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Dallas-Fort Worth Family Law Blog

How to handle parental alienation syndrome

One unfortunate side effect of getting a divorce is parental alienation syndrome. This is the name for a situation in which one parent attempts to turn a child against the other. There are a number of indicators of parental alienation syndrome that Texas residents should understand.

For example, one parent could be shut out of parent/teacher meetings and removed from contact lists. A child who was never oppositional in the past might develop resistant tendencies and start to ask the parent not to attend certain events. The child could cease to acknowledge positive bonding and may attack the parent in language that sounds like that of the ex who is causing the parental alienation.

Holidays during divorce

Divorce and separation are always painful for families in Texas, and things can get even tougher around the winter holidays. In many cases, this is the first time that the spouses will not be spending this time together. Change of this type often raises questions as to where the children will be during the festivities.

While a marriage may be drawing to an end, the relationship between parent and child continues. It's understandable, therefore, that each parent may want to spend time with their children over the holidays and particularly covet a child's presence at traditional family events. When schedules conflict, tensions can flare.

Mediation can be a positive divorce process for many

Marriages can come to an end for couples in Texas for many reasons and in a wide variety of circumstances. In many cases, divorcing spouses may place a priority on maintaining a positive, helpful relationship during and after the divorce. For others, intensive involvement with the legal system is something they wish to avoid. For these and other reasons, divorce mediation may be a preferred option for a variety of couples.

Divorce mediation doesn't mean that couples rely only on themselves or a marriage counselor to get through the dissolution of their marriage. Instead, a qualified professional, usually a family law attorney, helps both spouses navigate the divorce proceedings without hashing out the issues in court. In some cases, each party in a divorce mediation may bring his or her own lawyer, but the goal is to resolve divorce matters in a collaborative context rather than an adversarial one.

Financial matters can be major concerns during divorce

Spouses in Texas dealing with the end of a marriage may be beset by emotional concerns; however, financial concerns and questions can loom just as large for people heading toward divorce. This is especially true as a growing number of couples opt for divorce at older ages with potential impact on the retirement and savings plans of both spouses. Since the 1990s, divorce rates for people over 40 in the United States have risen; for those over 50, the rates have doubled.

When considering divorce, it is important to have a full understanding of the financial picture of the household. It can be important for both partners to gather more knowledge about marital finances, especially if only one member of the couple handled financial matters in the past. Professionals can help divorcing spouses learn more about their financial outlook.

Staying together unhappily versus ending the marriage

Couples with young children may have to think about more than which spouse keeps the house and the cars when they begin to contemplate getting divorced. Many Texas couples choose to stay together for the sake of their children. However, in some cases, it's better for the children if the parents end the marriage and move on. However, there are a few things for parents to consider.

Sometimes, it makes sense for couples to stay together even if they don't love each other anymore. For example, when one spouse has medical issues and needs to continue using the other's health insurance, staying married might make sense financially. An unhappy couple might also choose to stay together if they are committed to the marriage and hope to rebuild their relationship.

Divorce mediation: How the process will unfold

Although mediation is not the right decision for every couple going through a divorce, it's something you should at least consider. When you give this a try, you may find that it's the best way to put your divorce in the past in a fast and efficient manner.

Many people shy away from mediation because they don't understand the process and what it entails. Instead, they assume that they will be on their own to make key decisions that could have a big impact on their future.

Why divorce happens

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 22 percent of couples in Texas and the rest of the nation who have been married for five years will undergo some type of marital disruption. For marriages that have lasted for at least two decades, the percentage of marriages that will end jumps to 53 percent. For the couples who get divorced, the primary reasons they choose to do so seem to be prevalent among divorced couples.

Being unfaithful to a spouse is one of the primary reasons for a divorce. People who engage in physical or emotional affairs with someone other than their spouses are seen as participating in one of the most significant betrayals that can occur in a marriage. Whether it is a one-time event or occurs repeatedly, such behavior can be difficult for a couple to overcome.

Divorce doesn't have to mean separation from children

When heading into a divorce, a Texas father's greatest fear may be losing his connection with his children. Going from being part of one's children's daily lives to seeing them only part-time can be emotionally difficult as well as logistically draining. In fact, concerns about access to children can keep many parents in relationships long after they would have chosen a divorce otherwise. However, there are mechanisms to help to ensure that the parent-child relationship remains fully intact despite a marital split.

In fact, divorced dads can even improve their relationship with their children after a marriage ends. One of the best tools for ensuring a continuing, successful parental relationship can be coming into the situation ready for full participation in shaping a custody arrangement. While parents can have an array of visitation or shared living options, the best choice can vary widely for families. However, on many occasions, the best results can be achieved when divorcing parents work together with their respective lawyers to set up a parenting plan.

Factors that make a couple more likely to divorce

Although many Texas couples fight to keep a failed marriage going, some end up deciding that it is time to get a divorce and move on. Some couples that end up splitting up regardless of the work they put in may be interested to learn that certain factors may have played a role in the marriage coming to an end.

One major factor that can have an impact on a person's likelihood to get a divorce is if his or her parents split up. The data suggests that children who watch their parents get divorced may be more likely to contribute to their own propensity to experience the same type of marriage and get divorced themselves. Another factor that could influence the length of a marriage is the cost of the wedding. Those who spent more than $20,000 on their nuptials were 3.5 times more likely to end the marriage than those who spent $10,000 or less.

How post-nuptial agreements work

When Texas couples get married, they usually want to be together for life. Unfortunately, the U.S. divorce rate shows that even people with the best intentions can't always make their marriages work. One common reason for marital discord is that many couples fight about finances. While prenuptial agreements are one way to get couples to talk about finances before marriage, not every couple has one. However, it is still possible to draft a binding financial agreement even after a couple says, "I do."

Post-nuptial agreements are similar to prenuptial contracts: They are legally binding documents in which the couple agrees to specific arrangements surrounding finances and even child custody. Some couples will opt for a post-nuptial agreement because they realize, after the wedding, that they would like to protect certain assets such as a home or a financial windfall.