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Grandparents' Rights in Child Custody Cases in Texas

September 13, 2023
Child Custody

Grandparents' Rights in Texas Child Custody Cases: Legal Insights and Guidance

Regarding child custody cases in Texas, grandparents can play a vital role in ensuring the well-being of their grandchildren. Texas law recognizes the importance of maintaining a solid and loving relationship between grandparents and their grandchildren, even in divorce or parental disputes. This article will explore the rights and options available to grandparents seeking child custody in Texas. Leslie Barrows is a Southlake divorce attorney who helps families with grandparents' rights in child custody cases in Texas.

Please also read a great article published by Today magazine about the Special Role of Grandparents.

Barrows Firm family law attorney Leslie Barrows and her team frequently receive questions from parents and grandparents seeking parenting plans and custody solutions in the best interests of their children and current living situation. In many instances, the parties are agreeable to what is happening and want the process done correctly. Some families in crisis need aggressive legal intervention and an intense attorney fighting for their parental rights and children. When you can't risk getting it wrong, and your child's well-being is on the line, knowing what you are up against and how to protect your family is important. When you need to know your rights and options, you have a divorce lawyer in Southlake upon whom you can rely for an experienced strategy for helping your family.

Understanding the Role of Grandparents in Texas Child Custody Cases

In Texas, grandparents can be a valuable support system for their grandchildren, providing stability and love in challenging times. However, it's essential to understand that grandparents do not have an automatic right to custody or visitation. Instead, they must meet certain criteria and take specific legal steps to assert their rights with a Texas divorce attorney.

Please Check Out our Previous Article About Grandparent Custody And These Topics:

·        Family Lawyers with Estate Planning Solutions, Including Guardianship

·        Unexpected Tragedies are Beyond our Control

·        Planning for Unforeseeable Grandparent Custody Issues

When Can Grandparents Seek Custody or Visitation?

Grandparents may seek custody or visitation rights in the following situations:

·        The child's parents are divorced.

·        The child has lived with the grandparents for at least six months.

·        The child's parents are unfit or harm the child's well-being.

·        The child has been abused or neglected by the parents.

Legal Procedures for Grandparents Seeking Custody

Grandparents who believe that seeking custody is in the best interests of their grandchildren can follow these steps:

Please consult with an attorney: It is advisable to consult with an experienced family law attorney who can guide you through the legal process. File a lawsuit: Grandparents must file a lawsuit requesting custody or visitation rights in a Texas court. Prove the child's best interests: Courts in Texas prioritize the child's best interests when making custody decisions. Grandparents must demonstrate that granting them custody or visitation would bein the child's best interests. Lawyers for divorce and custody matters know what is likely to happen, given the specific facts, circumstances, and who the judge may be in an existing custody matter.

Mediation or court trial: The court may recommend mediation to resolve disputes amicably. A court trial may be necessary to determine custody if an agreement cannot be reached.

Factors Considered by Texas Courts

Texas courts consider several factors when deciding whether to grant custody or visitation rights to grandparents. These factors include:

·        The child's age and preference.

·        The child's physical and emotional needs.

·        The ability of the grandparents to provide astable and loving environment.

·        The relationship between the child and grandparents.

·        Any history of abuse or neglect by the child's parents.

Visitation Rights for Grandparents

If full custody is not granted, grandparents can still seek visitation rights. Texas law allows visitation orders in cases deemed in the child's best interests.

Modification of Custody Orders

Grandparents who have been granted custody may seek a modification of the custody order if a significant change in circumstances affects the child's well-being.

Rights of Grandparents in the Absence of Court Orders

Even without a court order, grandparents in Texas have certain rights, including:

·        Right to access the medical and educational records of their grandchildren.

·        Ability to consent to medical treatment in emergencies.

·        Right to visit with their grandchildren if the parents do not object.

Termination of Grandparents' Rights

Sometimes, a court may terminate a grandparent's rights if deemed in the child's best interests. This is a complex and rare legal process, typically initiated by the child's parents.

Grandparents can play a vital role in the lives of their grandchildren, and Texas law recognizes their importance. While grandparents do not have automatic rights to custody or visitation, they can seek legal recourse when it is in the child's best interests. Consulting with an experienced family law attorney is essential to navigate the complexities of Texas child custody laws and ensure the best outcome for grandparents and grandchildren.

For Assistance with Grandparents' Rights in Child Custody Cases in Texas, Contact Us at Barrows Firm in Southlake, Divorce Attorneys Near Me, at 817-481-1583

Arbitration in Texas Divorce and Child Custody

Untying the Knots: Can You Arbitrate Your Way to a Smoother Divorce?

August 25, 2023

Learn How Untying the Knots Can Lead to Smoother Lives When You Arbitrate a Smoother Texas Divorce and Child Custody Matter

Divorce in Texas can be an emotionally and legally complex process, especially when children are involved. Fortunately, in Southlake, Texas, couples have a powerful alternative to traditional courtroom battles: divorce and custody arbitration. In this article, we'll explore the benefits of arbitration in achieving a smoother divorce and resolving custody disputes while shedding light on how a family law firm can guide you through this process.

Barrows Firm Attorney Leslie Barrows frequently answers people's questions about alternative dispute resolution options, like binding arbitration, to resolve conflict. Alternatively, the traditional legal process, including hearings and trials before a judge or jury, can take significant time and resources.

Please enjoy and read our topically related article, Divorcing With Children 108: Keep Kids Out of Divorce.

What is Divorce and Custody Arbitration?

Arbitration in Texas family law refers to a method of alternative dispute resolution where a neutral third party, known as an arbitrator, assists divorcing spouses in resolving their conflicts and making decisions related to their divorce, including issues like property division, spousal support, and child custody. This process offers an alternative to traditional court litigation, providing a private and often more streamlined approach to settling disputes.

In Texas divorce and family law, arbitration involves both parties voluntarily agreeing to submit their issues to an arbitrator, who listens to both sides, considers evidence and arguments, and then renders a decision. This decision, known as an arbitration award, outlines the resolution of the matters in dispute. The arbitrator's expertise in family law matters lends credibility to the decisions made during arbitration.

Explore the benefits of arbitration and alternative dispute resolution models in this Psychology Today article, Divorce Education and Therapeutic Family Mediation To Resolve Parenting Disputes.

Binding Nature of Arbitration in Texas Family Law

In Texas, arbitration can be binding or non-binding, depending on the agreement between the parties. Binding arbitration means that the decisions made by the arbitrator are final and legally enforceable. Once an arbitration award is issued, both parties must abide by its terms, just as they would with a court judgment. This can provide a sense of finality and closure to the divorce process.

On the other hand, non-binding arbitration serves as more of a recommendation or guideline. While the arbitrator's decision can still influence the parties' negotiations, it isn't legally binding. If either party is dissatisfied with the non-binding arbitration award, they can pursue other resolution methods, such as litigation or further negotiation.

It's important to note that the binding nature of arbitration is determined by the arbitration agreement that the parties enter into at the outset. This agreement outlines whether the arbitration process will result in a binding decision that both parties must adhere to or if it will be non-binding and serve as a basis for further negotiation.

Arbitration in Texas family law involves a neutral arbitrator helping divorcing couples reach resolutions outside the traditional courtroom setting. The binding nature of arbitration depends on the agreement reached by the parties. If they opt for binding arbitration, the decisions made by the arbitrator are legally enforceable, providing a structured and efficient path to resolving divorce-related issues.

There are Many Benefits of Divorce and Custody Arbitration in Texas


Unlike court proceedings, which are typically open to the public, arbitration offers a confidential setting. Alternative dispute resolution, out of Court, helps protect sensitive family matters from becoming part of the public record. In many high-net-worth divorces, the parties have significant business and public lives and would greatly appreciate their private lives and details being a searchable matter of public record.


Couples have more control over the arbitration process compared to court litigation. They can agree on the arbitrator, the timeline, and the issues to be discussed, allowing for a more personalized and tailored approach.


Arbitration often moves faster than court proceedings, which can be particularly appealing to couples looking to finalize their divorce swiftly. Additionally, couples can schedule arbitration sessions at their convenience.


The arbitrator is usually an experienced family law professional with a deep understanding of divorce and custody matters. This expertise can lead to well-informed decisions that benefit both parties and any children involved.

Reduced Conflict

The collaborative nature of arbitration can lead to reduced conflict and acrimony compared to adversarial Court battles. Conflict management is essential when co-parenting is involved. Note that children learn how parents handle conflict, and what the kids see in divorce can model their future behavior.

Custom Solutions

Arbitration allows for creative and custom solutions that may not be possible through a court's rigid decisions. This flexibility is particularly beneficial for unique family situations.

Understanding The Role of a Family Law Firm in Divorce and Custody Arbitration

A family law firm such as the Barrows Firm in Southlake, Texas, can be pivotal in guiding couples through the arbitration process and helping the family move forward and function well. Attorney Leslie Barrows has many years of extensive experience in high-conflict divorce. Child custody matter expertise enables her to know how and when to execute the best strategy in her client's cases.

Not all cases are best suited for alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation and arbitration. Still, some are, and attorney Barrows and her team can help you along however best suits your and your family's needs. The following are several elements of the family lawyers' roles in assisting you with arbitration.

How Family Lawyers Assist with Divorce and Custody Arbitration:

Expert Guidance in Strategy and Execution

Experienced attorneys can provide valuable insights into arbitration, helping clients understand their rights, options, and potential outcomes. Knowing what you are up against and the likelihood of different outcomes is vital to assessing how to proceed in arbitration.

Case Preparation of Documents and What to Expect in Arbitration

Attorneys can assist clients in preparing their arbitration cases. This includes gathering relevant documents, evidence, and information to support their claims. Much of this process is similar to preparing for hearings and trials in traditional litigation.

Negotiation Support and Case Settlement Options

During the arbitration sessions, attorneys can effectively advocate for their clients' interests, ensuring their concerns are heard and addressed. If something is not going right and the client needs to take a direction to help their desired outcome best, those options can be weighed during the process. Also, if there are problems in the arbitration or with the panel or arbiters, that can and should be addressed.

Legal Knowledge and Advice

Family law firms have in-depth knowledge of Texas divorce and custody laws. This ensures that any agreements reached during arbitration are legally sound and enforceable. The Barrows Firm frequently answers questions about changes in Texas family law, as every Texas legislative session brings changes and updates to the Texas Family Code and other areas of law that affect family matters.

Child-Centric Approach

When children are involved, a family law firm can prioritize their best interests and work to create parenting plans that promote stability and well-being in the arbitration process. The "Best Interest" standard applies in Court, which should be the parenting plan's focus. An experienced family lawyer knows what the Court will likely decide if the parents disagree on what is best for children.

Navigating Child Custody Through Arbitration Instead of Traditional Family Litigation

One of the most challenging aspects of divorce is often child custody arrangements. Learn how arbitration can help families better use their time and resources to reach resolution in a positive atmosphere with everyone's voices being heard.

Child-Focused Discussions

Arbitration encourages parents to prioritize the needs and preferences of their children. This child-centric approach can lead to more balanced and thoughtful custody decisions.

Flexible Scheduling

Unlike court dates that may clash with work or other obligations, arbitration allows parents to schedule sessions at times that work best for them.

Co-Parenting Plans

With attorneys' guidance, an arbitrator can help parents design comprehensive co-parenting plans that cover essential aspects like visitation schedules, holidays, and communication methods.

