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Joint Managing Conservatorships in Texas

Joint Managing Conservatorships in Texas

If you are involved in or considering a divorce in Texas and there are minor children involved, you need to get familiar with this term—joint managing conservatorship. It may sound daunting, but it’s something with which you are probably already very familiar—it’s the new language used in Texas to refer to custody of minor children.

Here’s how it works. In Texas, a parent who is awarded primary custody of minor children is referred to as the “sole managing conservator.” The other parent is called the “possessory conservator.” If the parents are granted joint custody, the relationship is known as a “joint managing conservatorship.” As a general rule, Texas considers a joint managing conservatorship to be in the “best interests of the child,” the standard for such decisions.

How Does the Court Determine Managing Conservatorship?

As indicated above, the presumption is that a joint managing conservatorship will be best for any minor children. In fact, a court can (and often does) appoint both parents as joint managing conservators, even if the parties have not agreed to that arrangement.

It’s important to understand, though, that a joint managing conservatorship does not necessarily mean equal access or physical possession of a child. The court has discretion to grant one parent more time or access, based on a number of factors, including:

  • The ability of the parties to reach shared decisions that are in the best interests of the child
  • Whether or not there’s a positive relationship between the parents, or between the children and the parents
  • Whether the psychological, physical and emotional needs of the child will be met by the specific arrangement
  • The geographic proximity of the parents’ homes
  • The preference of the child, if the child is 12 years of age or older

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas.

To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Joint Managing Conservatorships in Texas

Joint Managing Conservatorships in Texas

If you are involved in or considering a divorce in Texas and there are minor children involved, you need to get familiar with this term—joint managing conservatorship.

Contact Us

At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas.

To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!

The Grandparent-Grandchild Relationship in a Texas Divorce

The Grandparent-Grandchild Relationship in a Texas DivorceDivorce can have far-reaching consequences, reaching beyond the parties to the divorce and their children. Minor children often form strong bonds with grandparents, bonds that are customarily mutual. As a result, in the aftermath of divorce, a child (and a grandparent) can feel a powerful sense of loss, when that relationship either ends or becomes limited.

Like other states, Texas has enacted laws governing custody and visitation by grandparents of minor children of divorce. A judge in a divorce proceeding in Texas has the discretion to grant visitation rights with a grandparent, but the grandparent must first show that doing so is in the child’s best interests. Once that has been established, it must also be shown that one of the following situations exists:

  • The child’s parents are divorced
  • The child’s parents neglected or abused the child
  • One of the child’s parents is incarcerated, dead or has been found legally incompetent
  • The court has terminate the parent-child relationship
  • The child has resided with the grandparent for at least six months before the visitation request
  • The right of visitation by a grandparent is always at the discretion of the court. Furthermore, if the minor child is adopted by anyone other than the child’s stepparent, all grandparent rights terminate.

    Contact Us

    At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

    Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

    How Does the Court Determine the “Best Interests” of the Child?

    How Does the Court Determine the Under Texas law, when establishing managing conservatorship (custody) and access (visitation) in family law matters, the court must give priority to the “best interests of the child,” crafting an order that promotes the child’s mental, physical and emotional needs. To accomplish that goal, the court has the discretion to grant sole legal and physical custody to one parent, or to make both parents “joint conservators.” Absent extenuating circumstances, the courts prefer to have both parents actively involved in making decisions about the child’s education, medical treatment, legal concerns and extra-curricular involvement. Furthermore, the courts encourage parents to work cooperatively to make decisions that meet the guidelines, getting involved only when that doesn’t happen.

    The court can consider a number of factors when making a determination of what is in a child’s best interests, including:

    • The respective ability of each parent to effectively nurture and raise the child
    • The stability of each parent’s home and lifestyle
    • The child’s particular emotional and physical needs, including any special needs
    • Each parent’s plans for the child
    • The extent to which there has been any domestic abuse or violence by either parent, or any type of improper relationship between the child and a parent
    • The child’s wishes, if the child is at least 12 years of age

    Contact Us

    At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

    Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

    Prenuptial Agreements in Texas

    prenuptial-agreements-in-texasWhen you’re thinking about or planning on getting married, it can be easy to focus primarily or even exclusively on your impending happiness, on the romance of the event. But it’s also important to look at a marriage as a business venture, particularly if you are bringing a substantial net worth into the union, or you have children from a prior marriage. One of the best “business” decisions you can make in anticipation of marriage is to prepare and sign a valid prenuptial agreement.

    Though a pre-nuptial agreement can be broader in scope, it typically focuses on how property will be allocated in the event of separation or divorce. The agreement is customarily prepared and signed before the wedding, but its terms are ineffective until the parties are legally married. A similar type of agreement can be entered into after marriage, but it’s technically known as a “post-nuptial” agreement.

    Some of the common issues addressed in prenuptial agreements include:

    • Rights to alimony or spousal support
    • The allocation of property in the event of the death of one of the parties, or of separation or divorce
    • Rights to a death benefit from a life insurance policy
    • Who has the right to buy, sell, use, exchange, lease or otherwise manage or control any marital property during the marriage

    A prenuptial agreement cannot set limitations on child support, and cannot establish any rights regarding child custody or visitation.

    Though a prenuptial agreement in Texas does not require “consideration,” or something of value given by each party, it is a state requirement that a valid prenuptial agreement be in writing.

    Contact Us

    At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas.

