dallas fathers rights attorney Mark Nacol

Mar
27

Torn Apart – Children and Divorce

Despite the difficulties faced in a divorce, the children should not be placed in the center of the crossfire.  During the divorce process, and sometimes following the divorce process, it is not uncommon for a parent to become so wrapped up in anger, vengeance or simply being “right” that they forget the effect the whole process is having on the children.  Below are some behaviors to avoid and some suggestions to assist you with improving your communications during the divorce process:

  1. Do not use children as messengers between “mom” and “dad.”
  2. Do not criticize your former spouse in the presence of your children because children realize they are part “mom” and part “dad.”
  3. Resist any temptation to allow your children to act as your caretaker.  Children need to be allowed the freedom to be “children.”  Taking on such responsibility at an early age degrades their self-esteem, feeds anger and hinders a child’s ability to relate to their peers.
  4. Encourage your children to see your former spouse frequently.  Promote a good relationship for the benefit of the child.
  5. Do not argue with your former spouse in the presence of the children.  No matter what the situation, the child will feel torn between taking “mommy’s” side and “daddy’s” side.
  6. At every step during the divorce process, remind yourself that your children’s interests are paramount, even over your own. 
  7. If you are the non-primary parent, pay your child support.
  8. If you are the primary parent and are not receiving child support, do not tell your children.  This feeds a child’s sense of abandonment and erodes their stability.
  9. Remember that the Court’s view child support and child custody as two separate and distinct issues.  Children do not understand whether “mommy” and/or “daddy” paid child support, but they do understand that “mommy” and/or “daddy” wants to see me.
  10. If at all possible, do not uproot your children.  When a family is falling apart, a child needs a stable home and school life to buffer the trauma.
  11. If you have an addiction problem, whether it be drugs, alcohol or any other affliction, seek help immediately.  Such impairments inhibit your ability to reassure your children and give them the attention they need.
  12. If you are having difficulty dealing with issues relating to your former spouse, discuss such issues with mental health professionals and counselors.
  13. Reassure your children that they are loved and that they have no fault in the divorce.

Though these steps are not all-inclusive, they will assist you in dealing with the complex issues of a divorce and hopefully minimize the impact of the divorce process on the children.

By Nacol Law Firm | Child Custody
DETAIL
Mar
08

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
Mar
01

Getting a Divorce? Should I Move Out of the Marital Home?

This is a complicated question to answer depending upon the facts of each case.  If you have experienced domestic violence you need to immediately do whatever is necessary to secure you and your child’s safety.  Many times a victim will go to court for a protective order and ask the judge to move the abusive or violent spouse out.  In this situation contact an experienced family law attorney now!

In most cases, absent of violence or risk of abuse, we would not suggest that a spouse move out of the marital residence.

Why is this?  One reason is once you have vacated the residence it may be very difficult to get back in! You have no legal obligation to leave the residence if your name is on the lease or mortgage personally and exclusivity.

Our suggestion to a client might be, to remain in the residence since the person who vacates may still have financial obligations and expenses of the family residence, while paying all expenses on a new residence for themselves. Double expenses are not a desirable result during the divorce process.

The higher wage earning spouse who moves out of the marital home must expect to continue to pay most of the household expenses, including the insurance and mortgage!  What about the personal property and furnishings in the residence?

If an agreement has not been made between the divorcing couple, the moving spouse will generally only be able to leave with personal belongings (clothing & jewelry) until a court rules fairly as to temporary possession.

Secure a court order ASAP to equalize property and household expenses.

By Nacol Law Firm | Property and Asset Division
DETAIL
Feb
10

Texas Family Court Actions and Parental Alienation

Most children of divorce want to be loved and maintain strong and healthy relationships with both of their parents. These children also want to be kept out of the conflict between their parents. But there are some parents who through their feelings of hatred, rejection or want of control over the rejected parent, brainwash the alienated child to have very adverse feelings for the rejected parent and choose sides to bolster their parental identity. This is called Parental Alienation.

Parental Alienation usually happens equally between children of both sex and many times occur in highly conflicted and long lasting divorces and custody battles. A Study by Fidler and Bala (2010) states that about 11-15% of all divorces involving children involve parental alienation issues.

Parental Alienation involves destructive actions by an aligned parent to discredit and sabotage the rejected parent in the eyes of the alienated child. This is usually a sign of a parent’s inability to separate the couple’s conflict with the needs of the alienated child’s well-being. This adverse action will eventually cause increased hostility and decreased contact with the alienated child and the rejected parent. The aligned parent programs the child to believe that the rejected parent is mean, unloving, worthless and selfish, and makes the alienated child believe that he/she will be happier if the rejected parent is erased from his/her life. In very extreme cases, through manipulation by the aligned parent, the alienated child will start to hate the rejected parent which can lead to many behavioral, emotional and mental problems of separation.

What are some symptoms of Parental Alienation by the Aligned Parent?

  1. Interference with the target parent visits. Giving children unhealthy choices when there is no choice about the visit. Not allowing any target parent visits.
  2. Depriving the target parent from information regarding educational, medical and social activities of the child and excluding or not informing the target parent of all of the school, medical, social activities of the child.
  3. Sharing with the child “everything” about the marital relationship with false information to be “honest” with the child. Blaming the target parent of breaking up the family, financial problems, or not loving the child enough to stay, the alienating parent tries to turn the child and his/her anger against the target parent.
  4. Interference with or not supporting contact between the child and the target parent. Listening into telephone conversation or reading all emails, texting, or correspondence between the child and target parent.
  5. Making major unilateral decisions regarding the child without consulting the target parent.
  6. Refusing to let the child take his/her possessions to the target parent’s residence.
  7. Telling the child, in a time of juvenile crisis, that the target parent has been abusive and the target parent may hurt the child.
  8. By defying the target parent’s authority and supervision, the alienating parent is asking the child to impossibly choose one parent over the other. This causes considerable stress and potential long term emotion scarring for the child and much unnecessary pain, difficulty, and anxiety when trying to love both parents.

The alienating parent will try to program the child to dislike, hate, or fear the rejected parent. By causing the child to disown or distance themselves away from the rejected parent, the aligned parent may, in the end, cause a very distrustful and emotionally scarred child. The goal may be achieved, but not with the desired results of the alienating parent. Many times, the child, without hope, will turn on both parents and never be able to have trusting, loving relationships in his/her life.

Since the American Psychiatric Association does not formally recognize Parental Alienation Syndrome/Disorder, The State of Texas does not provide legal standards to evaluate a parental alienation presence in a child. Texas courts have started to act when there is suspected parental alienation. Some of the aids are courts appointing guardians ad litem, parenting facilitators and forensic psychologists used to study the child’s living situations and mental health of both parents and the child. Reports from these specialists have been used in making some very important rulings for the benefit of the child and the families in suspected Parental Alienation cases.

If you and your child are victims of Parental Alienation Syndrome, please contact a Dallas family law attorney who is experienced in these types of cases in Texas family courts.

By Nacol Law Firm | Parent Alienation
DETAIL
Feb
01

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

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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