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The Dangers of Parental Alienation

Posted on in Divorce

Frisco, TX family lawyerDivorce is a painful process for the families who go through it. Children can especially be affected, as their entire world is changing. During or after a divorce, it is difficult for many to hold their tongues regarding their ex-spouses, and a parent may be tempted to make a snide remark about their former partner. Such emotions are understandable and even tolerable, to a small extent, but in extreme cases, a vindictive parent directly attempts to alienate a child from the other parent. This is called parental alienation, and it can create serious problems for both the child and the offending parent.

Parental alienation often includes manipulative or destructive behavior on the part of the adult and is meant to weaken or break the relationship between the child and his or her other parent. A father telling his children lies about the mother so that they will prefer staying at his house would be an example of parental alienation. It could also involve a mother who refuses to let her children see their father by falsely claiming he does not want to be a part of their lives. When a parent tries to change a child’s perception of the other parent in an unethical way, parental alienation is occurring. This manipulative behavior is also sometimes referred to as “aggressive hostile parenting,” and it is seen by many experts as a form of emotional abuse.

Consequences of Parental Alienation

These behaviors can be harmful and confusing to a child. Parental alienation not only damages the relationship between child and parent but can also be mentally and emotionally damaging to the child involved. When a child is convinced that one of their parents is unfit or no longer loves them, it may devastate him or her, and he or she often blames him- or herself. The Parental Alienation Awareness Organization (PAAO) says that this can “rob the child of their sense of security and safety leading to maladaptive emotional or psychiatric reactions.” Children who are victims of this devious behavior can suffer severe emotional trauma that has long-lasting effects on their lives.

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Collin County family law attorneyThe calendar has flipped over to November, which means that the winter holiday season is fast approaching. Starting with Thanksgiving later this month, many families will celebrate several holidays over the weeks that follow, possibly including the Winter Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year's Eve/New Year's Day.

Planning your celebrations is difficult enough for any family, but it can be especially challenging if you share custody of your children with your ex-spouse. With this in mind, it is important to know what your custody agreement says and to begin making arrangements now so that your children can make the most of this year's holiday season.

Review Your Established Holiday Custody Schedule

If you and your co-parent have already established a holiday custody schedule, the first step is to review it to make sure that it is still accurate and up to date. You may find that your overall situation has changed since you originally created it, or that your family’s holiday plans have changed. If any changes need to be made, talk to your co-parent about them as soon as possible so that you can come to an agreement.

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Frisco, TX divorce lawyerIf you are considering divorcing your spouse but they are reluctant to end the marriage, you may be wondering what to do. The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Every divorce is different, and therefore the best course of action will vary from couple to couple. However, there are some general tips that can help make the process go more smoothly. Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Evaluate Your Reasons for Wanting a Divorce

Before you take any further steps, it is important to sit down and evaluate your reasons for wanting a divorce. Are you certain that this is what you want? Are there any other options? What are your long-term goals? Once you have a clear understanding of why you want a divorce, you will be in a better position to explain your decision to your spouse. This can help them understand where you are coming from and potentially make them more receptive to the idea of ending the marriage.

Have an Open and Honest Conversation With Your Spouse

If possible, it is always best to have an open and honest conversation with your spouse about your desire to divorce. This can be a difficult conversation, but it is important to try and communicate as clearly as you are able. Explain your reasons for wanting a divorce and give them a chance to share their thoughts and feelings on the matter. If you can come to an agreement about divorcing, this will make the process much simpler. However, even if you are not able to reach an agreement, simply having this conversation can help lay the groundwork for a more amicable divorce down the road.

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Frisco, TX divorce lawyerIf you are considering a divorce or you have already started the divorce process, you may be wondering how to tell your children. While this is a difficult conversation to have, there are some things you can do to make it a little easier. Here are a few tips on how to talk to your children about your divorce.

1. Make Sure You Are Both on the Same Page

Before you have the conversation with your children, make sure you and your spouse are on the same page about what you are going to say. You should both be in agreement about the key points you want to communicate to your children. This will help the conversation go more smoothly and help reduce any confusion or anxiety on the part of your children.

2. Keep Things Simple and Age-Appropriate

When you are talking to your children about your divorce, try to keep your explanation simple. They are likely already feeling confused and overwhelmed, so avoid using complicated legal jargon or getting into too many details. Just let them know that you and their other parent have decided to divorce and that they will still see both of you. It is also a good idea to speak in a way that your children will understand based on their ages and maturity levels.

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Do Not Let Divorce Ruin Your Credit

Posted on in Divorce

TX divorce lawyerGoing through a divorce is undoubtedly one of the most emotionally draining situations many people have to face. At this difficult time, it is vitally important to be aware of the negative impact this emotional upheaval can have on personal finances. While working through your divorce, it is necessary to take responsibility for safeguarding your personal finances and credit score.

Good Credit Is Crucial

For spouses who have not been responsible for paying the bills during their marriages, the transition to successfully managing their personal finances can be challenging. If this describes your situation, it is important to get an overall understanding of their finances so that you can make smart decisions going forward.

One important area of focus involves your personal credit score. Everyone has their own credit score assigned to them by the credit reporting agencies, regardless of if they are single or married. However, for married people, depending on how the couple’s credit and loan accounts were set up and maintained, a person’s individual credit score may be substantially different from their spouse’s.

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TX divorce lawyerIf you have decided that you are going to pursue a divorce, there is nothing to be gained by dragging your feet or delaying the inevitable. Getting divorced will not be easy, but it does not need to take many months—all while you have put your life on hold. In many situations, you might be able to get through the entire divorce process in just a few short weeks, but if you hope to do so, you and your spouse will need to work together. Let’s look at a few things that you can do to expedite your divorce.

1. Create a Plan

One of the best ways to eliminate unnecessary delays in your divorce is to work through as many of the relevant issues as you are able to with your spouse. The two of you will probably not agree on every concern, so start with the little things. If you are not really worried about keeping certain items or assets, for example, reach an agreement on those, then use the cooperative momentum to work on more difficult matters. Once you get the ball rolling, you will find it easier to live up to your decision to complete your divorce amicably.

2. Prioritize Your Wants and Needs

If negotiations between you and your spouse break down, controlling yourself and your desire to “win” could help the process move along more quickly. If you initiate an argument—or respond to your spouse when he or she picks a fight—on every issue in your divorce, progress will be nearly impossible. Decide on the things that matter most to you, such as your children or your business. Focus your attention on those important areas and let the less important things slide.

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Collin County Divorce LawyerPrenuptial agreements have largely gotten a bad reputation over the last few decades—a reputation that they do not really deserve. Stories about outrageous celebrity marriages which seem doomed to fail are often where many first hear the term. However, prenuptial agreements are a tool which can be valuable for anyone. You do not need to be rich or a celebrity to benefit from a prenup.

If you have decided that you want to sign a prenuptial agreement with your future spouse before tying the knot, you may be unsure of how to bring up the conversation. Here are a few things to consider.

Benefits of a Prenup

A prenuptial agreement is a legally binding document which establishes the property and financial rights of each spouse in the event of a divorce. For example, a prenup can protect your family-owned business, ensure inheritance rights for children of a previous marriage, prevent one spouse from acquiring the debt of another, protect each spouse’s financial interests, and more.

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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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