dallas fathers rights

May
31

HELP! The Warning Signs of Divorce

When the warning signs of a fractured relationship with your spouse have been surfacing for quite a while, many people are still caught off guard when their spouse asks for “The Divorce”.  Although the husband may cause marriage problems, about 75% of divorces are initiated by the wife.  

Usually one spouse is in shock/denial and may want to truly try to salvage the marriage. At times a spouse will try to blame the other spouse of being a quitter for wanting to be legally released from an unacceptable marriage. Often the non-initiating spouse is at the point where it is a relief that “The Divorce” question has surfaced and will readily agree that divorce is the right option.

Marriage and family is not an easy proposition at times and sometimes it is easier to just say goodbye and return to single life. But if you truly love your spouse and family you should look at the warning signs and try to change the direction of the marriage.  Every relationship has its up and downs and needs new considerations at times. Take time to review your relationship and catch early warning signs that the marriage may be running off its tracks.  

What are some serious signs that you and your spouse could be headed for a DIVORCE?

  1. Spouse interaction is more negative than positive: Marriage researcher, Dr. John Gottman researched the negative/positive effect and found that stable marriages have 5:1 ratio of positivity to negativity during conflict. Whereas unstable marriages have .8:1 ratio of positivity to negativity during conflict (Gottman & Levenson 1999). The acceleration of verbal criticism, nagging, and sarcasm in a relationship can be a definite sign that there is trouble in the marriage.  
  2. Stonewalling when “you can’t break down the wall”: Stonewalling is a refusal to communicate or cooperate through body language or verbally shutting down when a situation with your spouse gets out of control and you don’t know how to handle the situation. This is very serious and may be the time to bring in a marriage counselor to help work through this problem.
  3. No Conflict Resolution: Marriage researcher, John Gottman, states that the lack of communication isn’t the marriage breaker but the lack of effective conflict resolution. This is a very serious problem when couples can’t reasonably work out their differences without causing injury to their relationship and finally quit communicating with each other to avoid more disagreement and conflict.
    Other times one spouse or both have reached the point where every conflict has become a situation that must be “won” by bullying the other spouse into submission. There must be a “winner” but with this win comes mutual loss of respect, increasing distance and eventual withdrawal from the relationship.
  4. Emotional and Physical Disengagement and Disaffection: When couples can’t communicate, they will find different avenues for emotional engagements.  Many neglected spouses will look out of the marriage at other values or priorities that helps them feel connected. A new religion, lifestyle, or job opportunity that the other spouse would never agree with can now be a reality for them.
    Emotional Disengagement is usually accompanied by withdrawal of affection. Couples in a divorce situation consider themselves “fallen out of love” with their spouse.
  5. Sudden Change in Behavior? Has your partner suddenly started caring more about their appearance and spending more time “away from” home. Or more time is spent with their children and instead of “our marriage” everything is centered around “our children”?
    Has your sex life disappeared? This is a good indicator that your emotional disengagement is advancing steadily and the spouses take no pleasure in each other. These are serious signals of rapidly eroding bonds in your marriage if not in a terminal state.
  6. Preparation for the “Single Life”: As people get tired of dealing with each other and the total indifference of the relationship, they will start living parallel lives and finally dissolve their personal relationship. Many couples heading for divorce will take up new habits and friends that differ from their spouses. New social networks will be centered around a single lifestyle.

Sounds like your current life with your spouse? DON’T GIVE UP YET! IT IS NEVER TOO LATE TO SALVAGE A FADING MARRIAGE! If people will realize that a marriage is not perfect and there will be conflict a certain percentage of time. Concentrate on working out a solution together to have a positive, loving relationship that can withstand the bad times. Just Remember: there was some spark that drew you to your spouse. Try to find it again or divorce.