Minimized Trauma

Resolving custody matters in a private and respectful arbitration setting can spare children the emotional trauma of courtroom confrontations.

The Barrows Firm helps families with divorce and custody arbitration in Southlake, Texas, offering couples a viable and efficient option for untangling the knots of divorce. Through confidentiality, control, and a child-centered approach, arbitration can pave the way for amicable resolutions. With the support and expertise of a reputable family law firm, you can confidently navigate the arbitration process, knowing that your best interests and those of your children are at the forefront. When achieving a smoother divorce, divorce and custody arbitration emerge as a beacon of hope amidst challenging times.

With Questions About Arbitration and Other Options in Texas Divorce and Child Custody, Contact the Barrows Firm in Southlake, Texas, at 817-481-1583

Family Law

New 2023 Texas Family Laws: Update from the 88th Texas Legislative Session

August 14, 2023
General Information

The New Texas Family Laws: Learn What is New From the 88thTexas Legislative Session

A few new Texas family laws impact families in Texas divorce and child custody cases. The Barrows Firm is happy to share some highlights that might interest you or help you resolve conflicts and issues in the family and co-parenting. Remember that just because there is a new law does not mean we all need to suit up for battle and use the law. However, if it has value and improves your life and the children's best interests, it may be time to take advantage of the relief provided by Texas lawmakers.

Attorney Leslie Barrows is known for being skilled and mobile in Texas family law, comfortably wearing many hats; from mediator to high-stakes litigator, she knows how and when to get things done. To that end, the value of an experienced family lawyer is understanding how a judge is likely to react if you bring a modification or enforcement action versus creative problem-solving on your own. Families have daily opportunities for crisis and for us to measure how we respond. Raising kids is a long haul, and picking and choosing your battles is essential.

It's Back to School Time (to read our article!) Back-to-School Conflict in Divorce and Custody Cases

New Child Support Enforcement Provisions – Court Orders You to Get a Job!

Child support enforcement just got real with the 88th legislative session giving some teeth to enforce child support obligations. As of September 1st, child support obligors can be ordered to get a job, and the Court will help them employment to start satisfying their past due and current child support obligations. Those individuals do not want to be held in contempt of the Court for not following through and loving the new job the Court finds them, even if they find it below their expectations. See Texas Family Code 154.017

Check our article about child support modifications based on substantial changes in circumstances.

Barrows Firm Answers to Family Matters and Questions About New and Existing Laws

Here at the Barrows Firm in Southlake, we try to keep you all updated with news and changes in family law. Every two years, the Texas legislative session meets. Your elected state district house representatives and senators meet to vote on new laws and amendments to current laws to be sent to the Governor to be signed into law in Texas. While the laws that affect Texas family law don't always make headline news reports, they are significant to how we practice law as divorce and family law attorneys representing you and your family. It's important to understand that family law is constantly updating, and what might have been true at onetime may be different today. So always get up-to-date information from experienced family lawyers.

Below Are Some Highlights, and The Text of The Bills Are Linked to Their Senate and House Bill Numbers – New Additions to Bills Are Underlined

SB 869 Omnibus Bill – Relating to Suits Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship Including Payment and Enforcement of Support in a SAPCR Case

The current law regarding child support needed to be modified to address issues relating to suits affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR) and the enforcement of child support obligations. This additional rulemaking seeks to resolve child support issues.

Several Issues and Updates - Overdue Child Support &Inheritance, Electronic Signatures, Changes to Email Address Requirements, Social Security Disability Lump Sum Payments, Child Support Arrearages Cannot Be Reduced Paternity Suits Without Biological Father's Location, Renewable Child Support Liens: No More Time Limit.

SB 870 Child Support Enforcement

While the big news is the Court's expanded authority in ordering child support obligors to get a job, the Court can also enroll support obligors into employment programs whether they like it or not. The legislature is helping courts get deadbeat child support payers back to work and paying support instead of willfully failing to seek and maintain employment. There are also updates in the child support statutes concerning child support liens, child support enforcement, child support modifications, and more, including a significant update in rules regarding incarceration and support obligations.

SB 48 Protective Order Forms

The new law requires standardized forms and materials to issue protective orders. When applying for a protective order, something that has a legal effect on the freedoms and liberties of another, the law's elements and requirements must be applied fairly and justly, with uniformity. So, use the forms, and all will be well.

HB 891 Child Custody Evaluations

A prohibition is lifted against using expert testimony in challenging the person conducting a child custody evaluation, and we are free to challenge their qualifications and methodologies. Just because someone checks the boxes required to perform a task does not mean that person is beyond reproach, so rogue child custody evaluators beware.  

HB 660 Protective Order Enforcement

Regarding law enforcement maintaining information related to protective orders, the agency now shall enter a protective order in the agency's computer records of outstanding warrants. Additionally, the new law clarifies that ex-parte protective orders are equally enforceable as if they were final orders.

HB 4765 Adoption by Estoppel

The Estates Code covering adoptions has a new language, "Adoptive parent" means a parent (a) who adopted a child through an existing former statutory procedure or (b) considered by a court to have equitably adopted a child or adopted a child by acts of estoppel. This refers to the conduct and actions of the situation, and parties involved can be elements in adoption.

HB 2850 Discovery

New provisions in the Texas Family Code cover discovery procedures for civil actions brought under the family code. The new Title 6contains civil procedure chapter sections with rules and deadlines for discovery requests, disclosures, and the exchange of discovery in civil actions brought under the family code.

HB 2671 Temporary Hearings

Postponing temporary order hearings in family law cases referred to mediation is the issue in the new law that states that sets forth rules and dates for temporary order hearings and how the Court can proceed on its motions regarding mediation, and how long a temporary orders hearing may be postponed.

HB 2070 Spousal Maintenance

The updates to the spousal maintenance laws clarify the procedural requirements concerning the circumstances when a spouse seeks to continue a spousal maintenance order when a spouse is caring for a child with special needs.

HB 1547 Reimbursement of Marital Estate

When one party is ordered to or agrees to reimburse the marital estate, there are new laws relating to those claims for reimbursement. The new law talks about offsets, where the claim of one can offset the claim of another when considering a benefitted estate and a conferring estate.

HB 1432 Protective Order Elements

Before issuing a protective order, the Court must make specific findings of facts required by the Texas Family Code. The likelihood of future family violence occurrences has been struck in a few areas from the required findings. A protective order can issue based on family violence that occurred, without regard to whether there will likely be another event in the future, which makes intuitive sense.

non-compliant divorce people

Dealing with Non-Compliant Spouses in Texas Family Law: Enforcing Court Orders and Injunctions

July 24, 2023

Dealing with Non-Compliant Spouses in Texas Family Law Cases: Knowing Your Rights and Options in Ensuring Compliance with Court Orders and Injunctions

In Texas divorce and family law, dealing with non-compliant spouses who refuse to follow court orders and injunctions can be distressing and complex. When legal mandates are put in place to protect the interests of both parties during a divorce or separation, both spouses must adhere to them. However, when one party disregards these orders, it can lead to significant challenges. This article will explore the best strategies for handling non-compliant spouses in Texas, ensuring compliance with court orders and injunctions. Let's delve into this topic and shed light on protecting your rights and achieving a fair resolution.

Attorney Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake is often asked for help dealing with all kinds of issues when non-compliant spouses make life difficult. From violating terms of possession schedules to ignoring court orders and injunctions, the enforcement and penalty questions and actions are ahigh priority.

July is when many parents have their kids for the entiremonth. Some non-primary parents disagree with the wishes of the other primaryparent to follow the agreements and orders in place for co-parenting. Despiteeven the good faith objection to court orders and injunctions, they still needto be followed, and the legal process of enforcement can be costly to thewillfully contemptuous.

Interesting Social Commentary on Co-Parent Non-Compliance on Quora

Examples of Non-Compliant Conduct in Texas Family Law

  ·   Failure to Pay Child Support or Spousal Support

   ·   Denying Visitation Rights or Ignoring Possession Schedules

   ·   Refusing to Follow Court Orders on Custody and Parental Rights and Duties

       o   Pickup and Dropoff Issues

       o   Who May Be Around the Child

       o   Medications and Healthcare

       o   Social Media Posts and Comments

       o   Drinking, Drugs, and Smoking  

  ·   Violating Protective Orders

  ·   Relocating or Vacationing Without Leave of Court or Co-Parent Permission

  ·   Disregarding Mediation and Parenting Classes and Requirements

Understanding Court Orders and Injunctions in Texas

Before delving into the solutions for non-compliance, it is essential to understand the significance of court orders and injunctions in Texas family law. Court orders are legally binding directives issued by a judge that specify the rights and responsibilities of each party involved in a divorce or separation case. These orders encompass various aspects, including child custody, visitation, child support, spousal support, and property division.

Injunctions, conversely, are court orders that prevent one or both parties from taking specific actions during the legal process. They are designed to maintain the status quo and prevent potential harm to either party until a final resolution is reached.

In Texas family law, some examples of injunctions might include not having significant others around the children, not drinking or smoking around the children, not posting pictures or videos of the children on social media, or even not dressing the children a certain way.

Crisis and Trauma Resource Institute: 10 Tips for Dealing with Passive Aggressive People

Open and Clear Communication

The first step in addressing non-compliance is communicating openly and clearly with your spouse. Misunderstandings or miscommunications may sometimes be at the heart of the problem. Reach out to your spouse non-confrontationally, providing them with written documentation of the court order or injunction they fail to follow. Maintaining a respectful tone and avoiding hostility can facilitate productive conversations.

Contacting your attorney to let them know you are having problems allows them to discuss the issue with the opposing counsel. When you get the attorneys involved, their goal is to understand how to help their clients achieve their goals in the situation, and weighing the enforcement options and procedures often leads to discussions that can promote resolution.

Talking through things can help people separate the emotion and narrow it down to the issues causing problems, often settling on reasonable solutions allowing them to compromise.

Document All Interactions

Keeping detailed records of all communications with your non-compliant spouse is crucial. Save copies of emails, text messages, and any written correspondence related to the court orders and injunctions. These records can serve as valuable evidence in future legal proceedings to demonstrate your efforts to resolve the matter amicably.

Use the Our Family Wizard applications and additional tools to record communications, information, and dates, so the data can easily be shared among those who need to understand what happened.

Consult with an Experienced Family Law Attorney

If your attempts at resolving the non-compliance issue directly with your spouse have been unsuccessful, it is time to seek guidance from an experienced family law attorney in Texas. An attorney will provide valuable insights into the best action to enforce court orders and injunctions. They will also help you understand your legal rights and options.

Attorney Leslie Barrows and her team at the Barrows Firm in Southlake are experienced family law attorneys and paralegals who handle non-compliance issues daily and are ready to help you and your family keep a lid on contemptuous co-parents.

File a Motion for Contempt

When a spouse continues to disregard court orders or injunctions in Texas, you may need to file a motion for contempt. This legal action requests the court to hold the non-compliant spouse accountable for their actions. To ensure the success of the motion, provide clear evidence demonstrating the violation of the court order or injunction. This evidence can include documentation, witness statements, and any relevant communication.

Explore Mediation

Mediation can be an effective alternative to litigation when dealing with non-compliance issues. If your spouse is unwilling to comply with court orders, consider suggesting mediation to resolve the matter. Mediators are neutral third parties who can facilitate open communication and help find mutually agreeable solutions. Opting for mediation can save time, reduce stress, and avoid the expense of going back to court.

