Prioritizing Your Child’s Well-Being in Divorce

Divorcing with children is a challenge in itself. Property division and all the financial difficulties associated with a divorce are well-established. However, when you go through a divorce and have minor children you take on additional difficulties. Those challenges are worth the effort but in the moment, it is exhausting. Handling all these challenges along with the rest of your life is a balancing act that many people fail to perform. The difference between those people and those who are successful in divorce. Prioritizing the issues most important to your life. Then, being intentional in accomplishing those priorities.

Prioritizing and goal setting in divorce 

Priorities for you mean focusing on the subjects that are most impactful in your life. This shouldn’t be difficult for you to do. However, for many people in your shoes coming up with a list of your top priorities does prove to be hard. The reason for this is that spouses going through a divorce tend to rush through their case like they do everything else in their life. You have so many competing interests ongoing currently. As a result, it feels like you cannot afford to pay close attention to any one subject.

Failing to prioritize different subjects in your divorce means failing to set goals. This is bad for several reasons. First, a lack of goals means that your divorce will be an incredibly unfulfilling process. That’s not to say that people who do set priorities end up enjoying their divorce by any means. However, if you are going to go through a difficult event like a divorce you may as well work towards accomplishing something meaningful during the case. The idea is that by prioritizing certain areas you can perform checkups on them at least. At the most, you can improve those areas of your life despite the divorce.

Discovering the areas of your life that are most critical to your well-being means that you are much more likely to set goals overall for your case. So many people fail to goal set in their divorce. One day you wake up and decide to file for divorce. Giving the subject no additional thought, you file a divorce petition and are off to the races. Trouble is, with no goal setting the case becomes a hollow endeavor. 

Putting your child’s best interests in front of your own

Here is the real reason why goal setting is so important. Consider that your child has their own best interests which need to be fought for. These best interests are not always the same as your own. This is a concept that is especially challenging for many parents to consider. When you look at a divorce from this perspective it is imperative to have to goal set for yourself. After all, how can you goal set for your children if you cannot do so for yourself?

Since children have their own best interests, you must consider those interests first and foremost. When you look at your case from your child’s perspective then you often run into issues that you did not consider before. This is because you are now looking at the case from the perspective of your child rather than your vantage point. Imagine walking a mile in your child’s shoes You are lower to the ground and notice different things than you do from your relatively high perch as an adult. In this way, you benefit personally from considering the best interests of your child. 

Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is geared toward helping you identify what your child’s best interests are and how to fight for them. Having questions about this subject is normal. Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan today to learn more about your case and how to weave together your best interests and those of your child. 

What are the best interests of your child?

When you think about the best interests of your child it is important to consider them in multiple ways. First, the best interests of your child are an actual legal standard that is important to family law cases across the state of Texas. There are considerations a court must pay to your child. Their physical well-being, emotional needs, social development, and the ability of both parents to raise the child are considered. Across the country, the best interests of the child standard are what is used to help courts and parents alike make good decisions for children. 

On a very real level, your child has best interests that you as a parent are aware of. This is not a situation where you are considering some hypothetical child in a hypothetical situation. Rather, you know what is best for your child. You see your child live their life every day and as a result, are well-attuned to their needs. While the best interests of your child matter on a theoretical level to a court, your child’s actual best interests matter to you.

You do not know exactly how life is going to play out for your child in the future. However, what you do know is that your child has been under your care for his or her entire life. As a result, you know what your child needs and how to manage their daily life. You have the advantage of communicating with your child and learning more about him or her each day. Remember this as you embark on your divorce.

Communicating with your co-parent

A great challenge that comes about as a result of a divorce is learning how to co-parent. Co-parenting is working alongside your spouse to raise your child. While you have been this to an extent since the birth of your child it is not as if you have done so in separate households. Being physically separate from your co-parent presents its own set of unique challenges. Working on those challenges before the divorce begins is a great idea. 

Start with a simple discussion with your co-parent about your major concerns in the case. Trying to see if your co-parent agrees to put the best interests of your child first is a great place to begin this discussion. We all have opportunities in life to have meaningful and important conversations. Allow this talk with your co-parent to be one of those conversations. Clearing the air with your soon-to-be ex-spouse helps identify problem areas in your relationship and places the focus of the case on your children.

This is not going to be a walk in the park. The irony here is that you are working to manage your relationship with a person that you are simultaneously pushing away from you. Understanding the importance of your mutual role in raising your child matters but it is not a surefire ticket to better communication. For that, both of you have to be committed to doing your best for your child in the face of difficult circumstances. 

How co-parents communicate matters

To be unclear is to be unkind this is a handy piece of advice that I had received in the past from a co-worker years ago. To be anything other than direct with a person is to be unfair to him or her. You owe it to your child and your co-parent to communicate with them. If anything, it is better to over-communicate rather than under-communicate. 

