dallas fathers rights attorney Mark Nacol

Sep
06

Texas Fathers and Child Custody Cases – Time for Modifications or a Change?

The New Year is always a good time for personal changes and after another stressful Holiday Season with your kids and Ex, you have decided to make some serious changes in your child custody situation to stabilize the entire family. Mom is not helping and the children are seriously acting out.  What to do? What to do?

Maybe it is time to look at changing your child custody status with the children or at least modifying the current orders. Many changes have occurred in American Family Behavior and fathers are taking a more active role in their children’s lives.  The Pew Research Center has recently published some new research on today’s fathers with some important and surprising changes:

  • Fewer dads are the family’s sole breadwinner: dual income households are now the dominant arrangement (60%). Both mom and father must now be responsible for child raising and home chores.

  • Dad and mom roles are converging: fathers have taken on more housework and child care duties and moms have increased time spent at a paid job. There is definitely a more equal distribution of labor between mother and fathers in today’s world.

  • Fathers feel they spend more or as much time with their children as their fathers did when they were children

With the latest scientific research showing that a father’s involvement is essential to a child’s social, moral, and physical growth during the adolescent period, many state legislatures and family courts are now recognizing a father’s ability to care for his children as equal to the mother.  Courts are also looking at the more stable parent, who may have a better income and parenting plan in place for the child and is capable of providing a better home life and more quality time with the child.

Another reason for changing opinions regarding fathers’ rights child custody issues has been the high divorce rates and the affect it has had on the USA population life experiences.  Many adults have been raised in a divorced home with Mom as the main custodial parent. Now these adults are divorcing they want a different and better experience for their own children and their lives.

Things you want to consider as you prepare for your child custody battle are:

  1. Who has the financial ability to best care for the child (ren)? Be sure to have income tax verification, W-2 Forms and other financial information available.

  2. Establish a detailed viable parenting plan (child care, after school care, transportation, pediatrician, etc.).

  3. Who is more stable and/or can provide the best home for the child (ren)?

  4. Where has the child (ren) been attending school? Is it possible to keep the child (ren) in the same school district?

  5. Prepare a chronology of events leading up to the divorce including treatment of the child(ren), time spent with the child(ren), activities with the child(ren), the child(ren)’s schedule.

  6. Consider if a home study should be prepared regarding each home of the child (ren).

  7. Consider whether a psychological evaluation should be done on the mother?

  8. Is drug testing necessary? (Be sure to request hair follicle drug testing.)

  9. Is there an alcohol or other addiction problem in the home?

  10. Who can provide the best moral upbringing for the children?

  11. Is there evidence such as pictures, social networking sites, video tapes, texting, etc. that may help your case?

  12. Avoid unnecessary compromising photos, data on social networking sites, or texting!

Just Remember the five biggest mistakes men make in a custody suits are: 1) failing to respond to the legal action itself; 2) obtaining incorrect child custody legal advice (from friends and family rather than a legal expert); 3) signing a quick child custody settlement agreement while passions are high that is later deeply regretted; 4) failing to perform under the actual settlement agreement as signed; and 5) getting frustrated and/or acquiescing to unreasonable demands and orders.

Think smart when contemplating Child Custody Modifications, be prepared and get an experienced legal professional to help you accomplish your goals!

By Nacol Law Firm | Child Custody
DETAIL
Jul
21

Supervised Visitation Orders – How Texas Fathers can Return to a Standard Possession Order

I Have Been Ordered, Right or Wrong, Supervised Visitation with My Child –

How Do I Return to a Standard Possession Order?

In a perfect world, parents going through the divorce process work together for the best interest of their child(ren) and are granted possession of the child(ren) approximately fifty (+ or -) percent of the time.  However, issues such as severe parental alienation, drug addiction, mental or physical abuse, neglect, and severe mental illness may force a parent to petition the courts to order limited or supervised visitation.  On some occasions, a parent is regrettably ordered into supervised visitation due to false, inaccurate or misleading information.  Regardless of the circumstances, court ordered supervised visitation is costly, may substantially limit the amount of time a parent is allowed to spend with their child, and can create a difficult and costly transition into a standard possession order.