Request a Modification

In some cases, a non-compliant spouse may have valid reasons for not following court orders in Texas. If there has been a significant change in circumstances since the court order was issued, such as a job loss or health issues, it might be appropriate to seek a modification of the order. This modification can be either temporary or permanent, depending on the situation.

Dealing with a non-compliant spouse in Texas divorce and family law requires careful navigation and adherence to the legal processes in place. By maintaining clear communication, documenting interactions, and seeking legal counsel, you can protect your rights and work towards a resolution that serves the best interests of all parties involved. Remember that every case is unique, and seeking professional advice from a qualified family law attorney in Texas is essential to ensure your actions align with the state's specific laws and regulations.

For Help in Dealing with Non-Compliant Spouses, Enforcing Court Orders and Injunctions, Contact the Barrows Firm in Southlake at 817-481-1583

setting up privacy apps for kids

Ensuring Internet Safety During Summer Break: Protecting Kids in the Age of Increased Screen Time

July 11, 2023

Ensuring Internet Safety During Summer Break Requires Divorcing Parents to Prioritize Online Safety and Monitoring Kids' Internet and App Use and Access

Summer break is an exciting time for kids to relax, have fun, and explore various activities. However, it also means that children may spend more time online, engaging in digital activities, and using electronic devices. Parents often ask Southlake family law attorney Leslie Barrows how to keep their kids safe online when alone or with the other parent. While we cannot police every minute our children are online, we can teach them valuable tools and critical thought to help them discern good from wrong and how to spot dangerous or threatening talk and behavior. As a responsible parent or caregiver, it is crucial to prioritize internet safety during this period to protect children from online risks. This article will explore essential strategies and tips to ensure kids' online safety during summer break when they have increased screen time.

Hanley Foundation: 8 Apps All Parents Should Know

Safety-conscious co-parents work well together in agreement to protect children from dangers in the world and online predators. Parents seeking peace of mind and proactive safety instruction can ensure consistent rules for Internet use and safety in both homes, and the kids are not free-range diving into unknown areas, using unsafe devices that haven't been made kid-safe.

Attorney Barrows points to a few features Internet providers offer to filter Internet activity and set up safety protocols for devices using your network. Not only do these features prevent unwanted sites, but they can also block specific websites. It is a parent's responsibility to keep up with safety recommendations for parents with children of various ages. The Internet is not the only place to be wary, and the app stores are full of apps that are used to trick parents and avoid detection. Learn what apps kids are using and where they are socializing. Online bullying remains a concern; too many kids suffer in silence and are bullied online.

See the Recommended Article: Keeping Kids Safe Online

A Related Barrows Firm Article: Divorcing Being Aware of Top Technology Troubles in Texas Divorce, Family Law, and Estate Planning

The Following Recommended Activities Are Valuable in Keeping Kids Safe Online:

1. Open Communication and Education

One of the most effective ways to keep kids safe online is by fostering open communication and providing them with proper education about internet safety. Engage in frequent discussions with your children about the potential risks they may encounter online. Teach them about privacy, sharing personal information, and distinguishing between safe and unsafe websites or applications.

2. Establish Clear Rules and Boundaries

Setting clear rules and boundaries regarding internet usage is essential to maintain a safe online environment for kids. Establish guidelines on screen time limits and appropriate websites and apps, and seek parental permission before downloading or accessing certain content. By doing so, you can ensure that children understand the boundaries and know what is expected of them.

3. Use Parental Controls and Filtering Software

Utilizing parental control and filtering software can provide an additional layer of protection for kids when they are online. These tools allow you to monitor and restrict access to specific websites or content that may be inappropriate for children. Explore the various parental control options available for different devices and operating systems, and choose the ones that align with your requirements.

4. Encourage Safe Online Behavior

Teaching children safe online behavior is crucial to their internet safety. Emphasize the importance of never sharing personal information with strangers online, such as full name, address, or phone number. Teach them to be cautious about interacting with unknown individuals and to avoid clicking on suspicious links or downloading files from untrusted sources. Please encourage them to report any concerning or inappropriate content they encounter.

5. Monitor Online Activities

Regularly monitoring your child's online activities is vital for understanding their digital behavior and identifying potential risks. Monitor their social media profiles, messaging apps, and online interactions. Be aware of the websites they visit, the games they play, and the people they communicate with. By staying vigilant, you can quickly address any issues that may arise.

6. Encourage Offline Activities

While it's essential to ensure internet safety, it's equally crucial to encourage children to engage in offline activities during summer break. Keep encouraging them to spend time with friends, participate in outdoor games, pursue hobbies, or read books. Limiting screen time and providing alternative offline activities can help create a healthy balance between online and offline experiences.

Always Prioritize Kids During the Divorce, and Monitor their Online and Social Activity

Maintaining open lines of communication with your children during the divorce process is vital. Let them know that you care about their offline and online well-being. Encourage them to talk to you about their online experiences, friends they interact with, or any concerns. Building trust and fostering open dialogue will make monitoring their online activities easier without invading their privacy.

Divorce can be a challenging time, but by keeping your children's well-being as a top priority, you can navigate this transition more effectively. Monitoring their online activities during and after a divorce is essential to safeguard their safety and healthy development. You can maintain a watchful eye while fostering a safe and supportive online environment for your children during this challenging time through open communication, parental controls, staying informed about online platforms, active supervision, and education about online safety.


Keeping Up With Technology: If You're Using It, So Are Your Kids, Learn What Apps They Use and Their Social Media Handles

As technology advances, it becomes increasingly important to prioritize children's online safety, especially during summer break when screentime increases. By implementing the strategies outlined in this article, including open communication, setting clear rules, using parental controls, promoting safe online behavior, monitoring activities, and encouraging offline activities, you can help ensure that kids have a safe and enjoyable online experience throughout their summer break.

Terrific Tools: 10 Best Parental Control Apps – Works With Desktop and Mobile

As mentioned, kids do not quickly bring online bullying to their parents. They often feel ashamed and as if they are letting down their parent because they are being bullied and feel less than them. As a parent, it is crucial to constantly reassure and remind your children they can talk to you or another adult they can trust about things going on at school and with other kids. Sometimes the threats come from online gaming communities where kids may have significant social ties that are very real despite appearing trivial to adults who do not play online video games and might not understand the culture.

Please spend some time online researching where your kids are spending their online time, make a note of the games they play, and monitor what apps they have on their phones. And the more they know you are watching them, the less likely they may be to hide things or engage in wrong activities.

Remember, safeguarding children online is a shared responsibility, and by being proactive and informed, you can make a significant difference in their digital well-being. Good co-parenting means protecting kids online and ensuring Internet safety during summer break.

Use The Barrows Firm in Southlake As a Resource for Internet Safety During Summer Break

Home for sale

From Heartbreak to Housebreak: Divorcing Women Rule the Real Estate Game

June 20, 2023

Divorcing Women Rule the Real Estate Game and Women Are Getting The House in Texas Divorce, Learn Why and How to Be Prepared for Divorce

Divorce in Texas can be an emotionally challenging process for anyone, but women going through a divorce in Texas have a unique advantage when it comes to the division of property, particularly the family home. In this article, we will explore how divorcing women in Texas can navigate the real estate game to secure their rightful share of the property, with a special focus on Attorney Leslie Barrow sat The Barrows Firm in Southlake, Texas.

At the Barrows Firm, we help people whose goal is to divorce and keep the house. There are all kinds of options to buy the other spouse out, refinance, and use other alternative options to cash buyouts. Almost every divorce involves a property settlement and there are several factors to consider. Take a look at our article: Divorcing and Keeping the House for more information.

In a recent Forbes article, Single Women Are More Likely To Own Homes Than Single Men In Nearly All States, some interesting statistics support the claim that divorcing Women are rulingthe real estate game.

·        Single women own 2.64 million more homes than single men in the U.S.

·        Louisiana tops the list of homes owned by single women

·        Men are in the lead in only two states, North Dakota and South Dakota

·        Florida has the greatest gap between men and women, with women ahead by 4.55%

·        Wyoming has the smallest gap between men and women at 0.39%

Understanding Community Property Laws in Texas

In Texas, community property laws govern the division of property during a divorce. This means that any assets acquired during the marriage are generally considered community property and subject to an equal division between spouses. Community property laws aim to ensure a fair distribution of assets accumulated during the marriage, including real estate properties such as the family home. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that the family home will be automatically awarded to the wife.

The Importance of Legal Representation

When facing a divorce, women must seek the guidance and representation of an experienced divorce attorney. Attorney Leslie Barrows at The Barrows Firm specializes in family law and has a deep understanding of the complexities involved in property division during divorce proceedings. With many years of experience in high net worth and complex divorce and family litigation involving property issues, her knowledge of what is likely to happen in given situations, gives her the strategic advantage, helping clients get what they want and need.

Check out some of these great Google reviews!

Demonstrating Primary Custody

One factor that can significantly impact the wife and mother’s chances of retaining the family home is if she is awarded primary custody of the children. Texas courts prioritize the best interests of the children, and if the woman can demonstrate that it is in their best interest to remain in the family home, she may have a stronger case for keeping the property.

Keep in mind, the parties in a child custody case can settle their disputes and determine their own unique child custody arrangements. Checkout this BBC article about what we commonly call “nesting” which is catching on more frequently. The article is thought-provoking; “Bird nesting, The divorce trend where parents rotate homes.”

Financial Considerations

Divorcing women need to consider the financial aspects of retaining the family home. It is essential to evaluate whether it is financially viable to maintain the property, including mortgage payments, property taxes, and ongoing maintenance costs. Expert advice is necessary for assessing the financial feasibility of keeping the family home.

Negotiation and Settlement

In many cases, divorcing couples can reach a settlement agreement without going to trial. The key is property strategy and execution in negotiation, helping women strategically approach property division discussions. Divorcing women can present their cases effectively and aim for a favorable settlement that includes the family home.

Court Intervention

If negotiation and settlement attempts are unsuccessful, the case may proceed to court. In such situations, having experienced legal counsel on your side can be a significant advantage. With extensive courtroom experience, we can skillfully present your case, ensuring that your rights and interests are protected.

Being prepared for trial is necessary because goodwill in negotiations can break down, things can happen in markets and life, beyond our control. If we have to go to court we get everything ready and determine the best approach. Of course, when we do this, we keep settlement options on the table, hoping our opposing party is willing to compromise.

Property Valuation

Determining the value of the family home is a crucial step in the divorce process. Attorney Leslie Barrows has a network of trusted real estate appraisers who can provide accurate valuations. This ensures that women receive a fair share of the property's value in the divorce settlement.

Note that property values are the common subject of conflict and some attorneys thrive on dragging things out when the home valuation issues become sticking points. Experienced trial lawyers know how to cut this type of delay short, and save resources for all involved.

Alternative Solutions

If it becomes apparent that retaining the family home may not be feasible or in the best interest of the woman, we can help explore alternative solutions. These may include selling the property and dividing the proceeds or considering other assets that can be exchanged for the home's value.

