Display of awards for the Barrows Firm

BLOG

Search
Select
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
medical professional divorce

Divorce and Estate Planning for Medical Professionals

September 22, 2022
Estate Planning

Divorce and Estate Planning for Doctors and Dentists in Private Practice

Medical professionals benefit from unique opportunities to earn significant income and grow wealth. Not only by practicing medicine but also by investing in small clinics and medical practice arrangements, doctors and dentists can build complex financial structures and generate income streams. Divorce in Texas is more complicated when community property issues are substantial. Consider, for example, a scenario in which a spouse worked for the other who may be a doctor or dentist in private practice. The supporting spouse may have contributed to building the practice and may seek a greater share in the divorce. And meanwhile, the medical professional spouse may have inherited money and invested in another practice and have issues and claims associated there with. At the Barrows Firm in Southlake, our Texas divorce attorneys work with high-net-worth divorce and estate planning issues when medical professionals get divorced and work to protect their wealth for the future support of their families and themselves.

Leslie Barrows is an aggressive Texas divorce and child custody attorney, well-experienced in high-stakes divorce and custody suits. With her team of attorneys and paralegals at the Barrows Firm in Southlake, Leslie creates and manages litigation strategies clients need to protect themselves and their families.

Texas is a Community Property State

Community property laws apply in Texas, and they are structured to usually provide an equal division of the marital property accumulated during the marriage. There are property issues that arise in divorce about property claims when one spouse wants the property to be considered separate property not subject to division. Separate property could be a business one had before the marriage, and the issue becomes whether once married, the business or income was kept separate or comingled into the marital income and became community property.

Doctors and dentists are rightfully concerned about going through a divorce and fear what could happen to their medical practice. Seeking to protect their practice, it is important to seek legal advice and representation from sophisticated divorce attorneys whose practices customarily serve high-net-worth clients with high-stakes business and property issues in divorce. Texas community property laws may entitle your spouse to reimbursement out of the business, which can become complex, and must be done correctly to best protect rights and interests moving forward.

Can Your Spouse Seek a Buyout of Your Medical Practice?

The issue in divorce with a doctor, dentist, and similar medical professional becomes value and reimbursement for what is due to the spouse to receive in a divorce settlement or post-trial judgment. Business valuation experts are used to determine the proper value of the medical practice. Values may be determined by looking back in time and projecting forward into the future. There are all kinds of complex business interests through which a spouse can claim a share in the divorce.

Liquidity of assets and cash to reimburse another can impede settlement in a divorce. But what if there are future interests and business interest deals that can be made with a spouse who may be happy to be divorced and later receive more money in total by accepting future income as part of the distribution in the divorce? Truly there are no limits to the creative ways that financial transactions can arise and be of great future benefit to everyone involved.

Resource Article: The Four Methods of Medical Practice Valuation, Explained

Premarital Agreements for Medical Professionals Protecting Physicians and Dentists

The benefits of premarital agreements to physicians and dental professionals are significant. Humans are emotional beings, and we dislike uncertainty. Not being able to know or predict future outcomes makes people insecure, which can lead to devastating results. Setting psychology aside, let’s consider a new marriage where the couple addressed potential future problems ahead of time by entering into a premarital agreement. The benefit of the premarital agreement, in this case, is the couple both know where they stand if the marriage ends. One may be negotiated to receive a certain fair settlement but not otherwise disrupt or threaten the value or ongoing daily operations of the professional practice, its accounts, or anything that could be disruptive.

Other medical professionals with whom practices and investments are furthered, may have legal rights and duties that affect one another. When a partner in a medical practice gets married, there could be concerns among others regarding exposure to divorce litigation that could affect the others in the practice. This scenario alone is a common reason doctors and dentists use premarital agreements to protect themselves in their medical practices.

Practice Article: Aligning Careers with Your Physician Spouse

Estate Planning for Texas Doctors and Dentists

The rights and obligations of medical professionals can vary in degree and complexity. When it comes to estate planning for doctors and dentists, many issues need to be reviewed to ensure that a plan is made for contingencies and situations that can arise.

In our recent article, see Technology Troubles in Texas Divorce, Family Law, and Estate Planning, we reviewed issues involving digital assets and accounts. These issues become more complex with medical professionals subject to professional regulations and rules of practice determined by state boards and rules.

Interesting Stories: Family Feud! 6 Stores of Problematic Estate Planning

Keeping Assets Safe and Private with Powers of Attorney

Spouses are usually named as the primary agent for power of attorney purposes, and a second agent may be named to handle specific directives connected to the medical professional’s practice if certain conditions occur. It is a good idea to make sure that everyone involved, knows their roles, rights, and duties in the event the power of attorney document becomes operational, even if for only a brief period.

In the event of divorce, it is important to update estate planning documents such as the power of attorney agreements. The failure to do so could create a challenging position for others and family members.

Wills and Trusts for Medical Professionals in Texas

Dying without a will leaves your property open to state-determined laws of intestate succession, to spouses and family members. Probate of an estate can be costly and encumber assets and income when the individual dies. A trust can be established to avoid probate, and so that the children and others named as beneficiaries under a trust, are provided for properly without interruption. Trusts can be set up where the recipients have limited or full access to money and payment for expenses. A well-prepared trust adapts to the intentions and needs of the maker of the trust so that the best opportunities are available to grow and preserve trust wealth and to provide for the reasonable needs of beneficiaries. Selecting the right trustees to make the best decisions is important.

The more planning and goals that we make today, the better we can realize success in the future, despite bumps along the way. We must provide for our family and others with whom we have obligations. At the Barrows Firm, we represent clients with substantial wealth and financial interests.

The Barrows Firm Protects Medical Professionals in Texas Divorce and Estate Planning (817) 481-1583

divorcing couple fighting over technology

Technology Troubles in Texas Divorce, Family Law, and Estate Planning

September 8, 2022
Divorce

Divorcing Being Aware of Top Technology Troubles in Texas Divorce, Family Law, and Estate Planning

Technology troubles in Texas divorce go beyond keeping track of all the usernames and passwords, and as we raise our awareness of the pitfalls of technology, we should all recognize our efforts and contributions to our permanent records. From the text we sent in anger to the tweet about the neighbor, everything we say can be used in and out of context to make us look like the best or worst person and parent.

At the Barrows Firm, we are a team of sophisticated divorce and family lawyers who are here to help good families reach their goals, winning in and out of court, and setting ourselves up for living our best lives, every day.

Leslie Barrows is a Southlake divorce attorney trusted and respected for her direct and effective approach to helping families navigate their challenging divorce, child custody, and estate planning matters. Contact the Barrows firm in Southlake to learn your rights and options in all family matters.

Top Technology Troubles in Texas Divorce, Child Custody, and Estate Planning:  

1.     Text Messaging and Email Communication: Beware the Pitfalls

Text messages and emails can and will be use das evidence to benefit one’s character or to otherwise be detrimental and attacking. How big and bad the fight gets depends on how much money people want to spend on litigating claims and defenses. And when the other side is the one driving the litigation bus, it can be easy to get run over and thrown under the bus. Managing the outcome of litigation when there is much that has been said is something that requires a sophisticated high-stakes divorce lawyer on your side. We explore these issues in our article, Computers, Hard Drive, and Technology Issues in Texas Divorce.

 

2.     Social Media Content that Tells a Story, can it Be Twisted?

Who doesn’t try to make themselves look good online? Many of us spend significant time and resources building and managing our brand in business and social life. Nowadays it becomes important to be visible and active online. Among other coworkers, neighbors, and parents, we all tell our stories and tales of life, trying to be relatable. But what happens when our posts are used against us? How do we establish our true needs when we worked so hard making it look like we already had everything? Technology troubles in Texas divorce become challenging when social media content tells a story subject to differing interpretations.

 

3.     Digital Assets and Discovery in Divorce and Estate Planning

When you are planning a divorce or estate planning strategy, think about all the places we log in and have a username and password. If something happens to you, what do you want to happen to your Facebook page? Do you care if it remains or is deleted, and who gets to do it? What if there is a will contest down the line and someone uses a social media post to prove their claims that you lacked consent when updating your will while on vacation and your attorney was not made aware, and that attorney has the last copy of the will on file in their office?

 

4.     Using and Failing to Properly Use Our Family Wizard, Support Pay, and Other Apps

The technology works when it works for you, but when others fail or refuse to participate, the Court can get involved. Technology troubles in Texas divorce and child custody include parents who refuse to use the apps the Court orders us to use to communicate. Support Pay is an app for managing child support, payments, and shared expenses. Our Family Wizard is an app for co-parenting and child custody information sharing and visitation exchanges. These apps can work well when everyone is on board and uses those apps. Sometimes there is a reason the other side is not using the app, and that can lead to problems.

 

5.     Co-Parenting and Monitoring Children Online: Family Digital Policies  

Are the kids online? Do they have their own devices? Do both parents have access and control of the children and their technology profiles? When people divorce and have young children, their technology might not yet be an issue, but as they grow older, parents must take notice and be proactive about social media and all the information children can find on the Internet. There are all kinds of challenges facing parents when technology troubles challenge children as well as parents. Knowing who kids are talking to and what they are up to requires parental oversight and that is an important element of parenting that must be discussed when there is a disconnect, your lawyer may need to get involved.

Divorce and Family Law Issues are Complex and Require Sophisticated Lawyers

Divorce cases are more complex and there is more at stake because of technology, so hire the best divorce lawyer you can find. High net worth divorces, and family law cases must be managed with an appropriate litigation strategy. Even when planning to settle most issues in mediation, there are complex financial and property issues to resolve. An experienced divorce litigator is necessary to manage case strategy and bring in the necessary experts to prove the allegations in divorce suits.

Technology troubles in Texas divorce cases can fill bankers’ boxes of evidence that may be presented at hearings and trials. If there are fault grounds that lead to a greater share of the marital estate, technology can become a powerful tool and people learn quickly how much of a footprint they have online and in their communities.

Barrows Firm: Using Infidelity as Leverage in Divorce in Texas

Child Custody Litigation: Don’t Tweet Yourself into a Corner

Both parents frequently find themselves to be the best choice as the primary parent, and we remember that if they were able to resolve disputes amicably, we would not be in child custody litigation in the first place. And when in divorce court, everything ever said, posted, and uploaded can be used against you and your credibility before the judge, jury, or any number of parenting facilitators, coordinators, and mental health professionals involved in your suit.

The good thing is that the judge has heard it all before, for most cases, and the worst we fear that may come out is probably not going to be remembered or memorialized. The best strategy is to identify the worst things you think you’ve done or said, and how the other parent may be coming for you. That way your child custody lawyer can help strategize and create the right focus on actual issues and what is in the best interests of the children.

Hiding and burying that we don’t want to come to light, is the bigger source of technology troubles in a Texas divorce when the other side knows what you’ve said and done, and they have a way to find and spotlight your attempts to hide and cover things up. Read our recent article about these issues on the Barrows Firm Blog: Computers, Hard Drives, and Technology Issues in Texas Divorce.

Estate Planning Among Digital Asset and Currency Advancements

Technology affects financial planning and wealth management. Digital assets and currencies present new challenges for family estate planning. And when people are recently divorced or have another significant life-changing event going on, technology awareness and comfort must be managed appropriately. Electronic records and files stored online and on mobile devices and computers are digital assets that must be noted in a digital estate plan.

Consider email accounts, social media, online banking, cloud-based media storage, online dating, utilities, and other apps that contain all kinds of information and are valuable assets and need consideration and recognition in our Power of Attorney documents, wills, and trusts.

Barrows Firm Blog: Estate Planning in Texas: Frequently Asked Questions

Use the Barrows Firm, a Technologically Sophisticated Texas Firm for Divorce, Family Law, and Estate Planning (817) 481-1583

gambling equipment

Divorcing a Gambling Addict: All Bets are Off

August 29, 2022
Divorce

You Thought You Hit the Jackpot with Your Spouse Until They Became a Gambling Addict

Divorcing a gambling addict becomes necessary when you accept that addiction can take people over and without help and divorce, the family and children can suffer irreparable damage. Some people trade one addiction for the next throughout their lives. People who no longer drink because of addiction are often thrilled to meet new partners who are also sober. But does their sobriety mean they are free of addiction? Often the psychological roots of addiction manifest in other forms and behaviors like gambling. One may say it is no big deal that the other spends money on scratch-offs at the gas station instead of beer or wine, but things can change. The other spouse might not notice a creeping gambling problem leading to addiction because they are otherwise prone to spot the more common addiction, they had problems with like drugs or alcohol.

Help Guide: Gambling Addiction and Problem Gambling

Mayo Clinic: Compulsive Gambling Symptoms and Causes

Addiction is a problem leading to divorce in Texas, whether it involves substances or other activities like gambling. Money problems come with gambling addiction, leading to divorce in Texas as families struggling to keep up and get ahead seem to be stuck or slipping due to the actions, lies, and trauma associated with a gambling addict.

In Southlake, families trust Leslie Barrows and her team of family lawyers at the Barrows Firm who are experienced in working with clients whose families are torn apart by addiction. And when divorcing a gambling addict, it is important to protect yourself and protect the family.

Gambling and Money Problems Leading to Divorce in Texas

Money problems are one of the leading causes of divorce and gambling is one of the worst money problems. Gambling addicts are out of control and spend money on bets that their luck will turn around and they will get ahead in their gambling. Divorce in Texas over money problems usually involves conflict over one spouse being a saver, while the other spouse is a spender, or in this case, a gambler.

Coparenting while a married couple is difficult when mom is trying to pay the bills and feed the kids and dad seems content on blowing paychecks at Winstar, hoping to strike it rich. That scenario may also be the other way around, and there are women with gambling addictions as well as men. Also, family money problems do not have to involve casinos, when there are quick and easy lottery tickets at gas stations. Even when it’s $20 a piece on Powerball, that money can add up quickly and so can the resentment of the other spouse, scrambling to compensate in the budget.

How Gambling Addiction Affects Divorce

Gambling addictions affect divorce in similar ways that addiction to anything interrupts the normal functioning of communication and relationships among people and families. We frequently hear about the perils of alcohol and drug addiction and love to talk about those problems, but for some reason, gambling addiction gets the back burner. The codependency issues consistent with other forms of addiction are a conflict source in families where someone is a gambling spouse. How does one protect themselves from a gambling spouse? In the same way, one protects themselves from a spouse with any addiction, with treatment, counseling, and an escape plan to make a safe exit when it becomes time.

Divorce Attorney Leslie Barrows helps families affected by addiction, including gambling addiction. A gambling addict is not in control. A person who is not in control may have other problems that present risks to others. In many instances, the gambler also has a drinking or drug addiction. Maybe they quit drinking or using drugs and became addicted to gambling instead of using substances. For whatever reason, it is important to spot the problems addiction presents in a family and get professional help.

How to Protect Yourself from a Gambling Spouse

Protect yourself from a gambling spouse because you and your family need financial security. In treatment for gambling addiction, there are processes we can take to protect the money from the gambler. It depends on where the relationship stands as to what are the best options to help the gambling spouse versus getting away and preventing the funds from being depleted.

