Exploring Child Custody Options without Divorce

Getting ready to file for legal separation in Texas? Hold onto your cowboy hat, partner. Texas does not have a state law that relates to legal separation. Having heard the term in movies and television shows it is understandable to think legal separations exist in Texas. The reality is that physically separating yourself from your spouse is possible in Texas. Moving out of your marital home and starting a new life is what many people have in mind. Joining these folks is an option for you, as well. Initiating the move-out is step one. 

Jumping in your vehicle and separating yourself from your spouse is the easy part when you have children at home, as well. Looking at the situation from a different perspective is important. Maintaining a marriage while moving out to try and work on your issues happens from time to time, as well. You start by looking in the mirror and telling yourself that you have work to do. Finding your purpose in life or developing the courage to get sober. Your situation does not have to involve extremes like this to relate to a separation. 

Trying for a separation? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan 

Moving yourself out of your marital residence without a plan is a mistake. Navigating the waters of a physical separation while having children at home is even more difficult. How can you learn how to balance both of those aspects of your life? By contacting the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our experienced family law attorneys know how to work with you to achieve specific goals in a separation involving children. 

We know that wandering into a child custody case is possible. However, it is not possible to wander out of a child custody case and to achieve any sort of significant goals. That is why we use our experience and perspective to help guide clients on this issue. Balancing multiple goals simultaneously is a serious challenge. Use our guidance to assist in this effort. You are capable of serving your children while working on your marriage. 

Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan is going to help you learn about how separations can be balanced with child custody orders. Being in a position where you are not seeking a divorce but are still in need of child custody orders is not uncommon. We are showing you in this blog post how to manage this period in your life effectively.

Protect yourself and your child

Suppose that you are a husband and father. Experiencing difficulties in your marriage has been a recent development for you and your wife. Small disagreements spring into larger fights. Drifting apart does not begin to describe the difficulties that the two of you have been going through. As a result, you decide that moving out of the marital home is a wise choice. Separating yourselves may be exactly what the two of you need to start functioning better. 

One thing continues to hold you back from this plan, however. You and your wife have two children who you are going to leave behind under your plan. Whether that is reason enough to stay you, you are not sure of. However, you want to serve your children, restart efforts to improve your marriage, and do both of these things at the same time. Sounds like walking a tightrope. 

In many ways, it is walking a tightrope. Being able to maintain these seemingly disparate goals is made simpler when you have an attorney to help walk you through what you need to do. You don’t necessarily have the experience and know-how related to this subject. That is why you lean on the experience of your attorney for the time being. Your attorney hopefully has the heart of a teacher. This allows you to develop a strategy based on increased knowledge provided by your attorney. 

Court orders help keep everyone honest

One of the key benefits to having court orders is that there is less of a reason for either parent to your children to try and take advantage of the other parent. So often in informal child order situations will one parent use the children as a pawn to win additional child support or other monetary gains. Winning primary conservatorship also means winning the right to receive child support. 

Being in a position where you want to work on your marriage during a separation carries with it certain consequences. One of those consequences is that your children are caught in the middle of this separation. They do not know anything about how this is going to work out. They also do not know the future of their relationship with you or their other parent. Understanding that children thrive on stability and consistency this is especially difficult for your children. 

Going through a separation but not a divorce means working to put your children at the forefront. Protecting yourself through court orders makes total sense. Having child custody orders while still legally married is the best way to accomplish this goal. However, there are a range of options worth pursuing when it comes to court orders at this stage of a case. Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan provides you with an overview of your legal options. 

The role of temporary orders 

Temporary Orders relate to a handful of topics in family law. Distributing rights and duties towards your children is one of those topics. Separating from your spouse means sharing the parenting duties relating to your child. Temporary orders spell out exactly what your rights and duties are and what the rights and duties are of your co-parent. Doing this clarifies each of your roles and answers a lot of day-to-day questions. 

As part of a separation, temporary orders also distribute the right to use certain property in your life. Rather than fighting over who gets to use what property and when temporary orders come right out and tell you. You and your co-parent negotiate on these temporary orders or go to see the judge. Moving out means finding your place to live. Even when your goal is not a divorce it is reasonable to want to have a plan touching on property and its usage. Having a plan like this means reducing the likelihood of disagreements. 

Finally, creating a game plan for how you and your co-parent pay bills during the separation is key. Just because you are going through a separation does not mean your bills stop. Rather, the opposite is true. Going through the separation gives the impression that you have more bills coming in than ever. Spending your separation righting over who needs to pay what bills is not a very efficient use of your time. 

Protective orders for adults and children

Protecting any person in your family who was a prior victim of family violence is the purpose of a protective order. Sometimes violence enters a home. In that case, finding protection from future violence and de-escalating the situation is what needs to occur. Within a protective order is the ability to determine possession schedules for children and even child support. Thinking of possession and access to children matters especially when one parent has recently engaged in acts of family violence. 

Establishing custody and child support orders without divorce

Getting divorced is not necessary if your goal is to create child support and custody orders. Texas does not have legal separations but obtaining child custody orders during a physical separation provides a similar dynamic. Filing a lawsuit means being familiar with a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR). 