Attorney Leslie Barrows is Available for Helping Women Getting the House in Texas Divorce

Divorcing women in Texas have the opportunity to secure their rightful share of property, including the family home. With the expertise and guidance of Attorney Leslie Barrows at The Barrows Firm in Southlake, Texas, women can navigate the real estate game with confidence. Leslie Barrows' dedication to family law and her commitment to her clients make her an excellent choice for women seeking legal representation during divorce proceedings. Remember, when it comes to divorce and property division, Leslie Barrows and The Barrows Firm are there to help women turn heartbreak into an opportunity to secure their future. It is important to consult with a qualified attorney for specific legal advice tailored to your situation.

dad with his kids

How to Become a Custodial Dad in Texas

June 14, 2023
Child Custody

A Guide to Becoming a Custodial Dad in Texas: Navigating Family Law with Confidence

Are you a father in Texas seeking to become a custodial dad? Are you going through a divorce in Texas? Understanding the legal process and requirements is crucial to protect your parental rights. In this article, we will provide you with a comprehensive guide on how to become a custodial dad in Texas, ensuring that you are properly informed and prepared for the journey ahead.

Texas family lawyer, Leslie Barrows and her team at the Barrows Firm in Southlake are here for dads seeking primary parental rights. Leslie Barrows is a highly reputable family lawyer serving clients in Southlake, Texas. With a deep understanding of Texas family law, Leslie has built a solid reputation for her commitment to achieving favorable outcomes for her clients. She possesses the expertise and compassion needed to handle even the most sensitive and complex family law cases.

The Barrows Firm is available for consultations on Texas family law issues including but not limited to marriage, adoption, divorce, child custody, child support, and many more! Please also ask us about Estate Planning to protect your family from all life’s surprises.


Dallas Observer: The Best Things To Do This Father's Day in DFW With Every Type of Dad

Psychology Today: The Importance of Fathers, Is Father’s Day Real?

Know Your Rights as a Father in Texas

Texas family law recognizes the importance of a father's role in a child's life. As a father, you have the right to seek custody and visitation arrangements that are in the best interests of your child. Familiarize yourself with the legal rights afforded to custodial dads in Texas to understand the foundation upon which your case will be built.

As a custodial dad in Texas, one of your primary concerns may revolve around child custody and visitation rights. Leslie Barrows specializes in these areas, helping fathers navigate the legal landscape and secure custodial rights that are in the best interests of their children. With her guidance, you can develop a strong case and ensure a fair custody arrangement.

Are Liquid Lunches a Problem? Alcohol Issues Are Common in Custody Cases: Alcohol Monitoring in Child Custody Cases– A Barrows Firm Article

Gather Evidence of Your Parenting Abilities and Circumstances Making You the Best Custodial Parent

To strengthen your position as a custodial dad, it's essential to gather evidence showcasing your ability to provide a nurturing and stable environment for your child. Document your involvement in your child's life, including records of school events, medical appointments, and extracurricular activities. This evidence will demonstrate your commitment and active participation as a father.

When you are the petitioner and the respondent is the mother who may already be the primary custodial parent, you have the burden of proving the Court should award you sole conservatorship, and appoint you the primary parent with the right to determine the residence of the child. In cases where CPS has become involved, the other parent has a drug or alcohol problem or is incarcerated, those factors are all considered.

The Court is focused on protecting the best interests of children. A custody modification, if applicable, is based on the totality of the circumstances. Facts and evidence of parenting are presented to the Court if there needs to be a hearing or trial on the issues. Otherwise, much can bed one out of court to settle custody disputes.

Article on Point – Pitfalls of Social Media in Divorce and Family Law – expect your opposing party to use anything online against you if they want to challenge your credibility and parenting skills…

Paternity Issues, and Establishing Paternity to Seek Custody of Your Child

If you are an unmarried father seeking to establish paternity or fighting for parental rights, Leslie Barrows can be your strong advocate. She understands the importance of a father's role in a child's life and will work diligently to protect your rights and facilitate a positive relationship with your child.

Understand Child Custody Laws in Texas and the Best Interests of the Child Standard

Texas follows the "best interests of the child" standard when determining custody arrangements. Familiarize yourself with the factors that courts consider when making custody decisions, such as the child's emotional and physical well-being, each parent's ability to meet the child's needs, and the child's preferences if they are of sufficient age and maturity. Being knowledgeable about these factors will help you present a compelling case to the court.

Divorce can be emotionally and legally complex, but Leslie Barrows has the experience to guide you through the process while protecting your rights and interests. She will work diligently to ensure a fair division of assets and debts, advocate for spousal support if applicable, and represent your best interests during negotiations or litigation.

Seek Legal Representation from Experienced Texas Family Law Trial Attorneys at the Barrows Firm

Navigating the complexities of family law can be challenging, especially when it comes to securing custodial rights. Engaging the services of an experienced family lawyer specializing in custody cases is highly recommended. A skilled attorney will guide you through the legal process, help you understand your rights, and provide valuable advice tailored to your specific situation.

Mediation and Negotiation in Father’s Rights Custody Cases

In Texas, courts encourage parents to reach agreements through mediation and negotiation rather than resorting to lengthy court battles. Engaging in these alternative dispute-resolution methods can save time, money, and emotional stress. A skilled family lawyer can assist you in these negotiations, advocating for your interests and helping you reach a fair and mutually agreeable custody arrangement.

How to Prepare for Court Proceedings when Dads Seek Primary Custody

In some cases, court intervention becomes necessary to resolve custody disputes. If negotiations fail, it's crucial to be prepared for court proceedings. Your family lawyer will help you gather the necessary evidence, prepare your case, and present compelling arguments to the court. Remember to remain calm, respectful, and focused on the best interests of your child throughout the process.

Becoming a custodial dad in Texas requires a thorough understanding of family law and a strategic approach to protecting your rights as a father. By knowing your rights, gathering evidence, seeking legal representation, and being prepared for both negotiation and court proceedings, you can navigate the process with confidence. Remember that every case is unique, and it's important to consult with a qualified family lawyer who can provide personalized guidance. With the right knowledge and support, you can increase your chances of becoming a custodial dad and maintaining a loving and meaningful relationship with your child.

The Barrows Firm is Available for Consultations for Dads Seeking Primary Custody (817) 481-1583

child refusing to go with parent

Navigating the Challenge When Children Refuse Visitation with a Parent: Texas Family Law Insight

May 26, 2023

When Children Refuse Visitation: Common Issues and Conflicts in Texas Child Custody and Visitation

In Texas divorce and family law cases, it's not uncommon for children to express resistance or refusal to visitation with one of their parents. This can be a challenging situation for all parties involved, including the parents, the child, and the Court. Understanding the legal framework and strategies to address this issue is crucial for ensuring the best interests of the child are upheld. In this article, we will delve into the topic of children refusing visitation with a parent under Texas family law, providing insights and guidance to help parents navigate this complex situation when children refuse visitation.

At the Barrows Firm in Southlake, Attorney Leslie Barrows and her team of attorneys, paralegals, and staff all work together with clients to manage precarious situations, when visitation is an issue and the children do not want to go. Communication problems can be the source of difficulty, or it could be a scheduling problem or something the kid just won’t talk about when sometimes of nowhere children refuse visitation with the other parent.

Please also see our related article, Withholding Visitation from the Noncustodial Parent in Texas

The Barrows Firm Blog is a Great Resource! Search by Category Topic and Keyword Today!

Understanding the Best Interests of the Child in Custody and Visitation Matters

In Texas, the primary consideration of family Courts in custody and visitation matters is the best interests of the child. When a child refuses visitation with a parent, the Court will aim to ascertain the underlying reasons and determine the most appropriate course of action. Factors such as the child's age, maturity, reasons for refusal, and the parent-child relationship will be considered during the decision-making process.

Managing the child’s expectations and fostering good relationships with both parents and other family members is important. Part of that job means learning when to respect your child’s wishes and when to use your parental veto power and remind them your job is to be their parent, not their friend, and sometimes that means short-term disappointments, they get over quickly in many cases.

Check out the blog Our Family Wizard recommends on this topic, What to Do if Your Child Refuses Visitation with the Other Parent –Barrows Firm Tip: Always Keep Complete Notes on Situations and Use the Our Family Wizard’s Features

Reasons for Refusal to Exercise Visitation

Children may refuse visitation for various reasons, including strained parent-child relationships, negative influence from third parties, or fear and anxiety stemming from a previous negative experience. It is essential to differentiate between situations where a child's refusal may be justified due to safety concerns versus cases where it may be driven by temporary emotional factors.

Sometimes a new significant other can be the thing the child is afraid to talk about because they might not want to admit that seeing mom or dad with someone new is a real thing, it really puts the nail in the coffin when kids remain in hope that their parents will reconcile one day, even if that is not a reasonable dream.

In Texas, Do Children Have the Right to Refuse Visitation at a Certain Age?

Under Texas family law, children do not have an absolute right to refuse visitation based solely on their age. The court considers the best interests of the child as the primary factor in custody and visitation matters. While the court may consider a child's age and maturity when determining visitation arrangements, it is not a blanket authorization for a child to refuse visitation without valid reasons. The court will assess the situation, evaluate the child's reasons for refusal, and make a decision that promotes the child's overall well-being and maintains a meaningful relationship with both parents.

Great On Point Reference: Psychology Today, Helping Kids Be More Responsible for Their Actions

Can a Child in Texas Refuse Visitation at a Certain Age?

In Texas, there is no specific age at which a child can unilaterally refuse to see a parent. The court considers the best interests of the child when making custody and visitation decisions. While the child's preferences and maturity may be taken into account, they are not the sole determining factors. The court will assess various aspects, such as the child's age, maturity, reasons for refusal, and the parent-child relationship. Ultimately, the court strives to make decisions that promote the child's well-being and ensure meaningful relationships with both parents.

Should I Force My Child to See the Other Parent if They Don’t Want to Go?

As a parent, you may wonder if you are legally obligated to force your child to visit with the other parent. In Texas, the court expects parents to comply with court-ordered visitation schedules unless there are valid safety concerns. While it is generally advisable to encourage and facilitate a healthy parent-child relationship, forcing a child against their will may not be productive or in their best interests. It is important to address the underlying reasons for the child's refusal and explore alternative solutions such as mediation or counseling. If concerns persist, consulting with a qualified family law attorney can provide guidance on how to navigate this situation while considering the child's well-being and complying with the court's orders.

Resolving Visitation and Refusal Issues Amicably

When faced with a child's refusal, parents should prioritize open communication and cooperation. Encouraging dialogue between the child and the resistant parent can help address any underlying issues or concerns. Parents should explore the reasons behind the refusal, actively listen to their child's perspective, and work towards finding mutually agreeable solutions.

Mediation and Counseling for Custody and Visitation Conflicts

In cases where communication proves challenging, involving a neutral third party such as a mediator or a qualified counselor can be beneficial. Mediation can help facilitate discussions between parents and assist in finding common ground. Additionally, counseling may provide a safe space for the child to express their concerns and work through any emotional challenges related to visitation.

Modification of Visitation Orders

If efforts to resolve the issue amicably prove unsuccessful, seeking a modification of the visitation order may be necessary. In Texas, the Court can modify a visitation order if it is in the best interests of the child. However, it is important to note that the burden of proof lies with the parent seeking the modification. They must demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances or provide compelling evidence that the current visitation arrangement is no longer suitable.

At the Barrows Firm, it is common for clients to request modifications and bring new suits to accomplish the same. In many cases, this can be done out of Court and the new parenting plan can be agreed to by the parties, sometimes with very little mediation or negotiation. In other cases, there is a hearing and trial on the merits of the suit to modify visitation and parenting time.