Nolo Article on Spendthrift Trusts – A Spendthrift Trust Protects Property from an Irresponsible Beneficiary and His or Her Creditors

Talking to your divorce lawyer is important when planning to exit the marriage and file for divorce without the spouse finding out, withdrawing all the money, and betting the marital estate on a betting table. That does not mean the other spouse can ice out the gambler either or cut off their resources for basic living. The status quo needs to be preserved when a divorce suit is filed, and there are reasonable and necessary options to protect against the wasting of marital assets when that concern is present with a gambling-addicted spouse.

How to Divorce a Gambler: Time to Call Their Bluff

Gambling spouses bet that they have power over the other spouse and they won’t go through with filing for divorce. They expect those spouses to stick around and keep codependently covering up for their gambling addiction despite the damage it causes to the family. They tell their spouse how much they love them for supporting them, even though they may be causing damage to everyone involved.

Simply, if one loves the other enough, call their bluff, call the lawyer, and go. The addict with no consequences never gets help on their own. Why would they? The spouse who stays is the spouse who enables them when we talk about addiction. And if filing for divorce gets the other one to get help, maybe the marriage can be saved after all, but be ready to be done for good.

The spouses and family members of addiction must be in treatment for the impact addiction has on everyone else. Addiction is a family disease, regardless of the nature of the addiction.

Divorcing a Spouse Addicted to Gambling, Substances, and Their Dopamine

Addiction takes many forms and gambling can go along with a list of complementary vices that tear people and relationships apart. People with strong addiction problems seem to learn how to quit things to which they become self-destructively dependent. As people trade one addiction for the next, there seems to be an underlying sense of a loss of control or a general sense of self-worth and satisfaction, and that void is filled by dopamine. Yes, the naturally occurring brain chemical, dopamine, is what our brain releases to give us bursts of pleasure and satisfaction. Whether it be the smell of cookies in the oven, the sound of the oven timer, or the taste of freshly baked treats, we love those experiences because they release dopamine.

Recent Blog Article: Using Infidelity as Leverage in Divorce in Texas (gambling can also be used in pleading fault grounds in divorce, seeking a greater share)

Psychologically, people are addicted to their dopamine and whatever triggers the feel-good in their brain. Gambling addicts, like addicts to any other substances or activities, need professional help to stop these activities and learn underlying issues that need attention.

While divorcing a spouse addicted to gambling, it is important to remember to be firm yet patient in the process of property division, child custody, support, and communicating for litigation and settlement. Be prepared for the addiction to be addressed in the process and know it might have an impact on the outcome of the process depending on the situation. Know that experienced family lawyers at the Barrows Firm are accustomed to divorce and family cases where addiction is a source of conflict and often the reason for divorce.

Divorcing a Gambling Addict: Use the Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583

secret messages

Using Infidelity as Leverage in Divorce in Texas

August 11, 2022
Divorce

Using Infidelity as Leverage in Divorce Proving Fault Grounds in Texas

Texas is a no-fault divorce state where you do not need to prove fault to get a divorce, using infidelity as leverage in divorce is an option. The Court may grant a divorce in favor of one spouse if the other spouse has committed adultery. The no-fault ground for divorce is “irreconcilable differences” or an “Irreparable breakdown of the marriage.” The question your divorce lawyer asks is whether it is worth spending the time and money proving infidelity as a fault-based ground for divorce. For some people, the cheating is so bad that they end up being appointed a greater share of the community marital estate, among other elements of relief the parties may seek from the Court. Whether people like it or not, the Texas legislature gives us a legal pathway for using infidelity as leverage in a divorce. There are times adults decide they want to make the other pay for their dirty deeds and that can include exposing them publicly, before the Court of public opinion in addition to their local District Court. And while the parties to the cause may not be the ones spilling the tea, you know it goes on, whisper, whisper.

What happens when the shoe is on the other foot? What happens when you are the spouse being accused of infidelity and must prove innocence and establish the plot to sabotage you? And that might be the game plan of a narcissist spouse frequently gaslighting the other and highlighting endless examples of parental alienation to boot. Barrows Firm attorneys are well-experienced in defending sane people accused of insane conduct, and yes it happens more often than many would expect.

Barrows Firm Blog: Preparing for Court and Making a Good Impression

Divorce litigation strategy in proving infidelity can be a challenge. What matters is more than what you know, it’s what you can prove. Depending on the situation there are plenty of directions to approach how you make and prove your case asking for a divorce on fault grounds of infidelity, and being awarded a greater share of the marital estate, including money, property, and how you can proceed in litigation.

When to Plead No Fault Divorce, When to Plead Fault and Send It

Barrows Firm strategy is important, and it includes all the best experts you can get on your winning team. Leslie Barrows is an experienced litigator and has fought for clients with challenging cases to prove when the battle is everything. We only get one chance to raise our children and give them the best chances at creating their best lives and that means sometimes mom or dad needs to prepare and wear their suit of courage.

The children are never supposed to know what is going on and that is also a legal requirement in the Standing Orders used by the Courts. However, even though we don’t say a word, children are smart and they can read us better than we admit. How strong you are and how resilient you can present yourself under the toughest of circumstances is a personally answered question.

Going to war is brutal and divorces get ugly when acrimony is fired from a high-pressured hose. Be prepared that the opponent may have more and different ammunition than expected. The element of surprise can be tricky. Going forward, using infidelity as leverage in divorce requires an emotional commitment and a plan for how to handle surprises as they may come.

Focus on Kids with Psychology Today: An Essential Tool to Protect Kids From Conflict in a Divorce

Proving Adultery with Your Best Private Investigator and the Weight of Testimonial Evidence

People who know they are going to file for divorce often start collecting evidence well in advance of filing and serving their spouse. Some come to their initial meeting with their divorce lawyer and already have a retained investigator and what they believe is evidence of infidelity.

HG.org Legal Resources Article: The Ins and Outs of Hiring a Private Investigator in a Divorce Case

Caution to anyone engaged in having another person tailed and investigated on their own and without the advice of an attorney and in the course of a properly managed divorce and or child custody suit. Any would-be evidence that is illegally obtained can be limited from being used in court.

Private legal investigators should be licensed and well-credentialed to ensure the quality of the process of the investigation as well as the reporting of findings to the Court so that evidence may be offered for admittance. The investigator might be busy interviewing potential witnesses and people with personal knowledge of facts and occurrences in the case. Again, divorce litigation strategy requires a savvy Texas divorce lawyer like Leslie Barrows, who knows how and when to use the assets of the investigator as leverage in complex divorce and custody suits.  

DO NOT DO THIS: Learn How to Avoid Destruction of Evidence Problems!

Read Our Article: Computers, Hard Drives, and Technology Issues in Texas Divorce

Technology has come a long way in helping jilted spouses prove their spouses are cheating. Something as simple as the car insurance app on the phone mapping every drive and location can land a spouse in hot water in a messy divorce. We leave a footprint all over our digital apps and services, including our social media. Once a divorce case is filed the parties are instructed to observe Standing Orders to not disturb any property or accounts while the divorce is pending, and that includes social media accounts which may contain all kinds of surprises. Deleting content and social media accounts can get you in trouble with the Court and could result in sanctions for the destruction of evidence.

Credibility is important in a Texas divorce, and once your credibility is damaged, it can be difficult to rehabilitate. Nothing makes someone look more guilty than destroying and hiding evidence.

Preparing to Conduct Oneself in Full Out Divorce Litigation, Your War of the Worlds

Family and friends are important supporting teammates when you go to war in divorce court. Prepare them for the best and worst to come. Many people may seem supportive but shy away when things get too real. And when the opposing party shockingly approaches one or your suspected allies as a witness against you, be prepared to handle that difficult situation.

At any point in the litigation, the loss of a friendship because of a misunderstanding or misinformation can cause someone to lose it and that does not help. What does help, is preparing for worst-case scenarios. That way you can count your blessings after the dust settles as you count the casualties on both sides.

Families in Southlake Trust the Barrows Firm for High Net Worth Divorce Issues Including Using Infidelity as Leverage in Divorce (817) 481-1583

Barrows Firm helps you get ready for court

Preparing for Court and Making a Good Impression

July 21, 2022
General Information

Preparing for Court and Making a Good Impression in aTexas Divorce and Family Law Case

Good courtroom etiquette involves removing hats before entering the courtroom, turning off cell phones, and being prepared to conduct oneself and professionally interact with others. Your divorce attorney and their staff may share their tips about preparing for Court and making a good impression. For example, knowing how to dress and look may be different than what some expect. Appearing in Court, it is important to take the situation seriously and be respectful of others and their time in also being present for your important family law matter. Whether it be the first time appearing before your Judge or a short trip to Court on a housekeeping issue, always keep a professional demeanor and conduct oneself as if the entire experience is being videotaped and recorded, and in today’s age of technology, it is more likely than not you are being permanently captured on audio and video.

What to Wear: Dress Code for Courtroom Proceedings (Court of Appeals, Second Appellate District of Texas at Fort Worth – example)

Leslie Barrows and her team of divorce attorneys, paralegals, and staff at the Barrows Firm in Southlake prepare divorce and family law clients for Court appearances and what to expect. Every situation is different and how things proceed depends on how people respond to the process and the underlying facts and circumstances.

Texas Law Help: Tips for the Courtroom

So much can happen in a Texas divorce and family law case, and even though some people make a good first impression, things can turn ugly, and acrimony takes over the tone of negotiations. In those cases, it may be necessary to adjust the litigation strategy. Attorney Barrows knows the reputation of fellow family lawyers in DFW and what one might expect. The ultimate focus must be on protecting the family, parents, and children and their best interests. It may be difficult appearing and testifying in Court, especially under ugly circumstances, and it is important to feel authentic trust in your legal counsel.

A permanent record is of concern when it comes to court appearances and the testimony and evidence that may be brought up again in the future, especially in post-decree or any appeal situations. Remember to always keep calm and take as long as needed to think about questions, answer them, present information, and so forth. Never take the bait if your opponent or their counsel tries to upset you.

Check out the Barrows Firm Blog and Search for Information

Tips for Courtroom Conduct and Keeping a Positive Attitude

You only get one chance to make a first impression. And you do not want to make too much of an impression to the extent that the judge remembers you. Ideally, you will appear the model citizen and parent of the year, every time you appear in court. If the judge looks and remembers you immediately, that means you are on the judge’s mind and that is not always a good thing. Being memorable might mean you come off as a problem or as otherwise memorable because it looks like you might not be the type to want to agree to anything or follow through with agreements.

While being concerned with looking appropriate to the Court, in dress and demeanor, there may be a nasty opposing party and their counsel who might trigger emotions, make you look good or bad, or gaslight a situation to upset you or cause you to appear flustered. Thankfully most attorneys are respectful and maintain good courtroom decorum, but the unfortunate gamesmanship happens, and people need to be prepared if positive attitudes are tested.

The Balance Small Business: How to Make a More Effective Appearance in Court

What to Expect in Texas Family Law Courts

Your divorce lawyer and their team prepare you for court, how questions may be asked, and how the process works when you or others take the witness stand and offer testimonial evidence. Of course, much of what happens in court involves documentation of financial and other reports regarding custody or whatever other issues may be in controversy. The Court oversees the process of exchanging information and developing testimony and evidence the Court uses to make rulings and recommendations when the parties otherwise do not agree. At the end of the day, most things get into evidence, especially when it comes to the property because the Judge needs to know everything about the marital estate to make proper decisions about property division and support, for example.

Depending on what type of court appearance is scheduled, there could be a short status appearance where the attorneys address the Court and let the Judge know updates. When there is a temporary hearing scheduled or a hearing on another matter during the case, each side may have limited time to present evidence and arguments to prove claims made in divorce and family law matters.

Expect the unexpected in a Texas divorce and family law case because things come out left field when divorce and child custody matters are contested and tempers flare. Especially in times when everything seems to be documented somewhere, a surprise social media post, picture, or video can make its way into the discovery and litigation process and when things come out as a surprise, others can be caught off guard. What matters most is how people react to the unexpected that comes to light in the process of preparing for court and making a good impression.

What to Avoid in the Litigation Process in and Out of Court

When in litigation, especially in court, the clock is running, and the meter is ticking. Whether it be your attorney fees, the experts, the court reporter, the transcript, or the assistants, it costs time and money to fight. Being prudent is important. Identifying what issues are worth settling or pursuing should be figured out in Temporary Orders and mediation ideally so that all the professionals involved can focus on resolving the most important conflict.

Avoid responding emotionally to what happens or is said. Showing weakness, joy, or too much emotion, in any case, is not a good plan when all eyes and ears are on you and the situation. It is not to say be robotic or aloof, but do appear sane and well-adjusted, even though your case might try the patience of everyone involved.

Inside and Outside of the Courtroom when Everyone is Watching and Listening

Do not make the mistake that there is a magic barrier between the Courtroom and the hallways or restrooms. Assume that everyone around s listening or recording. A heightened level of scrutiny is appropriate when at Court because there are people you may not know who may be interested in following, watching, and listening to you. It may be something as simple as making a phone call or speaking into the phone to send a text message and a leaked communication can lead to a problem.

Always keep a notepad with you when in Court and write down notes and questions for your lawyer. When appropriate show them your note or question and be mindful about how much you speak or respond.  

Preparing for Court and Making a Good Impression with the Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583

possession order

Summer Possession Schedules and Issues

July 7, 2022
Possession Schedule

Summer Possession Schedules and Issues: Tips on BeingGood Co-Parents

In Texas, the Standard Possession Order gives both the custodial and noncustodial parents parenting time for the summer month. That schedule begins when schools release students for summer break, and it goes until seven days before the kids go back to school. During the summer schedule, the noncustodial parent has 30 days of continuous possession. They can use the entire 30 days at once or split it up into two periods at least seven days each. By April 1, noncustodial parents must give notice to the custodial parent about when they plan to use their summer possession time if they have a different 30-day summer schedule, otherwise, the month of July is the default, and the noncustodial parent has possession of the children from the 1stto the 31st of July.

See an Example: Standard Possession and Access (Visitation) Order from Tarrant County

 

When parents chose the Standard Possession Schedule and Order, the advantage is that everyone is on the same page and can plan their activities. However, unless ordered by the Court, parents can use whatever customized possession schedule fits their needs. They can also go off the possession schedule and take things as they come if it makes sense for everyone involved. This is something that many families experience as kids grow older and parents have been co-parenting well. As things come up with life and busy schedules, it is helpful to compromise scheduling conflicts from time to time and build a good rapport with the other parent.

Educators’ Spin: Making Summer Memories with Your Child This Year

 

And just when it seems like everything is going along well, things can change. New relationships can cause different dynamics and conflict. When it’s necessary, going back to the set possession schedule might be appropriate. An enforcement or modification case is appropriate depending on the circumstances.

 

At the Barrows Firm in Southlake, attorney Leslie Barrows works with clients to prepare them for co-parenting and learning when to pick and chose their battles as the inevitable conflicts arise overtime and as kids grow older. If it makes sense, Barrows and her clients workout custom possession schedules and plans, and as well they work on modification cases and enforcement actions to get the teeth of the Court involved if necessary.

