experience, I can tell you that this step is one that can delay a case for weeks and even months. You are best served by hiring an attorney who knows how to quickly and correctly serve an opposing party with an international service of process.
More on international divorces to be posted tomorrow
In tomorrow’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we will discuss more issues related to divorce from an international perspective. In the meantime, if you have any questions about the material that we have covered please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with one of our licensed family law attorneys. It would be an honor to meet with you to discuss your case and answer any questions you may have.
Our attorneys and staff share a commitment to putting your interests ahead of our own and to provide the best legal representation of any family law attorneys in southeast Texas. To find out what sets us apart from our competitors please give us a call today.
Hiring an attorney early on in the mediation process can be beneficial not only for educational purposes but also to help you make smart decisions during the mediation process.
The post 4 Tips For Hiring an Attorney During Divorce Mediation appeared first on Divorce Magazine.
My Facebook feed is filled with divorced or almost divorced women turning to each other for support and there is one thing you won’t find on there:
Single dads and divorced dads are not gathering in tribes on social media boards or in person to chat about their plight and experience with divorce even if they want to.
Why Divorced Dads Don’t Turn to Each Other for Support
A study published in 2000 in the Psychological Review, showed that stressed women “tend and befriend” while men go for the “fight or flight” option. Researchers suggest that this is due to the fact that when stressed, men’s brains omit less oxytocin, that feel-good love hormone than women. And according to statistics produced by the American Psychological association in 2011, women (70%) are more apt to do something to reduce their stress than men (50%) are.
No matter which way we slice it, research shows that men tend to go the solo route when it comes to working through stress while women look for company along the way.
Men don’t want to raise their hands and say, “Hey everyone, my life sucks,” or “I miss my ex-wife,” or “It’s really hard raising kids in a single-parent home.”
Doing that would mean admitting pain and hardship, something that isn’t considered a masculine trait and let’s face it, while women have been the oppressed gender from the start, men also suffer from unfair stereotypes and expectations. Men aren’t oppressed, they are REPRESSED emotionally!
It’s not OK for a man to cry.
Be a man, suck it up.
You’ve heard those phrases tossed around and so have I.
We tell men to be brave and strong and to keep a straight face. This doesn’t leave a lot of room for grief and sadness.
So it isn’t surprising then that single dads and divorced men are not looking for a support group, but to me, this limits divorced men and single dads from moving past divorce in a healthy way.
If men could form groups or did form groups, it could help them grieve divorce and learn new parenting strategies from other dads. If a man did reach out to another man to say, “Hey, how did you find a good custody schedule,” or “Is mediation the better route?” it would be beneficial for that divorcing dad.
Going solo on such a huge adventure like becoming a divorced, single dad seems risky, from my female-wired brain. It could also be the reason men seem to jump into new relationships, faster.
A new partner might just be the divorced man’s support group, but that is problematic too. Someone you’re romantically interested in shouldn’t be a springboard for grief and renewal.
So for all the divorced dads out there, why not see befriending or growing your support network of other divorced and single dads in a different light, rather than seeing it as a “b*tch fest” or gathering like a group of old ladies?
See reaching out for support as a:
- Chance to network: Maybe your new friends will have good business contacts or even better, cute single female friends.
- Chance to mentor: If you’re a single dad mentoring a man who’s going through the divorce process, you can be a father figure to someone going through the experience—an adoptive son or little brother, as it were.
- Chance to learn from others: Use your man brain and be logical: someone who has been there or done that will know certain pitfalls to avoid as you go through the divorce process that you wouldn’t have known without asking someone in the “know.”
To all the divorced dads or “going through a divorce” dads, why not do things a little differently in your life this time around? Making contacts and building a support network isn’t just for women. It’s for smart people who want to make a huge life adjustment a bit easier or in other words, it’s for you!
The post Why Don’t Divorced Dads Turn To Each Other For Support Like Divorced Moms Do? appeared first on Divorced Moms.
