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Collin County Divorce AttorneyMost of us are rarely, if ever, more than just a few feet from our mobile devices. For some people, social media outlets such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook are an important way to share their lives with their friends and acquaintances. Social media critics, including many mental health professionals and relationship experts, believe that the image of ourselves that we portray on social media is essentially an idealized version that was created for the public—a version that generally downplays the struggles of life and only highlights “perfect” photos and positive achievements.

Social media use can also cause problems during a divorce. Such problems could directly affect the legal proceedings, while others might slow your healing process and keep you from moving on with your life. If you are thinking about filing for divorce or the process has already begun, be sure to avoid the following behaviors on social media.

Too Much, Too Soon

On many social media sites, you have the option to list your “relationship status.” With this in mind, it might be tempting to change yours soon after deciding to seek a divorce. This is not a good idea in most cases. You and your spouse could change your minds and decide to reconcile. Even more likely, your family and friends will probably notice the change, leading to uncomfortable questions and discussions before you are ready to have them.

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Collin County Family Law AttorneyThe decision about hiring a lawyer to assist with your divorce can be a tough one. Spouses who are relatively young with no children or substantial debt and few valuable assets could probably get through the divorce process without an attorney but doing so is risky. The risk becomes even greater for the majority of divorcing spouses, whose cases are likely to have many more complicating factors.

If you are facing an imminent divorce, you might think that hiring a lawyer will cost too much to be worth it. The reality, however, is that working with a qualified divorce attorney could actually save you money on child support, spousal support, and other considerations. Let’s look at some of the ways that a lawyer can help with your divorce case.

Saving Time and Aggravation

The legal system in the United States is often ranked among the best in the world, but it can certainly be difficult to navigate on your own. Divorce cases—especially those with high conflict or between high-net-worth individuals—may require endless paperwork, conferences, hearings, signatures, and legwork. A divorce is also a highly emotional undertaking, and many people quickly realize that they cannot handle the added responsibilities associated with managing the legal side of their divorce too. A skilled family lawyer can ease your burden and save you time and energy so that you can focus on building your new post-divorce life.

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Frisco Family Law AttorneyIn today’s world, there is no such thing as a “typical” divorce. There are many ways a couple can end their marriage, and the outcomes will change depending on the needs of each family. Some families are still traditional in the sense that the mother is the primary caregiver and is the one who spends the most time with the children. In other families, fathers are more involved in raising their children, which can cause tension and stress when it comes to making child-centered decisions during a divorce.

Though the law states that both mothers and fathers should be treated equally, fathers are sometimes still seen as “second-class” parents, and some dads feel that they are not given the same consideration as mothers when it comes to issues such as time with their children. Divorce can be difficult for everyone, but its negative effects may be especially worrisome for fathers. Here are a few tips to help dads aim for success during and after a divorce:

Be Proactive

When you are involved in custody disputes in the Texas court system, things become slightly more complicated. You will need to prove to the judge that you deserve to have just as much time with your child as your ex, if not more. To demonstrate this, you should be involved in your children’s lives and be sure to confer with your ex about things like doctor’s appointments, extracurricular activities, and school progress. The goal is to prove to the judge that you contribute more to your children’s lives than just picking them up and dropping them off.

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North Texas Family Law AttorneyWhen parents need to address issues related to their children in family law cases, they may encounter some unfamiliar legal terminology. While a parent may expect to address issues related to child custody, they may be confused by terms such as “joint managing conservatorship” or “possession and access,” and they may worry that failure to address these issues properly could affect their ability to maintain relationships with their children following a divorce or a breakup with an unmarried partner. By working with an attorney who has a strong knowledge of Texas law and experience representing clients in family court, a parent can protect their rights and resolve matters in a way that will provide for the best interests of their children.

Addressing Issues Related to Legal and Physical Custody of Children

In family law cases, custody of children is typically divided into two categories: legal custody and physical custody. In Texas, legal custody is referred to as conservatorship. A person who is named as a child’s conservator by a family court will have a number of rights and obligations, including the right to be involved in decisions about children’s health and education, the right to access children’s school or medical records, and the duty to provide children with the necessary care, protection, and discipline.

Courts will usually presume that it is in children’s best interests for parents to share joint managing conservatorship. This will give both parents the right to consult with each other as they make decisions about how their children will be raised. However, in certain situations, sole managing conservatorship may be appropriate, such as when one parent is incarcerated or absent.

