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Divorce taxation money split down the middle

Divorce Taxation: Avoiding Penalty for QDRO Distribution Withdrawals

February 3, 2020

In Divorce, Pensions are Divided Using a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO)

Divorces in Texas require the parties community property to be divided equitably, including money in 401k retirement plans and accounts. The values of 401k plans are usually valued at the date of divorce and are divided using a form called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO). While some people receive the funds from a 401k division using a QDRO and roll that money right into their own 401k investment account. However, some people want access to the cash value of the amount they receive following the entry of the QDRO.

A Qualified Domestic Relations Order is a form that identifies the 401k plan participant and the alternate payee who should receive an equitable distribution of funds. There are general QDRO forms, and specific forms and models used by individual plan administrators. For example, see the QDRO information page on the Teacher Retirement System of Texas (TRS) on their website.

If you are the Alternate Payee named to receive your equitable share of QDRO funds, and you chose to take an early distribution before reaching the age of 59 ½ you will the owe the IRS an early distribution penalty if you do not otherwise inform them that you qualify to avoid additional taxes on qualified retirement plans by completing an additional tax form, IRS Form 5329.

Got Divorce Taxation Questions? Call Southlake Divorce Attorney Leslie Barrows (817) 481-1583.

Turbo Tax: 10 Things You Need to Know About Divorce and Taxes

Divorce Taxation Issues and Questions that Arise During Divorces

Divorce taxation comes up during negotiations about property division, financial support of parties and children, and of course, the division of retirement funds and accounts. Divorce lawyers frequently advise their clients to get divorce taxation advice from qualified tax advisor professionals. Likewise, the tax professionals refer back to the divorce lawyers when they receive questions about who should be entitled to what monies and how.

For most families with straight forward finances, determining divorce taxation answers is easy. But when there are complicated business interests, investments, and stock ownership and options, the issues of revenue and taxation are more complicated. For example, the event triggering the sale or transfer of monies and financial interests can affect tax liability depending on how and when that event takes place. In many situations, it is best when the parties can work together in a way those divorce taxation dilemmas are resolved in everyone’s favor, and not in the favor of IRS.

Generally, a 10 Percent Early Withdrawal Penalty Applies When Cashing In QDRO Money

If you were not aware of early withdrawal penalties, do not be concerned. In the realm of divorce taxation and tax laws applying to QDRO money, the laws can change from year to year and all the experts must approach tax questions and research the current laws and implications of their application.

Let’s say you want to use the money you receive from the 401k distribution to make a downpayment on a home. If you can avoid a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty, you have more money to use in getting your new life going after your divorce.

A New IRS Requirement Allows a Waiver of the 10 Percent Early Withdrawal Penalty

If you are the Alternate Payee, meaning you are the one receiving money from a 401k distribution ordered in your divorce decree, you may take advantage of the opportunity to avoid a 10 percent early withdrawal penalty. For many people, this 10 percent can mean substantial savings if you want or need to cash in your QDRO award.

When you sit down to prepare your tax returns after divorcing, you can separate early distributions by completing additional IRS forms allowing you to avoid owing the 10 percent tax on those early distributions.

Now, the Alternate Payee Uses IRS Form 5329 to be Exempt from the Penalty

IRS Form 5329 applies to the additional tax on early distributions from qualified retirement plans including IRAs, modified contracts, and Roth IRAs. You should consult an independent tax advisor qualified to advise and assist with tax forms and filings. They can help you with Form 5329, to be completed and attached to the main Form 1040 or 1040NR. You can also review IRS Form 5329 and this Investopedia article, Retirement Plan Tax Form 5329 for more information and instructions on completing the forms and marking “06” on line 2 and filling in the exempt amount.

Denton and Tarrant County Divorce Attorney Leslie Barrows Can Answer All Your Divorce Taxation Questions (817) 481-1583

The Barrows Firm attorneys, paralegals, and staff welcome your questions about divorce taxation, and all other financial matters that affect you and your family now, and in the future. Principal and founding divorce attorney, Leslie Barrows has professional relationships with all the best tax experts and financial planning advisors who know how best to turn your finances in the best direction after divorce. It is likely that these divorce and financial matters are stressful and at the Barrows Firm, we do whatever we can to make the transition easier and reduce your stress level.

January Divorce

5 Reasons Divorce Lawyers are Busy in January

January 17, 2020

Divorce Lawyers like Attorney Leslie Barrows are busy with January Divorce and Child Custody Cases

Divorces, child custody, and modification cases are filed more frequently in January, right after the holidays are over and children go back to school. Southlake divorce lawyer, attorney Leslie Barrows knows that people who do their research, find that January is a good time to file their family law case, get their discovery documents ready, and hopefully have their Temporary Orders hearing before spring break and Easter.

Anyone considering filing a new divorce, child custody, or modification case should get the right legal advice from experienced divorce and family law attorney they feel they can trust. Your divorce lawyer needs to know everything about you and the facts of your case so they can represent you with the best strategy to get you what you need.

Read our article, Divorcing with Children 102: Child Custody

To learn your legal rights and options, call Southlake divorce lawyer Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm to schedule a consultation for divorce, child custody, and modification cases. Attorney Leslie Barrows is also a family law mediator. Call (817) 481-1583.

5 Reasons Divorce Lawyers are Busy in January:

    1. The Holidays Give People Confirmation they are Making the Right Decision

When a marriage is failing and the distance between spouse increases, it is easier to avoid conflict and fights. In many troubled marriages spouses who once pledged their undying love for one another end up becoming more like roommates.

The holidays involve stimuli that pull us out of our routine and comfort zones. Seeing friends and families can remind us of all kinds of things that make us naturally question ourselves and if we are happy in our lives. For those who know things are not good, they may want to let relatives know over the holidays if there is a divorce coming up soon.

Psychology Today: Why is January Divorce Month?

    2. Kids are Back in School and Young Adults are Back in College

By the middle of January, the older children in college are starting their spring semesters in college and the younger ones are settled back in their school routines. Many people wait until after the holidays to get divorced because they are not disrupting Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years with a substantial life change like a divorce.

We all want to give our children and ourselves the best holiday experiences and memories. By waiting until January to start a family law lawsuit, we don’t disrupt anyone. Divorces filed around the beginning of the year usually have their Temporary Orders in place before spring, and everyone has time to get used to possession schedules and new living situations.

    3. Other Business May be Slow and January is a Good Time to Start a Divorce

In many industries, January is a slow month and people have more time to work on their divorce case. In a new divorce, child custody, or modification case there are discovery document requests and exchanges, depositions and interrogatory questions to answer. The process of exchanging discovery can be extensive, so being able to devote some extra time to your case may be easier for people if they are in a slower month at work.

Waiting until the new calendar year might also make it easier to determine estimated annual income and expenses. Some people who receive variable year-end bonus income will be asked to determine their current income after the end of the calendar year. There are many other reasons January is a cleaner and easier time to start a divorce lawsuit.

Divorce Net: How to Find Hidden Assets in Divorce

    4. Possession Schedules Do Not Work and Co-Parents Need a Modification Case

As children grow older the possession schedules that used to work, might not work any longer. For example, kids in junior high and high school get busy with extracurriculars. Many teenagers prioritize spending time with their friends and playing sports. The possession schedules set in place when the children were younger, might need to be revisited. To get new final orders for co-parenting and possession, a modification case is necessary.

A modification case can be amicable when the co-parents can agree on new possession arrangements that work best for everyone. What gets more contentious are the cases filed to modify which parent has the exclusive right to determine the residence of the children. Where family violence is alleged, joint conservatorship is at issue and one parent will likely become the sole conservator and have the right to determine where the child lives.

Learn more about Texas Child Possession and Access Schedules

     5. A January Divorce Filing Can Lead to a Temporary Orders Hearing before Spring Break

At a Temporary Orders hearing the parties in a family law case have a short hearing to determine who will live where drive which cars, and pay for which bills while the divorce case is active. In emergency cases involving family violence, a protective order can issue and can order the offending party to leave the marital residence.

Temporary Order hearings are designed to ensure the best interests of the children and to order the continuation of the status quo while the divorce suit is pending. Until there are temporary orders the parties are not encouraged to be taking vacations out of town with the children. Once there is a Temporary Order that says who can do what and how parents can make plans. To make sure you get everything in place before spring break and Easter, January is the time to get the ball rolling in your family law case.

When You Have a Reason to File a January Divorce, Child Custody, or Modification, Call Attorney Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583.

child custody log

Custody Logs and Our Family Wizard in Divorce and Child Custody Cases

December 19, 2019

Do Custody Logs Work

Divorce and child custody cases are easier to manage when you and your lawyer have good custody logs and records when there are conflicts over the custody and possession schedules in temporary orders and the court’s orders after the final trial. Sometimes former spouses have new partners and issues leading to conflicts. Properly maintained custody logs have come a long way and new technology makes keeping a custody calendar so much easier in a divorce or suit affecting a parent-child relationship, where the parents are not married but have a child custody suit.

Who has the kids and when? Are there upcoming special events? When am I required to give the other parent notice of what days I’m taking possession during summer break? A custody log also called a custody calendar, helps everyone understand who needs to be where and when. Keeping a custody log helps keep the peace when records of custody exchanges are easily produced in the event of a conflict among co-parents.

It might seem like a lot of work to maintain a daily custody log and calendar with several schedule entries and notes but it can be easy with some of the great new apps and built-software to handle all your family’s needs.  So, where people used to keep notebooks and ledgers with receipts and paperwork, everything is possible today with an app like Our Family Wizard for your custody logs.

Southlake divorce attorney Leslie Barrows can help you with custody conflicts and challenging questions. Call the Barrows Firm at (817) 481-1583.

Following a Parenting Plan and Possession Schedule in Texas Divorce

In most contested custody suits and divorces, at a temporary orders hearing, the temporary custody and possession schedule is set in place. Easily, the temporary orders custody situation becomes permanent after the final trial. During the divorce, the parents might find out that the temporary custody situation is not going to work for one reason or the other.

Tech alert: Divorce is hard. These 7 apps can make coordinating and communicating with your ex easier.

Even though the former couple may be able to learn to co-exist and get along as co-parents, it may take some time and bumps along the road. Fixing a broken situation may require showing a judge, guardian at litem, attorney, or other professional involved in the case about what is actually happening.

The key is establishing the expected custody schedule and using custody logs and supportive evidence when making an argument in favor of modifying or enforcing the custody arrangement and possession schedule ordered by the Court.

What is a Custody Log in a Texas Divorce and What is its Purpose?

Many judges will order the parties to create and maintain custody logs, however the parties can make that happen. An attorney may ask the Court to order a specific custody log format such as the Our Family Wizard software app, which is specifically developed and used in divorces with high conflict child custody cases.

See the Custody Exchange article, Organize Your Custody Case with a Digital Journal.

The custody log helps two parents make good habits regarding their custody and possession schedules. When people learn to make it a daily habit to manage custody calendars. This also means that parents can make it a habit to prepare for birthdays, holidays, and schedule changes ahead of time, to avoid conflict. Co-parents who work well with custody exchanges can keep track of everything and juggle schedules without unnecessary drama.

Attorney Barrows is a divorce attorney with years of experience with a variety of custody log systems including the current favorite of many, Our Family Wizard, designed with all the best features for co-parenting and custody exchanges.

Using Our Family Wizard (OFW) for Custody Logs and Records

Digital records are easier to maintain with the Our Family Wizard app. With real-time date, time and location information, the parties can rely on the software that cannot be faked or manipulated. A simple entry in the Our Family Wizard app is much easier to do than running into the local fast food restaurant designation spot and buying a Coke so you have a time-stamped receipt.

