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Child Support Modifications 2023

New Year, New Child Support Modification Case: Substantial Changes in Circumstance

January 19, 2023
Child Support

A New Year, A New Child Support Modification Case When There is a Substantial Change in Circumstances

2023 is expected by many to be a year of change and new pursuits, and for parents with child support, the new year may be time for anew child support modification case. Child support orders are fixed in the amount and duration of payments, and it is necessary to file a new case to get a new order if there has been a substantial change in circumstances, making your case eligible for modification and new support and withholding orders.  

The Logistics of Paying Child Support and Modifying the Amounts with Material and Substantial Changes in Circumstances

In Texas, initial child support orders are part of the Temporary Orders issued shortly after the divorce or custody case begins, and those are the first court orders that direct who goes where and who pays for what, including temporary child support. When the Court orders a child support obligor to make child support payments for a child, originally, or in a modification, there is usually a withholding order by the Court, directed to the payroll department of an employer to withhold the money to be collected and processed for distribution by the Texas Attorney General Child Support Division. There are many ways to pay child support in addition to wage withholding, as indicated on the Child Support Division’s website.

The parent or guardian receiving child support funds can do so through direct deposit to their bank or a Texas Payment Card issued by the Child Support Division. Depending on the Court’s order, the payments are received bi-weekly or monthly, in a lump sum.  

To qualify for a modification to Court ordered child support, the petitioner filing the new lawsuit requesting the modification has the burden of proving that there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances, required to qualify for a modification.

Call Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake to learn your rights and options in a new child support modification case. (817) 481-1583. Search for answers to more questions on our blog, searchable by category and keyword.

Child Support Guidelines and Statutory Increases

When the Court originally calculates child support and subsequently calculates a new child support amount in a child support modification case, the Texas Family Code’s child support guidelines are applied in most cases, unless there is a trial otherwise or the parties reach an agreement. The percentages of income used for support would only change if there are more or fewer children to be supported.

What may be different are the current income of the support obligor, and a change in the child support cap, the maximum amount of support to be ordered. The calculation process for child support, determines the net resources available for child support payments, considering earnings less standard deductions.

Maximum Amount of Child Support Obligation

Highly compensated child support obligors are liable for child support payments up and to a maximum ceiling amount, and that number is adjusted during Texas legislative sessions every six years, tracking inflation rates. In 2013 the maximum rate was capped at $8,550 monthly, which increased from $7,500. Next, in 2019, the adopted increased maximum rate became $9,220.

With the percentage of a payment obligation, there can be rare circumstances where Courts have ordered 20 percent plus an additional 5percent for each additional child. Depending on what is going on in your life and your children’s circumstances, the obligations can be addressed in your new child support modification case.

Child Support Modifications are New Lawsuits

Like the original lawsuit needed to be reviewed, signed, filed, and served upon the other party, so does a new child support modification case because it is a new lawsuit with the same people, but seeking a new child support order. The parties exchange discovery and have the opportunity to examine and exchange financial information and other relevant records and testimony in hearings and at trial. And while many modifications are settled by agreement of the parties, others have trials to determine new amounts. Be prepared, knowing this is more than just a casual trip to the courthouse.

Note the court with continuing, exclusive jurisdiction may modify an order that provides for child support, and it is not possible to appear before a new Court.

Eligibility for a Suit to Modify Child Support, a Material and Substantial Change in Circumstances

The grounds for modification of child support require either the proving of a material and substantial change in circumstances of the child or the person affectedby the child support order or when three years have passed and the child support award differs by 20 percent or $100 from the amount that would be awarded under the child support guidelines.

What some believe qualifies for an increase in support, may not be qualifying factors, such as the obligor having been voluntarily paying more than the required amount. Likewise, the income of a new spouse or the change in the standard of living of the obligor does not trigger an increase in the obligor’s child support obligation.

A New Child Support Modification of an Order Issued by Another State

Many who moved to Texas have child support orders issued by other states. Unless both parties and the child reside in Texas, a Texas court may not have jurisdiction to enter a new child support order. If everyone is here in Texas, the parties may petition a Texas Court to register that other state’s order here in Texas.

A Change in Physical Possession and a New Child Support Modification

The order for support for a child can be modified by a new order if the person has possession of the child for at least six months of the year. This may happen where the parent who is a sole-managing conservator or the joint-managing conservator with the right to choose possession, voluntarily relinquishes primary care and possession of the child, is sentenced for 90 days or more in jail, or otherwise relinquishes the care of the child in other circumstances.

With Issues and in Need of a New Child Support Modification, Contact the Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583

client meeting with lawyer

New Year, New Beginnings: January is Divorce Month

January 11, 2023
Divorce

New Year, New Beginnings: January is Divorce Month

“Never underestimate the power you have to take your life in a new direction.” – Germany Kent, one of the many New Year, New Beginnings quotes we can frame on a wall or put on a coffee cup. And while it may sound cliché, when we clear our minds and focus on the meaning of these inspirational quotes and how they can apply to us, we should feel empowered. The biggest obstacle to self-improvement is oneself and one’s fear of change. It is easier to tell ourselves we cannot do something than it is to tell ourselves we can do everything. It is like we are programmed for humility and staying in our place, but when we break through and have zero fear or insecurities, we can surprise ourselves.

 

Southlake divorce and family law attorney, Leslie Barrows, is often asked when and how it’s the best time and plan to get a divorce started. The answers are easier for some but for others, something happened that makes the matters urgent, and they need an aggressive attorney and advocate for their family.

 

Divorce cases filed in January outpace the busiest and hardest working court clerks because there are so many divorce and parentage cases filed in January. Why is January such a popular month for divorce? Were the holidays a significant factor in deciding to file? As many factors are weighing in one’s decision to file, there are good reasons January is a great time to get things going.

 

Get Answers to Frequent Texas Divorce Questions on our Blog

 

Psychology Today: 4 Expert Tips on Emotionally Preparing for Divorce

 

The Holidays Affect the Decision to Proceed with a Divorce in January

 

Christmas and New Year are the tests of patience for many folks in bad marriages, who need to file for divorce. The holidays and all the culture and events that come with them put people in good moods and they give us greater hope for the goodness in people until they don’t.