A SAPCR case is otherwise known as a child custody case. The petition filed in a SAPCR sets up child custody orders. A temporary SAPCR covers child custody orders for the duration of a case. Final SAPCR orders cover the lives of your children after the case concludes. Filing a SAPCR is important because you and your co-parent gain conservatorship rights and duties relating to your child. These rights and duties exist before the case but are established in the court orders themselves. 

Rights reference what you can do as far as decision-making on behalf of your child. Being able to make decisions regarding major and minor issues that arise in your child’s life, essentially. For instance, medical, educational, and living arrangements are covered by a SAPCR. Within those rights are the right to determine the primary residence of your child. Foremost among the duties of a parent after a SAPCR is the duty to pay child support. 

Separation agreements while married

A separation agreement is a contract between you and your spouse. Contained in that separation agreement are marching orders for each of you during the separation period. You are not officially divorced from your spouse. However, signing a separation agreement gives your case that sort of feel. The rights and duties discussed above are contained in a separation agreement, as well. Establishing rights and duties about your child is important given that you and your co-parent will be living apart. 

Consider the difficulties you and your co-parent had raising a child together in the same home Having disagreements over simple issues that arose in the life of your child. Instigating problems with one another. Leaving arguments unsettled before the start of a workday. These are all hallmarks of parents having trouble raising their children together. Add to those problems the issue of living separately. This is why having a separation agreement is so important. 

For many parents, managing the day-to-day responsibilities of childcare is difficult. Now you are coordinating the pick up and drop off of your child from your home to that of your spouse. This is not as easy as it sounds. There will be consequences, both large and small, for the issues you experience in managing this schedule. Getting on the bad side of your spouse due to being late picking up your child for visitation is not hard to do. 

Work with an experienced attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan to better manage this situation. Living separately from your spouse presents challenges when it comes to custody and visitation. However, by working alongside your attorney from our office you can better manage those challenges.  

Remaining indefinitely separated from your spouse

Living apart from your spouse for a few months gives many people the idea of just continuing with this arrangement indefinitely. Why go through all the trouble of getting divorced when an informal separation works just as well? In actuality, an informal separation does not serve you or your spouse well long-term. It opens both of you up to potential liability. 

Consider, for example, what happens when you do not get divorced and live separately. Your spouse is doing things without you knowing about it. This is not behind your back, either, because you have consented to living apart. Your spouse is at home caring for your house- you hope. Your spouse is spending wisely with their credit card- you hope. Your name is on the mortgage to the home and being on the credit card used by your spouse places you in a position of liability. 

The longer that you and your spouse stay separated but not divorced puts you in a position where you are liable for their actions. When you eventually get divorced (or even reconcile) you will need to face up to the actions of your spouse during the separation. When going through a trial separation it is important to move in one of two directions. First, consider counseling as an option. Counseling helps couples manage the problems in their marriage through improved communication skills. Second, when counseling and other methods do not work it is time to consider a divorce. Sitting still and doing nothing accomplishes nothing and places you further in a position of liability. 

Being intentional during a separation

Going through a separation has its advantages and disadvantages. However, wanting to be intentional during a separation is the best course of action to take. Needing to have a plan in a separation is the mindset you should possess when the separation begins. Wandering into a separation is entirely possible. Wandering out of a separation having achieved anything of substance is not likely. As a result, being intentional matters in a separation. 

Start with where you are going to live. Moving out of the family home is a key part of the separation. However, looking at the separation as an opportunity to live large is a mistake. Rather, finding a great place to live that is close to your children and not hard on your budget makes the most sense. Trying to live large and find a place that shows that you have money or independence is not as smart. 

Making decisions during a separation means having a plan. Having a plan means orienting that plan toward goals. Goal setting must be done while contemplating your life and where you want to go. This is not something to be done on a whim or done quickly. You need to take the time necessary to come up with goals that are worthy of the direction that you want your life to go in. 

Final thoughts on child custody options without divorce

Having options is good. Limiting yourself to one particular course of action usually puts a person in a position where you need to do things that go against your best interests. Hoping for a good outcome from your separation makes sense but it is better to have a plan in mind. This is especially true when you have children in your home. Managing the issues related to your children is incredibly important. Placing a focus on the children allows you to see things more clearly in your case. 

Child custody while marriage adds another element that can potentially disrupt any reconciliation between you and your co-parent. While the two of you are attempting to work out your problems, issues arise when it comes to sharing custody. The more you focus on the best interests of your children and less on yourselves the better the outcome. This can seem to be contradictory but your focus needs to remain on your kids. The rest of your life falls into place after that. 

Thank you for spending time today with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We are here for you and your family during whatever circumstances you are facing. Whether your separation leads to a reconciliation of your marriage, or not, we have the right plan for you and your kids. We post unique and interesting content related to Texas family law every day. Thank you for joining us today and we will be here for you tomorrow. 

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the world of Texas family law 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. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law. Additionally, you will learn how your family’s circumstances are impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case. 

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At the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC, the firm wants to get to know your case before they commit to work with you. They offer all potential clients a no-obligation, free consultation where you can discuss your case under the client-attorney privilege. This means that everything you say will be kept private and the firm will respectfully advise you at no charge. You can learn more about Texas divorce law and get a good idea of how you want to proceed with your case.

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