Parents who address concerns about parental alienation can use the OFW app to show a pattern of problems that might otherwise be one’s word against the other. In the section of the OFW app where parents exchange information, the grammar checker can alert to aggressive tone, asking the sender if they want to re-word their entry.

When the judge has real-time access to the custody log on OFW and can be notified if necessary, it is easier for the Court to make custody decisions about conflicts, enforcement, and modifications.

Even if you are not in a high-conflict divorce or custody situation, custody logs like the OFW app make it really easy for good co-parents to maximize their kiddos’ opportunities and busy schedules. To learn more, read our custody logs article, Divorcing with Children 104: Using Our Family Wizard.

With Questions and Concerns about Custody Logs, Call the Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583

divorce at Christmas can be tough

Barrows Firm Holiday Survival Tips

December 13, 2019

Divorcing Over Christmas and New Years: Barrows Firm Survival Tips

Divorce and holidays are challenging. You do not have to be a wreck or hide out until after New Years' Day. Southlake Attorney Leslie Barrows has a few holiday survival tips to help create more laughter and good memories with your children and to boost your co-parenting skills. While you cannot change the fact that you got a divorce or had a child custody case, you can change your attitude about the situation if things did not go well.

When you focus on appreciating you have children because you were with your ex, you can learn to have a better attitude of gratitude. When you make an effort to laugh and sing, you boost your spirits and those around you. Keeping your positive attitude and patience, you can lead by setting good examples. As you and your kids create new traditions, focus on the present and the future. And when buying and giving gifts to your children, remember that it is not a competition for their love and respect, so take the opportunity to always remind them what Christmas is all about.

If you work at it, you can make this and every next Christmas season magical. Of course, if there are problems beyond your control and custody emergencies arise, you can always call Southlake Divorce Attorney Leslie Barrows if you need some muscle or to get into court.

Check out our blog article with more information, Divorcing with Children 107: Preparing for the Holidays

Appreciating Your Ex Because You Have Children Together

Especially if this is your first, second, or maybe third holiday season after divorce, you may still be angry and upset with your ex. Allowing yourself to feel, helps you heal. So when a song, favorite movie, or a Christmas card from someone triggers your mixture of good and bad thoughts and memories, take a moment to focus on how much you love your children.

When you start feeling upset or someone brings it up, learn to say that you appreciate your ex because without them you wouldn’t have your kids. Also, learn to say that you believe your ex wants to be a good parent and they are also important to your children.

Barrows Firm Holiday Survival Tip: Never talk badly about your ex because your kids are half you, and half them. The worst thing a child could hear is that you hate the half of them that comes from their other parent. Just don’t do it.

Laughing and Singing for Elevating Your Spirits

You know what traditional holiday movies and songs make you laugh, and which ones make you cry. If you want to have the best holiday season, focus on laughter and song. Watch some comedy holiday movies with the kids. Sing songs and turn up your favorite rocking around the Christmas tree tunes.

Laughing and singing is good for you and your children. Keeping spirits bright means doing things that make you laugh and sing. This article is great and it offers some creative ways to make things goofy and fun, such as the Ugly Christmas Sweater Day: 5 Hillarious Ways to Laugh Off Holiday Stress

See also, 10 Funny and Heartwarming Quotes to Help You Survive the Holidays

Co-Parenting One Day at a Time: Attorney Barrows Recommends a Positive Attitude

True or False: If your ex screws up the holiday possession schedule, you should make them regret the day they screwed up your holiday season? FALSE

While you may remember the dream sequences in the popular 80s movie 9 to 5 (about all those things people dream about doing to their boss), it is best to keep those thoughts in your head and use the opportunity negotiate something that works much better for you, like a few extra days in January so you can take the kids on a surprise weekend getaway.

A key Barrows Firm holiday survival tip is to be reasonable and not build a case against your ex if something goes wrong. However, if there is a serious matter and you really need to go to court for a custody order enforcement action, call Leslie Barrows.

Creating New Holiday Traditions and Doing Something New

Whenever a family goes through a substantial change such as a divorce, most divorce lawyers and child custody mental health professionals recommend creating new holiday traditions. Southlake divorce attorney Leslie Barrows offers a pro tip: “Instead of focusing on what day you do things, focus on what new traditions you are creating with your kiddos.” So instead of always decorating the Christmas tree on a specific day, focus on the process. For example, start making a tradition of sharing stories about favorite ornaments or making a trip together to hunt for some great new ornaments.

As both you and your ex separately create new traditions with the children, they will start to look forward to those from year to year. After not long at all, the new traditions and happy memories become something to cherish.

Barrows Firm Holiday Survival Tip: Maybe a new tradition is a holiday vacation! So long as it works with your possession schedule and you plan ahead, consider a few popular holiday vacation destinations! 7 Best Christmas Getaways in Texas

Avoiding the Gifting Competition and Focusing on the Meaning of Christmas

When Christmas comes during or recently after divorce, some parents tend to overcompensate by giving more gifts than usual, and gifts that may seem excessive. Sometimes the non-primary parent sees an opportunity to show their children how much they love them by overdoing it on Christmas gifts. Let us not assume that this is intentional, rather a knee-jerk reaction to emotions and adjustment.

The important message about Christmas should be that both parents and sides of the family love the children and cherish their time with them during the holidays. By overcompensating with excessive fights, your kids might suspect that you are trying to make up for a shortfall. So try to remember how much you love your children and show them by spending quality time with them instead of showering them with excessive presents.

Leslie Barrows and the Southlake Divorce Attorneys, Paralegals, and Staff at the Barrows Firm Hope You Enjoy the Barrows Firm Holiday Survival Tips and Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Call the Barrows Firm Anytime at (817) 481-1583.

cohabitation during divorce, couple on couch separately

Divorce and Cohabitation During Divorce: When It Can Work

November 25, 2019

When people file for a divorce it is common for one of the parties to pack their bags and leave the house. However, some couples decide to stay living together, cohabitating during divorce. Not everyone wants to spend the money on supporting two households during a divorce, and some simply cannot afford to pay for separate residences while also paying for the divorce.

It might work well for some couples to live together during divorce, and for others, it would not be a good option. If you are getting divorced and are considering staying in the home together during the divorce, know that you can change your mind at any point. Especially if things go from polite to hostile, you might need to make other arrangements for separate living spaces.

If you and your spouse can continue cohabitating during divorce, the divorce process itself might be easier and more agreements might be possible. You should talk to your divorce lawyer if you want legal advice about the implications of living together during divorce. For example, can you stay under the same roof and not discuss the terms of the divorce? What does your divorce lawyer recommend regarding communication during cohabitation during the divorce?

Divorce Magazine: 8 Survival Tips for Living Together During Divorce

Call attorney Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake to discuss your rights and options, and whether living together during the divorce is worth consideration. (817) 481-1583.

Would You Consider Living Together During Divorce?

Many people would say it really depends on the circumstances, whether two divorcing people could stand living together during a divorce. For example, some couples divorce after years of disagreement about finances, work, and family life. If your divorce is a product of ongoing relationship problems and differences, but you can get along peacefully, you might be able to keep living together for a while, during divorce.

From the HuffPost, read about high-income earners who chose cohabitation to save money in this article, The Unselfish Divorce: Separating But Living Together. If you are considering it, see also House Rules: 5 Tips to Being Divorced and Still Living Together.

If, however, you or your spouse did something that caused immediate and irreparable damage to the relationship, such as physical violence, obviously living together is not an option.

If you did consider cohabitating during the divorce, how long do you think you could keep living together? When asked this question, some respond that they have already put up with the other for so long, that they can probably stick it out for a while, knowing the divorce will be final before long.

How Children Could Benefit from Parents’ Cohabitation During Divorce

When you ask a child what they know about divorce, you might hear a variety of answers. If you and your spouse are good co-parents, despite your personal differences, you all might be able to show the children how divorcing parents can still get along well and take care of the kids.

Remember that you should not talk to your kids about the divorce, that violates a court’s standing orders, and whatever other temporary restraining orders or temporary orders apply in the divorce. That said, we all wonder if kids talk to their friends or cousins about what is going on, including their parents getting divorced. So, what might they say?

Even though kids' other friends might tell them their parents fought fiercely and cannot be in the same room together, your kids might be able to say that divorce is different for all families and their parents are divorcing while getting along and not fighting in front of the children.

The pattern of behavior children observe during divorce can give them an idea of what might be normal adult behavior. Kids can either watch and learn from parents who can get along peacefully, or kids can learn from parents who fight.

When Cohabitation May Not be in the Best Interests of Children

If there is any history of family violence, substance abuse, and other significant volatility, cohabitation can be a bad idea. If children know their fighting parents are getting a divorce but remaining in the house during the divorce, those kids might be terrified. Children might be concerned that mom or dad might start asserting their independence in ways that might not turn out well.

What the child perceives might simply be an uneasy and awkward sense. The child might pick up on everyone walking on eggshells. So unless two divorcing parents are sure they can maintain a positive status quo during the divorce, they might consider other options.

What About Cohabitation After Divorce? Some People Keep Living Like Roommates

Some couples may decide to continue saving money by staying in the same house, even after the divorce. There are plenty of families who have already done this, and they often find that the divorce makes it easier to tolerate one another without the uncertainty of their future in a bad marriage. Some might stay together while co-parenting and split once the kids leave the house. Others plan to live together after the divorce, and it works for six months or a year before one of the parties is just ready to move on or is in better financial shape to do so.

Every family is different and whether they can get along in cohabitation during divorce is determined on a case by case basis, often one day or week at a time. Call the Barrows Firm to learn your rights and options for your divorce in Texas.

Attorney Leslie Barrows is a Divorce Lawyer in Southlake, Texas at the Barrows Firm. Call the Barrows Firm for a Texas Divorce and Custody Consultation at (817) 481-1583.

A woman divorced with special needs child taking a walk

Special Needs Children and Divorce

November 14, 2019

Divorce is challenging, especially on special needs children with a variety of mental and/or physical disabilities. Especially when a child has a mental disability, the process of, and the concept of divorce can cause more problems. For example, a child with autism may need additional love, support, and attention to make sure special needs children feel safe and secure.

Psychology Today: Divorce Cases Involving Children with Autism

Financial implications of divorcing with special needs children should be considered by parents and their divorce lawyers. When a family adjusts to a new living situation, a child with a physical disability might need new home aides and equipment. Child custody and support require additional care and attention when parents divorce and one or more children have special needs.

Although the Texas Family Law Code does define a list of factors to qualify a child as special needs or as having a disability, there are procedures a child custody lawyer can use to meet the needs of the family. Disabilities are conditions that impair someone’s movement, speech, daily function, and abilities to solve problems and make daily judgments.

Attorney Leslie Barrows is a divorce lawyer you can trust to negotiate and litigate for you and your children, so your family can accommodate special needs children during and after divorce. Call Leslie at the Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583.

How the Needs of a Child with Special Needs Can Change with Time

Approaching issues of care for special needs children during divorce is tricky. Depending on the age of a child with a range of mental and/or physical disabilities, it might be necessary to review the needs of the child as they grow and mature. When you can anticipate that the needs of a child may change and are unforeseeable, it is important to consider the unknown future of a child and how they adapt as they grow older.

At the Barrows Firm, Leslie and her team of talented trial lawyers know that the needs of children with mental, emotional, and physical limitations can change. The Barrows Firm attorneys prepare for change by using a strategy that structures agreements and their provisions to anticipate what may come.

The Special Needs Alliance offers an article with more thoughts about the challenges of divorce when you have a child with special needs: Divorce and Children with Special Needs.

Court-Ordered Child Support for Special Needs Children

Chapter 154 of the Texas Family Code is the provision of law regarding court-ordered support for a disabled child. The law covers adult children as well as minor children. Texas law states that a court may order either or both parents to provide for the support of the child for an indefinite period once the following criteria are met.