By Nacol Law Firm | Prepare for Your Divorce
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May
22

Texas Fathers Rights to Establish Paternity of Children Born Out of Wedlock

In the State of Texas there is one birth statistic that continues to rise: The Birth of Out of Wedlock Children! With dropping marriage rates and increasing non-married couples living together, the percentage of children being born out of wedlock is growing yearly. The Texas Out of Wedlock Childbirth rate of 2019 stands at 41.4%. How are the fathers of these children treated? Does a father have any rights to their children? In most states, the mother of a child has 100% of the custody rights until the paternity of the father is legally established.  How does a Texas father legally establish paternity when the mother of their child refuses to allow him to sign the birth certificate and tells him that he will never have any type of communication or relationship with his child?

What are a father’s rights in the State of Texas? 
Any and every right a parent may have is available to a father who seeks them.


How does the father file for paternity of the child in Texas?

1. Paternity Registry (Family Code 160.401-2)

The Texas Paternity Registry was created in 1997 to aid men (potential fathers) who desired to be notified of a proceeding for the adoption of or the termination of parental rights regarding a child that he may have fathered. They may register with the Registry of Paternity. The purpose of the Registry of Paternity is to “protect the parental rights of fathers who affirmatively assume responsibility for their children by registering or acknowledging their children (FC Chapter160, Subchapter E). To sign up with the Registry, the father or suspected father must file a Notice of Intent to Claim Paternity before a child is born or within 31 days of the child’s birth. (see form) https://www.dshs.texas.gov/vs/field/docs/vs130(2).pdf 

Many men use this Registry when a Father and Mother do not have a continuing relationship and the man is not listed as the presumed father on the birth certificate or Acknowledgement of Paternity. 
Other Examples: 

  • Man and woman have a consensual sexual relationship for a brief time and no further contact. Man wants to make sure that if woman becomes pregnant and has a child, he wishes to assert his paternity
  • Man and woman do no agree he is the father of the child. Man wishes to assert paternity.
  • More than one man claims to be the father of the child. Each man would complete a separate Notice of Intent to Claim Paternity. 
  • Mother refuses to complete and sign the Acknowledgment of Paternity form. 

The notice of Intent Claim Paternity form will not legally establish paternity nor be used to add a man’s name to the child’s birth certificate. 


2. Alternate Means to Establish Paternity (Family Code 160.301-2 and 160.402, 160.601)

The mother of a child and a man claiming to be the biological father of the child may sign an acknowledgment of paternity with the intent to establish the man’s paternity.  
An acknowledgment of the paternity must:

  • Be in a record
  • Be signed or otherwise authenticated by the mother and the man seeking to establish paternity
  • State that the child whose paternity is being acknowledged:
    1. Does not have a presumed father or has a presumed father whose full name is stated
    2. Does not have another acknowledged or adjudicated father
  • State whether there has been genetic testing and that the acknowledging man’s claim of paternity is consistent with the results of the testing
  • State that the signatories understand that the acknowledgment is the equivalent of a judicial adjudication of the paternity of the child and that a challenge to the acknowledgment is permitted only under limited circumstances and is barred after 4 year.

A man is entitled to notice of a proceeding regardless of whether he registers with the registry of paternity if:

  • A father-child relationship between the man and the child has been established under this chapter or another law.
  • The man commences a proceeding to adjudicate his paternity before the court has terminated his parental rights.

The parentage of a child may be adjudicated in a civil proceeding by voluntary legitimation.

A Father should be proactive and enforce his rights promptly to enhance his probability of fair and equal treatment that is binding under the law!

Nacol Law Firm P.C
Walnut Glen Building
4188 Walnut Hill Lane #1190
Dallas, Texas 75231
tel: (972) 690-3333
 

By Nacol Law Firm | Paternity
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May
15

Child Support Modification in Texas – Done Within Three Years

Child support is one of the most heavily litigated issues in all of family law. To increase or decrease payments there are specific requirements that must be met to modify a previous child support order. Per Tex. Fam. Code § 156.401 the requirements necessary to modify a prior child support order are:

  1. The circumstances of the child or an affected party have materially and substantially changed; or
  2. Three years have elapsed since the order was entered or last modified, and the amount of child support differs from the statutory guidelines by either 20% or $100.00.