Confusion Over Possession Schedules

Things get bad when schedules go wrong, get confused, or people’s time is not being respected. Especially when parents make their plans for the children’s summer camp, sports, and other activities, it is important to respect the schedule and stick to the plans. Last-minute changes can screwup the other person’s plans and lead to resentment. When designating summer possession time and schedules, make sure to double-check everything and plan your summer in detail to prevent scheduling conflicts. Everything we can do to be reliable co-parents helps build trust with the other parent and that can goa long way when asking for a favor in the future.

This is a Great Summer Camp List: Summer Camps in Texas

 

When the custodial parent receives a proposed summer possession schedule from the other parent, check all the time and with calendars and make sure everything looks good right away. Even though it is the noncustodial parents’ right to choose their dates, if there is something that might be a block, it is worth asking them if the kid can swing back home for this or that or find out if any conflicts can be worked out. When people are reasonable, it is not too difficult to prevent confusion over possession schedules. If, however, there is extensive travel involved or something out of the ordinary arises, it can become necessary to contact your lawyer and more formally discuss the situation to attempt conflict resolution.

Children Spending Valuable Time with their Noncustodial Parent

Summer is a big deal to kids and every summer vacation is something they look forward to all year long. And when children’s parents are not married or living together, summer break means a big chunk of time with the other parent who usually plans something fun. The quality time children spend with their parents during summers is important to making lifetime memories and growing the bonds and relationships between kids and parents.

 

Often when dad is the non-custodial parent, summer break with his sons and daughters is a special time and like all good dads, he is probably planning summer activities to create great memories and activities where he can give wisdom, ask questions, and get to know what is going on with his children and their lives. Dads don’t always say they are about to dispense wisdom, they just hope their kids are listening and some of it seeps in.

Adjustment Issues when Kids Don’t Want to Go or Leave

Our Family Wizard: Making Transitions Easier for Children

 

Remember how long a month was when you were a child or teenager, it was forever long. Preparing for a month at the other parent’s house is a bigger deal to them than it might seem to us. Being away from friends can be an important issue for kids and making new friends when at the other parent’s house is also something that makes them not want to leave and go home. Parents need to be flexible and understanding with their children about expectations and maintaining relationships, not to mention all their extracurricular activities. A good co-parent will accommodate a ride across town or some other kids coming over to see your son or daughter who needs to keep themselves current with whatever kid-centered focus of the day.

 

The overall goal is to be flexible in working well with co-parents and kids and schedules. Remember to put things in perspective and consider what your children want, and what may be appropriate for their age and circumstances. Sometimes kids want to stay with the other parent long-term and that is quite another discussion, and as the children grow older, they might express their wishes to live with the other parent on a primary basis.

Modifying and Enforcing Visitation and Possession Orders

In the event a child wants to live with the other parent, it might be a conversation. It all depends on age and circumstances. If for example the son is turning 17 and wants to live with dad, that may be a different conversation than if the son were 12. If everyone is on board, they can try out a change in living situations and make it permanent with a modified visitation order. Remember that some parents go off formal possession orders over time and do their own thing, but even in that case, some may want a modified order. If in agreement, the parties can file a case with the Court to have the new agreement accepted and ordered by the judge.

 

It might also be necessary to file an enforcement action if another party is not complying with the terms of the order. Sometimes when one parent remarries and has a blended family with busy schedules or there are personal problems, your family lawyer needs to file an enforcement lawsuit to ask the Court for relief in forcing the other party to comply with the Court’s Orders.

Call the Barrows Firm for Summer Possession Schedules and Issues (817) 481-1583

Father with kids playing wood blocks game at a coffee table

Men’s Issues and Perspectives on Divorce: Spousal Support and Child Support

June 27, 2022
Divorce

Men’s Issues and Perspectives in Divorce Often Focus on Spousal Support and Child Support as Well as Protecting Children and Guiding their Development

Father’s Day was a great day to celebrate the hard work and dedication we expect and appreciate from dads. Are all dads perfect? No, but they do work hard at making the best choices every day. And even if a marriage fails or dad and mom were never married, dad still has rights and duties to raise his children and support his former spouse. Dad always has a unique perspective to share with his sons and daughters, and the message might be different from one kid to the next.

Ultimately, men are concerned with their duties and responsibilities to the family, keeping safe and feeding their wives and children. And even after a divorce, when dad is on his own and sees the children on a regular possession schedule, he maintains his perspectives on raising children and contributing to their support and that of a former spouse.

Contrary to the experiences of some, most fathers are cooperative and eager to satisfy their ability to raise their children and pay for their needs, whether doing so directly or through the most common court order for withholding support. And if getting divorced, a longer-term marriage can involve spousal maintenance, often on a temporary and fixed basis until the former wife can provide her net resources, in addition to whatever is ordered in child support.  

Pediatric Associates: The Importance of a Father in a Child’s Life

Attorney Leslie Barrows and the Texas divorce and family lawyers at the Barrows Firm in Southlake take men’s issues and perspectives in divorce proceedings very seriously and understand what is at stake. Contact us to learn more about father’s rights and issues in Texas divorce.

Father’s Rights are Men’s Issues in Texas Divorce

Divorce in Texas can be very different when men talk about their experience in divorce, and child custody cases. While we hear so much about the experiences of single mothers, we seldom focus on how men can function and process what is happening in their lives. Fathers might not talk about it as often, but they are on high alert, and many struggle to maintain the right attitude in a system often perceived as against their rights and better judgment.

When people talk about fathers’ rights, the issues and perspectives involved might include equal placement of the children, which could affect child support obligations based on the number of overnights and how equal custody is planned. Even with equal placement, there is likely going to be a child support order.

Common comments from Fathers are consistent, that dads who are seeking more time with their children are not doing so for financial motivation, such as changing their financial liability to pay support for their children. Again, men are hard-wired providers, and they will work to take care of their children. That said, there are reasonable expectations that these men taking care of their families after a divorce in Texas, are going to be respected and the money they work hard to provide is not squandered improperly. And when many men do have issues and perspectives, they talk about fathers’ rights in terms of their desire to set and enforce their rights as parents and to have a say in what goes on when raising their children.

Father’s Perspectives on Raising Sons and Daughters

Showing praise and investing time in them and their abilities helps boys and girls feel important, safe, and valuable in their capacity to share life experiences with others. Men tend to be stern with their sons and hold them to high expectations. In some ways, a father might hope their sons make good decisions with the help of his dad’s advice, and when you repeat it enough times, it just might stick. Meanwhile, men tend to be more verbally responsive and attentive to the needs of daughters, who are their fathers’ ultimate princesses. And even when dad doesn’t express it, we know that is how he feels. A father will do just about anything for his daughter.

American Psychological Association: Fathers’ Brains Respond Differently to Daughters Than Sons

Men’s Duty to Support Their Family: Spouse and Child Support Issues

Contact Attorney Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake for spousal and child support issues, including original cases, enforcement, and modification suits.

Many Texas divorces involve spousal maintenance, meant to be rehabilitative and to get the receiving spouse to a place where they can provide for their own needs. Child support is determined and set based on the available monthly net resources of the child support obligor, in this case, the fathers we recognize in this article.

Protecting the Family and Sharing Responsibilities from Dad’s Perspective

Men grow up to become family leaders and protectors. As dads grow in their roles, they can positively influence their sons and daughters in different but albeit important ways. Children who love and trust their fathers will look to them for direction in life. Little girls, grow up often seeking men who meet standards for their lives consistent with what their father showed them. And for little boys growing up into young men, their fathers show them how to be fair people, good leaders, and protectors of the women and children.

Inside 5 a.m. – Modern Family Living: The Responsibilities of Fathers

Dads teach children how to be resourceful and where to find answers and solutions to problems. Dads are not the only positive male role models in their lives and when asked, most fathers report they do hope their children have positive relationships with new people, for example, if their mother remarries. And remember, a positive stepfather role model is great, but they will never replace the children’s father.

The Art of Leading by Showing Good Examples, Being a Positive Role Model

Dads are important positive role models in their children's lives and there is no substitute for the opportunity of a father to mentor and teach his sons and daughters how to be good and respectful children, hopefully showing an example for others.

Sometimes we don’t get to notice the good influences and lessons taught by fathers until they are gone. And we like to think that even after dad’s natural life, he is lessons and words are still in our minds and hearts as we pass those onto others we likewise look for and seek to protect.

Showing Respect Where Respect is Due, Keeping High Expectations of Others, an Important Value at the Barrows Firm in Southlake Where We Help Fathers with Spousal and Child Support Matters (817) 481-1583

Father and kids sitting on wooden dock

Why Breadwinning Dads Need Life Insurance and Estate Planning

June 15, 2022
Divorce

Fathers are traditionally the breadwinners in families and provide the financial support for the family and the best interests of the children, and in protecting the family, dads need life insurance and estate planning. As a breadwinner, a dad is a winner, a diligent worker, and by nature an overcomer of life’s challenges. Providing for and protecting the families we love; dads focus on keeping the family safe and providing what everyone needs.

In many cases, fathers look forward to being there even to support their adult children when something happens, and they need to turn to family. And because smart fathers understand that something could happen to them and their ability to be a breadwinner, they buy the right amount of life insurance and the estate planning necessary to make sure that the family is provided for in the event something happens to dad.

At the Barrows Firm in Southlake, Attorney Leslie Barrows and her team of attorneys and paralegals collaborate with dads who need life insurance and estate planning. Especially before taking an overseas trip, sending a kid off to college, or preparing for a healthcare procedure, smart fathers regularly update their estate planning and life insurance designations.

Father’s Day is a Time to Celebrate Dads and Their Importance as Providers

This Father’s Day, let us all be wise and mature enough to focus on dads and their roles as providers in the family. Not only do fathers provide financial support, but more importantly, they teach their sons and daughters about inner growth and strength.

Earning our daily bread, we are not focusing on money, we must focus on the mind, body, soul, and spirit in our lives. Fathers connecting with their children and being involved in their lives provide boys and girls with what they need to grow.

Money provides safety and security to children who do not need to be concerned with the same while growing up and learning about the beauties of the world and building relationships with families and friends. Fathers as breadwinners providing not only financial but parental bounties should be celebrated. Smart dads are steps ahead in protecting their families and that is why dads need life insurance and estate planning.

University of Texas: 5 Things You Should Know About the Importance of Fathers

What Are the Core Elements of Life Insurance and Estate Planning?

Life insurance is straightforward and the policies and coverage available are unique to the individual and their needs. For example, a father getting a divorce may be required to maintain certain life insurance coverage if ordered by the Court. Otherwise, the amount of insurance is whatever dad, and his financial advisors, recommend providing for the family in the event of dad’s death or incapacity.

The estate planning document list includes a last will and testament, a durable power of attorney, and an advance health care directive.

• The last will and testament include a father’s wishes for the disposition of their assets in the event of their death.

• A durable power of attorney document appoints another person with rights to sign for and transact business on behalf of another when they are not able to make their own decisions because of temporary or permanent incapacity, for example.

• Advance health care directives specify who is to make medical decisions if the principal making the directive is temporarily or permanently incapable of making their own decisions for care.

Dads Who Care Give Gifts for the Future and Teach Kids About Money and Investing

Just as a newborn baby enters the world to smile and get ready for pictures and attention, their dad is having a flash-forward of how much money he and his family are going to have to earn and save for the incredible cost of raising children and preparing them for their success. While it is not a fun gift to open a card on your birthday that references certificates of stock, if that is one of a kid’s birthday gifts, they have a better chance of growing up to learn about and respect money and how hard fathers and mothers work for it.

Teaching children about money and investing is important. They are not going to learn about that in school, and online all they are going to see are get-rich-quick stories and unrealistic expectations about the world. Do something fun with your children. Pick a stock together and both put in some money to buy stock. Watch the stock over time, and talk about things going on in current events that can affect the value of stocks and investments. Talk about learning to be patient and growing your investments. The bonding over money is not about the money, it is about the kid and their dad.

U.S. News: How to Invest for Your Kids and Teach Them About Investing

Young And Invested: 3 Best Ways to Invest $1,000 for a Child’s Future

Dads: Please Update Your Insurance and Estate Planning Documents as Life Allows

It is the easiest thing to forget one or the other of several things one must do to keep one’s house in order. For dads who are starting new jobs, have recently been divorced, or are getting remarried or adopting or having a child, please remember to update your insurance and estate planning. Imagine who the original life insurance beneficiary named in the policy was and whether that still makes sense. It is easy to forget who as well is named as a power of attorney for healthcare, and if it is a former spouse, that might not be ideal.

At the Barrows Firm, dads who need proper life insurance and estate planning will be interviewed and asked all the right questions to determine that nothing gets overlooked and everything is set in stone so dad is an ironclad superhero who can manage any challenge life brings and protect the family with peace of mind.

Dads Get Life Insurance and Estate Planning Updates at the Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583

parent holding their child's hand

Being a Single Mom and Primary Conservator

May 19, 2022
Child Custody

Being a Single Mom and Primary Conservator Requires Many Superhero Capes and Hats

Sole Managing Conservatorship is a big responsibility and being a single mom and primary conservator is a big deal and takes lots of energy and hard work. And even though many single moms find support through groups, family, friends, and neighbors, those superhero capes, and hats they wear get tired and dirty as well sometimes. We all face major challenges in life and adulting isn’t easy. Even when everything was done right, marriages can fail, co-parenting can break down, and people can be left to go at it alone, seemingly without the care of anyone else on Earth. Moms want their kids to respect and acknowledge their efforts and sacrifices while balancing everything and it’s just hard sometimes.

May is the month to celebrate mothers and give them the acknowledgment and respect they deserve, especially the mothers going it alone as single parents, many without dads being involved, or at a level far under par. We can learn to acknowledge what it must be like to walk in the shoes of another and remember to give folks a break when they have so much on their plates, like our family, friends, and neighbors, who are single mothers. Hip Hip, Hooray, for Superhero Moms!

Moms in need of lawyers on their superhero team can call one of the caped crusaders in the family law community, boy mom, Leslie Barrows, who has spent her career fighting for good parents, and happy kiddos who only want the best. There is a team of friendly lawyers, paralegals, and staff at the Barrows Firm in Southlake for all your needs.

Read Our Article: The Child Custody Modification Process in Texas

Endless Articles on Popular Topics: Barrows Firm Blog

Reasons People Become Single Mothers and Primary Conservators

Divorce, break-ups, abandonment, domestic violence, rape, death, and childbirth are all named as common reasons people become single parents. Single mothers rarely tell you they planned to raise one or more children without help or financial support. And make no mistake about it, the help is more than just money and actions, it’s the emotional support of a teammate in a game of child-rearing and life where the rules are always changing, and the game gets so hard at times it breaks the best and strongest people.

If there has not been a determination of parental rights, that can be done by filing a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship, asper the Texas Family Code, and the Court will acknowledge and establish an order and judgment regarding the rights and duties of each parent, and when appropriate, one parent will be appointed as the Sole Managing Conservator a/k/a Primary Conservator. This also happens in a divorce with child custody at issue, and the Court decides when the parties will not or cannot.