First, the court must make a finding that the child requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a mental or physical disability and that the child will not be capable of self-support. Second, the court must find that the disability, or cause thereof, existed or was known prior to the 18th birthday of the child.

If the Court-ordered support is for an adult child, the Court may designate a special needs trust to receive support to be paid directly to the trust for the benefit of the adult child with special needs. Note that this is not the same procedure are using the state disbursement unit.

Note that ordered child support can impact a child’s social security or disability claims if any. When these benefits are an issue, Attorney Leslie Barrows consults with other experienced lawyers who often specialize in these specific legal areas.

Forming a Special Needs Trust to Support Special Needs Children

If you and the other parent agree or are ordered to create a self-funded special needs trust, Attorney Leslie Barrows can create a special needs trust in accordance with applicable Texas probate code provisions as well as the U.S. federal code as it may apply.

A special needs trust also referred to as a supplemental needs trust, is a trust that holds property, often money, solely for the benefit of a person with a mental or physical disability, such as a special needs child. In a divorce involving a special/supplemental needs trust, the Court’s order should identify the details regarding each parent’s rights and duties regarding the trust, ensuring that the needs of the child and their best interests are met.

Conservatorship and Possession and Access to Special Needs Children in Divorce

Beginning with your temporary order hearing, the court will order or consider the agreement of the parties about who is going to live where and who will pay for what during the divorce. When your child has special needs, however, it can be more difficult to adjust.

Experienced divorce lawyers like Attorney Leslie Barrows will prepare you for child custody issues and the process through which you can make your case on why you should be the primary parent. It might be necessary to use a qualified expert to offer testimony about what a particular child might need for daily care, and how that care can best be given to the child.

Call Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake with Your Questions About Special Needs Children and Divorce (817) 481-1583.

parents arguing in the kitchen with children nearby

Divorcing With Children 108: Keep Kids Out of Divorce

October 30, 2019

Non-Litigation Tools for Parenting Time and Parenting Issues to Keep Kids Out of Divorce

There are many options for dispute resolution involving parenting time and parenting issues. Mediation, counseling, and communication are pathways to compromise and they help keep kids out of divorce. Parents want the best for their children and most parents feel that the best thing for their kids is to spend their time with them. The problem is the other parent probably makes the same argument. Parents argue over who gets the children and who can make which decisions about them. Most parents agree to try to keep kids out of divorce but they cannot come to an agreement and end up letting the process lead to the outcome.

There are better ways to resolve conflicts than exposing children to custody litigation. Often one parent wants to focus on alternative dispute resolution methods while the other just wants the lawyers to handle everything on paper and in court.

What people divorcing with children should know is that many mental health and family law attorneys and professionals agree that keeping kids out of divorce is better in the long run. High-conflict litigation can lead to all kinds of emotional reactions as well as short-to-long-term behavior and developmental concerns.

Leslie Barrows is a divorce lawyer Southlake, Texas families trust with their best interests, especially when divorcing with children. Attorney Barrows and her talented family attorneys and paralegals are there to help make the process as painless as possible. Call the Barrows Firm, Attorneys & Mediators (817) 481-1583.

Mediation, Family Counseling, and Parenting Communication

Read Leslie’s blog article: 5 Reasons to Give Mediation a Chance

Alternatives dispute resolution methods keep kids out of divorce litigation and all the problems that can come along with exposing them to parenting and custody battles. Initially, your ex might not prefer the idea of doing mediation, counseling and communication-focused negotiation. But, when the attorneys talk to their clients, they often highlight the advantages of going to mediation, especially where it saves people time and resources for more important issues.

Psychology Today: Proving the Benefits of Mediation

Mediation to Keep Kids Out of Divorce

Mediation is a non-adversarial process designed to be non-confrontational. Both parties and their lawyers attend mediation. A third-party mediator experienced in Texas divorce, custody, and other family law issues will lead the parties through a process of talking about concerns without worrying about their statements being used as evidence in court.

Ideally, meditation helps people get down to the bottom line so parents can work out their conflict and come to an agreement on key elements of parenting and time with the kids. Mediation allows parents to sort things out and identify which, if any, issues need to be determined in court. This saves everyone time and money.

Family Counseling for Kids and Parents

A great family counselor can help the whole family. People who are not used to seeing a family counselor are likely to appreciate the value of working with a mental health professional. Counselors are good at helping us talk about our thoughts, concerns, and feelings in a safe and neutral environment. A family counselor can help parents and children get closer to understanding exactly what is bothering them and how to better understand their feelings about the divorce.

Kids need to know they are safe and that both their parents love them. When people divorcing with children have the opportunity to attend family counseling, they can get to a better place in their minds, which leads to better communication, and more effective mediation. When parents know their kids are going to be okay and they do feel safe and loved, then parents might be more successful in mediating conflict to stay out of court and keep kids out of divorce.

Parenting Communication for Better Compromise

Communication issues are roadblocks to negotiation and compromise. Whether preparing for mediation or family counseling, learning to say exactly what you mean can be as important as meaning exactly what you say.

Electronic communication can be dangerous to effective communication. Especially if you are exchanging text messages and emails, it is easy to assume a tone that the other does not intend. When one party thinks the other is being short about exchanging pick up and drop off information, the other may be trying to give the other space.

If the goal is to resolve as many divorcing with children issues as possible, being a patient and effective communicator is a must. Simply learning not to misconstrue things can help people along well. There are all kinds of resources available to be a better communicator, and many are found online.

Article recommendation: Tips on Communication With Your Spouse During a Divorce, from Marriage.com.  

When Litigation Cannot Be Avoided, Keep Kids Out of Divorce at Home

Read Leslie’s blog article: Settling a Challenging Divorce Case

Fitness as a parent, child abuse, and domestic violence issues may best be determined by a judge or jury. Based on the nature of other troublesome issues and extreme animosity, traditional litigation can be necessary as alternative dispute resolution practices are not going to be an option.

Divorcing with children and using traditional litigation does not need to be something to fear. In fact, the anticipation of things can often be much worse than the actual event, such as a custody hearing. At the Barrows Firm we know these are challenging times and we do everything to lessen the impact.

Even when we must proceed in high-stakes child custody litigation we know that moms and dads want to keep their kids out of their divorce. At every turn in a divorce case, we know what stress and anxiety parents and children are facing, so we focus on strategies that minimize open conflict and life disruption whenever possible.

Consult the Barrows Firm in Southlake when Divorcing With Children (817) 481-1583

Attorney Leslie Barrows and her team of family law attorneys, paralegals, and staff at the Barrows Firm understand how important it is to have the best possible experience when divorcing with children. They know you want to keep kids out of divorce litigation and preserve the status quo whenever possible, so everyone comes out of the divorce with their feet forward.

Divorced father with children at the holidays

Divorcing with Children 107: Preparing for the Holidays

October 22, 2019

Tips for Preparing for Holidays when Divorcing with Children

The holiday season is challenging enough for happy couples with children. When you are preparing for, in the middle of, or just post-divorce, it is time to search for a new normal. Your outlook and attitude can be your best allies when it seems like everyone is against you. Despite the peril, you may feel, trying to give your children the best life you can provide, there can be good news about children of divorced parents.

As the study of divorce and children continues, mental health professionals make encouraging reports. Children are better off when their divorced parents worked to maintain positive attitudes in their parenting roles. While so many people worried that kids of divorce would have problems in life, the reality is many are well-adjusted. Divorcing with children does not mean your children are going to be worse off, and when you and the other co-parent keep a strong focus on the best interests of the kids, everyone’s lives can be healthier.

Enjoy this Kids Health article, Helping Your Child Through a Divorce

As Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and other seasonal holidays are soon upon us, we have an opportunity to make things best for our kids, which in turn makes things good for us as parents. If you have a conflict with your spouse or ex, you have control over how you let conflict affect you as a parent and as a partner. Even if you feel you have to fake it until you make it through the holidays, you can be the one driving the bus.

Leslie Barrows is a Southlake divorce lawyer at the Barrows Firm and she can help. Whether you are facing a divorce, preparing to file after the Holidays, or need to modify your custody situation, Leslie and her team of talented family lawyers can are there to walk you through the entire process. Call Leslie at (847) 481-1583 or Contact the Barrows Firm online.

Make Plans Now if You Anticipate Holiday Travel – Get Into Court Now

If you anticipate a problem with your possession schedule and holiday events and family get-togethers, call your divorce lawyer now and don’t wait until it is too late to adjust your time with children and family. You might be able to negotiate a compromise with the other parent that saves everyone from a trip to court and the time and expense of asking a judge to make a decision when the parents cannot.

Remember that you and your former spouse should work together as much as possible to provide a good life for the kids, and quality time with both parents. However, there are parts of expanded family dynamics beyond your control. Especially when one of you remarries and blends families, your negotiation efforts can fall by the wayside and you need to go to court.

If you need your divorce lawyer to help intervene and go to court, do it now. When big trips are planned and family events are scheduled, most of us know in advance of scheduling conflicts. Your judge may want to know why the parties are unable to figure things out on their own. It is best if you have a known problem, to address it as early as possible. Judges usually dislike preventable emergency cases.

Your First Set of Holidays with Kids After Divorce

Once you are assured who will have the kids on what holidays, you can make plans. If you currently in a divorce case, refer to your temporary orders and standing orders to remind yourself of your rights and responsibilities as a single parent preparing for the holidays. Your new plans can remind you that quality time with your family does not have to be tied to a specific calendar date. You can also learn an appreciation for the best interests of your children, understanding how important it is for them to have quality time with both their parents.

Great Article: 5 Tips for Celebrating the Holidays with a Blended Family

Mental Health Professionals Help People Divorcing with Children

A good therapist can be valuable to parents and children in the conflict. The stress of a high-stakes divorce and child custody case can wear the strongest people down. People often tell their divorce lawyer all their thoughts and feelings about what is happening. While it is important to share information with your divorce lawyer, understand that they need that information to represent you and get the right outcome for you and your kids. Meanwhile, the mental health professionals are there to help fix you and help you prepare to find that new normal after the divorce.

Holidays and the seasons can be whatever you want them to be, within reason. If your divorce case is recent, you are probably operating under temporary orders providing for where the kids are going to be on the holidays and whether they will be with you or the other parent.

Knowing what lies ahead is valuable for anyone preparing for what is coming. For example, the holidays are coming whether we like or not. All we can control is our attitude, and a good therapist should help you get your bearings and be the best version of yourself during and after your divorce.

How do You Know You if You Need a Modification Case?

When there are significant changes in the life of a parent or child, a custody modification case might be necessary to fix co-parenting problems. Anything can happen to people and what might have worked before might no longer work and be in the best interests of your children.

When something happens and you need to go to court and ask for a modification of your possession schedule and custody plan, call Southlake divorce lawyer, Leslie Barrows, sooner than later. A modification case is an original lawsuit, similar to your original divorce action. If the holidays are your concern, call the Barrows Firm today so you can get into court soon.

When Preparing for Holidays when Divorcing with Children, and You Need a Divorce Lawyer, Call Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake, Texas at (817) 481-1583.

Leslie Barrows is an experienced divorce and family lawyer whose practice is focused on helping families heal and work on being the best they can be. Leslie has helped many people and their families in Tarrant County and Denton County courts. When winning matters and you have a high-stakes divorce or child custody conflict, you need strong and compassionate representation. Call the Barrows Firm or make contact online today.

Leslie Barrows featured in Society Life Magazine, July 2019

Leslie Barrows Selected Top Attorney for 2019 for Fort Worth Magazine

October 22, 2019

Congratulations to Attorney Leslie for being selected Top Attorney for 2019 for Fort Worth Magazine in the Family category.  Look for the Top Attorney list in the December 2019 issue of Fort Worth Magazine!