Set up some time each week to talk to your co-parent about how things are going with your child. Be specific with these times. Do not agree to a visit per week. Rather, agree to a specific time on a specific day each week. If you know that your co-parent does better with phone calls versus text messaging, then take the time to call him or her. Meeting the person halfway goes a long way toward helping build trust. 

The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan understand the difficulties parents have during and after a divorce. Not only are you managing your relationship with your child but also trying to rebuild a relationship with your co-parent. The “co-parent” and “ex-spouse” dynamic is a unique one to be sure. However, with the right attitude and positive outlook, it will help your child achieve success. 

Agreeing to manageable custody orders

Building custody orders that are not completely impossible to adhere to also matters. Many parents bite off more than they can chew in a child custody setting. This means that out of concern for not being able to see their child as much, a parent (usually noncustodial) will agree to a flexible custody schedule that requires a great deal of driving. Any person living in Houston or any big city in Texas can tell you how driving here is no piece of cake. 

Rather, seriously consider what a realistic custody order looks like for you. First, what is your work schedule like? Many people work from home these days. This makes it much simpler to construct a custody schedule. You work from home and have fewer hours to devote each week to traveling to and from work. When you and your co-parent live close together this also makes it possible to arrive at more complex custody schedules. 

However, when you work a job where you need to be in the office or at the job site on a certain schedule then you need to be realistic with your custody schedule. Negotiating a custody schedule that allows for consistent visitation for both parents is key. Trying to aim for a custody schedule that is too ambitious as far as time sounds good during negotiations. However, you also need to manage that schedule in the real world. Being consistently late for drop up or pick up of your child is a surefire way to find yourself with an angry co-parent.

When does your child get to voice their opinion?

One of the most common requests of parents during a divorce case is to have their child talk to the judge about their desires as far as custody is concerned. The attorneys with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan have figured out that it is a widely held assumption that a child can simply pick where he or she wants to live on a primary basis. At that point, both parents and the court are powerless to say otherwise. 

This is not the case. Or, at least, it is not the entire case. Children can speak to the judge about their thoughts on who becomes the primary conservator in the divorce. The primary conservator can determine the primary residence of the child. Understandably, many children have an opinion related to this subject. How does it work when you want your child to talk to the judge about primary conservatorship?

First children twelve and over can speak to the judge on this subject. You or your spouse file a motion requesting the court to speak to your child and it happens. The judge must honor this request. Children under the age of 12 can speak to the judge in the same way. However, if you file a motion like this the judge has it in their discretion to deny your request. 

Additionally, judges do not speak to children about their opinions on a wide variety of topics. Rather, you should focus your attention on the other areas of your case in addition to this single issue. With so much at stake in your case focusing all your attention on your child’s interaction with the judge is a mistake. 

What to do with the family house

For many of you, the decision on what to do with the family home makes as much of a difference as anything else in the case. Imagine a situation like this. You and your spouse have raised a family of five in the same home. All those memories between those four walls. It is a lot of take-on as far as trying to figure out a way to remember all of them. Now with the divorce, you are considering even more the importance of that home. 

You and your spouse both work  That’s the way it has always been. When you qualified for your mortgage on the home ten years ago it was based on your incomes combined. Paying your bills and the mortgage has always been possible but it’s not like you have a lot of extra cash floating around. Now that you are getting divorced you are forced to consider what life looks like without waking up each morning in that home. 

What should you do? That is the question on your home. There are not only family memories tied up in the home but also financial considerations. This home is your greatest asset. All the money and equity in the house is right there. Selling the house, refinancing, and taking cash out or paying equity to the spouse who moves are all options. Which one is the right one?

Staying in a house you cannot afford is not in your child’s best interests

Despite what your feelings and emotions are telling you, staying in a house you cannot afford is not anywhere in your child’s best interests. Wanting to preserve consistency and stability in the life of your child is a normal thing, especially during a divorce. However, staying in a house whose mortgage is out of your price range is a bad idea. Your income is going to decrease when your spouse leaves. There are taxes, insurance, upkeep, and repairs to consider. Assuming a best-case scenario for the entire length of the loan is a recipe for disaster. 

Instead, talk to your attorney about your options. If you want to stay in the house, you need to be able to easily afford that mortgage based on your salary. Having to do tricky financial maneuvers to remain in the home is a recipe for disaster. Even if you think you can make it all work you had better double-check your math. Your spouse being ordered to help you pay the mortgage even if their name isn’t on the loan is not an excuse to stay in the home either. Their name not being on the loan means he or she is not responsible under that loan agreement. 

With so much at stake and with your child’s best interests depending upon what you decide please consider contacting the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our attorneys are here for you. We serve clients across Texas with dignity, compassion, and pride. We would be honored to do the same for you and your family. Thank you for joining us today on our blog. 

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 consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. Interested in learning more about how your family is impacted by the material in this blog post? Contact us today.

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