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Houston Business and Family Law Blog

Divorce: How to talk to (and protect) younger and older kids

When you first realized your marriage was headed for divorce, you may have immediately begun to worry how such events might negatively impact your children. While a divorce is primarily an adult issue, it affects far more people than just the two spouses involved -- especially children.

It's understandable that you'd want to protect your children's innocence and not give them more information than they are mature enough to handle. That's why what you say to one of your children may be different from another, depending on their ages. Like most good parents, you want what is best for your kids and you do not wish your relationship problems to impede their ability to live joyful lives. The good news is that there are strong support systems already in place to help you help your children adapt to new lifestyles in the healthiest, least-stressful manner possible.  

Community property law in Texas

Texas is a community property state, so when it comes time to divide assets following a divorce, splitting them down the middle is common. Sometimes that seems easier said than done, though, does it not? 

Couples acquire so much together even when they are only married for a brief period of time. Of course, longer marriages accumulate a lifetime of earned wages, savings, retirement funds, homes and furnishings. Is every single asset considered community property to divide equally?

Studies support shared parenting

According to KXAN News, in 2017, Texas lawmakers considered Bill HB453, one that "would have allowed the court to grant equal parenting unless it was against the best interest of the child." The bill did not survive the legislative process, which understandably disappointed its proponents. 

Strong advocates of shared parenting, KXAN reports, remind the public, "too often, parents are unable to get equal visitation time with their kids during a separation or divorce." While they recognize they will not always be the only role models in their children's lives, they still want to have the chance to be actively involved.

What is considered marital property?

Going through a divorce in Texas can often be daunting. While there are many difficult topics to discuss, one of the most overwhelming may be that of property division. You may find it difficult to separate property that you have accumulated throughout years of marriage. Before you finalize your divorce settlement, however, it is important to ensure you fully understand all of the items that are eligible for division.

When you think of marital property, you may instantly think of the family home, vehicles, furniture and the assets found in your savings account. Yet there are many more items you’ll want to consider. These include the following:

  •          Antique, vehicle, coin, art, wine and coin collections.
  •          Frequent travel miles or rewards points.
  •          Intellectual property, such as copyrights, trademarks and patents.
  •          Gifts given to one another during the marriage.
  •          Golf course and country club memberships.

Collecting documentation for your child custody hearing

A custody battle may be one of the most difficult things you will ever have to endure. Following what may have been an emotional divorce, you may now have to engage with your former spouse in a dispute over who is the more fit parent for your children. While the very premise of it may be distasteful to you, it is possible that if you do not take careful steps to prepare for this hearing, you risk losing custody of your children.

A significant part of your case will involve documentation. This is proof, on paper, of the ways you and your spouse parent, for better or worse. 

A parenting plan can make or break your co-parenting relationship

Raising children is a challenge for any parent. Making sacrifices for them becomes second nature, and that's when things are going well in the relationship between the parents. When the marital relationship ends, the challenges tend to increase.

Perhaps you are like many other Texas parents who want to continue to raise their children in a loving and supportive atmosphere after the divorce. To do that, you will need to find a way to work with your future former spouse.

Can you get child support for your adult disabled child?

If you and your spouse contemplate a Texas divorce and are the parents of a disabled child over the age of 18, can you seek child support for that child even if (s)he no longer lives with you? This was the issue the Supreme Court of Texas addressed in the 2018 case of In the Interest of C.J.N.-S. and J.C.N.-S. 

In this case, a Texas couple divorced in 1998. One of their children had continuing medical problems that started prior to her 18th birthday. She began living on her own once she turned 18 in 2011. Ultimately she received a diagnosis of gastroparesis in 2013, meaning that her condition makes it necessary for her to have a feeding tube and take medication, both of which preclude her from maintaining employment. Her mother pays both her living and medical expenses and also visits her regularly to help with household chores.

International abduction: How to get your child back

When you got divorced, you may have believed that although your marriage was ending, your relationship with your former spouse would continue because you have a child together. For the most part, you may have thought you'd merely have to be civil, adhere to your court order and do your best to keep things amicable between you for the sake of your child or children.

You may never have imagined you'd be facing an international child abduction situation. In fact, you probably agreed to allow your ex to take your child to another country because you thought it would be an educational and adventurous experience for them. When the agreed-upon date for their return to the U.S. came and went and your child still was not back, you may have sensed that there was a serious problem. You'll be glad to know help is available to help you seek justice and protect your child.

What factors may be considered when determining custody?

One of the most difficult issues to resolve when going through a divorce is that of child custody. When your marriage does not work out and you make the hard decision to end the relationship, children are often caught in the crossfire. If you decide to undergo a traditional court divorce, the judge presiding over the case will often consider several factors before determining the type of custody arrangement will work best for the situation.

First, the judge may look at the ages of the children and whether or not they are in school. If you have children who are not yet in school, the schedule may be more versatile than parents who have school-aged children, who may do best in a more stable living situation. The judge may also look at each parent’s job and how much time they are able to spend with the children. Another key factor is the relationship between you and your children, as well as your mental health and physical health history.

Marriage date matters in same-sex divorce

Same-sex couples across Texas and the U.S. rejoiced in 2015 when the Supreme Court ruled the ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional. While the ruling made matrimony easier, it complicated divorce proceedings.

When an opposite-sex couple divorces, judges take into account their marriage date to determine how assets should be split and whether an individual should receive alimony. However, many same-sex couples had been cohabitating years before they were legally allowed to be married. The question becomes, should a judge consider how long a same-sex couple had been together before getting married? The situation may be different if a couple had started dating after the 2015 landmark decision.

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