The second requirement is self-explanatory. The three-year limitation to file for another modification is for the benefits of the Courts. If there was no three-year waiting period to refill, then every conservator would constantly attempt to modify child support, thus creating endless litigation for clogging the Courts’ dockets.

The first requirement needs more explanation. A Material and Substantial change in the circumstances of the child or an affected party must be clearly shown at trial. Many Courts are meticulous in making the determination of what a Material and Substantial change is regarding the child and the affected party to insure this requirement is not abused for excessive litigation.

To prove a Substantial and Material change in circumstances, a conservator must show evidence at the final hearing of:

  1. The financial needs/expenses at the time of the divorce or prior modification for the children and the person affected, and;
  2. The financial needs/expenses at the time of the request for the modification.

If evidence of financial needs/expenses are not submitted and proved regarding both (1) the prior divorce/modification and (2) the recent modification, then no Substantial and Material change can be adequately proved. Further, if the request for modification of child support is predicated solely on one conservator’s increase in earning capacity, absent other compelling evidence, the change in circumstances is not Substantial and Material. Interest of L.R., 416 S.W.3d 675, (Tex. App.—Houston [14 Dist.] 2013, pet. denied.)

If one conservator decides to file a modification of child support within three years just because the other conservative received a better job, it may be dismissed. At the end of the day a Court has broad discretion on determining what is Substantial and Material and may allow the case to be heard and give an unfavourable ruling, but if that occurs you will have the ability to appeal the judgment and request attorney’s fees. It is important to know in any family law case the Judge has extremely broad discretion and interprets case law in a way that he deems fit using the Best Interest Test.

If you are a conservator that meet these requirements above and wish to increase or decrease the child support obligation, be sure to hire an experienced attorney. Nacol Law Firm will always fight for you and your children’s best interest.

Julian Nacol, Attorney
Nacol Law Firm, PC
Call (972) 690-3333

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May
01

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.

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Apr
27

Fathers and Parent Alienation Syndrome

One in three children lose touch with a parent, usually the father, following a divorce.  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.  One in three children stated that they felt isolated and lonely during and following the divorce process.

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

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

There are two types of Parental Alienation Syndrome, medical and legal.  Medical 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 often takes on a form of withdrawing love and communication.  This extends to the children through the custodial parent.  It is a mechanism employed to stop the father from having contact with his children; and can be described by the mother holding the children “hostages,” afraid of the mother, and obeying her as a means of survival.  The child may also be instilled with false memories of the father, may be coached and/or brainwashed.  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 and are much easier to identify.

It is important no matter how bad the alienation becomes that you strategize to create a line of contact with your children, the mother and anyone connected to them.  Having a plan is critical.  When a father loses contact with his children he goes from disbelief, to despair, anger, depression, confusion and a total sense of social injustice.  Having a plan means looking at the situation logically, rather than emotionally.

1.  The first stage is to look for direct contact with the mother and children. Can you meet, write, or phone?
2.  If you are not allowed contact, can a relative contact the mother or children on your behalf?
3.  Can you contact your children through church, school, clubs, sports activities, or daycare?
4.  Can you participate in your children’s activities?
5.  Do you have a non-suggestive witness that can go with you when you exercise your visitation rights?
6.  Is there a local grocery store where you can purchase something to have a receipt stating the date and time you were in the area?
7.  Will the police make a report stating that you attempted to exercise your visitation?
8.  Whenever possible take video and pictures.

In cases of Parental Alienation Syndrome it is important that you document everything.  Keep a diary or timeline.  Write important events down on a calendar.

If you are a victim of Parental Alienation Syndrome, contact an attorney. Discuss your options.  Formulate a plan to move forward.  Do not give up your parental rights as a father.

By Nacol Law Firm | Parent Alienation
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