Author: Nacol Law Firm

Jun
28

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
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Jun
27

What to Do if you are Served with a Divorce Petition, Citation, or Notice to Appear

A divorce proceeding is a difficult time for all parties involved. It is scary to be “served” with a petition for divorce. Fear, anxiety, and confusion are just some of the emotions that go through one’s mind when reading and absorbing an official Court document stating that a spouse wishes to end the relationship. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you are served.

First, it is not the total end of the world. Do not give into immediate impulses and passions or fall prey to threatening or aggressive messages. Remember anything you say or do, especially in messages, texts or emails, may be used against you at Court. Do not give your spouse free arguments for the divorce.

Second, DO NOT use social media to vent frustration or talk about the divorce. Anything you write to third parties on social media may and will be used against you in Court. It may be hard but for your own benefit do not engage in frustrated tirades regarding your spouse on Facebook.

Third, find an experienced attorney, especially if children are involved. Be smart. It is not always prudent to hire a lawyer based on what appears to be the best financial deal possible when your children and possessions are at stake. The old axiom “you get what you pay for” is true when it comes to legal representation.

Fourth, be wary of Pro Se representation. Pro Se means that you have chosen to represent yourself in the divorce case. This may end very badly for you. Many people believe that if they research enough and familiarize themselves with the Texas Family Law Code they just might be able to receive a good outcome and drive up the attorney cost for the other spouse. Attorneys go to school for many years for a reason. The outcomes for Pro Se clients are not usually good and do not be tricked into taking on an inexperienced attorney to save money.

Fifth, save all hateful and scandalous remarks made by your spouse that have been emailed, texted, posted on social media or any other proof that can be saved against your spouse. Delete Nothing! Allow your spouse to dig his/her own hole. All of both spouse’s comments may be used in Court.

Finally, do not listen to your Spouse about any type of perceived legal outcomes. “I talked to a divorce lawyer and he said you better sign this or I will get everything…”. This is common in family law. Do not fall for the trap, seek experienced representation and let the divorce lawyer deal with your spouse or your spouse’s attorney. Do not be tricked into settling or giving up your children or possessions without competent assistance and advice from legal counsel.

Follow this advice and it will greatly help your probabilities with obtaining a favorable and fair outcome in your divorce case.

Nacol Law Firm P.C.
Dallas Divorce Attorneys
(972) 690-3333

By Nacol Law Firm | Divorce Checklist . Filing for a Divorce
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Jun
21

Are You An Alienated Parent With A Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) Family Experience? What Can You Do?

There is nothing worse than a family torn apart by parents who are battling over child custody.  Many of these cases are in serious litigation and often, these disputes will continue for years.

What is Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)?   In the 1980’s, forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Richard A. Gardner noticed a large increase in a disorder where one parent will program or brainwash a child to alienate the other parent.  He also found the child was self-creating contributions supporting the alienating parent’s campaign of denigration against the targeted parent.

Dr. Gardner’s definition of PAS: Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes.  Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification.  It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilifications of the target parents. (Gardner, the Parental Alienation Syndrome)

There is no pure PAS diagnosis if the child still has a positive relationship with the parent even though the other parent is trying to alienate the child.

Courts are generally more conservative in their judgment acknowledging PAS in high conflict cases.  Even though Parental Alienation evidence may be overwhelming, often courts will enter judgments allowing the “parents to make joint decisions about the child’s welfare.”  This will not ever happen between two alienated parents! In many situations it will take a dramatic or tragic situation to force the court to change primary custody. When the alienating parent becomes unstable mentally, the court will recognize that there is something “out of line” and will become more supportive of the targeted parent.

What are the Best ways for the Alienated Parent to Deal with the PAS issue?

  1. Keep your “cool”. Never retaliate. Never act in anger since anger=unstable.

  2. Never give up! You cannot let your child grow up in this environment of hate. The child is the victim of a situation that he/she never asked to be in.

  3. Be “Proactive”! It is a terrible situation for the entire family, but work on seeking constructive action to solve the problem. Do not allow yourself to become a victim!

  4. Always keep a journal of dates and times of major key events. Explain when the situation occurred and what happened specifically. Any Witnesses?

  5. Always call and show to pick up the child even when you know he/she will not be there. Try to contact the police to have a record of the no-show event or take a witness to video the denial of possession. You do have an interest in your child, no matter what the alienating parent says.

  6. When you do see the child, focus on enjoying your parent-child time together. Never talk badly about the other parent and do not let children overhear inappropriate conversation on the telephone.

  7. Hire a skilled family lawyer who has experience in parental alienation syndrome issues.  Do your homework on PAS and interview the lawyer on his experience and what your issues are. If you are not satisfied look again.  This is your life and you are trying to save your child.

  8. Be prepared to financially see this case to the end.  Most of these case last for years. You cannot start and stop.

  9. A forensic evaluator in PAS cases is usually an asset in showing that there is truly alienation occurring and recommend changing legal and primary custody to the alienated parent. An appropriate parenting plan included showing how well the child will be taken care of with the alienated parent, is advised.