 

Talking to people and asking how their holidays were can be interesting when you know people in bad situations, and there are common stories people tell about why they are just done, and it’s time to get a divorce. Contrary to popular opinion, most people do try to fix broken relationships and get advice on how to work on saving a marriage. But sometimes all that effort just cannot repair something that is broken beyond the salvation point.

 

Got Questions About Mediation? See Our Page on Mediation in Texas

 

Back to School After Winter Break Gives Parents Time to Work on Divorce

 

January is a good time to get to work on divorce because there is not as much less on the calendar than in other busier months. When the kids go back to school, they are in fewer sports and activities than during the warmer months, and there are usually no big trips planned until Spring, so there are fewer distractions in January, making it easier to keep your mind focused on getting financial documents ready for your lawyers and working on discovery responses, and getting ready for your temporary orders hearing.

 

Before filing for divorce, a parent should think about their kids and school schedules. Know that changing where the kids are going to be and with which parent can be frustrating. If there is going to be an adjustment period, it might as well be something to get over with during the slower winter months.

 

The New Year is About New Beginnings Focusing on Work and Business Income

 

“I am doing what I want, and you can’t stop me,” some can say when it comes to making work and business decisions when they are in the driver's seat. Be mindful of any temporary orders and standing orders that affect work decisions, but otherwise take that opportunity and know that only you can write the next chapters in your life.

 

Indeed is a great place to jump-start your career and January is a great time to fill out your Indeed profile and adjust your settings to be open to receiving exciting career opportunities!

 

Controlling spouses often end up in a divorce case when the bullied spouse simply cannot take it anymore and they see an exit ramp from the marriage. It is common to hear a spouse talk about not being able to take advantage of opportunities because it disagreed with what their spouse wanted them to do, often including spending more time focused on family and the home. Then, when they file for divorce, people find their freedom and love being able to be their best.

 

Getting a Divorce Moving Before Spring Break is a Great Reason to File in January 9, 2023

 

Spring Break is a great motivator and you can use it as a goal to get through the busy part of starting a divorce and getting your ducks in a row. Not long after your divorce case is filed, your family lawyers at the Barrows Firm can get a Temporary Orders Hearing on the Court’s calendar, which determines who goes where and who pays for what during the divorce. In many cases and when kids are younger, the standard custody and visitation orders work just fine and they set in place where the kids go during holidays and spring break.

 

Check out the VRBO information and tempting article, Where to go for spring break in Texas.

 

The advantage of filing for divorce in January is being able to get in front of a judge for the Temporary Orders before Spring Break and Easter, so there is less to argue about, with an order in place that gives everyone a sense of certainty in an uncertain time of life.

 

Another Reason January is a Popular Time is That Outdated Possession Schedules Failed Over Christmas and New Years

 

A modification case or enforcement action is necessary when the current orders are not working anymore. Remember, co-parents, are not usually mandated to stick to the possession schedules and can trade time back and forth as they can agree. But, when being nice, sometimes the other abuses that grace and it is necessary to stick to the Court Ordered arrangements. And when those don’t work anymore it is time to get new orders or get the Court to help by enforcement of the existing orders.

 

Holiday schedules and busy family plans can test whether your current situation is still working when it comes to co-parenting and holiday custody and visitation issues. You know when it is time to make a change and what rises to the level of taking action in Court and through agreements.

 

New Years and New Beginnings Are Yours For the Taking, and When That Means Divorce, Call the Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583

End of Year Estate Planning

End-of-Year Estate Planning: Specific Reasons to Update Your Estate Plan

December 27, 2022
Estate Planning

End-of-Year Estate Planning for All and to Everyone a Happy New Year!

The Christmas Season and New Year Holiday visiting means we get to catch up with family and chart our progress and among our list of things to discuss is end-of-year estate planning. The holiday season is when we remember and talk about people who have passed on and we cherish the memories we made. We also look around and celebrate the time we have with family and friends alive and well in our lives, what an amazing treasure life can be.

Even if you do not talk about all the points we raise in this short article, move the ball forward and feel good about that. Too many people wait until it is too late and end up not being able to communicate. At the Barrows Firm in Southlake, Estate Planning Attorney Leslie Barrows and her team help people create end-of-year estate planning that makes sense for everyone and provides peace of mind so you and your family can focus on creating and capturing memories and stories to live on.

Being prepared for situations you cannot personally handle because of temporary sickness, hospitalization, surgeries, or death, means your family and friends are considered in your absence. For your benefit and the benefit of others around you, it is good to not leave anyone in the lurch if the situation should arise. New Year's Eve is coming up, are you ready and prepared? What about your family? If you were unconscious and needed surgical decisions made, who has the legal authority to do so? If you cannot answer that question, and the person who would be asked does not know either, there is still work to do.

Specific Reasons to Update Your Estate Plan:

1.       Marriage: You or a family member like your parent gets married for the first time or next time and they need to add their new spouse to their will, trust, beneficiary designations, and power of attorney documents.

2.       Divorce: Just like a marriage, a divorce changes things and who we want to be listed on our estate planning documents, especially our living trust and life care documents.

3.       New Baby Born: Whenever you have named children in legal documents and there is a newly born child, it is important to make updates to estate plans, and it gives opportunities to consider anything else that is happening that requires an update.

4.       Adopted Children: Foster parents adopting children forever is a wonderful moment and a cause to update estate plans and ensure that adopted children are named and included.

5.       Moving: Whether you are the one moving, or a family member is moving, there can be a reason to change your plans based on logistics and what makes sense for everyone in your family. It is common for families to plan on living with aging relatives to provide care, and that might warrant some additional estate planning considerations.

6.       Extended Family: If one of your children marries, divorces, or has some significant life event that affects the family, it is appropriate to update wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents accordingly. Life happens and people can change.

7.       Retirement: We spend time planning for retirement and when it happens, the circumstances around us can be different from what we expected. When celebrating retirement, remember to make necessary end-of-year estate planning updates as well.

U.S. News: 10 Ways to Celebrate Your Retirement

Taking Time to Talk to Family About Wills, Trusts, and Power of Attorney Issues

When mom decides that the eldest son is no longer the be stone to be the executor of her will, she thinks it makes sense to appoint the son who lives closest. But when mom thought about her healthcare power of attorney, she made no changes. If a mom fails to communicate her intentions to her children, they could face unnecessary problems and conflict over what the mom wanted. While mom is alive and well, she should tell her kids what her plans are so there are no surprises later.

