As family relationships grow and develop, conflicts can arise. Family law provides guidelines and offers legal alternatives to remedy the issues family members often face.
At The Nacol Law Firm PC, Mark A. Nacol addresses the concerns of clients throughout Texas in a wide scope of family law matters that include:
- Modifications and post-divorce modifications
- Child custody and child support
- Visitation and residence restrictions
- Interstate jurisdiction
- Alimony and spousal support
- Paternity and voluntary legitimating
- Property division
- Prenuptial and marital and domestic relating agreements
- Post-marital agreements
- Enforcement of court orders
- Same-sex unions or same-sex marital conflicts and dissolution options
- Grandparent custody and visitation rights
In recent years, “parent alienation” has become more prevalent in divorce cases. Parent alienation is the dramatic change in the relationship between a parent and their child when the child is used as a tool by one parent to hurt the other parent. Parent alienation can include much more than brainwashing of a child. In many cases, the child becomes hostile towards the alienated parent as they are fed not just conscious, but subconscious and unconscious, messages by the alienating parent. Frequently, the child will turn on the parent they previously loved and were very close to prior to the institution of the divorce proceeding. In some cases, the alienating parent will go to extreme lengths to keep the alienated parent from seeing the child for long periods of time. Children begin acting out and the situation quickly becomes volatile.
When children are used in such a manner, emotions are quickly aroused and a very simple divorce case can quickly become a highly contested case fueled by resentment and hostility. Parents who are successful in getting primary custody of a child in a parent alienation situation share many similar characteristics and may use some of the following tools to assist them in their defense:
- Keep an even-temper, remain logical and keep your emotions under control. Never retaliate.
- Though you may think of giving up, never do so.
- Go to the financial expense of seeing the case through. Never give up on your child. There can be nothing more important than the happiness of your child.
- Seek help from a skilled attorney who has experience with parental alienation.
- Familiarize yourself with how the courts work and the laws as they apply to your specific case.
- Seek professional help and diagnosis.
- Request a social study into the circumstances of the child
- Request a psychological evaluation of the alienating parent
- Keep a chronology or diary of events (this will help to jog your memory, keep track of witnesses, etc.).
- Document the alienation for submission as evidence in court.
- Keep the best interest of the child at heart.
- Provide the Court with an appropriate parenting plan.
- Make sure you understand the nature of the problem and focus on correcting it, even though you are being victimized.
- Always call and show up for visitation with your child at the scheduled time, even if there is no chance of the child being there.
- Take witnesses to testify that the child is not at home when you exercise your visitation rights.
- Focus on the child, and never talk to the child about the other parent or the divorce case.
- Never violate the Court’s orders.
- If you are receiving disturbing phone calls from the child or the other parent, tape the calls.
- If you are receiving disturbing emails or text messages from the child or the other parent, make a copy and place in a file.
Though none of these tips will guarantee that you get custody of the child, they will definitely assist you in building a case against the parent who is attempting to alienate you from your child.
Addiction is one of the most damaging and challenging problems spouses will ever face in a marriage. Because additive behavior touches everyone in a family, most marriages are severely damaged years before a decision is reached to end the marriage.
Most non-addictive members of a family feel helpless because they cannot stop the addict’s downhill spiral that destroys the family eventually resulting in divorce. Addiction hurts the addict, the spouse, children and extended family members.
Some Statistics on Addiction in the US
-The United States accounts for only 5% of the world’s population. However, two-thirds of illegal drugs are consumed in America.
-Approximately 14 million Americans, 7.4% of the population, meet the diagnostic criteria for alcohol abuse or alcoholism.
-Children of addicts or alcoholics are almost 3 times as likely to be verbally, physically. or sexually abused; and 4 times more likely than other children to be neglected.
-1 in 4 deaths in the U .S. can be attributed to alcohol, tobacco, or illicit drug use.
-More than 75% of domestic violence victims report that their assailant had been drinking or using illicit drugs at the time of the incident.
-8 million Americans have eating disorders
-2 million U.S. citizens are estimated to be pathologically, problematic gamblers
-1 to 2 million cocaine addicts in the US
– At least 12 million American spouses suffer from the effects from the effects of living with an addict.
All addictive illnesses are usually progressive and unless help is sought through attained rehabilitation, 12-step programs or other meaningful support, an addict will predictably continue to act in a self-destructive manner. The threat of divorce is usually not enough incentive for the addict to address their addiction.
For better or worse,
For richer or poorer,
Until . . . a divorce is filed.
When there are several zeros at the end of your bank balance, as in $500,000.00; $5,000,000.00 or more, the financial aspects of divorce can be high risk.
Texas divorce laws are the same regarding the division of property whether the money and assets in a marital estate are a lot or a little; however, the courts will inevitably encounter and address more complex issues regarding the property division in a divorce case with substantial financial and business assets.
Texas is a community property state. What does that mean, as a practical matter, when divorce occurs?
1. The law presumes that all property owned by either spouse is community property, meaning that both spouses own an undivided one-half interest.
2. The court cannot divest a spouse of his or her separate property in divorce.
In a very simple explanation: Texas community property is everything earned or acquired during the marriage other than inheritances or gifts. Your paycheck is community property, your rental income is community property, the cars you purchase are community property, retirement funds accumulated during marriage are community property.
At the time of the divorce, the court will make a just and right division of the community property. “Just and right” does not mean 50/50. Often the courts will split the community property equally, but many factors may affect this division including:
1. The spouses’ earning abilities and education.
2. The spouses’ actual earnings.
3. Who has care and primary custody of the children.
4. The value of separate property owned by the spouses. If the wife inherited $3,000,000.00, should the husband be awarded more of the community property?
5. Fault in the break up of the marriage, especially if a cheating spouse spent substantial assets dating or cavorting with others.
6. The debts of the spouses.
7. Tax consequences.
The bigger the marital pocketbook, the bigger the risk to assets in play.
Texas Child Support and High Asset Divorces:
The court also has discretion in setting child support when the parents are wealthy. The Texas Family Code provides guidelines and the guidelines are presumably in the best interest of the child.
The law caps the Texas child support amount guidelines to a percentage of the first $7,500.00 of the paying parent’s earnings. However, the cap is not made of steel. The law is a guideline.
The court has the discretion to order child support in excess of the guidelines based on the children’s best interest which includes an examination of the proven needs of the children. In the case of children growing up in a high-income household, do not expect the court to necessarily limit its consideration to basic food and shelter. The court may consider many factors in setting child support, including the children’s current living standards, such as private education, nannies, medical issues, emotional issues, sports and other extracurricular activities and, in the rare case, a body guard.
When setting child support within a wealthy family undergoing divorce, the court has discretion, based on the evidence, to set order child support above the presumptive amount in the guidelines. The court’s determination is subjective and is reversed by higher courts only if the trial court “abused its discretion,” a high threshold indeed.
With so much at stake, you should hire an experienced family law attorney who can present your case clearly, and persuasively.