A regrettable truth in family law often finds one parent unilaterally removing a child from the other parent while dissolving a marriage without any grounds or evidence of wrongdoing. Not surprisingly, disturbing numbers of children are routinely separated from loving, responsible parents for reasons that have nothing to do with their wishes, safety, health, or welfare and many times have to do with a lack of proper legal counsel.
In 50% of the marriages that end in divorce, 80% of these are over the objection of one spouse (close to 100% when children are involved). I am sure you have heard about “custody battles,” but you probably do not know that many start out with one parent taking a child from the other and refusing visitation until a court orders possession sometimes months down the line. You have heard about the witch hunt for “deadbeat dads,” but did you know that many of these fathers are well educated men who have lost their jobs due to a downtrodden economy and still love their children and want to play a leading role in their lives and upbringing. You have heard the hysteria over “child abuse,” but did you know that many accusations against fathers are shown to be false and used by one parent as a weapon to alienate the children from the other parent.
David Popenoe in his book “Life Without Father” tells us that negative consequences of fatherlessness are all around us. Evidence indicating damage to children growing up in fatherless homes has accumulated in near tidal-wave proportions. Fatherless children experience significantly more physical, emotional, and behavioral problems than do children growing up in intact families.
Children from fatherless homes are:
- 5 times more likely to commit suicide
- 32 times more likely to run away
- 20 times more likely to have behavioral disorders
- 14 times more likely to commit rape
- 9 times more likely to drop out of high school
- 10 times more likely to abuse chemical substances
- 9 times more likely to end up in a state-operated institution
- 20 times more likely to end up in prison.
(Information from Mark Hall, Father’s Manifesto).
In “My Rewar, My Punishment…My Son, Sons of Divorce,” Steven Manchester describes the situation many dads are dealing with when exercising visitation:
“I’d take my son for our court-ordered visits, only to drop him off two hours later, so another man could bounce him off his lap. Ironically, each new boyfriend was given all the time he wanted with my son. At first, it killed me, but I decided, “Whatever’s best for my boy. His happiness must come first!” Though it stung terribly, that attitude sustained me all the way to Christmas.
I waited in my old driveway for 4 excruciating hours, while three inches of snow muffled the screams from the cab of my truck. When they finally pulled in, my ex-wife snickered, “I must have lost track of time?” and handed over my son. I was livid! My boy was dead tired and half-asleep. And the EX…well…she just grinned, confident that there was nothing I could do about it. It took everything I had left to conceal my tears. I didn’t plan to give her anything for Christmas and was doing my best to stick to the plan.”
It is a sad scenario.
In divorce court, many fathers are left feeling that everything they have done, years of hard work, years of tender love, years of unstinting devotion to their family and children count as nothing.
In the 1960’s women fought hard to get laws passed to protect them against family violence, stalking and sexual harassment. The shame is that women of the 1990’s now use these same needed and appropriate laws wrongfully to their advantage and feel justified in punishing their spouse for wrongs they feel have been done to them by misusing the legal system; and in the process erase fathers from the lives of their children!
The facts are that many times the courtroom becomes a legal battleground. Inadequate counsel or absence of counsel can result in decisions that negatively affect children and the family for years to come.
The U.S. Air Force has recently announced a new initiative making it easier for their Airmen and Women, the ability to defer an assignment or be stationed near their children with a court-ordered child custody decree. Assignment authorities will now be able to consider requests for an assignment or deferment to a location near their children, even if the co-parents are not married.
“We recognize family dynamics don’t always look the same and there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to managing people’s careers and assignments,” said Lt. Gen. Brian T. Kelly, deputy chief of staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services. “We ask our people to move frequently and we know that can cause additional stress and sacrifices for their families. This change gives us the flexibility needed to better take care of them.”
Service members who are named as a parent, either biological or adopted, and have a court-ordered child custody agreement are eligible to apply. Assignment matches will be made when possible. It must meet the best needs of the Department of the Air Force. Service members are still required to fill valid manning requirements, perform the duties in which they are trained, and meet all PCS eligibility requirements without waivers.
Nacol Law Firm PC
The year of 2020 will go down in history as the year Covid-19 Virus hit the world bringing serious illness and death, changing our normal way of life to mandatory quarantines of people at home or in place. Social and monetary upheavals have occurred since most of the population in the United States either now work from their home or have been furloughed from their jobs until the virus scare has subsided. This Virus has affected everyone in the United States and the World, and we are now being warned that our “Normal Way of Life” may not return until sometime in the future.
