Katie L. Lewis, P.C. Family Law
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Is a nesting divorce the most viable option for you?

When you decided to end your marriage in a Texas court, you and your soon-to-be former spouse likely had to discuss many issues, especially where your children were concerned. Now that a little time has passed and you're preparing for divorce proceedings, you may want to consider various child custody options and alternative living arrangements. There's a new style of post-divorce living that is trending these days; many parents say it's made all the difference in helping their kids adapt.

"Nesting" is what it's called, and it means that your children keep living where they have always lived during your marriage. The way it works is that you and your former partner would take turns coming back to the house you once shared together to live with your children. When one parent's time is up, he or she leaves (and goes to another residence), and the other one moves back in.

Where can I look for help with my paternity issues?

The birth of a child can be a joyous occasion for both the mother and father. Legally speaking, when a couple is married and welcomes a new baby into the world, the law presumes the husband to be the biological father of the wife's child without the need for legal paperwork or an official acknowledgement. However, for unmarried parents or those facing other unique life circumstances, establishing paternity, and the legal rights that come with it, requires additional effort.

Paternity laws, especially in Texas, are extremely particular. Because such situations can be very detailed and complex, having the assistance of an experienced attorney can mean all the difference in proceeding through the process without major issues. Avoiding such issues is important because although it may be convenient to put off paternity worries until absolutely necessary, doing so can have far reaching consequences.

What does 'the best interests of the child' mean in court?

During a divorce and child custody proceedings, it is not uncommon to hear the courts stress the need to assure that the child's bests interests are always met. But what exactly do the courts look for when determining the best interests of the child?

There are several factors that are taken into consideration when determining who gets child custody. The courts will look at the character and well-being of each parent. This includes both their mental and physical health, whether either spouse has a history of domestic violence, a criminal record or a history of substance or alcohol abuse. They will also look to assure that a potential custodial parent will be competent and able to fulfill all the tasks and responsibilities associated with raising a child.

How child custody visitations are handled in Texas

If you are going through a divorce in the state of Texas that involves children, you will need to try to work out a child custody arrangement with your soon-to-be ex-spouse. This is not always easy, as there is likely animosity or other negative human emotions that affect these interactions with your ex-spouse. The courts know this as well and, if a fair mutually agreeable plan cannot be reached, it will likely be left for the courts to decide.

In making these decisions, the courts in Texas will include what is called a standard possession order, or SPO. This gives the non-custodial parent specific time with their child or children each month, as designated by the courts. This may include specific nights on certain weeks of the month, as well as weekends and even holidays. There are special rules if the divorcing couple live more than 100 miles away or if the child is under three years of age.

A discussion about alimony

Throughout the history of the United States, until recently, it had been assumed that the father in a family would be the one who goes out and earns money for the family while the mother stays home to take care of the children. Since the 1960's to 1970's however, our traditional gender roles and how a family operates has begun to evolve.

With far more women taking on leadership roles and advancing in their careers, it is not uncommon for both parents to be out working to support the family, or for fathers to stay at home and care for the children while the wife is out working on her career and earning money for the family.

Can mediation really help us with our divorce dispute?

Divorce is naturally a complex process from both an emotional and a financial standpoint. If you and your spouse struggle to see eye to eye on matters such as property division, this only makes matters challenging.

However, even in the most amicable of divorces in Texas, you and your spouse may still run into some hiccups. Perhaps you have agreed on most areas of dispute, but there are still a couple of issues that you are having trouble resolving. In this situation, you and your spouse may benefit from a process known as divorce mediation.

The house usually follows the children in divorce

We all know how much is involved when you go through a divorce. It can undoubtedly seem overwhelming. You need to have alimony or spousal support determined, and if there are children from the marriage, you will also need to have child support and child custody determined. One common question that clients ask when entering into a divorce involves what will happen to the house.

There is no quick or easy answer. If there are children involved, the house will generally get awarded to the custodial parent. This is don't to help minimize the stress or changes in a child's life. It is important to remember the court's primary objective is preserving the best interests of the child. This often means minimizing any disruptions the children may experience. Since obviously the house itself cannot be literally split, it is not uncommon for the courts to award other property to the non-custodial spouse to make the value of the split equal.

What cannot be included in a prenuptial agreement?

In previous blog posts, we have discussed some of the advantages of forming a prenuptial agreement, or prenup. Although it may be an initially uncomfortable discussion for a soon-to-be married couple, the benefits that could be gained in time and money saved in the event of a divorce are hard to ignore. In addition, a prenuptial agreement can be helpful for couples to establish "rules" or procedures regarding finances and other marital tasks during the course of a marriage, assuring that both sides are on the same page when they enter into the marriage.

There are several items and topics that cannot be included in a prenuptial agreement, and it is vital to know what cannot be included to avoid issues down the road. For example, any and all decisions regarding child custody or child support cannot be discussed or outlined in a prenup. For those decisions, the courts make their rulings based solely on what is in the best interest of the child or children, and the opinions of the courts may differ from that of parents, who may not be able to make a decision free of bias.

Is a collaborative divorce right for you?

Many divorces are contentious, with emotions running high and animosity playing a role in the decision-making process. This can lead to a lengthy and costly divorce for all parties involved. There are times, however, when both parties agree on most or all of the decisions to be made in the divorce. During these times, it may be possible to enter into a collaborative divorce.

In a collaborative divorce, both parties will be working together in an effort to come to mutually agreeable positions on the decisions that need to be made. Essentially instead of fighting with each other, you will be working together for resolutions. Working together will allow each party get a truer perspective from each side during discussions. Doing so means less time and less money involved in the divorce, yet another win/win.

How fathers can win child custody in courts

History has shown that when it comes to child custody battles, the courts have often sided with mothers. This is often attributed to mother's often taking more of a role as the caretaker for their children. The old-school family philosophy traditionally had the mother staying home to raise the children and take care of the home, while the father was considered the "breadwinner" who provides for the family.

Society has changed over the last half century however, and women have begun to play a far more important and regular role in the workplace, often shifting previous "traditional" roles between mother and father. What does this mean during child custody during divorce? It could mean all the difference in the world.