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North Texas Divorce LawyerIn most cases, getting a divorce will require spouses to consider multiple complex issues. When a couple has joined their lives together, determining how to separate from each other can be difficult, regardless of the reasons for their divorce. While all couples will need to make decisions about the division of their marital property, spouses with a high net worth may find this process to be especially complicated. By considering different types of assets and determining how to reach fair and equitable agreements on how these assets will be divided, a couple can complete the divorce process successfully and ensure that both spouses will have the financial resources they need going forward.

Dividing Valuable Marital Assets

In divorce cases where a couple has a high net worth, assets such as the following may need to be addressed:

  • Real estate - While determining how to handle ownership of a couple’s primary residence may be difficult enough, the asset division process may become even more complicated if a couple owns multiple properties, including vacation homes and guest homes, as well as properties leased to commercial or residential tenants. Spouse may need to consider whether either party wishes to continue living in a home, whether a person will be able to assume sole ownership, and whether it may be beneficial to retain ownership of a property that generates ongoing income. If necessary, a couple may choose to sell one or more properties during their divorce. If a spouse will continue owning a property, they will need to remove the other spouse’s name from the title, and they may need to refinance the mortgage in their name alone.

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Collin County Divorce LawyerThere really is no such thing as a “simple” divorce. Even when both parties are getting along enough to work out a settlement in a civil manner, deciding who gets what can become complicated. In less civil divorces, things can become highly complex very quickly. There are a few signs that should indicate to you that your divorce may be more on the complex side. Or, you may know even before you file that your divorce is not going to be easy. If you are facing a complex divorce, it is important that you work closely with a well-qualified attorney. Complex divorces can require significant legal skills to successfully navigate. 

What Are Some Signs That My Divorce Will be Complicated?

If your divorce entails any of the following, you should expect some complications: 

  • Animosity - Amicable divorces tend to be easier, as both parties are likely to make reasonable concessions for the sake of keeping the peace. However, when there is significant animosity between the spouses, negotiating a settlement is not likely to be easy. Your spouse may refuse to compromise simply to spite you. Litigation is a strong possibility. 

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North Texas Child Support LawyerWhen you are the parent with primary custody of your child, you are likely entitled to receive child support payments from the noncustodial parent. Or, more accurately, your child is entitled to be financially supported by both parents no matter what. Calculating the amount of child support the noncustodial parent must pay can be a bit tricky, as there are a lot of variables in the equation. It will depend on the amount and type of income the payor receives and the number of children they have, among other factors. It can be difficult to predict the exact amount of child support you and your child will receive, but an attorney may be able to help you arrive at a good estimate. 

Calculating Monthly Income

Perhaps the most important factor affecting the amount of child support payments is the payor’s monthly income. If the payor’s net income is under $9,200 per month, they could be ordered to pay between 20% if they have one child and over 40% if they have more than six children. For purposes of calculating child support, monthly income includes: 

  • Wages - This includes any money the parent earns by working. It encompasses money earned by self-employment or a business they own, tips, paychecks, overtime, commissions, and bonuses. Income earned by a new spouse does not count.

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North Texas Family Law AttorneyChild custody cases can be very emotionally charged. Both parents are often eager to prove that spending time with them is in the child’s best interests. If you have a criminal record, you may be feeling quite anxious about how it could affect your ability to get custody of your child, especially if the other parent has no criminal history. Courts in Texas always strive to do what is best for the child and to keep them in a safe and suitable environment. While this does mean that courts will consider a parent's criminal history, they are mainly concerned with whether the parent is presently safe for the child to spend time with. If you are facing a custody battle and have a criminal record, you will want to have an experienced family law attorney representing you. A criminal history is far from a hard bar to gaining custody, but it can impact your case. 

What Factors Will the Court Consider When One Parent Has a Criminal Record?

Not every criminal offense suggests that a parent is unfit to raise their child. Everyone makes mistakes in life, and a criminal record does not mean that you are not a good parent. In assessing how your criminal history may impact your ability to parent your child, courts consider: 

  • Timing - If your offense happened a long time ago, it will have much less of an impact. Judges do realize that people can learn from their mistakes and go on to live a law-abiding life as productive members of society. However, if your conviction was more recent or you have charges pending, this may have more of an impact on your custody case. 
  • Nature of offense - The type of crime you committed is extremely relevant. Crimes that suggest you could be a danger to your child can have an enormous impact on your case. Violent offenses or charges like child endangerment or possession of child pornography may suggest to the judge that you should not have a child in your care. Family violence charges in particular can hurt your chances. However, crimes that do not suggest that you would endanger a child, like shoplifting or minor cannabis possession, will have less of an impact. 
  • Repeat offenses - If you have a long list of criminal convictions, this will affect your custody case much more than if you have only one or two offenses on your record. Having multiple convictions may suggest to the court that you are engaged in a pattern of criminal behavior that a child should not be exposed to. 