  10. Always pay your child support on time and never violate court orders. Never give the alienating parent reason to question your behavior.

  11. Last but not least, to show that your parenting skills are superior, take a comprehensive parenting course to be able to show the court that you strive to be the best parent you can to the child, no matter what the alienating parent says.

By Nacol Law Firm | Parent Alienation
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Jun
21

Divorce Checklist – Preparing your Finances for a Texas Divorce

Preparing for a Texas Divorce:  Assets

Going through a Divorce is painful no matter the circumstances. Before you get into the Texas Divorce Process, you can reduce expense, stress, and conflict by making sure you are financially prepared. Advanced planning helps you in making sound decisions, start preparing for post-divorce life, and avoid many post-divorce pitfalls. Below is a list of items you need to gather before counseling with an attorney. Financial Documents are a must to show what your true assets and liabilities are in the marriage. This is a very general checklist. Disregard what is not pertinent to your situation.

Documents:

  1. Taxes (at least three years) 
  • Federal Tax Return
  • State Tax Return
  • W2
  • Tax Liens
  • All other IRS related documents
  1. Wills and Trusts with all attachments reflecting corpus and trust holdings
  2. Listing of all liabilities (including mortgages, credit card debt, personal loans, automobile loans, student loans, etc.):
  • Name of entity, address, and telephone number
  • Account number
  • Amount owed
  • Monthly payment 
  • Property securing payment (if any)
  • Most current statements and account status of lenders (from last 3 years)
  1. A Listing of the address and location of all Real Property, (includes time-shares, vacation properties, commercial property, and lots):
  • Deeds of Trust
  • Notes including equity loans and second liens
  • Legal Descriptions
  • Mortgage Companies and Loan Servicers (Name, Address, Telephone Number, Account Number, Balance of Note, Monthly Payments) for all Primary and Secondary Mortgages
  • Evidence of purchase gift or inheritance documents
  • Current fair market value.
  • Appraisals
  1. Motor Vehicles (including mobile homes, boats, trailers, motorcycles, recreational vehicles; exclude company owned):
  • Year, Make, Model of all Motor Vehicles
  • Value
  • Name on title
  • VIN Number
  • Fair Market Value
  • Name of creditor (if any), address and telephone
  • Persons listed on debt
  • Account number
  • Balance of any loan and monthly payment
  • Net Equity in vehicle
  • Current statements from last 3 years
  1. Cash and accounts with financial institutions (checking, savings, commercial bank accounts, credit union funds, IRA’s, CD’s, 401K’s, pension plans and any other form of retirement accounts):
  • Name of institution, address, and telephone number
  • Amount in institution on date of marriage
  • Amount in institution currently
  • Names on Account and Account Number
  • Social Security Documents
  • Pension Documents
  • Company loans and documents related to benefits
  • At least 3 years statements on all pertinent accounts
  1. A listing of separate property (property owned prior to marriage, family heir looms, property gifted, inherited property):
  • Records that trace your separate property. These assets will remain yours if properly documented
  1. Retirement Benefits:
  • Exact name of plan
  • Address of plan administrator
  • Employer
  • Employee
  • Starting date of contributions
  • Amount currently in account
  • Balance of any loan against plan
  • Documents (Date of start of plan is especially important for divorce settlement)
  1. Publicly traded stock, bonds, and other securities (include securities not in a brokerage, mutual fund, or retirement account):
  • Number of shares
  • Type of securities
  • Certificate numbers
  • In possession of
  • Name of exchange which listed
  • Pledged as collateral?
  • Date acquired
  • Tax basis
  • Current market value
  • If stock (date option granted, number of shares and value per share)
  • Stock options plans and related documents
  1. Insurance and Annuities Policies and Inventory:
  • Name of insurance company
  • Policy Number
  • Insured
  • Type of insurance (whole/term/universal)
  • Amount of monthly premiums
  • Date of Issue
  • Face amount
  • Cash surrender value
  • Current surrender value
  • Designated beneficiary
  • Other policies and amendments
  1. Closely held business interests:
  • Name of business
  • Address
  • Type of business
  • % Of ownership
  • Number of shares owned if applicable
  • Value of shares
  • Balance of accounts receivables
  • Cash flow reports
  • Balance of liabilities
  • List of company assets
  • Hobbies or side businesses that generate income
  1. Mineral Interests (include any property in which you own the mineral estate, separate and apart from the surface estate, such as oil and gas leases; also include royalty interests, work interests, and producing and non-producing oil and gas wells:
  • Name of mineral interest
  • Type of interest
  • County of location
  • Legal description
  • Name of producer/operator
  • Current market value
  • needs leases or production documents related to the asset
  1. Money owed by spouse (including any expected federal or state income tax refund but not including receivables connected with any business)
  2. Household furniture, furnishings, and Fixtures
  • photos
  • purchase documents
  1. Electronics and computers including software and hard drives
  2. Antiques, artwork, and collectibles (including works of art, paintings, tapestry, rugs, crystal, furniture, quilts) All major collections always need to be appraised! (Cars, Guns, Jewelry, Coins & Stamps, Action Figures, and Books) 
  3. Miscellaneous sporting goods and firearms
  4. Jewelry including appraisals
  5. Animals and livestock
  6. Farming equipment
  7. Club Memberships
  8. Safe deposit box items
  9. Burial plots including documents of ownership
  10. Items in any storage facility
  11. Travel Awards Benefits (including frequent flyer miles)

You may decide to divorce or not, but it is very important to have all financial information before you enter into a Texas Divorce! This is a very general Divorce Financial Asset Checklist. Disregard what is not pertinent to your situation.  

