In yesterday's blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, we began discussing how you can maximize your strengths, minimize your weaknesses and succeed in your Texas divorce. While no two divorces are exactly alike there are certain tips and tricks that our attorneys have collected over the years that I believe are worthwhile to share with you all. If anything that we are about to cover leaves you with questions please feel free to contact our office. We offer free of charge consultations six days a week where those questions can be answered and your problems addressed directly by one of our attorneys.
Co-parent with your spouse if at all possible
In some instances, you will be filing for divorce because your spouse has been physical, emotionally or sexually abusive towards you. If this describes your situation then obviously I would not advise you to have any, or at most minimal, contact with your spouse. This goes beyond presenting a strong case for a judge and falls under a category of safety issues that you need to be aware of and take very seriously. Your attorney should be able to assist you with obtaining a restraining or protective order in those circumstances.
On the other hand, if there is no family violence in your household then you should be considering how you can effectively co-parent with your soon to be ex-spouse. This may not sound like a lot of fun and in most circumstances, it will not be. After all- you're divorcing this person for a reason and the thought of having to work together with him or her probably does not appeal to you a great deal at the present moment.
Allow me to make an argument as to how your ability to parent with an ex-spouse is going to serve you well both now and into the future. For starters, the court is going to smile upon those parents who work together to raise a child. Just because your marriage is ending does not mean that your role as parents is also ending. In fact, I would argue that the needs of your children for you to be a "super parent" increase by a factor of ten when you are getting a divorce. Imagine your children who have only known one living arrangement their entire lives. Now imagine that arrangement being thrown into a tailspin as you and your spouse move towards divorce. You may feel ok with the decision but it is unlikely that your children will.
Visitation is going to be a by-the-book arrangement from this point forward
As parents, we can sometimes take for granted being able to spend time with our kids pretty much whenever we want to. Whether it is being woken up by your daughter on Christmas morning or going in to take care of your son during the middle of the night after he's had a bad dream it is easy to fall into the rhythm of parenting and think nothing of the opportunity that we have every day to spend time with our kids.
That all will likely change once your divorce case is underway. For starters, you and your spouse will either agree to or have temporary orders implemented by a court after a hearing. These temporary orders are designed to keep you and your spouse from doing anything "silly" during your divorce case like harming each other physically or hiding your children from one another. Child support will likely be paid from one spouse to another as well. I'd like to focus on the part of temporary orders that sets up a visitation schedule for you and your spouse to follow.
The possession schedule as laid out for your child will be structured for one of you or your spouse to have visitation time while the other is the primary conservator of your child. Let’s break this down a little further. Being the primary conservator of your child means that your child will reside primarily with you in your home during the school year. School nights will be spent in your home.
Your soon to be ex-spouse will have a visitation schedule. The visitation schedule allows him or her to be able to spend time with your child outside of these hours. During the school year, the majority of your ex-spouse's time with your child will be on weekends beginning at 6 p.m. on Friday and ending at 6 p.m. on Sunday. Holiday visitation schedules will be included in your orders as well but we do not have the space to get into the specifics of those here. Just know that at the end of the day both you and your spouse will have a schedule to stick to as far as time with your children is concerned.
This brings me to the point I would like to make: unless there is an emergency you will need to follow the possession/visitation schedule as outlined in your orders. The reason is that your ex-spouse will be relying upon them as well and it is not fair to take matters into your own hands and extend your child’s stay at your home unilaterally. Of course, the two of you are able to come up with your own schedules on the fly as long as you can both agree to the changes made. However, absent any other agreement you are bound by the possession schedule in your orders.
Of course, things like family emergencies pop up every once in a while that require you to make changes on the fly without first consulting your ex-spouse. However, absent these sort of situations that occasionally come up it is best to abide by the order. If you fail to do so you will likely be on the receiving end of an enforcement lawsuit and a court date to explain why you did what you did to a judge.
Responsible for paying child support? Do everyone a favor and pay on time
As I alluded to in the section prior to this one, child support is a staple of almost every family law case in Texas. The parent who has visitation rights to your child will be paying child support to you (the parent with whom the child resides with primarily). Your orders from the court will lay out specifically what you need to do as far as how to pay, how much to pay and when to pay it. There will be little question as to what your responsibilities are as far as child support is concerned.