If the court has ordered supervised visitation seek proper counsel from a qualified attorney as soon as possible.  If a case, rightly or wrongly, has been established for supervised visitation by the evidence or circumstances or court order, you will need to build a case for reinstatement of standard or standard expanded possession as soon as possible.

During a supervised visit it is imperative that you keep any comments on the case to yourself. Avoid giving any opinions on the existing judgment or the supervised visitation order.  Within reason, limit your conversation to what is strictly necessary for the child to have a safe, happy and healthy visit. Be polite and courteous with the monitor even if you develop strong negative feelings regarding him or her.  Continue to enforce the importance of wanting and seeing your child and spending quality time with your child as much as possible.  Never, under any circumstances speak negatively about the other parent to or in the presence of the child or the monitor.  Never, use vulgar or abusive language toward or in the presence of the child or the monitor.  The visitation monitor may be an important asset at future hearings regarding a change from supervised visitation to a standard or expanded possession order.

Make every scheduled visit without fail.  If unable to make a scheduled visit, contact the monitor as soon in advance as possible with an appropriate explanation and request an alternative date.  Bring family members whenever possible and clear it with the visitation monitor prior to their attendance.  Bring cards and gifts, not only from you but from family members.  If visits are going well request off-site visits at a nearby restaurant or park.  Though visits may be costly, the more frequently you are observed in a loving relationship with your child the better the chance of supervised visitation being suspended or terminated all together.

Involve a psychiatrist or qualified counselor in your visitation schedule if at all possible.  Such professionals are key as you begin to build your case for standard possession since they are able to make suggestions to the Court as to how visits are progressing and the manner in which standard possession can be accomplished.

If you have been ordered to have drug or alcohol testing performed, take each test as scheduled and make certain you are free of drugs and alcohol.  A positive drug or alcohol test may place you back at square one and undermine your progress.

If a social study is ordered, dispose of any prescription drugs not needed or which are out of date and put away any alcohol in your home.  Make certain your home is clean and orderly when the evaluation is performed.  In such cases, a qualified professional will come to your home and evaluate the environment as it pertains to the best interest of the child.  If you have been ordered into supervised visitation because of drugs or alcohol it is imperative that these items not be sitting around the home when a social worker is performing his/her evaluation to avoid negative results or an  invalid conclusion.

Keep your child support current at all times! If the supervised visitation is placing a financial strain on your ability to pay child support, have an attorney address modifying your child support obligation in a Motion to Modify.  It is counterproductive to request unsupervised visitation if you are not current in your financial responsibility toward your child.

Some very important tips a non-custodial parent should follow on a supervised visit:

  1. Follow the schedule of your visits to the letter.  Never cancel except for dire emergencies!

  2. Always arrive on time.

  3. Focus totally on your children.  Don’t ask about the custodial parent or exchange information or be judgmental in your comments. This is your time with your children.

  4. Have a game plan on what you will do when talking and spending time with your children. Stay open to suggestion from your children on what they would like to do with you so everyone enjoys the visit.

  5. Talk with your children about what you are doing in your life. Ask about their activities and school, but don’t press for information. Let them know that you are interested in what they care about.

  6. Always keep your word. Don’t make promises that you can’t keep!

  7. Avoid talking about the custodial parent at all times, the divorce, and any court actions.  Keep all conversations light and positive.  This is your time for your children.  Use it to reconnect and enjoy each other.

  8. Do not criticize the custodial parent or make negative comments about the supervised visitation. This is all the time you have with the children.  Love, embrace and enjoy them every moment.

  9. You may not like it, but follow the rules set forth for the supervised visitation.  Respect the process and this may help to encourage the court to change your status to unsupervised visitation.