Where Did the Fathers Go? Can We Get Them in the Picture?

The importance of fathers in the development of children is irreplaceable. No matter how good a single-parent mom might be, dads are vital to children and their influence fosters inner growth and strength. Just because the father might not be in the current picture, that is no reason to give up on having the daddy come around at some point and be reintroduced into a parental role. Even if supervised visitation is what is required, for example, if the father had been unavailable or a criminal or family violence situation was the issue.

Meanwhile, other dads are also good role models and so are uncles and grandfathers. Being honest and upfront with children of appropriate ages may be okay when there are questions about their dad and why he isn’t around. It is easy for kids to assume dad just doesn’t want them or doesn’t care, and they crave reassurance it’s important to reinforce to them that they are wanted and loved, and it is not their fault dad isn’t present.  

What Parental Rights Do Mothers Solely Manage as Primary Conservators?

In Texas, Primary Conservators, also called Sole Managing Conservators, have the equivalent of what we call “sole custody ”or “primary custody” of their children. The Texas Family Code assigns specific rights and duties to parents as the Code lays out issues and rules that apply to parents and children. And even though the mother may be the Primary Conservator, that does not mean that the father does not have visitation time, referred to as Possession and Access.

Mothers as Primary Conservators have the sole right to make legal decisions on behalf of a child, without needing to consult with the other parent.

The Biggest Financial Problems and Stress of Single Mothers Raising Kids Without Help

Do you think the price of gas, food, and household goods increasing causes a budget problem in most North Texas homes? You are right, and even those families doing well are feeling the crunch. Now imagine you area single mother barely keeping up and paying premiums to live in good neighborhoods and school districts where their daughters and sons have the best opportunities to get ahead and make a name for themselves.

Summer camp, college coming up, the car needs something, the AC just died, HELP! While mom is trying to shake the money tree in the backyard, the school is calling because one of her kids is having trouble in class. Mom is so frazzled trying to keep this family running and she cannot be everywhere, every time, doing everything others demand.

What would you do to step in and offer help to a single mom if she told you what was going on? And would her pride get in the way of her even making a mention of how bad it’s going? How many suffer silently fearing the judgment of others, and being looked at as weak or needy?

Going After Child Support and Enforcement of Court Orders

Most dads are good and contribute to the needs of their children, emotionally, physically, and financially, through child support payments. If dad is around and subject to child support obligations, then it is necessary to get child support established. A paternity issue may be your challenge, but not to worry, establishing paternity is relatively straightforward, as shown in our recent article, Establishing Paternity for Parental Rights and Child Support.

If child support needs to be set up, we can help with that at the Barrows Firm, and if an enforcement action needs to be filed, we can do that as well and get the Court to order current and any retroactive child support obligations and get dad on a Support Order with paycheck withholding.

Using the Barrows Firm to Supplement Supermom Powers When Being a Single Mom and Primary Conservator

Whatever you need, mom, we are there for you at the Barrows Firm and we salute you this May, for being a superhero, and proudly fighting to be the best you can be while raising respectful children who are going to make you and everyone proud. And while their young adulthood seems so far off sometimes, that time flies by fast and when you look back, we want you to have good memories and remember that there are good people here to help you, who have your back.

Student graduating

Young Adults Going to College Need a Power of Attorney

May 13, 2022
Power of Attorney

Why Young Adults Going to College Need a Power of Attorney

May is graduation month and our seniors are celebrating the end of one chapter in their lives, and the beginning of another. For many of our sons and daughters, this means spending the summer enjoying their closest friends and preparing for August when we say goodbye until the next holiday and head off to college. While some are going to college in far-off cities and states, others will be going to school closer to home, and some still living at home during college. Regardless of where your son or daughter plans to attend college, if they are 18 years old, they are an adult and are responsible for their own decisions.

They make their own decisions, but still, need mom and dad sometimes, and that is where the power of attorney documents come into play. Without a power of attorney document or HIPAA authorization, parents may not have access to healthcare information, be able to help manage a bank account or vehicle transaction, or any number of the things with which our college student children need help.

Contact the Barrows Firm in Southlake to get moving with power of attorney documents and everything you and your family estate planning needs satisfied.

Power of Attorney Documents in Texas: Healthcare, Financial, Specific, and HIPAA

As many possibilities as one anxious parent can imagine, college students are young adults who need their parents' help and it is important to have the necessary legal documents in place. Without the power of attorney documents, your college student is a young adult on their own. These documents are written to give parents the express legal authority to make decisions for their adult children in college.

Attorney Leslie Barrows is a mother of boys and understands the concerns of parents who want the best experiences and environments for their children. As an attorney and as a mother, she hopes people understand how important it is for a parent to have the legal right to intervene for their child if the situation should arise. Being prepared, young adults going to college need power of attorney documents for peace of mind, for them and their families.

Check out the Barrows Firm blog for all kinds of legal issues that matter to families

Healthcare Power of Attorney for Young Adults Going to College

A healthcare power of attorney is a legally enforceable document that can name the parent a medical agent for their college student. If for some reason the child becomes medically incapable of making decisions for themselves, the parent with healthcare power of attorney may make healthcare decisions for their son or daughter.

In the event of a medical event making the healthcare power of attorney operable, the medical agent becomes the sole point of contact as well as the person who makes medical decisions. Medical incapacitation includes a diagnosable medical condition, mental or physical, or a cognitive disability, for example, making daily activities difficult without significant assistance. A period of medical incapacitation can also be an acute condition such as being in a medically induced coma. While a parent does everything, they can to keep their child safe, even a simple accident can lead to a scenario where a healthcare power of attorney is very important.

NBC.com: 6months to send-off: How to emotionally prepare your child (and yourself) for college

General Durable and Financial Power of Attorney for College Students

A power of attorney agreement can be an important tool to help your son or daughter with general life and transacting business. The principal student in a power of attorney agreement can grant their parent as an agent to make business and financial transactions on their behalf. From banking and taxes to agreements for housing and vehicles, there is always something mom and dad need to do to help their son or daughter get along while in college and focusing on their studies.

For a general durable power of attorney document to be operable, the conditions stated in the document must be satisfied. For example, so long as the principal student is enrolled in college part or full time, and has not yet reached a specified age. Parents and their adult children can enter into whatever legally binding power of attorney they want, so long as allowed by law. Your son or daughter must be at least 18 years old when signing the power of attorney documents.

HIPAA Release for Healthcare Information and Contacting Doctors and Hospitals

Using a properly executed authorization form, the principal student can grant access to information to an agent parent as the point of contact. In most cases, the HIPAA authorization is signed along with a healthcare power of attorney. The HIPAA laws protect the privacy of patient information from being shared without the consent of the patient.

Collegiate Parent: Campus safety tips and tools

Parental Rights and Children Going to College, On-Campus, and Off-Campus

Some colleges may have agreements in place among parents and students regarding the roles of parents and whatever contractual rights they may have regarding their son or daughter enrolled in that school. But any agreement with a school has limitations. Your son or daughter is as likely to need parental help on or off-campus, so it is important to get all the power of attorney documents in place to cover the foreseen and unforeseen things that can happen when young adults go away to college.

Being Prepared When Going to College and Making Adult Decisions

Every parent of a child going to college should talk to their kids about the reality of life outside the family home. And even though18-year-olds feel like adults, there are a lot of experiences they have not had yet. There are reasons their inexperience makes them targets of scams and dangerous people. No, they should not be afraid to leave the house, but they need to know to ask for help and call a parent for help when they run into a bad situation.

Young Adults Going to College Need a Power of Attorney Can Call the Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583

Last Will including Estate Plan

Mary’s Mother Made Her the Executor in Her Will, What Does This Mean?

April 26, 2022
Estate Planning

Being an Executor in a Will in Texas, Mary’s Rights and Responsibilities

Mary just learned at Easter that she was named the executor and beneficiary of her mother’s estate. What does she need to do to understand her rights and responsibilities in Texas? Mary and her mother both live in Southlake and Mary’s mother Pearl named her the executor of her estate when she passes. Mary’s older brother and sister live in Houston and Florida, respectively. Ms. Pearl explained to her children that she wants Mary to take care of everything because she lives right in town and knows all the right people to get things done if need be.

Mary’s older brother Jim and sister Jane seem okay with Mary being the executor, so long as she knows what she is doing, and they offered to help if Mary needs any assistance. Ms. Pearl did a great thing by appointing one of her children as the named executor and then told the children so they could accept the situation while all are alive, well, and able to discuss any questions and concerns. Too often people don’t disclose changes or announcements in estate planning as if it should be some big surprise, and surprises, after someone has passed, are often met with grief and emotion, not logic and reason.

What Mary doesn’t know is that her mother Pearl went to the Barrows Firm in Southlake for estate planning in Texas, and everything has been figured out so that certain accounts automatically transfer over, insurance policies will pay the named beneficiaries, and there are properly executed power of attorney documents and directives in place covering everything from routine hospital visits to the last days of Pearl’s life and the funeral and services she has planned for the family to celebrate her life. Pearl is a giving and loving mother, and it means the world to her to say goodbye to her family and friends in the classic way she only knows how.

Barrows Firm, Estate Planning in Texas: Frequently Asked Questions

How Does Estate Planning Work, What Does Mary Need to Know?

Mary and her mother talked about the process of what happens to everything when someone dies, both with a will and without one, because the state takes over and distributes everything by state law. Pearl and Mary talked about the will and how any houses, vehicles, boats, and aircraft will be sold or distributed among the family. Likewise, the financial accounts and investments will be valued and prepared for sale, transfer, and distribution as the will directs.

The difficult talks Mary and her mother had involved the Healthcare Power of Attorney and Directives. Mother and youngest daughter discussing healthcare decisions, whether to resuscitate, and how death and burial are to be handled are surreal to Mary, and the responsibilities, while seemingly overwhelmingly, are at least known and they can talk about how they feel about everything, making sure everyone is okay and has good peace of mind.

Investopedia: 6 Estate Planning Must-Haves

What Are the Rights and Responsibilities of the Executor?

Mary will be an executor of a Texas estate and will have certain rights and responsibilities as outlined in the Texas Estates Code. Mary is an independent estate administrator, meaning she will not require legal oversight, and the other children know and agree. Mary and her siblings understand that Mary has a fiduciary duty to legally carry out all the interests of their mother, as written in her will and estate planning documents. The will includes an appointment of an attorney at the Barrows Firm to assist Mary and appear in Probate Court to represent Mary in carrying out her legal duties.

Mary is an excellent recordkeeper and she is very detail-oriented, and much to the delight of her siblings, reviewing Mary’s records of property and asset inventories should be without concern. Mary will manage the separate estate bank account while she pays estate debts and distributes assets to heirs as laid out in the will. Mary will also need to hire and manage financial representatives who can advise about what best to do with her mother’s investments and business interests. Mary will give frequent reports to others involved, as required in the will, and for which Mary will be compensated.

Forbes: An Estate Plan for Every State of Life

Common Jobs the Executor Undertakes During the Probate of an Estate

In addition to marshaling assets, paying liabilities, and issuing distributions, Mary also must be aware of the tax consequences of everything she is doing along the way. The estate administration tax advisors are helpful to executors who are responsible for getting the most out of investments when they are ordered to be sold and collected for distribution.

Real estate, homes, cars, boats, and valuable personal property can be the greatest challenge to an estate executor. Especially if a home needs to be updated and listed for sale, the work and decision-making can be challenging. What if, for example, the house is paid for, but equity needs to be drawn out to upgrade the house to market standards for sale?

What Does a Probate Attorney Do? Mary Wants to Know Who Will Be Involved When the Time Comes

Attorney Leslie Barrows and her team at the Barrows Firm in Southlake are often hired to represent the executor in a will in Texas, where there are high dollar problems and details in need of specific attention. From opening the estate to filing the necessary paperwork and then closing the estate when everything is done, Mary will be happy if she uses the attorneys at the Barrows Firm to assist her in estate administration, especially because the same firm created the estate planning documents. This means everyone is already acquainted in searching for an estate administration attorney for probate of the estate is one less thing Mary will have to do.

Why Inheritance Tax and Property Taxes are Issues That Matter to Many Texas Families Making Estate Planning Choices

Mentioning that Mary’s sister Jane lives in Florida, it was considered an option for Pearl to sell the family home in Southlake and relocate to Florida for her retirement years. However, Pearl considered the long-term implications of her decisions, including the important tax consequences her children would be facing when she passes. One of the considerations to stay in Texas was the lack of inheritance tax Ms. Pearl’s children would pay if such a tax were to apply in another state.

Property taxes were also another concern for Ms. Pearl, who while remaining in her Southlake home, was thankfully paying fixed property taxes. Homesteaded properties occupied by seniors enjoy a frozen property tax rate when they reach 65 years of age. And while the taxes are high, the home in which Pearl resides is a smaller ranch, built years ago, and but for the taxes, the home and property are outright owned.

Like Mary and Her Siblings, Estate Executors and Family Members Benefit from Knowing and Talking About Estate Planning, Death, and Taxes while Everyone is Alive and Well. For Help with Estate Planning Use the Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583

Man doing a DNA swab

Establishing Paternity for Parental Rights and Child Support

April 21, 2022
Child Support

Establishing Paternity for Parental Rights and Child Support is Newsworthy as Jerry Jones Faces a Paternity-Based Lawsuit in a Dallas County District Court

Establishing paternity in Texas is important for everyone involved, including children, and both biological parents. The child should know who his or her father is and their side of the family to establish emotional bonds. Mothers benefit from establishing paternity by establishing the father’s legal responsibility for his child. The child becomes eligible for the father’s inheritance as well as benefits and child support. Fathers benefit from establishing paternity and having their name appear on the child’s birth certificate and legal documents where their parental rights are established for school and medical records as well as child custody, parenting time, and child support.

Paternity is established when the child is born and the father signs an Acknowledgement of Paternity, that is if the mother and father are not married. If later the paternity needs to be established that can be done by agreement or through a lawsuit brought filed by the mother. Once paternity is established and parental rights are set, child support may be calculated and ordered, including back child support if appropriate. If private agreed-upon payments were being made, that can be included in determining rights to and obligations to pay.

If you or someone you know needs help establishing paternity and needs parental rights determined, child custody, or child support, contact the Barrows Firm family lawyers in Southlake.  

Don’t Forget Estate Planning for Yourself and Your Child! Be Prepared, Be Protected

Attorney Leslie Barrows frequently talks to concerned mothers as well as fathers who want their parental rights. There are so many reasons to get paternity figured out from the start and not delay. The Jerry Jones case involving his putative daughter shows how peoples’ lives are affected by having children whose fathers are never legally established or recognized.