Ensuring Compliance with Court Orders

Regardless of the child's refusal, parents must comply with Court-ordered visitation schedules. Failure to do so may result in legal consequences and may negatively impact future custody decisions. If a parent believes that visitation should be restricted or modified due to safety concerns, they should consult with their attorney and seek appropriate legal remedies.

The Role of Parental Alienation

Parental alienation refers to situations where one parent deliberately influences the child to reject or resist the other parent. In Texas, parental alienation is viewed unfavorably by the Courts as it undermines the child's relationship with the non-residential parent. If parental alienation is suspected, the affected parent should gather evidence and consult with their attorney to protect their rights and the child's best interests.

Court Intervention

In cases where all other attempts to address visitation refusal have failed, seeking Court intervention may be necessary. A parent can file a motion to enforce the existing visitation order or seek a modification based on the child's refusal. The Court will assess the circumstances, consider the child's best interests, and make a determination that is fair and just.

When children refuse visitation with a parent, it presents a delicate and complex situation under Texas family law. The best interests of the child remain the guiding principle throughout the decision-making process. By fostering open communication, exploring mediation or counseling, seeking appropriate legal remedies, and involving the Court, when necessary, parents can navigate these challenges while ensuring the child's well-being and maintaining their parental rights. Consulting with a qualified family law attorney is crucial for understanding the specifics of your situation and securing the best outcome for your child's future.

Contact the Barrows Firm in Southlake, Learn Your Rights and Options When Children Refuse Visitation at 817-481-1583

Child Custody

Withholding Visitation from the Noncustodial Parent in Texas

May 9, 2023
Child Custody

Withholding Visitation from the Noncustodial Parent in Texas: What You Need to Know

Divorce in Texas is never easy, especially when children are involved. One of the most contentious issues that can arise during a divorce is child custody and visitation rights. When parents separate or divorce, the court may award one parent custody and grant visitation rights to the noncustodial parent. However, what happens when the custodial parent withholds visitation from the noncustodial parent? In Texas, this is a serious issue that can have legal consequences.

One of the biggest misconceptions is that it’s a good idea to withhold visitation of the children over disputes about child support and medical contribution payments. Or because the other parent has a new significant other, some find it appropriate to withhold visitation, and much to their chagrin when the judge lets them know it may be objectionable. In this article, we highlight the various reasons people withhold visitation and the consequences of various conduct.

A primary parent with more parental rights to make decisions about the child can believe they are doing the right thing the in the child’s best interest when they threaten to or withhold visitation from the noncustodial parent, and even if they feel justified, the court and the other parent are often not impressed and find a way to alert the Court only to find a judge not too happy with co-parents who cannot get along.

Southlake family lawyer, Leslie Barrows, is frequently asked about what might happen if they withhold visitation. There may be legitimate safety concerns and parents with those concerns make good notes documenting everything about the situation, because even if they believe they are making the right decision, they may be on the hook to defend their actions in Court.

The Basics of Visitation Rights in Texas

In Texas, the court typically grants visitation rights to the noncustodial parent unless it would not be in the child's best interest. The parent who is appointed primary conservator with the right to determine the legal residence of the child is also called the primary as well as the custodial parent.

The Court strongly urges parents to negotiate an agreed settlement where possible, determining issues of custody and visitation rights. These visitation rights can be supervised or unsupervised, and the frequency and duration of the visits can vary depending on the circumstances of the case.

If the custodial parent interferes with the noncustodial parent's visitation rights, this can be considered a violation of the court order. In Texas, the court takes violations of custody and visitation orders seriously and can impose legal consequences on the offending parent. Being held in contempt of Court will not only cost a parent significant time and resources but sometimes attorney’s fees on both sides. As well it may be difficult to continue with any post-decree matters with the same judge after the parent decided to willfully disregard the orders of the Court.

Not All Co-Parents or Conservators Were Married

When married couples divorce in Texas and have children, the child custody and visitation issues are determined in the original divorce action. However, if the parents are not married and otherwise have a child together, the parental rights are determined as a matter of law, and issues of parental rights are determined in what is called a SAPCR (suit affecting the parent-child relationship) case. Sometimes the person who has standing to bring a SAPSCR suit for custody is a grandparent or family member with whom the child is primarily being raised. This can also be a sibling. These types of cases are usually seen when CPS(Child Protective Services) removes a child from a parent and places them with a family member.

Why a Custodial Parent May Withhold Visitation

There are many reasons why a custodial parent may choose to withhold visitation from the noncustodial parent. Some of the most common reasons include:

·        Concerns about the noncustodial parent's ability to provide a safe environment for the child;

·        Concerns about the noncustodial parent's alcohol or drug use;

·        The noncustodial parent is behind on child support payments;

·        The noncustodial parent is not adhering to the visitation schedule or has missed scheduled visits; and/or

·        The child expresses a desire not to visit the noncustodial parent.

While these concerns may be valid, withholding visitation is not always the best course of action. If the custodial parent believes that the child is in danger while in the noncustodial parent's care, they should seek legal remedies to protect the child. This may involve filing for a modification of the custody and visitation order or seeking a protective order.

When Southlake family lawyer, Leslie Barrows, and her team of attorneys and paralegals receive questions about custody and visitation fights, they work with the client on creating a strategy to solve the problem whenever possible, out of court, and with the lawyers documenting everything to prevent future conflicts. Sometimes it just takes some neutral professionals to help solve problems.

Legal Consequences of Withholding Visitation

In Texas, violating a custody or visitation order can result in legal consequences. If the court finds that a custodial parent has willfully violated a court order, they can be held in contempt of court. This can result in fines, jail time, and even a modification of the custody order. Additionally, the custodial parent may be required to pay the noncustodial parent's attorney's fees and court costs.

The court may also consider the custodial parent's behavior when making future custody and visitation decisions. If the custodial parent has a history of violating the court order, the court may choose to modify the custody arrangement or grant more visitation to the noncustodial parent.

Orders of Protection and Custody Modifications

If something is happening that is so dire that it’s necessary to withhold visitation, the situation might also be an emergency that justifies filing a Petition for an Order of Protection as well as a new suit to Modify Custody. Family violence situations are scary and protecting the children and parents is important. Too often there are substance abuse issues that lead to the breakdown of a parent who makes bad decisions. Read more about these issues in our article, Court Orders and Modifications: Parents Drinking at Home.

Parental Perspectives: How Do Mom and Dad Approach Conflict in Custody and Visitation?

When it comes to conflict in custody and visitation, both moms and dads can approach the situation differently. Moms may be more likely to withhold visitation due to concerns about their child's safety or well-being, while dads may be more likely to fight for increased visitation rights. However, these are generalizations, and each parent's approach can vary depending on their circumstances and personalities.

Regardless of their approach, both parents need to prioritize the best interests of their children and work towards a resolution that benefits everyone involved. This may involve seeking legal remedies, such as mediation or a modification of the custody and visitation order, or finding ways to communicate effectively and resolve conflicts amicably. Ultimately, a cooperative and respectful approach is key to navigating conflict in custody and visitation.

Mental and Emotional Consequences to Children When Visitation is Withheld

Even though parents make significant efforts to protect their children from the parents’ communication about the divorce, custody, and visitation issues, the children may still know something is happening if visitation is suddenly interrupted. How many excuses can someone make about the other parent’s availability, until the child(ren) starts figuring out something else is going on? And when you can anticipate gaslighting from the other parent whose visitation is being withheld, imagine the drama, and you know that kids pick up on that, no matter how hard we try, it can be tough to hide conflict.

Article Recommendation: Psychologicaland Emotional Aspects of Child Custody Battles and Divorce by Kathie Mathis, Psy.D

What to Do if Visitation is Withheld

If a noncustodial parent's visitation rights are being withheld, there are legal remedies available. The noncustodial parent can file a motion to enforce the custody and visitation order. This motion will ask the court to enforce the existing order and hold the custodial parent in contempt of court for violating the order.

If the custodial parent has violated the order multiple times, the noncustodial parent can file a motion to modify the custody and visitation order. This motion will ask the court to modify the order to grant the noncustodial parent more visitation or even custody of the child.

Withholding visitation from the noncustodial parent can have serious legal consequences in Texas. While there may be valid reasons for withholding visitation, it's important to talk to your family lawyer before doing anything and take good notes of anything that happens that concerns you about your child, the other parent, and the reasons you want to find out about withholding visitation. Contact us at the Barrows Firm to learn your rights and duties as a parent.

Keep Informed About Texas Child Custody and Visitation Issues Such as Withholding Visitation from the Noncustodial Parent. Get Answers at The Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583

Child Custody spelled with blocks

Child Custody Evaluations in Texas: Essentials to Know

April 24, 2023
Child Custody

Texas Courts Use Child Custody Evaluations in Determining Custody Arrangements

Child custody evaluations in Texas are court-ordered assessments of parents and their children to help determine custody arrangements in Texas divorce cases. There are some great children out there, with loving parents who would walkthrough fire for their child. And when both parents are great parents, determining custody disputes through settlement or by trial, often requires some expert assistance. Certainly, the parents and their family lawyers are going to present them in the best light to the judge, but more digging needs to take place when the judge needs to decide or strongly recommend a settlement as they are likely to rule.

When the Court orders a child custody evaluation in Texas divorce and custody cases, there is often a list of approved mental health professionals the lawyers can agree upon, or the judge makes the appointment to the best of their discretion.

Southlake child custody attorney Leslie Barrows has well-established working relationships with so many of the great local child custody evaluators. It is important to treat them well as important professionals in the process and remember they are an extension of the judge and Court in a custody case. In this article, we are happy to share some essentials to know about the process of Child Custody Evaluations in Texas.

Child Custody Evaluations of Parent-Child Relationships

A child custody evaluation is an assessment of the parents and the child(ren) involved in a custody dispute. The evaluation is conducted by a mental health professional appointed by the court, and their role is to provide recommendations to the judge about what custody arrangement would be in the best interest of the child.

When both parents seek to be appointed as primary parents and conservators with the right to determine the residence of the child(ren),the child custody evaluation highlights any instances or character components that help the judge and the parties determine or settle disputes about what is alleged in the pleadings of the case about the parties, namely allegations of fact about the other parent as to whether they should be awarded primary or sole custody.

Mental Health Professionals Are Appointed by the Court to Conduct Child Custody Evaluations

The evaluation is conducted by a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker, who has experience working with families and children. The evaluator must be approved by the court. In Texas child custody cases and suits affecting parent-child relationships, the Family Code identifies the powers and duties of the professionals appointed by the court, namely child custody evaluators.

Find topics related to child custody evaluations in our Barrows Firm blog article, Divorcing With Children 105: How to Prepare for Court including the following,

The Role of a Child Custody Evaluator in Texas:

“You or the opposing party can request the Court order child custody evaluation. Working well with the evaluator is important to prepare for court. Leslie Barrows can help you prepare your expectations of a child custody evaluator process when divorcing with children.

Be prepared for the judge to give great weight to the recommendations of the custody evaluator. Of course, the evaluator’s report can be challenged when necessary. What is most important to the court in making findings for child custody and parenting time is what is in the best interest of the child. It is in a child’s best interest to have good relationships with both parents, without abuse, neglect, or parental alienation.”

Evaluations Are Done Through Interviews Among Family Members, Friends, and Others

The evaluation typically involves interviews with the parents, the child(ren), and other individuals involved in the child's life, such as teachers, coaches, or healthcare providers. The evaluator may also observe the parent-child interactions, review documents, and administer psychological tests.

