Divorce can take its toll on all family members. Especially grandparents who miss regular visits with their grandchildren. If their children do not share custody or equal parenting time with their ex-spouse, taking precious time for visits to grandma's are even less likely.
A professor at a large northern university has proposed a piece of legislation titled the, "Second Chances Act." He says it was written as a way to help reduce the number of unnecessary divorces. He is also the director of a university project called "Couples on the Brink." His hope is to create an approach to marriage counseling that focuses on keeping couples together, rather than allowing them to throw up their hands in defeat, or listening to friends and relatives who keep telling them to "divorce the loser."
Texas is one of the states leading the way in redefining what is in the best interest of the child when it comes to child custody, visitation and parenting time. Like many parents, especially fathers, fighting for equal time with their children has been a long time coming. While other states' lawmakers fight over small percentages, Texas has already passed a law allowing non-custodial parents the right to at least 40 percent of parenting time with their children.
The Texas Supreme Court will decide whether or not a mediated custody agreement between parents should be sanctioned, even if a judge believes it is not in the best interest of the child. Mediation for divorcing couples is cheaper, faster and less stressful for all parties involved. Therefore, state law gives our family court judges very little discretion on mediated settlements. The agreements are usually entered into court documents during routine hearings without any objections.
We always hear that custody and visitation decisions are supposedly made in the "best interests" of the child. So, why not let our children tell us what their interests are? Instead of having doctors and psychologists tell the Harris County Family Court what is best for our children during your divorce, visitation or custody dispute, why not just ask your kids? What if we also revisited the custody settlement or visitation schedule every two years? As your child ages, so will his or her priorities, friends, school activities and interests.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office recently released some disturbing findings that were evidenced right here in Houston: children in the Texas foster care system are more likely to be prescribed psychotropic drugs than in any other state. A local family is heartbroken after their daughter's health declined while in the custody of Child Protective Services.
Sometimes, if a military parent is deployed, or even has a chance of being deployed, it can be enough to sway a judge's opinion of what is in the best interest of a child when determining custody arrangements and parenting plans.
Houston parents dealing with the heartbreaking turmoil of an international custody battle can certainly empathize with a woman from Kansas. Her former husband has taken her three children to the Gaza Strip in the Middle East. Under their divorce decree, the children lived with their father but had regular visitation with their mother. In addition, the father was allowed to take the children overseas as long as he had their mother's permission. However, the Palestinian man fooled his ex-wife into signing their passport applications under the guise that he was merely bringing the children to visit for his sister's wedding. They were supposed to return to the U.S. in March.