Back to School Schedules: The 2021 Academic Year and Virtual School
In-Person or Virtual Learning, Back to School Schedules Impacting Co-Parenting
Southlake family law attorney Leslie Barrows is a boy mom of three and understands the concerns of parents about school schedules and possession schedules during COVID-19. Many independent school districts are offering parents the opportunity for their children attending school in-person or at home doing virtual school. If there was ever a time for patience, understanding, and flexibility, now is that time. Even the most acrimonious co-parenting situations might need to allow for compromise and agreements as conditions continue to change during the COVID-19 outbreak. Southlake family law attorney Leslie Barrows can help you and your family figure out back to school schedules as it may affect co-parenting and custody arrangements. Call the Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583.
See our related article: Emergency Order on Possession and Access Schedules During COVID-19 Pandemic
Kids in the Classroom and at Home for Virtual School
Parents changing their minds about in-person versus virtual school options is a concern among many. For example, Southlake parents with children enrolled in Carroll ISD were asked to decide whether they want their kids to be at school for in-person instruction by August 10, which was two weeks before the start of classes this coming Monday, August 24th. Parents who changed their minds were asked to notify their child’s campus principal in writing. Carroll ISD offers its Dragon Virtual Academy for the first nine-week grading period.
Depending on the ages of your children, their virtual instruction process if different. The schedules for younger students may be easier to adjust to schedules than the older children in blocks from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. where the virtual students will be on a regimented instruction schedule just like the in-person students.
HealthyChildren.org article: Return to School During COVID-19
Possession Schedules Based on School Schedules
Most of the in-person learning and virtual learning occur on the same clock schedules. The students will be structured in the virtual setting at home, much like they were at school for in-person instruction. Instead of mom or dad driving the kids to school, they may not need to leave the house. Even though your possession schedule is based on school calendars, clock times, and schedules, you can adjust to exchanging visitation around the school schedules like normal, even though the children might not be leaving the house.
Ever considered 50/50? Read our article: Divorcing with Children 103 – Equal Access Possession Schedules
Is the School Schedule the Same as Parenting Time?
It is reasonable to anticipate some parents objecting to the other parent having more parenting time with the children when they are at home with the kids during their virtual schooling when they would otherwise be at school with teachers and fellow students in-person. Most parents who have their children at home with them doing virtual learning might joke at the idea of the other parent being jealous of what seems like more time with the children and gladly offer the other parent oversee virtual learning. The technology used by many school districts requires that virtual students at home are active on their computers and working diligently. So even though those children might be at home with the other parent, they are busy and occupied with their classes.
Edutopia article: Why Are Some Kids Thriving During Remote Learning?
Sending Your Children to the Other Parent for Virtual Learning
People with busy careers might not be able to stay at home with their children who are doing virtual learning. This might be a reason to send the kids back for in-person learning instead. But what happens if the other parent, who is a joint managing conservator, objects to in-person learning due to COVID-19 risks? What if the primary parent works in a profession that requires them to be gone from the house every day and the other parent works from home, at least during COVID-19?
Consider agreeing with your co-parent, that during COVID-19 impacting schooling, that the children go to the other parent’s house during the school day, arriving and leaving just as if they were at the school buildings with their teachers and fellow students. Remember, you and the other parent can agree to do whatever you both want with school schedules and possession, falling back on your Court Ordered parenting plan and possession schedule when necessary.
Adjustments to Academic Calendar
Adjusting to scheduling conflicts and challenges requires patience during COVID-19. As kids start going back to school there may be new cases reported causing unknown consequences. Some parents might start sending their children back for in-person instruction and then quickly decide they want to pull them back out of school for virtual learning instead.
Modifications to Possession Schedules to Match School Schedules
Modifying possession schedules is appropriate for parents who cannot co-parent well and need to stick to their Court Order. If school schedules during COVID-19 are a problem, and you have children of varying ages and needs, where some are attending in-person school and others are attending virtual school, you might benefit from a modification. But before you run to Court, remember that a modification case is a new lawsuit with service of process and all the procedural formalities you may recall from your original divorce and custody case. By the time you get to see a judge, during these times, your issues requiring a custody modification could be resolved. Remember that in different counties, there are serious backlogs of cases and parties are only appearing virtually. Alternatively, a temporary agreement between you and the other parent can resolve conflicts with the 2021 school schedules.
Southlake Family Law Attorney Leslie Barrows Can Help You with Agreements, Negotiations, and if Necessary, Modifications to Possession Schedules when School Schedules and COVID-19 Disrupt Your Plans. Call the Barrows Firm at (817) 481-1583.
Dividing up Businesses During Divorce and COVID-19
Divorce and Property Division During COVID-19
Divorce is challenging and it is a significant life event, especially when there are businesses involved and property division issues. Even in great economic conditions, there are disagreements over who owns what, what it is worth, and how it should best be distributed among the parties in the divorce.
Texas is a community property state and the Texas Family Code divides property acquired during the marriage based on what is “right and just,” which can be 50/50 or can be otherwise depending on the facts and circumstances. Separate property that remains legally classified and identifiable as separate, is not considered for division in the divorce. The more businesses and properties that are involved, the more opportunities there are for unresolved conflict. Especially in high-stakes divorce with business interests, it is important to use an experienced divorce attorney and law firm that knows how to create a winning strategy to meet your family’s needs.
Attorney Leslie Barrows and her team at the Barrows Firm in Southlake will ask all the right questions in your initial consultation to advise how to proceed with divorce during the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak. Call (817) 481-1583.
Dividing Business Assets in a Divorce
Are there any existing agreements that direct what happens to property and businesses in a divorce? A premarital agreement, for example, can specify that a business asset remains the separate value of one of the spouses. One of the parties in the divorce may also have independent business contracts with other individuals and organizations that can play a role in the divorce process of property and business asset division.
Determining who has the legal right to what assets and business interests is one step. Another issue is how much money the assets and property are worth. By agreement between the parties or by order of the Court, the marital property and any businesses will be distributed between the spouses. One might accept a larger share of an investment account and waive ownership in a business, for example. There are many options and every divorce is different.
Learn more, see our article, Prenups, and Premarital Agreements in Texas.
Valuation of Property and Business Assets
Any property that is subject to division in a divorce must be valued. This means that marital homes, vacation properties, investment properties, and shares in a business and business assets must be valued. A property and business valuation expert can offer their report and testimony if necessary when the parties do not otherwise agree to property amounts.
The discovery process in a divorce involves the exchange of information between the divorcing spouses. The documents and information help the attorneys and their clients understand where the money and property are and who else may be involved with ownership interests.
When assets and property are identified, the valuation process can take place. The more complicated the asset or business interest is, the more work it can take to get a proper valuation. If there is a conflict between the parties in the valuation process, it might be necessary to go to court when an agreement on fair market values cannot be reached.
Getting into Court on Property and Business Division in COVID-19 Divorce
Texas courts are operating on different plans during the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak. What is happening in Tarrant County district courts may be different from Denton County, for example. In many courts, only essential matters are being conducted in open courts and most hearings and trials are being done remotely using Zoom.
If there are disputes over property and business values, contracts, and interests, your attorney may need to have a hearing with the Judge. So many families are waiting for hearings that have been continued and postponed due to the stress on the Courts and already busy dockets. Your divorce attorney can talk to you about various options in your divorce during COVID-19. It might make sense to handle some parts of the divorce now, and others later.
Please Also See our Article: Estate Planning and Updates During COVID19 Coronavirus.
How the COVID-19 Outbreak Affects Property Division
Uncertainty is a constant right now and changes happen quickly during COVID-19. Determining the fair market value of property and business interests is challenging during a pandemic. It is difficult, even for the experts, to forecast the value of property and business assets during 2020. Applying these challenges to a divorce with business interests, there could be cash flow issues, assets might need to be sold to sustain operations, and third-party contract obligations could cause temporary difficulties.
Conflict between spouses in a divorce can be resolved by agreement or by Order of the Court. During the COVID-19 outbreak, one party to the divorce might prefer to postpone certain elements of property and business division. The other party, however, may wish to proceed with the case despite various challenges. With uncertainty, postponing property and business division could work against the party seeking to wait for fair market values to return to normal and lose more money for both parties.
Southlake Family Law Attorney Leslie Barrows Advises and Represents Families with Complex Property and Business Division Issues in Texas Divorces. Call the Barrows Firm (817) 481-1583.
Estate Planning and Updates During COVID19 Coronavirus
Estate Planning for Everyone During COVID19 Coronavirus
Do you have a will, power of attorney, and healthcare directives? At any given moment one of us or a family member could fall ill to the Coronavirus making estate planning important. While our elderly population is at particular risk, people of all ages have contracted the virus and some require hospitalization, and some do not make it through COVID19.
But why do so many of us wait until confronted by a life-threatening pandemic to get our will and estate planning documents created or updated? Attorney Leslie Barrows can help you prepare or update your estate planning documents to give you and your family peace of mind. Call the Barrows Firm today and learn how easy it is to be prepared when times get tough.
For Estate Planning and Updates Call the Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583
Meeting Your Attorney with Social Distancing and Virtual Contact During COVID19 Coronavirus
The Barrows Firm attorneys and staff understand health and safety concerns and precautions. Estate planning documents and can be prepared and sent electronically for review and witnessed signatures. There are ways to use technology to bring the necessary people together to accomplish estate planning goals while maintaining social distance and COVID19 Coronavirus prevention measures.
Make Sure to Update Your Estate Planning Documents
Updates to estate planning documents help you and your family make sure that your wishes are carried out if you are incapacitated, physically unavailable, or deceased. The birth of new children, the addition of family members by marriage, as well as acquired assets and properties need protection. Estate planning documents, directives, powers of attorneys, HIPPA, and trust documents provide protection. Without intentions and directives in proper written form, your decision making can become the province of another person you did not select.
HIPPA Authorization for Patient Records and Documents
HIPPA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. HIPPA regulations protect your personal healthcare information and records and control how those records can be kept and shared in healthcare treatment and communication about patient care. A HIPPA release authorization for records is part of estate planning. It allows you to appoint people with the authority to make decisions for you about the release of medical records. The HIPPA authorization allows your designated spouse, child, or other family member or person to talk to your doctors and nurses if you are hospitalized and unable to make your own care decisions.
Advance Health Care Directives During COVID19 Coronavirus
An Advanced Health Care Directive (“AHCD”) document is an essential part of estate planning regarding the authority of others to make health care decisions on our behalf. Separate of HIPPA issues, decisions on how to proceed with health care can be made by the person you appoint with an advanced health care directive document.
Power of Attorney and Durable Power of Attorney Documents in Your Estate Plan
Decision making can be appointed for times you may be medically incapable or unavailable to make decisions. These appointments can apply to decisions about money, property, and other legal obligations. When you prepare and update your estate planning documents during COVID19 Coronavirus, you can make sure that
Wills with a Special Needs Trust If you Have Minor Children
Wills and special needs trusts are used when a minor child has special needs including public benefits including Social Security Insurance (SSI) and Medicaid, for example. The goal of parents with special needs children is to make their children’s lives as enriched as possible by taking advantage of appropriate and available government programs designed for their care, and administered through a special needs trust.
The benefit of a special needs trust involves the money for it, in the estate of the parents, is not legally considered an asset in the event of the death of those parents. How much income and principal is allocated for the right purposes can be written in the special needs trust.
Trusts in Estate Planning to Protect Beneficiaries
A trust document establishes the relationship among the maker of a trust, the money or property that is the body of the trust, and the rights of the beneficiary to the body of the trust, and their interest in the money or property that is the body. Simply, a trust protects money or property for the benefit of another. If for example, you are leaving money to a child or grandchild and you want to make sure they do not spend it until they reach a certain age, you can accomplish that goal through a trust.