By Nacol Law Firm | Possession of Children
DETAIL
Jul
14

Getting a Texas Divorce? Know what Marital Property is Community or Separate

In Texas, Community Property Laws apply in determining the Property Distributions to a wife and husband.  This system is employed to divide the property fairly between the divorcing couple.

What is Separate Property?  Texas Family Law Code, FAM 3.001: A spouse’s separate property consists of:

    1. The property owned or claimed by the spouse before marriage

    1. The property acquired by the spouse during marriage by gift, devise, or descent

  1. The recovery for personal injuries sustained by spouse during marriage, except any recovery for loss of earning capacity during marriage.

The terms “owned and claimed” as used in the Texas Family Code means that where the right to the property accrued before marriage the property would be separate.  Inception of title occurs when a party first has a right of claim to the property by virtue of which title is finally vested.  The existence or nonexistence of the marriage at the time of incipiency of the right of which title finally vests determines whether property is community or separate.  Inception of title occurs when a party first has a right of claim to the property.

Under Texas Constitution, Art. XVI, Section 15, separate property is defined as all property, both real and personal, of a spouse owned or claimed before marriage, and that acquired afterward by gift, devise or descent, shall be the separate property of that spouse; and laws shall be passed more clearly defining the rights of the spouses, in relation to separate  and community property; provided that persons about to marry and spouses, without the intention to defraud pre-existing creditors, may by written instrument from time to time partition between themselves all or part of their property, then existing or to be acquired, or exchange between themselves the community interest of one spouse or future spouse in any property for the community interest of the other spouse or future spouse in other community property then existing or to be acquired, whereupon the portion or interest set aside to each spouse shall be and constitute a part of the separate property and estate of such spouse or future spouse; spouses may also from time to time, by written instrument, agree between themselves that the income or property from all or part of the separate property then owned or which thereafter might be acquired by only one of them, shall be the separate property of that spouse; if one spouse makes a gift of property to the other that gift is presumed to include all income or property which might arise from that gift of property; and spouses may agree in writing that all or part of the separate property owned by either or both of them shall be the spouses’ community property.

What Is Community Property? Texas Family Law Code, FAM 3.002:  Community property consists of the property, other than separate property, acquired by either spouse during the marriage.

Texas Family Code, Section 3.003 states that all property possessed by either spouse during or at the dissolution of the marriage is presumed to be community property and that the degree of proof necessary to establish that property is separate property, rather than community property, is clear and convincing evidence.  Clear and convincing evidence is defined as that measure or degree of proof that will produce in the mind of the trier of fact a firm belief or conviction as to the truth of the allegations sought to be established.  If property cannot be proved clearly and convincingly to be separate property, then it is deemed to be community property.

The Texas Family Code, Section 7.002, deals with quasi-community property and requires a court divide property wherever the property is situated, if 1) the property was acquired by either spouse while domiciled in another state and the property would have been community property if the spouse who acquired the property had been domiciled in Texas at the time of acquisition; or 2) property was acquired by either spouse in exchange for real or personal property and that property would have been community property if the spouse who acquired the property so exchanged had been domiciled in Texas at the time of the acquisition.

What about Property Acquired during Marriage? Property in which inception of title occurs during marriage is community property unless it is acquired in one of the following manner, in which it becomes separate property of the acquiring spouse:

    1. By gift

    1. By devise or descent

    1. By a partition or exchange agreement or premarital agreement specifying that the asset is separate

    1. As income from separate property made separate as a result of a gift, a premarital agreement or a partition and exchange agreement

    1. By survivorship

    1. In exchange for other separate property

  1. As recovery for personal injuries sustained by the spouse during marriage, except any recovery for loss of earning capacity during marriage.

During a divorce, it is important that both parties know what type of property is involved in the divorce and what is separate and community property. This knowledge may determine or influence what each party will receive at the end of the settlement.

By Nacol Law Firm | Property and Asset Division
DETAIL
Jul
13

Step Parent Conflict – Put Your Kids First!

