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Austin Texas Family Law Blog

Being denied custody doesn't mean you can't get visitation rights

If a court has granted your co-parent sole custody of your child, that doesn't necessarily mean that you can't remain part of their lives. Unless a parent is denied custody because they could pose a threat to their child's well-being, courts often allow generous visitation rights. Most judges want to see a child maintain a relationship with both parents if it's in their best interests.

Sometimes, when one parent is denied custody rights, it's because their living situation or their work responsibilities don't make caring for a child possible. Maybe all they can afford is a studio apartment. Perhaps their job takes them out of town regularly. In some cases, it's because a child isn't able to move back and forth between homes. Perhaps they're too young.

Is your soon-to-be-ex 'dissipating' your marital assets?

Once you know that divorce is in your future, it's essential to keep a close eye on the marital assets that you will be splitting with your spouse. People can (and unfortunately sometimes do) engage in what's called the "dissipation of assets." It occurs when a spouse intentionally wastes or squanders marital assets to lessen the amount their husband or wife will get in the divorce settlement. Typically this is done out of malice or spite and by a person who can afford to throw away money. Often they have a high income that they'll continue to have after the divorce while their spouse doesn't.

Watching the accounts and credit card activity is a good way to spot this activity. If you're seeing a lot of account withdrawals or credit card cash advances, that can be a warning sign. If you're seeing large purchases at retailers or large debit card or credit card activity at obscure entities like "ABC Enterprises," you may be wise to check those out.

Separation anxiety is common when kids move between homes

When children move between their parents' homes after separation or divorce, it's not uncommon for them to experience separation anxiety -- particularly if they spend most of their time at one parent's home. The idea of going to their other parent's house for the weekend may cause significant anxiety.

Depending on their age, this can manifest itself in tears, anger, inability to sleep and/or loss of appetite. They may try to keep their fears to themselves or they may act out.

How are debts divided in Texas divorces?

Differing attitudes toward money are at least one factor in many divorces. If you and your spouse are divorcing, and you've racked up a significant amount of debt over the years, you're understandably concerned about how much of that debt you get "custody" of in the divorce.

Like assets, debt is divided between divorcing spouses. In Texas, assets and debt accumulated during the marriage generally belong equally to both spouses, regardless of who incurred it.

Why choose mediation instead of litigation?

Traditional divorce is known for being prone to messy conflicts, creating drawn-out battles over details, and generating an atmosphere that pits you and an ex-spouse against one another as sudden enemies.

In divorce litigation, each party hires separate representation and goes to court for a judge to help decide asset distribution, custody arrangements, and alimony or child support payments. This process is useful and even necessary in many circumstances, such as a high-asset divorce or one involving abuse.

Got equity? But can you access it?

During these uncertain financial times, many Austin residents are struggling to meet their financial commitments. They may be turning to traditional sources to tap to come up with enough cash to meet their living expenses.

Home equity is one source of funds for homeowners to use in a financial pinch. However, according to an article in The Washington Post, some homeowners have discovered to their dismay that they have been locked out of accessing their equity.

Are the courts gender biased in custody cases?

There are numerous gender stereotypes targeting parents. One common assumption is that women are more nurturing and natural caretakers than men. Stemming from that notion is another stereotype: the courts are almost always biased toward women during a custody battle.

Whether it's a biological imperative or a learned cultural phenomenon, Pew Research Center has found that women are statistically more involved in the care of children in a heterosexual marriage. However, it's simply not true that fathers are less competent at raising their own kids than women.

Will a criminal record keep you from getting shared custody?

As you move toward divorce, you plan to seek shared custody of your children. However, your spouse has other ideas. They point out that you have a criminal record and plan to use that against you.

Can having a record impact a judge's decision about custody? It depends.

Can you make cohabitating with your spouse during divorce work?

If you and your spouse have chosen to continue to live together in your home as you go through the divorce process, or even for a time after your divorce has been finalized, you're not alone. Some couples do it because they simply can't afford to maintain two homes -- even if one of them is a small apartment. Others do it because they feel it's best for the kids -- perhaps at least until the school year is over.

Of course, it only benefits the kids if the two of you can co-exist amicably under one roof. It's also important, if your kids are old enough, to explain to them that this situation is only temporary and that you're not getting back together.

What co-parents need to consider when their child starts driving

When you and your spouse divorced and worked out your child custody and support agreements, the day when your child would get their driver's license may have seemed too far down the road to think about. Now it's almost here, and you need to consider how you will handle this new level of responsibility and freedom.

One of the first things you need to do is add your child to one or both of your car insurance policies. If they're going to be driving cars belonging to each of you, you'll probably need to include them on both of your policies. If your child has their own car, you may be able to cover them on just one policy. Check with your insurance agent to find out what you need to do for your particular situation and what discounts you may qualify for -- such as a good student discount.

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