Does mom need to discuss every detail about her intentions? Certainly not. If mom wants to give more to one or the other, she may want to keep that information private for the rest of her life. We never know until some pass along that their last will and testament is different from what was expected and that is simply part of life.

Discussing Where Aging Parents Plan to Live During their More Dependent Years

Part of end-of-year estate planning and growing up is becoming a caretaker for elders and parents who once cared for your every need. Everyone’s situation is different and if you think you can prepare for all life’s twists and turns, you might face all kinds of surprises. Especially if aging parents are still living in their family home, they might need some extra help now and then. Keep an eye on things and keep an open dialogue about how things are going and when mom or dad needs too much help it may be time to move to a new place better suited to give that help. Alternatively, home health options and family moving in or spending more time there might be the answer.

Plan to keep working a little on the side? That’s common because people like being productive: Learn more from Ameriprise Financial about Working in retirement.

The sooner people have these difficult discussions, the better they are prepared to relate back later and recall what was discussed and whether those plans still stand. Be sensitive to aging people who have lived proud independent lives, and who might find it upsetting to need help. Be kind and patient. The days you now perceive as difficult will soon be missed.

The Role of the Executor and Sharing Estate Planning Intentions with Family and Interested Persons

Appointing an executor is important and it is something that can change. Making an estate plan is like any other plan, it can change. And when it makes sense to do something one way at one point in time, is something that should be changed if the circumstances become significantly different. If your eldest child is your executor and he or she moves across the country, it might be necessary to change your will and estate planning documents to reflect another closer-living child or designated representative to serve in that role, when appropriate.

Updating Estate Planning as Part of End-of-Year Personal Business

Consider additional changes in life circumstances that affect not only wills and trusts but also the power of attorney documents for healthcare and business purposes. Consider the named beneficiaries of insurance policies and bank accounts.

Learn more on our website: Becoming Executor of a Family Member’s Estate: Avoiding Will Contests and Litigation in the Future

Buying Cemetery Property Now or Later: Planning for a Future Burial

If your family has not made plans for funerals and burial, now is the time. Planning now for peace of mind is the focus at North Texas Slay Memorial Funeral Home. Their website section on how to plan ahead helps families discuss and take action. Financial planning should include paying for funerals, burials, monuments, cremation, and other services for the family when your loved one passes.

End-of-year estate planning and financial planning for families can give everyone peace of mind knowing exactly where services will beheld and where final resting places will be. There might also be a previously purchased funeral property that might need to be changed if people now have different plans, such as no longer wanting to be buried and desiring to sell currently owned cemetery plots.

For referrals to end-of-life professionals for funeral services and other family business services, the Barrows Firm can offer great referrals all over North Texas and the Southlake area.

Make an Appointment for End-of-Year Estate Planning at the Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583

Joyful mother and daughter laughing on Christmas day at home

Top 5 Christmas and Holiday Visitation Tips for Parents

December 12, 2022
Child Custody

Christmas and Holiday Visitation Tips for Parents who Want Successful Holidays

 

Goals for the rest of December and early January should include some level of peace and tranquility during Christmas and holiday visitation, so families can get along and make lasting memories. Children grow up quickly and before we know it, they are off to lead their own lives. As parents, we have a limited number of Christmas and holiday seasons with our kids to take family photos, share stories, and experiences, and appreciate one another. Even during the acrimonious time of divorce and child custody suits, we must find a way to get along and for a while, put on a smile and enjoy the joys of the season.

 

Being proactive is important and so is communicating well with co-parents. Know what your court order says about holiday possession and where the kids are supposed to be. If you know of a conflict, say something early to figure out a solution to avoid disagreements. Kids will be getting out of school with early dismissals and more options to juggle parenting time. When it’s necessary and there is no other agreement among co-parents, refer to the Standard Possession Order (SPO) which is the basis of your custody and parenting plans.

 

Sometimes we find the plans that used to work just fine are no longer workable for everyone involved and that is a normal thing that happens as families grow. At the Barrows Firm in Southlake, Attorney Leslie Barrows and her team, work with families who need to modify or enforce their existing court orders, much of which can be done through agreements or contested hearings and trials if necessary. Remember to always put the best interests of children first and foremost. They only have one shot at growing up with a happy childhood.

 

Top 5 Tips for Peace and Tranquility with Christmas and Holiday Visitation:

 

Please follow our “Top 5 Tips” and be ready to celebrate Christmas and the holiday season with your family and friends, making loving memories. If anything goes wrong, take good notes!

1.      Check Your Holiday Possession Schedules and Court Orders

Court orders regarding Christmas custody usually follow the standard holiday visitation used in the widely used Standard Possession Order, giving parents alternating major holidays. There are also custom parenting plans that follow some of the standard order and have additional custom arrangements for parenting time, including Christmas visitation. These custom orders often address special concerns such as international travel and any conditions of travel and with whom the children will be spending the holidays.

 

USState Department: InternationalTravel and Tips to Prevent an Abduction from Occurring

 

Forexample, a custom court order and parenting plan might include language thatsays no significant others shall attend holiday events without the expresswritten consent of the other parent. And while some co-parents use specific parentingplans, others just wing it and fall back on their court-ordered custody plansonly when necessary, or when there is a conflict. Conflicts often arise whenthings have been going smoothly and one of the parties introduces new peopleinto the mix, and that often stirs up issues and drama. How we deal with surprisescan set the tone for future situations.

2.      Standard Possession Orders for Christmas 2022

Co-parents using an SPO for Christmas custody should be prepared for the kids to go with the non-custodial parents this year because 2022 is an even-numbered year with Christmas possession beginning at 6 p.m. the day school is dismissed for Christmas vacation, and visitation continues through the Christmas holiday until Noon, on December 28, 2022.

 

On Even years when the parent with possession and access has the kids over Christmas, the primary parent should have had the kids on Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve, when following the SPO. If there is some sort of hiccup in scheduling and planning busy schedules, do not delay in asking the other parent or any others involved to adjust schedules and plans before things get underway. Be nice and trade a day or two here or there to accommodate if possible.

3.      Early School Dismissals Affecting Work Schedules and Parenting Time

If this paragraph applies to you, please open a new browser tab, and google when your kids’ schools are dismissing them early. In Texas, early dismissal happens the week before Christmas break and the kids only go for half days. Here, in the Southlake area Carroll ISD Christmas early dismissal days are December 16and 17. Some schools only dismiss early on the Thursday and Friday before Christmas break, while others dismiss early on additional days, like Denton ISD where the kids are out early December 13-16.