Thirty seven percent of families in the United States are blended families. Sixty percent of second marriages end in divorce. A biological parent has his hands full, but as most step-parents will tell you, their job is even more complicated.

Following a divorce, it is not uncommon for a new step-parent to become the target of unprovoked spite or anger. In many cases, the previous-spouse harbors unfounded fears that their child will look to a new step-parent as a mother or father replacement figure. This can engender resentment to what may already be an uncomfortable situation between parties. Regretfully, these issues often escalate very quickly. Such resentments place the children squarely in the middle of a bitter fight between the people they love the most and are not healthy for anyone involved. The pain of conflicting loyalties to each parent and a child’s feeling of being “caught in the middle” of such disputes exacts an enormous emotional toll on a child. When a parent is in a rage, it is not uncommon for a child to withdraw. The child’s behavior towards the non-primary parent may abruptly change. This change in behavior may have more to do with keeping the primary parent happy than it does with how they really feel about the non-primary parent or step-parent. It is essential that you make it clear to your child that you love them and will always be there for them, regardless of the emotional or less than rosy current circumstances.

It is crucial to a child’s self-esteem and emotional growth that parents avoid putting children in the middle of such disputes. This can be incredibly difficult, however, when a selfish or manipulative parent does not think twice about wrongfully placing his or her child in the middle of conflict. Children are very perceptive and as they grow older they will ultimately realize when a parent has lied to them and used them for their own emotional or financial gain. Though they may temporarily identify with the aggressors, in time they will deeply resent the parent who has manipulated them.

Regardless of the circumstances, it is critical that biological parents avoid arguments or conflicts in the presence of the children. Such conduct is conducive to parental alienation goals of the misguided previous spouse. If the child sees that you maintain a calm and collected demeanor, it gives them reason to pause and feel safe.

If a previous spouse is making statements to the child regarding issues that should only be discussed between adults, tell the child that such discussions are inappropriate and you will take them up with the other parent at another time.

It is ok to tell your child “I am sorry,” if they are upset, even if you are not the parent upsetting them. This validates that they are hurting and relieves any false guilt they may have over things that are being said and done when you are not present. It is sometimes helpful to use everyday situations to explain conflict to your child. As an example, when dealing with conflict explain that “brothers and sisters fight, but they still love each other. Families have to work through conflict in order to stay together. I would not leave you if you made a mistake, I would not want you to leave me.” Such statements reinforces that reasonable conflict is ok and assures the child that you will remain a constant force in their life regardless of the situation.

If you feel that the conflict has escalated to a point of becoming emotionally abusive and/or destructive to the child, consult a Family Law / divorce attorney. It may be in the best interest of the child that he or she be removed from the primary parent and placed with the non-primary parent so that he or she is allowed to love all parental figures, parents and step-parents alike, unconditionally.

By Nacol Law Firm | Impact on Children
DETAIL
Jul
12

Parental Alienation Syndrome and the Impact on Children

Parental Alienation Syndrome is the systematic denigration by one parent with the intent of alienating the child against the rejected parent. In most cases, the purpose of the alienation is to gain custody of the child and exclude involvement by the rejected parent. In other cases the alienator wants the rejected parent out of the way to start a new life, or the aligned parent wants more of the marital money and assets than he/she is entitled to and uses the child as a pawn. The aligned parent hates the rejected parent and the children become false weapons. These are just a few reasons Parental Alienation occurs in domestic disputes.

Parental Alienation Syndrome is common because it is an effective though devious device for gaining custody of a child. Through systematic alienation, one parent may slowly brainwash a child against the other parent. The parent involved in such alienation behavior then may gain the misplaced loyalty of the child.

In a recent survey, one in five parents stated that their primary objective during the divorce was to make the experience as unpleasant as possible for the former spouse; despite the effects such attitudes and behavior have on the children.

