Being a parent going through a Texas divorce is difficult. You not only have to be concerned with the emotional in relational aspects of going through a separation from your spouse but you also have to consider what your life will look like after the divorce. Most importantly, the relationship that you have with your children is at stake in the divorce. No matter the age of your children you should be aware that these considerations are ones that you can never replicate after the end of your case. Therefore, there is a great deal of pressure to make sure that you get it right in conjunction with your case.
What does it mean to be apparent during a divorce? It’s not as if the law changes when it comes to parenting a child in a divorce versus outside of a divorce. You will still need to be there for your child just as you were before the divorce. However, the circumstances associated with the divorce change how you can consider what your family will look like now and into the future. There is much more of an emphasis on planning for uncertainties and considering all the possible outcomes of the decisions that you make in conjunction with the case.
There are so many different subjects at play in a divorce case. That is difficult Q imagine a circumstance in which your children are not the focus of your divorce. Much as we may want to think about divorce cases as being only about spending time with your children there is much more to a divorce case. You need to be able to consider not only the time that you’re able to spend with your child after a divorce but also the ability for you to competently and confidently make decisions for your child and hold rights about him or her
parents that are involved in divorce cases will frequently ask me what it means to go through a divorce as a parent. Are there challenges that are oftentimes overlooked? Do you need to plan for anything that you otherwise may have ignored? These are the sort of considerations that conscientious parents pay during a divorce case. What you as a parent need to ask yourself is the degree to which you have a plan in mind when it comes to dealing with issues related to child custody. Since child custody is an issue subject that has different implications for different families we should begin by discussing the different areas of your case that are impacted by child custody matters.
What is child custody?
Child custody is one of those subjects where just about everyone assumes they know what it is but the reality can be much different from their assumptions. For one, there are many different categories of child custody issues that may fall under the heading of child custody. The subject can become even more convoluted when you consider that the word custody does not appear in the Texas family code even one time. Rather, custody is more or less a term that has been utilized by the public, attorneys, in courts to generally refer to several different topics.
When we talk about child custody what we’re discussing is conservatorships. Conservatorships refer to the ability to make decisions on behalf of your children end 2 have responsibilities regarding their daily lives. These are the type of things that we as parents may take for granted daily but are certainly important.
For example, the most important aspect of conservatorships issues is that of parenting time with your children. This has a great deal to do with visitation schedules and your opportunity to spend time with your children in the immediate sense. Overwhelmingly, I understand that parents get the impression that they are losing out on a great deal of time with their children as a result of the divorce. Whether or not this is the case, I know that this is emotionally the case that people deal with. With that being said custody issues have to deal with my visitation schedule both during the divorce case in after the divorce case with you and your Co-parent.
Much of the time you will spend negotiating on subjects like this with your Co-parent. Usually, judges do not weigh in on issues like this unless it becomes necessary. You would see this happen in a temporary orders hearing or a trial. However, it does happen that you and your Co-parent cannot agree on certain matters related to a divorce. With that in mind, you and your attorney need to be prepared for the possibility that your divorce case will proceed into a trial or temporary orders hearing.
Within the scope of custody, we have topics related to primary conservatorships of your children to consider, as well. In the context of a divorce or child custody case, it is important to note that one parent typically has the right to make decisions on a primary basis for the children and house the children throughout the year. That parent is known as the primary conservator. The other parent is known as the possessory Conservatory. The possessory conservator has rights, duties in time with the children as well but he or she sees the children on a limited basis and therefore typically has more limited decision-making responsibility, as well.
Needless to say, the determination over which parent will become the primary conservator of children is an important one in a divorce. From my experience, when parents cannot agree on which of them will be named as primary conservators there is a recipe for going to trial more often than not. It may be in your circumstances that both you and your Co-parents are equally equipped to fulfill this obligation. If that is the case then you all will have to negotiate rather well to avoid a trial. Otherwise, disagreeing on an important subject like this can and will lead to a trial in many cases.
Next, you will also need to consider how a visitation plan is to be laid out for you and your family. This is based largely upon considerations like your work schedule, the work schedule of your parent, where each of you choose to live after the divorce, and the school schedule and ages of your children. These are all factors that you and your attorney will have to weigh when considering what sort of visitation schedule you should be working towards in your divorce case. There is no right or wrong way to approach this subject but there are consequences associated with each decision that is made.
Child support as a function and part of child custody determinations
Connected to this whole discussion are financial considerations, as well. For example, child support is determined in large part based on conservatorships. The primary conservator of your children is typically able to receive child support from the possessory conservator. The amount of child support paid is a reflection of how many children are before the court and what the paying parents’ net monthly income is. The calculation has child support as an important factor in the custody issues associated with the case.