Originally published by The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC Blog.
Despite the decision out of our federal Supreme Court a few years ago that legalized same sex marriage across our country there are still some misunderstandings and questions regarding that subject. This is understandable to a degree. The change in laws dramatically altered the landscape of family law in terms of who is and is not able to participate in the family law courts. In addition, some folks I have spoken with in my capacity as a consultative attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan still have questions if marriage and divorce work the same for opposite sex and same sex persons. Today’s blog post will discuss marriage and divorce for same sex couples.
Expected length of time for a same sex divorce in Texas?
There are two roads that your divorce could go down. The first is the path of least resistance- an uncontested divorce. To be considered truly uncontested you and your spouse would need to be in agreement on getting a divorce, have a plan in place for diving up any marital property and if you have children would need to have every aspect of a parenting plan agreed upon as well. This means conservatorship, visitation, support, etc. all need to be decided prior to hiring an attorney. If even one piece of this pie is missing, then your divorce is not uncontested and will therefore require some degree of negotiation.
The second path is unfortunately the more common road that most divorces go down- a contested divorce. All of the above issues that I laid out are in play in a contested divorce. The more substantial your martial property or the more detailed your parenting objectives and plans are the more complicated and longer your divorce will likely take. There is not anything wrong with this as a general rule, but it can get tedious and tiresome for most people who are eager to complete their divorce and move on with the rest of their lives.
Generally speaking, a divorce in Texas must take at least sixty days from the date on which the Original Petition for Divorce is filed with the court. Ostensibly the sixty first date is the earliest date on which you and your spouse can have a judge sign a final decree of divorce. A final decree could be signed and ready the day after your petition is filed but absent extreme circumstances (like family violence being an issue) it is unlikely that a judge would waive the sixty-day waiting period. For those of you wondering, the waiting period exists in order for you and your spouse to make absolutely sure that you want to get a divorce rather than remain married and try to work it out together.
How can you avoid a long and protracted divorce?
The key to a fast-moving divorce is to understand early on that you are not going to get 100% of what you want. I wish there were some way to ensure that all of our clients always got just what they wanted out of a divorce but to this point I have not been able to do the math on how to get there. If any attorney ever does get to that point, then the rest of us may as well give it up and start looking for work elsewhere.
The reason that divorces end up being situations where you and your spouse both give up (and therefore gain) things in order to settle the case is that most family courts in Texas require that you attend mediation at least once throughout your case’s life. Typically, you will attend mediation once before any temporary orders hearings and then again before your trial.
Temporary Orders hearings have everything to do with how you and your spouse will be situated during your divorce from the perspective of making sure bills are paid, the kids are cared for and one another are treated with respect. Mediation involves attending a formal negotiation session with your attorneys in the office of a third-party mediator. The mediator is also very likely a practicing family law attorney him or herself so you will be able to gauge the relative strength or weakness of your arguments with the mediator as well.
In mediating for final orders you will likely be extending much of the temporary orders out into your post-divorce life as well as deciding what will happen with any marital property accumulated by you and your spouse. Texas is a community property state. This means that any property that you acquired during the course of your marriage is considered to be jointly owned by both of you and is therefore subject to being divided up in your divorce case. If it is your contention that something acquired during your marriage is your property separate from your spouse- like a gift of some sort- then the burden is on your to prove by clear and convincing evidence that this is the case.
Tips for preparing for mediation in your same sex divorce case
Attending mediation will be the same for you as it would be for persons going through any other divorce. You and your attorney should come prepared with settlement offers, a list of property that may be in play as far as negotiation is concerned as well as plans and ideas on how to divide up parenting time with your children. The more prepared you are and the more variations you have available to you of the different parenting plans the more likely you will be to reach a relatively pain free settlement.
For instance, it is commonly thought in opposite sex divorces that mothers have the advantage when it comes to being named the primary conservator of your child. Primary conservator means the parent who has the right to determine the primary residence of your child- among other rights. This allows your child to live with you throughout the school year and provides visitation time (mostly on weekends) to your spouse once the divorce has been completed.