Related Article: Reflections on Mental Health Professionals Working with Divorcing Parents Outside the Courtroom

Along the process, the court may order limitations, or directions, if any, as to what types of tests and examinations are appropriate because every case and family is unique. The scope and depth of child custody evaluation orders reflect the allegations made among the parties in the case. Some allegations are of isolated incidents, and others lead inquiries into deeper potential problems, the kind that can affect the ability of a person to function in the role of a responsible parent. The best interests of the child(ren) require attention to detail when serious allegations are made.

Evaluations Can Take Several Weeks to Months Depending on the Circumstances

The length of the evaluation can vary, but it typically takes several months to complete. The Court’s order and discovery schedule often includes deadlines including custody evaluation reports. There can be a tendency for some people to attempt to thwart the process by not cooperating with the custody evaluation process and that may involve conflict with the mental health professional appointed in the case.

At any point in the process, the attorney for one of the parties can ask the Court to assist in urging compliance with the Court’s orders and penalize parties for willful contempt. Messing around with the process only costs people more time and money in the long run.

Parents Often Share Evaluation Costs or the Court Orders a Party to Pay

The cost of the evaluation is usually split between the parents, but the court may order one parent to pay the entire cost if they have the financial means to do so. If one of the parties is causing problems in the case, it may be suggested to have an evaluation ordered when that was not the original game plan, and in that case, the Court can be asked to order the aggravating party to pay for more or all of the evaluation. It all depends on the case, how things are going, and what is fair and equitable given the facts and circumstances.

See our related article about problem parents, Verbal and Emotional Abuse in Texas Divorce and Family Law

The Evaluator Files a Recommendation Report with the Court

The evaluator will provide a written report to the court with their findings and recommendations. The judge will consider the report along with other evidence presented in the case when making a custody determination. The judge reads the findings and recommendations in the report and ideally uses that valuable information in making a custody determination. In many cases, the judge will urge the parties to settle their disputes and let them know in which way they are leaning if they must make an official ruling to decide custody. Judges strongly prefer parties to agree to settle their issues and decide, but certainly in many instances that just is not possible.

Challenging the Child Custody Evaluation Assessment and Report

Yes, the evaluation can be challenged by either parent if they believe the evaluator was biased or made errors in their assessment. However, challenging the evaluation can be a complex and costly process.

The human element that is room for error is the custody evaluators themselves, and any bias they may hold, knowingly or unknowingly. Remember, however, that challenging the recommendation of the evaluator, or asking for the evaluator to be removed from the case, can lead to more problems and is difficult for all involved. The most important factor is the best interest of the child(ren).

Overall, child custody evaluations in Texas are an important tool used by the court to determine what custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child. Parents are encouraged to cooperate with the evaluation process and provide honest and accurate information to the evaluator.

Seek Advice and Counsel at the Barrows Firm in Southlake for Information about Child Custody Evaluations in Texas and Related Matters (817) 481-1583

Estate Planning Worksheet

The Two Certainties in Life: Death & Taxes

April 12, 2023
Estate Planning

The Barrows Firm in Southlake Helps with Answers and Solutions for Marriage, Divorce, Death, and Taxes

Tax Day this year is Tuesday, April 18, 2023. At the Barrows Firm in Southlake, we help families with wills and estate planning, and tax status and property issues, to take advantage of the best options for families. We may never know the date of our last day, but we can be prepared so that our wishes are carried out with a proper will, and our assets and gifts are properly transferred. Avoiding taxes on inherited money and assets is the objective of estate planning at the Barrows Firm. And as our marital and parental situations may change, we must also consider whether we need to make different tax decisions, how to file, and how to protect assets, two important considerations. We focus on answering all your death and tax issues at the Barrows Firm. Attorney Leslie Barrows can help.

How do we know which tax issues apply as we collect our financial information and prepare to do our taxes or consult a tax professional? When do we ask our attorney about tax issues? What if I am forgetting something important? For these common questions, Attorney Leslie Barrows and the team of professionals at the Barrows Firm frequently help people find the right directions and answers to all their questions, especially the questions they didn’t know they had. For more on point, see our blog article, Divorce Taxation: Avoiding Penalty for QDRO Distribution Withdrawals (and other common divorce and tax questions).

Protecting your family and accumulated wealth, property, and assets requires a reasonably consistent review of the laws and status of people in the family, who may be preparing for, or going through big life events. Marriage, the birth or adoption of children, divorce, and death, are all times that we need to sit down and go through issues of life and death, income, and taxes.

Tax Considerations for Changing Status from Married to Single, and Dependents

When does your tax status officially change? How, by whom, and when will your children be claimed as dependents? These are the common questions people ask, but there are property considerations as well. We have several accountants and CPAs who work with family law clients to make the best tax filing decisions and help with asset questions about buying, selling, and renting. For example, whatever happens to the marital residence affects potential property tax liability. What if you decide to buy or rent a smaller home, condominium, or apartment? The entirety of the financial picture is important, especially when a divorce situation is stretching a family’s income to pay for more than one residence. Get guidance on life, death, and tax issues at the Barrows Firm.

There is No Inheritance Tax in Texas

In Texas, there is no inheritance tax assessed on our death, as is the case in some states. Inheritance tax is a tax that is imposed on the transfer of an individual's assets to their heirs or beneficiaries upon their death. This tax is levied on the total value of the deceased's estate, which includes all their possessions, such as property, money, investments, and personal belongings. The rate of inheritance tax varies depending on the jurisdiction, and in some cases, it may also depend on the relationship between the deceased and the beneficiary. Note that you may have to pay federal estate taxes, but no state inheritance tax applies in Texas.

Yahoo News: Here Are the States With No Estate or Inheritance Taxes

Inheritance tax is a controversial topic, with some arguing that it is a fair way to redistribute wealth and reduce inequality, while others argue that it is a form of double taxation and an unfair burden on families who are already dealing with the loss of a loved one.

It's important to note that not all countries have an inheritance tax. In some jurisdictions, the tax may be called an estate tax or a death tax, and the rules and rates may vary significantly. If you have questions about inheritance tax in your country or state, it's best to consult with a financial advisor or tax professional.

Texas Does Have Estate Taxes, But Only on Estates Valued Over $5 Million

In Texas, the estate tax only applies to gross estates with a taxable value of over $5 million, and the tax rate ranges depending on the value of the estate. Additionally, the federal government imposes an estate tax on estates with a taxable value of over $12,060,000 in 2022, which will rise to 12,920,000 in 2023. The Barrows Firm attorneys assist with your estate planning work with tax and trust professionals who assist in preparing for the accumulation and transfer of wealth, minimizing the exposure to tax liability, especially considering estate taxes.

Property Taxes Pack a Punch to Inheritors when Property Tax Exemptions Disappear on Death

In Texas, our property taxes can be frozen at their rate when a person lives in their home, has a homestead exemption, and is 65years of age. And while the senior resident enjoys the frozen tax rate that doesn’t increase when they have that homestead exemption, the property passed on to others will not receive the exemptions, because they are non-transferable and do not pass to their heirs of an estate, as a matter of law. This begs the question of what to do with the property when someone passes. In Texas, we also have properties with agricultural exemptions that may expire with that person’s status of home and property ownership. In many of these cases, the property is transferred to heirs upon death and has a tax bill that is so high without the exemptions, that family is better off selling the land, sometimes to developers when the land is larger and in a growing area. Could something else be done with the property, using a trust to secure its future? These are all questions that are different for every family. We spend our lives working to build wealth and income to hopefully benefit our future generations, and that planning means taking into account every variable.

Great Property Tax Exemptions Issues: Texas Property Tax Exemptions You Need to Know

Estate Planning Updates Are Needed After a Divorce in Texas

The family estate planning needs to be updated if it was drafted when you were married, with the assumption that marriage would continue until your death. When you outlive the marriage, update the estate plan accordingly. This is not difficult work and the status updates are important. In addition, your estate planning attorneys at the Barrows Firm help remind you to also contact financial institutions where you may have listed a former spouse as the person payable upon death, or otherwise marked them as a beneficiary in the event of your death.

Do not forget those Power of Attorney Documents when doing your updating. The last thing anyone needs is an acrimonious ex-spouse with continuing authority over your business or life decisions. Now, if you want to leave your former spouse with some power of attorney agency, you can do that if you wish, and if you do, definitely update your documents to prevent disagreements among family in the future. Making your wishes known is important, even if they might not be what people expect.

Find the Best Assistance with Marriage, Divorce, Life, Death, and Tax issues at the Barrows Firm (817) 481-1583

House Maintenance

Unlucky in Love: What Women Need to Know About Spousal Support, Maintenance

March 28, 2023
Divorce Finances

Spousal Support: Maintenance is Additional Money, Not Part of Marital Property Divisions

Judges in Texas determine whether spousal maintenance, what most call alimony, is appropriate in a divorce in Texas. Maintenance is an award in a suit for dissolution of marriage of periodic payments from the future income of one spouse for the support of the other spouse. In Texas, the law presumes that a spouse does not need spousal support from the other and a maintenance order is not necessary. However, spousal support can be ordered if the spouse making that request shows a good faith effort to earn income or acquire education to be able to earn income, but otherwise is unable to provide for their needs.

If the Court determines that it is appropriate to move forward and evaluate the wife’s maintenance request, they apply a series off actors in determining the nature of support, the amount, duration, and method of the spousal support payment.

Answers to Frequent Texas Divorce Questions

Women in need of spousal support in their divorce should be clear on their temporary and permanent support needs when they file for a divorce. At the Barrows Firm, founding attorney Leslie Barrows and her colleagues discuss a woman’s rights and options in divorce and also review their stake in community property distribution and child support.

Want the Men’s Perspective? Our Article: Men’s Issues and Perspectives on Divorce: Spousal Support and Child Support

In Texas, either spouse can request an awarded order of spousal maintenance in a divorce, however, the Court can only order maintenance if the other spouse requesting a maintenance award does not otherwise haveenough property to provide for their basic needs at the time of the divorce, and there is an additional required circumstance such as 1) a family violence conviction, 2) physical or mental disability, 3) it’s a 10-yearmarriage and the dependent spouse lacks income earning abilities, or 4) the spouse requesting is the custodial parent of a child requiring significant personal care preventing them from earning income.

Texas Spousal Support is Limited by Statute, for People Seeking Court-Ordered Maintenance Eligibility

A spouse may seek maintenance if they lack sufficient property to provide for their reasonable needs and (1) the spouse from whom maintenance is requested was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for family violence within two years or while the suit is pending; or (2) the spouse seeking maintenance is unable to earn income because of a physical or mental disability; or (3) has been married to the other spouse for more than 10years and cannot earn sufficient income; or (4) is the custodian of a child of the marriage of any age who requires substantial care and supervision so the spouse cannot provide for their own reasonable needs.

Factors in Determining Maintenance

The Court uses all relevant factors in determining maintenance awards if the spouse is eligible. The Court considers earning capacity and ability, education and employment skills, duration of employment, duration of the marriage, and other income-generating factors. Additionally, the Court considers the spouse’s contribution to the other in the marriage and what happened over time, acutely causing the divorce. Endless arguments over equity and fairness can be tied to a request for spousal support.


Financial assistance in the way of spousal maintenance is calculated based on what each party contributes to the marriage including maintaining the home, educational efforts, and the division of marital property. Spousal support may not exceed 20 percent of the supporting spouse’s income or the total amount of $5,000 monthly.