Relocating with children after a divorce in Texas

Relocating with Children after Divorce in Texas

October 8, 2019

Reasons People are Relocating with Children after Divorce

There are many reasons to move after a divorce. A new job opportunity for the primary parent can be a reason for relocating with children after divorce in Texas. However, the further the distance from the other parent with possession and access, the more likely you might end up litigating the move in court on a modification case. Attorney Leslie Barrows and the divorce lawyers at the Barrows Firm can answer all your questions and give you a case evaluation so you can learn your rights and options.

What does your divorce decree say about your right to make a relocation decision that affects a child? If you have exclusive and unlimited rights to establish the residence of the child, you can go where you please, so long as the other parent is okay with it. It is a good idea to do the math and figure out what added costs you both may incur in exchanging parenting time. Sometimes the parent moving further away from the new job contributes to the added financial burden to the other parent if the travel time and cost increase significantly.

Another reason people are relocating with children after divorce is a new marriage. When blending families your ex-spouse may have an opportunity to move into their new spouses’ home, which could be a distance away. This can be difficult if your decree restricts your right to establish residence to a certain county or limited distance from a certain point.

You may like this HuffPost article: 6 Things to Expect and Consider When Relocating with Children After Divorce

Motion to Modify: Filing for a Modification to Your Prior Order

Your divorce lawyer can file a motion to modify your prior order to allow you the right to relocate with children after divorce. Filing for a modification to your prior order creates a new suit in the court, a similar process to your original divorce or custody case. Even if you agree with the other parent about modifying parental rights and duties, you cannot modify your prior court order without filing the motion to modify.

Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake can represent you and file your motion to modify your prior court order, regarding relocating with children after divorce. Attorney Barrows is an experienced divorce lawyer for modifications in Denton County and Tarrant County, Texas.

Learn more by reviewing our blog article: What are geographic restriction orders affecting children in Texas family law cases?

Child Custody Relocation Laws in Texas

In a Texas divorce and custody cases, parental rights and duties are assigned to parents as conservators and have possession and access rights and schedules. In the divorce decree stating the rights and duties of parents, one may have the exclusive and possibly unlimited right to establish the primary residence of the child. That person with unlimited exclusive rights may be able to relocate where they so choose, and it seems the other parent may not be able to say anything about it.

However, the parent who does not possess that exclusive right to establish the child’s residence can always file suit to ask the court to modify its order and either set restrictions or change the terms of the parents' respective rights and duties.

When issues affecting a child are at stake, the court can receive testimony and other evidence regarding the best interests of the child. Relocating with children after divorce in Texas, when it means modifying court orders, can come down to weighing all the best interest factors set forth in the Texas family code.

A child’s best interests win over an increase in pay, in other words, the child’s stable environment, contact with family and a thriving environment should not be upset unless there are significant circumstances.

Parental Relocation with Children in State or Out of State

A few issues come up when considering relocating with children after divorce, out of Texas, more than 100 miles, or in the next county. A trip from Southlake to Rockwall may be a burden to some, who otherwise might agree to travel to Oklahoma City to get their kids for their weekend, or whatever they have worked out. But what if the relocation is to California and you fear you are rarely going to be able to afford to exercise visitation time.

Psychology Today offers a useful article, Moving to a New Town: The Impact on Kids

Another recent trend we see is people moving to Texas from other states and both the primary parent and kids move, as well as the other parent. In these instances a suit can be filed with the Texas court in the county where the child’s residency is established, to give jurisdiction to the court here in Texas. The court that issues your divorce decree and parental rights and duties is the court of what is called original jurisdiction, over the parties and the child.

What to Consider When Deciding Whether to Relocate with Children after Divorce

You should consult with experienced child custody and divorce lawyers if you face opposition in relocating with children after divorce in Texas, and Leslie Barrows can help. You may be able to approach the other parent with an offer, in which everyone gets what they want and the children are happy and remain well adjusted. You might otherwise be faced with a suit where evidence is presented and witnesses testify, as the court weighs the standard best interest of the child factors to rule on whether there is a modification of the custody orders or restrictions added or lifted.

Psychological experts and evaluators can become involved in contested modification suits. A psych study can be focused on important elements of parents and any child affected by a relocation. If for example, your son or daughter has specific accommodation requirements with schools, medical, mental health, and related professionals and services. Divorce lawyers experienced in custody modification trials create client-tailored strategies to control litigation and get to the best result.

Divorce lawyers like Leslie Barrows will tell you what you are up against if you want to change or challenge your right or the other parent’s right to relocate. You should be prepared to weigh all the factors you would ask the court to consider when evaluating the costs and benefits of relocating with children after divorce. When you consult with your lawyer about child custody modifications you can better appreciate how to be prepared.

Child Custody Lawyer Leslie Barrows Can Help You with Relocating With Children After Divorce

Leslie Barrows is the founding divorce lawyer at the Barrows Firm. Leslie and her team of talented trial attorneys work with families in conflict over parenting and facing tough challenges when the best opportunities mean moving with children. Contact the Barrows Firm in Southlake, serving families in Tarrant County and Denton County and are available at (817) 481-1583.

Protective Orders in Texas for Family Violence and Domestic Violence

Protective Orders in Texas for Family Violence and Domestic Violence Regardless of Filing for Divorce

September 9, 2019

Protective Orders in Texas: You Do Not Need to be in a Divorce

If you meet the legal conditions required for a Texas Court to issue a protective order, regardless of whether you are married to the other person or are married and have not otherwise filed for divorce. There are requirements that must be satisfied before the Court may issue a protective order. The conditions of protective orders in Texas are serious, and if you violate protective orders in Texas for family violence and domestic violence, you can end up in jail and face a variety of consequences.

People applying for protective orders in Texas for family violence and domestic violence, when they are concerned with their safety and the safety of their children, can file for a protective order on an ex-parte, emergency basis, when appropriate, so the other person does not know about it until the court issues the order.

Texas family law regarding protective orders for family violence and domestic violence is complex and involves a variety of moving parts that can affect people differently based on the facts of their situation.

Seeking exclusive possession of the marital residence? Read the Barrows Firm blog article, Kicking Your Spouse Out of the House in Texas.  

Not Married, or Not Ready to File for Divorce?

All over Texas, there are people living together in all different types of relationships. Some are married and living together, while others are unmarried and living together with or without children. While common-law marriages can be established, some people do not wish to be married and continue in their relationships as singles.

Married may have a variety of reasons they do not want to get a divorce, although they need a protective order. For example, a spouse battling disease and addiction might need professional help. A strong spouse who wants to make sure the other gets the help they need may seek a protective order to temporarily remove the other from the house. While you usually can’t force your spouse to get help, you can use the Court to protect yourself and your children if necessary.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a great resource. Call the hotline 1-800-799-7233.

Qualifying for a Protective Order in Texas for Family Violence and Domestic Violence

Protective orders in Texas are serious. The consequences of violating them are serious. Asking a court to order exclusive possession of a residence is serious. Because protective orders are serious, there are specific legal requirements and findings the Court must make in order to issue protective orders in Texas for family violence and domestic violence.

Call attorney Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake, Texas if you need a protective order in Texas. She can advise and represent you on your rights and the process. (817) 481-1583.

The safety of people and children are the focus on most applications for protective orders in Texas for family violence and domestic violence. Allegations of family violence and domestic violence are set forth in the application which states the nature of the relationships between the individuals and what happened. After a hearing on the application, the Court may make its findings and enter the protective order.

Contents of Protective Orders in Texas for Family Violence and Domestic Violence

A Texas Court issuing a protective order has the discretion to prohibit someone from engaging in certain conduct. Most protective orders state that one of the parties must stay away from others protected in the order. The order can grant exclusive possession of a residence. The order can also require another to pay for the support of another party or a child, and the possession and access to that child may also be ordered. Possession of certain property, such as a vehicle can also be contained in a protective order in Texas.

Requirements in the protective order in certain circumstances can be the completion of family violence prevention programs as well as orders to consult with mental health and other relevant professionals. The individual may also be prohibited from possessing a firearm. They may be ordered not to engage with people or go near them or their place of business, school, or home.

What Happens if Someone Violates a Protective Order

A trip to jail may be the immediate result of the violation of protective orders in Texas for family violence and domestic violence. For example, if you have an active protective order against the other person and they show up at your home, work, or simply follow you into a grocery store, you can dial 911 and the person violating the protective order can be arrested and brought before the judge.

Remember that a protective order is a powerful court order, but at the end of the day, a court order cannot stop a bullet. In too many tragic cases, an angry spouse or significant other goes after the one who gets a protective order issued against them and it ends up tragically, including great bodily harm or death.

In April 2019, officers responded to a residence in Watauga, for a 911 call. The woman who obtained a protective order was found dead in her home. The offender recently served with the order, himself died from a gunshot wound to the chest, killed by police. Read the article, Fort Worth man killed aiming gun at Watauga police officers is identified.

Duration and Modification of a Protective Order

Generally, a protective order may remain effective for up to two years. Unless otherwise stated in the order, the second year after the issuance date would be the termination of protective orders in Texas for family violence and domestic violence.

Based on further circumstances, a protective order can be modified to exclude anything that could be included and to include elements that originally were not ordered. For example, the original protective order might be modified to apply to new circumstances.

Southlake Divorce Lawyer Leslie Barrows Can Help You with Protective Orders for Family Violence and Domestic Violence (817) 481-1583

When your safety or the safety of your child is endangered, you should get help immediately. If you are in the threat of immediate harm, dial 911. To get protective orders in Texas for family violence and domestic violence, to keep someone away, and prevent them from contacting you, married or not, and divorcing or not, call Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake for help.  You can also check out her Podcast on Domestic and Family Violence Divorce Issues.

Back to School Conflict

Divorcing with Children 106: Back to School Conflict

August 28, 2019

Back to School Conflict in Divorce and Custody Cases

August and September are busy months in divorce and family law, and suits affecting the parent-child relationship. Kids going back to school can lead to disputes between soon to be ex-spouses. In a newly filed divorce, the school year might start before the parties have a chance to have their Temporary Orders Hearing. The Court’s Temporary Orders are used to determine where kids will live and go to school. Your divorce and child custody attorney may be able to help resolve preliminary issues like where the kids will go to school. Back to school conflict comes in many forms.

After a divorce, co-parents might also have issues about school decisions. Many co-parents are named joint managing conservators and have equal rights to certain decisions about the children, and one may be ordered the exclusive right to designate the child’s primary residence. A parent can file a modification case, asking the court to rule in their favor, considering the best interests of the child.

Which district is one conflict, and another is the choice of public, private, or a homeschool option. These disputes can arise when something different is happening in the school, or when the child is not progressing as expected. When behavior and performance are at issue, counselors, mental health professionals, and guardians ad litem are used to help the court resolve back to school conflict.

Call Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake for back to school issues when divorcing with children. A mother of three school-aged boys, Leslie is involved in community schools and appreciates parents’ concerns about the best interests of their children. Call Leslie at (817) 481-1583.

Which Parent Has Exclusive Rights to Designate the Child’s Primary Residence?

Determining which parents can determine where a child will live and go to school is a common dispute in divorce. Especially here in Tarrant and Denton Counties, it is easy to find parents living in different school districts and in different counties. The Court considers factors and the situation of the child and their parents. Issues involving conservatorship and possession and access (otherwise called custody and visitation).

One of the conservators is designated with the exclusive right to determine the primary residence of the child. Every divorce and custody case is unique. The Courts hear arguments from the parties about several factors that can be weighed in making its determination. Factors include the age, developmental status, needs, and best interests of the child. The circumstances of the managing conservator and parent named possessory conservator may also be considered along with other factors.

Where parents live 100 apart from one another, there are additional details in the Family Code regarding rights of conservators.