Parental Alienation Syndrome is a form of emotional child abuse. Parents in hostile separations may suffer depression, anger and anxiety or aggression. The expression of these feelings results in withdrawing of love and communication which may extend to the children through the alienating parent. When the mother is the alienator, it is a mechanism employed to stop the father from having contact with his children; and can be described as the mother holding the children “hostages.” The children usually are afraid of the mother, frequently identify with the aggressor, and obey her as a means of survival. The child may also be instilled with false memories of the father, coached and/or brainwashed.

Studies show that Parental Alienation is experienced equally by both sexes. Adolescents (ages 9-15) are usually more affect than younger children. Children most affected tend to be those subjected to parents’ highly conflicted divorces or custody battles. A study by Fidler and Bala (2010) show increasing incidences and increased judicial findings of parent alienation in the US. 11-15% of all divorces involving children include parental alienation issues.

If the parental alienation has been successful and has influenced the child against the target parent, the observer will see symptoms of parental alienation syndrome. Many children appear healthy until asked about the target parent.

Warning signs of a Parental Alienation Syndrome Child:

  1. The child is a “parrot” of the aligned parent with the same delusional, irrational beliefs and consistently sides with this parent. Denys suggestions that their hatred for rejected parent is based on views and behavior of aligned parent.
  2. Idealization of aligned parent and wants to constantly be in the aligned parent presence.
  3. The child develops serious hatred for the rejected parent and rejects a relationship with the rejected parent without any legitimate justification. The child sees nothing “good” about the rejected parent and only wants to destroy the relationship.
  4. The child refuses to visit or spend time with the rejected parent, frequently faking fear.
  5. The child’s reasons for not wanting a relationship with the rejected parent are primarily based on what the aligned parent tells the child. Accusation against rejected parent too adult-like for the child’s age.
  6. The child feels no guilt about his/her behavior toward the rejected parent and will not forgive past indiscretions.
  7. The child’s hatred extends to the rejected parent’s extended family, friends, partner, or Idealization of aligned parent aligned parent without any guilt or remorse.
  8. Ignores/rejects the rejected parent in the presence of the aligned parent.
    • Children who live in alienated family situations are usually unable to form healthy relationship with either parent. Some of the areas of concern for children impacted by parental alienation are:
    • Emotion Distress, Anxiety, Depression, and Self Hate
    • Poor reality testing and unreasonable cognitive operations
    • Low self-esteem or inflated self-esteem, Pseudo-maturity
    • Aggression and conduct disorder
    • Disregard for social norms and authority, adjustment difficulties
    • Lack of remorse or guilt

Parental Alienation Syndrome is recognized by the courts but is very difficult to define and in most cases requires bringing in County Social Services, Child Protective Services, and/or other professionals. Anyone claiming Parental Alienation Syndrome should look for family therapy as a constructive way forward. Other forms of abuse are physical, sexual, and neglect which are much easier to identify.

Children having some of these symptoms need help. Please contact an attorney and discuss your options on how to help this child. Formulate a plan to move forward. Do not give up your parental rights! Your child desperately needs and is entitled to your help!

By Nacol Law Firm | Parent Alienation
DETAIL

Please contact father’s rights Dallas Attorney Mark Nacol, or father’s rights Dallas Attorney Julian Nacol with the Nacol Law Firm P.C., for legal insight to your rights as a father. Both attorney Mark Nacol, and attorney Julian Nacol , provide counsel in the area of family law including divorce, father’s rights, interstate jurisdiction, child support, child custody, visitation, paternity, parent alienation, modifications, property division, asset division and more. Attorney Mark A. Nacol is board certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Our attorneys at The Nacol Law Firm P.C. serve clients throughout Texas, including Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Grayson, Kaufman, Rockwall and Tarrant counties and the communities of Addison, Allen, Arlington, Carrollton, Dallas, Fort Worth, Frisco, Garland, Grapevine, Highland Park, McKinney, Mesquite, Plano, Prosper, Richardson, Rowlett and University Park, Murphy,Wylie, Lewisville, Flower Mound, Irving, along with surrounding DFW areas.

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