Archive for March, 2016

WHAT ARE MY VISITATION RIGHTS AS A PARENT?

WHAT ARE MY VISITATION RIGHTS AS A PARENT?

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9 Documents that need Changing After Divorce

9 Documents that need Changing After Divorce

With the elation that you have a final divorce decree and you no longer have to go to court or deal with that dastardly lawyer anymore, many people will go on about their business. In reality, there are some “post-game” tasks that need to be dealt with and many people don’t handle these chores until they it’s either too late or it simply comes up. Some of these items can be problematic if not dealt with.

Social Security Card. If a name change was included in your divorce decree, you will need to get a new social security card to reflect the name change. Yes, it’s a chore. But try not having a social security card with your correct name on it.

Driver’s License. Your driver’s license is your primary means of identification. This should be first on your list. Texas DPS has opened driver’s license mega centers that allow you to get in line online and not have to wait for hours. It’s not as hard as it used to be.

Property Titles/Vehicle Titles. These documents will need to reflect your name change if you want to be able to transfer them in the future.

W-4 & Any Other Work Documents. You’re now single. The status change needs to reflected on your withholding. Also, if your HR department gives out benefits based on the number in the household, they might require that be changed.

Retirement Plans & Life Insurance. Change marital status, but you must change beneficiaries. Think about an unexpected demise where your ex gets a payday. Not a pleasant thought.

Will & Trust. Again, make sure your beneficiaries are updated and that these documents reflect your new marital status. Also, do you have a relative that was going to leave something to your now ex-spouse? Maybe state in passing that you changed your will to nudge others to do the same if your ex was included.

Medical Treatment Authorization & Consent Forms for Children. As your new status might alter the situation for your children, you want to make sure that they can get the proper care no matter who is taking care of them.

Medical Power of Attorney. You’re going to need to update who has the decision making power should you become incapacitated.

HIPPA Authorizations at your doctors’ offices. If these forms reflect allowing information to be given to your ex-spouse, you might want to change this. Just because you have the decree, it doesn’t mean you won’t end up in court again. If you have children, it’s highly likely.

By no means an exhaustive list of things to change after divorce, but it’s a good place to start if you’re in this situation.

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Supreme Court: Gay Couples Have Right to Marry

Supreme Court: Gay Couples Have Right to Marry 10:31

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday in favor of an Alabama woman who sought legal custody after splitting up with her same-sex partner.

The case required the court to interpret the Constitution’s dictate that every state must give “full faith and credit” to legal decisions reached in other states.

Two women, referred to in court documents only by their initials, were in a committed relationship in Alabama for nearly 17 years. One of them, E.L., gave birth to three children. The other, V.L., wanted to adopt them, so on the advice of a lawyer she sought and was granted full parental rights from a court in Georgia, where the laws were considered more favorable to her situation.

Several years later the women split up but could not agree on child custody. V.L. asked an Alabama court to grant joint custody, and it agreed that the Georgia adoption order must be honored.

Related: Alabama Supreme Court Refuses Challenge to Gay Marriage

But the Alabama Supreme Court tossed that order out, concluding that Georgia law barred V.L. from adopting unless E.L., the biological mother, had relinquished her parental rights. The Alabama justices ruled that the Georgia court that awarded adoption rights in the first place misinterpreted Georgia law.

On Monday, in an unsigned opinion, the U.S. Supreme Court said the Georgia ruling must be honored, reversing the Alabama Supreme Court.

In urging the court to take the case, V.L.’s lawyer, Paul Smith of Washington, D.C., said the Alabama ruling “places at risk numerous other families in which parents have relied on the stability of adoption judgments issued by the courts of sister states.”

Advocates of gay rights had been watching the case closely.

“If the full faith and credit clause can be as easily circumvented as it was by the Alabama Supreme Court, the parent-child relationship will be only as strong as the credit it will be given in the most restrictive states,” said a friend-of-court brief filed on behalf of V.L. by several gay rights groups.

“This case is a part of our continuing national conversation about legal respect for the relations formed by and between same-sex couples, including those who raise children.”

In December, the U.S. Supreme Court put a hold on the Alabama ruling. That action allowed V.L. to have visitation rights while the case is on appeal.

Lawyers for E.L. said second-parent adoptions, which are granted to one person in an unmarried couple but also preserve the parental rights of the biological parent, are prohibited under Georgia law. The full faith and credit requirement does not apply, they argued, when the state that originally granted the adoption did not have the power to do so.

“I am overjoyed that the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Alabama court decision,” said the adoptive mother, V.L. “I have been my children’s mother in every way for their whole lives. I thought that adopting them meant that we would be able to be together always. The Supreme Court has done what’s right for my family.”

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Addressing Issues for Same-Sex Divorces in Texas

Addressing Issues for Same-Sex Divorces in Texas

The Supreme Court decision authorized Same-Sex Marriage for all citizens in the United States. Same-sex couples who married earlier in another state that allows same-sex marriage and who are now Texas citizens may seek a divorce.