You might also like our recent blog article, Divorcing with Children 103: 50/50 Equal Access Possession Schedules.

Disputes About Where Will Kids Go to School

Parents want the best educational experiences and opportunities for their children. The development of children, the quality of their education and extracurricular opportunities are top priorities for parents. When one parent has issues with the in-district school where the primary parent and child reside can become the center of disagreement. For example, there could be performance or behavior issues at school. Those issues can lead to modification cases and litigation.

During the original divorce or suit affecting the parent-child relationship, there may be disputes over conservatorship as it matters to school choice. These issues can involve what type of school the parents want the children to attend. Where public versus private school choices has been common for years, conflict over homeschooling may also be at issue.

Read Kids, Divorce, and School Success for some tips to keep the focus on the kids and leave egos at the door.  

You might also like, How Does Changing Schools Affect Children?

Resolving Back to School Conflict Before or Early in the School Year

Whether during your original divorce case or you are in a post-decree modification suit, the Court will hear arguments and evidence about school issues and what would be in the best interests of the child. If a dispute arises, it is a good idea to bring it to a mediator or to the court before or very early in the school year.

Weighing the arguments for where the child should go to school, the best interests of the child may also value the status quo and avoiding disruption. Kids do well when they have safety and stability. Being bounced all over school districts and among public and private schools can be more disruptive than helpful.

What is in the Best Interests of the Child?

Courts use the best interests of the child factors and standard when making decisions in divorce and family law cases involving child custody. These factors focus on a safe environment for a child. Anything that may threaten a child’s safe environment can be used to argue for a modification case.

Assisting the court in making determinations may be court-appointed evaluators, guardians ad litem and psychological experts. The hearings and court trials involved in litigating parenting issues such as school choice can be significant. Witnesses and evidence are organized and offered to prove allegations involving children, residential and school issues.

Call Leslie Barrows for Advice About Back to School Conflict (817) 481-1583

If back to school brings up issues involving your divorce or children, call the Barrows Firm in Southlake. Make an appointment to talk to attorney Leslie Barrows to learn your rights and options in divorce and custody cases. Whether you need to file for divorce or need a modification of your current divorce decree and parenting plan, the Barrows Firm attorneys, paralegals and support staff are there to help. Get ahead of back to school conflict with the help of the Barrows Firm.

Child Support Modification, Barrows Firm

You May be Eligible for a Child Support Modification

August 19, 2019

Texas Child Support Guideline Increase and Child Support Modification

You may qualify for a child support modification. The Texas child support guideline cap increases on September 1, 2019. The Texas legislature voted to increase the cap for maximum monthly child support. The new rate for child support is $1,840 per child, a cap increase of $130 monthly for one child. The new maximum cap is $9,200 monthly. You may consult with attorney Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake for advice about your eligibility for a child support modification.

The Texas Family Code determines the application of the child support guidelines to a child support obligor’s monthly net resources. Net resource calculations are also in the Texas Family Code. There are maximum caps on the amount of child support an obligor may be ordered to pay. So whether the obligor’s monthly net resources exceed $9,200, this is the most they can be ordered to pay.

In most child support situations, a withholding order is entered and processed so that the amount of monthly child support payments are automatically withheld from the pay of the child support obligor. There are all kinds of financial and employment circumstances that can affect the amount of child support and how it is collected and disbursed for the best interest of the child.

Know that child support is ordered regardless of whether the parents of the child are married. Establishing paternity is necessary for a Court to order a parent to be a child support obligor who will pay monthly support for the child.

Leslie Barrows is a divorce and family law attorney for child support modifications for those who may be eligible. Call Leslie at the Barrows Firm in Southlake to learn if you may qualify for a child support modification. (817) 487-1583.

Learn more information with our podcast and blog about Common Divorce and Child Custody Issues

Texas Child Support Obligors Pay Child Support

When a divorce with children, one of the parents may be ordered to pay child support for the care of the needs of the parties’ children. The Texas child support guidelines are used to calculate the child support obligor’s monthly net resources available to pay child support. For one child, the child support is 20 percent of the obligor’s monthly net resources. For two children, support is 25 percent and for three children child support is 30 percent. If you have four children, support is 35 percent and for five, six or more children the maximum is 40 percent of the obligor’s monthly net resources.

The Texas Attorney General’s website has a section dedicated to child support in Texas. In their “Child Support Interactive” online tool, custodial and noncustodial parents can log in and find information about their case status, history, payment records, court dates, and personal contact information.

Child Support Increases $130 Monthly to $1,840 Maximum for One Child

Using the new maximum amount of monthly net resources that can be ordered to pay child support ($9,200 monthly), 20 percent of the maximum amount equals $1,840 monthly. The current maximum amount of child support for one child is $1,710, which is 20 percent of the current maximum monthly cap of $8,550. The new guideline amounts are effective for child support orders entered on or after September 1, 2019, the effective date of the new guidelines as signed into law by the Texas legislature.

Monthly Net Resources Greater than $9,200

The monthly net resources cap is the maximum amount of child support an obligor can be ordered to pay. So no matter how much the obligor’s monthly net resources are, the maximum amount they can ever be ordered to pay will be $9,200 monthly. This is an increase of the current guideline cap of $8,550 which will remain the maximum amount until the increase takes effect on September 1, 2019.

Modification Suits for Increasing Child Support

You will not get an automatic child support modification, even if you are eligible. Call Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake for a consultation to determine your eligibility for a child support modification. Attorney Barrows can file a modification case, asking the Court to increase your monthly child support. Increases in child support in a modification suit may be a function of changes in the income of the net resources of the child support obligor as well as the increase in the monthly child support caps.

The Texas Legislature Increases the Child Support Guideline Cap

The Texas legislature regularly considers and votes on increases in the Texas child support guideline caps in monthly net resources available for an obligor to pay child support. In Texas, these caps are considered for increases every six years. The Consumer Price Index is determined by the United States Department of Labor. The Consumer Price Index numbers are used by the state legislators in calculating updated child support numbers and the maximum cap.

Leslie Barrows is an Attorney for Increasing Child Support

Leslie Barrows is a divorce and family law attorney for child support modifications. Attorney Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake will advise you if you qualify for a modification case. A modification for increasing child support is a new case in family law and when you meet with a Barrows Firm attorney you will learn what to expect from start to finish.

The Barrows Firm in Southlake can help you with a case in Denton County or in Tarrant County with a child support modification when you call them at (817) 481-1583.

Prepare for divorce court, judge signing papers

Divorcing with Children 105: How to Prepare for Court

July 31, 2019

Tips on How to Prepare for Court when Divorcing with Children

Learn how the divorce process works and always prepare for court. When divorcing with children, knowing what to expect is the key to being prepared for negotiation and litigation. When you meet with your divorce attorney or talk to one of the paralegals or staff at the office, make sure you understand what we are doing so we can best help you. We do not expect you to be a divorce or child custody expert. The more you understand the process and substance of your case, the better you can prepare for court when divorcing with children.

Actively participate in divorce and custody negotiations. You are the one who will be living with the outcome of mediating, negotiating and litigating children’s issues and matters of money and property. For example, if you are fighting for the house, are you sure you will be able to maintain it? As your divorce and child custody attorneys, we can give you advice about your rights and obligations, but we are not the ones who will live with your decisions every day. Being prepared for court means being prepared to make decisions you can live with long-term.

Focus on your kids and decrease emotional reactivity. Your opposing party and opposing counsel may make you angry. Your ability to control your emotions and shut your anger down gives you power. When you have power over yourself and your emotions, you are in the best position to focus on your children and make them feel safe and secure.

For Divorce in Texas, call Attorney Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583

Leslie Barrows and the Barrows Firm Prepare You for Court

Leslie and her team let you know what information and documents they need to represent you. When preparing your discovery responses, be as thorough as possible. The more accurate information you share with your divorce lawyer, the better they can anticipate and handle problems that may arise, such as attacks on your character from the opposing party.

The Barrows Firm website is full of blog articles and podcasts, searchable on the website by topic. Every divorce and child custody case is unique. Some cases involve extensive discovery and temporary orders hearings, and others may not. If you do have a question and are on the Barrows Firm website you can find some direction. For example, an article titled, What are geographic restriction orders affecting children in Texas family law cases?

Managing your divorce and custody negotiation and litigation strategy is an important part of the preparation for mediation, hearings, and court trials. Sometimes your opponent may be asking for more than you think they deserve, and it’s all about leverage for settlement. Your opponent’s attorney may be the one driving the bus in a different direction you would have expected. Leslie Barrows has been practicing divorce and family law in Tarrant and Denton Counties for many years and she knows what to expect and how to best prepare her clients for what may happen during their case.

Insights About Child Custody Options in Texas

There is a trend toward shared parenting, also known as 50/50 custody in Texas. There are several states that start with an equal parenting time model. Note that while people say “custody” they really are talking about parenting time with their children. 50/50 is always an option for parents who negotiate and settle on an agreed parenting plan. If you and the other parent can get along and co-parent well, this may be a great option for your family.

If there is no agreed parenting plan, the court appoints one party as having exclusive rights to designate primary residence and the other right to possession. In these cases, the standard possession orders adopted by the court in your county will apply.

Here is additional information about the standard possession order and parenting time.

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 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.

The Tarrant County, Texas Domestic Relations Office offers additional detailed information about custody evaluations.

Being Prepared for Expert Psychologists in Texas Custody Hearings and Trials

When a parent’s credibility and parenting ability is challenged, an expert psychologist may be appointed. Their goal is to focus on honesty and integrity, and their role in examining a parent seeking custody and parenting time. This is not routine, but it does happen in high-conflict custody cases.

Preparing to respond to the examiner's questions can be a challenge. It may seem like the questions are designed to trick, attack or otherwise put you in a bad light. Sometimes what they are testing is how you respond to that type of questioning and not the substance of the questions themselves. Attorney Barrows may cross-examine the expert psychologist about their results if necessary. How to prepare for court is being prepared to put your best foot forward, especially when experts psychologists may be involved.

Contact Attorney Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake

Leslie Barrows and her team of divorce lawyers and paralegals know how much is at stake in your case. Your family matters and it matters to Leslie and the Barrows Firm. To learn more about your rights and options and how to prepare for what may lie ahead, call the Barrows Firm in Southlake and learn how to prepare for court when divorcing with children at (817) 481-1583.

Social Media in Divorce and Modifications

Social Media in Divorces and Modifications: Dos and Don'ts

July 23, 2019

How Social Media is Used in Divorces and Modifications

In Texas divorces and modifications, social media comes up frequently. As your family lawyer is working to negotiate and litigate the claims in your petitions, the evidence is necessary to prove those allegations may come from social media. In one example, time-stamped direct messages can be used to prove what was said between people. In another example, pictures and videos can be introduced as evidence regarding parenting and character.

What is most current and relevant may be more persuasive than something from many years ago. Common sense applies and can talk to the attorney representing you in your divorce or modification case. Here at the Barrows Firm, Southlake Divorce Lawyer, Leslie Barrows, and her team are used to high-stakes cases where social media becomes involved. When you call and have a consultation with attorney Barrows you can talk to her about your concerns about social media in divorces and modifications.

Call Attorney Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583.

Only Positive Status Updates

Avoid making social media posts about your divorce or modification case. Also, do not post any information about yourself that could be used in your case. Especially when child custody is disputed, you should be cautious on social media in divorces and modification cases.

Drawing attention to our business can seem harmless but it can get overwhelming. During divorces and modifications, you should do whatever is possible to reduce anxiety and stay focused and centered on making good decisions. Especially when your children are involved, keeping a positive attitude and keeping your head held high is important.

Don’t Assume Everything is Private – Safety First

With many social media and communication networks, you should never assume anything you say is ultimately secured. For example, you may be on private group pages your spouse or ex is not a member of, but others who might know them and share your content.