It is very important to set up a survival plan for any young family should either Mom or Dad die at an age where the children are still home and in need of support until they finish school or reach maturity.
You and your spouse/partner should discuss a financial plan that would protect your family in case of early death or total disability by either yourself or your spouse. Other times that are good to put a plan into place are during a pregnancy or when getting a divorce.
Here are some basic ideas to consider in a Family Financial Protection Plan:
- THE WILL: The will is the most important item in your Family Financial Protection Plan. By creating a WILL, you MAY ENSURE THAT YOUR ASSETS ARE INHERITED BY THE PEOPLE OF YOUR CHOOSING (YOUR FAMILY) RATHER THAN THE STATE’S IDEA OF WHAT IS PROPER. TO DIE WITHOUT A WILL IS TO DIE “INTESTATE”. This means that the State (Texas) will determine the percentage of property that each family member will inherit after the death. The process of administering an estate through probate court can take months or longer once a judge appoints an executor to take over the deceased’s financial affairs. During this time, the family may not have access to money left to them to pay the family bills from this estate. BIG PROBLEM!
After having a Will for both spouses/partners of the family executed make sure that an original copy is left with your attorney for safekeeping. Very Important! Have another original copy of your Will in a secure place where the executor or a family member will be able to retrieve it at the time of your death.
- POWER OF ATTORNEY AND PROXIES: At the time of making out your will, make sure both parents have a Health Care Advance Directive and a Living Will prepared and executed. You need to designate a first and second choice of a person over 18 years of age to be your proxy. Your Living Will is your intention for end of life care, such as when to have your doctors withhold treatment and let you pass or if you would like to be an organ donor. It is very important that these documents are with your Will and accessible to your proxies, since many times, if there is a serious accident or medical emergency, you or your spouse will not be able to make serious medical decisions regarding your life or death.
- BENEFICIARIES: When you meet someone, marry, or join in a domestic union, it is important that as to any financial accounts you have (bank account, retirement fund, 401K, trust fund, stocks bonds), you should change the beneficiary to your spouse/partner. It is also a good idea to have a second beneficiary, either a child or family trust, in case you and your spouse/partner were both in an accident and die. If your children are young do not make your beneficiary a guardian who promises to take care of your children. Set up a family trust which will support your children and a trusted trustee for the trust.
- GUARDIANSHIP: Another very important item in your will for parents of minor children under 18 years old is APPOINTING A GUARDIAN IN YOUR WILL FOR RAISING YOUR CHILDREN. There should be a mutual joint decision on who will take care of the children if both you and your spouse/partner are deceased. By setting up this preference in your will, the proceeding judge will usually honor your request when setting up a guardian for your children.
- INSURANCE: Life Insurance may be costly, but it ensures that if you or your spouse/partner dies young, the surviving spouse/partner will be able to have the physical means to allow a slowdown working a job to take care of your young family without financial worries. It is always suggested that you start an insurance policy on both parents when they are young and healthy to keep costs at a manageable amount. Many companies also offer disability insurance to replace a percentage of salary if an employee becomes incapacitated. Long-Term- Care Insurance is also an option.
Finally make sure that all important financial and personal documents are always kept up to date and located in a secure place where they can be found in case of emergency or death! Some of the most important documents: bank and financial institution accounts, insurance information, credit cards, retirement account with beneficiary information, bills and list of bills on autopay monthly, deed of house, title to cars, boats or etc., and safety deposit key.
*Always have an updated list of online accounts, passwords, and credentials to any cryptocurrency wallets.
Nacol Law Firm PC
8144 Walnut Hill Lane #1190
Dallas, Texas 75231
tel: 972 690-3333
Texas spousal maintenance can be a useful and effective tool in a divorce. A spouse lacking sufficient property or the means to provide for his/her minimum reasonable needs, may have awarded additional funds from the other spouse during the divorce and after to help rebuild his/her life following their divorce.
In September of 2011, the Texas Legislature revised and modified the requirements for spousal maintenance including the limits on amounts and duration of time allowed.
The eligibility requirements of the Texas spousal maintenance law is still considered one of the more restrictive spousal maintenance laws in the U.S.