A trustee of the trust for another could be a family member or a professional you trust with the fiduciary duties of a trustee, keep true to the intent of the trust maker or settlor, and the benefit of the named trustee. Trusts are commonly used to hold property as well, where the name of the beneficiary is kept private from the knowledge of the general public.
For All Your Estate Planning Needs and Updates Curing COVID19 Coronavirus, Call the Barrows Firm for Estate Planning, Probate, and Family Law Advice and Counsel at (817) 481-1583
CPS Investigations During a Divorce
Steps to Take if There is a CPS Investigation During a Divorce
Imagine being contacted by a Child Protective Services (“CPS”) caseworker intending to talk to your family in connection with a CPS investigation during a divorce. You are shocked and do not know what to do. Should you talk to them because not talking to them might make you look guilty or something? Are you afraid that if you insist on your lawyer being present it looks like you are covering something up?
Southlake divorce attorney Leslie Barrows is the principal attorney at the Barrows Firm and people frequently ask her questions about CPS investigations during divorces. Attorney Barrows often explains to people is that the CPS caseworker is simply doing their job and it is part of a process when they receive a communication from someone who makes a CPS inquiry or allegation of abuse or neglect of a child.
In this short article, there are a few tips to understanding how CPS cases work and steps to take if there is a CPS investigation during or after your divorce. If you need help now or have questions, don’t wait to call the Barrows Firm in Southlake and talk to Leslie Barrows or Amanda Roark.
What Does CPS Do When They are Investigating During a Divorce?
CPS in Texas is a part of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS). The role of CPS is to keep children safe from abuse or neglect. If someone makes a phone call to the CPS hotline, then CPS must follow up on that report to find out if something is going wrong.
Initial contact with CPS does not mean there will necessarily be a formal investigation into abuse and or neglect. They might let you know that a report was made against you. If CPS determines an investigation is necessary because there is proof or a significant threat of harm to your child, they must start their investigation within 72 hours of the phone call reporting an incident.
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Website: When and How to Report Child Abuse
Did You Know Many People Including Teachers are Mandatory Reporters?
The mandatory reporting laws require teachers, doctors, nurses, clergy, and other trusted people that work with and around children, to report suspicions of abuse or neglect to CPS. They can lose their licenses if they fail to report suspected abuse. In many cases, a kid might have been bruised or injured just being a kid, but in other cases, a mandatory reporter stumbles upon something more.
Reports made to CPS are anonymous and you may never know who called them. It could be just about anyone and trying to find out is a waste of time. The most important thing to do is make sure that you manage your stress level and keep your family safe and sound, ideally with the help of an experienced family lawyer who can help you through the process and answer your questions.
Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Website: Learn More About Mandatory Reporters
Knock, Knock, CPS is at Your Door! What Should You Do?
They are not law enforcement. They cannot detain you. You do not have to talk to them. They cannot pull your kid out of your house. They might try to talk to your kid at school.
Step one is to CALL A FAMILY LAWYER (817) 481-1583. You need to know your rights as a parent. Attorney Leslie Barrows has worked in divorce and family law cases with the full focus of her career as an attorney and CPS cases are certainly a part of her wheelhouse.
It will help you prepare for the right time to talk to the CPS caseworker if you take notes about everything that is going on and what was said. Be prepared to be pleasant and honest when answering their questions with or without an attorney present. It may seem like you are playing a game, but when you play it right you are allowing the CPS caseworker to close their investigation.
How Will This Affect the Divorce and Custody Case if There is an Investigation During a Divorce?
If you are seeking to be the primary parent and have sole custody of your children in a divorce, a CPS case on you or your spouse is going to be a big deal to your judge and it is necessary to have an experienced family law attorney representing you. If you are doing a simple divorce without a lawyer, you need to hire one if you want custody of your children.
What is The Family Plan Following a CPS Investigation During a Divorce?
Please do not think that CPS is only in the business of removing children to place them into foster care. If something was going on in your family and something happened to a child, it could be appropriate for CPS to put everyone on a family plan where the parents attend the proper parenting classes, counseling, or whatever is required to show CPS that children are not in any direct danger or at risk of current or future abuse or neglect.
Got Questions? For Information about CPS Investigations During a Divorce Call the Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583
Prenups and Premarital Agreements in Texas
What Are Premarital Agreements in Texas?
The Texas Family Code defines a premarital agreement as “an agreement made between prospective spouses in contemplation of marriage and to be effective on marriage.” A prenup as most call it is a formal agreement that states what happens to the property of the parties should the marriage end in divorce.
Prenups tend to be stigmatized in movies where high stakes divorces and premarital agreements are sensationalized. For example, in the 2003 film, Intolerable Cruelty, the “Massey Prenup” is a central part of the story.
You do not need to be rich and famous to have a prenup. Many couples consider a premarital agreement to be an opportunity to talk about how they would handle property division in the event of divorce. It is not that the prenup is made assuming there will be a divorce, but if that were to happen, having a prenup is like having insurance, and you know what you may expect if you need it.
Related Article: The Unexpected Upside of Getting a Prenup
Talking to Your Future Spouse About Money and Property when Considering a Prenup.
Preparing information for a prenup may seem quite like the information contained in a divorce lawsuit. In each one of the bullet points below, there are issues to discuss one another’s rights and duties. Consider the subject of family gifts, where the father gives the husband $50,000 as a gift to be used as the down payment of the house. The couple could decide to include in a written premarital agreement to recognize that money as separate property, attributable to husband in the event of divorce. The prenup could be limited to specifically that money and silent as to anything else.
Likewise, anything on the list below could be a separate section of the premarital agreement. Note that the duration a prenup can also state, for example, that upon 10 years of marriage, the premarital agreement naturally terminates. Alternatively, the agreement could last longer, and some provisions simply kick in at the 10-year mark. Because a prenup is a contract between two people, they can add almost whatever they want in the language with the limitation of things only within the Court’s authority, like Child support payments and amounts.
Potential Issues to Address Before Marriage and in a Premarital Agreement in Texas:
- Premarital Assets and Debts
- Marital Property
- Regular Income Management
- Credit Cards and Debts
- Working and Earning Income
- Spousal Maintenance
- Considerable Gifts from Family
- Taxes and Filing Decisions
- Higher Education?
- Business Ownership
- Fault as a Basis of Divorce
- Death or Disability
What Happens When You Divorce and Don’t Have a Prenup in Texas?
If you do have a prenup, you can determine who gets what assets and property so long as your agreement satisfies the requirements in the Texas Family Code for premarital agreements. If you do not have a prenup, your separate property from before the marriage remains separate if you can prove it is separate property. Meanwhile, everything else you and your spouse acquired during the marriage is community property which the court divides between spouses based on what is “just and right.”
Related Article: “Just and Right” Community Property Division in Texas Divorce.
Are Prenups, also called Premarital Agreements Enforceable in Texas?
Different states have different laws about the process and formalities required to have a valid and enforceable premarital agreement in Texas. The Texas Family Code states that a premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. The content of the agreement may include the rights and obligations of individuals concerning assets and property. Additionally, spousal support may also be modified or eliminated by agreement of the parties in a prenup. Wills and trusts can also be addressed in premarital agreements as well as life insurance policies. Overall, matters concerning rights and obligations may be the content of a Texas prenup.
Will My Out of State Prenup be Valid and Enforceable in Texas Courts?
With so many families moving from one state to another for work and other reasons, a couple considering divorce might have a premarital agreement that was negotiated and signed in another state with different requirements for the process and formalities necessary for a valid and enforceable prenup.
The general rule is that a valid and enforceable agreement from another state will be enforceable here in Texas, so long as the written agreement satisfied the legal requirements for validity in the state in which the agreement was originally written. That said, any elements of a premarital agreement that would violate Texas law and the Texas Family Code might fail. It is also possible that part of an out of state premarital agreement would be enforced. The court could also declare an out of state prenup to be invalid in Texas but use the weight of the parties’ intent about their prenup when making property division decisions here in a Texas Court.
What Documents Are Needed for a Texas Prenup?
Generally, documents are used as evidence of ownership of assets and property. Proper documentation incorporated into a premarital agreement makes it easy to prove the intent of the parties when the premarital agreement was made. The more one keeps accurate records, the better one can prove what their claims in the event they are in court seeking to prove up the validity and enforceability of a premarital agreement in Texas.
Need a Prenup? Call the Barrows Firm for Premarital Agreements in Texas (817) 481-1583
Father’s Day and Father’s Rights
Celebrate Father’s Day and Father’s Rights Sunday June 21st
This coming Sunday the 21st of June is Father’s Day and it is a great time to appreciate father’s rights and their important roles in raising their sons and daughters. Why do we wait for one day a year to appreciate fathers when they are important every day? The Barrows Firm works with fathers and mothers who get a divorce and need to set child custody and possession schedules. Southlake divorce attorney Leslie Barrows, founder of the firm, sees all kinds of parenting situations that foster the growth of parent and child relationships. She knows that even when families use a more traditional co-parenting model, there are creative co-parenting options different families can use to make sure their sons and daughters get quality time with their fathers.
Life has been challenging this year and still many families are affected by COVID-19 Coronavirus, putting a strain on many families whose lives and routines have been disrupted. This Father’s Day might include some different plans from what dads and their kiddos normally do, but that should not take away from the importance of celebrating a great Father’s Day because he is their daddy.
Psychology Today: The Importance of Fathers
What are Father’s Rights?
Father’s rights mean the general rights and duties that apply to a father, including his right to parenting time with his children. Father’s rights may also be used as a reference to a father’s right to be notified of any hearing or action about his children, including adoption hearings where in cases a father’s parental rights may be terminated. In an employment context, the term Father’s rights involve the father’s right to time from work to raise a child.
At the Barrows Firm, our client could be the mother or the father. That said, we appreciate the importance of both parents in the growth and development of their sons and daughters. When we talk about Father’s rights in divorce and child custody, we represent our clients to establish the parental rights and duties of each parent. Operating within the Texas Family Code and the local rules of district courts, we negotiate and sometimes need to litigate parenting and children’s issues including Father’s rights.
Why are Father’s Rights Essential to Raising Children?
Father’s rights are important to the emotional development of his sons and daughters. Boys and girls need their fathers in their life and development. Children naturally want to make their fathers proud of them and that is important growth and strength as children grow. Cognitive, emotional, and social development are frequently tied to the roles of fathers in the lives of their children and studies support the importance of affectionate and supportive fathers.
Psychology Today: What’s So Special About Dads
Fathers and Sons
Sons grow up seeking the approval of their fathers, creating themselves in their father’s image. Dads show their boys how to act and how to conduct themselves in the world. Where a father is loving and supporting to his sons, they will grow up similar. Likewise, boys will likely take on other traits of their fathers and their personality types.
When a boy’s father is not actively present in their lives, the son may look up to other male figures in their lives to model themselves after, learning how to make their way in the world. When parents divorce, father’s rights are an important in determining custody and possession time. Fathers and their sons share relationship bonds necessary to their ongoing development. Even if the father is not the primary parent, it is important for the co-parents to make sure that sons get as much quality with their dads, not only on birthdays and Father’s Day, but every available day.
Fathers and Daughters
Fathers are a sense of security and emotional support. Daughters watch their fathers and learn from how they treat others. Girls who grow up with fathers who are kind, loving, and gentile, seem to seek out their own relationships with similar types of men when they grow older. Similarly, a strong leader-type of a father often leads young girls to grow up and seek our similar men.