It is a good idea to assume at least someone on your social media is not who they say they are. We frequently hear about people claiming their pages were hacked, and don’t accept a new request from them. The person behind a fake page could be anyone, so don’t say anything on social media you don’t want your judge, lawyer, and opposing counsel to see all your social media posts in divorces and modifications.

Family violence victims should be particularly careful with social media, to avoid letting the other know where you are. Something as simple as being tagged in another picture could tip someone off as to your whereabouts. If you can, adjust all your settings so you must first approve something like a photo tag.

See this important article: How to Avoid Being Stalked on Social Media.

Being Humble and Maintaining the Status Quo on Social Media in Divorces and Modifications

Oversharing can hurt you. Pictures of vacations, new purchases, and social gatherings with certain people can cause unnecessary conflict and drama that could affect your divorce or modification case. This tip applies to new relationships. Advertizing a new person you are dating can become a problem, either in your divorce or well after if you have a modification case.

People can take things the wrong way. What may be a simple selfie with a colleague at a networking event, could look like something else to others who know you are in a divorce or modification case. The last thing you need is a rumor mill buzzing and misinformation sharing in divorces and modifications.

Keeping Kids Out of Your Divorce, Modification or Enforcement Case

Avoid talking badly to your spouse or ex, or talking badly about them. Something as simple as mentioning what the other is saying or doing on Facebook or Instagram can upset your kids. They don’t want to see you upset while they are trying to make sure they feel safe and everything is going to be okay.

People find all kinds of ways to use social media to gain an advantage as the preferred parent, in court, and at home. With social media, we only get a snapshot of what is happening. Whether it is you or the other parent, it is best to steer clear of anything that can upset people.

For these reasons, some people decide to either go offline completely or use social media only sparingly. You should be cautious about what you delete, however, especially if there is a temporary order addressing social media.

Avoiding the Court Ordering a Review of Your Social Media

If social media posts become a disputed matter of evidence in your divorce or modification case, the opposing counsel can ask the Court to order you to turn over information on social media for review. Asking for court orders for social media is something that requires an experienced divorce and family law attorney who can best advise and negotiate on your behalf so your best interests and the best interests of your children remain the focus.

Use OurFamilyWizard to communicate with the other parent, and to share and save information and updates. By not using direct messenger apps you keep everything in one place where you already know the attorneys and judge can see what is said and shared.

You may like our blog about the features and benefits of using Our FamilyWizard, Divorcing with Children 104: Using Our Family Wizard.

Call the Barrows Firm in Southlake for Divorce and Modification Advice and Representation. Our Team Helps You Through the Process and Keeps You Informed. Call us at (817) 481-1583.

Many families turn to the Barrows Firm when they have high conflict divorce, child custody, and modification needs. Leslie Barrows and her team of attorneys, paralegals, and staff are focused on families. With additional questions about social media dos and don’ts during divorces and modifications, you may also contact us through our website.

Leslie Barrows featured in Society Life Magazine, July 2019

Leslie Barrows Featured in Society Life

July 17, 2019

Congratulations to Attorney Leslie for being featured in the July 2019 edition of Society Life Magazine.  Read the great article here!

Kicking your spouse out of the house

Kicking Your Spouse Out of the House in Texas

June 28, 2019

The Barrows Firm Helps When You Need Your Spouse Out of the House in Texas Divorce

Your spouse cheated on you and now you want them gone. You call the locksmith and have the locks changed. When your soon-to-be ex comes home, they call the police because you locked them out. You think you are doing the right thing but now you are in trouble. The judge in your divorce is not amused by your engaging in self-help. Don’t get yourself involved in a mess because you jumped the gun. There is a proper procedure and judges have their own requirements of what is necessary to affect a kick-out order restricting their access to the marital residence. Note that orders to get your spouse out of the house apply to domestic living situations and marriage and divorce are not required to qualify for relief from the Court.

In a Texas divorce, an order to get your spouse out of the house can be the relief requested in your application for a protective order. Most judges require a protective order when a party seeks a kick-out order. A protective order is a serious matter. There must be more than dislike and hurt feelings to seek a protective order. The consequences of violating a protective order are also serious, including potential time in jail. If you do need a kick-out order to get your spouse out of the house, Leslie Barrows at the Barrows Firm can help you.

The divorce lawyers at Barrows Firm in Southlake, Texas are experienced in high conflict divorce and child custody cases. In cases where domestic or family violence occurs, the Barrows Firm attorneys fight zealously for clients and the best interests of children. And, at times we defend against opposing parties seeking protective orders when they appear only to use the system, trying to gain an advantage.

Listen to this podcast: Leslie Barrows talks about family violence and protective orders in Texas

Applying for a Protective Order Specifically Requesting an Order to Get Your Spouse Removed From the House

When an application for a protective order is filed, the court hears evidence about where family violence has occurred or is likely to occur in the future. Sometimes both parties apply for protective orders and the Court can issue both with appropriate conditions. In some instances, parties can work towards conflict resolution by agreeing to the terms of protective orders, to be approved by the Court.

When applying for the issuance of a protective order, the party seeking the order asks for specific relief, including what is referred to as a kick-out order, to get your spouse out of the house. The court may grant your request to remove your spouse from the house and order your spouse to leave.

Note that you do not need to own the home to get a kick-out order. Renters absolutely have rights to seek the Court’s order to remove your spouse. Also, note that an order kicking your spouse out of the house is issued on a temporary basis and does not otherwise affect title to the property. Even if only one of the spouses is named on the title, they can still be removed.

The ACLU Women’s Rights Project published a paper about Domestic Violence: Protective Orders and the Role of Police Enforcement

Excluding the Spouse from the Home with an Ex Parte Protective Order.

Ex parte means without notice. In most divorce procedures the other party is entitled to notice of motions and hearings, so they may be present in Court for any actions that may affect their rights. Ex Parte protective orders can be issued on a temporary basis. Ex parte orders are temporary to prevent the threat of immediate harm. A temporary order is valid for 20 days, and the parties may both appear at a hearing if the one who sought the protective order wants it to be extended.

The Texas Family Code addresses kicking your spouse out of the house in a section about exclusion from the residence. The application must include an affidavit of the facts and circumstances why the spouse must be excluded. The Court must find that within the past 30 days the person to be excluded committed family violence against another member of the household. Additionally, there must be a finding a danger that the person to be excluded is likely to commit family violence against another in the household, again.

The hearing for an order excluding a party from the residence follows all the applicable rules of Texas family law and procedure. Witnesses may be presented to present evidence as well as officers reports and testimony regarding incidences of family violence and the facts supporting an application to kick the other spouse out of the marital home.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline – Get Help Today

When you need an ex-parte protective order, and/or an order excluding your spouse from the home, call the Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583.

Orders to Kick Your Spouse Out of the House and Law Enforcement

An order excluding your spouse from the residence, a kick-out order, is enforceable by law enforcement. When a kick-out order is entered and the other party is served with the order, they must comply. If they do not leave the house as ordered by the Court, law enforcement can be involved to remove them.

If the excluded spouse returns to the house during the enforceable time identified on the order, the law may be called, and the person could be arrested for violating the terms of the Court order. A judge may extend the terms of protective orders and orders excluding others from the residence, especially when the one violates the order.

Divorce Attorneys at the Barrows Firm Assist with Applying for and Defending Protective Orders and Orders to Get Your Spouse Out of the House

Leslie Barrows is the founder of the Barrows Firm in Southlake, Texas. She and her team of talented divorce lawyers help families and children who become victims of family violence. When you need to file divorce and need your spouse removed from the home, the Barrows Firm can help. If you are the one accused of family violence by your spouse seeking to kick you out of the home, the Barrows Firm can help. Call today for a consultation at the Barrows Firm to learn your rights and options regarding protective orders and orders to get your spouse out of the house in Texas.

Divorce in June, paper heart ripped in half

Why Starting a Divorce in June is Popular in Texas

June 7, 2019

Being Organized, Minimizing Disruption, Starting a Divorce in June

Considering divorce? You are not alone. Marriage and divorce statistics show that every year there are tens of thousands of divorce cases filed in Texas courts. Some divorces arise out of tragic situations and others are just a function of parents of children who have grown apart and want to go their own ways. Regardless of the reason, there are always more popular times to divorce and starting a divorce in June is a plan for many divorcing couples with minor children.

You and your spouse may have decided together that you both want to divorce. If your divorce is mostly uncontested, you and your spouse agree on most of the divorce issues. For example, you all might agree on 50/50 property division and shared custody with a standard possession schedule.

What if you are not on the same page and are preparing for a messy divorce? Again, for people with children, not disrupting their progress at school is important to parents. If the divorce is going to be bad, and the kids are going to be upset, starting divorce in June can help take away the sting before school starts in the fall.

Attorney Leslie Barrows is well known in Tarrant and Denton County for being compassionate yet tough divorce and custody lawyer. Call the Barrows Firm in Southlake for a consultation at (817) 481-1583.  

Starting Divorce While Children are Away at Summer Camp

June is a popular month for divorce if you and your spouse know your kids will be away at summer camp. Some parents who agree to get divorced may want some space to go their own way when the divorce is filed and served.

Consider the children’s reactions when they return, if they are away. Imagine the surprise a child might have, returning from camp and mom or dad moved out!

You might like our blog article – Kids at summer camp: Fostering positive growth and development. There are so many great summer camps in the Texas Hill Country!

Scheduling a Temporary Orders Hearing Before Kids go Back to School

While a Temporary Orders Hearing is not mandatory, it is an element of most divorce cases where there are issues in dispute. If everything is otherwise agreed, for a Temporary Orders Hearing there is no need. That said, most divorces require Temporary Orders, to initially determine who lives where and who pays for what. It is important to take the Temporary Orders Hearing seriously because it is common for the terms of the Temporary Orders to carry over at the Final Trial and be incorporated into the divorce decree.

Here is another blog article on our site that touches upon Temporary Orders Hearings and other similar issues – Divorcing with Children 102: Child Custody.

Tips to Know About Getting a Divorce in Texas:

  1. Texas is a No-Fault Divorce State;

Texas divorce and child custody law is found in the Texas Family Code. Our family law code in Texas is unique and notably different from other states. While you do have an option to plead a fault ground for a Texas divorce and have a jury trial on some issues, Texas is a no-fault divorce state. The no-fault ground is called “insupportability,” and the court may grant a divorce without regard to fault when the court finds the marriage to be insupportable. Discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the marital relationship and prevents reconciliation is all the must be found by the court.

  1. Texas Does Not Recognize Legal Separation;

In Texas, you are married until you are divorced. This is a good issue to illustrate to new Texas residents married in other states, how divorce and family law is different here in Texas. There is no legal separation in Texas, it is not recognized. So even if you and your spouse decide to live apart in separate homes, everything you all own together is community property. It does not matter how the property is titled, Texas is a community property state so your property and debts are community until you are divorced.

  1. Divorces Take Time and Do Not Happen Overnight;

Even in Texas counties where new courts have been added and new judges taking the bench, the court dockets are busy with a significant number of cases. Judges and their courts make every effort to give everyone the time and attention they need to resolve divorce and custody issues for their family, but it takes time. What helps the process is being prepared for hearings, being organized for your lawyer, and taking advantage of opportunities like mediation, to agree on certain issues so everyone can focus on contested matters. Even if everything is uncontested and you start divorce with a comprehensive agreement you still must wait 60 days after a petition is filed for your divorce to be finalized.