If you got one simple DUI fifteen years ago, you probably have very little to worry about in your custody case. However, if you have a long or recent record that suggests you may be a danger to your child, seeking custody may be a lot more difficult. 

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North Texas Divorce LawyerWhen a couple chooses to end their marriage and get a divorce, both spouses may experience financial difficulties. Each spouse will need to make changes to their lives as they shift from combining their incomes and expenses to managing separate households. Most of the time, spouses will need to scale back on their spending and determine how to cut down on expenses so that they will be able to meet their ongoing needs. However, there may be some situations where one spouse may not earn enough to fully support themselves and maintain their standard of living. For example, stay-at-home parents may not earn any income, and they may rely on their spouse’s income to cover the family’s financial needs. In these cases, spousal maintenance/alimony may be appropriate. 

If a couple agrees that one spouse will pay spousal support to the other after their divorce, or if spousal maintenance is awarded by the judge in a couple’s divorce case, the determination of the amount that should be paid and the amount of time that payments will last will be based on the parties’ circumstances at the time of their divorce. However, it is likely that circumstances will change in the years following the end of a couple’s marriage. In some cases, an ex-spouse may believe that certain changes are significant enough to warrant a modification of spousal support. In these situations, it is important to understand how modification requests may be handled.

Modification or Termination of Spousal Maintenance

If a person believes that a spousal support order should be modified, they must file a motion to modify maintenance in the appropriate family court. Notice of this motion may be served to the other party, who may file a response to the request for modification. A hearing may be held in which the party requesting the modification will need to provide evidence demonstrating why the modification is needed.

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Frisco Family Law AttorneyGetting divorced when you have children is already stressful enough. You are trying to make sure that you get a fair deal out of the divorce while also trying to put your children’s needs first. It can be terrifying when you find out that someone–most likely your spouse–has gotten Children Protective Services involved and accused you of abusing or neglecting your children. You have probably heard horror stories of parents having their children torn away from them in the blink of an eye. Being the subject of a CPS investigation can be alarming and panic-inducing under any circumstances, but if you are in the middle of a child custody case, it can be particularly frightening–and potentially risky. 

If this is happening to you, it is important that you immediately contact an attorney who has experience with abuse allegations during divorce. 

What Should I Do if My Spouse Calls CPS During Our Divorce?

First off, do not panic. If you handle the situation correctly, it is likely that nothing will come of it. However, you may want an attorney to manage the response to a CPS investigation. You do not want to make any mistakes. A few things you should know in this situation include: 

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Frisco Divorce LawyerIf you are in an abusive relationship, getting a divorce can be a powerful way to protect yourself and your children. Intimate partner violence tends to escalate over time, so the sooner you leave that type of marriage, the better. When there is violence at home, you may be afraid to take the important step of filing for divorce. You may fear that your spouse will retaliate, or that you will not have a way to support yourself. There are steps an attorney can take to help you stay safe during this process and to help reduce your stress during the time your divorce is in the courts. Make sure you work with a lawyer who has experience with divorces involving abuse. 

4 Things to Be Aware of When You Divorce an Abusive Spouse

When your marriage has become unsafe due to abuse, you might be worried about how the divorce process will go. While you probably cannot expect much cooperation from your spouse, you can get divorced whether they like it or not. Some things you should know about divorce after abuse include: 

  • Restraining orders - A Protective Order can help you stay safe during your divorce. These orders can force your spouse to leave the marital residence and not return, so that you can stay safely at home with any children. These orders can also forbid your spouse from contacting, stalking, surveilling, or otherwise bothering you, or from going to your workplace or your children’s school. If you have children, the order can protect them as well. Your spouse can be arrested if they violate the order. 

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Collin County Divorce LawyerThe Supreme Court ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges was a manifestation of a sea of change in American cultural attitudes towards the legality of homosexual marriage. In many ways the culmination of many years of deeply felt activism on both sides of the issue, this 2015 ruling made same-sex marriage legal in every state. But along with same-sex marriage came the same complications and difficulties of heterosexual marriage, including divorce. While gay and lesbian couples getting divorced in Texas can expect the same-sex divorce process to look mostly the same as their heterosexual peers, here are some important facts to know.

