EXPERIENCE MATTERS WHEN IT COMES TO TACKLING TOUGH CASES!

My Children Are My Main Priority – Effective Co-Parenting

Co-parenting with an ex-spouse or partner gives children stability and fosters similar rules, discipline and rewards between households.  It promotes a child’s ability to more effectively and peacefully solve problems and establishes a life pattern children can carry into the future.

Effective co-parenting means that your own emotions – anger, resentment or hurt – must take back seat to the needs of your children.  Setting aside these feelings may be the hardest obstacle to overcome after a divorce.  It is important that you remember, co-parenting is not about your feelings, or those of your ex-spouse, but rather about your children’s future happiness and stability.

The following are useful tips to assist you with co-parenting in the future.

  1. Do not talk negatively, or allow others to talk negatively, about the other parent, their family and friends or their home in hearing range of the child.
  2. Do not question the children about the other parent or the activities of the other parent regarding their personal lives. In simple terms, do not use the child to spy on the other parent.
  3. Do not argue or have heated discussions with the other parent when the children are present or during an exchange.
  4. Do not make promises to the children to try and win them over at the expense of the other parent.
  5. Communicate with the other parent and make similar rules in reference to discipline, bedtime routines, sleeping arrangements, and schedules. Appropriate discipline should be exercised by mutually agreed of both parents.
  6. At all times, the decision made by the parents should be for the child’s psychological, spiritual, and physical well-being and safety.
  7. Visitation arrangements should be made and confirmed beforehand between the parents without involving the child in order to avoid any false hopes, disappointments or resentments toward the other parent.
  8. Notify the other parent in a timely manner of the need to deviate from the order, including cancelling visits, rescheduling appointments, and promptness.
  9. Do not schedule activities for the child during the other parent’s period of possession without the other parent’s consent. However, both parents should work together to allow the child to be involved in extracurricular activities.
  10.  Inform the other parent of any scholastic, medical, psychiatric, or extracurricular activity or appointments of the child.
  11.  Keep the other parent informed at all times of your address and telephone number. If you are out of town with the child, provide the other parent the address and phone number where your children may be reached in case of an emergency.
  12. Refer to the other parent as the child’s mother or father in conversation, rather than using the parents first or last name.
  13. Do not bring the child into adult issues and adult conversations about custody, the court, or about the other party.
  14. Do not ask the child where they want to live.
  15. Do not attempt to alienate the other parent from the child’s life.
  16. Do not allow stepparents or others to negatively alter or modify your relationship with the other parent.
  17. Do not use phrases that draw the children into your issues or make them feel guilty about time spent with their other parent.  For example, rather than saying, “I miss you,” say “I Love You.”

As you begin to co-parent, you and your ex are bound, on occasion, to disagree.  It isn’t necessary to meet in person—speaking over the phone or exchanging emails is fine for the majority of conversations. The goal is conflict-free communication, so see which type of contact works best for you.  Keep the conversations kid-based.

Remember, respect can go a long way, keep talking, don’t sweat the small stuff, and be willing to compromise.

Nacol Law Firm P.C.
tel: (972) 690-3333
Dallas Fathers Rights Attorneys

Unique Possession Orders that Work with a Fathers Profession

Many professions create impositions on conservators making a standard possession order inapplicable and unworkable. The Court may deviate from a standard possession order if the order is inappropriate or unworkable in reference to the schedules of both the conservators and the child. Unique professions and irregular school schedules for children allow the Court to have flexibility to deviate from a standard possession order that is in the Best Interest of the Child. There are multiple ways in which the Court may depart from a standard possession order to fulfill the needs of all parties involved with the custody of the child.

First, the Family Code § 153.254 states that the Court will be allowed deference to modify the standard possession order if work schedules of either conservators or the school schedule of the child is irregular. The Court must attempt to narrowly tailor the modifications to keep the new possession order as similar to the standard possession order as possible. This instance most commonly occurs when the Managing Conservator and the Possessory Conservator cannot reach an agreement and one of the two Conservators has a unique profession such as a firefighter, police officer, or airline pilot. The working hours of these jobs allow the Court to modify the standard possession order even if both of the parties do not comply with the changes. The modifications must be made only if it is in the Best Interest of the Child.

Secondly, the standard possession order may always be modified if it is by the mutual agreement of both the Managing Conservator and Possessory Conservator. Family Code § 153.007 is the Agreed Parenting Plan Statute and allows for both parties to agree on a standard possession order for the child. This statute was passed to promote amicability in settlement for child custody issues and to give flexibility to the parents if they are willing to agree on custody terms. The Agreed Parenting Plan must be in the Best Interest of the Child for the Court to approve. If the Court grants the Agreed Parenting Plan then the Managing or Possessory Conservator will have a remedy as a matter of law for any violation of the agreement committed by either party.

Finally, both Conservators may enter into a Mediated Settlement Agreement under Family Code § 153.0071. A Mediated Settlement Agreement is the only time in which the Court will NOT look at the Best Interest of the Child when granting the custody agreement.

The Mediated Settlement Agreement § 153.0071 must be:

  • In bold, underlined, and capital letters that the agreement is NOT REVOCABLE
  • Signed by Both Parties to the agreement
  • Signed by the lawyers (if represented) of each party

The Mediated Settlement Agreement is binding and not revocable so if the Conservators wish to go this route they must understand that what is in the agreement will be held as binding. This method can be used to modify or change a standard possession order and the Court will not look at the Best Interest of the Child regarding the agreement, unless there exists a credible threat of domestic violence.

These are the methods in which a unique possession order may be obtained to accommodate irregular schedules or working hours of both the conservators. Any possession order must be correctly drafted and all future contingencies must be accounted for. An experienced lawyer must be contacted to safeguard an individual’s custody rights of their children and to make sure that a fair custody arrangement is obtained.

For Richer or Poorer, Hire Expert Help to Protect Your Interests in Your Texas Divorce

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 $9,200.00 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.