 

Entertainment Calendar: Dallas Kids Out and About

 

Is early release from school going to be a problem for picking up the kids, arranging childcare if necessary, or adjusting your work schedule? We are all busy this time of year but the sooner we catch these schedule conflicts the better we can adjust and make a deal to get everyone where they need to be to enjoy Christmas and the holidays without animosity because someone is fighting over parenting time, pick-ups, and drop-offs.

4.      Addressing Disagreements Over Holiday Visitation and Family Plans

Is it worth calling your lawyer and going to court? It might be. If you need court intervention, now is the time or your judge may be unavailable and unimpressed by the late objection to holiday visitation plans. If for some reason you anticipate a problem, or the co-parenting situation feels stressed, make good notes of communication, and be prepared to play your best hand if necessary.

 

Common disruptions to plans include new family members and those who are scarcely available due to travel, age, and situation. If this might be the last year grandmother can fly to Texas for Christmas from out of state, and everyone is going to be there for a related family celebration like an engagement or wedding, it might be worth a contested court hearing to make it happen. Concerns for international travel, health, and medical safety are also frequent reasons parents seek court intervention over the holidays.

5.      Make it Nice for the Children and Consider Their Best Interests First

If you have reduced bandwidth for bad behavior and drama, and things are beginning to boil, the Barrows Firm can help get things simmered down to avoid a full holiday meltdown. Being reasonable is something expected in reasonable situations. What is reasonable might be subjective depending on family dynamics, but know that if a battle ensues, your definition of “reasonable” is subject to holiday scrutiny.

 

Resource Article: Putting Others First is Healthy if You Do it the Right Way

 

Make it nice for the children and don’t let them see you stress or fight with the other parent. Keep your cool and be a good Mr. or Mrs. Santa and keep that Christmas smile, especially around your kids, even if you think you are going to spin off the planet, because just before you know it, New Year's Day will be here, and2023 will surely entertain us with new reasons we can joke about turning the clock back. Again, be nice and always consider the best interests of children first and foremost because they will look back on their childhood holidays for the rest of their lives, and you are responsible for making these holidays memorable, hopefully in the best ways possible.

 

Call the Barrows Firm for Christmas and Holiday Visitation Help at (817)481-1583

Estate Planning

Estate Planning and Adopting the Child of a Relative

November 17, 2022
Estate Planning

Estate Planning is Necessary When Adopting the Child of a Relative in Texas

If a relative has a child and they cannot perform their parental duties and there is no other parent, a relative is often the next best choice in adopting the child of a relative, and in this article, we focus on estate planning. Because Texas laws regarding wills, trusts, and estates follow state laws regarding parental rights, it is necessary to establish the adoptive rights of a relative no longer in the care of the natural parents. When the adoption takes place it is important to take action on proper estate planning to protect the best interests of the child.

The relative adopting the child of another family member can include that adopted child along with any natural-born children, in their wills, estate plans, and power of attorney and healthcare directives and documents.

Estate Planning Attorney Leslie Barrows works with families in the adoption and estate planning processes to protect families in Southlake and all over DFW.

Find more articles in the adoption section of the Barrows Firm blog!

Estate Planning Tools for Relative Adoptions

The goal of estate planning is to pass along assets, money, and property to family members directly without being directed through the formal court processes and procedures, being taxed along the way. One way to pass along ownership to another is to own things jointly, which often requires a legal document to establish. It is common to add people as named owners on joint bank accounts, for example, and when one passes, the other assumes full ownership without any additional operation of law.

Tools for planning to pass along wealth include trusts and wills. Put money aside in a trust for the benefit of children’s education, including newly adopted relative children. Assign a trustee who can make good decisions and protect everyone from making short-sighted decisions with money.

Estate planning tools for relative adoptions also include important healthcare and business directives and powers of attorney so that one family member can make decisions on behalf of another if the original is temporarily incapacitated or unavailable, such as in the case of surgery requiring anesthesia. Additionally, titling and registering vehicles when children are away at school is another example of when a power of attorney is useful.

Adopting Children and Welcoming Them Among Family

Building strong and loving families is a challenge. Parents and children experience new additions to families in their ways. Young kids sometimes get jealous when mom has another baby and the attention focus shifts. As children learn new roles and carve out their independence and individualism, everyone grows together, yes the family grows as a collective sum of its members.

Learn more about placing children for adoption, and adopting at the Fort Worth Gladney Center for Adoption

Therefore, adding the next child who may be an adopted child, should be no different than the new baby scenario. However, things are unique when the new baby isn’t a baby and is already part of the family as a relative. Can it all be somewhat confusing? Yes. At the end of the day does everyone love each other and is that the most important thing? Yes again.

Wills and Trusts Serving the Needs and Desires of Families

Providing money and security for the future and the best interests of family members is the objective of will and trust plans for growing families. The needs and desires of people change over time as circumstances also change, some of which are out of our control. While we may desire to safeguard money to provide for college education, a child’s life path might be different, and they could have different needs that do not include higher education expenses. Therefore, it becomes important to set up wills and trusts to serve the needs and desires of families with flexibility and proper judgment, and guidance.

The best interests of adopted relative children are furthered by naming them as takers in a will that must be updated to include a newly adopted child that is not otherwise assumed to be an heir. Always make sure every estate planning document is reviewed to determine if it needs to be amended to include any later-born or adopted children.

Including Adopted Special Needs Children in Estate Planning

In certain circumstances, parents do not maintain parental rights of special needs children and relatives end up adopting the child with special needs. Estate plans can include a special needs trust that covers the direction and control of money provided for the care of special needs trustees. When caretakers are adopted relatives, they can operate as special needs trustees over the funds received from public or private funding sources that cover the additional costs and needs families may incur when they have natural and adopted young and adult children with special needs.

Read our related article, Divorce with Adult Special Needs Children

Avoid Conflicts Among Grandparents and Relatives

Grandparents have special relationships with their grandchildren and that should not be disrupted by the process of adoption and estate planning. If the grandparents are on the father’s side and the mother is the one who is no longer going to be the primary parent, and a relative adoption is in place, it is important to consider the other set of grandparents on the birth father’s side.