See Alexandra Davis vs. Jerry Jones, Dallas County Paternity Case Filed March 3, 2022  

Dallas Cowboys owner, Mr. Jerry Jones, was in the news recently because he is the named defendant in a paternity-based lawsuit, filed March 3, 2022, in the 192nd Judicial District Court in Dallas County, by Plaintiff, Ms. Alexandra Davis, born December of 1996. In the Petition to establish whether Jones is the biological father of Davis, whose mother, Ms. Cynthia Davis Spencer, is alleged with Jones to have had a romantic affair including sexual relations in and around the year preceding the conception and birth of the Plaintiff.  

Star-Telegram: Paternity Lawsuit Against Jerry Jones Unsealed After Dallas Cowboys Owner Fires Back

At the time of the affair, Ms. Cynthia was married and then became divorced, and paternity tests showed her then-husband was not the biological father of Ms. Alexandra. That is when Mr. Jones was informed, that he was suspected to be the father, and he quickly offered money to buy Ms. Cynthia’s silence. The deal provided ongoing support if as the mother, she kept quiet. Note that these parties’ settlement agreement did not state or prove that Mr. Jones was the father. The agreement required both mother and daughter’s confidentiality and language in the contract states the daughter waives her right to ever seek to establish legal parentage, which is unconscionable, her now attorneys argue.

Presently, Plaintiff, now an adult, argues that the agreement between her mother and Mr. Jones does not legally apply to her and does not preclude her from seeking relief from the Court as she does. In her petition, she asks the Uniform Parentage Act to apply, with no statute of limitations. And while Mr. Jones may terminate trusts for violating the agreement with Ms. Spencer, it has no bearing on the daughter’s suit to establish that Mr. Jones is her biological father.

In Texas, Establishing Paternity is Necessary for Parental Rights and Child Support

The Texas Family Code is clear that the orderly determination of parentage is a guiding principle of Texas family law, and it is in the best interests of the child to establish parentage and the associated parental rights and duties.

Psychology Today: The 7 Things Everyone Should Know About Fatherhood

Adoption Attorney: For Adoptions in Tarrant County, Use the Barrows Firm

Establishing paternity gives a father legal parental rights to the child that will remain forever, even if he and the mother are no longer together. The child whose both parents are legally designated is eligible for entitlement benefits like health insurance and social security, as well as child support.

Retroactive Child Support in Texas is available and there are back child support laws in Texas. If the Court in the Davis v. Jones case allows the plaintiff to proceed in her suit to establish that Mr. Jones is her biological father, the agreement with the mother would not prevent her from getting the Court ordered paternity test. It depends on the arguments and what is alleged, and some say Mr. Jones should be ordered to pay that retroactive child support despite the money used to pay off Plaintiff’s mother.

Acknowledgment of Paternity Form and Filing with Texas Vital Statistics

Paternity can be established either voluntarily, by signing an Acknowledgement of Paternity form, or by a lawsuit seeking a court order establishing paternity/parentage. If the parents of a child are married, the husband is legally presumed to be the father of the child, but when the biological parents are not married, the Acknowledgement of Paternity document can be completed and filed with the state.  

Co-Parenting and Child Support Outside of Court Can Break Down, Paternity and Rights Need to Be Established as a Matter of Law in Texas

There are many instances when the mother and father are not married but have a child or children with one another. Everything seems to work out when relationships are well and both mom and dad are parenting on their own without going to court. Everything seems to go okay until kids grow older and start going to school, have medical concerns, or one of the parents starts a new relationship. Arguments start over who has paid what and who now owes the other. There should be no tears shed or milk spilled over matters of life and love, rather the parents should establish paternity and establish relative legal rights and duties as parents.

Negotiating Parenting Plans After Establishing Paternity and Parental Rights and Duties

If there is a reasonably questioned issue of paternity, the parentage of a child should be determined conclusively as soon as possible. When both mother and father are engaged in the young and precious life of a child, that child feels unconditional love and support. And even if mom and dad are young parents and getting along well, despite being unmarried, they are only making it harder on themselves by postponing the inevitable paternity determination that almost always becomes necessary as children grow, parents have their issues, and life happens.  

Young Parents in Good Relationships who Do Not Want to Marry

Regardless of another’s opinion on unmarried parenthood, it is something that happens with more frequency. And even though things are going well, and the couple seems to be a good match of loving parents, getting those parental rights established as a matter of law and in the best interests of the child. And if determining those parental rights and duties, including child support, right out of the gate, keeps the parents getting along and co-parenting as unmarried parents, it’s better for the child than having only one parent and set of in-laws in their life. And as parents of our children soon to or currently having children, we can learn to be flexible in our parenting, but meanwhile helpful with the benefit of wisdom earned with age. Help others make better parenting decisions, including the establishment of paternity.

With Questions About or In Need of Legal Counsel, Contact the Barrows Firm in Southlake for Family Law Matters Including Establishing Paternity (817) 481-1583

Man and woman discussing divorce in front of his luxury home villa

Protecting Assets and Exposure in High Net Worth Divorce

March 15, 2022
Divorce Finances

Protecting Assets and Exposure in High Net Worth Divorce: Old Money Wasn’t Accumulated by Luck

The best way to protect assets and financial exposure to divorce liability is not to get divorced. If, however, the best-laid plans have gone awry, there are plenty of ways to protect assets, investments, and properties from being devalued and/or distributed inequitably in a divorce.

Much to the chagrin of families split by divorce, there seems to be a culture portrayed in media and big industries that just like marriage, divorce, and child support are just ways of life. People online and in movies and television rarely show how important it is to fight to save the marriage and family unit, for the betterment of the children and all involved. And we rarely hear the stories of recently made single-parents one year afterward talking about how much better it is being divorced. Do we ever ask whether they have regrets, or could have done anything to work it out?

Survive Divorce: How to Avoid Divorce: 13 Ways to Save Your Failing Marriage

Nevertheless, for some, divorce is the only option because the marriage is simply not salvageable. Some people are toxic, and their interpersonal relationships become beyond repair. For many, it can become important to end a marriage to protect oneself, one’s family, and one’s long-term financial interests. Whether money is new or old, it likely wasn’t obtained and preserved simply by luck. Rather, hard work and prudent decision-making were involved in building and preserving wealth.

In Southlake, high net worth families trust Barrows Firm attorneys like Leslie Barrows, for experience in navigating high-stakes divorces with high net worth issues and complex child custody concerns. Because of her experience helping families protect assets, attorney Barrows is frequently consulted for pre-marital agreements and post-marital agreements to preserve and protect personal and family property and financial interests.

Very Well Mind: 10 Ways to Strengthen a Marriage and Avoid Divorce

Know What You Both Have and Want Before Getting Married

Money and financial responsibility are common causes of marital discord and eventual divorce. Advising new Southlake divorce clients, attorney Barrows often hears what happens when one spouse is a saver and the other one is a spender. Financial responsibilities for successful business owners and family wealth managers are important. Discussing expectations for the future is important and everyone should know where they stand, especially if pre-marital agreements and family business agreements are controlling in the event of a divorce.

Especially when new couples marry and start raising families there can be stress about what to do with additional income as careers continue to take off and businesses produce income for the family. This is when the spender versus saver problem comes to light. Arguments happen when the saver plans to invest and save new income while the other spouse wants something to show for the fruits of efforts and work. Be ready to answer questions about “How we can have money but look like we are barely making it.”

Unfortunately, and as awful as it is to talk about money, if you are someone getting married and grew up very differently from your soon-to-be spouse, it is going to matter when money becomes a point of contention. Don’t put it up to luck, hoping the love vibes will power you through any problem no matter the size, rather be realistic, and be prepared for all inevitabilities.

Article Tip: The Man Who Coaches Husbands on How to Avoid Divorce

Pre-Marital Agreements and Post-Marital Agreements Protecting Assets and Exposure in Divorce

A fool and their money are soon parted when they fail to get a good pre-marital agreement. Go ahead and scoff at the anti-romantic idea of a legal document to anticipate your demise. Now moving forward with common sense, appreciate the value of knowing exactly where one stands in the event of a divorce. Look, nobody wants to get a divorce, and nobody ever thinks they are marrying the wrong person. The reality is life happens and if your marriage hits the rocks, and bleeds out, don’t lose your family life raft in the process.

Pre-marital agreements can be drafted to provide the distribution or non-distribution of assets personally, and in community property, as the parties desire. Note that child support and certain other common expenses are determined by Texas statutory law and cannot be avoided by contractual agreements.

Post-marital agreements are helpful when something happens after the couple is married and they decide them and the family should agree on their individual and collective rights to money and property. Often when the marriage is in trouble and divorce is foreseeable, a couple can solve certain disputes through post-marital agreements. And when a post-marital agreement can save a marriage, everyone comes out a winner.

When Never to Invade the Principal Assets or Sell Stocks in a High Net Worth Divorce  

Abacus on Principal Invasion and Dividend Issues

Common advice among those with old money is never invade your principal assets or baseline. Remember that money generates interest and more money when you grow it. Just remember to leave that principal amount alone, and only spend an amount of interest you plan to use as discretionary income. In a divorce, one might need to raise money to buy out the other’s interest in a property settlement. There are ways to come up with liquid cash without disturbing well-invested assets and interests generating money. Even a loan, secured, if necessary, is a better financial idea than disturbing principal assets.

Situations like this in high-net-worth divorce are the reason it becomes so important to hire the best divorce and financial professionals in your area, the people who know how not to lose money in a divorce.

Hiring The Best Divorce Lawyer and Experts for Protecting Assets

Targeted in divorce are those with money, especially if there are children involved. While there may be more work to do in a high-net-worth divorce case, it does not need to drag on forever. In many cases, inexperience in navigating complex financial issues leads to more resources than necessary spent in negotiating and protecting a client’s rights and financial interests. The experienced divorce attorney knows exactly when to hire experts and direct case strategy to the professionals who will get the best return on the investment of resources.

For example, in a family-owned business with complex assets and future financial interests, spending money on the right business valuation experts can help in negotiating the best result for the client and their family. Especially in North Texas, among high-net-worth families, people know which law firms get results and are worth of referrals.

Using Alternative Dispute Resolution to Shield Sensitive Family Information from Court Litigation

Protecting reputations, as well as the identification of assets and property, is important. While efforts are made to limit the information made public in divorce cases and filings, there are benefits to keeping private information out of court and using alternative dispute resolution to keep things private. The right mediators can help work with families in mediation to reach an agreement on certain issues so that the more important concerns can be properly litigated in court.

In not leaving your family’s best interests to luck, the Barrows Firm recommends making one’s own luck in the process and outcome of protecting assets and accumulated money and property. Whether working together in planning a new marriage, saving a troubled marriage, or managing strategy in divorce and litigation, Leslie Barrows, and the team of attorneys at the Barrows Firm are in your corner.

Seek Divorce and Family Law Counseling in Protecting Assets and Exposure and High Net Worth Divorce at the Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583

Lawyer explaining legal situation during a divorce mediation

Laws of Love: Mediation In Texas Resolving Disputes of the Heart

February 15, 2022
Divorce Litigation

Mediation in Texas: Resolve Disputes Informally, Show Love for The Family

Mediation is one of many forms of alternative dispute resolution in divorce in Texas and child custody. Mediation is a non-evidentiary process to settle family lawsuit disputes over children, money, property, and more in divorce and child custody cases in Texas. Because the focus isn’t presenting and getting evidence accepted in the court, mediation is much less formal, and the mediator can go back and forth between the parties and reach settlements of some or all the issues on which the parties cannot agree. The more issues that can be resolved in mediation, the more focus everyone can give to the important issues that might need to be litigated before the judge or jury.

When you love your family, even your soon-to-be ex, and your children, keeping them out of court can help everyone heal and move forward in a positive position, ready for co-parenting and raising children in a positive, caring, and sharing environment. Show love for the family and resolve disputes informally with mediation in Texas.

In Southlake, Attorneys Leslie Barrows and Samantha Ybarra are Court-Certified Mediators. Call today and make an appointment to learn rights and options in divorce and child custody mediation(817) 481-1583 at the Barrows Firm.  

Our Family Wizard Article: The Importance of Family Mediators

Features and Benefits of the Mediation Process in Texas

At mediation, clients and their attorneys work from separate rooms and the mediator goes back and forth with the parties to help them resolve certain issues in an informal setting. In mediation, some or all the contested issues can be addressed. A client going through mediation gets to talk to their family lawyer about what they might expect if they must litigate certain issues in court and have the judge make the ruling. Judges prefer clients to resolve their issues in mediation and hopefully sign a binding Mediated Settlement Agreement.

Child support, conservatorship, and the rights and duties of parents can be determined through the mediation process. Property division is also a mediated issue. The parties should be well prepared before mediation, having reports and opinions of experts ready to weigh the positions of the parties on issues of children, money, and property.  

The strengths and weaknesses of the different parties and their issues are evaluated by the mediator. The mediator’s job is to try to settle. Whether the mediator’s settlement is fair and equitable is something the arties can determine when deciding to take the settlement or push forward in court.  

Loving the family first is something accomplished through mediation because it saves loved ones from the process of litigating in court and the adversarial process. Even though the soon-to-be ex-spouse is the source of current problems and the divorce or child custody suit, remember they were once a loved person with whom so many plans were made. The best way to love oneself is to let the other one go and let them also find love again without the weight of love lost.

Search the Barrows Firm Blog by Keyword and Category and Learn About  Texas Family Law

Getting Answers to Common Questions About Mediation in Texas at the Barrows Firm in Southlake

Everyone’s divorce and child custody cases are unique, and so are the mediations. The more people learn about mediation the more questions they ask. When used properly and when the parties are well-prepared, mediation can save time, money, and the underlying love of family members, even in such a tough time.

Psychology Today Article: 3Ways Mediated Divorce is Better for Your Family

Who Pays for Mediation in Texas?

Mediation can cost a few hundred dollars an hour depending on the mediator. Mediation sessions can be billed according to agreement by the parties or as ordered by the Court. Attorneys who are mediators usually charge more than non-attorneys and when hiring a mediator, many find they get what they pay for. Usually, both parties pay for the mediator and the judge can also enter an order regarding mediation and payment. Show love for the family by saving money for the kids’ future college expenses.

Is Mediation Legally Binding in Texas?

The whole point of mediation is that it is a non-binding procedure and nothing in mediation becomes legally binding without a written agreement signed by both parties and approved by the Court. When a Texas Marital Settlement Agreement is signed by both parties it becomes legally binding. These agreements are also called Separation Agreements. Show love for the family by committing to a Mediated Settlement Agreement.

How Do I Prepare for Mediation in Texas?

The purpose of mediation is to resolve contested disputes. If one parent claims they should have custody, for example, they can make their case as to why they should the one to get custody. In the mediation process, they offer what they may use as evidence to ask the judge or jury to rule in their favor. When the issues in mediation are about money and property, evidence should be presented establishing claims of ownership, value, and the character of property as community or separate property. Show love for the family by making the best use of everyone’s time and resources by being well prepared for mediation.

Who Can Mediate in the State of Texas?

The Texas Alternative Dispute Resolution Act sets the requirements to become a licensed mediator in Texas. Both Attorneys Leslie Barrows and Samantha Ybarra are Court-Certified Mediators. While Texas currently does not have state-mandated requirements to be a mediator, there are qualifications for someone to be an impartial third-party mediator, involving training.