This is a complex and oftentimes emotional subject. It can be a tough pill to swallow to have to pay child support to index spouse or Co-parent. Parents have differing views on what is fair as far as child support and the guidelines outlined in the Texas family code are not always appropriate for many families based on their circumstances. As a result, a great deal of time and expense can be paid towards child support, especially in contentious and adverse aerial divorce and child custody cases.
If you expect to be the parent who is paid child support then you have a responsibility to investigate in determine as best you can the net monthly income of your Co-parent. This can mean doing the necessary research to determine his or her net monthly income including all the sources of income he or she has. Much of the time this is determined through a process called discovery. Discovery allows you to ask questions and receive documents regarding a host of different subjects including child support. Concluding your analysis on child support without investigating all sources of your Co-parent’s income would not be wise.
Finally, child support is oftentimes paid through the office of the attorney general child support division. This means that direct payments are not credited from one parent to the other. It is never advisable to agree to direct payment of child support from your Co-parent to yourself or vice versa. you do not want to get into a position where you are not credited for valid payments of child support.
How are you supposed to keep all of this straight after the divorce?
There are probably many elements of the subjects that we have discussed today that you are familiar with. However, there may also be parts of our discussion today that you are learning about for the first time. That is to be expected in is completely normal period, however, you may have a valid concern at this stage on how you are going to keep track of all of this information and all these responsibilities after your divorce cases come to an end. Surely you are an attorney and the family court judge is not going to be following you around in your daily life to remind you of routine aspects of paying child support or fulfilling your obligations when it comes to visitation with your children.
You would be correct in that the court will not be following you around to make sure that you are complying with the decisions of your divorce case. However, the court does the next best thing by providing you with written orders that are supposed to encapsulate the various aspects of your divorce case to help you and your spouse abide by those orders and stay in the groove of respecting one another. The document that I am talking about is a final decree of divorce.
The final decree of divorce is essentially what you and your spouse have been working towards for the entire divorce process. The final decree of divorce allows you and your Co-parent and expose to have a permanent reminder of your responsibilities when it comes to issues like child support, conservatorships, and child custody. It would be unrealistic to expect that you all would be able to remember every aspect of what was decided in your divorce. With that in mind, the court will produce a final decree of divorce for you all to hang on to after your case.
The final decree of divorce serves a handful of purposes. On a day-to-day level, the final decree of divorce allows you and your spouse to have a reminder of what your responsibilities are in your post divorce lives. You guys do not need to constantly check up on the other person to make sure that he or she is following the rules, so to speak. What you need to do is keep a copy of your final decree of divorce in your desk drawer or in another similar location that is easy to access. That way whenever anyone has a question or dispute over something continue to document it all you need to do is refer to it to determine what needs to be done.
The final decree of divorce also serves a purpose as an official document of the court. It is good practice to prove a certified copy of your final decree of divorce on hand, as well. You may need this kind of coffee to follow through on certain elements of the case in terms of changing your last name with the Social Security Administration, updating vehicle titles, or even attempting to refinance a home loan after your divorce. A certified copy bears the seal of the court and is what each of these sources will likely need if and when you need to perform any of these actions.
The second part of this discussion is that you and your spouse need to make sure that the document reflects what was settled point mediation or what was decided by the judge after a trial. This is an important distinction where you all to draw in that just any old file decree of divorce will not do for you and your family. Rather, the language in your final decree of divorce must match up with what was decided in your case. If it does not, then all the work of getting ready for the case will have been for not.
Why do I say this? Well, keep in mind that the orders laid down by the judge and what was decided in mediation were done according to the specific circumstances in terms of your case. The language regarding the child custody matters or any other subject for that matter was likely fine-tuned to make sure that you and your spouse have an order in place that reflects your current circumstances and best anticipates any changes that will need to be made in your life in the future. As a result, the language in your final decree of divorce is extremely important.
If you do not have a court order that accurately reflects the terms of your divorce then it will be very easy to make an argument that all the work you put in was for not. The whole point of getting divorced is to get a court order that binds you and your spouse in a way that neither will be able to deviate from a court order in the future. If you obtain an order that has deficient language, leaves information out, or has any other deficiency contained within it then all of the effort you made in your divorce will not have paid off as much as it could have period
All the more reason for you and your spouse to each hire attorneys that are competent incapable of not only representing you during the course but are diligent and have an eye for detail in it comes to drafting the language in your final decree of divorce. You and your attorney should go through the language in your final decree of divorce drafts many times to make sure that what is written down is accurate invest reflects what was decided in mediation or a trial. If you fail to do this then you may end up paying price for this down the line as you and your spouse attempt to live a post-divorce life.
Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultation six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family’s circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.