Finding ways to include and facilitate a family role for everyone is a great challenge to have, especially when there are so many children with fewer family members in their lives. When avoiding conflicts, we can look at ways to include people as decision-makers and providers, without creating a situation where anyone is going to be in direct conflict with one another.

Whether and How to Best Notify Family Members of Estate Plans and Intentions

Every family is different and knows what is expected. Parents in the control and direction of their children, natural born and adopted, should be recognized as primary decision makers with good intentions. Even if we question the intentions of others in our extended families, we should appreciate boundaries and when to hold the line and not cross it.

What to say: 8 Better Ways to Deliver Good News to a Loved One

When parents notify family members of things that happen, they include others, implicitly recognizing their importance as people who receive key information about the family. Sometimes the very mention that, for example, you adjusted your wills, trusts, and power of attorney documents is helpful to signify to other family members that you cared enough to tell them. Sometimes they just want to know they are thought of and included. People all have some level of concern that their other family approves of them, and it is just that easy to let someone know you care.

Talk to Attorney Leslie Barrows about ideas on how to talk to family members and present sensitive information in a way that everyone can appreciate the process and feel good about reducing uncertainty. And it doesn’t mean you have to spill all the tea, just let them know it’s taken care of.

Estate Planning and Adopting the Child of a Relative: Get More Information at the Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583

lack of intimacy

Lack of Intimacy and Divorce: Major Life Events and Lifestyle Changes

November 9, 2022
Divorce

Lack of Intimacy and Divorce: Arising Out of Major Life Events and Lifestyle Changes

Lack of intimacy and divorce are problems for people experiencing major life events and lifestyle changes that challenge their status quo. Major life events and stressors can disrupt people. When some people can adapt and function well, other people might stop and consider changing paths over a lack of intimacy and divorce.

Without adding negative judgment or stigma, people can accept that life can change, and people can change. Whether we are flexible and self-aware to the point we can adapt when major life changes disrupt intimacy and marriage.

Health: 7 Life Events That Can Lead to Divorce

Can lack of intimacy be fixed? Of course! There are plenty of times that we need time to ourselves to adapt to life and we might be less intimate. Or there could be a direct problem we have with ourselves or our partner that runs deep and needs addressing. Every marriage is unique and unpacking stress from life and busy families can help or hurt situations. Sometimes we start waking up to the reality that we are different people and it change is overdue.

See our article: Divorcing a Gambling Addict: All Bets are Off

When intimacy problems are beyond repair and the marriage relationship is over, divorce can be amicable or challenging. At the Barrows Firm in Southlake, Leslie Barrows is an experienced and, when necessary, aggressive family law trial lawyer with the right strategy and team for winning results when it matters most.

Major Events and Lifestyle Changes Affecting Intimacy in Marriage and Lead to Divorce

Families experiencing a new birth, marriage, divorce, or death in the family are usually operating under significant stress. People are on their toes and full of emotions with hyper-awareness of themselves and others getting used to a major life event. Sometimes major events are planned, and everyone has been building with anticipation, and other times big changes come out of nowhere and nobody is prepared. Unexpected lifestyle changes and trauma affect intimacy in marriage and lead to divorce.

Psychology Today: Are You Missing Intimacy? Discover Why and What It Requires

Trauma triggers different emotions in people and intimacy in a marriage can easily be interrupted. When someone doesn’t feel safe, they might reach out more, and some shut off and become withdrawn. While taking time to heal and be alone, all sorts of thoughts and emotions may lead people to confusion about what they want and where they are in life. The last thing anyone should do is try to force another to feel a certain way, if at all.

Job changes and contested financial problems can lead to intimacy problems. One spouse could be mad at the other over small things that become bigger problems over time. When one spouse is a saver and the other a spender, fights erupt when there’s a financial emergency and stress over money. Is it all about the money? Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no.

When Children Move Away, Empty Nesters Have Different Responses

What now? When raising children your every moment seems spent focused on others until one day it appears you have time and space to yourself again. When one thinks intimacy may no longer be a concern, it maybe come a major concern for different reasons.

Psycom: The Psychology of Divorce and the Pursuit of Happiness

How do we adjust when we are no longer required to live in the role of parent from day to day? The empty nest experience can also cause people to stop and consider their age and health. Do they like what they see in the mirror or do they want to make some personal changes?

When living with your spouse and operating in a parent role for so many years, it can be easy to become more like roommates and coworkers than lovers. When the spark is not there, and the spark is difficult to reignite, intimacy problems create emotions and anxiety with one or both partners.

Health and New Lifestyles Impacting Intimacy

Especially in recent years, we are increasingly aware of the importance of good health and fitness for longevity and disease prevention. When people decide to change some habits and get healthy, they may realize a few unintended consequences that affect relationships with others, affecting intimacy and sometimes leading to divorce. If for example, one spouse makes significant changes to diet and habits, the other may be left behind. The new healthy lifestyle choices may not be in favor of the other spouse, so they decide to engage in different activities. It all seems fine and well until they start figuring out that some of the vices in common were more instrumental to the relationship than anticipated.

Is alcohol a problem? Read our article: Court-Ordered Alcohol Testing: Soberlink and EtG Testing

When new sobriety is a lifestyle change, the new life new lease on life one finds, might not include their partner, especially when they realize they were more drinking buddies than anything else. Among various substance users who quit, a common underpinning theme is figuring out why they were using substances to the point of addiction. And when figuring out the underlying problems, intimacy with our partners can suffer.

Waking Up to a Midlife Epiphany

At times we spend more time reflecting on ourselves and our lives. Sometimes when we question whether we are truly happy, we feel bored or anxious. A sense of wanderlust can develop in life. The list of things we wish we would have done when we were younger starts to pop up more frequently.

Often with empty nesters wanderlust can emerge, tempting people to try new things, live in new places, and do different things to earn money or spend their time and resources. Life is short and even though it might not have been in our plans, we never know when that day will come, we just need to make a change. And it is important to note that needing change does not always mean that we no longer love our spouse or need them in our lives, maybe we just no longer need to be married.

Lack of Intimacy Leads to Cheating

When your spouse does not appear interested, we might be more inclined to feel appreciated by someone who is interested and finds us attractive. Sometimes major events and lifestyle changes that disrupt intimacy can lead to an emotional affair, where nothing physical happens, but romantic feelings can develop. And even if temporary or a short-term fling, the very intention of cheating is enough for some to put thoughts in motion that lead to the outcome that it is time to end the marital partnership.

