According to Pew Research, there has been a nine-fold increase in single dad households since 1960.
Society and the courts are slowly beginning to realize that gender alone is not a fair way to decide which parent is best suited to raise the kids.
In 1995, Texas add Section 153.003 to the Family Code which said that courts may not discriminate based on sex in deciding which party will be the sole managing conservator. Despite this however, many attorneys still observe a general bias against dads in family courts.
Despite this, more dads are taking on the role of primary parent. However they may not be receiving the same kind of acceptance and support that single mothers do.
In Australia, single dads have been filling in this support gap by forming their own groups:
We text every day- many times without thinking about the fact that these hasty words are perfectly preserved and readily available to be used against you in your divorce or family law case.
Galveston family lawyers and other practitioners are eating these bits of evidence up like candy in domestic cases. But there are still some issues about getting evidence of a text before the court that the attorney must consider. Like all pieces of evidence, attorneys must show that the evidence is an actual document (or an "authentic" true copy) that wasn't fabricated. Attorneys must also show that the text should be allowed despite the general rule that hearsay (an out of court statement offered as the truth) is not allowed because it is so unreliable.
In the case of Butler v. State, the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals set out the following predicate:
Q. What is [Appellant’s] phone number?
Q. Does that number appear on all the pages of the exhibit?
Q. How do you know that that is [Appellant’s] telephone number?
A. Because that’s where he called me from and that’s what’s on the
same exhibit in front of me.
Q. You’ve read the text messages in the exhibit?
Q. Who sen[t] you those text messages?
A. He did.
Q. How do you know that it was him?
A. Because he was the one texting me back and forth and he had
even called in between the conversations talking mess.
The Court of Criminal Appeals said that it was not enough for a lawyer to prove that a text was sent to a certain person's phone. The lawyer must also prove that it was received by the certain person (NOT just the person's phone- because phones can be stolen). So an attorney must also show that based on the response to the text or other context clues that the phone receiving the information was under the control of the other party.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana has filed a lawsuit on behalf of two foster parents against the director of the Indiana Department of Child Services’ Central Eligibility Unit over adoption subsidies.
The lawsuit was filed Thursday on behalf of Lyons residents David and Julie Arthur, who act as foster parents for three grandsons, the Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/1Sdqc3W ) reports.
The couple claims the state agency violated federal law by calculating the adoption subsidy without considering “circumstances of the adopting parents and the needs of the child being adopted,” according to court records.
The Arthurs say they want to adopt their grandsons, who are 6, 3 and 2 years old. The couple says the boys have “profound disabilities,” but that they can’t pay for services needed.
Medicaid covers the boys’ medical needs. Their grandparents receive $145.72 per day as licensed foster parents to help offset the boys’ extensive needs.
If the Arthurs adopt the boys, they would get $52 per day under the Department of Child Services’ “final offer” for adoption assistance payments. The couple says it would be “impossible” to “adequately and appropriately care for the children” at that amount, according to the lawsuit.
Source: The Washington Post
Read more here.
Linda Massey opposes gay marriage. But she was incensed last summer to see that Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk, was refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
"If the government says you have to give out those marriage licenses, and you get paid to do it, you do it," says the 64-year-old retiree from Lewiston, Michigan. "That woman," she said of Davis, "should be out of a job."
Americans like Massey are at the heart of a shift in public opinion, an Associated Press-GfK poll has found. For the first time, most Americans expect government officials to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even over religious objections.
It's partly a matter of expecting public servants to do their jobs. But more broadly, the issue touches on a familiar dispute over which constitutional value trumps which: religious freedom, or equality under the law?
The question in recent months has entangled leaders with political sway, among them Pope Francis and the 2016 presidential contenders. But it's not a new conflict for a nation that has long wrestled with the separation of church and state.
Where Davis's answer was the First Amendment's protection of religious freedom — and she served jail time to back it up — a majority of respondents don't buy that argument when it comes to public officials issuing marriage licenses. That's a shift since an AP-GfK survey in July, when Americans were about evenly split. Then, 49 percent said officials with religious objections should be exempt from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and 47 percent said they should be required to issue them.
Source: U.S. News & World Report
Read more here.
Deciding what to do with the house can be a major quandary for couples getting a divorce, particularly when they share a mortgage.
