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Austin Texas Family Law Blog

Seeking child custody in Texas? Take note of these tips

In a divorce, the most important thing is the well-being of your kids. You love them more than anything in the world, and all you want is a fair custody settlement. But how can you make sure that a judge will see it that way?

Your best chances for winning either shared or sole custody begin from the minute you separate. The actions you take before the custody hearing will show the judge your willingness to do what it takes to be a good parent.

Know what happens to joint accounts during divorce

Part of getting a divorce is determining how you're going to pay for your debts and necessities while going through the process. People who don't think ahead to save or to have available credit for a period of time may find it difficult to stay afloat, as their joint accounts may be locked down until the divorce settlement is finalized.

In the majority of marriages, it's still the husband who is the breadwinner. That places women in a difficult position of not always knowing the exact household income or the investments that are made. Sometimes, their partners go as far as to clean out joint accounts before filing for divorce, leaving them with nothing.

Why do spouses sign prenuptial agreements?

From a nuts and bolts perspective, a prenuptial agreement makes a lot of sense. From the traditional view of love and marriage -- that implies your marriage partner is "until death do us part" -- these agreements go against religious concept of "holy matrimony."

To be sure, prenuptial agreements are a hot-button issue, but just about every single family law attorney -- even those who have litigated countless contentious divorce proceedings -- know that no divorcing spouses ever entered marriage thinking that their union would be temporary. Furthermore, considering how many marriages end up in divorce, a prenuptial agreement that makes divorce exponentially faster, easier and cheaper on everyone involved is an excellent idea.

Should you consider getting a postnuptial agreement?

When you and your spouse got married, you didn't draw up a prenuptial agreement. Perhaps you were both young adults struggling to make ends meet and pay off student loans. Maybe neither one of you wanted to broach the subject.

Now it's a few -- or maybe many -- years later. You're beginning to regret not putting something in place to protect yourself if you divorce. Is it too late?

What are your options as the victim of paternity fraud?

Paternity fraud occurs when a woman claims a man is her child's biological father or allows him to be presumed to be the father when she either knows or suspects that he isn't.

Sometimes a woman will identify a man to whom she isn't married as her child's father, so he signs a paternity affidavit to establish his paternity. In many cases, a man is considered a child's presumed father because he is or was recently married to the mother.

Why you should include pets in your prenuptial agreement

If you and your spouse-to-be are bringing a four-legged companion into the marriage, or if you intend to adopt pets as a couple, you may want to consider including them in your prenuptial agreement. Increasingly, couples are putting pet provisions in their prenups.

While couples can't address issues involving child support or custody in these agreements, they can address matters involving the custody and support of their four-legged family members. This can save a lot of conflict if the couple ends their marriage.

What does it take to terminate someone's parental rights?

No matter how ill-equipped you may believe your child's other parent is to be a mother or a father, seeking to terminate their parental rights is a big step. Courts don't do that without good reason. Unless a legal parent agrees to give up their parental rights (for example, if the child's stepparent wants to adopt the child), the court will need to see grounds that a parent's rights should be terminated.

If a parent has had no contact with a child for an extended period and/or failed to provide financial support, that may be grounds for termination of parental rights. If a parent is unable to be located, a judge may revoke their parental rights.

You have legal rights if you worry about parental kidnapping

Children often end up a casualty of the divorce battles between their parents. Instead of focusing solely on what will be best for the children of the family, divorcing couples often use the children as a weapon against one another in custody battles.

A parent could seek sole custody, knowing that it will hurt the other parent if they win. Other times, one parent could intentionally kidnap the child and leave the state or even the country as a means of terminating the parental relationship between their child and their former spouse.

Dixie Chicks singer, husband battling over alimony despite prenup

Singer Natalie Maines' break-up from her husband, actor Adrian Pasdar, continues to get media attention. The Lubbock native, who's best known as the outspoken lead singer of the Dixie Chicks, drew up a prenuptial agreement with Pasdar back in 2000 before the two married.

Pasdar is now challenging that prenup. He initially claimed in court documents that he "does not recall the events related to the drafting and negotiation of the prenuptial agreement…."

How divorced parents can help their kids enjoy the holidays

Nothing can test divorced parents' resolve to push their differences to the back burner and focus on what's best for their kids like the holidays. It's best if you've included details for the holidays in your custody agreement and parenting plan. This gives you a framework for how your children will divide their time. However, it's always helpful when both parents can be a bit flexible.

It's essential for you to keep a positive attitude about the time your kids are spending with your co-parent over the holidays -- even if you feel lonely without them. Let them share their experiences, complete with photos and videos.

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