To be able to be awarded Spousal Maintenance (statutory term for spousal support or alimony) you must be married and the spouse seeking support must lack sufficient property to provide for the spouse’s “minimum reasonable needs”. Also one of the following is required:
The recipient must be unable to earn sufficient income to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs because of an incapacitating mental or physical disability.
The marriage lasted for 10 years or longer and the recipient lacks the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for his or her minimum reasonable needs.
The recipient is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability that prevents the spouse from earning sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs.
The person ordered to pay support was convicted of or received deferred jurisdiction for an act of family violence during the pendency of the suit or within two years of the date the suit was filed.
The Maximum Amount of spousal maintenance the courts may award is $5,000 per month, although it is still limited to 20 percent of the Payer’s average Gross Monthly Income.
The Maximum Duration of Time for spousal maintenance is:
Five years if the marriage is 10 years or less and the eligibility for spousal maintenance is established by an act that constitutes family violence.
Five years if the length of marriage is at least 10 years but no more than 20 years.
Seven years if the marriage length was at least 20 years but no more than 30 years.
Ten years if the marriage length lasted 30 years or longer.
In cases where the spousal maintenance is awarded due to the mental or physical disability of the spouse or a child of the marriage, the court may order the maintenance continue as long as the disability continues.
The spousal maintenance awarded by the court is discretionary and may not always eliminate the shortfall of the requesting spouse’s monthly expenses.
What about Termination of Spousal Maintenance? The obligation to pay future maintenance terminates on the death of either party or on the remarriage of the spouse receiving the maintenance.
If the court finds that the receiving spouse cohabits with another person and is in a dating or romantic relationship in a permanent place of abode on a continuing basis, the court shall order the termination of the maintenance obligation.
Termination of the maintenance obligation does not terminate the obligation to pay any maintenance that accrued before the date of termination and this amount will have to be paid or a judgment will be enforced by the court.
If you are thinking about a divorce in Texas and have questions concerning your eligibility for spousal maintenance contact a legal professional to help you through this process.
These last three months have really taken its toll on Texas, the United States of America, and the World. Our main concern now is how it has affected our great State of Texas and our DFW Community where we live, work and where our families, friends and clients make their home. On March 7, we sent our employees home to work and our attorneys made the decision to stay working at our Dallas law office in case a current customer or emergency situation needed to be addressed when many other law firms, fully or partially, shut down for the Covid-19 Season. Even with our Employees working from home, our phones were always answered by a smiling voice and a listening ear for emergency and client legal situations. The last few months has been a serious legal complexity and changing environment for ourselves and many of our neighbors, friends, and clients.
The Courts then, in major part, closed and only people who could afford an attorney were able to address legal serious problems that were happening in their lives and businesses. We have worked on blogs which helped people on finding help for domestic violence and answered calls from people all over the US concerning where to get help on a situation in their state after reading our blogs. We listened to their painful cries for help and sent them to their State Bars of Law for referrals. Not one call was dismissed, and we always tried to help, no matter where they lived.
Now we are approaching Phase 2 of the ”Covid-19 Scare”? Many businesses will again be closing and this time, many will not be able to have the funds or support to open their doors again. What will our Law Firm do? Will we send our office family home to work again? Yes, we will! But will we stop answering our phones or turn away our clients and emergency clients who are desperate for help because we are afraid? NO, WE WILL NOT! We are lawyers and now the People of Texas need our services more than ever.
The Nacol Law Firm P. C. is open for business and will be available to take Calls and Zoom appointments for people / businesses / corporations / nonprofits, who we can help at this time. If there is a situation that we cannot help with, we will try to have information on other sources that may help the caller. We are proud citizens of the United States of America and the Great State of Texas. We are also proud Attorneys of The State Bar of Texas and we will not give up on people who need our help.
Our services may be a little different than before. In our office, everyone must wear a mask and social distance themselves. Most of our conferences and hearings are by Telephone or Zoom unless it is a very serious emergency. All Court hearings, mediations, depositions are now mainly by Telephone or Zoom, but we can get it done.
Covid- 19 virus may seriously hurt our people and economy in Texas, but if we all work together to beat this “Demon”, we will be the “Winning Team”.
Make Today Your Winning Day! Call Us! We can help!
Mark A. Nacol /Julian M. Nacol
Nacol Law Firm P. C.
Walnut Glen Tower
8144 Walnut Hill Lane #1190
Dallas, Texas 75231