Daughters can have many great male role models in their lives, but it all starts with their fathers. Divorce and new living situations are challenging for daughters who may not have their dads with them every day. Even if things go wrong in a marriage, the relationships among daddies and daughters are always building and growing.
Revising the Rights and Duties of Fathers as Time Passes and Sons and Daughters Grow Up
When parents divorce or have a suit affecting a parent-child relationship, the parties and the courts ideally work together to create the best custody and parenting plan, in the best interests of the children. Even when a parent, maybe a father, does not feel like he got his way with parenting time, he should know that things change as the children grow older. It may seem like eternities of time dads may are missing when the mother is named the primary parent. As sons and daughters grow up, they need their fathers at key points in their life when their grounding memories are made. Fathers have opportunities to play an active role in their children’s lives, every day, even if they are not the primary parent out of the gate.
Father’s rights include revisiting custody and parenting as the children grow up. The rights and duties of both parents are subject to enforcement and modification cases when necessary. A substantial change in circumstances may warrant custody or possession modification and certainly a father can be appointed the primary parent and the mother could have reasonable periods of possession.
No matter what the outcome of a divorce or custody case, we all know that our modern society is one of connectivity and whatever your family’s situation may be, fathers should be in as much contact and communication with their sons and daughters as is allowed and reasonable. The father who checks in with his kids all the time, and shows them strength, love, and support, is a father who is raising good kids.
To Talk About Father’s Rights, Call the Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583. Leslie, Amanda, and Everyone at the Barrows Firm Wishes You All Celebrate Father’s Rights and Father’s Day
Coronavirus COVID-19 Issues and Updates in Divorce and Family Law
COVID-19 Divorce and Family Law Update for June 1st
The courts are scheduled to reopen on Monday, June 1, 2020. Please be patient because many hearings and court appearances have been deferred and rescheduled over the past few months due to Coronavirus COVID-19 court closures and limitations. Scheduling new hearings and court appearances requires patience because there are so many people waiting for hearings on several divorce and family law matters.
The Barrows Firm in Southlake is Open for You and Your Family Matters
At the Barrows Firm, we remain open and are conducting client consultations, mediations, and appearing at hearings via Zoom. There are plenty of things we can do for our clients who are waiting for in-person hearings on several matters. In the meantime, we can work on discovery demands and responses, for example. Preparing for temporary order hearings is another thing we can do with clients waiting for their hearing if they otherwise could not have one using Zoom.
Amended Temporary Emergency Standing Order
Effective May 30, 2020, and expiring on December 31, 2020, unless further ordered, the Tarrant County Family District Courts (the following districts: 231st, 324th, 233rd, 325th, and 322nd) signed an Amended Temporary Emergency Standing Order on May 19, 2020. The standing order is for the protection of the parties, their children, family pets, and property while a family lawsuit is pending before the court.
Please note that this is different from what is normal in Tarrant County, where there were no “standing orders” automatically applied by the Court, like it is done in other neighboring counties such as Dallas, Denton, and Collin. In Tarrant County, most attorneys and their clients use agreed on reciprocal orders to accomplish the same goals as a standing order. The main difference is the new temporary standing orders are automatic when your lawsuit is filed.
A Quick Summary of The Amended Temporary Emergency Standing Order:
- No Disruption of Children;
- Protection of Family Pets or Companion Animals;
- Conduct of the Parties During the Case;
- Preservation of Property and Use of Funds During Divorce Case;
- Personal and Business Records in Divorce Case;
- Insurance in Divorce Case;
- Specific Authorizations in Divorce Case;
- Service and Application of This Order;
- Effect of Other Court Orders;
- Bond Waiver.
No Jury Trials in Tarrant County Until August
Due to health concerns related to Coronavirus COVID-19, jury trials will not take place in Tarrant County until August. Following CDC guidelines, limiting close contact with others means protecting potential jurors and postponing jury trials until August. This should not cause a hardship for anyone with immediate family safety concerns as those matters will still be heard by the Court and temporary orders can hold families over until a Jury trial on contested issues becomes available.
If you did not know, Texas courts allow for Jury trials over certain elements of divorce and family lawsuits. Jury trials can be used to determine the status of marriage, child custody, and residential matters, as well as the status of property, values, and distribution. Learn more by reading our article, Jury trials in Texas divorce and family law.
Happy Graduation to the 2020 Seniors: Terminating Child Support
While many are sad that their high school seniors missed the rest of their year after leaving for spring break, the Denton County grads do have the honor of walking through graduation at Texas Motor Speedway, having their smiling faces in caps and gowns up on Big Hoss. Great Article: Texas Motor Speedway to Hold Graduation Ceremonies For Schools in Denton County.
As parents who are paying child support are likely looking forward to terminating child support payments and we can help you with that at the Barrows Firm. The process is straight forward but does require action and is not automatic.
Planning for Summer Travel and Summer Camps
Just recently in April, parents had the opportunity and deadline to give notice of their summer possession and travel plans. During Coronavirus COVID-19, it has been difficult at best to make concrete plans, not knowing what the future has in store. Will there be another shutdown? What if new hot spots are detected or the curve needs are flattening again?
We can help you with any of your concerns about summer travel with children including summer camps, now scheduled to open given Governor Abbott’s recent declarations. Remember that being a good co-parent means being a reasonable person. Giving the other parent a break can go a long way when you might need a favor down the road. While this summer may be different, it is still a great opportunity to spend quality time with your kids, especially knowing how fast they grow and leave the nest.
Attorney Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake is Here for All Your Coronavirus COVID-19 Issues and Updates (817) 481-1583
Court Orders and Modifications: Parents Drinking at Home
Alarming Alcohol Statistics and Parents Drinking at Home During Coronavirus
Drinking and drug use and abuse rates are alarming during the COVID-19 Coronavirus situation. Many people knew there would be an increase in alcohol consumption, but few may have realized how many problems would arise out of parents being stuck at home and kids being seemingly forever out of school. As we started learning to use Zoom for professional meetings, a few people started hosting Zoom happy hours with friends to keep in touch and be social. The problems start when the normal rules for social behavior are out the window. When the Zoom happy hours start earlier and people start finding day drinking acceptable, “during these times,” the best interests of children are at greater risk.
In a recent article by the Green Valley Recovery Center in California, the CDC reports alcohol sales have increased by more than 55 percent since quarantines began, as of the third week in March. Here in Texas, the Texas Alcohol Beverage Commission (TABC) reported significant increases in the sale of alcohol in Texas, as many stocked up at liquor stores, fearing a run on beverage supplies, despite liquor stores being deemed essential and remaining open during statewide and local shutdowns.
Got Questions About Your Divorce Decree, Co-Parenting, and Drinking or Drug Use and Abuse? Call the Barrows Firm in Southlake and Learn Your Rights and Options to Keep Your Children Safe. (817) 481-1583. Read the Barrows Firm Article: Court-Ordered Alcohol Testing: Soberlink and EtG Testing
While Texas is Slowly Reopening, Many Concerns Remain About Alcohol Use and Abuse
People are habitual. Habits are easy to make and easy to break. Many of us are now in the habit of ordering food and alcohol to go. Here in Texas, we can also have alcohol delivered right to our front door, which many argue is a great convenience that reduces drinking and driving. In a recent article, it appears alcohol to go sales may continue in Texas. While some praise the idea of delivery food and booze, others are concerned about an increase in excessive drinking at home.
Addiction and recovery professionals and therapists are rightfully concerned about alcohol abuse. It sneaks up on you, many will say, and what starts as an increase in drinking can easily slide into abuse and addiction. Many parents might joke about drinking more and enjoying their Zoom happy hours while the kids pretend to be studying and doing their online schoolwork, but just because everyone else is doing it, does not mean you should.
Imagine you are the primary parent and not only see on social media, but also hear from your children that when they are at the other parent’s house they see more alcohol in the refrigerator, more empties in the trash, and unfortunately the other parent being drunk or hungover during their parenting time.
Co-Parents Do not Buy the COVID-19 Coronavirus “Everyone Else is Drinking Excuse”
Without pressuring the kids to talk, many are quick to share or let the other parent know that something is going on with increased alcohol or drug abuse. People who may think they are getting away with it are dead wrong when kids are involved. Children do not think their parents are funnier when they are drunk. Kids do not feel safe when a parent abuses alcohol. Judges and opposing counsels are neither impressed by increased drinking because it is inconvenient to be shut down and ordered to stay at home.
People Ask for Scram and Soberlink Devices and Courts Will Order Them
While we all are likely worn out by the phrase, “during this time,” you can be certain that judges are ready willing and able to order parents to use Scram and Soberlink alcohol monitoring devices during this time while co-parenting and the best interests of the children are challenged by inappropriate and excessive drinking. Attorney Leslie Barrows has asked for court-ordered alcohol monitoring devices and she knows they work to keep people honest!
Scram systems offer remote devices that track and report alcohol use and monitoring. They offer products ranging from ankle monitors to hand-held breathalyzer systems. The technology used in court-ordered alcohol monitoring is effective compared to other methods used by courts in the past, including random ordered drug testing.
Soberlink is another effective professional alcohol monitoring system, not only for addiction recovery but also for family law. The Soberlink includes a hand-held breathalyzer, tamper detection, and facial recognition technology that instantly reports the test results to whomever you have set to receive immediate Soberlink data reports. There are all-in-one cellular Soberlink devices as well as a Soberlink device that connects to a smartphone for data transmission.
Do You Need a Modification Because the Other Parent is Drinking at Home with the Children?
A modification case is required to change and update what is already ordered in a divorce decree. There are several reasons for modifications, including a problem in co-parenting, such as increased drinking and drug use and abuse. Anything that places the safety and best interests of the children at risk may be grounds for filing a modification lawsuit.
In a recent Barrows Firm podcast, Leslie Barrows talks about modification cases and what you can expect. Please feel free to listen – Episode 6: What Does a Modification Case Look Like in Texas.
For Court-Orders, Modifications, and Other Relief Related to Co-Parenting, COVID-19 Coronavirus, and Parents Drinking at Home, Call the Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583.
Divorce and Stimulus Checks for Coronavirus Aid
Divorce and Stimulus Checks for Coronavirus Aid
Divorced couples with questions about stimulus checks for Coronavirus Aid are already arguing over who gets the stimulus checks, and how it works with taxes and the children. Attorneys Leslie Barrows and Amanda Roark and the team at the Barrows Firm have already experienced families in conflict over the stimulus checks for Coronavirus aid and are here to help answer questions and solve problems.
How Much Will My Stimulus Check Be?
The amounts for Coronavirus aid stimulus checks are based on the adjusted gross income of the taxpayer's last-filed IRS tax return. Individuals with adjusted gross incomes less than $75,000 for 2019 should receive $1,200 per individual adult and $500 for each child under the age of 17 at the end of the 2019 tax year. So, couples will receive $2,400 plus $500 per child.
If you have not yet filed your 2019 tax return, the IRS will base your Coronavirus aid stimulus check will be based on your 2018 tax return. If you and your spouse filed joint returns the individual amounts are doubled, so for an adjusted gross income of $150,000, the couple should receive $2,400. Heads of household plus one child with an adjusted gross income of $112,500 should receive $1,700.
Smart Asset Tool – Coronavirus Stimulus Check Calculator: How Much Will I Get?
I Received My Ex-Spouse’s Stimulus Check Money, What Do I Do?
If you have filed for divorce or been divorced since the last filing of your tax return, and you were the head of household filing at that time, you might receive your ex-spouse's share of the Coronavirus aid money. If this happens you should send them their share of the funds received. Failure to turn over another’s stimulus check money could be a violation of federal law. Call the Barrows Firm if you have questions or concerns. Do not simply keep the money. If you believe your ex owes you money, that is a situation that should be addressed by a reasonable agreement.
