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Dallas Divorce Law Blog

The custody and visitation rights of grandparents

There are many situations that can lead Texas grandparents to seek custody or visitation rights with their grandchild. In some cases, the child may live with the grandparent and the grandparent wants a custody order so he or she can assert rights to such things as child support and other benefits. In other cases, a child's biological custodial parent may be preventing the child from having contact with the child's grandparents and the grandparents want court-ordered visitation so they can continue their relationship.

Whatever the circumstances may be, when grandparents believe that they need a custody or visitation order regarding a grandchild, Texas law allows the grandparents to file a petition in court in order to request it. Under the law, such petitions are allowed if the request is in the child's best interests and one of several conditions apply.

Divorce rate is dropping, some say

People in Texas considering marriage might be encouraged to learn that the divorce rate is dropping, according to authorities. A recent analysis of statistics indicates that certain unprecedented factors in the 1970s and 1980s may have caused an abnormal spike in divorce rates that ultimately resulted in the popular assumption that half of all marriages in the United States end in divorce.

Authorities purport that the feminism movement some four decades ago might be to blame for the increase in divorces during the 1970s and 1980s. Changing gender roles and the advent of women's reproductive rights had a profound effect on the institution of marriage, reportedly. However, a shift in cultural values among modern Americans, including the idea of delaying marriage and the acceptance of premarital cohabitation, is countering that effect, authorities say.

What is in the best interest of the child in a divorce?

One of the most important considerations for Texas parents who are going through a divorce is doing what is in the best interest of the child. Keeping the child's best interest in mind makes a difference when it comes to possession, visitation and other issues concerning the child's care. Although child welfare is always the court's main consideration, there are several factors taken into account that influence a child's living arrangements and interaction with the non-custodial parent, when applicable.

The primary determining factors include what type of child custody arrangement is best for the child and which parent has the best resources for the child's care. State law summarizes the criteria that a judge or court uses in order for parents to understand their obligations.

How divorce affects an inheritance

One of the issues that frequently comes up in Texas property division cases is whether an ex-spouse has a share in inheritance funds acquired during the marriage. In many cases, the use of the funds after receipt has a lot to do with whether division becomes an issue.

Although Texas is a community property state, money from an inheritance is separate from marital property. However, if the funds were deposited into a joint bank account or otherwise commingled, the funds become community property. People who wish to prevent the division of inheritance money are advised to put these funds in a separate account.

Do unmarried fathers have the right to prevent an adoption?

Parents in Texas may benefit from learning more about the rights that unmarried fathers are typically afforded. In order to have parental rights, unmarried fathers may be required to establish paternity and demonstrate an ongoing commitment to parenting their child. In order to prevent a child from being given up for adoption, an unmarried father will need to have already established and acknowledged paternity. Fathers who do not establish paternity may not have any rights over the child.

If an unmarried father waits too long to establish paternity, a family judge may perceive the delay as a lack of commitment to the child. In regards to preventing an immediate adoption, some courts may expect an unmarried father to establish paternity before childbirth. Unmarried fathers who find out they have a child after the adoption has already been finalized may be left with no recourse.

The final step in a divorce

Texas law requires that all marriages in the state be ended with a final appearance before the court and the issuance of a final decree of divorce. When there is complete consensus on the disposition of debts, liabilities, community property and child support arrangements between the two divorcing parties, then they may fill out the final decree on their own and bring it in for a short series of questions and testimony known as the "prove-up."

If one ex-spouse will be paying child support to the other, then the court will need a copy of any applicable employee's withholding order. The partner who is requesting the divorce must bring proof that the other spouse was served with the papers or an official waiver of service that was stamped and processed at least ten days previously. All information must be provided in triplicate.

What are the penalties for domestic violence in Texas?

The criminal penalties that can be assessed on a perpetrator who commits acts of domestic violence in Texas can range from a monetary fine to a significant prison sentence. If convicted of a Class C misdemeanor, such an individual would face a fine as high as $500. Conviction for a second-degree felony, however, could result in a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

A person who acted intentionally, knowingly or recklessly to cause bodily injury to a member of their family can normally expect to be handed a Class A misdemeanor charge. The charge could become more or less severe based on information about the victim, the type of violence that occurred and other circumstances involved in the incident.

The enforcement of a divorce decree

In Texas, as in other states, many couples file for divorce each year. In some cases, one of the parties will refuse to comply with one or more of the requirements set forth in the divorce decree. In the event that an ex-spouse refuses to comply with some aspect of a divorce decree such as turning over property or paying spousal maintenance or child support, the other party may file a suit to enforce. The procedure for this and other family law matters is set forth in the applicable Family Code statute.

According to Texas law, any person whose liabilities, powers, duties or rights might be affected by a suit to enforce is entitled to receive notice of the action. In addition, the individual will be required to file a written answer. The legal proceedings in connection with a suit to enforce will be governed by the Texas Rules of Civil Procedure. The power to enforce the original divorce agreement is granted to the court that issued the divorce decree.

Alimony in Texas

Alimony, also known as spousal support or contractual maintenance, is the court-ordered or approved amount that one spouse must pay the other after divorce. If neither party can agree on an amount, the court will only assign alimony under specific conditions per Texas state law.

The court can award alimony if the requesting party has been a recipient of domestic abuse within a two-year period preceding the divorce, or at any time during divorce proceedings. Spousal support can also be awarded if the marriage lasted a minimum of 10 years and the recipient is disabled, caring for a child with a disability or otherwise hindered from earning a livable wage.

The filing and notification processes for a divorce

The divorce process typically commences when the petitioner files for divorce. Subsequently, the other spouse, or the respondent, receives notice of the petition. Filing for divorce in Texas requires the couple to have lived in the state for a minimum of six months. Moreover, the petition for divorce must be submitted in the county where the couple has lived for the previous 90 days.

If there is sufficient grounds for divorce, such as adultery, the petitioner may note these grounds so as to gain a tactical advantage. The petitioner may also include the desired outcome of the divorce, such as what the petitioner would have the court order in the event that the divorce is disputed.

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