When there is equity in the home, each spouse typically wants to take a share as part of the settlement agreement. But if one person wants to remain in the home, rather than sell it and split any profit, then that spouse will likely have to qualify for a mortgage on his or her own. Spouses who choose to stay may have to refinance their mortgages in order to cash out enough equity to pay off an ex.
But even a spouse who has the financial resources for a buyout without drawing on home equity will still probably have to get a mortgage in his or her name.
“The person walking away wants their share of the equity, but also wants their name off the mortgage as soon as possible,” said Kathleen B. Connell, a family law lawyer and lecturer in Atlanta. The mortgage obligation can tie up that person’s credit, and “if there’s a default,” Ms. Connell added, “the mortgage company is going to sue them both, regardless of what the divorce agreement says.”
Source: New York Times
Read more here.
Hilary Stephens was 57 when she decided she had had enough — enough of her job, of caretaking, of her marriage of 28 years. So she did something many people fantasize about: She walked away from it all.
“Sometimes it’s the only solution,” said Ms. Stephens, now 58 and the mother of two adult children. She moved from Washington to the Philadelphia area, where she is now vice president for development at Woods Services, a nonprofit.
Late life divorce (also called “silver” or “gray” divorce) is becoming more common, and more acceptable. In 2014, people age 50 and above were twice as likely to go through a divorce than in 1990, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. For those over 65, the increase was even higher.
At the same time, divorce rates have plateaued or dropped among other age groups.
One explanation is that many older people are in second marriages; the divorce rate is about two and a half times larger for those who have remarried and are often grappling with blended families or greater financial challenges.
Life expectancy also plays a role. In the past, “people died earlier,” said Pepper Schwartz, a professor of sociology at the University of Washington in Seattle, and the love, sex and relationship ambassador for AARP. “Now, let’s say you’re 50 or 60. You could go 30 more years. A lot of marriages are not horrible, but they’re no longer satisfying or loving. They may not be ugly, but you say, ‘Do I really want 30 more years of this?’”
Source: New York Times.
Read more here.
Studies have pretty consistently shown that being married and staying married is better for your health. The married population lives longer and gets less sick. But a new study out of Utah suggests that it’s only really happily married people who get the full benefit.
People often think of marriages as happy or unhappy, but they are rarely so easy to classify. Couples in what the researchers called “ambivalent marriages,” unions that are not bad enough to leave but still have distinctly negative attributes (and no, this is not all marriages—just about 75% of them, says the study), do not get many of the advantages of those whose marriages are very fulfilling, the researchers found.
The study, conducted by Brigham Young University psychology professor Wendy Birmingham, and published in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine, asked 94 couples about their spouse’s behavior and what the study romantically called their “interpersonal-functioning.” A quarter of the couples were genuinely happy and had no complaints. But three quarters of the marriages fell into the ambivalent category: mostly their spouses were great, but there was some areas in which they were unsupportive or overly negative.
“There was a high level of positivity in the marriage, but there was also negativity,” says Birmingham, who cites the example of a wife who’s a great partner but not happy with her man’s career, or a husband who’s a wonderful dad and lover but very critical. “These are people who are committed to the marriage. There’s just a lot of negativity, which is negating the positive physiological benefits.”
Read more here.
Whether you are a parent contemplating a divorce, a parent involved in an ongoing custody dispute, or a parent struggling to be cope after a divorce, one thing remains unchanged- you are the parent of a child who, now more than ever, needs you to be a source of strength and stability.
Parents are role models to their children at all times- even when you think your kids aren't looking (maybe even ESPECIALLY when you think they aren't looking!) And if you involved in a Texas custody dispute, then there are many OTHERS who are also evaluating your ability to be a role model to your child or children. Those who are carefully watching you can including your ex-spouse, his or her lawyer, attorney ad-litems, child protective services, grandparents, grandparents attorneys, custody evaluators, parent coordinators, mediators..and of course (and ultimately) the judge in your case.
The best way to appear to be the best parent you can be..is to ACTUALLY be the best parent you can be. You need to be an excellent example to your children because they learn by example. Aside from your legal case, you owe this to you children.
Here then are the top ten ways to be a great example to your children.