Very Well Family Article: 10Signs of a Healthy, Effective Co-Parenting Relationship

Can Mediated Agreements Be Challenged Later?

To make a Mediated Settlement Agreement binding in Texas, so that it cannot be challenged later, it must so state, very clearly in bold, capital letters, or underlined text, and be signed by each party and their attorney. Show love for the family by taking mediation seriously and committing to sticking to the Mediated Settlement Agreement.

Showing Love for Family and Self Happens When Mediating Divorce and Child Custody Disputes with Barrows Firm Mediators (817)481-1583

image of a ticking clock

Protecting You and Your Family: A January Life Management Checklist

January 12, 2022
General Information

January is Life Management Time, for Families in Transition

Recently divorced people, parents, and the new and expecting mothers make time to get their house in order, literally and figuratively with a life management checklist and the right professionals to help when necessary. Divorce in Texas is a significant event and so is having a new baby or getting remarried. Especially for families with significant life events taking place around the holidays, it can be easy to forget some important life details needing prompt attention before being overlooked. Please start the habit of making an annual life management checklist and learn to appreciate the benefits of smart planning for the family.  

Barrows Firm attorneys in Southlake give their advice and counsel to families in transition who need to update important documents, create new estate plans, modify or terminate child support, and make plans for the growth and needs of children. Successful parents think and plan well in advance, knowing just about anything can happen along the path of life and raising happy and productive kids. Attorney Leslie Barrows is well-known in the Southlake area for helping families adjust for their needs as they click off necessary items on their life management checklist.  

Organization is important for good parenting. Part of being organized is notifying people who need to know certain information should they need to take action. Let people know if you have granted them power of attorney authority and under what circumstances you expect them to make decisions. For example, let people know where the important documents are located. Some keep copies of important documents with their attorney, and it is important to let important people know the name and contact information for the attorney or anyone else who needs to be identified in the case of a serious life event.  

Fatherly.com: 8 Tips to Help You Become a More Organized Parent

Important Updates for the Recently Divorced

Recently divorced people should keep a list of every financial interest and be familiar with accounts and documentation, making sure that everything is updated to reflect a new marital status and name change if it applies.  

Life Management Checklist & Common Post-Divorce Updates:

  1. Beneficiaries on life insurance;
  1. HIPPA releases at medical offices;
  1. Check bank accounts;
  1. Run credit reports;
  1. Update life insurance policies;
  1. Remove ex-spouses from life 360 tracking apps;
  1. Meet with your financial planner;
  1. Use a qualified CPA;
  1. Verify that the correct Final Order is on file with the child’s school;
  1. Make sure ex-spouses are no longer authorized users on any bank accounts, and  
  1. Update all passwords. 

Child Support Modifications

Child support can be modified every three years as a general rule, and the Barrows Firm frequently files modification cases when the prior court order needs to be updated to reflect a change in the income and net resources of the child support obligor. Especially in 2022, with so many people changing jobs since 2020 many parents receiving child support payments need a child support modification. In certain situations, it is also possible to modify child support before three years have passed since the last court order, and the Barrows Firm attorneys can assist with reviewing your child support situation and advise on different rights and options.  

Special Needs Trusts

Parents of children with special needs such as autism, medical, physical, mental, and other disabilities, need special help and care for their children, young and adult. Where there is court-ordered support for a child with special needs, the Court can designate a special needs trust to receive direct support payments for the benefit of the special needs child.  

Barrows Firm Article: Special needs Children and Divorce

Estate Planning and Trusts

Estate planning is for everyone, and that includes all of us. Whether it is your first time having a will or set of power of attorney documents prepared, or you need to make an update after a divorce or the addition or loss of a family member, January is a good time to take stock of life and get things in order while working through the 2022 life management checklist.  

Understand that anyone who dies without a will or a trust is allowing the State of Texas to take control of and distribute your assets by statutory construction. Don’t let that happen. Get a proper will and estate planning documents like a living trust, power of attorney documents, and other trusts. Depending on the situation, we make referrals to a Texas Board of Legal Specialization-Board-Certified trust attorney for complex and high net worth management issues.  

Nerdwallet: Estate Planning, A 7-Step Checklist of the Basics

We offer estate planning if necessary and can refer you to a board-certified trust attorney if you need further assistance. Family members are dying without wills and trust me you are letting the State of Texas what to do with your assets without a will which is difficult on your loved ones.  

New Babies and Adopted Children

After bringing home a newborn baby or adopted child, don’t forget to make an appointment to update wills and estate planning documents. As Leslie Barrows mentioned recently, she has seen many newborn babies at church and she hopes they are all well covered and their parents remember to plan for their futures and update their wills, estate, and insurance plans.  

Keeping Up to Date Life Management Checklists and Positive Results with Southlake’s Barrows Firm (817) 481-1583

Child receiving an injection

Court Battles Over COVID-19 Vaccines for Children in Texas

November 30, 2021
Health Care

Parents Suing in Court Over Vaccines for Children: There Are a Few Options

Regardless of where parents stand on disagreements about COVID vaccines for children, we rightfully assume that both parents want the best for children. Sometimes those good intentions become clouded by resentment against the other parent over the same reasons they are not together in the first place. And when it comes to disagreeing about vaccines for their children, parents might argue that when they agreed to their current custody order, they were operating under the assumption that language about vaccines was meant for the standard vaccines offered under traditional Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, as opposed to the COVID vaccines available under an FDA Emergency Use Authorization.

Emotions run high and it can seem like every move we make could be the end of the world. The endless arguments in the media and on social media are turning too many people into self-learned experts on a variety of issues. When everyone fights over competing expert opinions their arguments and lawsuits start forming and being filed as parents start suing in court over vaccines for children.  

Options for parents with disagreements over vaccines include enforcing and/or modifying their current custody orders to resolve the dispute. In either case, a modification or enforcement action is a new and separate lawsuit with all the formalities the parents experienced in their original divorce or custody suit. For those with immediate concerns, who don’t have the time for the traditional process, emergency hearings can happen, and the court can order temporary relief, pending further hearing or trial. However, alternative dispute resolution can be a much better approach. Using a mediator, a parenting coordinator or a parenting facilitator can help co-parents iron out their disagreements and reach a conclusion. That said, it’s difficult to compromise on the issue of whether a vaccine is given to a child because that is not something that can be undone.  

Read Our Article: Making the Case for Using Parenting Facilitators

The Barrows Firm in Southlake receives frequent calls and emails from parents with concerns about whether their child can or must be vaccinated against COVID and its variant forms. With questions and concerns about court battles over vaccines for children, please call and make an appointment to speak with Attorney Leslie Barrows at (817) 481-1583.

What Does Your Court Order Say About Medical Decisions? Do Both Parents Have to Consent?

In Texas, what we refer to as child custody, is called conservatorship. A parent may be appointed as a joint managing conservator, a sole managing conservator, or a possessory conservator. Most divorced parents are joint conservators and they both have a say about medical decisions including vaccinations. When determining issues about custody and medical care, the court order will identify specific rights and duties. In child custody litigation, either the parties agree to settle their unresolved issues or have their Court decide. In some cases, where both parents have a legal right to make medical decisions and disagree, there is a tie-breaker who can decide, such as the child’s doctor.  

Court battles over vaccines for children get interesting when the custody order addressing vaccines is based on the standard language used by many. And what is stated about regular and customary vaccinations may be distinguished from the COVID vaccines, and whether they are technically vaccines within the meaning of the word vaccine, as written in the order if it is even that specific. Courts are being asked to decide whether the parties intended to agree on vaccine choices and whether that applies to the Novel Coronavirus Vaccine options.  

Moving forward with the benefit of knowledge and experience, more custody orders in the future may be crafted with special attention paid to vaccines and how to resolve disputes among co-parents. As more information is learned, some parents might elect to have their custody agreements modified or enforced as necessary to act as parents in the best interests of their children.  

Barrows Firm Podcast: What Does a Modification Case Look Like in Texas?

The Novel Coronavirus is a New Strain, Not Previously Identified in Humans

The “novel” Coronavirus is new and different, a matter of first impression. For this very reason, the arguments on all sides of the several issues involved are about something new and unknown. Science is defined by the Google Dictionary as “The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.” Knowledge about the world is always changing, and thus so is science. What we now accept as truth, was once conjecture. Science is an ongoing study and academic pursuit and what may be “good science” one day, could be tossed out the next when more information is learned. To put it simply, it’s our best guess given the information we have at the time.  

As time goes on, and as doctors and scientists study patient data, therapeutics, vaccines, and everything COVID-related, that science evolves and there are more answers. But when it comes to court battles over vaccines for children, parents do not have time to wait 50 years to see all the data and science on point. Another interesting point about COVID vaccines is that they are not technically vaccines. Because COVID is not a live virus, the way traditional vaccines work does not apply the same way. What we are referring to as vaccines for children are therapeutic gene therapies, which is also the subject of much disagreement and many are fighting over words and semantics.  

CDC: Myths and Facts about COVID-19 Vaccines for Children

What Do We Know and What Don’t We Know: The Jury is Still Out on Many Issues Related to COVID

It is very easy to find articles that blame vaccine disputes on vaccine “misinformation,” which minimizes the valid concerns of parents. There are many sources of confusion about health decisions we make with children. People have been disagreeing about medical care for a long time, way before anyone heard of COVID. And while most believe the vaccines are safe and appropriate for children, not everyone agrees, and they should not be forced into making up their minds.  

The vaccines at issue were given Emergency Use Authorization by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and some parents chose not to get a vaccine, for themselves or their children. Those in opposition are concerned about future complications and side effects, which remain unknown. The very enforceability of vaccine mandates has yet to be determined, as lawsuits are pending in state and federal courts. Those who support vaccines rely on information they receive from government agencies and news sources.  

Among the medical community, there are disagreements among physicians over vaccines and their safety, especially when it comes to children. Some doctors are comfortable saying they believe there is too much missing information to make an informed medical decision. There is a big difference between missing information and misinformation.  

Learn the Rights and Options Parents Have in Enforcing or Modifying Custody Orders and Resolving Disputes About Vaccines for Children at the Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583

mom and son using tablet at home

Making the Case for Using Parenting Facilitators

November 17, 2021
Possession Schedule

Using Parenting Facilitators, Outside the Court System, When Co-Parenting Fails

Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's are on the way and so is the burden of co-parenting with someone who does not want to play nice; using parenting facilitators can help solve problems and keep everyone out of Court. A Texas-licensed parenting facilitator, often another family lawyer, plays an important role, as an appointed officer of the Court to help families resolve conflict. Using parenting facilitators can save time and money.  

Parenting facilitators are appointed by the court to help families resolve co-parenting issues using non-confidential methods, out of Court. Many parents find that parenting facilitators help move things along and resolve conflicts because they write reports that are sent to the Court. In later hearings and trials, the Court can give great weight to the parenting facilitator’s report, so there are consequences to working with a parenting facilitator as opposed to other dispute resolution options.  

Southlake family attorney Leslie Barrows is a strong proponent of using parenting facilitators, especially when there is a last-minute freak out over holiday planning and possession schedules. Sometimes those possession schedules need adjusting, and holidays bring conflicts to light. Let the parenting facilitator help everyone figure out what works now so after the holidays their report can be used in making a better agreement, or if necessary, enforcing or modifying the parenting plan in court.  

Contact Barrows Firm in Southlake with Specific Questions About Parenting Facilitators (817) 481-1583

Holiday Possession and Problems with Co-Parenting

Planning the holidays means knowing where the kids are going to be and what to expect for the holidays. Add the wrinkle of COVID-19 and vaccination concerns and problems can escalate quickly. People get mad and say, “Fine, what are you going to do, take me back to Court, I have some things to share with the Judge if you do!” Angry words can turn into Court filings and hearings over problems that could have been avoided if co-parents were able to get along and focus on the best interests of the children.  

Family plans may include or exclude certain family members and plans that take place right at home, or out of town, out of state, or even overseas. We all know to look at our parenting agreement and Court order first, but what if things have changed and the current parenting plans no longer work? It may be time to go back to court for a modification case, but when time is of the essence, it can be much more effective to negotiate out of court with a parenting facilitator and handle the modification after the holidays.  

Barrows Firm Tip, Holiday Possession Schedules: Check Your Court Order

Office of the Attorney General of Texas: For Our Children, Co-Parenting Guide

What Does a Parenting Facilitator Do?

A parenting facilitator (PF) is a person who is appointed by the Court to assist co-parents, resolving problems out of court, in a non-confidential setting, like mediation. The role of a parenting facilitator is much like that of a parenting coordinator (PC) with one significant difference. The PF can be called to testify in court at a later hearing or trial, while the PC cannot be called to testify.  

A parenting facilitator, like a parenting coordinator, helps to identify disputed issues, reduce misunderstandings, clarify priorities, and generally they help the parties resolve conflict when it comes to the parenting plan and best issues of the children. A visitation problem over the holidays and dispute as to where the kids are supposed to go, and who owes the other parenting time, can be a perfect problem to be solved by a parenting facilitator.  

The parenting facilitator is required to submit a written report to the court and the parties, as it is ordered by the Court. The Court may take into advisement the recommendations made by the parenting facilitator in determining how to enforce Court orders, make modifications of parenting plans, and determine outcomes when disputes involve the conservatorship of or possession of or access to the child, subject of the suit. Note that the Court may weigh the recommendations of the parenting facilitator with the evidence presented to the Court, but the Judge is not bound to follow the recommendations of the parenting facilitator. Using a parenting facilitator can be quicker and easier than going back to court with possession schedule issues.  

Custody Exchange: 7 People to Know in Texas Child Conservatorship Cases

When is a Court-Appointed Parenting Facilitator a Helpful?

Parenting facilitators are very useful in resolving co-parenting conflicts out of court because they can be more flexible in working with both parents without being constricted by Court and attorney schedules and time constraints. So, when it is the week before Thanksgiving and there are problems with co-parenting, it is much easier for the Court to appoint a parenting facilitator versus bringing the parties into court for a hearing or trial.  

When you have an ornery former spouse or their world is becoming full of problem players, the parenting facilitator has some teeth they can use to let the parties know that they can make recommendations to the Judge who will likely give those recommendations significant weight in making later decisions. This can be more helpful than traditional mediation because of the report writing element.  

Concerned About Co-Parent’s Drinking? Alcohol Monitoring in Child Custody Cases

Benefits of Parenting Facilitators: Keeping Cases Out of the Court System

Nobody loves the idea of spending the holidays preparing for an enforcement or modification hearing. When problems arise, save time and resources for the family, and use a parenting facilitator to iron problems out of court, knowing if going to court is necessary, the parenting facilitator’s report can be useful to the judge.  

Hearings and trials become part of the official court record and many people want to keep their problems out of public records whenever possible. Especially if there are problems following parenting plans and one of the parties is up to no good, that information can be damaging in many aspects of one’s personal and professional life.  

The stress on children and other members of the family can be avoided by asking the Court to appoint a parenting facilitator to work on peacekeeping and problem solving out of court. Going to meet with the parenting facilitator can be easier and less of a production than going to battle in a hearing or trial.  