The State of Texas now may modify divorce jurisdiction over a same-sex couple. Since many same- sex couples are either new residents to the state or have questions governing residency rules as their marriage was officiated in another state, we will review the following important divorce requirements from the Texas Family Code comes into play:

FAM 6.301- General Residency Rule for Divorce: A suit for divorce may not be maintained in this state unless at the time the suit is filed either the petitioner or the respondent has been

A domiciliary of the state for the preceding six month period
A resident of the county in which the suit is filed for the preceding 90-day period

Fam 6.302- Suit for Divorce by non-resident spouse: If one spouse had been a domiciliary of this state for at least the last six months, a spouse domiciled in another state or nation may file a suit for divorce in the county in which the domiciliary spouse resides at the time the petition is filed.

Fam 6.305- Acquiring Jurisdiction over Nonresident Respondent:

If the petitioner in a suit for dissolution of a marriage is a resident or a domiciliary of this state at the time the suit for dissolution is filed, the court may exercise personal jurisdiction over the respondent although the respondent is not a resident of this state if:
(1) This state is the last marital residence of the petitioner and the respondent and the suit is filed before the second anniversary of the date on which marital residence ended

(2) There is any basis consistent with the constitutions of this state and United States for the exercise of the personal jurisdiction.

A court acquiring jurisdiction under this section also acquires jurisdiction over the respondent in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship.
Another very important item to consider is THE MANDATORY WAITING PERIOD FOR A TEXAS DIVORCE?

Fam 6.702- Waiting Period

Except as provided by Subsection (c), the court may not grant a divorce before the 60th day after the date the suit was filed. A decree rendered in violation of this subsection is subject to collateral attack.
A waiting period is not required before a court may grant an annulment or declare a marriage void other than as required in civil cases generally.
A waiting period is not required under Subsection (a) before a court may grant a divorce in a suit in which the court finds that:
The respondent has been finally convicted of or received deferred adjudication for an offense involving family violence as defined by Section 71.004 against the petitioner or a member of the petitioner’s household
The petitioner has an active protective order under Title 4 or an active magistrate’s order for emergency protection under Article 17.292, Code of Criminal Procedure, based on a finding of family violence, against the respondent because of family violence committed during the marriage.
What are the Grounds for Dissolution of Marriage in Texas?

(1) Insupportability (no fault)
(2) Cruelty
(3) Adultery
(4) Conviction of felony
(5) Abandonment
(6) Living apart
(7) Confinement in mental hospital

The above is a general brief overview of residency requirements, a waiting period for a divorce, and grounds for a Divorce in Texas.

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Satisfying Texas Back Child Support Arrearage

 Satisfying Texas Back Child Support Arrearage

In Texas it is the responsibility of a mother and father to adequately support their child. An adequate support usually comes in the form of child support payments monthly. It is a common mistake of judgment to attempt to hide from child support obligations or willfully ignore the obligation. Intentional non-payment gives rise to contempt proceedings

The circumstances regarding the parent’s decision not to pay child support is considered by the court in contempt proceedings. Texas Family Code 154.131 strictly deals with retroactive child support payments. There are four factors a Texas Court will consider when determining how far back a parent must make child support back-payments. They are:

  1. If the mother of the child had made any previous attempts to notify the obligor (delinquent parent) of his paternity or probable paternity;
  2. If the obligor (delinquent parent) had knowledge of his paternity or probable paternity;
  3. If the order of retroactive child support will impose an undue financial hardship on the obligor (delinquent parent) or the obligor’s family; and
  4. If the obligor (delinquent parent) has provided actual support or other necessities before the filing of the action.

All these factors will be taken into consideration by a Texas Court when determining how far back and how much an individual must pay child support.

If it is reasonable and in the best interest of the child then the Texas Family Code 154.131(c) allows for the Court to assign retroactive child support payments that only extends back 4 years. The option to confine retroactive child support payments to only four years may be contested by the parent requesting the child support. A parent that is contesting the Court’s decision in allowing the delinquent parent to pay back only four years’ worth of back-payments will have the burden of proof to establish:

  1. The Obligor (delinquent parent) knew or should have known that he was the father of the child for whom the support is sought

And

  1. The Obligor (delinquent parent) sought to avoid the establishment of support obligation to the child

If, however, a father is delinquent on child support because he did not know of the child’s existence, was told by the mother that his support was not wanted or needed, or the father had been paying a certain amount prior to the filling of the child support then the Court will likely only award retroactive payments of four years or less. If the father has willfully refused or ignored his obligation to pay support and adequately support his child, then the Court has the authority to order that delinquent parent to pay retroactive child support payments dating back to the day the child was born.

Retroactive child support can be complex and tricky considering the multiple circumstances in which this problem may arise. If you find yourself in this predicament and have received a summons to a Texas Child Support Court, then contact an experienced attorney immediately to see what can be done and how to best effetely address this unavoidable issue.

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