Some theorize that people who cheat want to get caught. Maybe it is easier to get caught cheating than to admit you are no longer interested in being intimate with your spouse. As noted earlier, the pursuit of attention from others can be what someone is looking for when they stray, and they never physically engage with another. However, as many agree, the effort, feelings, and intention that goes on with a romantic affair can be just as damaging and lead to a lack of intimacy and divorce.

Lack of Intimacy and Divorce Questions? Talk to the Family Lawyers at Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Verbal and Emotional Abuse in Texas Divorce and Family Law

October 27, 2022
Divorce

Verbal and Emotional Abuse: Mistakes to Avoid in Texas Divorce and Custody Cases

Experienced Texas divorce and custody lawyers will tell you that they are used to seeing good people going through some of the most challenging experiences in their lives. When people say they are not usually this upset, or the things said about them are untrue or out of character, we understand the human condition and focus on balancing humanity and well-being with the legal process of a Texas divorce or child custody case. When it comes to matters of the heart, expect everything to be played to win. But when verbal and emotional abuse is alleged and found, things change quickly, and the effects can be long-lasting.

Especially in situations involving domestic and family violence, people rely on our civil courts and judges to help us with Temporary Orders, Orders of Protection, and relief often including exclusive possession of the marital residence during the pendency of the suit.

Read Our Barrows Firm Article: Protective Orders in Texas for Family Violence and Domestic Violence Regardless of Filing for Divorce

When the other party is served with papers, and or notified by their lawyer of allegations of domestic and or family violence, the battle begins. At the very suggestion, some puff up and react with grandiosity and counterattacks of mental instability and whatever else could discredit verbal and emotional abuse allegations. It is important to stay calm and not panic. Let the other side make a big show and know that the judges and professionals involved have seen it all before, often seeing right through the smoke and mirrors. Attorney Leslie Barrows is an aggressive and experienced trial lawyer in Texas divorce and custody cases, and she knows exactly how to effectively approach sensitive situations and win.

What Constitutes Verbal and Emotional Abuse in a Family?

Verbal abuse often includes insults, humiliation, ridicule, control, and silence, all effectively isolating the person and maintaining ultimate control over them. The offending party in these situations might also be accused of narcissistic behavior. A common element of which is the exertion of control over another. Verbally abusive people may not intend to do harm, and the source could be deep psychological problems some argue are not their fault. But that does not make it okay to treat someone with verbal or emotional abuse. Spouses and children can be deeply impacted and show short- and long-term damage from domestic and family violence, regardless of whether it becomes physical.

WebMD: Signs of Verbal Abuse (Emotional and Verbal Abuse)

Emotional abuse and passive-aggressive behavior are damaging in a family. When a spouse is exceedingly critical and judgmental, manipulative, and dismissive, one might start to withdraw and shut down. Anyone told they are less than or less able, can start to believe it. Importantly, we must remember that it is not our fault that another person seeks to use us for abuse for them to feel better. And while so many spouses work tirelessly, at some point they must accept their limitations. We can’t fix the other person as much as we may want to. And they might get help later and be much better, but in the meantime, we must save ourselves and our kids. Especially when raising children, every moment counts, and children need to feel safe and loved. They pick up on it when daddy isn’t nice to mommy and vice versa.

Review Our Article: CPS Investigations During a Divorce – Remember that domestic and family violence allegations will almost certainly involve some level of involvement with CPS and it is important to work with an experienced family lawyer and protect yourself and your children.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Every month, every week, day, hour, and minute there is someone at risk of being victimized. Orders of protection have value, but they can’t stop a bullet. Several years ago, in Fort Worth, there was a news story of a wife who did everything right but still lost her life, shot dead at a stoplight. In the age of tracking and technology, making a clean break and being able to disappear and still, complete daily tasks has become challenging.

People need to hear the grim reality and awful stories, because too many suffer in silence, and they don’t get out before it’s too late. The longer someone stays with a verbal and emotional abuser, the worse it can get, as the aggressor develops a greater sense of power and control.

Pay attention to your friends who seem isolated, who have seemingly been kept away, because there might be a very good reason that they are not telling you. They might be convinced nothing is wrong, but they can only lie to themselves for so long. Plant a seed if it helps, let family and friends know they can confide in you, and share information with them about domestic and family violence.

Emergency Protective Orders and Safety of the Family

In a Texas divorce and custody case where someone leaves the other after a family violence situation, a protective order is frequently requested and granted, on an emergency and temporary basis, to protect the victim, and the family. In the same order, the court may grant exclusive possession of the marital residence as well as property including financial accounts, to help maintain the status quo while the case gets underway. The aggressor, subject to the order, must stay away, not carry a firearm, and not contact anyone named in the order.

If someone violates a temporary restraining order, protective order, or any similar order or law, call 911 and notify law enforcement, who may arrest and take the violator to jail.

Proving Emotional Abuse Allegations in Texas Divorce and Custody Suits

In a Texas divorce and child custody suit, the victim of emotional abuse allegations can seek more or sole custody of the children, a greater share of the marital property, contribution to attorney’s fees, and other property as allowed by the Texas Family Code. In hearings and trials, most notably at the initial Temporary Orders Hearing, the family lawyers for the parties will present evidence to prove their allegations.

Evidence of emotional abuse and family violence may include police reports, electronic communications, eyewitness testimony, and more forms of personal knowledge of the facts alleged to support the allegations in the case. When mental health professionals are involved in contested child custody cases, they conduct investigations and make reports and findings for the court’s review. The process can become quite protracted, and generally, people should be cautious about balancing rational issues of safety and the emotionally driven quest for vengeance.

Leslie Barrows has spent countless hours in mediations, depositions, hearings, and trials on issues that can be best addressed with the right litigation strategy. In high-stakes divorce and custody, experience matters, and having the best family lawyer you can find, is important, to get things done right the first time so you can focus on family and the future.

Can Co-Parenting Happen Following Family Violence Allegations and Findings?

How can you expect me to talk to the person who nearly killed me and my kids? Unfortunately, some people have received tone-deaf advice when it comes to co-parenting with abusers. If you are at the point where you have a lawyer, you know you can’t get anywhere with your soon-enough-to-be-ex, then co-parenting is probably out the window.