Cohabitation Agreements Are Trumped By Prenuptial Agreements

Same-sex spouses who got married in a state where same-sex marriage was legal before the Obergefell v. Hodges decision may have signed a prenup in their state of marriage and a cohabitation agreement in Texas. Now that same-sex marriage is legal everywhere, the prenuptial agreement a couple signed in another state will take legal precedence over a cohabitation agreement signed in Texas. 

Breakups Do Not Constitute Divorce for Property Issues

Couples who got married in Massachusetts or another state with same-sex marriage before 2015 may have moved to a state without same-sex marriage and ended their relationship without the ability to get divorced. But unless a couple legally gets divorced, new property, income, and other assets will still be considered shared marital assets. If your relationship has been over but you have yet to get divorced, you can expect your accumulating assets to be considered marital. All marital property will need to be divided in your divorce. 

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North Texas Parentage LawyerMany unmarried women get pregnant accidentally or before finding out that the child’s father is not a man they want to raise a child with. They may then wonder if establishing paternity would be in their or the child’s best interests. After all, if the child’s father is abusive, unavailable, or a philanderer, many women may reason that there is simply no reason to inform him of the pregnancy. 

While some women ultimately do decide to never establish parentage in Texas, there are good reasons for doing so even if you do not like your child’s father. Before you decide whether you want to establish paternity, here are some things to consider. 

Will Not Establishing Paternity Hurt My Child? 

An abundance of research suggests that children do best by almost every metric when they have fathers in their lives. Fatherless children are more likely to drop out of school, abuse drugs and alcohol, engage in criminal activity, have trouble regulating their emotions, and become pregnant as a teenager. 

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North Texas Divorce LawyerDivorce requires a family to restructure major aspects of their lives: their living arrangements, their relationships, their finances, and more. While the quality of the relationship between a parent and her child can and should be the most important concern following a divorce, financial arrangements are also very important. Understanding how child support is handled in Texas is essential for moving on with a steady and predictable budget after a divorce is finalized. If you are a divorcing parent in Collin County, TX, this information may be useful to you. 

Important Factors in Child Support Payments 

Texas courts use a special formula to estimate ideal monthly child support payments. Both parents’ income from all sources is taken into consideration. This includes salary, hourly, and overtime pay, as well as bonuses, tips, commissions, and other monetary benefits.

Additional factors that courts take into consideration include the age and needs of each child, the amount of time each parent spends with the child, the cost of child care, and the cost of moving a child between households. Most parents do not make exactly the same amount of money and spend exactly the same amount of time with their children, so one parent almost always ends up paying the other parent-child support. 

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North Texas Family Law AttorneyEvery year, more children in the United States are the product of divorced or never-married parents. Over time, Texas law has been updated to reflect the realities of modern family life, becoming more flexible and allowing unmarried co-parents to make arrangements that work for their family. One common consequence of having unmarried parents is the likelihood that one parent will want to move away from the other and take their child with them. But when a parent wants to move and he or she shares custody of a child with another adult, Texas law has certain requirements to protect the best interests of the child. 

What Are the Best Interests of a Child? 

Whenever Texas courts make decisions about a child, including how time spent with each parent and important decision-making responsibilities are allocated, it makes these decisions with the child’s best interests in mind. Although several other factors are taken into consideration, the ultimate standard that must be met is whether an arrangement would be the best for a child, given the circumstances. 

Moving, especially long distances, can be very stressful for young children. When a child is well-integrated into her community, school, and friend group, moving may not be in their best interests - even if it would be good for the parent. When co-parents share custody in a Joint Managing Conservatorship, their court-approved parenting agreement controls many aspects of their lives, often including where they live. Deviating from this plan requires court approval from the same court that granted the divorce. 

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Collin County Property Distribution AttorneyIf you are getting divorced, you probably have hundreds of questions. You may wonder how you and your soon-to-be-ex will divide the contents of your bank accounts or handle ownership of the family vehicles. You may question who will keep the marital home, furniture, and other tangible property. You may also have business interests, investments, and retirement accounts that will need to be dealt with. Property division can be a complicated and contentious issue during a Texas divorce. A divorce lawyer can help.

Marital Settlement Agreements: Determining Property Division Outside of Court

Each divorce case is different. The complexity of the property division process is largely based on the types of assets spouses’ own and their ability to reach an agreement on how to divide those assets. Some spouses are able to reach a property distribution settlement without the court’s involvement. Many negotiate a property division arrangement through their lawyers and formalize their decision in the marital settlement agreement.