After reviewing this list, you may also decide to go and review the Family Information FormThis form is basic information about you and your spouse. By the time you are looking at this, you will realize that you may not really know your spouse’s information.  You will need to know the correct information before filing for divorce in Texas.   

These two informational lists will prepare you with the basic financial information that any divorce attorney will need to get your divorce started. 

You can click on these links to download and print our Texas Divorce Financial Checklist and Family Information Form for a Texas Divorce

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

By Nacol Law Firm | Divorce Checklist
DETAIL
Jun
13

Preventing Out of State Relocation of Children by Custodial Parent

Mom and Dad are divorcing or have been divorced and are now sharing joint custody of their children in the same city in Texas.  One parent receives a letter from the other parent’s attorney requesting that this parent be allowed to relocate the children to another state so he/she may take a better job position with another company!  This is a dilemma no parent ever wants to experience!  Child Custody cases involving interstate relocation jurisdiction issues cause much heartache and are costly legal battles.

What can a Parent do to protect themselves from children being relocated away from the non-moving parent to another state without her/his consent?   How may this affect the parent’s relationship with the children?

The Texas Family Code 153.002 Best Interest of Child states “The best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.”

The Texas Family code does not elaborate on the specific requirement for modification in the residency-restriction context, and there are no specific statutes governing residency restrictions or their removal for purposes of relocation. Texas Courts have no statutory standards to apply to this context.

The Texas Legislature has provided Texas Family Code 153.001, a basic framework on their public policy for all suits affecting the parent-child relationship:

  1. The public policy of this state is to:

  1. Assure the children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child;

  2. Provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child;

  3. Encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.

How does The State of Texas treat an initial Child Custody determination?

Texas Family Code 152.201 of the UCCJEA states, among other things, that a court may rule on custody issues if the Child:

*Has continually lived in that state for 6 months or longer and Texas was the home state of the child within six months before the commencement of the legal proceeding.

*Was living in the state before being wrongfully abducted elsewhere by a parent seeking custody in another state. One parent continues to live in Texas.

*Has an established relationship with people (family, relatives or teachers), ties, and attachments in the state

*Has been abandoned in an emergency: or is safe in the current state, but could be in danger of neglect or abuse in the home state

Relocation is a child custody situation which will turn on the individual facts of the specific case, so that each case is tried on its own merits.

Most child custody relocation cases tried in Texas follow a predictable course:

  1. Allowing or not allowing the move.

  2. Order of psychological evaluations or social studies of family members

  3. Modification of custody and adjusting of child’s time spent with parents

  4. Adjusting child support

  5. Order of mediation to settle dispute

  6. Allocating transportation costs

  7. Order opposing parties to provide all information on child’s addresses and telephone #

Help to Prevent Your Child’s Relocation in a Texas Court by Preparing Your Case!  

  1. Does the intended relocation interfere with the visitation rights of the non- moving parent?

  2. The effect on visitation and communication with the non-moving parent to maintain a full and continuous relationship with the child

  3. How will this move affect extended family relationships living in the child’s current location?

  4. Are there bad faith motives evident in the relocating parent?

  5. Can the non-moving parent relocate to be close to the child? If not, what type of separation hardship would the child have?

  6. The relocating parent’s desire to accommodate a new job, spouse, or other criteria above the parent-child relationship. A Parent’s personal desire for move rather than need to move?

  7. Is there a significant degree of economic, emotional or education enhancement for the relocating parent and child in this move?

  8. Any violation of an order or prior notice of the intended move or a temporary restraining order

  9. Are Special Needs/ Talents accommodated for the child in this move?

  10. Fear of child and high cost of travel expenses for non-moving parent or child to visit each other to be able to continue parent- child relationship.

  11. What other Paramount Concerns would affect the child concerning the relocation from the non-moving parent?

At the Nacol Law Firm PC, we represent many parents trying to prevent their child from relocating to another city or state and having to experience “A Long Distance Parental Relationship” brought on by a better job or new life experience of the relocating parent! We work at persuading courts to apply the specific, narrow exceptions to these general rules in order to have child custody cases heard in the most convenient forum in which the most qualifying, honest evidence is available; cases where the child’s home state or other basic questions are clarified, and cases where a parent has the right in close proximity with their child regardless of other less important factors.

By Nacol Law Firm | Child Custody . Interstate Jurisdiction
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