Designed to be rehabilitative and not an annuity, maintenance is usually only ordered for a total of five years in a marriage lasting under 20 years or where there has been a history of family violence. Marriages lasting 20 to 30 years have a maximum of seven years of support and 10 years for marriages more than 30 years.

Spousal Support Can Be Ordered According to the Texas Family Code or by Private Agreement

Texas judges prefer parties to settle their disputes and if the husband is agreeable to pay his ex-wife spousal support, he can do that in a way that makes sense for both him and her. For example, the wife’s claim for maintenance might be on the fence in the eyes of the Court, after weighing property distribution, and the wife’s attorney may save the husband some money by dropping the maintenance claim if the husband voluntarily agrees to some form of spousal support in the marital settlement agreement. The extra cashflow to the ex-wife may be very helpful to her getting on her feet after the divorce and she may opt to forgo her vested stake in a retirement account, for example, and get the equivalent value in current cash.

Women Seeking Spousal Maintenance Are Support Obligees

Women seeking spousal support are called obligees because they are the party to whom the support obligation would be obliged and ordered. The valuable contribution of wives and mothers in the family home and the career development of their husbands are certainly valued in a divorce, and seen in recent news cases where the woman’s contribution value set a high bar.

A judge in Spain made recent news when a man was ordered to pay his ex-wife a total of $215,000 for 25 years of housework. Arguing that being burdened by chores, the former wife and mother also wereresponsible for raising the couple’s two daughters and caring for the husbandall while keeping an “always impeccable” home. Unable to pursue her career, shewas focused on family duties while her husband built a successful business. Thewife’s contributions helped the husband build the business because he was nototherwise distracted by family work. A woman’s contributions to her husband’sability to grow a business and career are valued and awarded in maintenanceamounts, not only in Spain but in Texas, as well, which is supported by caselawon point.

Women Can Be Spousal Support Obligors, Paying Support

In recent decades as more women pursued education and highly compensated careers, more men were able to work more flexible jobs and take more active roles as fathers and primary caretakers for the children and home. In situations where ex-husbands were primary contributors to the home and family, and the wife experienced the benefit of business growth as a direct result, the ex-wife may be ordered to pay spousal support to their ex-husband. The calculations and factors in determining a woman’s maintenance obligations to her ex-husband include the same factors in the equal application.

Read about women paying alimony.

The Barrows Firm Negotiates Spousal Support Cases for Women and Men in North Texas (817) 481-1583

Man's right hand with fountain pen preparing to sign a power of attorney

Tempting Fate Without Power of Attorney Documents

March 8, 2023
Power of Attorney

What Happens if You Need Life-Saving Decisions and Medical Directives Without Appointing a Power of Attorney?

Southlake Estate Planning Attorney Leslie Barrows cautions against tempting fate without power of attorney documents and in this short article we explain how easy it is to buy peace of mind and the legal protection that is your right in being protected, just in case.

With Saint Patrick’s Day being a popular March holiday, “Lucky” is our theme for March at the Barrows Firm in Southlake and the concepts of luck and fate resonate with some people who when walking down a sidewalk, will never step on the crack, and we don’t need to remind anyone why. And yet we the same people tempt fate every day, whether we know it or now. This now begs the question of whether we are so audacious to rest on our luck while being such fate tempters. If you question your luck, you might otherwise want to cover your assets with legal protection in power of attorney documents.

Texas Almanac: Test Your Knowledge of the Irish in Texas History and the Trinity Irish Dancers!

Most serious car wrecks occur close to home. Don’t wait for an overseas trip to get your power of attorney documents created and updated. Because you are more likely to be injured any given day, close to home, you need power of attorney documents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration collaborated with auto insurance companies and determined that more than 50 percent of car wrecks occur within five miles of a driver’s home, and 70 percent of them occur within ten miles.

NHTSA Traffic Safety Facts 2020

The Barrows Firm is a great place to get peace of mind with Estate Planning Documents like Wills and Power of Attorney Documents. Anyone and everyone needs a power of attorney so that their wishes and directives are honored if and when they are unable to make decisions or conduct business on their own. In a recent article, we talked about parents of college-age students and how important it can be to be prepared: Young Adults Going to College Need a Power of Attorney.

In the simplest form of understanding, know that without a power of attorney document, a medical professional has to guess how to treat you, and assume your medical wishes if they cannot find or must determine by statute who can make your care decisions. And without a power of attorney, any financial or business transactions are going to have to wait for you to regain your ability to do business. What a nightmare it can be if something happens to any one of us and we don’t have those necessary power of attorney documents, giving our most trusted people the ability to make important decisions and transact on our behalf.  

Free Download: Barrows Firm Estate Planning Guide

Medical Power of Attorney for Healthcare – Medical Decisions and Directives

A Medical Power of Attorney applies when you cannot make your own medical care decisions and someone you trust is appointed to make these important decisions for you. Depending on the type of medical procedure, your wishes and directives can be spelled out very specifically in your medical power of attorney document, so the agent appointed is limited to the types of decisions you authorize them to make. Even in minor surgeries, if someone is anesthetized, something can happen, and the agent might need to consent to something. You can try and test fate, but wouldn’t it be nice to be on the safer side?

Without a medical power of attorney, if a patient needs medical treatments, there are state laws that determine who else may be on the list to give consent, such as a spouse, adult child, or relative. Do you want to let it to chance that this other person is readily identifiable and available?

In any local trauma bay at a DFW hospital, some people were doing simple, daily tasks, minding their own business, doing nothing wrong, and are now receiving urgent care and treatment for life-threatening injuries. It is so easy to prevent a family’s tragedy when we are prepared for emergencies.  

Durable Power of Attorney for General Business – All Financial and Property Interests

A Durable Power of Attorney is used to make plans for the care of finances, property, and investments in the event one cannot conduct financial affairs on their own, for a certain reason. The Texas Estates Code authorizes an individual to appoint an agent as their representative to make handle their financial matters following the terms of the power of attorney which states what events must occur for the powers to be activated when the principal is unavailable. The document creating the power of attorney relationship includes the time specified, and the tasks to be carried out and once the condition of termination occurs, the principal dies, or the principal revokes the power of attorney, those power of attorney rights are terminated.

Let’s talk about jail for a moment, and while we know it would never happen to someone we know, it happens to everyone. There were 25,000 Texas drunk-driving crashes in 2021, and 24 percent of all traffic deaths were attributed to drunk driving.

Examples and Scenarios Where Everyone Benefits From Having Power of Attorney Documents:

• Heading Overseas for Vacation or Work Trip;

• Getting Older or Illness Requires Medical Care;

• Job Assignment Putting You in Risk of Harm, or Out of Town;

• Kids Going Off to College or Even Summer Camp;

• Parents who Want to Protect their Children if Something Happens;

• Upcoming Surgery, Even Routine Where Complications Could Arise;

• Being Responsible to Others or Business Obligations

The Barrows Firm Estate Planning Solutions Include Customized Power of Attorney Documents

Estate Planning Attorney Leslie Barrows has the benefit of many years in family practice, including juvenile law, criminal defense, and other legal arenas and she has seen some things in her career. This makes Attorney Barrows a uniquely experienced estate planning attorney who can customize your power of attorney documents to take effect when you chose, and include all the terms and provisions that buy you that peace of mind you and your family want. And when you use experienced legal counsel at the Barrows Firm in Southlake you know you will have answers to all your questions and power of attorney documents that are enforceable and effective in protecting your family when you cannot.

What Happens When You Die Without a Will in Texas? Get a Will, and Power of Attorney Documents

If you die in Texas, without a will, a Probate Court applies Texas Intestacy Laws and distributes your assets to your spouse and closest relatives. Depending on the Court, the property can be distributed directly by Court Order, or it can be sold and the money from the proceeds will be distributed to the next of kin as described in the intestacy statute.

If you die in Texas, without a will, the Court will determine who will take care of them and their inheritance, which will be held in a trust until they reach the age of majority. This is an important message to single parents with primary custody. Living non-primary parents are often the first in line to assert their parental rights and ask for sole conservatorship, which can trigger lawsuits among families.

Yes, family members can intervene in proceedings where someone dies without a will, but the Court is not bound to follow any of their requests. This is a preventable situation, and anyone living with or without children should get a will prepared and give their loved ones some peace of mind.

The Estate Planning Attorneys at the Barrows Firm Have Your Power of Attorney Document Solutions (817) 481-1583

woman wanting a divorce

All the [Want-to-Be] Single Ladies: Tips for Women Seeking A Divorce

February 20, 2023

Women Seeking A Divorce Get Tips for Becoming Single Ladies Again

At the Barrows Firm in Southlake, Attorney Leslie Barrows gets all kinds of calls and questions from women who want to know their rights and options in a Texas divorce. Sometimes they are planning well in advance, or just need to know where they stand if they get to the point where they cannot remain in the marriage any longer which is either toxically destructive to their health and well-being or their children. It is no surprise that many moms are on their way to becoming single ladies again.

Violence is unacceptable in any family, and nobody should allow themselves or their children to be victims of domestic violence. These are sensitive topics and we at the Barrows Firm are here to help people with safety concerns for themselves and their children. Never tolerate abuse. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 to speak with someone 24/7.

Please understand that you do not have to answer anyone but yourself when deciding whether to stay or leave your partner. And when we look at marriages as partnerships some chuckle and say they feel like theirs is more of a dictatorship. Looking at your life from the outside can look different from what you see on the inside.

“Can I do this and be better off, or am I compounding my problems?” many wonder. The truth is that every woman must make her own decision based on what she and her children need and want in life. These are very difficult decisions and many wives and mothers spend years analyzing their situations and testing their strengths, day by day. And when many get to a point they are comfortable getting out of a bad marriage, they start getting excited about becoming single ladies again.

Ladies, Do You Feel Like a Partner or Do You Function in a Role?

Being a partner in a marriage and a team player in a family is important and we all have our roles in families. There can be a balance of duties and responsibilities we decide to share, and there are times that we can make decisions without our spouse. That said, there needs to be a balance in a good relationship where both partners feel comfortable with being partners and making decisions together.

Going along with your husband because he’s your husband does not mean you are making decisions together if you don’t honestly agree on things. And by not saying anything until it comes up later in an argument, you are not being fair to yourself or him. When you know you want more of a say in things you need to communicate that fairly and honestly.

Marriage.com article: When a Woman Feels Neglected in a Relationship

Problems arise when your spouse is not interested in actually being a partner and you realize you have more of a role and set of expectations than anything else. That makes women feel like servants, not partners. Sometimes there is a personality disconnect that cannot be repaired. And sometimes we start learning more about the people we married and understand we are fundamentally incompatible at the core.

Your Kids’ Age May Affect Your Comfort Level Getting Divorced

When parents consider getting a divorce, the kids are the biggest issue, and it’s not only about who gets custody and control. Even if the statistics suggest that divorce is common, what matters to the children is feeling loved and supported no matter what. Women considering a divorce might be more inclined to stick it out for a longer time, hoping for improvement, because they believe the kids are not at the right age where they could handle divorce.

While there may be studies and data suggesting everything under the sun about when kids are ready to experience divorce in their family, it all depends on the individual. How the parents engage with their children is what matters and as well, as how peaceful and respectful they remain in front of them. And as the children generally are a little older and can take care of themselves for the most part, we see it more comfortable for women seeking a divorce. As well, mothers with very young children may be more comfortable with divorce when the kids are too little to know what is going on. Again, every family and situation is unique.