Property Division and Texas Courts

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to reach a settlement and avoid court intervention. This is especially true when one spouse tries to hide assets or otherwise refuses to cooperate with property division negotiations. If the court determines property division, it will follow Texas community property laws. Any property and debt accumulated during the marriage is considered jointly owned by both spouses. Separate property, property owned by only one spouse, is usually assigned to that spouse.

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Collin County Child Custody LawyerMany parents seek to pursue what they call “full custody” of their child in a Texas divorce or custody modification. However, Texas law actually does not use the terms “custody” or “visitation” - instead, a parent’s legal relationship with their child is split into two areas: Conservatorship, meaning the right to make decisions for the child, and possession, or time spent with the child. In our last blog, we cover Texas’s treatment of child custody in fuller detail. 

It is important to know that Texas only terminates one parent’s rights if he or she meets the grounds for termination under the Family Code - not because parents dislike each other or disagree with each others’ parenting methods. In this blog, we will examine some of the rare situations in which a parent may be able to get full parental rights that exclude the other parent. 

When Can a Texas Court Terminate a Parent-Child Relationship? 

Texas courts take children’s well-being very seriously and try to allow children to have productive relationships with both parents whenever possible. However, in some circumstances, it may be impractical or even dangerous for a child to spend time with one of their parents. According to Texas law, these situations include, but are not limited to, a parent who has: 

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North Texas Child Custody LawyerParents want what is best for their children. Whether you are an unmarried parent or a parent planning to divorce, you probably have several questions about child custody in Texas. Who your child will live with and how significant decisions about the child’s upbringing will be made are essential concerns during a Texas divorce. Read on to learn about child custody laws and what to do if you need help with child custody concerns.

Legal Custody and Physical Custody

Each state handles child custody slightly differently. In Texas, “legal custody” refers to parents’ decision-making authority. Parents with legal custody have the right to decide where their children will go to school, what type of healthcare the children receive, whether the children go to church or participate in other religious practices, and more.

Physical custody refers to where the child lives and which parent cares for the child on any given day. The Texas Family Code calls custody “conservatorship,” but the term child custody is still used informally in this blog for clarity purposes.

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Frisco Spousal Support LawyerWhether you are just thinking about divorce, or you have already filed the divorce paperwork with the court, you may understandably have questions about the divorce’s impact on your finances. Spousal maintenance can help offset the negative financial consequences of divorce. However, alimony or spousal maintenance is only available in certain circumstances. If you are interested in pursuing spousal maintenance during your divorce or you think your spouse will ask for spousal maintenance, contact a skilled divorce lawyer for help.

You May Be Able to Negotiate an Alimony Agreement

Spouses may be able to negotiate an agreement about the terms of spousal maintenance payments during the divorce process. Often, one spouse will receive certain assets in exchange for paying spousal maintenance to the other. For example, you may be able to negotiate a spousal maintenance arrangement that trades maintenance payments for business interests, stocks, or other assets.

The Court May Award Alimony in Limited Circumstances

If you cannot reach a spousal maintenance agreement with your spouse, you may be able to petition the court for spousal maintenance. However, Texas courts only award spousal maintenance in certain circumstances. You may qualify for alimony if you demonstrate a genuine financial need, and one of the following is true:

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Collin County Order of Protection AttorneyFamily violence or domestic violence is a very legitimate problem in Texas. Unfortunately, some people abuse the legal system by making false accusations of family violence. Whether you are going through a divorce, child custody dispute, or other family law matter, being accused of family violence can have a major impact on your case. The best thing to do when you find out you have been accused of child abuse, domestic assault, or another form of family violence is to contact a skilled family law attorney for personalized legal guidance.

Do Not Speak to or Visit the Person Accusing You of Family Violence

Being accused of something as heinous as child abuse or domestic violence is understandably shocking. If a current or former romantic partner, family member, or housemate has accused you of harming them or their children, you may be eager to defend yourself. You may want to confront the accuser and set the record straight. However, confronting the accuser is one of the worst things you can do in a situation like this.

Follow The Terms of The Protective Order

Most accusations of family violence involve a protective order. A protective order is a court order that legally prohibits you from taking certain actions. Most protective orders require the subject of the order to stay away from the accuser and refrain from contacting them. Something as simple as a phone call may technically be a violation of a protective order. Do not call, text, or otherwise contact the person accusing you of family violence. Stay away from the accuser’s home, school, and workplace. You may need to temporarily move out of your home or forgo seeing your children for a short period of time in order to comply with the protective order. Following a protective order that is based on false accusations can be infuriating, but doing so is the best way to avoid further criminal charges or worsening your chances of a favorable outcome in your case. 

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