When it comes to the benefits of technology, probably the most profound example that most of us can relate to over the past few years is being able to utilize digital and electronic means of communication to talk with family members, friends, and coworkers. The attorney’s word The Law Office of Bryan Fagan has become familiar with not only talking to clients we video but also family court judges hand mediators. What used to be something optional became a necessity for a certain period. As such, the attorneys with our office adapted along with everyone else to the changing times.
Now that we are more safely able to get together with other people in person it is still nice to be able to have the option to meet up with people electronically. Certainly, with the high price of gas and just the realities of commuting in Houston we see that telephone and Internet usage for communication purposes is still something important for ourselves and many people across our area. While I would not go so far as to say that electronic communication has replaced person by any means, it is the next best thing in my opinion.
Electronic communication is also something that can be important to you and your family in the context of your child custody or divorce case. In your child custody or divorce orders, there may be provisions included that allow for or even mandate electronic or digital communication when not occurring during a period of physical possession for you and your child. As such, I think it is worthwhile to discuss these topics in today's blog post from The Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our attorneys and staff want to help you understand the importance of digital and electronic communication to the success of your family in a post-divorce or child custody case scenario.
Do not underestimate the importance of taking advantage of every opportunity that you can get when it comes to building or rebuilding a relationship with your child. We are going to discuss the importance of electronic communication with your children but also the importance of it with your Co-parent. When in-person communication may not work well for your family digital communication may be something that you all can use to bill better communication skills and improve the quality of time that you share with your children.
When could electronic communication be ordered in your family law case?
There are a few different scenarios where electronic communication could be ordered in your divorce child custody case. In many other situations, it may not be ordered as a punishment or even a substitute for in-person possession. Rather, you may find that your attorney or the opposing attorney recommends this type of communication to bridge the gap between visits for you or your Co-parent. For example, suppose that you all agreed to some version of a modified standard possession order where you only have weekend visitation with your child on the 1st and 4th weekends of each month. As a result, you will find that gaps in your periods of possession can seem rather long at times. Electronic communication can help bridge the gap between these visits and allow you and your children to take part in meaningful conversations even when you are physically apart from one another.
The key to this discussion is building a certain level of trust between you and your Co-parent when it comes to taking part in these videos or phone calls. It is not as if your coherence period of possession ends just because you have a phone call or video chat scheduled with your child. One of the difficulties that I have seen families experience is because of these phone calls or because sometimes the calls can interrupt previously scheduled events or activities for families. Unfortunately, I've even seen some parents actively seek to use their calls to interrupt important moments or activities for their Co-parent and children.
These would be blatant abuses of the system when it comes to Co-parenting in the exercise of Visitation and possession of children. The families that get the most out of their physical periods of possession as well as their opportunities for electronic communication are those that thought through these issues before the end of their family lowercase and then honored their commitments once the case has come to an end and their post-divorce or child custody case lives have begun.
For example, if you want to make a video or phone calls a regular part of your post-family law case life then you should consider your options before the end of your divorce or child custody case. Many families like yours typically use video or phone chats regularly to catch up with one another or generally allow for a child to see their parent's face. In this situation, you and your Co-parent may already have a plan in place as to how you want to structure these phone calls or video chats. Again, what works well for your family may not work well for the family across the street. As such, you should work with your Co-parent on creating a plan that is feasible for your family now and in the future.
The next step in this process is to be able to work with an experienced family law attorney Who can skillfully take your ideas about a family plan for electronic communication and put it into writing in a way that is enforceable by future courts and understandable by you and your Co-parent during the case. Ultimately, family court orders are only helpful if they can be followed predictably by your family. This means that you can work with an attorney who will help you all be intentional about not only creating orders but putting them in writing as well.
Electronic communication does not have to be limited to video or voice chats. Sometimes text messaging and e-mail can come in handy especially if you are in a position where adequate cell signal or where video connection would otherwise be impractical or impossible. There are Co-parenting websites, electronic cards and messages, and an array of options for families like yours who are willing to be creative and are a little bit tech-savvy. You can talk with your Co-parent during the case to determine what he or she is comfortable with and go from there in terms of creating and mapping out an electronic communication plan for you and your family to best utilize this.
Before approving any court order where electronic communication is mandated or allowed, a family court judge would consider whether the proposed language regarding electronic communication is in the best interests of your child. You should be careful about agreeing to an electronic communication if it has ever been abused by a parent previously. in that case, you should talk to your Co-parent about your concerns about electronic communication. If you all cannot agree on the basics of a plan for electronic communication, then you should leave it up to a family court judge to decide. Do not agree to something that has been abused by your Co-parent in the past or is otherwise not in line with your best interests are those of your children.