Who Gets the Stimulus Check for Coronavirus Aid if I Have a Pending Divorce Case?
The IRS will deposit stimulus checks into the bank account listed in the last tax return, where any tax payment refund was deposited. The head of the household is the one to whom the stimulus checks will be sent.
Other Topical and Related Articles by the Barrows Firm:
Do Stimulus Checks for Coronavirus Aid Affect Child Support Obligations?
If you are divorced and owe child support payments that are past due and in arrears, the tax intercept orders by the Texas Attorney General Child Support Division apply. So if the parent owing child support is past due, the stimulus money can be intercepted and used to credit the past due balance. Another situation may be a divorce which is still pending, where the children live with one parent and the other parent was the head of household tax filer and is receiving all of the stimulus money, including that which is meant to support the expenses of the children. If this is the case and you have questions, please contact the Barrows Firm for help with stimulus checks for Coronavirus aid.
There are all kinds of ways to address the application of stimulus checks for Coronavirus aid, and negotiating reasonable agreements can be done by phone, email, or Zoom, without an expensive trip to court for a hearing.
What if my Ex Stole the Stimulus Check Money?
The IRS sends the stimulus check for Coronavirus aid to the account at the bank listed on the last tax return. They do not know whether you filed for divorce or were recently divorced. The checks are sent to the person who files tax returns as the head of the household.
If you believe or know that a stimulus check was sent to your ex and they have a portion of the stimulus aid that you should have received, call the Barrows Firm and talk to attorney Leslie Barrows or Amanda Roark about your rights and options for stimulus check money. Attorney Barrows has already negotiated resolutions to conflicts over stimulus checks, who gets them, and how they are being used.
Why Haven’t I Received My Stimulus Check Yet?
Most of the electronic stimulus check payments were sent on April 11 to arrive by April 15. Note that the IRS issued a 2020 tax deadline extension of the due date to file 2019 tax returns from the April 15th due date to July 15, 2020. So, if you haven’t filed your 2019 return, you still qualify for a stimulus check for Coronavirus aid.
On Friday, April 24, the first paper checks were mailed by the IRS. The first to receive the checks will be tax filers with an adjusted gross income of $10,000 or less. More checks will be forthcoming over weeks and months. Some reports say it could be fall before everyone eligible receives their stimulus checks for Coronavirus aid.
Call Us at the Barrows Firm for Help with Divorce, Custody, and Covid-19 Issues Including Stimulus Checks for Coronavirus Aid at (817) 481-1583.
How Can We Parent at Home Under Stay-at-Home Orders?
Divorce Attorneys Helping Parents Who Ask, How Can We Parent at Home Under Stay-at-Home Orders?
Southlake divorce attorney, Leslie Barrows, and her team of attorneys, paralegals, and staff at the Barrows Firm in Southlake understand how challenging it is to parent a child during or after a divorce and or custody case during stay-at-home orders. Parenting a child during a global pandemic outbreak is another matter. From questions and arguments about visitation exchange for possession to battles over how the stimulus checks are used, people can resist the temptation to take the frustration out on their former spouse.
If your possession time is affected, later we can always make adjustments. Leslie Barrows reminds us that our court orders are necessary when we cannot otherwise adjust on our own. The time one parent missed can be made up later, maybe after the end of the stay-at-home orders when there is more going on.
Do your best to co-parent well, and communicate well. Exchange information and expectations about health, safety, and protective measures. Talk about the masks, gloves, and restrictions reasonably and let your children feel safe and let them know this will pass and it is not the end of the world.
Psychology Today article – Talking to Kids About Coronavirus
What Does Your Possession Schedule Say? Follow it First
When the State and County Stay-at-Home orders were issued, and while schools were extending spring break before closing their doors for longer, there was much confusion among parents. Some co-parents immediately had disagreements about what the extension to spring break meant to their possession time. There was so much confusion that the State Attorney General issued an Emergency Order on possession and access schedules during COVID-19. clarifying that parents were ordered to use the original school calendar to interpret their possession schedules just as if the schools had not been closed.
We spend time and resources negotiating customized parenting plans and possession schedules because we have busy lives and complex calendars. A good co-parent will be flexible and work with the other when one needs a favor. An extra day or weekend here and there should be fine and not upset anything. The goodwill you build with your former spouse can be an important factor in a healthy co-parenting relationship because one day the favor asked might be your own.
Need an enforcement or modification case? Call us at the Barrows Firm (817) 481-1583. Read our article, Child Support Modification, and COVID-19 Coronavirus.
Visitation Exchanges for Possession Time During Coronavirus Stay-at-Home Orders
Travel between pick and drop off locations is essential, and is the expected performance of your duties in your court order, in most cases, your final divorce decree including your possession schedule. Despite concerns about the Stay-at-Home orders, most co-parents understood that they are allowed to leave and drive the children to their destination for visitation with the other parent.
Remember that everyone is inconvenienced in some way during the Stay-at-Home time. You might be an essential-deemed worker still traveling, or you may be instructed to work from home. Worse, you might be laid off or out of work because of the shutdown situation. The more we all work together the better we will be on the other side of this outbreak.
What if You or Your Child Gets Sick or Tests Positive for COVID-19
Kids Health article – Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic: What to Do if Your Child Is Sick
Call your doctor or healthcare provider first. Second, call your divorce attorney if you have questions about your order regarding parenting rights and duties when it comes to healthcare. Common sense and precautions are important during any regular flu season and especially during a more challenging outbreak such as COVID-19 Coronavirus. If you or your son or daughter gets sick, is tested for, and has the Coronavirus, you should receive instructions from your doctor and county health department officials with instructions on what to do to properly quarantine.
If quarantine is necessary, both co-parents should make an effort to work well with the other in the best interests of the child, other children, and everyone else involved. If necessary, courts may be asked to enter Emergency Temporary Restraining orders or use other options to protect a child and a family when the child or a family member is sick, testing positive for COVID-19 Coronavirus.
Are You Concerned About Your Child’s Safety During Coronavirus Pandemic Precautions?
Call your lawyer before you engage in self-help or call 911 because your child tells you they were not required to wear a mask, gloves, and face shield while riding in the other parent’s vehicle. Recommendations by government agencies are not the same as orders issued in your divorce or custody case. Judges are very busy right now, with essential matters and all the liability involved in holding court in person and online using Zoom.
Sometimes it is a better idea to make a record of that with which you have a problem. Later, in an enforcement or modification case, your notes may help demonstrate patterns of questionable behavior. That said, if you believe your child is in actual and immediate harm or the threat of harm, call your lawyer and if necessary call the police.
Are You Violating the Stay-at-Home Orders? Don’t Post That on Facebook.
You don’t need to be a lawyer or creative problem solver to make the argument that certain activities fall within the essential exceptions to the order to stay at home and shelter in place until the state and counties order those preventative measures are no longer necessary to flatten the curve of infection and slow the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus.
If you have determined that taking the kids out to the walking path, park, or lake, be aware that their other parent might not like the idea. And if you are posting it on social media, your honest and simple activity can get turned into the story of a passive-aggressive narcissist rule breaker, one your lawyer anticipates hearing about when you or the opposing counsel calls.
While we have not heard many cases of big busts or law enforcement cracking down on people out for “exercise” but if something does happen, as a kid gets injured, the spotlight and much worse consequences could be on your hands.
Attorney Leslie Barrows and Her Team at The Barrows Firm Can Help with Questions About Stay-at-Home Orders (817) 481-1583
Child Support Modification and COVID-19 Coronavirus
Child Support Modification Cases are Expected to Rise Due to COVID-19 Coronavirus
All over the DFW Metroplex, people are feeling the economic impact of the businesses forced to close, employees being laid off, and salaries being cut while families are ordered to stay and home, many of whom may need a child support modification. Even though stimulus money may be on the way and many companies are allowing people to postpone payments, it takes time. Also, the lines and time it takes to process and receive the bolstered unemployment benefits due to the current situation.
We do not need a degree in economics to understand the domino effect of business closures, layoffs, and reductions in staffing in all industries affected by COVID-19 Coronavirus. It will be some time before any of us see the full impact of the majority of the workforce being affected in some way.
There may be parents of children who never had child support ordered and have been working it out with one another individually. That can change when there is a substantial change of economic circumstances in a time like this with pandemic-related shutdowns. Others who do receive child support may not have gone back for a modification in many years and are suddenly looking into going for an increase.
See our related article, Emergency Order on Possession and Access Schedules During COVID-19 Pandemic
Example of Potential Client for Child Support Modification:
Bob owns a local restaurant that was forced to close and only sell take out to. Bob is running low on inventory and hears supply chains are interrupted. He doesn’t know how long he can keep the take out window open. Jimmy is the restaurant server out of work who cannot pay his rent for the house that Bob owns. Rent houses are great income until tenants stop paying, refusing to leave under temporary government protections. The mortgage still needs to be paid, if there is one. Meanwhile, the rent home owner’s wife Judy is a business executive at a firm that just cut salaries for a temporary but indefinite time. While both may be working, the cash flow is affected and Bob, might have to close the restaurant and he is already having a difficult time with the current child support payments for children from a past marriage.
In the above scenario, it is necessary to look at all the numbers to best determine whether a child support modification is an option for Bob, the child support obligor. To find out if he is eligible to file a child support modification due to economic losses tied to the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak, he should call the Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583.
Are your kiddos asking you about what’s going on? Not sure how to talk about it with them? Consider the tips in this Psychology Today article, Talking to Kids About Coronavirus.
Eligibility to File a Child Support Modification Due to Coronavirus Income Loss
In Texas, there are several grounds for modification of child support. If you qualify under one of these categories, you can file a case for a child support modification. Note that these are the grounds listed in the Texas family code and apply to all types of situations, including economic changes as a result of the COVID-19 Coronavirus.
First, a child support modification is allowed if the circumstances of the child or person affected by the order have materially and substantially changed since the last order was entered.
Second, a child support modification is allowed if it has been three years since the last order was entered or modified and the amount of child support under the order differs by either 20 percent or $100 from the amount that would be awarded under the child support guidelines.
Material and Substantial Changes: Incomes Affected by COVID-19 Coronavirus
Employment changes are common material and substantial changes that qualify as grounds for a child support modification. How much the change affects the obligor’s ability to pay is what becomes the issue in determining if modification is an option. A few weeks of disproportionate pay is one thing, and a layoff is another. And on the other hand, a substantial increase in the noncustodial parent is also a ground to modify support.
Medical coverage changes can also be material and substantial for purposes of qualifying to ask the Court for a child support modification, whether you are the child support obligor (noncustodial) parent or the recipient (primary) parent.
Additional children, born after the last child support order, as well as children that are now living with a different parent, are additional elements in establishing grounds to modify child support.
Child Support Modifications by Agreement or Going to Court for a New Support Order
Here at the Barrows Firm in Southlake, we always hope for the best for our clients who co-parent and share financial responsibilities for their children. We know that in most families, income increases are easy to establish from paystubs and tax returns, and that makes a child support modification a somewhat straightforward process. However, we also know our clients who have complex incomes from various sources, making it a more arduous task to determine one’s net resources for purposes of establishing a new amount of child support.
Whatever your situation may be, the Barrows Firm has you in good hands, even if right now you are not shaking hands. While social distancing and being ordered to stay home because of COVID-19 Coronavirus, the Barrows Firm can still meet with you by phone and video conference. Attorney Leslie Barrows and her team of talented attorneys, paralegals, and staff can Zoom with you and figure out if and how to best help you with a child support modification.