Women Can Change Their Course in Life and Seek Divorce for Different Reasons

People who are dating at different stages in life report they seem to change over time or that they have different interests. What we wanted and tolerated in our younger years might not stand the same as we grow older and gain life experience. There is nothing wrong with growing and maturing into a person who wants and expects more than people are giving them. Many women are seeking a divorce in Texas for this very reason. They have often raised their kids to the point they are okay and it is time for these women to focus on self-care, and sometimes that means divorce.

Psychology Today article: Why Women Are So Much More Likely to Seek a Divorce

We frequently hear these wives say positive things about their husbands while getting divorced. They say they are good fathers in many cases, and there are no shocking allegations of wrongdoing, rather they just grew apart. There’s no fault to be tied to admitting you are changing as a person and want different things and different people. It is a great thing when marriages end unfortunately but not acrimoniously. It is a good thing when mom and dad can move on from their marriage but still be good co-parents regardless of the age of the children.

Hiring a Divorce Law Firm with All Female Attorneys and Staff

Women understand why women divorce. At the Barrows Firm in Southlake, the attorneys and staff are all female and that matters to some women who are seeking a divorce and want to be represented by a law firm of attorneys and staff who are all ladies. What matters to a client approaching divorce and child custody is that they feel represented by professionals they can trust and with whom they can feel comfortable discussing sensitive topics.

What is the Divorce Process with the Barrows Firm in Southlake?

At the Barrows Firm, we sit down with women seeking a divorce, explain the divorce process in Texas, and find out what they want to achieve and what is most important in divorce. While it is different for everyone, some know exactly what they want and others are focused on being done and over with the process as soon as possible. Figuring out a middle ground and understanding a client’s comfort level is important in determining the best-case strategy and how to proceed. There are times to catch bees with honey, and other times more aggressive measures, so to speak.

Barrows Firm Paralegals are First Responders for Women Seeking Divorce

High-quality family law paralegals and staff are so very important to the experience when going through a divorce and child custody suit. The people who take your calls and answer many of your questions along the way are highly trained and experienced paralegals and support staff. Because we have a variety of cases indifferent stages, sometimes the attorneys are in hearings and trials and cannot respond to everything, so it is important to keep things moving at the necessary pace and that is where a high-functioning divorce litigation team is essential to success.

Women Seeking Divorce in Texas Trust The Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583

barrows firm divorce

When 50 Shades of Grey Becomes Blue Valentine: What Leads to Divorce

February 9, 2023

What Leads to Divorce in Texas Households when Reality Imitates 50 Shades of Grey and Blue Valentine

Like the iconic book and movie, 50 Shades of Grey, people are turned on by the thrill of a dramatic romance; also like the book and movie Blue Valentine, a romantic relationship can spiral out of control and which leads to divorce in Texas.  

What happens when people no longer like their spouse? Many married couples admit some level of feeling disconnected from their spouse at times. Marriages take work, and date nights are important, to keep the thrill of romance alive. Along the way people make efforts at keeping the spark alive, sometimes mimicking themes in movies like 50 Shades of Grey. Sometimes those urges cause people to stray and wonder who else may be out there, and whether to stay in a marriage. Yes, you can love someone and no longer like them.

When couples start battling because they are boiling over internally, buttons and limits get pushed. People test boundaries and see what they can get away with, and sometimes it’s a cry for attention, and other times it’s a passive-aggressive declaration of war.

Southlake divorce attorney Leslie Barrows often hears clients report moving from wondering to knowing the marriage is over, often admitting to themselves a mix of causes leading to the breakdown. But when they are done, they are done.  

People Live for Love and Passion, We Are Emotional Beings Sometimes Acting Irrationally

Intimacy is a feeling of security with love and passion, with our partner with whom we commit to share life and raise great families. Insecurity is a problem when we can no longer trust someone we gave our heart to. We live for love and passion, we watch romantic movies and look to live out the fantasy story we write in our heads. But when that intimacy is lacking and we start feeling alone and insecure, we can develop trust issues that cause us to question emotions, when emotions change.

Major life events can be a leading cause of relationship problems. When we expect our partner to respond as we want, we can be let down. How do we know whether we are the ones who are handling things wrong or whether our spouse is the problem? The reality is people change. Another reality is people mask and lie to themselves and others. Sometimes lifestyle changes like retirement cause people in long-term marriages to admit they no longer live in love and passion for one another.  Lack of intimacy and major life events and lifestyle changes can lead to divorce.

The Thrill of Dramatic Romance: Do We Want What We Cannot Have?

Many fans of the 50 Shades of Grey movie were thrilled by a story of dramatic romance, the type most people do not experience, which begs the question for people who wonder who else may be out there. Do we have a soulmate, and is there only one soul mate for every person, these are common questions and themes in entertainment, leading us to often want what we perceive we cannot have.

Psych Central Article: Why Do We Want the People We Can’t Have? 9 Reasons

Sometimes we take what we can get thinking we can’t get what we want. Why do people limit themselves? Is it by the nature of their raising and experience growing up? Sometimes it takes people more time to come into themselves and knows who they are. Life events like the death of parents, job change, and relocation cause people to reinvent themselves and assert their independence. When we decide to go after what we thought we couldn’t have, we feel empowered to go after the thrill of dramatic romance, at any time in our life, and when the clock is ticking, some say that life is short, just get the divorce.

What Happens When We Get What We Want, and it Turns Out Wrong?

Buyer's remorse can be another problem when we decide to go for the person we were told to avoid. Stick to the reliable partner who will be there rain or shine, parents say, but sometimes we want to take risks and go for the people who turn us on and give us the rush of passion and good drama. But like in the Blue Valentine story, that passion and drama can turn around and bite us.

Love. Life. Practice. Be Careful What You Wish For: The Risk of Getting What You Want

Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it – good advice at times. Sometimes affairs are the product of wondering if the grass is greener somewhere else. Sometimes the grass appears greener, and we realize it is all an illusion. Sometimes people pursue passion and realize that satisfies an internal need. Sometimes people get burned in the process of putting passion first. Oftentimes, straying from a marriage brings a couple closer when they realize what they have was worth more than they knew.

Sometimes we convince ourselves that our problems are passion-oriented when the reality is a problem of people feeling secure. In marriage counseling, the insecurities people feel are more tied to the basics of life and rooted in financial matters. Even if we focus on passion, the underlying problem can be tied to financial insecurity, something few will readily admit.

Preparing Yourself to File for Divorce, Protecting Your Kids and Your Money

Whether underlying financial issues or the breakdown of a passionate relationship is what leads to divorce in Texas, it is important to hire the best family lawyer you can to protect your kids and protect your money. How you divorce depends on the circumstances, and when something serious happens, you need the best divorce lawyer who knows how to win.

Wall Street Journal: A High-Stakes Divorce Illustrates How the Rich Play Real-Estate Tug of War– story of a Houston billionaire accused of using complex webs of trusts and LLCs to prevent the wife from accessing cash or the 13 homes they acquired together!

Emergency relief may be available when you file for a divorce or protective order. Soon after a divorce is filed you may have a temporary orders hearing to determine where the kids go and who pays for what during the divorce. Often the temporary terms become permanent arrangements. The divorce and child custody process is different for everyone and what matters most is protecting your kids, your money, and your rights and options. Leslie Barrows and her team of attorneys and paralegals at the Barrows Firm in Southlake are there to guide you through the process and help you position yourself and your kids to win.

What Leads to Divorce, Leads Families to The Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583

Child Support Modifications 2023

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

January 19, 2023
Child Support

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Child Support Guidelines and Statutory Increases

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

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

Maximum Amount of Child Support Obligation

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

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

Child Support Modifications are New Lawsuits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Change in Physical Possession and a New Child Support Modification

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

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

client meeting with lawyer

New Year, New Beginnings: January is Divorce Month

January 11, 2023

New Year, New Beginnings: January is Divorce Month

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


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


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


Get Answers to Frequent Texas Divorce Questions on our Blog


Psychology Today: 4 Expert Tips on Emotionally Preparing for Divorce


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

End of Year Estate Planning

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

December 27, 2022
Estate Planning

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

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

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

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

Specific Reasons to Update Your Estate Plan:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Joyful mother and daughter laughing on Christmas day at home

Top 5 Christmas and Holiday Visitation Tips for Parents

December 12, 2022
Child Custody

Christmas and Holiday Visitation Tips for Parents who Want Successful Holidays


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


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


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


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


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

1.      Check Your Holiday Possession Schedules and Court Orders

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


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


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

2.      Standard Possession Orders for Christmas 2022

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


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

3.      Early School Dismissals Affecting Work Schedules and Parenting Time

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


Entertainment Calendar: Dallas Kids Out and About


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

4.      Addressing Disagreements Over Holiday Visitation and Family Plans

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


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

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

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


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


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


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

Estate Planning

Estate Planning and Adopting the Child of a Relative

November 17, 2022
Estate Planning

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

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

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

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

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

Estate Planning Tools for Relative Adoptions

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

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

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

Adopting Children and Welcoming Them Among Family

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

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

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

Wills and Trusts Serving the Needs and Desires of Families

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

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

Including Adopted Special Needs Children in Estate Planning

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

Read our related article, Divorce with Adult Special Needs Children

Avoid Conflicts Among Grandparents and Relatives

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

lack of intimacy

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

November 9, 2022

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

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

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

Health: 7 Life Events That Can Lead to Divorce

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When Children Move Away, Empty Nesters Have Different Responses

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

Psycom: The Psychology of Divorce and the Pursuit of Happiness

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

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

Health and New Lifestyles Impacting Intimacy

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

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

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

Waking Up to a Midlife Epiphany

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

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

Lack of Intimacy Leads to Cheating

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

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

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

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Verbal and Emotional Abuse in Texas Divorce and Family Law

October 27, 2022

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

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

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

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

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

What Constitutes Verbal and Emotional Abuse in a Family?

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

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

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

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

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

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

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

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

Emergency Protective Orders and Safety of the Family

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

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

Proving Emotional Abuse Allegations in Texas Divorce and Custody Suits

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Can People Prepare to Safely Leave Verbal andEmotional Abusers?

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

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

divorce spelled in blocks

Answers to Frequent Texas Divorce Questions

October 13, 2022

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

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

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

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

Search, Find, and Read the Barrows Firm Blog

Deciding to File for a Divorce in Texas

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hiring a Family Lawyer and Preparing for Divorce

What should I look for in a family lawyer?

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

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

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

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

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

What Happens to Children During a Divorce?

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

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

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

Who pays for what bills and childcare expenses?

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

Are my kids going to be involved in the process?

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

Community Property Valuation and Division in Texas Divorce

Does community property mean everything is split 50/50?

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

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

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

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

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

Establishing Necessary Child and Spousal Support

Who gets spousal support in Texas divorce?

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

Is there a maximum amount of spousal support in Texas?

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

What happens with child support payments in Texas?

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

The Discovery and Pretrial Negotiation and Mediation Process

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

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

Lifehack Article – 9 Ways to Pick Your Divorce Battles

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

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

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

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

Being Prepared for Court for Hearings and Trial

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

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

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

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

How long do most divorce hearings and trials last?

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

Enforcement and Modification of Court Orders, Judgments

How does court order enforcement work in most cases?

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

What must happen to qualify for a modification case?

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

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

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

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

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