A big decision needs to be made early on in a divorce case- who will take care of the kids? Separated or newly divorced parents have to make tough decisions about child care in the best of times, but with the spread of the coronavirus, those choices are harder than ever. As our Texas Governor moves forward with re-opening the economy, more parents are returning to work. This has made child care decisions more urgent -and desperate-for millions of Texans.
Child care options are decreasing
Most single parents with minor children need to work during the day. In the pre-pandemic days, one common option for many was to have grandparents watch the children while the primary care parent works. However, not every parent is blessed with this as an option. And now, with the spread of the Covid-19 virus and it's high death rate among the elderly, many people who did have this option are now not willing to risk the lives of their own parents by exposing them to grandchildren who often do not display symptoms of Covid-19 and can infect their unwitting grandparents with the virus.
The usual option, if relatives are not available, is to rely on private daycare. But many parents are worried that they will be putting their children at risk by taking them to a daycare center during a pandemic. This fear is spurred by news that Texas has just experienced one of it's most infectious and deadly weeks for Covid-19.
State data shows an increase in coronavirus cases stemming from both large gatherings and child care centers. The state reported 576 positive cases of the coronavirus — 382 staff members and 194 children — in child care facilities as of this week. That’s up from 59 cases in mid-May.
Are Daycare Facilities Safe? Little Guidance from the Government.
Of those facilities that remain open, even at limited capacity, the State's response to the fears of contaminating kids in daycare has been muddled, to say the least.
Just two weeks ago, the government surrendered all existing regulation of safety measures at state-licensed child care centers. As of mid-June they were no longer required to comply with a list of safety precautions that had been in effect since mid-April. That meant centers could decide for themselves if they wanted to check staff temperatures, require parents to drop off their children outside or stop serving family-style meals, according to a previous notice from the state Health and Human Services Commission.
Then, in an apparent reversal this week, Gov. Greg Abbott directed a state health agency to enact new safety standards for child care centers during the coronavirus. However those new standards have not yet been published.
To make matters less clear, individual county and municipal authorities in Texas have been sending mixed messages to citizens about how their local government plans to respond to the recent deadly spike in infections. In Harris County, which includes the City of Houston, Judge Lina Hidalgo has announced plans to mandate masks and return to the stay-at-home conditions imposed this Spring. Meanwhile in neighboring Galveston County, which includes more suburban and semi-rural /industrial areas, Judge Mark Henry has defiantly announced that he won't issue any new government restrictions and said people must rely on their own personal responsibility to stay free from infection.
Ultimately, Parents Must Find Daycare Options and Judge Facility Safety On Their Own
Experts say that daycare is a key piece to reopening the U.S. economy. If a single parent must go back to work and has no other child care options, then choosing among the remaining daycare facilities that remain open in the area may be the only choice. But without clear government guidance, selecting the safest daycare facility for your child is a daunting challenge.
That is why we are offering a checklist of the most important, researched questions to ask a daycare facility before you enroll your child. The checklist is based on expert recommendations and can help you determine if a child care, daycare or daycamp facility is coronavirus ready. No facility can guarantee your child will be 100% safe from infection, but download this free checklist and bring it with you when you visit the facility or ask questions from it when on the phone. Researched from the CDC and other experts, this question checklist will help you pick the safest daycare facility. The Palmer Law Firm is offering this checklist as a free public service.
To download the Daycare Safety Checklist. Please click HERE.
Alright then. The first thing to understand is that the court begins with the idea that your property should be divided "fairly and equitably". (Keep in mind this DOES NOT necessarily mean 50/50). So if you want more than fair, it becomes your job to prove to the court that you deserve more than fair.
You likely need to tell the court in your first paperwork (called a "Petition") that you are claiming one of the 28 different factors that the court can consider in deciding whether to grant a disproportionate division of what you earned during the marriage (a.k.a. "community property"). You will have to plead that one of these things changed the normal presumption of equal division to your favor. You need justify why you should get the lion's share of the property by claiming one or more of the following:
1. Husband was at fault in the breakup of the marriage;
2. You would have received benefits from the continuation of the marriage;
3. He earns much more than you;
4. Your health is worse than his;
5. You got the children so you should get more property to help pay for them;
6. Your children's needs are great;
7. Your education is less than his and/or your prospects for the future are lower;
8. You are less employable than him;
9. There is a lot of marriage debt;
10. The division of property will put more tax burden on you;
11. The differences in you ages is great;
12. The earning power, business opportunities and abilities favor your husband;
13. You need future support;
14. The kind of property to be divided means it would be fair for you to get more;
15. Your husband wasted your community property;
16. You husband doesn't deserve any credit for temporary support he paid you;
17. Your husband used community funds to pay for out of state property;
18. Your husband decreased your community property because he gave unreasonably valuable gifts during the marriage;
19. You can show that your efforts (time, talent, labor) unduly increased your husband's separate property (which the court has no power to divide) and you should be compensated;
20. Your husband gave so much of your community property away to his separate estate or to the children that it was unreasonable and should be compensated;
21. The community estate should be compensated;
22. Your husband is expecting a large inheritance;
23. You should have more money to pay for attorney's fees;
24. You used up your separate property to create community property;
25. The size and nature of your separate property is much less than his;
26. You disproportionately created community property by your own efforts, whereas he did not;
27. He committed fraud (lied) that put you in a worse financial position than you otherwise would be in;
28. His actions amounted to fraud, even if he didn't technically lied that put you in a worse financial position than you otherwise would be in.
These are called to Murff Factors after the original case: Murff v. Murff, 615 S.W.2d696,698 (Tex.1981).
It should be noted that requested a disproportionate share of the community property will eventually require you to prove your allegations. Claiming something is easy. Proving it is another matter. If you want a disproportionate property division, you probably will need an experienced lawyer to help you with this.
Attorney Sean Y. Palmer has over 18 years of legal experience as a Texas Attorney and over 24 years as a Qualified Mediator in civil, family and CPS cases. Palmer practices exclusively in the area Family Law and handles Divorce, Child Custody, Child Support, Adoptions, and other Family Law Litigation cases. He represents clients throughout the greater Houston Galveston area, including: Clear Lake, NASA, Webster, Friendswood, Seabrook, League City, Galveston, Texas City, Dickinson, La Porte, La Marque, Clear Lake Shores, Bacliff, Kemah, Pasadena, Baytown, Deer Park, Harris County, and Galveston County, Texas.