Well, why it is true you might never want to see or communicate live with the other person, it is possible to exchange information through professionals and by using great resources for families like the Our Family Wizard app and website, designed for difficult custody situations. Check the article we wrote about it, Custody Logs and Our Family Wizard in Divorce and Child Custody Cases.

An experienced divorce and custody lawyer knows how to help craft a parenting plan that works and is sensitive to the needs of a parent who has been victimized. Leslie Barrows frequently speaks on complex issues like this. Watch Blended Families and Litigation with Leslie Barrows on Blended Kingdom Families.

How Can People Prepare to Safely Leave Verbal andEmotional Abusers?

The moment the alleged abuser finds out they have been served or simply that the other has left them, the reaction period begins, and it can be bad, even deadly.  It is a matter of life or death, so take it very seriously when leaving an abuser. Having the plan to leave takes some time and help from people who know how it works best, to keep family and abuse victims safe from further harm. Don’t wait until it’s too late. For help with leaving verbal and emotional abusers, contact us anytime at the Barrows Firm.

Protect the Family from Verbal and Emotional Abusers with Family Lawyers at the Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583

divorce spelled in blocks

Answers to Frequent Texas Divorce Questions

October 13, 2022
Divorce

Answers to Frequent Texas Divorce Questions Empower Families to Take Next Steps

Frequent Texas divorce questions are about what happens to children, property, and families in a Texas divorce. From deciding to file for divorce to exchanging discovery, attending mediation, and preparing for settlement or trial, Attorney Leslie Barrows and her team at the Barrows Firm in Southlake answer frequently asked questions about what happens when families divorce in Texas. In this article, we appreciate the opportunity to share some of the common responses to questions and issues that arise in a Texas divorce and child custody case. It is imperative to explain to people that every family is unique, and people have different needs, so do not compare your situation or family to others.

A winning strategy in any divorce or family law matter is to set the family in the best position possible to achieve all their hopes and dreams with the least amount of acrimony and drama over the difficulties families may experience with one another. Let us not forget that divorce is a serious life-changing event for everyone in the family and it is not something to approach lightly. How the entire process is handled is so important because it should set everyone up for success.

Successful families facing challenges in divorce and child custody appreciate the value of hiring the best legal counsel and representation to protect the family and set everyone in place well, attending to the best interests of the children and as well the esteem and positive mental states of the parents.

Search, Find, and Read the Barrows Firm Blog

Deciding to File for a Divorce in Texas

Where can I file for a divorce, and what if I move during the divorce?

Most people who file for divorce have lived in their home for the required time of 90 days in their current county and six months in the State of Texas, and that is what is necessary for the local district court to have jurisdiction over a divorce in the county where you are going to file. Sometimes there are jurisdictional issues, and we handle them as they arise, and at times cases are withdrawn, refiled, or transferred if appropriate.

Mediate.com Article – Are You Really Ready for Divorce? The 8 Questions You Need to Ask

Does it matter who files it, and what if I need it filed to stay in the home?

There is a difference of opinion on whether the person who files, being the Petitioner, has any advantage in their divorce. It truly depends on the facts and circumstances, and how things go. However, in cases of domestic and family violence, the Petitioner has access to an emergency hearing for Protective Order and they may seek exclusive possession of the marital residence as well. In cases where the spouse has less access to money to leave the marital home and temporarily live somewhere else, the court can provide temporary relief and a temporary court order about who goes where and who pays what expenses during the divorce.

How do I leave an abuser and get family violence help?

October is domestic violence awareness month, and we should pay close attention to the sensitive needs of the victims of domestic and family violence and abuse. There are all types of situations where people are threatened and harmed and too often outsiders never know. Deciding to leave is scary for many and it takes serious planning and proper execution. In any situation where someone is being hurt or fears imminent harm, call 911.

Hiring a Family Lawyer and Preparing for Divorce

What should I look for in a family lawyer?

Divorce and child custody matters are some of the most important challenges we face. Hire the best family lawyer you can find and get ready to fight for the best results to position you and your family for success. An experienced divorce attorney who practices in daily high-stakes divorce and custody cases knows how to get you where you need to be in negotiating and settling your contested issues. And when it is necessary to go to trial, an aggressive divorce lawyer is necessary. The wise person spends there sources to get it done right the first time. Set the tone and pace of your future in co-parenting and giving your children the best life.

What if my spouse hires a big family law firm and has more money?

It’s a common threat in divorce litigation to outspend the other party so they cannot keep up in a divorce and custody trial. Bullies have been puffing their chests since the beginning of time, and the sophisticated divorce lawyers people trust know exactly what to do with opposing parties and opposing counsels who just want to play games and burn up your money. Interim fee petitions are there to level the playing field when one spouse needs access to marital funds to fund litigation. Also, contributions to attorneys’ fees can keep the other side in check when they are committed to harassment.

How can I prepare my information for my divorce attorney to save resources?

Be organized and able to explain your finances, healthcare, childcare, parenting, and other elements of life that are issues in divorce and custody matters. Prepare financial statements in orderly collections of information and present them to your family lawyer electronically or in a binder, or, however. Think about how you want your attorney and team to spend their time, and the more time they can spend on the most important issues, the better.

What Happens to Children During a Divorce?

How soon can we get a Temporary Order for the children?

If your case gets to the judge on an emergency basis, for example, in a protective order hearing, such as in a domestic violence situation, the temporary orders state what happens to the kids and who pays for expenses. In the regular course of a divorce case, the temporary orders hearing can happen within a few weeks of filing, and if some of the uncontested issues can be resolved in advance, more time at the limited temporary orders hearing can be used on the hotly contested issues.

Very Well Family Article – The Psychological Effects of Divorce on Children

Who pays for what bills and childcare expenses?

At the temporary orders hearing the court hears from the parties and their attorneys about the pending issues and any of their immediacy in nature. The court’s order often includes standard instructions to maintain the status quo and not disturb any of the community property and money in accounts outside of the normal expenses. At times there are decisions to make and things that must happen before anyone has a chance to get to their lawyer or court, and it becomes helpful to maintain records and a journal of questions and issues that may arise. Keep good records.

Are my kids going to be involved in the process?

It depends on the situations and contested issues in a child custody case, for example, to determine whether the children are involved in the litigation process. There may be a mental health professional working on a custody evaluation and report which can involve interviewing a child. But the dramatic scenes we see in movies of children on witness stand picking which parent they want to go with, that is more for television than what happens in real life. A judge may interview a child in chambers, and it all depends on the situation.