Need a Child Support Modification to Increase or Decrease Support? Call the Barrows Firm in Southlake today at (817) 481-1583
Emergency Order on Possession and Access Schedules During COVID-19 Pandemic
Possession and Access Schedules Not Affected by School Closures
Governor Abbott declared a state of disaster in all 254 counties in Texas in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Individually, our local independent school districts extended spring break and temporarily suspended classes, some for several weeks. The Governor issued a COVID-19 emergency order regarding court-ordered possession and access schedules.
The order states in pertinent part:
“For purposes of determining a person’s right to possession of and access to a child under a court-ordered possession schedule, the original published school schedule shall control in all instances. Possession and access SHALL NOT be affected by the school’s closure that arises from an epidemic or pandemic, including what is commonly referred to as the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Contact the Barrows Firm in Southlake if you have questions about school closures and your possession and access schedule. Our team can help you with your custody and visitation issues in light of temporary school closures. Divorce and child custody attorney Leslie Barrows and the team at the Barrows Firm attorneys are here to help. (817) 481-1583.
Keeping Children Safe During the COVID-19 Pandemic and School Closures
Talking to your kids about Coronavirus, COVID-19, and social distancing is important. Sometimes too much information can overwhelm concerned children. Make sure they know that they are going to be safe at home and that social distancing helps keep healthy people from getting sick. If you feel comfortable, explain to them how people who have no symptoms may be carrying the virus, and even though they may feel fine, they don’t want to infect others, including elders.
The National Association of School Psychologists offers an article on point: Talking to Children About Covid-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource.
Spring Break Extensions, School Closures Options, and Possession Schedule Modifications
The Governor’s emergency order addresses modifications of their possession and access schedules, specifically stating, “Nothing herein prevents parties from altering a possession schedule by agreement if their court order(s), or courts from modifying their orders.”
With children out of school and at home for weeks at a time, the impact on families can be significant. Especially when there are young children, and children with specific needs, school closures can cause hardship for parents and children.
You can modify your court-ordered possession and access schedule if the COVID-19 pandemic and school closures are affecting your family. To modify your possession and access schedule you can negotiate an agreement with the other parent or you can file an original modification case.
The Barrows Firm Offers Information About Modifications of Possession and Access Schedules
On our website, we have short articles and podcasts explaining how modifications work and what you can expect if you need to take action because of the COVID-19 pandemic and related school closures.
Recent Article: The Child Custody Modification Process in Texas
Recent Podcast: Episode 6: What Does a Modification Case Look Like in Texas
Leslie Barrows and the talented attorneys and paralegals at the Barrows Firm are here for you and your parenting concerns about school closures and possession and access schedules, at (817) 481-1583.
The Child Custody Modification Process in Texas
Call Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake for Child Custody Modification (817) 481-1583
Over time things can change and we can become dissatisfied with a Texas divorce decree. During a divorce, parents work towards a co-parenting situation that fosters the best interests of the children involved in custody and visitation determinations. The custody and visitation schedule might work wonderfully for many years until it becomes outdated or things change in the family and the child custody and visitation schedules might not work as well. It doesn’t have to be anyone’s fault, rather the need for modification may likely be tied to the needs of growing kids with demanding schedules.
Remember that your court-ordered parenting plan and visitation schedule is there as a backup when co-parents cannot agree. In many families with a Standard or Expanded Standard Possession Schedule, parents can adjust and trade time back and forth as necessary and when schedules and life happen. That said, when parents cannot get on the same page, they can fall back on their decree and orders.
If the currently ordered possession schedule no longer works, a modification can address the problems. Likewise, if one of the parents is having serious difficulties as a conservator, their parental rights and duties can be modified to preserve the health, safety, well-being and overall best interests of the children involved.
Take a Moment to Listen to Our Latest Texas Divorce Lawyer Podcast – Episode 5: What Does A Divorce Case Look Like in Texas
Attorney Leslie Barrows and her team of family lawyers at the Barrows Firm are ready to help you and your family. Attorney Amanda Roark is another fine divorce lawyer who works on Barrows Firm cases along with Leslie Barrows. To schedule a consultation to learn your rights and options, call the Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583.
What is the Process for Child Custody Modification Cases in Texas?
Child custody is a general term and in Texas, this refers to conservatorship (parental rights and duties), possession and access of the child, and which parent has the exclusive right to determine the child’s primary residence. A court with continuing, exclusive jurisdiction may modify an order for the conservatorship, support, or possession of and access to a child.
The parent, or person with standing to bring a suit under the Texas Family Code, may file the suit for child custody modification with the original court issuing the divorce decree, or order in a suit affecting a parent-child relationship. The standard rules of Texas Civil Procedure apply to a suit for modification, so the process is like the original suit for divorce.
You may have a similar discovery process, temporary orders, mediation, and other settlement negotiation procedures. To learn more details about the process for a child custody modification, please refer to our recent article, What is the Divorce Process in Texas?
What Are the Grounds Necessary for a Child Custody Modification in Texas?
A material and substantial change in circumstances must be established in order to qualify for a child custody modification. The material and substantial change must occur after the date the current order was signed. Children at the age of 12 or older can talk to the judge in chambers when a motion is filed as part of a child custody modification case. Note that the judge is not required to agree with or rule in favor of the child’s wishes, and the judge can make his or her independent decision based on the best interests of the child.
Another ground for a child custody modification is the allegation that the parent who was appointed as the conservator with the exclusive right to determine the residence of the child, has, in fact, relinquished their title and right as the primary parent to the other parent for at least six months. When that happens, the non-primary parent can file a child custody modification case, asking the judge to appoint them as the conservator parent with the primary right to determine the residence of the child.
Note that military service and deployment does not apply in a case where the other parent claims the primary parent has voluntarily relinquished their rights. In fact, there are specific rules for parents, conservatorship, and possession and access in the Texas Family Code.
Psychology Today offers a helpful article about child custody disputes: Three Rules for Negotiating Child Custody, Three things parents fighting over custody should know.
Modification of the Exclusive Right to Determine the Primary Residence of a Child Within One Year of the Order
The Texas Family Code allows for child custody modification within one year of the last custody order entered by the court of original jurisdiction, or the date the parties sign a mediated settlement agreement on which the order is based. Attached to the suit to modify, the party seeking the modification is required to attach an affidavit supporting the facts alleged in the suit for modification and at least one of the following must be alleged:
- The child’s present environment is a danger to their physical health or may significantly impair the child’s emotional development;
- The parent or person with the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child is the person asking for the child custody modification and that requested modification is in the best interest of the child; or
- The person or parent with the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child has voluntarily relinquished the primary care and possession of the child for at least six months and that the modification is in the best interests of the child.
When you meet with your child custody modification attorney at the Barrows Firm in Southlake, you and your attorney can discuss what happened and what strategy is most likely to solve conflicts and high-stakes child custody issues.
Another interesting Psychology Today article: Shared Physical Custody After Divorce: "Fair" to Children? Everyone likes shared custody, but there are emotional drawbacks for children.
Can You Change Custody, Visitation, or Child Support with an Agreed Modification?
Yes, you can modify child custody, conservatorship, support, and possession and access through agreements with the other parent, to settle your issues and modify your parenting plan outside of court. The procedure is still required but when you agree with the other parent or person with custody, the entire case moves along much quicker and saves time and money for all.
Call Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake to Get Started with Child Custody Modification Suits by Calling for a Consultation Meeting at (817) 481-1583.
What is the Divorce Process in Texas?
Hiring the Right Divorce Lawyers for the Divorce Process in Texas
The Barrows Firm attorneys in Southlake, Texas are aggressive divorce lawyers prepared to go the distance with you when winning matters in the divorce process in Texas. Being that prepared for any twists and turns means the Barrows Firm team also knows when strategy means taking different turns in the divorce process in Texas. For example, when we can advise you on when to settle and when to litigate and let you make that decision while knowing what you may be in for if you take issues all the way to final trials.
During a divorce and family law consultation with attorney Leslie Barrows and Associate Attorney Amanda Roark, you will learn your rights and options. Your information and allegations about divorce and child custody are written in your divorce petition, the first filing in the divorce process in Texas.
Article recommendations from Psychology Today:
What is the Residency Requirement to Divorce in Texas?
For a District Court in the county where you live to have jurisdiction to hear your divorce lawsuit you must first be a resident of the State of Texas for at least six months and a resident of your county where you are filing for at least 90 days.
Texas residents in military service, on deployment, are still Texas residents for purposes of residency requirements for divorce suits. There are additional laws in the Texas Family Code about military service members and child custody and visitation.
Filing and Serving the Petition for Divorce
After you and your Southlake divorce attorney have the divorce petition filed with the clerk of the district court, the other party will be served. Most of the time a county constable in your precinct will serve your soon to be ex at the address you provide. In some suits, a petitioner suing for divorce can also request a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to prevent the other spouse from spending, stealing, or hiding marital property. If a TRO is requested and issued by the court, a hearing will be scheduled within 14 days to allow both parties to testify as to whether the TRO should remain.
The respondent is the person served with the divorce. They have 20 days plus the next Monday, to file a response to the divorce petition and submit any of their requests for any temporary orders. A Temporary Orders Hearing is held shortly thereafter to determine who lives where, who drives what, who has what money or support of themselves and children during the divorce. Being well-prepared for a Temporary Orders Hearing is important because many of the conditions determined will carry through the divorce and in the final decree.
Discovery Requests and Documents in the Divorce Process in Texas
After a divorce petition is filed and served the attorneys for the parties send one another discovery demands and document requests. The discovery process is used to determine what facts and evidence are available to help determine property and children’s care decisions. Through exchanging discovery, the parties learn who the other one plans to call as witnesses and what evidence they will use to prove their allegations in their petition for divorce. The parties might object to some of the discovery requests or not turn over information the other believes exists. There are several tools the lawyers can use to get the information they need to win.
Discovery can include written requests to produce and turn over documents for review. Discovery can also include written questions and answers to discovery information such as witnesses who may be called to testify in court. Texas divorce lawyers also conduct discovery depositions where the parties and witnesses answer questions about important issues and evidence. Almost all depositions are recorded with audio and video that can come back later in the case and could be presented in front of a judge and jury.
Mediation and Settlement Negotiation in Texas Divorce and Custody
Most parties in contested divorces with conflict are required to attend mediation with a mediator. Simply put, mediation allows the parties to put everything on the table and figure out their respective bottom lines when it comes to what they are seeking in property and child custody. Most mediators are lawyers who receive specific training in mediation and the process of dispute resolution. One of the advantages of mediation is that there is no evidence taken so people and their lawyers can speak more freely in negotiating towards a settlement without worrying about how what was said will affect their case.
Mediation is a good process to help both parties figure out what they can agree on and what are the high-conflict issues that may need to be resolved in court. When contested issues can be resolved in mediation, a mediated settlement agreement can be signed and when it meets proper writing requirements it can become part of the court’s binding judgment.
Final Trials and Appeals in the Divorce Process in Texas
When there are contested issues that cannot be resolved in mediation or settlement negotiations, the parties will proceed to a final trial where each side can present their evidence and seek to prove their allegations. In Texas divorce trials a jury can be sought to make certain rulings, where otherwise the judge would make decisions. After the end of the final trial, the judge may take some time to review all the evidence and make their findings of fact and conclusions of law which is sent to the parties. Then, one of the lawyers drafts the final judgment and divorce decree which is then entered and becomes the court’s order.
In cases with children and contested custody, the court hearing the original case keeps jurisdiction over the parties and any modification or enforcement actions filed must be determined in the same court.
Appeals are not common but are permitted when the party filing the appeal makes a case that the judge made an error of law or otherwise erred in the process of making rulings in the divorce suit. There needs to be something more legally significant than a party not liking the outcome.