    To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online . We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

    Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

    Common Mistakes When Dividing a Marital Estate

    Common Mistakes When Dividing a Marital EstateWhen your marriage ends, one of the most challenging jobs can be the division of the debts and assets of the marriage. In your rush to be over with the divorce, don’t make these common mistakes:

    Make Sure You Account for All Assets and Income

    According to a recent study, nearly 20% of all divorces proceedings involve assets hidden by one of the parties. Take the time to make certain you know what’s out there.

    Don’t Forget to Change Information on All Financial Accounts

    There’s no benefit to keeping any joint accounts with your ex. In addition to bank accounts, you need to change credit cards, investment accounts and any debts/loans, including your mortgage. It’s also critical to change the beneficiary on life insurance policies, annuities, retirement accounts and investment portfolios.

    Don’t Ignore the Tax Implications

    One of the ways in which people commonly don’t end up getting a fair deal has to do with the potential tax consequences of owning certain property. Experts say it’s important to determine whether the dollars you are receiving are pre-tax or post-tax dollars. For example, if you take assets in an IRA in exchange for allowing your ex to keep the house, you will incur a tax obligation when you take distributions. However, your ex may incur no tax consequence upon the sale of the house, provided the net gain on the sale is below that allowed under the Internal Revenue Code.

    Don’t Let Your Decisions Be Affected by Your Emotions

    When you let your emotions take over, it’s hard to make rational decisions. It can be hard, but you have to view the financial aspects like a business transaction. In addition, don’t try to establish your own value for a house, or for personal property. Always get a professional to appraise marital assets at fair market value.

    Contact Us

    At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

    Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

    Protecting Your Rights as a Single Mother—Paternity Disputes

    Protecting Your Rights as a Single Mother—Paternity DisputesAs the unmarried mother of a minor child, it’s essential that you establish the paternity of your child. The father will have visitation rights, but will also have to provide some level of support, provided you are no longer living together. Paternity can also make your child eligible for a wide variety of benefits through the father of the child, including medical insurance, veteran’s benefits, Social Security and inheritance. Here are the ways to establish paternity in Texas.

    Establishing Paternity

    Under Texas law, you can successfully have the father of your minor child legally designated three different ways, all of which will qualify you to receive support and other benefits. The accepted methods are:

    • Presumptive paternity—if you were married to the father or lived continuously with him for a period of time before the birth of the child, paternity will be presumed, though the alleged father may challenge paternity through DNA testing.
    • A voluntary acknowledgement of paternity—if the alleged father signs a legally binding document stating that he is the genetic father of the child, you then have the right to seek all benefits.
    • Paternity by court order—either the mother or the alleged father of the child may ask the court to establish paternity. Furthermore, a child may also ask the court to order paternity testing, provided he or she has reached a certain age.

    Contact Us

    At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 10 years of experience to clients in south Texas. To learn about our services, call us at 281-761-6042 or contact us online. We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

    Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

    Relocating after Divorce in Texas

    Relocating after Divorce in TexasOften, in the aftermath of divorce, you want a change of scenery. However, there can be other reasons for seeking to relocate after a divorce—you may get a new job or a promotion, you may want to be closer to family, or there may be a specific benefit for your children. What are the restrictions, if any, on moving after a divorce, particularly when there are minor children involved?

    Under Texas law, as part of your divorce order, the court will set up a “managing conservatorship,” essentially what was formerly known as custody. As a general rule, the court prefers (and will establish) a joint managing conservatorship, consistent with the state’s stated objective of keeping both parents involved with the life and upbringing of the child. Achieving that objective can be complicated, though, even when both parents live in near each other. It becomes even more of a challenge when one of the parents wants to relocate.

    You Must Get Permission from the Court

    Almost universally, the court order in a Texas divorce prohibits the custodial parent (referred to as the “primary parent”) from relocating outside a certain area without first seeking and obtaining permission of the court. In most instances, permission must be sought if the custodial parent wants to move outside of any county contiguous with the county where the parties currently reside.

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    Moving Forward after a Divorce

    Moving Forward after a DivorceIn the aftermath of a divorce, you can be ready for a new life and a new direction. Here are some recommendations to help you put the past behind you and get on with your life.

    Open New Financial Accounts

    You should actually do this as soon as you know you are going to be a party to a divorce proceeding. Once you start putting your money into your own separate account, your ex won’t have access to it. You should also close any joint accounts you had during your marriage.

    Close All Credit Card Accounts

    Terminate any joint credit cards immediately and consider whether you want to open new accounts. Your finances may be unstable for a little while, so you may want to operate primarily on a cash basis until you have a greater sense of security and stability. In addition, divorce can be an emotional time—if you are prone to spending money in response to emotional trauma, you might be better served not opening a new credit card.

    Change Your Beneficiaries

    If your ex is named as a beneficiary on any type of insurance policy, IRA, retirement plan or in a will, contact the provider and change the beneficiary immediately. With respect to insurance, you may want to obtain a life insurance policy on your ex (owned by your ex) to cover alimony or child support in the event of his or her premature death. In addition, if you have a will or trust, you want to meet with a lawyer to change the provisions.

    Notify any Government Agencies

    The IRS and the Social Security Administration should be notified of your divorce.

    Contact Us

    At the office of Linda Stewart Law, PLLC, in Baytown, we bring more than 8 years of experience to clients in south Texas.

    To learn how we can help, call our office at 281-761-6042 or contact us online . We offer an initial consultation at a reduced fee of $50. We accept credit cards and will set up a payment plan, if appropriate. Our offices are open Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., and until noon on Fridays. Evening and weekend appointments can be arranged upon request.

    Se Habla Espanol | ASL and ESL Services Also Available

     
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