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Dallas-Fort Worth Family Law Blog

Creating a prenup that is fair to both parties

Some Texas couples who are getting married may want to consider a prenuptial agreement, but this needs to be a document that they prepare together and agree on. One woman who was given a cohabitation agreement to sign before moving in with her boyfriend found that it included provisions in case they got married that she was unwilling to agree to.

One of the provisions was that she would waive any claim to alimony if they married and then divorced. The other was that she would waive any financial claim to the home. The man had bought the home with the help of his mother. Upon moving in, the plan was for her to pay a reduced rent. However, the clause would have applied no matter how long they were married or how much money she had put toward the mortgage on the home. The man's attorney had prepared a document that would protect him, but it gave no consideration to the woman's needs.

Discuss prenuptial agreements early in an engagement

The moment a couple gets engaged can be magical. However, the last thing that most Texas couples want to do is ruin that magic by talking about money, particularly a prenuptial agreement. However, there are several reasons why talking about a prenup early in the engagement can be beneficial.

Prenups can be tailored to each individual's unique needs and circumstances. The goal with this legally binding contract is usually to lay out which assets will be viewed as separate property versus marital property if the couple decides to divorce in the future. It could also address inheritances, business interests and family trusts. A prenup may even include confidentiality of finances or other information, which would prevent an ex-spouse from sharing private info with others.

Why mediation could be beneficial during child custody disputes

A child custody mediator is a professional who will act as a neutral third-party and help facilitate discussions to resolve legal disputes. A person could be ordered by a judge to attend mediation sessions, or their ex-spouse may request them to do so. Here are some things Texas residents should know about child custody mediation for visitation rights.

If it is an ex-spouse who has requested a mediation session, the other party can decide if they will participate in it or not. Mediation may help them to reach an agreement regarding child custody and could prove beneficial when showing a judge that they have a willingness to cooperate with their ex-spouse. If a person has been ordered by a judge to attend this session, refusing to participate may lead to a judge holding them in contempt. Refusal could also frustrate the judge, which means that they will likely work against the individual.

Illegitimate reasons to not allow parental visitation

After a couple has gone through a divorce, it is common for them to feel some level of hostility or bitterness toward their ex-spouse. While a custodial parent may try to use the children as leverage to get back at the ex and deny them visitation rights, this is illegal and could lead to the person facing legal repercussions. Texas parents should not refuse visitation rights to an ex-spouse if they have been granted them by the courts.

It is common for a person to feel resentment toward a boyfriend or girlfriend of an ex-spouse. First, there is the pain that is associated with knowing that the ex-spouse has moved on. Second, there is the apprehension or feelings of jealousy related to thinking of how a child's relationship may potentially grow as they get to know the ex-spouse's new significant other. These are also situations that do not create grounds for refusing visitation.

A collaborative divorce process could pay off

The stereotypical Texas divorce may be one of two parties who cannot stand each other, argue incessantly and use their children as leverage to get back at the other spouse. And while, sadly, this is true for some families in the divorce process, it doesn't have to be the reality for all. Although it may require calling in some professional help, a collaborative divorce is possible. The benefits to the couple are immeasurable, but the children are often the biggest winners.

Clearly, the potential for conflict and all the negative reactions to conflict are ripe when couples are working through marital dissolution. If they couldn't get along during the marriage, it's probably not a good bet they will do so during the divorce and thereafter. This is one reason why family counselors suggest a collaborative, team approach whereby the couple seeks the guidance of a lawyer, financial analyst and mental health professional. Each of these individuals can bring a perspective and objectivity to the couple. The goal is to provide a blueprint for resolving potential areas of conflict without resorting to court.

Coparenting with a difficult ex-spouse

Divorced parents in Texas do not have to agree on every aspect of co-parenting to do it effectively. However, in some situations, one parent may be toxic and try to use the co-parenting relationship to manipulate the other parent. This can make a difficult situation even harder, but there are steps a parent can take to manage it.

The keys for parents who are in a co-parenting relationship like this are to stay focused on the child and to remember that they cannot control the other parent, but they can control their own reactions. Essentially, this means not engaging with the toxic parent. The parent should learn to recognize the patterns and set boundaries. This can mean not responding immediately and making rules about how communication will happen, such as only over email. There are also programs that can be used by divorced parents for communication. These programs document co-parent communication, which may be a good idea for parents whether or not they use the program.

How to stay in touch with children after a divorce

After the difficult process of a divorce, a parent and child may sometimes face the additional challenge of the parent having to move a long distance away. When this happens, the parent may worry about how to maintain the relationship. Parents can keep in touch with their children and their lives in a number of different ways while ensuring that their visits remain high-quality even if they do not happen as often.

Sending postcards with positive messages on them can be a good way to let children know a parent is thinking of them. Parents can also communicate using social media, email or text messages. Even if there are times set aside for the children and parents to talk on the phone, parents can call outside these times as well. They should ask questions that are relevant to things the parent knows are happening in the child's life, such as how the child's outing with a friend went. Children may also have their own preferences about how to communicate that parents should ask them about.

How to determine a visitation schedule for infants

A schedule for child custody and visitation is something most parents in Texas must create if they are getting a divorce, but they may encounter some additional challenges if their child is still an infant. The purpose of visitation with infants is to ensure that the child bonds with the noncustodial parent. This can usually be done with visits of half an hour several times per week.

A custodial parent may struggle with the idea of letting the other parent have responsibility for the child even for just a few hours. For new parents, it can feel as though no one else can learn the child's different cries and cues, but the other parent can do so even if parenting styles differ. Mothers who are breastfeeding may have additional concerns. If they are struggling to pump, they may be reluctant to leave the child with the other parent for very long.

High net worth divorce calls for an asset division checklist

As a high net worth individual going through divorce in Texas, you'll have many questions about what will happen to your assets, how your financial situation will change in the future and the steps you can take to maintain your standard of living.

While there's no way of knowing exactly how the divorce process will shake out, there are steps you can take to protect your rights and put your mind at ease. Creating an asset division checklist is one of the best steps you can take.

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