  1. Always Hire an Experienced Lawyer for Divorce and Child Custody;

Especially when child custody is an issue in your divorce, it is in your children’s best interest to hire an experienced divorce and custody attorney to look out for their best interests. Even if there are no minor children and no custody issues, the process of divorce is complex and you are expected to know the law and understand procedure if you attempt to represent yourself or use an attorney who does not know the Texas Family Code. Also, it is important for both you and your spouse to hire separate divorce attorneys. Making sure everything is done correctly and fairly is important.

  1. How to Save Resources for Your Family and Future Children’s Expenses.

Identify what is really important to you and your family. If you have a serious problem with the other parent having shared custody, fight for it. If you just want to punish the other person for failing to meet your expectations, put your pride in your pocket and move on. How you approach divorce sets the tone for future communications and co-parenting. Take advantage of mediation and out-of-court settlement options. Save the important things for hearings and trial. Turn over your documents in discovery. Hiding from or disturbing the process only leads to more time and resources that are better used paying for your kid’s college and future expenses.

Interested in Starting a Divorce in June? Call the Barrows Firm in Southlake (817) 481-1583.

The Barrows Firm attorneys in Southlake can help you with a divorce in Tarrant County and in Denton County. The first step is putting your trust in an attorney and a firm with which you feel comfortable. Our Texas divorce and custody attorneys have years of experience working with all kinds of families and challenging cases. We create the right strategy for you and your family, making the best interests of your children a top priority.

Call us at the Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583 to schedule a consultation for starting a divorce in June.

Grandparent Custody in Texas

Grandparent Custody in Texas: Conservatorship, Guardianship, and Estate Planning

May 23, 2019

Because Grandparents Are Important to Children’s Lives, Grandparent Custody in Texas is a Frequently Discussed Topic

When children look at their parents, they appreciate that even mom and dad had their own parents. Grandparents help their grandchildren put things into perspective. Grandparents are fascinating to young kids who hear stories from the past and what it was like before modern conveniences and technology. Grandparents also talk to their grandchildren about what life was like when their parents were growing up as children. We hope our children learn the importance of history and culture from grandparents.

You may enjoy this article from Today, The special role of grandparents.

As parents, we often think about whether our own mothers and fathers would step in and take care of our kids if something happened. But what happens when parents are not together? And what happens when one of the parents is in trouble or going through something that prevents them from being there for their kids.

It is natural to look to grandparents and ask if grandparent custody in Texas, or visitation, or guardianship is something to consider. What matters is whether everyone is on the same page when it comes to appointing a grandparent to care for a child, temporarily or permanently. Assuming both biological parents are joint conservators, their parental rights trump those of a grandparent. The issues involved are complex and can require an experienced lawyer who knows divorce, family law and estate and guardianship planning.

Call Leslie Barrows at The Barrows Firm in Southlake, Texas, for legal advice and assistance with grandparent custody or visitation issues. (817) 481-1583.

Grandparent Custody in Texas is a Complex Matter

Judges, divorce lawyers, mental health professionals, and parents can agree that grandparents are important to grandchildren. While it may seem normal for grandparents to be engaged and involved in caring for and helping raise their grandchildren when it comes to legal rights they often fall short. The parents of a child have superior rights to their children and Texas courts set a high bar for grandparents to establish their standing to bring and win cases seeking custody and visitation with grandchildren.

In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Troxel v. Granville, primarily held that “There is a fundamental right under the Fourteenth Amendment for a parent to oversee the care, custody, and control of a child.” In a nutshell, grandparents’ legal rights are limited, even though courts find that relationships with grandparents are in the best interests of grandchildren.

What about emergencies? Can’t parents use estate planning documents to appoint someone such as a grandparent to care for their children in their absence?

See the Texas Attorney General’s website page about grandparents and senior rights.

Planning for Unforeseeable Grandparent Custody Issues

What would you do if your daughter went missing, in which her husband was a suspect, and your granddaughter had nobody lined up to take care of her? This is what recently happened in San Antonio. The grandparents of the little girl are seeking custody of their granddaughter as her mother, missing since the first of March, is presumed dead.

Because the father is facing an evidence tampering case tied to the disappearance of his wife, he is prohibited from contact with the little girl, a condition of bond.

Among what is alleged is that the only constant in the little girl’s life is her grandmother. However, the grandmother has an uphill battle in any Texas court where grandparent custody and visitation are both possible, but not easily obtained when there is another parent with superior legal rights.

Unexpected Tragedies are Beyond our Control

We buy insurance to cover the unexpected. We get wills and trusts written to serve our directive wishes in our absence. When we go under for surgery we appoint someone we trust to make our medical decisions. Often it is right before a vacation that parents call their lawyer and make sure to update their will and estate planning documents in case anything happens to them.

But what about the unexpected tragedies that don’t occur overseas, the ones that take place right at home? Would we ever expect to be abducted and likely murdered by the other parent? Likely nobody ever said they would become a statistic or a line in a news story about grandparents seeking conservatorship because dad is out of the picture or is otherwise a suspect.

Family Lawyers with Estate Planning Solutions Including Guardianship

Divorce lawyers commonly assist their clients with wills and estate planning after a divorce, to protect the client and their family in the future. When a client comes to meet with an estate planning lawyer, the question of kids comes up. Most of us assume our parents could step in for us on a temporary basis. When it’s a permanent custody or visitation discussion, it can become more complicated.

A guardian, who can be a grandparent, can be appointed to care for your children and receive funds from your estate for their care. In most wills, the guardian is appointed assuming the simultaneous death of both parents. In the case in San Antonio, the whereabouts and life of the mother are unknown and the father is known but barred from contact with the child.

While lawyers can write wills and estate plans to apply to a variety of scenarios, the facts determine what happens. Well-prepared wills and estate planning documents record the maker’s intentions and what hey would want to happen in their absence.

Call the Barrows Firm in Southlake for More Information about Grandparent Custody in Texas

Leslie Barrows and her team of attorneys and paralegals focus on divorce, family law and the guardianship and estate planning issues. When parents divorce and there are custody issues and something happens to one or both parents, we all need to be ready to deal with that situation. Planning ahead when everyone is happy and healthy makes it much easier for families. Call us at The Barrows Frim in Southlake at (817) 481-1583 if you need help and legal advice about grandparent custody in Texas.

Telling Your Spouse You Want a Divorce

Telling Your Spouse You Want A Divorce

April 29, 2019

How to tell your spouse you want a divorce

Telling your spouse that you want a divorce might be the most difficult thing you will tell someone. Whether you believe your marriage was one that worked well or was a challenge can be irrelevant when people decide that life is short, and they want to move forward on their own. For other married couples a divorce may be the result of abuse, cheating, financial problems and destructive behaviors such as alcohol and drug abuse.

When a spouse wants out of a marriage due to the bad acts of the other, there is often a confrontation and anger is the fuel for divorce. The more difficult situation occurs when one spouse is unhappy and the other is fine and has no idea that a divorce may be on the horizon. How do you tell someone who has done nothing wrong that you want to leave?

Sometimes people just grow apart from one another

When you are young and getting married all that matters is having kids and raising a family. As you and your family grow older there are may also be aging relatives who need care. The amount of effort and self-sacrifice required of many married couples can take its toll. In some marriages, real and deep communication has been non-existent for years and the couple and family seem to operate in their roles on auto-pilot.

The empty nest situation and the loss of an elder can be triggers to people that life is short, and people may want a divorce. The desire to call it quits often results from people simply growing apart. Men and women who get divorced after their kids have grown up and moved on will often tell you that they had a sense for years that one day they would tell the other that they are ready to end the marriage.

Tips on breaking the news that you want to divorce

  • The first discussion is likely going to surprise your spouse. There is never a perfect time or place to break the news that you want a divorce. However, there are better situations than others. Communicating in person allows people their range of emotions, which might be best.
  • Focus on the idea of remaining friends, just not a married couple. When you do not hate your spouse, and just want to move on from the marriage, let the other know, however cliché, that is you and not them causing the desire to divorce.
  • Do not defend or attack; leave the argument points aside. When people hear information, they do not like there is a tendency to argue your points and talk the person out of something. When a spouse is ready to tell the other that they want a divorce, they are probably quite sure of their decision.
  • Be honest and clear while remaining firm. It is great to talk about all the good times and proud moments in a marriage and raising a family, but that does not mean people have to stay married. The more open and honest you are about your feelings, the less likely your spouse is going to wonder if there is something else going on.
  • Remain open to counseling and saving the marriage. In certain situations, the problems in a marriage can be solved in couples’ counseling. After years people can get in a rut and not see the light between the trees and a good mental health or spiritual counselor can help a couple repair communication breakdowns and repair a neglected relationship.

Will ending the marriage solve perceived problems?

Southlake divorce lawyer and mediator, Leslie Barrows has decades of experience working with clients who want to divorce for a variety of reasons, including simply growing apart from one another. When a marriage has run its course, there is an opportunity to divorce amicably and without causing damage. In other situations where there is a stronger underlying problem, Leslie knows it may be time to suit up for battle and vindication for deeply damaging past wrongs.

If you are considering calling it quits and moving forward in a new direction without your spouse, call The Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583 and Leslie and her staff can help you with all the information and assistance you may need to take next steps.

Summer Possession Plans Texas

Summer Possession: Making Plans and Giving Notice

April 17, 2019

April Deadlines for Summer Possession

In Texas, visitation with children is referred to as the time of possession and access with the child. Do you have a court-ordered parenting plan with a set schedule for possession and access of and with the children? Many people use a Standard Possession Schedule Order. A Standard Possession Schedule allows both parents to have possession of the children whenever both co-parents agree.

However, when the parents do not agree on when each will exercise their possession time, and they cannot flexibly agree on schedules, the Standard Possession Schedule Order applies and the parents should follow what is stated in their order. Note that some parents may have a custom possession and access schedule which also allows for one on one discussion and exchange of possession times.

Summer Possession is what we call the extended period of time the non-primary parent has possession with the child during the summer, and the standard order designates July as the time of possession for the non-primary parent. The standard order designates 30 days of extended possession to parents who live within 100 miles of the other parent. Co-parents living more than 100 miles apart use a longer extended time of 42 days, as set forth in the standard order.

Do I have to use all my days in one lump sum? What if I have days left over? For answers to specific questions, call Leslie Barrows at The Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583.

Avoiding Enforcement Actions for Standard Holiday Possession

Whether your divorce is still pending or you are already divorced and co-parenting, Summer Possession plans that fall apart can lead to enforcement actions in court. When making plans for Summer Possession we may be booking camping trips, airline flights, and vacation rentals. When we are locked into a fixed schedule we rely on the other parent to honor their commitments.

Here’s a Great Summer Camp List: Summer Camps in Texas

Sometimes, despite best efforts, and without intention to cause problems, plans can fall apart. Before we run to court, it is best to work together and negotiate a resolution to Summer Possession planning issues. We can help you at the Barrows Firm if you have a trip planned and need to resolve a co-parenting conflict.

Giving Written Notice of Summer Plans

Making plans for the summer can be easy when you keep organized and on top of busy schedules in the family. Challenges in creating schedules that work for everyone involved means spotting conflicts in advance and being flexible to changes in plans. There are plenty of situations in which outside factors influence schedules and plans beyond our control. For example, if the other parent wants to make Summer Possession Plans for July 15 through August 15 and then they notified they have a work responsibility making it impossible to exercise their extended possession as planned.

The problem with making plans is that people rely on those plans, sometimes to their detriment. If the other parent makes plans with you and has to break them, they fall back on the default provision in their possession schedule.

Giving written notice is required for parents who want to exercise Summer Possession outside the dates stated in their order, assuming one exists. If there ends up being a problem with Summer Possession Plans and an enforcement action occurs, the judge will likely ask to see the written notice sent, communicating Summer Possession plans. The notice must be given before the deadlines of April 1st for non-custodial parents and April 15th for custodial parents.

