The Children’s Bill of Rights in Divorce

The Children’s Bill of Rights in Divorce is written by Robert Emery, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Children, Families, and the Law at the University of Virginia. Divorced parents still must fulfill their responsibilities to their kids, and in my view, children should have rights in divorced families. Here is my Children’s Bill of Rights in Divorce. If you can give your children these freedoms, you will have gone a long way toward filling your responsibilities as a parent. Every child whose parents divorce has: The right to love and be loved by both of your parents without feeling guilt or disapproval. The right to be protected from your parents’ anger with each other. The right to be kept out of the middle of your parents’ conflict, including the right not to pick sides, carry messages, or hear complaints about the other parent. The right not to have to choose one of your parents over the other. The right not to have to be responsible for the burden of either of your parents’ emotional problems. The right to know well in advance about important changes that will affect your life; for example, when one of your parents is going to move or get remarried. The right to reasonable financial support during your childhood and through your college years. The right to have feelings, to express your feelings, and to have both parents listen to how you feel. The right to have a life that is a close as possible to what it would have been if your parents stayed together. The right to be...

Factors parents need to know about child custody modification

Parents often must work together to raise their children for several years after divorce. As the years go by, many parents realize that changes in circumstances may require a modification to their child custody arrangement. Generally, a parent who wishes to modify an existing child custody order must petition the court. Child Custody Modification in Texas Under Texas law, either parent may file a petition seeking child custody modification anytime. The petition must be filed in the court that granted the divorce, unless the child has moved. If this has happened, the case may be transferred to the court in the child’s new county. However, there are certain factors that must exist before a court will grant a change in present custody arrangements. Texas family law states that a court may modify a child custody order if the change is in the best interest of the child and one of the following applies: The circumstances of the child or parent have materially or substantially changed since the date of the original child custody order or order to be modified. The child is at least 12 years of age and will tell the court in private chambers with the judge that he/she would like a change. The custodial parent has voluntarily given the child’s care and custody to another person for at least 6 months. After finding one of the three prerequisites, the court must still consider whether the change will be in the child’s best interest. Texas law states that the best interest of the child “shall always be the primary consideration” during child-custody disputes. List of Relevant Factors When examining the best interest of the child, Texas courts...

Residency Restriction in Texas

A common issue in divorce and custody matters is the residency restriction that Courts in Texas impose. The state legislature has said that they want to support and promote the relationship between the non-custodial parents and their children. They do this by assuring that there is frequent and accessible contact between the non-custodial parent and their child. In Texas, a residency restriction is applied in almost all divorce and custody cases. Geographical Limitation The Courts have determined that in Texas a residency restriction can be as big as Texas or as small as a school district. The size of the geographical area is up to the court’s discretion subject to the facts of the case that they hear at trial. The residency restriction is a court-imposed limitation on where the child can live – not the parents. If you’re the custodial parent of the child, and the court limits the residence of the child, then your residence is also limited. When one parent wants to move away with the child, the court hearing the custody case must determine whether the move is in the child’s best interest as well as the public policies set forth in the Texas Family Code. Factors For and Against In addition to using the Texas Family Code, the court may consider other factors for and against the move. These considerations include the child’s age, opportunities the move will provide, accommodation of the child’s needs and talents, the non-custodial parent’s ability to relocate, visitation and communication with the non-custodial parent, and relationships with extended family. If you want a residency restriction in Texas, you need to show...

February aka Divorce Season

The month of February is often associated with romance and valentines, but ironically, it is also the most active month for divorce. The holidays are over and now we’re entering what some call the divorce season because divorce filings begin to spike in January, peaking in February and March. Why do more people take the leap to dissolve their marriages during this time of year? Perhaps this is because seeing other couples express their Valentines’ affection serves as a wake-up call that our hearts are no longer in it. Or perhaps the withdraw of holiday warmth from December leaves us feeling lonely and despondent in January, and we finally decide to take action in February. What do you think is the cause? Experts speculate that unhappily married couples schedule their divorce filings around Valentine’s Day, as well as summer vacations, for a variety of reasons. There are a few explanations why people might time their marital dissolution this way. It might just be too difficult to announce a divorce around family-oriented Christmas time, especially if there are kids involved. Plus, January is a time for making resolutions, and some people resolve to make a fresh start in the new year when they are unhappy in their relationship. During the summer, couples may look at their vacation as an opportunity to give it one last shot, and what they were hoping would happen didn’t occur. For others, it could be that people don’t want to ruin a family getaway, or that vacations are so stressful they drive the already-dissatisfied to divorce. The more likely reason could be that people decide their differences...

Overcome Anxiety and Navigate Through the Divorce

No matter the circumstances, divorces are among the most stressful, life-changing experiences that anyone can go through. Between 40 and 50% of married couples in the United States get a divorce. Couples may choose divorce for many reasons. Many times personal problems develop when divorce-related anxiety or depression is ignored and not dealt with properly and in a timely manner. Divorce is more than a legal process. It is emotional on many levels and causes distorted thoughts that lead to unhealthy negative emotions like depression, anger, fear and anxiety. Every decision from deciding to go through with your divorce to counting down the days until it is final has its stressful emotions. Some people describe the feeling as if they are in an endless space of doom and gloom — floating through life not knowing with no beginning, no end, and nothing but a big, dark mess left to show for it. This is what causes the feeling of being overwhelmed and the feelings of anxiety, sadness and anger. You can and will make it through this painful time. Things will get easier, but it takes time, patience, hard work, determination and a helping hand. But there are ways to deal with these emotions and the anxiety that comes from your divorce. For instance, when you can visualize these issues, you slow everything down and break up all the chaos into manageable pieces. By doing this, you will begin to feeling better.  The legal process itself has an end, but your feelings about the divorce will by no means go away tomorrow or next week. Understand that throughout the...

Steps for Dividing Marital Property and Assets

Texas is a community property state. That means anything and everything you acquired during the marriage is shared, equally. The process for dividing marital property and other assets in a divorce can be a big hurdle for some. In a Texas divorce, the court is required to divide the property in a “just and right” manner. As you go through your divorce, you may be thinking that means “half of everything” belongs to you. But the law has more distinction than that. The court is not required to divide the property equally but must divide it equitably, and may order a disproportionate division if it has a reasonable basis to do so. A trial court may consider a number of factors in dividing marital property. Factors include the nature of the property, income disparity, business opportunity, relative financial conditions and obligations, education, physical condition, age, fault in the break-up, the benefit the innocent spouse would have received if the marriage continued, the size of the separate estates, and the probable need for future support. Steps to take when determining, valuing, and dividing marital property and assets in a divorce include: Step 1: Before dividing marital property and assets, a comprehensive list of all property and other assets needs to be determined. List each property, whether separate or joint, include everything you own. Step 2: Each asset will need to be determined if it is community property or separate property. Community property includes all property you and your spouse have at the time of the divorce (except for property that a spouse can prove is a separate property of one...