Archive for April, 2018



Over the past two decades, it has become more common for children to be born to single(or unmarried) parents. Children born to single parents are three times as likely to be in a lower economic bracket as those who are raised in a two-parent household.

Unsurprisingly, children with greater access to resources tend to be in an overall better state. Kids who have limited resources are more likely to have behavioral problems and less likely to excel in school. One way to help reduce these issues is for the non-custodial parent to stay current on support payments.

The federal Child Support Enforcement Program was set up in order to help make sure that children receive economic support from both parents. Initially, the program was able to increase the share of parents who provided for their children. Despite its effectiveness, there has since been a decrease in the number of parents entering the program.

Child support can be obtained whether someone goes through a divorce or if they were never married to the child’s other parent. If someone is not getting the support they are owed or not getting it in a timely manner, there are legal actions that they can take. For example, courts may order wage garnishments for parents who do not make timely support payments.

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If a Texas parent violates a custody agreement, this is known as custodial interference. Examples of custodial interference include keeping a child past the agreed-upon time or picking up the child at school when it’s the other parent’s turn.

Most cases of custodial interference can be resolved between the parents. In serious cases, however, a parent may report the interference to the courts and even to police. The consequences of criminal custodial interference could be jail time or supervised visitation to prevent interference from happening again.

Courts recognize that there might occasionally be extenuating circumstances that keep a parent from returning a child on time, such as bad weather. A parent might also violate the custody agreement because of a belief that the child is in some kind of danger from the other parent. If a court agrees with this assessment, it will not be considered custodial interference. Parents could also make an informal agreement to change the custody agreement temporarily based on special circumstances.

Negotiating child custody arrangements can be among the most difficult parts of  divorce because of the emotion involved. However, negotiation has some advantages over going to court. A lower-conflict divorce that does not involve a custody battle may be better for children. Furthermore, negotiating a child custody arrangement with attorneys will be cheaper and quicker than going to court. It might also give parents more control over the final agreement. However, if one parent will not cooperate, is neglectful or has issues such as substance abuse problems, going to court might be necessary.

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When a child is born to an unmarried couple in Texas, he or she does not automatically have a legal father. Instead, the biological father and mother have to take steps to establish his status. Once this is done, a father has all the rights and responsibilities of paternity, and the child receives all of those benefits and more.
The easiest way to establish paternity is through signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity. This can be done at the hospital at the time of birth, and both parents must sign it. This free form can also be filled out at the following locations:

• County birth registrar’s office
• Office of the Attorney General child support office
• Any AOP certified entity

There are also financial advantages to establish paternity that go beyond child support. For example, a father may provide health insurance, or the child may qualify for Social Security or veterans benefits, or for benefits through another government program.

A father who has established paternity has rights to visitation or custody, and a child who has a father involved in his or her life receives emotional and psychological support that are important to healthy development.

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Here are some helpful hints to get you through the divorce process

Know the difference between what you want and what you need

You need enough income to live on, a vehicle to drive and a place to live that you can afford. If you figure out your bottom line first, then you can start prioritizing on the marital assets you want. The final settlement should be fair, so you may want to figure an estimate of your spouse’s bottom line, too. A settlement that does not ensure you both have what you need will probably get tossed out by the judge.

Come up with alternative plans and be willing to compromise

Whether you like your spouse or not, you probably have a pretty good insight into how he or she thinks after all these years. Try to imagine the scene from your spouse’s side of the table. What will be on his or her list? What solutions might your spouse suggest regarding property division, child custody and support, and alimony? Anticipate these and think about the things you may compromise on. If you begin negotiations and cannot agree to his or her suggestions, be open to brainstorming new ideas together.

Leave your emotions out of the discussion

Although staying in control of your feelings is definitely easier said than done, if you get emotional while you are negotiating, it may give your spouse an edge. At the least, it will disrupt the process and likely will lead to arguments. If you lose your composure, take a break for a few minutes, an hour or even a couple of days if you need to.

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Virtual visitation is becoming more popular with each passing year. In the future, this could change the way children and their parents communicate.

As the name suggests, virtual visitation allows a child and parent to stay in touch, all without visiting in person. This is done via video mail, email (Skype, Facetime), video conferencing, and instant messaging. If you are interested in virtual visitation, it is important to discuss it with the other parent, as well as the court. It should become a part of the child custody order or parenting agreement.
Before you can decide for or against a virtual visitation agreement, it is important to understand the benefits.

These include but are not limited to:

— The ability to help a child with a homework project
— Ease of communication regardless of distance
— Opportunity to see your child on video, as opposed to just a telephone call
— Live viewing of big events, such as games and recitals

Many parents in Texas decide to use virtual visitations along with another arrangement, as they determine this is the “best of both worlds.”
Going through divorce, especially when you have a child with your former partner, is never easy. If you worry about being left behind, if you worry you won’t get to spend as much time with your child, it may be a good idea to learn more about virtual visitation. It is a growing trend that has helped many parents stay in constant communication with their child.

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