How Long is the Divorce Process in Texas?
The shortest divorce in Texas could be just short of three months because Texas divorces are not final until at least 60 days after the divorce petition is filed with the district court clerk. The longest divorce could take years to litigate and resolve when there are significant conflicts over property and child custody. The more issues involved and the more complex they are, the more time and extra moving parts there are in the divorce process in Texas. In the middle, most divorces can be negotiated, settled, or litigated within six months to one year or longer.
Note that if one of the parties is pregnant or becomes pregnant during the divorce suit, the court will likely wait until the baby is born to finalize the divorce.
If you want to save time and money, you can focus on being open to mediation, and compromise over conflicts with your ex. If you stand firm to disagree with everything he or she says and wants, you should be prepared for your divorce lawsuit to take a long time and involve significant attorney’s fees. That said, your family matters and depending on the issues, standing your ground may be the best decision you make.
Call the Barrows Firm in Southlake for More About the Divorce Process in Texas (817) 481-1583.
Divorce Taxation: Avoiding Penalty for QDRO Distribution Withdrawals
In Divorce, Pensions are Divided Using a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)
Divorces in Texas require the parties community property to be divided equitably, including money in 401k retirement plans and accounts. The values of 401k plans are usually valued at the date of divorce and are divided using a form called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). While some people receive the funds from a 401k division using a QDRO and roll that money right into their own 401k investment account. However, some people want access to the cash value of the amount they receive following the entry of the QDRO.
A Qualified Domestic Relations Order is a form that identifies the 401k plan participant and the alternate payee who should receive an equitable distribution of funds. There are general QDRO forms, and specific forms and models used by individual plan administrators. For example, see the QDRO information page on the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) on their website.
If you are the Alternate Payee named to receive your equitable share of QDRO funds, and you chose to take an early distribution before reaching the age of 59 ½ you will the owe the IRS an early distribution penalty if you do not otherwise inform them that you qualify to avoid additional taxes on qualified retirement plans by completing an additional tax form, IRS Form 5329.
Got Divorce Taxation Questions? Call Southlake Divorce Attorney Leslie Barrows (817) 481-1583.
Divorce Taxation Issues and Questions that Arise During Divorces
Divorce taxation comes up during negotiations about property division, financial support of parties and children, and of course, the division of retirement funds and accounts. Divorce lawyers frequently advise their clients to get divorce taxation advice from qualified tax advisor professionals. Likewise, the tax professionals refer back to the divorce lawyers when they receive questions about who should be entitled to what monies and how.
For most families with straight forward finances, determining divorce taxation answers is easy. But when there are complicated business interests, investments, and stock ownership and options, the issues of revenue and taxation are more complicated. For example, the event triggering the sale or transfer of monies and financial interests can affect tax liability depending on how and when that event takes place. In many situations, it is best when the parties can work together in a way those divorce taxation dilemmas are resolved in everyone’s favor, and not in the favor of IRS.
Generally, a 10 Percent Early Withdrawal Penalty Applies When Cashing In QDRO Money
If you were not aware of early withdrawal penalties, do not be concerned. In the realm of divorce taxation and tax laws applying to QDRO money, the laws can change from year to year and all the experts must approach tax questions and research the current laws and implications of their application.
Let’s say you want to use the money you receive from the 401k distribution to make a down payment on a home. If you can avoid a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty, you have more money to use in getting your new life going after your divorce.
A New IRS Requirement Allows a Waiver of the 10 Percent Early Withdrawal Penalty
If you are the Alternate Payee, meaning you are the one receiving money from a 401k distribution ordered in your divorce decree, you may take advantage of the opportunity to avoid a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty. For many people, this 10 percent can mean substantial savings if you want or need to cash in your QDRO award.
When you sit down to prepare your tax returns after divorcing, you can separate early distributions by completing additional IRS forms allowing you to avoid owing the 10 percent tax on those early distributions.
Now, the Alternate Payee Uses IRS Form 5329 to be Exempt from the Penalty
IRS Form 5329 applies to the additional tax on early distributions from qualified retirement plans including IRAs, modified contracts, and Roth IRAs. You should consult an independent tax advisor qualified to advise and assist with tax forms and filings. They can help you with Form 5329, to be completed and attached to the main Form 1040 or 1040NR. You can also review IRS Form 5329 and this Investopedia article, Retirement Plan Tax Form 5329 for more information and instructions on completing the forms and marking “06” on line 2 and filling in the exempt amount.
Denton and Tarrant County Divorce Attorney Leslie Barrows Can Answer All Your Divorce Taxation Questions (817) 481-1583
The Barrows Firm attorneys, paralegals, and staff welcome your questions about divorce taxation, and all other financial matters that affect you and your family now, and in the future. Principal and founding divorce attorney, Leslie Barrows has professional relationships with all the best tax experts and financial planning advisors who know how best to turn your finances in the best direction after divorce. It is likely that these divorce and financial matters are stressful and at the Barrows Firm, we do whatever we can to make the transition easier and reduce your stress level.
5 Reasons Divorce Lawyers are Busy in January
Divorce Lawyers like Attorney Leslie Barrows are busy with January Divorce and Child Custody Cases
Divorces, child custody, and modification cases are filed more frequently in January, right after the holidays are over and children go back to school. Southlake divorce lawyer, attorney Leslie Barrows knows that people who do their research, find that January is a good time to file their family law case, get their discovery documents ready, and hopefully have their Temporary Orders hearing before spring break and Easter.
Anyone considering filing a new divorce, child custody, or modification case should get the right legal advice from experienced divorce and family law attorney they feel they can trust. Your divorce lawyer needs to know everything about you and the facts of your case so they can represent you with the best strategy to get you what you need.
Read our article, Divorcing with Children 102: Child Custody
To learn your legal rights and options, call Southlake divorce lawyer Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm to schedule a consultation for divorce, child custody, and modification cases. Attorney Leslie Barrows is also a family law mediator. Call (817) 481-1583.
5 Reasons Divorce Lawyers are Busy in January:
1. The Holidays Give People Confirmation they are Making the Right Decision
When a marriage is failing and the distance between spouse increases, it is easier to avoid conflict and fights. In many troubled marriages spouses who once pledged their undying love for one another end up becoming more like roommates.
The holidays involve stimuli that pull us out of our routine and comfort zones. Seeing friends and families can remind us of all kinds of things that make us naturally question ourselves and if we are happy in our lives. For those who know things are not good, they may want to let relatives know over the holidays if there is a divorce coming up soon.
Psychology Today: Why is January Divorce Month?
2. Kids are Back in School and Young Adults are Back in College
By the middle of January, the older children in college are starting their spring semesters in college and the younger ones are settled back in their school routines. Many people wait until after the holidays to get divorced because they are not disrupting Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years with a substantial life change like a divorce.
We all want to give our children and ourselves the best holiday experiences and memories. By waiting until January to start a family law lawsuit, we don’t disrupt anyone. Divorces filed around the beginning of the year usually have their Temporary Orders in place before spring, and everyone has time to get used to possession schedules and new living situations.
3. Other Business May be Slow and January is a Good Time to Start a Divorce
In many industries, January is a slow month and people have more time to work on their divorce case. In a new divorce, child custody, or modification case there are discovery document requests and exchanges, depositions and interrogatory questions to answer. The process of exchanging discovery can be extensive, so being able to devote some extra time to your case may be easier for people if they are in a slower month at work.
Waiting until the new calendar year might also make it easier to determine estimated annual income and expenses. Some people who receive variable year-end bonus income will be asked to determine their current income after the end of the calendar year. There are many other reasons January is a cleaner and easier time to start a divorce lawsuit.
Divorce Net: How to Find Hidden Assets in Divorce
4. Possession Schedules Do Not Work and Co-Parents Need a Modification Case
As children grow older the possession schedules that used to work, might not work any longer. For example, kids in junior high and high school get busy with extracurriculars. Many teenagers prioritize spending time with their friends and playing sports. The possession schedules set in place when the children were younger, might need to be revisited. To get new final orders for co-parenting and possession, a modification case is necessary.
A modification case can be amicable when the co-parents can agree on new possession arrangements that work best for everyone. What gets more contentious are the cases filed to modify which parent has the exclusive right to determine the residence of the children. Where family violence is alleged, joint conservatorship is at issue and one parent will likely become the sole conservator and have the right to determine where the child lives.
Learn more about Texas Child Possession and Access Schedules
5. A January Divorce Filing Can Lead to a Temporary Orders Hearing before Spring Break
At a Temporary Orders hearing the parties in a family law case have a short hearing to determine who will live where drive which cars, and pay for which bills while the divorce case is active. In emergency cases involving family violence, a protective order can issue and can order the offending party to leave the marital residence.
Temporary Order hearings are designed to ensure the best interests of the children and to order the continuation of the status quo while the divorce suit is pending. Until there are temporary orders the parties are not encouraged to be taking vacations out of town with the children. Once there is a Temporary Order that says who can do what and how parents can make plans. To make sure you get everything in place before spring break and Easter, January is the time to get the ball rolling in your family law case.
When You Have a Reason to File a January Divorce, Child Custody, or Modification, Call Attorney Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583.
Custody Logs and Our Family Wizard in Divorce and Child Custody Cases
Do Custody Logs Work
Divorce and child custody cases are easier to manage when you and your lawyer have good custody logs and records when there are conflicts over the custody and possession schedules in temporary orders and the court’s orders after the final trial. Sometimes former spouses have new partners and issues leading to conflicts. Properly maintained custody logs have come a long way and new technology makes keeping a custody calendar so much easier in a divorce or suit affecting a parent-child relationship, where the parents are not married but have a child custody suit.
Who has the kids and when? Are there upcoming special events? When am I required to give the other parent notice of what days I’m taking possession during summer break? A custody log also called a custody calendar, helps everyone understand who needs to be where and when. Keeping a custody log helps keep the peace when records of custody exchanges are easily produced in the event of a conflict among co-parents.
It might seem like a lot of work to maintain a daily custody log and calendar with several schedule entries and notes but it can be easy with some of the great new apps and built-software to handle all your family’s needs. So, where people used to keep notebooks and ledgers with receipts and paperwork, everything is possible today with an app like Our Family Wizard for your custody logs.
Following a Parenting Plan and Possession Schedule in Texas Divorce
In most contested custody suits and divorces, at a temporary orders hearing, the temporary custody and possession schedule is set in place. Easily, the temporary orders custody situation becomes permanent after the final trial. During the divorce, the parents might find out that the temporary custody situation is not going to work for one reason or the other.
Even though the former couple may be able to learn to co-exist and get along as co-parents, it may take some time and bumps along the road. Fixing a broken situation may require showing a judge, guardian at litem, attorney, or other professional involved in the case about what is actually happening.
The key is establishing the expected custody schedule and using custody logs and supportive evidence when making an argument in favor of modifying or enforcing the custody arrangement and possession schedule ordered by the Court.
What is a Custody Log in a Texas Divorce and What is its Purpose?
Many judges will order the parties to create and maintain custody logs, however the parties can make that happen. An attorney may ask the Court to order a specific custody log format such as the Our Family Wizard software app, which is specifically developed and used in divorces with high conflict child custody cases.
See the Custody Exchange article, Organize Your Custody Case with a Digital Journal.
The custody log helps two parents make good habits regarding their custody and possession schedules. When people learn to make it a daily habit to manage custody calendars. This also means that parents can make it a habit to prepare for birthdays, holidays, and schedule changes ahead of time, to avoid conflict. Co-parents who work well with custody exchanges can keep track of everything and juggle schedules without unnecessary drama.
Attorney Barrows is a divorce attorney with years of experience with a variety of custody log systems including the current favorite of many, Our Family Wizard, designed with all the best features for co-parenting and custody exchanges.