Community Property Valuation and Division in Texas Divorce

Does community property mean everything is split 50/50?

Community property in Texas is all the property that was acquired by the parties during the marriage. All other property is considered separate property. The property people bring to the marriage can be kept separate and distinct from community property. Inherited money or property is an example of what may be separate property not subject to division. The Texas Family Code talks of division based on what is right and just, and in many cases that means 50/50, but that is something that can vary based on the allegations and situations. Findings of family violence, for example, can affect property distribution.  

Can I keep the house and give my spouse a greater share of other assets?

Selling everything and splitting cash down the middle is the simplest example of property division, but that’s not what happens. Sure, the house can be ordered for sale, but otherwise one of the spouses may want to stay in the house and that might mean they accept a lesser share of other assets to make equitable distribution possible. Especially considering real estate markets, decisions on buying and selling are best determined on a case-by-case basis.

What happens to debts where my spouse and I are both liable?

In a Texas divorce, debt incurred during the marriage is subject to equitable division just like the assets and in most cases, the parties will share equal responsibility for the debt, unless there is an agreement otherwise. It does not matter which spouse incurred the debt, just like it does not matter which spouse earned the income, community property rules apply to both. And likewise, debt that is kept separate, and debt incurred before the marriage may be considered separate and not to be assigned to the other spouse in the divorce. When negotiating property division, the debts and partial equity in assets are all valued for division.

Establishing Necessary Child and Spousal Support

Who gets spousal support in Texas divorce?

If spouses have been married for at least ten years and the person requesting support is not able to earn enough income to meet their basic needs, they can qualify for spousal support, also called spousal maintenance or alimony informally.

Is there a maximum amount of spousal support in Texas?

Maximum amounts of spousal support are set by the Texas Family Code, and the current cap is $5,000 per month or 20 percent of the average monthly gross income of the paying spouse. However, if you have a premarital agreement that provides for support in greater amounts, that is done through contract provisions in a pre-marital agreement or a post-marital agreement.

What happens with child support payments in Texas?

Texas child support payments are based on guidelines for child support. For one child 20 percent of net monthly income, for example, is ordered to be paid by the child support obligor. A child support withholding order is usually used to be accepted by the court and sent to the employer to withhold child support money for collection and distribution through the Attorney General’s child support unit. Sometimes child support payments are made directly, as well as reimbursements and payments for necessary child expenses and it is important to always keep good records.

The Discovery and Pretrial Negotiation and Mediation Process

What happens when one spouse has more financial information than the other?

It’s not uncommon for one spouse to handle the family’s financial information and transactions. During the discovery process, the parties in a divorce and custody case are asked to provide their lawyers with the information necessary to represent them in the divorce. If the one with the information fails or refuses to disclose necessary information, the court can order the information to be produced and subpoenas can be sent directly to banks and institutions with the records.

Lifehack Article – 9 Ways to Pick Your Divorce Battles

Do I have to go to mediation, and are there situations we can avoid it?

When your judge orders you to attend mediation, it should be considered an opportunity to resolve some of the easier issues so that time and attention can be allocated to the difficult issues. In some situations, however, such as where family violence is alleged, mediation might not be appropriate. Giving mediation a solid effort makes sense and has value.

How do settlement negotiations work and can we settle certain issues easily out of court?

The more you can resolve out of court, the less information becomes a part of the public record. When going through hearings and trials, the evidence used and presented, including the testimony of witnesses can be a lot to deal with and if you can save yourself the time and pressure in court, it makes sense to resolve issues in settlement negotiations.

Being Prepared for Court for Hearings and Trial

How often am I going to have to go to court?

Court attendance is necessary when one is ordered to appear in court by the judge, or when one is called as a witness in a hearing or trial. Be prepared to appear at court for temporary orders hearings as well as hearings and trials on issues where the judge may need to ask questions, or you may be required to testify formally. Otherwise, for most financial issues and updates on the case status, and progress reports, the lawyers may not require the client to be present.

Will I need to get witnesses ready to offer supporting testimony?

Witnesses can help prove your allegations in a divorce and custody case. Especially when children’s issues and best interests are in focus, there can be a need to get supporting witnesses to testify where they have relevant personal information and knowledge of facts. However, a circus of naysayers becomes counterproductive. Quality is measured over quantity when it comes to the information we present for scrutiny by a judge and the opposing party. It all depends on the situation and this topic is another example of how important it is to hire a family lawyer with experience in challenging litigation strategies.  

How long do most divorce hearings and trials last?

A better understanding of timing may concern the initial orders in a family law case to determine who pays for what and who cares for the kids and how during the pendency of the litigation. Otherwise, there may be a goal of getting to a final order within a set amount of time. It depends on the family and the complexity of the litigated matters. The more there is to fight over, the longer the battles may continue. Where there is a timing element, find a family lawyer you trust to do whatever they can to get timely results, while knowing many intervening factors can affect how long things take.

Enforcement and Modification of Court Orders, Judgments

How does court order enforcement work in most cases?

At the end of the divorce, a judgment and final order are entered, incorporating the resolution of all the issues in the divorce or custody matter. If after the fact there is a reason to ask the court to enforce the terms of a court order, that is a separate lawsuit with a specific request for enforcement relief. It will require a petition and service on the other party and all the formalities of the court process. In many cases, a strongly worded letter can urge a dragging party to comply with the court’s order.

What must happen to qualify for a modification case?

There needs to be a significant change in circumstances to ask the court to order a modification of an existing order and judgment. This could be a change in the employment of a parent or their relocation to a job, that requires a change and modification of what was originally ordered. Several factors can be presented arguing that there is enough to give the court cause to modify the order.

How can we resolve problems without going back to court and filing new suits?

Parents who tell their children to pick and choose their battles should heed the same advice to keep their heads in the game and not let emotion or difficult people drive them back into court. The time we have with our children before they grow up and start their own lives is so short. Some families become so used to fighting that before they know it the children are getting ready to graduate from high school. The better we can work to resolve issues, the better we can move forward in life with a positive attitude and winning spirit.

Attorneys and Mediators at the Barrows Firm in Southlake Serve North Texas Family Law Needs and Answer Frequent Texas Divorce Questions About Rights and Options in Texas Divorce (817) 481-1583

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

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