The real question you need to ask yourself is: how can your ex-spouse make a mistake and not pay the support he or she is ordered to. For example, if your ex-spouse is on the hook for paying $1000 a month in child support then on the first of the month or maybe on the first and fifteen of the month he or she will be paying money to you towards that support. The purpose of child support is to “even out” the costs of parenting your child. Since you are in possession of your child much more than your ex-spouse if he or she is forced to pay child support to you to compensate you for the disparity in time.
What ends up happening is that life gets in the way of the clear-cut orders and that is where problems begin to arise for people. For example, even if your ex-spouse has a wage withholding order in place that orders their employer to withhold from their paycheck a certain sum of money to be paid for child support it sometimes happens that the order is not read by their employer or is not processed correctly. That can leave you in a tough position because likely need that money to pay for some aspect of your child’s day to day life. Depending on how long it can take to get the issue figured out thousands of dollars may be owed to you.
Secondly, it sometimes happens that for whatever reason you may end up agreeing with your ex-spouse to receive the child support payments directly from your ex-spouse rather than through the State Disbursement Unit of the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). This is not advisable, however. The OAG allows you to receive proof that payments were issued because they keep track of these things online. Once you allow your ex-spouse to send payments to you directly you no longer have the government helping you to keep track of the amount and frequency of payments. You are then left with the trust that you have in your ex-spouse to pay you child support as agreed upon in your Final Decree of Divorce. This puts you in a precarious position should your ex-spouse waffle on that commitment and wind up not paying you support over a certain length of time.
The best advice that I can give is to follow to the “T” whatever orders have been instituted in your case for the payment of child support. If you are the parent who is to receive child support I would recommend that you do not allow your ex-spouse to deviate from the order at all. Have him or she pays you through the OAG and be sure to notify him or her in writing if payments are missed or not paid in full. Ensure that he or she is aware that an enforcement lawsuit will be the result of any additional missed or partial payments of support.
If you are the parent who is to pay child support to your ex-spouse you need to prepare for issues with your income. Notably, if you lose your job you should contact the OAG to notify them of this fact but you should also do whatever you can to have some cash in reserve in order to pay out child support while you are looking for work. I know that in today’s world it is getting harder and harder in some cases to save for the payment of child support. However, it will help you out a great deal down the road if you can think ahead and save money for this purpose.
In the end, child support is one of the more “open and shut” aspects of your divorce. One person pays, the one person receives. The date the support needs to be paid by is known in advance as is the amount that needs to be paid. My advice is to learn your orders well and to have a copy of the Final Decree of Divorce handy for reference throughout the year. If your ex-spouse tries to get tricky by arguing something that the order does not call for you can have the order nearby to refute whatever is being said. Again, do not allow your ex-spouse any exceptions from what is ordered in Decree. Stick to the plan and be prepared to head to court if he or she fails to live up to their end of the bargain.
Much more to be said on Texas divorces, so stop by the blog tomorrow to be a part of the conversation
We always appreciate your feedback so please feel free to comment on this blog or contact our office with any suggested topics or thoughts about the content that we have included in the blogs that we produce. After all- we are writing these blogs to help the people in our community- and that includes you!
In the meantime, if you have any questions about the content of today’s blog post or seek clarification on anything you’ve read, please contact our office as well. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan takes a great deal of pride in representing our clients and seek to provide information that can assist in that endeavor. A thirty-minute consultation with one of our licensed family law attorneys is always free of charge.
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Other Articles you may be interested in:
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- Tips for hiring a divorce attorney in Texas, Part Two
- Tips for hiring a divorce attorney in Texas, Part Three
- Why do divorces cost so much in Texas?
- How Much Will My Texas Divorce Cost?
- 8 Tips for Reducing the Cost of a Divorce in Texas
- $300 Divorce Cost a Man $100,000 in Texas
- Low cost and affordable divorces, attorneys, websites and divorce Costs in Texas
- 6 things You Need to Know Before You File for Divorce in Texas
- SUCH AN EASY DIVORCE? THAT HUSBAND MAY LOSE HIS HOUSE!
Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC | Spring Divorce Lawyer
The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC routinely handles matters that affect children and families. If you have questions regarding divorce, it's important to speak with a Spring, TX Divorce Lawyer right away to protect your rights.
A divorce lawyer in Spring TX is skilled at listening to your goals during this trying process and developing a strategy to meet those goals. Contact Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC by calling (281) 810-9760 or submit your contact information in our online form. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC handles Divorce cases in Spring, Texas, Cypress, Spring, Klein, Humble, Kingwood, Tomball, The Woodlands, Houston, the FM 1960 area, or surrounding areas, including Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County and Waller County.