Katie L. Lewis, P.C. Family Law
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Enforcing a child custody order in Texas

Many Texas residents who endure the emotional roller-coaster of a divorce proceeding believe that the entry of the final order settling issues of property division, spousal support, child support and child custody will put an end to their emotional pain. Unhappily, some parents refuse to obey the court's order regarding child custody or child support. Texas law provides several methods of enforcing an order for child support, but divorced parents are often left to their own resources to enforce compliance with an order for child visitation or shared custody.

The most common method of enforcing an order for child custody or visitation is a motion to hold the disobedient party in contempt of court. Such a motion must be brought in the county court that granted the original divorce. The moving party must cite the provision of the original order that has allegedly been violated. The provision that has allegedly been disobeyed must be specific. It must state a specific time for a visitation period to begin and a specific time for it to end.

Dividing assets in a divorce in Texas

One of the central questions in almost every divorce in Texas is the division of the couple's property, both tangible and intangible. Texas is one of only nine states that use a "community property" system to answer this question.

The basic rule is fairly simple: Absent a valid and enforceable prenuptial agreement, community property is any asset that was acquired during the marriage. Community property is deemed to be owned by the spouses jointly, and each of them is entitled to share equitably in the marital estate. Property that is not community property is referred to as "separate property" and remains the property of the spouse who acquired it.

An overview of prenuptial agreements in Texas

Most residents of Texas who are considering marriage may also be wondering about signing a prenuptial agreement. The mere act of signing such a contract seems contrary to the emotions of love and affection that are generally thought to characterize the marital celebration. Nevertheless, a prenuptial agreement can be a valuable aid in preserving those feelings as the marriage progresses.

Prenuptial agreements provide the greatest benefit to couples who have widely disparate amounts of assets or whose incomes are widely disparate. A prenuptial agreement settles many income and property division disputes before they even arise. Unresolved tension about these issues can threaten a marriage, and a prenuptial agreement eliminates the conflict before it begins.

Valuing assets is difficult, but necessary during divorce

When going through a divorce, Texas residents certainly do not want to feel as if they got the short end of the stick. While most people are not ever fully satisfied with the entirety of their divorce settlements, you can take steps to ensure that you work toward an outcome that you feel is at least acceptable.

If your case involves business assets and other unusual pieces of property, you could have a more difficult time knowing what property division outcomes you should fight for. Because Texas is a community property state, laws regulate that marital property is any property obtained during the course of the marriage from either party, with some exceptions. As a result, it is important to know the value of that property.

The rights of an unmarried father in Texas

For unmarried parents in Texas, gaining access to their child can be far more difficult than for a married parent. Mothers, of course, have a natural advantage because they give birth and demonstrate without any doubt that they are the child's biological mother. Fathers have a more difficult task in establishing their parental rights.

In order to exercise the full spectrum of paternal rights, a purported father must first prove that he is, in fact, the child's father. If the mother does not dispute the father's assertion of parenthood, that issue may disappear. However, if the mother disputes the male's paternity, the man may need to commence a paternity proceeding to prove that he is the child's father. A full-scale paternity proceeding may involve DNA testing and the testimony of persons who saw the mother and the alleged father together before the child was born. A mother may also be required prove paternity if she wants the biological father to provide child support.

What is collaborative divorce and how does it work?

Most residents of the Dallas area who are contemplating a marriage are also contemplating an extended period in which their lives will be disrupted by anger, stress and uncertainty. Judges and attorneys have been trying for years to modify the marriage dissolution process to eliminate as much of this unpleasantness as possible. First came so-called "no fault divorce," in which the court accept the allegations of one or both parties that the marriage relationship had foundered on irreconcilable differences. Then, courts began directing couples to use trained mediators to resolve their divorces. Texas attorneys are now using a process called "collaborative divorce" in a further effort to make the divorce process less stressful.

In 2001, the Texas legislature passed a bill authorizing the use of collaborative law techniques if both parties agreed to abide by those techniques. The collaborative process begins with the parties and their attorneys negotiating and signing a binding contract that obligates both spouses and the lawyers to make a good faith attempt to resolve the dissolution of the marriage without resorting to judicial intervention except for the final approval of the judgment as agreed to by the parties. The collaborative law agreement must include provisions for (1) full and complete disclosure of financial information, (2) suspending resort to court while the parties are using collaborative law procedures, (3) hiring experts to serve both sides, (4) the agreement of all lawyers to withdraw from the case if the collaborative procedure does not result in a mutually satisfactory agreement and (5) any other provisions that may be added by the parties if the provisions are consistent with the principles of collaborate law.

The mechanics of mediation in a Texas divorce

Many Texas residents who have experienced the emotions and stress that often occur during a contested divorce wish they had been able to find a better method for ending their marriage. Texas lawyers who practice in the areas of divorce and family law have been aware of this difficulty for many years, and they have taken several steps to fix the problem. Perhaps the most widespread and effective method for ending a marriage is the process called "mediation."

Divorce mediation is a process in which a trained third party, usually an attorney, meets with the divorcing couple and helps them identify their disputes and find a resolution to them. All mediators in Texas have received special training in the mediation process. They are taught to treat both parties with respect and to avoid forming judgments about whether either party is "at fault" for the divorce.

How business owners may want to approach their divorce

Divorce is difficult for many reasons, but it can be especially complicated for small business owners in Texas. If you own your own company, you know how hard you worked to build your business and find success over the years. The possibility of having to divide your hard-earned business assets or losing some of the control you have over your company can be overwhelming.

Business owners would be wise to take care to understand how divorce and the property division process will work for them. While it is certain that your divorce will impact your life in various ways, that does not have to mean that you will lose your business or have to give up operational control. Many factors will determine exactly what happens and what the future of your company will look like.

Inheritance, divorce and fighting for what's rightfully yours

Once you make the choice to move forward with divorce, you will then need to decide how to prepare for what your financial future will look like. You naturally want to make sure that you have what you need for your financial security. You also want to protect what is rightfully yours, which includes an inheritance you received from a family member. 

Learning that you are the recipient of an inheritance can be exciting, but you also understand the importance of making sure that you protect that money. Your divorce will represent significant financial changes in your life, and you may fear what that could mean for the inherited assets. It can be helpful to learn more about property division in divorce and how you can pursue the future you deserve.

When does a Texas family law judge rule a parent unfit?

Parenting is not for the fainthearted, as most parents can attest. Especially if you have kids in different age groups, they can really put your patience and parenting skills to the test. Of course, you love your children and always want what's best for them. That's just the trouble. You and your spouse might not always agree on such issues. If you're already having marriage problems, parenting disputes might wind up being the straw that breaks the camel's back.

Many divorced couples cite parenting disagreements as causal factors that led to their break-ups. Some concerns are far more serious than others. For instance, it might not be that big of a deal if your ex lets your kids stay up later than you typically do at home. It's definitely a serious issue, however, if you believe your ex is an unfit parent who is endangering their health and development.