Why do People Change Course and Become Spiteful Co-Parents?

There are several patterns of co-parent relationship breakdowns. Things may be going well for a long time until suddenly the co-parenting communication is disrupted. When former spouses or never-married parents disagree with one another about a significant issue, it brings up emotions that initially led to the reason they are co-parents in the first place.  

When one of the co-parents gets a new significant other, marries, or has a significant life event the other may disapprove or have a problem with how the children might be affected. If there are no Court-ordered restrictions on new relationships or the conditions causing strife, there is little the disapproving parent can do. Bringing up all the hurt feelings and issues from the past breeds contempt, and holiday times seem ripe for problems.  

Using Barrows Firm Family Attorneys in Southlake to Keep the Family on Course (817) 481-1583

Stubborn couple avoid talk ignoring each other after fight

Divorce on the Horizon: When People No Longer Like Their Spouse

October 7, 2021
Divorce

What Happens When People No Longer Like Their Spouse?

Couples are unhappy when they are not getting what they need from each other, leading to contempt and feeling they no longer like their spouse. Marriages take constant work, and it is very easy to let things go. Some couples unintentionally alienate themselves from one another and end up like roommates with children.

Contempt for another comes from all kinds of sources. When a spouse is doing or not doing something that causes a growing annoyance, all the other irritating thoughts seem to arise from out of nowhere, breathing life and validation into feeling they just don’t like them anymore. Initially, people feel guilty for having negative feelings and thoughts about the person they loved so much they vowed to remain with them until death.

Deciding to divorce is never easy, and not all spouses who no longer like one another decide to get divorced, at least not right away. There are all kinds of opinions about whether it is better to stay together for the kids, and for every family, that decision is unique. At the end of the day, parents should consider their relationships in terms of how it affects their children and their best interests.

When divorce is the right choice for a family and child custody is a focused issue, among property division and others, the Barrows Firm in Southlake is available for consultation to learn rights, options, and potential next steps. Call (817) 481-1583 for Divorce and Family Law Attorney Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm.

Huffpost: Coming to Grips With Not Being in Love With Your Spouse Anymore

Married with Babies, Couples Figure Out They No Longer Like their Spouses

Over time, things that bug other people on the surface, seem to work as signals that there is something wrong on a deeper, internal level. Just like we listen to our bodies about our health, we should learn to listen to our observations and intuitions about how we react to people, especially our spouses. Sometimes it starts as little joked we make about one another in front of other people that seem innocent enough, but underneath we could be laying the groundwork and battlefield for something wicked to come.

Root causes of spousal irritation can stem from not feeling satisfied to feeling lied to or betrayed somehow. And financial issues surprisingly outrank fidelity problems when looking at the breakdown of most marriages. When one spouse is a saver and the other is a spender it can feel like drowning, and instead of reaching for a lifeline, too many just tread water, hoping to keep up to get a breath now and then.

Children growing older and growing up are a common force of distraction and impending need so that many couples don’t have enough time to even realize they have their problems because they are dealing with kid issues all the time. Only when the smoke clears, or when everyone is on top of each other during vacations or holidays, do the deeper problems rear their head.

Can You Love Someone and Not Like Them?

Yes, you can deeply love someone but not like them for a list of reasons. Especially in the ending of long-term marriages, some say they will always love the other one, with who they raised a great family, but they just don’t want to live with them anymore or need their daily input.

Whether growing dislike or irritation gives rise to the decision to divorce and separate assets and property depends on the couple. Especially if children are grown and out of the house, it is easier to divorce, knowing custody and children’s expenses will not be divorce issues.

Redbook: 17 Signs You’re In an Unhappy or Loveless Marriage

Significant Life Events Can Be Gamechangers in Marriages

While it is more common to hear about the loss of a child leading to divorce, having children can also change a couple’s relationship to the point of no return. For some, the dynamic of having children changes things. Being a young couple without kids, life can be fantastic and seemingly limitless. The moment a couple brings their first newborn home, the reality hits that life as they knew it has changed. Not everyone is ready to be a parent and sometimes, the reality is they know they do not want to be a parent married to their spouse.

Career and money issues can also be too much to bear when problems arise between spouses, and they are never really solved. When promises are not kept and job and financial stress grow, it can lead to a point of no return.

Rebuilding Relationships and Marriages in Crisis

Substance abuse and addiction problems can put marriages in tailspins, and it can take some work, but with help, these problems can be overcome. Sometimes a spouse’s excessive drinking or addictive behavior of whatever kind causes the other spouse to start disliking everything the other does. And when the underlying problem that makes the other the maddest is addressed and corrected, relationships can be rebuilt. Unfortunately, it takes both parties to want to make the effort to fix things and sometimes ego gets in the way and there is no going back.

Doing What is in the Child’s Best Interest, First

Waking up one day to realize you no longer like your spouse does not mean you can just walk out the door and move along with your life if you have kids with that person. In most divorces with children, there is an element of contested child custody and visitation when both parents believe they would be the better primary parent who can determine where the children will reside.

Keeping children safe, in a positive and nurturing environment is crucial to their development and growth as healthy young people. While children certainly survive divorce, how much they go through, and what they experience, is something to consider.

Psychology Today: Should You Stay Together Only for the Kids?

Learning from the Experience, Moving Forward

After divorce, getting married, and having children are life options people approach with better care and judgment after living through what they consider life mistakes. When something is learned, something is gained, and when dating again, the wise person knows what to look for based on collective life experience. And when some people notice, they keep getting attracted to the wrong people, or bad experiences seemingly seek them out, there might be something to find in the mirror if one is patient enough.

Mental Health Professionals for Self-Care

Accepting one’s mental health concerns is for a lack of a better description, healthy. Nobody is always happy and productive in life. We all have limits in what we can bear. Even if the process simply provides self-assurance that everything is okay, a relationship with a mental health professional can be very helpful and inspiring.

As we move through life at different stages, we find the spot to place more of the puzzle pieces that make up the mosaic of our lives. And when the puzzle becomes clearer and we understand our own needs better, divorce might be on the horizon. And when it is, we should make certain we handle difficult situations the best we can with an eye on a brighter future.  

The Barrows Firm for Divorce Consultation in Southlake, Call (817) 481-1583

Father and little kids outdoors

Updated Child Custody Law: Closer to Equal Possession Order

September 21, 2021
Child Custody

S.B. 1936 is the New Child Custody Law Amending Beginning and Ending of Possession to Further Closer to Equal Possession Time

Equal parenting time and 50/50 custody orders are the goals of legislation affecting the Texas Family Code in the recent 87th legislative session in Austin, and the updated law provides for closer to an equal possession order giving more parenting time to possessory conservator parents. Republican lawmakers were presented with testimony regarding the best interests of children and the goal of creating closer to equal parenting time to foster important close parent-child relationships with mothers and fathers after divorce in Texas.

The new law updates the alternative beginning and ending times that the non-primary parent, also called the possessory conservator, has with the child, as stated in the Expanded Standard Possession Order. Now parents living 50 or fewer miles from the primary residence of the child get at least 46 percent of possession time in the new Expanded Standard Possession Order schedule for overnights, weekends, and alternating holidays. Parents in custody suits can make their agreement to adopt a standard plan or make their own. When the Judge must order a custody arrangement, they can apply the updated Expanded Standard Possession Order or, if in the best interest of the child, the judge can order any alternative custody schedule. The change in the law was effective September 1, 2021, and it does not itself qualify as a basis to file a modification case.

The Barrows Firm attorneys are available to explain parent’s rights and options in child custody matters. And when it looks like equal parenting time is likely, we can help make it work for your family. Call Attorney Leslie Barrows with questions and consultation requests (817) 481-1583.

Psychology Today: An Essential Tool to Protect Kids From Conflict in a Divorce (The parenting plan is one of the important tools of successful co-parenting.)

Changes Apply to Possessory Conservator Parents Who Live 50 or Fewer Miles from the Primary Residence of the Child

In North Texas, it is more feasible than in the past to transport children among parents within 50 miles of one another, and with so many new lanes of interstate and toll roads, people are moving further out from cities and working more hours from home. That said, the possessory conservator parent still must get the children to and from school, friends, church, and whatever extracurricular activities they have going on when they are with the possessory conservator parent. This for some means driving up to 50 miles each way to school and activities. Some people can make it work, but not everyone. If the parent has flexible work schedule and location options, this situation can be feasible.

More frequently a possessory conservator parent with visitation time chooses to live closer to the primary parent with whom the child primarily resides. This makes taking children to school much easier. Everyone can find a balanced work and family schedule and situation that works so that parents and their children have the greatest amount of quality time together.

New Changes Affect the Expanded Standard Possession Order

Child custody cases pending as of September 1, 2021, and filed thereafter, are subject to the new closer to equal parenting time provisions in S.B. 1936. To understand the options, first note that there is a Standard Possession Order (SPO) which can be increased to an Expanded Standard Possession Order (ESPO) essentially giving the possessory conservator more parenting time with the child. These possession orders specify exactly when each parent has possession and alternating holidays.

Possession order schedules are designed to create stable schedules for children during the school year, minimally disrupting children during the week so they can focus on school. The parties in a child custody suit have the option of agreeing with one another about one of the possession orders or they can create their custom possession schedule. When the parents are not able to agree, judges use their discretion in ordering an appropriate possession schedule such as the new ESPO, with close to equal parenting time.

CNBC: A psychologist shares the 4 styles of parenting – and the type that researchers say is the most successful (raising successful kids)

Increased Possession Time for the Possessory Conservator

With the change in the law, the possessory conservator will have more visitation time with their kids when they live up to 50 miles from the child’s primary residence. The new law gives the possessory conservator visitation time of 46 percent with the additional overnight visitation.

Courts Have Discretion to Decline Applying the “New” Expanded Standard Possession Order and Parties in a Child Custody Suit Can Opt-Out

Texas district court judges presiding over Texas family law and custody cases have the discretion to override the new law if they believe the additional time is not in the best interests of the child. The travel times between parents’ homes are an example of something that could adversely affect the child’s schedule. Access to vehicles and public transportation could be another factor in opting out of the new law. And if the possessory conservator parent did not have regular time with the child before the suit, and is more of a stranger, that can be good cause for a judge not to order a nearly 50/50 custody arrangement.

The New Possession and Access Rules Are Not Alone Sufficient to File a Modification Suit

In custody and visitation cases that are already settled and there is a final order regarding conservatorship and possession and access, a new modification suit would be necessary to change that order. Modification suits are new actions and to have the standing to be granted a custody modification, the parent bringing the suit must prove a material and substantial change in circumstances. This new change in the number of visitation overnights in the new Expanded Standard Possession Order is not itself a basis to file a modification suit.

Looking for Equal Possession in Child Custody? Call the Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583.

Sad mature woman against elderly man with newspaper

Gray Divorce: Middle-Aged and Senior Couples Parting Ways

August 27, 2021
Divorce

Gray Divorce and Unique Issues in Senior Divorces in Texas

Divorce in Texas is becoming more common among men and women who are 55 and older, the category often called Gray Divorce. As children leave home and start their own lives, some spouses find themselves wanting different things with their time and future. Some became like roommates over the years and neither recognize what used to be a loving marriage. And with so many couples both working in their careers, it is increasingly common to part ways with financial independence.

People are living longer and once kids are raised there are new opportunities. Being 55 years old is considered young among many, with many great years ahead. With advances in health and technology, we are living our best lives well into our middle and senior years, with all kinds of roads to travel. Some people feel inspired to reinvent themselves on their own, possibly in a new place, considering new work or volunteer positions. When the kids are well on their own, it can be time to join the gray divorcee club.

HuffPost: The 7 Differences Between Being 55 And 65

Both spouses may be working and have financial independence. Generations ago, when more families were single income-based, the stay-at-home spouse, usually the wife, might not have had been in a good position to get divorced from her husband. In modern times, women have independent careers and finances to support their current and future needs, making divorce much less worrisome.

Stigmas about divorce have changed over recent decades. In the somewhat recent past, divorce was taboo in many faiths and among members of the communities, especially in smaller towns. Today North Texas is a modern collection of cities and towns with all kinds of people. And with technology, it is easier to meet new people. As divorce has become more accepted in society, the fear of what people may think or say, becomes less of a concern.  

Spouses can drift apart and may find new partners. That which attracts people to one another can change over time. We often feel obligated to feel guilty not claiming to still love our partner the same way we did when walking down the aisle. The truth is that marriages take work and constant effort. Another truth is that people want different things over time. It may not be anyone’s fault when a marriage reaches its expiration, it just may be a matter of life.

The divorce attorneys at the Barrows Firm understand middle-aged and senior divorce issues and have the experience and resources to counsel clients on the best path to achieving divorce goals while preparing for the next chapter in life. Make a consultation appointment with Attorney Leslie Barrows and learn your rights and options.

Why Older Couples Are Divorcing, Making Gray Divorce a Thing

Expectations of marriage and marital success are changing and men and women acknowledge their happiness or lack thereof. At points in a marriage, people often ask themselves whether they accomplished their goals. If the couple falls short, why? Is someone more committed to reaching goals while another is fine to settle for less?

When the kids are raised and out of the house, some couples end up looking at each other and thinking, “Now What?” Ideally, empty nesters can re-engage in each other and spend time in activities they both enjoy. But not everyone wants to engage. And when one is holding the other back it can be time to call it quits.

Financial issues lead to gray divorce when expectations are broken, often over many years. Saving for retirement is important but some people have little to show for their financial efforts. When one is a spender and the other a saver, the arguments over the years can lead to the decision to divorce. For some, going at it alone can be easier, especially when being in control of your own money.  

Today: What Is A “Gray Divorce”? 6 Things to Know About Splitting Up Later in Life

Real Estate Issues in Gray Divorce in Texas

Many gray divorce issues focus on money, property, and future needs. Community property subject to division in divorce can include real property, money in accounts, investments, business interests, and more. The important decisions can involve whether one of the parties needs cash liquidity for their needs, versus being okay with long-term investments. Asset valuations are necessary to understand the complete financial picture, so the best decisions can be made about dividing property and assets in a way that makes sense and helps the client reach their personal goals in their gray divorce.

Making the most of your money heading towards retirement and taking a pension is crucial. Downsizing is a goal of many middle-aged and senior couples, for the benefit of saving money when no longer needing a larger space to raise children. However, it might not be the best time to sell a family home. Many couples in gray divorces are focused on their equity and assets taking them through their senior years. The focus must be on the future, and after divorce, we can control our ability to stick to the retirement plan.  

Real estate markets present many options, especially in North Texas. With rising home prices, the marital home might be worth much more, putting more cash on the table to divide. But when the inverse is true, it might be best to hold onto a home and rent it out if that makes financial sense. Deciding what to do next could involve buying a smaller property or a condo. And for many, renting makes sense, and on fixed incomes, it can be a great choice.

Health Issues Affecting Decisions to Divorce, and Future Health Concerns for Middle-Aged and Senior Divorce

Over years of marriage, some people keep their health and wellness a priority, and others let themselves go. Ongoing health conditions can keep couples from being active and enjoying life. Some people seem to age quicker than others, and it can be an issue leading to divorce.