In same sex divorces there would not be an apples to apples comparison due to there not being a male and female parent from which to choose from. You and your spouse should have had discussions heading into mediation regarding which of you is better suited to be named as the primary conservator of your children. Having an honest conversation with your attorney about which parent has been more active, more involved, and better acquainted with your children’s day to day needs is a good place to start. My admitting to yourself that your spouse has taken the lead in these areas throughout your marriage or has a work schedule that is more conducive to providing the level of care that is needed to raise a child on a daily basis is not admitting that you are not a good parent. It can, however, help you to eliminate contentious delays in your case and lead to a more developed settlement agreement.
Another aspect of divorce mediation that you need to be prepared for is determining how to divide up your bigger financial assets. Retirement plans, bank accounts, home equity and the like are probably the type of assets that you will have in play for your case. If you have not considered these subjects prior to entering into mediation you will find out that you will need to work through them in mediation. Seeing as how most mediation sessions are only four hours long you will not be optimizing your time by spending an undue amount of time on these sort of brain storming sessions while in mediation. Rather, spend a few weeks prior to mediation using your attorney as a go-between to communicate settlement offers to your spouse.
Finally, it is important to note that what you settle upon in mediation cannot (in most circumstances) be changed. That means that you cannot wake up the morning after mediation and call your attorney in a panic because you think you made a huge mistake in deciding to agree to a geographic restriction for your child when you really want to move back home to Colorado to be closer to family once the divorce is over with.
You can avoid problems like this by asking questions of your attorney about anything that you are agreeing or not agreeing to. If any settlements are reached (either in part or in full) then the mediator will present rough draft copies of what is known as a mediated settlement agreement to you and your spouse. You can and should go over them with your attorney to make sure that you understand everything that is being agreed to. If something doesn’t make sense, or if the wording of what the mediator included does not comport to the agreement as you understood it please raise that issue before mediation is over with.
Will you ever have to go to court in your divorce?
Thankfully you will likely only have one court date that you will have to attend during your divorce. That court appearance will be an uncontested appearance in what is known as a Prove Up hearing. The petitioner (party who filed the Petition for Divorce) will attend a quick hearing with their attorney in court. At the prove up hearing your attorney will be presenting you and your Final Decree of Divorce to the judge for his or her approval. The attorney will ask you questions regarding the divorce decree as a means to show the judge that you and your spouse have come to an agreement and are ready to move forward to close out your case.
In all likelihood your judge will not ask any questions and will send you off on your way. The divorce decree will be signed by the judge later that day and will likely be posted online in the day following. You can pay for certified copies at the clerk’s office shortly thereafter.
One question that I am sometimes asked by clients is how much of your prove up hearing will be heard by the public. It is true that anyone can walk into your courtroom during your prove up hearing and hear some details about your case. If you are at all trying to keep the divorce from becoming an “event” or something like that I understand why you may not be too excited to set foot in court and put your life on display in front of a handful of people.
I cannot emphasize, however, that it is unlikely that anyone in court other than the court report, judge, your attorney and you will be paying attention to a word of what is said. In Harris County, for example, you and your attorney will approach the bench and speak to the judge in a conversational tone. Therefore, a person in the first row of courtroom seats will have problems hearing what is happening in your case. The bottom line is that if you are worried about airing your business for all the world to hear then you should be at ease because a Prove Up hearing is not that kind of court appearance.
Closing thoughts on same sex divorce cases
It could be that you never imagined that you would ever get married in your life. Now you are having to contend with the thought of getting a divorce. This cannot be an easy time for you and your family. However, the attorneys and staff with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan are here to tell you that our office will stand with you throughout your case until your process is complete.
If you have any questions about the material that we have covered please consider contacting the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week with our licensed family law attorneys. It would be our pleasure to talk with you and to answer your questions and concerns in a comfortable, pressure-free environment.
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