Using Our Family Wizard (OFW) for Custody Logs and Records
Digital records are easier to maintain with the Our Family Wizard app. With real-time date, time and location information, the parties can rely on the software that cannot be faked or manipulated. A simple entry in the Our Family Wizard app is much easier to do than running into the local fast food restaurant designation spot and buying a Coke so you have a time-stamped receipt.
Parents who address concerns about parental alienation can use the OFW app to show a pattern of problems that might otherwise be one’s word against the other. In the section of the OFW app where parents exchange information, the grammar checker can alert to aggressive tone, asking the sender if they want to re-word their entry.
When the judge has real-time access to the custody log on OFW and can be notified if necessary, it is easier for the Court to make custody decisions about conflicts, enforcement, and modifications.
Even if you are not in a high-conflict divorce or custody situation, custody logs like the OFW app make it really easy for good co-parents to maximize their kiddos’ opportunities and busy schedules. To learn more, read our custody logs article, Divorcing with Children 104: Using Our Family Wizard.
With Questions and Concerns about Custody Logs, Call the Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583
Barrows Firm Holiday Survival Tips
Divorcing Over Christmas and New Years: Barrows Firm Survival Tips
Divorce and holidays are challenging. You do not have to be a wreck or hide out until after New Years' Day. Southlake Attorney Leslie Barrows has a few holiday survival tips to help create more laughter and good memories with your children and to boost your co-parenting skills. While you cannot change the fact that you got a divorce or had a child custody case, you can change your attitude about the situation if things did not go well.
When you focus on appreciating you have children because you were with your ex, you can learn to have a better attitude of gratitude. When you make an effort to laugh and sing, you boost your spirits and those around you. Keeping your positive attitude and patience, you can lead by setting good examples. As you and your kids create new traditions, focus on the present and the future. And when buying and giving gifts to your children, remember that it is not a competition for their love and respect, so take the opportunity to always remind them what Christmas is all about.
If you work at it, you can make this and every next Christmas season magical. Of course, if there are problems beyond your control and custody emergencies arise, you can always call Southlake Divorce Attorney Leslie Barrows if you need some muscle or to get into court.
Check out our blog article with more information, Divorcing with Children 107: Preparing for the Holidays
Appreciating Your Ex Because You Have Children Together
Especially if this is your first, second, or maybe third holiday season after divorce, you may still be angry and upset with your ex. Allowing yourself to feel, helps you heal. So when a song, favorite movie, or a Christmas card from someone triggers your mixture of good and bad thoughts and memories, take a moment to focus on how much you love your children.
When you start feeling upset or someone brings it up, learn to say that you appreciate your ex because without them you wouldn’t have your kids. Also, learn to say that you believe your ex wants to be a good parent and they are also important to your children.
Barrows Firm Holiday Survival Tip: Never talk badly about your ex because your kids are half you, and half them. The worst thing a child could hear is that you hate the half of them that comes from their other parent. Just don’t do it.
Laughing and Singing for Elevating Your Spirits
You know what traditional holiday movies and songs make you laugh, and which ones make you cry. If you want to have the best holiday season, focus on laughter and song. Watch some comedy holiday movies with the kids. Sing songs and turn up your favorite rocking around the Christmas tree tunes.
Laughing and singing is good for you and your children. Keeping spirits bright means doing things that make you laugh and sing. This article is great and it offers some creative ways to make things goofy and fun, such as the Ugly Christmas Sweater Day: 5 Hillarious Ways to Laugh Off Holiday Stress
Co-Parenting One Day at a Time: Attorney Barrows Recommends a Positive Attitude
True or False: If your ex screws up the holiday possession schedule, you should make them regret the day they screwed up your holiday season? FALSE
While you may remember the dream sequences in the popular 80s movie 9 to 5 (about all those things people dream about doing to their boss), it is best to keep those thoughts in your head and use the opportunity negotiate something that works much better for you, like a few extra days in January so you can take the kids on a surprise weekend getaway.
A key Barrows Firm holiday survival tip is to be reasonable and not build a case against your ex if something goes wrong. However, if there is a serious matter and you really need to go to court for a custody order enforcement action, call Leslie Barrows.
Creating New Holiday Traditions and Doing Something New
Whenever a family goes through a substantial change such as a divorce, most divorce lawyers and child custody mental health professionals recommend creating new holiday traditions. Southlake divorce attorney Leslie Barrows offers a pro tip: “Instead of focusing on what day you do things, focus on what new traditions you are creating with your kiddos.” So instead of always decorating the Christmas tree on a specific day, focus on the process. For example, start making a tradition of sharing stories about favorite ornaments or making a trip together to hunt for some great new ornaments.
As both you and your ex separately create new traditions with the children, they will start to look forward to those from year to year. After not long at all, the new traditions and happy memories become something to cherish.
Barrows Firm Holiday Survival Tip: Maybe a new tradition is a holiday vacation! So long as it works with your possession schedule and you plan ahead, consider a few popular holiday vacation destinations! 7 Best Christmas Getaways in Texas
Avoiding the Gifting Competition and Focusing on the Meaning of Christmas
When Christmas comes during or recently after divorce, some parents tend to overcompensate by giving more gifts than usual, and gifts that may seem excessive. Sometimes the non-primary parent sees an opportunity to show their children how much they love them by overdoing it on Christmas gifts. Let us not assume that this is intentional, rather a knee-jerk reaction to emotions and adjustment.
The important message about Christmas should be that both parents and sides of the family love the children and cherish their time with them during the holidays. By overcompensating with excessive fights, your kids might suspect that you are trying to make up for a shortfall. So try to remember how much you love your children and show them by spending quality time with them instead of showering them with excessive presents.
Leslie Barrows and the Southlake Divorce Attorneys, Paralegals, and Staff at the Barrows Firm Hope You Enjoy the Barrows Firm Holiday Survival Tips and Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Call the Barrows Firm Anytime at (817) 481-1583.
Divorce and Cohabitation During Divorce: When It Can Work
When people file for a divorce it is common for one of the parties to pack their bags and leave the house. However, some couples decide to stay living together, cohabitating during divorce. Not everyone wants to spend the money on supporting two households during a divorce, and some simply cannot afford to pay for separate residences while also paying for the divorce.
It might work well for some couples to live together during divorce, and for others, it would not be a good option. If you are getting divorced and are considering staying in the home together during the divorce, know that you can change your mind at any point. Especially if things go from polite to hostile, you might need to make other arrangements for separate living spaces.
If you and your spouse can continue cohabitating during divorce, the divorce process itself might be easier and more agreements might be possible. You should talk to your divorce lawyer if you want legal advice about the implications of living together during divorce. For example, can you stay under the same roof and not discuss the terms of the divorce? What does your divorce lawyer recommend regarding communication during cohabitation during the divorce?
Divorce Magazine: 8 Survival Tips for Living Together During Divorce
Would You Consider Living Together During Divorce?
Many people would say it really depends on the circumstances, whether two divorcing people could stand living together during a divorce. For example, some couples divorce after years of disagreement about finances, work, and family life. If your divorce is a product of ongoing relationship problems and differences, but you can get along peacefully, you might be able to keep living together for a while, during divorce.
From the HuffPost, read about high-income earners who chose cohabitation to save money in this article, The Unselfish Divorce: Separating But Living Together. If you are considering it, see also House Rules: 5 Tips to Being Divorced and Still Living Together.
If, however, you or your spouse did something that caused immediate and irreparable damage to the relationship, such as physical violence, obviously living together is not an option.
If you did consider cohabitating during the divorce, how long do you think you could keep living together? When asked this question, some respond that they have already put up with the other for so long, that they can probably stick it out for a while, knowing the divorce will be final before long.
How Children Could Benefit from Parents’ Cohabitation During Divorce
When you ask a child what they know about divorce, you might hear a variety of answers. If you and your spouse are good co-parents, despite your personal differences, you all might be able to show the children how divorcing parents can still get along well and take care of the kids.
Remember that you should not talk to your kids about the divorce, that violates a court’s standing orders, and whatever other temporary restraining orders or temporary orders apply in the divorce. That said, we all wonder if kids talk to their friends or cousins about what is going on, including their parents getting divorced. So, what might they say?
Even though kids' other friends might tell them their parents fought fiercely and cannot be in the same room together, your kids might be able to say that divorce is different for all families and their parents are divorcing while getting along and not fighting in front of the children.
The pattern of behavior children observe during divorce can give them an idea of what might be normal adult behavior. Kids can either watch and learn from parents who can get along peacefully, or kids can learn from parents who fight.
When Cohabitation May Not be in the Best Interests of Children
If there is any history of family violence, substance abuse, and other significant volatility, cohabitation can be a bad idea. If children know their fighting parents are getting a divorce but remaining in the house during the divorce, those kids might be terrified. Children might be concerned that mom or dad might start asserting their independence in ways that might not turn out well.
What the child perceives might simply be an uneasy and awkward sense. The child might pick up on everyone walking on eggshells. So unless two divorcing parents are sure they can maintain a positive status quo during the divorce, they might consider other options.
What About Cohabitation After Divorce? Some People Keep Living Like Roommates
Some couples may decide to continue saving money by staying in the same house, even after the divorce. There are plenty of families who have already done this, and they often find that the divorce makes it easier to tolerate one another without the uncertainty of their future in a bad marriage. Some might stay together while co-parenting and split once the kids leave the house. Others plan to live together after the divorce, and it works for six months or a year before one of the parties is just ready to move on or is in better financial shape to do so.
Every family is different and whether they can get along in cohabitation during divorce is determined on a case by case basis, often one day or week at a time. Call the Barrows Firm to learn your rights and options for your divorce in Texas.
Attorney Leslie Barrows is a Divorce Lawyer in Southlake, Texas at the Barrows Firm. Call the Barrows Firm for a Texas Divorce and Custody Consultation at (817) 481-1583.
Special Needs Children and Divorce
Divorce is challenging, especially on special needs children with a variety of mental and/or physical disabilities. Especially when a child has a mental disability, the process of, and the concept of divorce can cause more problems. For example, a child with autism may need additional love, support, and attention to make sure special needs children feel safe and secure.
Psychology Today: Divorce Cases Involving Children with Autism
Financial implications of divorcing with special needs children should be considered by parents and their divorce lawyers. When a family adjusts to a new living situation, a child with a physical disability might need new home aides and equipment. Child custody and support require additional care and attention when parents divorce and one or more children have special needs.
Although the Texas Family Law Code does define a list of factors to qualify a child as special needs or as having a disability, there are procedures a child custody lawyer can use to meet the needs of the family. Disabilities are conditions that impair someone’s movement, speech, daily function, and abilities to solve problems and make daily judgments.
Attorney Leslie Barrows is a divorce lawyer you can trust to negotiate and litigate for you and your children, so your family can accommodate special needs children during and after divorce. Call Leslie at the Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583.
How the Needs of a Child with Special Needs Can Change with Time
Approaching issues of care for special needs children during divorce is tricky. Depending on the age of a child with a range of mental and/or physical disabilities, it might be necessary to review the needs of the child as they grow and mature. When you can anticipate that the needs of a child may change and are unforeseeable, it is important to consider the unknown future of a child and how they adapt as they grow older.
At the Barrows Firm, Leslie and her team of talented trial lawyers know that the needs of children with mental, emotional, and physical limitations can change. The Barrows Firm attorneys prepare for change by using a strategy that structures agreements and their provisions to anticipate what may come.
The Special Needs Alliance offers an article with more thoughts about the challenges of divorce when you have a child with special needs: Divorce and Children with Special Needs.