Sometimes as kids get older they don’t want to spend a whole month with the non-custodial parent. Read this Reddit post and comments about co-parenting and Summer Possession as the kids get older: My kids don't want to spend the entire summer with me, my ex insists that I should take them.

April 1st Written Notice Deadline for Non-Custodial Parents

If you are the non-custodial (non-primary) parent and you want to make Summer Possession Plans for your 30 or 42 days you must provide written notice to the custodial (primary) parent by April 1. If your notice is given on time, before the expiration of the deadline, you have the option of splitting up your extended Summer Possession time into two periods of at least seven days each.

When non-custodial parents give Summer Possession notice, they must select times during summer vacation from school. The operable timeframe includes the day after school is dismissed for summer recess and seven days prior to the beginning of the next school year in the fall.

Question: Oh no! I missed the April 1st deadline, what happens?

Answer: You fall back on the Standard Possession Schedule Order and July is your extended month.

April 15th Written Notice Deadline for Custodial Parents

If you are the custodial (primary) parent and you share time of possession with the other parent using a Standard Possession Schedule Order, you may choose a weekend and an extended week of Summer Possession. After the other parent’s deadline to notify you of their Summer Possession plans, you can choose your extra weekend and extended week. Note that the extended week cannot take place during the other parent’s extended possession, which is why these deadlines fall in order, 15 days apart.

What Happens if You Do Not Give Written Notice of Summer Plans

If by chance you fail to give notice to the other parent by the April 1 or 15 deadlines, the Texas Family Code says that whatever is stated in your possession schedule is what controls on summer possession issues. If you have no standard order in place, you have nothing to worry about. However, if the standard order is part of your custody and possession order, July will be your month to have the extra 30 or 42 days with your child. Note, where notice was not given, you cannot split time and your 30 days run consecutively.

Additionally, you are not required to use every single available Summer Possession day, but you should! Parents and children have little time to bond and enjoy adventures and growing up before graduation day comes, and it comes quickly. Also, Summer Possession Plans cannot trump the previously identified dad’s time during Father’s day.

Call the Barrows Firm for Help with Deadlines for Summer Possession (817) 481-1583.

At the Barrows Firm, we understand that despite all the hard work negotiating what seems to be the perfect schedule for possession and access, things can change. When kids grow older and when parents get re-married and introduce new people to the family, conflict can arise quickly.

A custom parenting plan with a possession and access schedule that works for you and your family may handle Summer Possession Plans in a way that works for everyone involved. Call us at the Barrows Firm in Southlake at (817) 481-1583 for help with custody and visitation issues including Summer Possession plans and enforcement or modification actions if you believe that will prevent future problems with scheduling possession and access during summer vacation.

Little Girl Looking Very Sad

Court-Ordered Alcohol Testing: Soberlink and EtG Testing

March 29, 2019

Court-Ordered Alcohol Testing Includes Soberlink and the EtG Test

Are you concerned about your spouse's alcohol intake while they are with the children? Although everyone works hard at being a good parent, sometimes alcohol gets in the way. Read about Problems & Effects of Alcoholism on Families & Marriages. When a parent struggles with alcohol use which is sometimes abuse, court-ordered alcohol testing is appropriate and in the best interests of the children. Device and chemical technologies make alcohol testing easier, quicker and more reliable. Parents are also more accountable when instantly automated testing devices like Soberlink are ordered by the Court.

The Court can order you to buy and use the Soberlink remote breathalyzer with facial recognition technology and reporting software. The device works using mobile device technologies to tell the user when to test, verifies their identity with facial recognition software and immediately reports the results of their portable breath test. The Soberlink device tests and reports the user’s BAC. Another option that can test for alcohol for a longer period is called EtG testing.

The court can order EtG testing at Forensic DNA. The “80-hour test” as it is called, alcohol testing for EtG can show any amount of consumed ethyl alcohol for 80 hours or up to five days for chronic drinkers. Forensic DNA Drug & Testing Services in Fort Worth is located at 511 East Weatherford Street, a three-minute walk from the Tarrant County Family Law Center. The EtG tests detect recent alcohol usage more accurately and for a longer period than previous testing technology. EtG alcohol urine tests are ideal for zero-tolerance court-ordered alcohol testing.

Attorney Leslie Barrows is a top-rated family law attorney and she will ask the Court to order alcohol testing with Soberlink and EtG as appropriate. Call the Barrows Firm at (817) 481-1583.

Soberlink Remote Breathalyzer: Court-Ordered Alcohol Monitoring Program

Soberlink is cost-effective. When ordered to participate in the Soberlink program for parenting time only, there is a Level 1 plan beginning at $99 per month for the Basic subscription. There are also monthly Plus and Premium subscriptions for $149 and $199 respectively, offering more features. Premium features include text and email results in real time, unlimited reports on all testing activity for date ranges and more. The Bluetooth (iPhone) and cellular Soberlink devices are sold separately from the monthly subscriptions for $299 and $399.

Watch this Video to See How Soberlink Works

EtG Court-Ordered Alcohol Testing at Forensic DNA

New research in alcohol testing paved the way for EtG testing, answering the question of how to capture evidence of alcohol use while alcohol is otherwise rapidly eliminated through the body. Consider the Court ordered the other not to drink any alcohol during periods of possession and access of the children, and you have reason to suspect they were consuming alcohol early during the weekend, against the Court’s order. Unlike earlier alcohol testing methods, EtG can now detect the presence of consumed alcohol for three to five days depending on consumption habits.

EtG, (Ethyl Glucuronide) is a metabolite of alcohol. EtG is detectable in urine and it is unique in that it does not cause false positive test results. EtG alcohol testing can be performed using hair and nails as well, with a detection window of three months for head or body hair and finger or toenails. EtG is frequently used in court-ordered alcohol testing.

Facial Recognition Technology Confirms Soberlink User Identity

Soberlink uses integrated facial recognition software so to authenticate the device user before and while they use the BAC testing device. The software is adaptable to minor changes in the user’s appearance but, the facial points it measures do not change. There are internal tamper sensors and technology that flags the system if detecting a non-human breath.

Soberlink BAC Results Wirelessly Transmit in Real-Time

When a Soberlink user’s phone reminds them to take the test, it is easy and quick to look at the device and go ahead and test, then review. The results are transmitted in real-time to the contacts established in the device. Soberlink’s cloud-based recovery management software automates the alcohol testing process from start to finish and it can be customized to fit a variety of needs.

Questions About Soberlink Remote Breathalyzer or EtG Testing or Court-Ordered Alcohol Testing? Call the Barrows Firm in Southlake, Texas at (817) 481-1583.

The Barrows Firm serves people and families in and around Southlake, Texas and all over Tarrant County and Denton County. Principal and founder, Leslie Barrows, takes responsible parenting seriously, helping parents concerned about the other’s drinking. The Soberlink device and EtG testing make court-ordered alcohol testing efficient and accountable.

Court-ordered alcohol testing can be easy and tailored to fit the needs of every family concerned with the alcohol use and abuse of the spouse or another parent. Alcohol use can easily become abuse, especially when people are going through emotionally challenging times. Court-ordered alcohol testing does not need to be viewed as a punishment or penalty, rather it can be a useful tool in helping keep someone honest when they know they cannot cheat the system.

Uncontested Divorce Decree in Texas

Uncontested Divorce in Texas

March 22, 2019

What is an Uncontested Divorce in Texas?

Is there really such a thing as an uncontested divorce in Texas? When people see signs on the side of the road advertising low rates for an uncontested divorce, it is easy to get confused. There is a misconception that the word “uncontested” refers to whether the couple mutually agrees to be divorced and dissolve the marriage. This misconception often comes from television and movies where characters are focused on whether one will give the other a divorce. In dramatic scenes, one reluctant party finally gives in and signs off on the divorce. While entertaining, this is not an example of an uncontested divorce.

There are some interesting, funny and compelling movies about divorce. Use this link to review IMDb’s collection, Divorce in Films.

Rather, an uncontested divorce is a divorce where the couple has resolved all major issues including child custody, visitation, parenting time and property division. This means much more than husband and wife agreeing to split everything equally and handle custody and visitation on their own. There are several issues that should be addressed, and the parties should be advised of their legal rights under Texas law and the Family Code before making any agreements.

An Agreeing to Divorce is Not the Same as Uncontested Divorce

Texas, like many states, is a no-fault divorce state, where all a husband or wife needs to allege is insupportability, stated in the Texas Family Code as follows: “On the petition of either party to a marriage, the court may grant a divorce without regard to fault if the marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation or reconciliation.[i]

If one party alleges the marriage should be dissolved, they allege the grounds for dissolution, such as insupportability, in their petition. If that party wants to be divorced, the court will make a finding that the marriage is dissolved. Whether the other party agrees and wants the divorce is not a question of whether the divorce is an uncontested divorce because uncontested refers to all the legal rights and issues involved in dissolving a marriage where children, income, assets, and property are involved.

What Issues Must Be Resolved to Have an Uncontested Divorce?

Child custody and visitation are significant issues in divorce. What may sound good in theory, is more difficult to implement in real life. For example, some parents want to share equal parenting time with their sons and daughters and suggest they will work together without a fixed schedule. Everything may run smoothly, but anything can change. Having a well thought out parenting plan helps answer all the “what if” questions. Child support, medical expenses, and insurance are issues which must be addressed and resolved before you can proceed with an uncontested divorce.

Financial and property issues in a divorce can be the source of conflict. Couples who approach divorce and agree to split everything down the middle may change their mind. There are so many issues involving money and property that people don’t think about until they drill down into the details. It is important to learn your legal rights and duties regarding money and property. Discovery is the process in a divorce, where the parties exchange documents and information about finances, assets, and liabilities. So even if the parties still agree to split everything 50/50, they should be aware of their legal rights and options before proceeding in an uncontested divorce.

Using Mediation to Resolve Issues for an Uncontested Divorce

A Mediated Settlement Agreement is a document identifying the parties in a divorce and their respective award of the divided marital estate. When the parties agree to mediation, they can use the formal dispute resolution process to identify, resolve and confirm how parenting and property will be addressed in the divorce. The result of the mediation process should be a written Mediated Settlement Agreement. It is important to use an experienced divorce lawyer who knows the requirements necessary so that the Mediated Settlement Agreement is enforceable and the party seeking divorce is entitled to judgment.

Learn more about why Attorney Leslie Barrows says there are “5 Reasons to Give Mediation a Chance.”

A Waiver of Service for an Uncontested Divorce

In a typical divorce, the party filing for divorce has the other party served with divorce petition and the affidavit of service is part of the divorce court record. If both the parties who want an uncontested divorce, they may waive the formal requirement of being served. The process of serving someone with divorce papers is all about the court’s right to establish personal jurisdiction over the party listed as a respondent in the divorce petition. Judges hearing petitions to approve uncontested divorces require a waiver of service be filed with the clerk of court before the uncontested divorce may be approved.

A Signed Final Decree of Divorce for an Uncontested Divorce

A final decree of divorce is a formal document containing a list of recitals that identify the requirements for the process of a divorce have been satisfied. The final decree for an uncontested divorce should properly identify the rights and duties of both parties and what will happen with children and property. The final decree indicates that the court has jurisdiction over the parties and the divorce, and that the waiver of service has been filed.

Using the Barrows Firm for Uncontested Divorces in Texas

Getting an uncontested divorce in Texas is a relatively straightforward process when both parties agree on the division of property and parenting rights and duties. Always hire an experienced divorce attorney to prepare, file and present your divorce to the court. The Barrows Firm in Southlake can help you and your husband or wife with an uncontested divorce. Call our office in Southlake to schedule a consultation with Attorney Leslie Barrows to talk about your divorce options and next steps with an uncontested divorce.

[i] Texas Family Code, Grounds for Divorce.