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Austin Texas Family Law Blog

Is uncontested divorce a good solution for you?

For couples who do not remain married very long or who have few assets to divide, uncontested divorce is often a strong solution to their divorce needs. When used properly, uncontested divorce helps couples get the resolution they need personally and legally without dragging the process out into a lengthy battle that drains resources and worsens an already tense relationship.

However, uncontested divorce is simply inappropriate for some couples, even if they want to use it. Those who have fairly complex assets to divide or who must deal with custody issues and parenting plans may also find that uncontested divorce does not serve their need or protect their priorities effectively.

Can you protect your business from property division?

If you own a business and know there's a divorce in your future, then you may need to make some very difficult decisions if you hope to keep the business intact. This is especially true if you divorce in Texas.

In Texas, community property law requires divorcing spouses to divide their marital property equally, rather than allowing for more flexible "equitable" division, like many other states use. In short, if your business qualifies as marital property, then your spouse has as strong legal claim to half of the value that you own in it.

Modifying your custody order after divorce

Once your divorce finalizes and you and your child's other parent begin working through the process of actually raising your child separately, you may find that your custody arrangement simply doesn't work with your needs or circumstances. In some cases, this is due to poor foresight while crafting your custody agreement, whereas in other cases, a parent's income or health may change significantly, making it infeasible to abide by the existing arrangement .

If you believe that you need to modify your custody order, it is important to play by the rules and petition the court for an official modification rather than simply bypassing the court and working out a personal understanding with your ex. While in theory this may function just as well, it is always possible for the other party to document all the ways in which you vary from the custody order and use this against you in the future.

Challenging a prenuptial agreement

Here in Texas, prenuptial agreements are particularly important to consider prior to marriage. Unlike most other states, Texas uses community property guidelines when it comes to property division in divorce, meaning that any property each party does not preclude as separate property through a prenuptial agreement automatically converts to marital property. Should a couple divorce, they must split all the marital property equally.

If you have a prenuptial agreement in place, this does not necessarily mean that it stands up to scrutiny. Challenging a prenuptial agreement may mean that property previously set aside as personal property may convert to marital property subject to division. Generally speaking, spouses choose to challenge prenuptial agreements in two ways: challenging the construction of the agreement itself or challenging the provisions of the agreement.

Why might a court agree to seal divorce records?

Divorce can bring out the worst in otherwise reasonable people, and it is perfectly reasonable for one or both spouses to wish to seal divorce records to keep the process as respectful and private as possible. While it is relatively common for courts to agree to seal divorce records, it is never an automatic component of divorce and requires a good deal of specific attention and planning to offer proper protection.

If you hope to seal your own divorce records, now is the time to develop your legal strategy and ensure that you have the tools you need available when you need them. Courts generally agree to seal portions of divorce records that deal with very specific issues, and do not prefer to seal documents without specific justification.

How does stepparent adoption work in Texas?

Growing your family can sometimes happen in surprising ways, some of which are not at all simple to navigate. If you want to adopt your stepchild, it is very important that you understand the process in detail to ensure that you navigate the adoption process properly while keeping your rights secure.

Stepparent adoption in Texas is a two-step process with many potential setbacks. For your own sake and the sake of the child you love, make sure that you understand the process thoroughly beginning.

Does domestic violence affect custody rights?

Family courts throughout the country, and particularly in Texas, prefer to leave children in the care of their parents if they can justify doing so. However, instances of domestic violence do factor into the courts' decisions. If you have concerns about your ability to retain custody of your children because of volatility in your household, you may want to consider the legal tools you have to protect yourself, your child and your rights as a parent.

If a court sees evidence that your child is in danger under your care and believes that you cannot properly protect him or her, you face the possibility of losing custody. A single instance of domestic violence may demonstrate this in the eyes of the court, but it is more likely that a court to takes action after a pattern of conquering behavior emerges.

Creating a fair custody plan with your child’s other parent

Parents who divorce face a number of very difficult choices, chief among them the choice between working together to create a parenting plan that meets their child's needs or forfeiting that responsibility to the court. To hear many divorcees discuss the process, one might think that a court steps in and harshly decides how parents raise their children, but in most cases this does not occur.

In fact, most judges prefer for parents to present their own parenting plan to the court for approval, if at all possible. A judge can and will step in and hand down parenting and custody orders, but as a general rule, parents have an opportunity to work together and self-determine their parenting and custody arrangements first.

Fighting for custody rights as an unwed father

Under any circumstances, parents who choose to raise a child separately may face difficulty agreeing on custody and parenting arrangements. However, for an unwed father, seeking parental privileges and custody rights involving your child may prove quite difficult.

This is not to say single fathers do not win custody and visitation privileges. It is certainly possible and well worth the time and effort required. However, it is wise to understand why this may prove difficult to help ensure that you can build a strong strategy to keep your rights secure.

Child custody and parental relocation

When parents who live together choose to divorce or split up, one parent often moves out of the family home to a separate dwelling. While this is certainly a practical choice in most cases, it may seriously impact future custody decisions. If you recently moved out of the home where your child lives with his or her other parent, or if you are weighing it as an option, be sure to consider how this may affect your custody negotiations.

When a judge considers a custody case, he or she primarily has concerns about the best interests of the child and maintaining that child's status quo to minimize suffering and the mental burden that the divorce or separation process causes. If you choose to leave the home, this speaks volumes to the judge, potentially harming your custody case.

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