However, any parent will tell you that electronic communication does not approach physical possession of your child in terms of being able to grow and foster a meaningful relationship. Some well-meaning parents in your situation will assume that electronic communication can act as a substitute for physical possession if that means completing their divorce faster. This is not true for most families and may end up being a major regret that you experience because of your family case. Being able to negotiate a possession schedule that can be successful for your family is not impossible or something beyond your reach.
However, it does take some effort and negotiation in most cases. Do not be surprised if your spouse or co-parent has different ideas than you do about what a workable possession schedule looks like. Remember that their circumstances in a post-family law case world will be different than your own. Their work, where they live, their goals with parenting, and their physical and emotional needs will differ from yours. This requires patience on your part as well as the ability to anticipate issues and create solutions to get past those issues.
In my opinion, the best way for you to approach this subject is with the help and guidance of an experienced family law attorney with the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. We have walked alongside thousands of people in your shoes. Going through a divorce can be a tough experience but it doesn’t have to be. Work along with one of our attorneys and you will quickly see the benefit of having the guidance of a person whose sole objective in the case is to serve you and put your best interests first. Contact us today to set up a free-of-charge consultation.
How to manage possession schedules when living far apart from your co-parent
Many times, parents who live a great distance from their children attempt to "bridge the gaps" in possession with extensive electronic communication. While you can work to achieve some degree of success with this plan you still need to be able to manage a schedule of possession for you and your kids. This is true even though your family may be divided distance-wise by many miles. What can you do to put yourselves in a position where you can maximize the time that you do have with your children? After all, each period of possession is critical for you when you do not get to see your children as often as a parent who lives around the corner from your kids.
Consider the needs of your children as far as their age, school schedule, physical needs, and other circumstances may be concerned. Many times, parents in your position will make assumptions about what their children are physically and emotionally capable of. Odds are good that your children are not going to take to long travel multiple times per month as readily as you would. Driving down from Dallas every first, third, and fifth weekend of the month may sound noble and even fun in your mind as you negotiate your divorce. However, in practice, this degree of travel could end up being a major pain in the neck for you and your kids. This is even though you love your kids, and they love you.
If you are in a position where you can afford it, flying into Houston from other parts of the country may be an option that you want to consider. Most of us cannot purchase plane tickets multiple times per month for ourselves or our children depending on their ages and willingness to travel. After a few months, this could get expensive. However, if you work for an airline or otherwise have an "in" with an airline this may be something that you would like to take advantage of. Who flies where, how often, and for how long should be determined by looking at your child's best interests, their age, their maturity level, and the comfort level of your co-parent for frequent travel?
For most parents who reside a great distance from their kids, a visit once or twice a month at most on the weekends would seem to be a workable solution to this problem. If you have a traditional work schedule where you work during the week and have your weekends free, then you and your co-parent can agree to a weekend or two each month where you can drive into Houston for time with the kids. This may involve renting a home, apartment, or hotel room for your stay here. The costs of this setup can vary depending upon your budget and the needs of your family.
Holidays when parenting from a long distance
Not only are our weekend periods of possession during the school year impacted when you live more than 100 miles from your child after a Texas family law case but so are holiday periods of possession. For starters, even during the school year if there are three-day weekends that are due to holidays such as Martin Luther King Day, veteran's day, the 4th of July, or any other holiday then it is customary for parents to agree that the non-custodial parent should get those opportunities to have extended time with the kids. You need to consider your circumstances, however, when negotiating for this visitation period.
Next, spring break is oftentimes a holiday that parents under a standard possession order will alternate depending upon whether the current year is an even or odd year. This allows for parents to be able to have equal access to the kids and be able to go on trips and things of that nature. However, if you reside a great distance from your children then you lose out on almost a full spring break’s worth of possession time just in one month alone. As a result, you may want to try and negotiate for all spring breaks moving forward or at least two out of every three spring breaks. Your circumstances and your willingness to be available for your children during these times are among the most important factors in this regard.
Thanksgiving and Christmas are two holidays where parents under a standard position order well alternate possession based on whether it is an even or odd-numbered year as well as what parent had the first half of Christmas last year, we had the first half this year. However, this may be a situation for you that Requires some degree of creative thinking when it comes to holiday visits. I would not expect your Co-parent to agree to something where you get Christmas every year but perhaps allowing you to have more time on the Christmas holiday even when your Co-parent has Christmas Day itself would be something that would interest the two of you. As your children get older you can also work with them to see what they would prefer or be more comfortable with period this is where having a good relationship with your Co-parent pays off because the two of you would be able to negotiate for spur of the moment changes more readily.
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. 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 circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case. Thank you for your interest in our law office so we hope you will join us again for more information and blog posts regarding Texas family law.