Court-Ordered Child Support for Special Needs Children
Chapter 154 of the Texas Family Code is the provision of law regarding court-ordered support for a disabled child. The law covers adult children as well as minor children. Texas law states that a court may order either or both parents to provide for the support of the child for an indefinite period once the following criteria are met.
First, the court must make a finding that the child requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a mental or physical disability and that the child will not be capable of self-support. Second, the court must find that the disability, or cause thereof, existed or was known prior to the 18th birthday of the child.
If the Court-ordered support is for an adult child, the Court may designate a special needs trust to receive support to be paid directly to the trust for the benefit of the adult child with special needs. Note that this is not the same procedure are using the state disbursement unit.
Note that ordered child support can impact a child’s social security or disability claims if any. When these benefits are an issue, Attorney Leslie Barrows consults with other experienced lawyers who often specialize in these specific legal areas.
Forming a Special Needs Trust to Support Special Needs Children
If you and the other parent agree or are ordered to create a self-funded special needs trust, Attorney Leslie Barrows can create a special needs trust in accordance with applicable Texas probate code provisions as well as the U.S. federal code as it may apply.
A special needs trust also referred to as a supplemental needs trust, is a trust that holds property, often money, solely for the benefit of a person with a mental or physical disability, such as a special needs child. In a divorce involving a special/supplemental needs trust, the Court’s order should identify the details regarding each parent’s rights and duties regarding the trust, ensuring that the needs of the child and their best interests are met.
Conservatorship and Possession and Access to Special Needs Children in Divorce
Beginning with your temporary order hearing, the court will order or consider the agreement of the parties about who is going to live where and who will pay for what during the divorce. When your child has special needs, however, it can be more difficult to adjust.
Experienced divorce lawyers like Attorney Leslie Barrows will prepare you for child custody issues and the process through which you can make your case on why you should be the primary parent. It might be necessary to use a qualified expert to offer testimony about what a particular child might need for daily care, and how that care can best be given to the child.
Call Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake with Your Questions About Special Needs Children and Divorce (817) 481-1583.
Divorcing With Children 108: Keep Kids Out of Divorce
Non-Litigation Tools for Parenting Time and Parenting Issues to Keep Kids Out of Divorce
There are many options for dispute resolution involving parenting time and parenting issues. Mediation, counseling, and communication are pathways to compromise and they help keep kids out of divorce. Parents want the best for their children and most parents feel that the best thing for their kids is to spend their time with them. The problem is the other parent probably makes the same argument. Parents argue over who gets the children and who can make which decisions about them. Most parents agree to try to keep kids out of divorce but they cannot come to an agreement and end up letting the process lead to the outcome.
There are better ways to resolve conflicts than exposing children to custody litigation. Often one parent wants to focus on alternative dispute resolution methods while the other just wants the lawyers to handle everything on paper and in court.
What people divorcing with children should know is that many mental health and family law attorneys and professionals agree that keeping kids out of divorce is better in the long run. High-conflict litigation can lead to all kinds of emotional reactions as well as short-to-long-term behavior and developmental concerns.
Leslie Barrows is a divorce lawyer Southlake, Texas families trust with their best interests, especially when divorcing with children. Attorney Barrows and her talented family attorneys and paralegals are there to help make the process as painless as possible. Call the Barrows Firm, Attorneys & Mediators (817) 481-1583.
Mediation, Family Counseling, and Parenting Communication
Alternatives dispute resolution methods keep kids out of divorce litigation and all the problems that can come along with exposing them to parenting and custody battles. Initially, your ex might not prefer the idea of doing mediation, counseling and communication-focused negotiation. But, when the attorneys talk to their clients, they often highlight the advantages of going to mediation, especially where it saves people time and resources for more important issues.
Psychology Today: Proving the Benefits of Mediation
Mediation to Keep Kids Out of Divorce
Mediation is a non-adversarial process designed to be non-confrontational. Both parties and their lawyers attend mediation. A third-party mediator experienced in Texas divorce, custody, and other family law issues will lead the parties through a process of talking about concerns without worrying about their statements being used as evidence in court.
Ideally, meditation helps people get down to the bottom line so parents can work out their conflict and come to an agreement on key elements of parenting and time with the kids. Mediation allows parents to sort things out and identify which, if any, issues need to be determined in court. This saves everyone time and money.
Family Counseling for Kids and Parents
A great family counselor can help the whole family. People who are not used to seeing a family counselor are likely to appreciate the value of working with a mental health professional. Counselors are good at helping us talk about our thoughts, concerns, and feelings in a safe and neutral environment. A family counselor can help parents and children get closer to understanding exactly what is bothering them and how to better understand their feelings about the divorce.
Kids need to know they are safe and that both their parents love them. When people divorcing with children have the opportunity to attend family counseling, they can get to a better place in their minds, which leads to better communication, and more effective mediation. When parents know their kids are going to be okay and they do feel safe and loved, then parents might be more successful in mediating conflict to stay out of court and keep kids out of divorce.
Parenting Communication for Better Compromise
Communication issues are roadblocks to negotiation and compromise. Whether preparing for mediation or family counseling, learning to say exactly what you mean can be as important as meaning exactly what you say.
Electronic communication can be dangerous to effective communication. Especially if you are exchanging text messages and emails, it is easy to assume a tone that the other does not intend. When one party thinks the other is being short about exchanging pick up and drop off information, the other may be trying to give the other space.
If the goal is to resolve as many divorcing with children issues as possible, being a patient and effective communicator is a must. Simply learning not to misconstrue things can help people along well. There are all kinds of resources available to be a better communicator, and many are found online.
Article recommendation: Tips on Communication With Your Spouse During a Divorce, from Marriage.com.
When Litigation Cannot Be Avoided, Keep Kids Out of Divorce at Home
Fitness as a parent, child abuse, and domestic violence issues may best be determined by a judge or jury. Based on the nature of other troublesome issues and extreme animosity, traditional litigation can be necessary as alternative dispute resolution practices are not going to be an option.
Divorcing with children and using traditional litigation does not need to be something to fear. In fact, the anticipation of things can often be much worse than the actual event, such as a custody hearing. At the Barrows Firm we know these are challenging times and we do everything to lessen the impact.
Even when we must proceed in high-stakes child custody litigation we know that moms and dads want to keep their kids out of their divorce. At every turn in a divorce case, we know what stress and anxiety parents and children are facing, so we focus on strategies that minimize open conflict and life disruption whenever possible.
Consult the Barrows Firm in Southlake when Divorcing With Children (817) 481-1583
Attorney Leslie Barrows and her team of family law attorneys, paralegals, and staff at the Barrows Firm understand how important it is to have the best possible experience when divorcing with children. They know you want to keep kids out of divorce litigation and preserve the status quo whenever possible, so everyone comes out of the divorce with their feet forward.
Divorcing with Children 107: Preparing for the Holidays
Tips for Preparing for Holidays when Divorcing with Children
The holiday season is challenging enough for happy couples with children. When you are preparing for, in the middle of, or just post-divorce, it is time to search for a new normal. Your outlook and attitude can be your best allies when it seems like everyone is against you. Despite the peril, you may feel, trying to give your children the best life you can provide, there can be good news about children of divorced parents.
As the study of divorce and children continues, mental health professionals make encouraging reports. Children are better off when their divorced parents worked to maintain positive attitudes in their parenting roles. While so many people worried that kids of divorce would have problems in life, the reality is many are well-adjusted. Divorcing with children does not mean your children are going to be worse off, and when you and the other co-parent keep a strong focus on the best interests of the kids, everyone’s lives can be healthier.
Enjoy this Kids Health article, Helping Your Child Through a Divorce
As Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and other seasonal holidays are soon upon us, we have an opportunity to make things best for our kids, which in turn makes things good for us as parents. If you have a conflict with your spouse or ex, you have control over how you let conflict affect you as a parent and as a partner. Even if you feel you have to fake it until you make it through the holidays, you can be the one driving the bus.
Leslie Barrows is a Southlake divorce lawyer at the Barrows Firm and she can help. Whether you are facing a divorce, preparing to file after the Holidays, or need to modify your custody situation, Leslie and her team of talented family lawyers can are there to walk you through the entire process. Call Leslie at (847) 481-1583 or Contact the Barrows Firm online.
Make Plans Now if You Anticipate Holiday Travel – Get Into Court Now
If you anticipate a problem with your possession schedule and holiday events and family get-togethers, call your divorce lawyer now and don’t wait until it is too late to adjust your time with children and family. You might be able to negotiate a compromise with the other parent that saves everyone from a trip to court and the time and expense of asking a judge to make a decision when the parents cannot.
Remember that you and your former spouse should work together as much as possible to provide a good life for the kids, and quality time with both parents. However, there are parts of expanded family dynamics beyond your control. Especially when one of you remarries and blends families, your negotiation efforts can fall by the wayside and you need to go to court.
If you need your divorce lawyer to help intervene and go to court, do it now. When big trips are planned and family events are scheduled, most of us know in advance of scheduling conflicts. Your judge may want to know why the parties are unable to figure things out on their own. It is best if you have a known problem, to address it as early as possible. Judges usually dislike preventable emergency cases.
Your First Set of Holidays with Kids After Divorce
Once you are assured who will have the kids on what holidays, you can make plans. If you currently in a divorce case, refer to your temporary orders and standing orders to remind yourself of your rights and responsibilities as a single parent preparing for the holidays. Your new plans can remind you that quality time with your family does not have to be tied to a specific calendar date. You can also learn an appreciation for the best interests of your children, understanding how important it is for them to have quality time with both their parents.
Great Article: 5 Tips for Celebrating the Holidays with a Blended Family
Mental Health Professionals Help People Divorcing with Children
A good therapist can be valuable to parents and children in the conflict. The stress of a high-stakes divorce and child custody case can wear the strongest people down. People often tell their divorce lawyer all their thoughts and feelings about what is happening. While it is important to share information with your divorce lawyer, understand that they need that information to represent you and get the right outcome for you and your kids. Meanwhile, the mental health professionals are there to help fix you and help you prepare to find that new normal after the divorce.
Holidays and the seasons can be whatever you want them to be, within reason. If your divorce case is recent, you are probably operating under temporary orders providing for where the kids are going to be on the holidays and whether they will be with you or the other parent.
Knowing what lies ahead is valuable for anyone preparing for what is coming. For example, the holidays are coming whether we like or not. All we can control is our attitude, and a good therapist should help you get your bearings and be the best version of yourself during and after your divorce.
How do You Know You if You Need a Modification Case?
When there are significant changes in the life of a parent or child, a custody modification case might be necessary to fix co-parenting problems. Anything can happen to people and what might have worked before might no longer work and be in the best interests of your children.
When something happens and you need to go to court and ask for a modification of your possession schedule and custody plan, call Southlake divorce lawyer, Leslie Barrows, sooner than later. A modification case is an original lawsuit, similar to your original divorce action. If the holidays are your concern, call the Barrows Firm today so you can get into court soon.
When Preparing for Holidays when Divorcing with Children, and You Need a Divorce Lawyer, Call Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake, Texas at (817) 481-1583.
Leslie Barrows is an experienced divorce and family lawyer whose practice is focused on helping families heal and work on being the best they can be. Leslie has helped many people and their families in Tarrant County and Denton County courts. When winning matters and you have a high-stakes divorce or child custody conflict, you need strong and compassionate representation. Call the Barrows Firm or make contact online today.
Leslie Barrows Selected Top Attorney for 2019 for Fort Worth Magazine
Congratulations to Attorney Leslie for being selected Top Attorney for 2019 for Fort Worth Magazine in the Family category. Look for the Top Attorney list in the December 2019 issue of Fort Worth Magazine!