Substance Abuse Disorder issues can affect all marriages, and cause gray divorces. With age, it is harder for many to handle substances and addiction becomes a problem. Many people have a breaking point and after the children are grown and on their own, it can be much easier to say no to someone who won’t act to get help for substance abuse.  

Future healthcare needs can impact divorce decisions for middle-aged and senior men and women considering divorce. Medications, doctor visits, and general healthcare expenses can add up as we age. Making sure we have the best options for available medical care and insurance is important. Making sure you discuss these issues with your divorce attorney is important.

Gray Divorce Rights and Options: Contact the Barrows Firm in Southlake for a Consultation (817) 481-1583

Student outside school standing smiling after changing schools

Changing Schools or Moving: Time is of the Essence

August 13, 2021
Child Custody

Changing Schools and Districts, or Moving Before the2021-2022 School Year

 

Monday, August 16 is the first day of school in many districts, including Carroll ISD, and some parents are changing schools. While most students will be back with their friends and neighbors, some students will be going to a different school this year. While current events and concerns motivated many making different school choices, many others spent the summer buying and selling homes, with historically low-interest rates and high values on Southlake area homes that made moving very appealing for some and changing schools and districts can be part of the process.

 

Meanwhile, recent school board election races were spirited and there were many issues on which parents voted and made their opinions well-known. Among the concerns of parents with primary school-aged children were health andCOVID-19 policies and protocols, as well as issues about diversity instruction and critical race theory instruction. In a divided culture, it is not a surprise that some parents wanted to pull their kids out of Carroll ISD, while others have been doing whatever they can to enroll their children in the district. Changing schools and districts is not uncommon, and parents have several options.

 

Carroll Independent School District 2021-2022 Back-to-School Information

 

Relocating into another district, working to change what district kids attend, and deciding to change from district-zoned schools to different educational options are increasingly common occurrences. Parents who are divorced and co-parenting can work together on school choice issues, or they can battle one another and fight it out in court. However, the family decides to handle school choice situations, there are policies and procedures along the way.

 

The family law attorneys at the Barrows Firm in Southlake are well-versed in school choice issues. Attorney Leslie Barrows and Attorney Amanda Roark can help parents with issues involved in changing schools, school districts, or moving before or near the beginning of the 2021-2022 school year.  

 

Education Bills Passed by the 87th Texas Legislature

 

The Texas Association of School Administrators published a recent collection of new education laws that have either been assigned by Texas Governor Greg Abbott or are awaiting signature or final adjustments. Many of the new laws that amend the Texas Education Code focus on the safety and welfare of children. New changes in education laws also expand or limit the powers of independent school districts.

 

Which Parent Has the Right to Determine Where Children Will Attend School?

 

When parents divorce in Texas there are parental rights and duties appointed to one or both parents. Parental rights are determined either by agreement of the parties in a custody lawsuit or by the Order of the Court. If both parents are joint managing conservators, they both have decision-making authority over school and educational decisions. But if one parent is the sole managing conservator, they have the sole power to make schooling decisions.

 

Importantly, one parent over the other usually has the legal right to determine the primary residence of children and that is important in figuring out which schools are options for children. In Texas, the residence of the child determines the district school system assignment. In some situations, a short move a few streets down means the children may be going to a different school district. Texas independent school districts have the authority to determine whether a child may stay in that district even despite a recent move.

 

Can Parents Change School Districts Without Moving?

 

Generally, a child must attend the school district where they reside. The school district administrators can use transfer agreements to allow students to attend school districts other than the one in which they reside. A parent asking the district to make such an allowance must present good cause as to why their son or daughter needs to be in one school district versus the other. The student’s best interests and academic performance are primary concerns. The issues over mask mandates and diversity training might not be sufficient to convince administrators to allow a district change. Larger districts with more options to move students around may be more amenable to these requests. A common request is to keep a child in the school in which they are currently enrolled despite a recent move that might be within the district or close by where it is determined an allowance is reasonable.

 

Texas Education Agency School District Locator FAQ Page

 

When Can Parents Change School Districts?

 

Assuming a parent has the legal authority to move the child to a new school district, the changes should be done before the beginning of the school year. That said, things happen in life and job changes and extraordinary circumstances can be reasons for districts to allow students to change schools and enroll in another district. These situations are handled on a case-by-case basis and parents who anticipate making changes should not wait until the process becomes more difficult. Notifying the district administrators promptly is important.

 

School Choice Week Website: Texas School Choice Roadmap

 

School Options in Texas: District-Zoned Schools, Magnet Schools, Charter Schools, and Private Schools

 

District-zoned schools are free to attend for the students who reside in the specific neighborhood or zip code. These schools are the default option for students whose parents do not otherwise request a  transfer or apply to have their children rolled in another type of Texas primary school.

 

Magnet program schools are public schools that are free to attend and offer special programs and educational curriculums such as college-preparatory, performing arts, engineering, and other focused-areas of study. Magnet schools often have waiting lists and students must apply and be accepted to these programs.

 

Charter schools are also public schools but they are not managed by local school districts, which makes them unique. While they are free to attend there may be fees for special programs. Like magnet schools, charter schools have applications for admittance and certain priority area preferences apply to students living in certain areas.

 

Private and religious schools are non-publicly funded schools and have control over their programs and educational curriculum. Private schools charge tuition and many have scholarships to which students can apply and help defer some of the costs. Interviews and testing processes are common in private schools which may also have religious affiliations.

 

Need to Change Schools or Districts? Moving? The Barrows Firm in Southlake Can Help in Negotiating with Co-Parents and Making the Best Decisions for Children and School Choice (817) 481-1583.

Foster parent with little boy in vintage style

Foster Care Parents Can Intervene in Texas CPS Cases

July 20, 2021
Adoption

Intervene in Texas CPS Cases: Foster Parents Join the Case

Foster care parents can intervene in Texas CPS cases under certain circumstances. When children are suspected to be abuse and or neglect victims, CPS (Texas Child Protective Services) steps in to investigate the situation, and when in the best interest of a child, removes the child from a parent or parents and places the child in the Texas foster care system. It is possible to start an original lawsuit as a foster parent if you have standing, meaning the legally established right as a proper person to bring the lawsuit. It is also possible to intervene in an existing case when the legal standards are satisfied.

Foster parents are not the only ones who can file a lawsuit to intervene in a Texas CPS case. A stepparent, for example, can petition to intervene in a CPS matter when the other parent is having issues causing CPS to get involved. Grandparents can also assert standing to sue for custody and visitation rights under the right circumstances. Note that not all foster parents are strangers to the children in their care; many foster parents are related to the children they seek to foster and adopt.

When CPS investigates and makes a positive finding of abuse or neglect, the professionals involved in making foster placement determinations will try to keep children with known family members and friends with whom a child has an established relationship.

See the Adoption Page with FAQs on Our Website: Adoptions in Tarrant County

At the Barrows Firm in Southlake, Attorneys Leslie Barrows and Amanda Roark, advise and represent both people seeking to intervene in Texas CPS cases, as well as those who may be on the other side, responding to another person trying to intervene in an existing CPS matter or an originally filed petition affecting a parent-child relationship and parental rights.

Steps to Become a Foster/Adoptive Parent in Texas

Standing: Will You Have a Legal Right to Intervene in a Texas CPS Case

Intervening in a Texas CPS or lawsuit affecting a parent-child relationship requires legal standing to be involved in the case or file an original lawsuit as a foster parent. Standing means that a person has a personal stake in the controversy at hand. In family law matters involving children, standing also involves the Court examining the relationship a child has with the person who wants the Court to recognize their standing to sue for rights and to adopt the child.

Parents naturally have standing to be involved in a CPS case. Established legal guardians also have the standing to intervene. A person who cannot already asset standing through a parent or guardian relationship must petition the Court to first recognize whether they have standing to get into the CPS case to foster and adopt a child.

Foster parents proving standing have two options to intervene in a Texas CPS case. First, they can file an original lawsuit as the foster parent if they can prove the child was in their placed care for at least12 months and that time is within 90 days of filing the petition to intervene. Second, standing to intervene is possible if the person filing can prove past substantial contact with the child, and prove the parent or both parents would threaten the child’s health or emotional development if those parents are joint managing conservators.

Learn More From Our Article: CPS Investigations During a Divorce

Actual Care, Control, and Possession of a Child for Determining Standing

There is a standard of proof in Texas legal decisions involving issues of standing for foster placements, conservatorship issues, and possession and access to a child. The Courts require a non-parent, non-guardian, seeking standing to show actual care, control, and possession of a child to intervene in a Texas CPS case.

Factors proving actual care, control, and possession of a child:

·        The child lived in the home with the person seeking standing, on a consistent and frequent basis, often shown by having their own space and sleeping arrangement when staying overnight.

·        The foster parent seeking standing supports the child financially, providing food, shelter, clothing, medical, and schooling expenses.

·        The individual seeking standing of the child participates in the child’s education, drives them to school, and helps them with schoolwork and extracurricular activities.

Based on the circumstances, there are all kinds of possible situations to show the foster parent or individual seeking standing to become a foster parent or adopt, can show their actual care, control, and possession of the child involved in the CPS matter.

Attorney Leslie Barrows Speaks on a Podcast: Adoption Laws and Procedures in Texas with Attorney Leslie Barrows

Responding to Another Trying to Intervene in a Texas CPS Case

When talking about parental rights, it is important to always consider the importance of mothers and fathers being involved in the lives of their children. To remove children into foster care, and to terminate the parental rights of a parent are significant events. As a family law attorney working with all kinds of Texas CPS cases, there are so many situations that an outside person really cannot understand, not walking in the shoes of another. And defending the rights of a parent is something that should also be taken very seriously.

The Barrows Firm family attorneys are experienced and aggressive when necessary to help clients win. And we hope we must work hard to prove the alleged facts and law that applies in every case involving a child and their best interests. And whatever side on which we are representing someone, we expect a proper legal procedure and application of the law to the facts in every situation. At the end of the day, only the family and people directly involved in peoples’ lives can understand complex family relationships and dynamics. That said, we do all we can to protect natural parents, foster parents, and children.

To Intervene in Texas CPS Cases and to Learn About Adopting Foster Children with the Barrows Firm in Southlake, Call to Schedule a Consultation Today (817) 481-1583

parents and daughter celebrating graduation

Terminating Child Support in Texas

June 17, 2021
Child Support

How to Terminate Child Support Obligations when Children Becomes of Age or Graduates

Child support in Texas can be straightforward and follow the guidelines, and be easily collected and distributed until the child either turns 18 or graduates from high school at which time it is proper to terminate child support in Texas. The child support order, withholding, and payment systems make paying and receiving support easy. However, some people make their arrangements outside of the Court system, and if there is a co-parenting or personal breakdown of relationships, it becomes necessary to address child support duties with a lawyer, in Court. At a hearing to set current support or calculate retroactive support and past due arrears, a judge can make a ruling, or the co-parents can enter into an agreement to be presented to the Court to become an order.  

Terminating child support obligations is not automatic. While the obligation to pay may naturally terminate on the date of the child turning 18 or graduating from high school, there is still a Court procedure to terminate support obligations and make plans to settle on the payments any amounts outstanding.  At the Barrows Firm in Southlake, our Texas family law attorneys work with clients who need to go to court to terminate child support obligations. And in most cases, this is an easy process, but sometimes there are issues and some amount of payments for past-due support are ordered.

Barrows Firm attorneys work with returning clients as well as new parents who just need to terminate child support. We can represent parents with these needs in the Court that retains jurisdiction over their original family law case where child support was originally ordered. Some people have moved to DFW from other areas and other states where support orders were originally entered and we help with all of those processes and procedures.  

Got COVID-19-related Income Issues? See our recent article, COVID-19 Child Support Issues, and Options

About Texas Child Support Withholding Orders and Payments

Child support in Texas is calculated based on a percentage of the average monthly net resources of the noncustodial parent and the number of children for whom the custodial parent receives child support payments. Child support is ordered for the benefit of the child and their general, medical, and dental needs and expensive. When the Court orders child support to be paid, the judge uses a Child Support Income Withholding Order that is sent to the employer of the parent paying support. The among of child support is withheld from that obligor’s paycheck and is sent to the Texas Attorney General Child Support to Division for direct distribution to the parent receiving support. Texas family attorneys like Leslie Barrows and Amanda Roark, advise and represent their clients in the process of setting correct child support amounts in divorce and family law cases where child support is an issue.  

When Can Child Support Payments be Terminated in Texas?

The Texas Family Code determines when the duty to pay child support ends. The noncustodial parent paying child support is responsible for payments until the child turns 18 years old or graduates from high school unless there is another agreement in writing and ordered by the court that uses different dates to terminate support.

While reaching adulthood and graduation from high school are the two most common grounds for terminating child support, there are other reasons child support payments can be terminated in Texas law. Additional grounds are the marriage or death of a child, or the removal of disabilities if the child is or was found to have disabilities. The Code also provides for child support termination if the child enlists in the armed forces. And in cases that genetic testing proves the obligor is not the child’s genetic father, the obligation to pay support is terminated.  

Search Our Texas Divorce and Family Law Blog by Keyword and Category for Important Topics

How to Stop Child Support Payments in Texas? It Is Not Automatic.

When a child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school, contact the family law firm to begin the procedure to terminate child support payments. Just because the obligation “terminates” upon a qualifying event, that termination needs to be done legally, through the Court, to stop the income withholding. The payments for child support obligations are collected by the Texas Office of the Attorney General Child Support Division. The attorney files a Petition to Terminate Withholding for Child Support and serves the filed copies of the same with the other parent.  

At a hearing on the petition to terminate child support, the Court will review the status of child support payments and order the employer to terminate withholding for support. Assuming that the child support payments are current, and it is verified that the child reached the age of 18 or graduated from high school, the payment obligation ends. However, there may be back owed past-due child support obligations and those arrearages must be addressed.  

What Happens with Past Due Child Support, Arrears, Interest, and Retroactive Support

Texas child support law states that the Court has the power and authority to take enforcement action for any back child support still owed. The past-due amounts are called arrears. At a hearing to terminate child support, the Court will likely order the arrears to be paid. If the current child support withholding order includes an amount paid monthly towards arrears, that amount may continue, or it could be increased to catch up quickly and become current. The incentive for a child support obligor to pay support on time is the interest that accrues on missed child support payments, at the rate of six percent.  

Retroactive support can be ordered by the Court if the parent had not previously been ordered to pay support or was not a party to the suit in which child support was calculated and ordered. There are all kinds of reasons that child support payments were not set and ordered. There are times that unmarried parents make informal, direct payments, and have different arrangements from what they could expect by going through court. In some situations where there is a dispute about the amount paid in child support in determining arrears and retroactive support, there might be an overpayment in which case the obligor could ask the court for an order to return support monies and attorney’s fees if appropriate.  

With Questions About Child Support Orders, Obligations, and to Terminate Child Support in Texas, Call the Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583

Sign up for our newsletter!

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.