1. Live a Healthy Lifestyle
How can you say your are keeping your children healthy when your cupboards are filled with junk food and cookies, you watch T.V. for hours on end? By eating properly and getting regular exercise, it not only sets and example for our children but gives you the energy to play with them and be involved with their busy schedule. If you live a sedentary lifestyle, chances are your children will too. Childhood obesity has become an epidemic in American society which can lead to depression and disease. Be a healthy example for your kids by living a healthy lifestyle.
2. Improve Yourself Constantly
There is always something new in life and you need to be an example to your children to be a lifelong learner. You should always be looking to improve your "game" because your children will adopt that attitude too. Learn a new skill. Try a new activity. Explore whatever is exotic. Not only will you be a good example of a well lived life for your children, your own life will improve and will make you a happier parent.
3. Give Back To The Community
By going out and helping in the community, you will give your child a deeper sense of responsibility for, and attachment to a home and place. This is especially important if your are experiencing a time of upheaval in your family. One of children's greatest fears during divorce is that they will loose their place in the world. By making it a regular habit to get out in your community with your family and volunteer your time and talents your child will know they belong.
4. Open Up To Your Kids
You should NEVER share the details of your divorce with your children, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't let your children know who you really are. Children are looking to you give them the model of how to behave in society. And they will learn not only when you show them how you have successfully navigated life, but they also learn if you open up and show them how you overcame those times when you fell short of societies expectations. Do not hide who you are as a person to your children. Being strong means showing vulnerability. I am not saying you should talk about your divorce in detail or use your children as your own emotional crutch. But you can share your past experiences when it is appropriate: mistakes and victories. Take your children to work with you and let them see your daily life. Let them see how you interact with other adults and how you carry yourself.
5. Maintain Self-Control
If you are involved in a legal battle, you will be stressed as never before. Releasing your emotions, whatever they may be, is healthy and will reduce stress. However NEVER do that in front of your children. If you allow yourself to loose your cool in front of your kids, it will damage them psychologically, will damage your relationship with them, and may very well damage your law suit. Every healthy adult should have enough self-control to not regularly blow up in front of their children. If you can't- then you need to seek out help such as a counselor or therapist.
6. Right Relationships
We have many important relationships and not all of them are going to be pleasant. Maybe there are issues with your parents, stepparents, brothers, sisters, or ex-wife. Forgive and give grace. Seek to be right in your relationships over being right. Make it as hard as possible for anyone to say anything bad about you. Be an initiator and take always personal responsibility first.
7. Respect and Listening
If you want to teach your kids how to be confident, it starts with showing them respect for who they are and listening to their own unique thoughts. This is a tough aspect of leadership, but the best leaders listen carefully and talk far less. Open your mind and your ears to what your children are telling you. They will, in turn, learn to do the same later in life.
8. Positive Attitude
There is plenty of negativity to be found in society today. Do not add to the daily chorus your child experiences. Instead, display a positive and reassuring attitude and optimism. They need to be able to look at you and know that you are a believer and not a cynic.
9. Goal Setting
Setting goals is important to give us a benchmark of where we are going and the progress we are making. Implementing and achieving those goals are of equal importance. When our kids see us moving along exactly according to plan, it shows them the importance of organization and self-discipline in their daily life. Help them come up with their own set of goals and praise them when the goals are met.
10. Walk the Talk
The single most important aspect of being your children’s role model is to always say what you mean and mean what you say. Walk the talk. Back up your words with visible and concrete action and be a man of integrity and value. Actions speak volumes. “Well done is better than well said.” – Benjamin Franklin
Normally in Texas, marriages are made to stick. If someone claims to be married, then the burden is on the other party to prove they weren't. In contrast, void marriages are legally invalid from day one. Do not pass go. Do not collect $500. In void marriages, neither party has a choice in reaffirming such a marriage because there exists a defect so grave, that the State of Texas will not permit the marriage under any circumstances.
There are two ways that a marriage is absolutely void in Texas. One is the "Putative Marriage" where one party is already married to a different person. The other is that the parties are too closely related to each other. (TFC 6.201) The fancy word is "Consanguinity".
Remember that there are two types of invalid marriages: marriages that are void (discussed here) and those that are voidable. Your lawyer should not be sloppy and plead the wrong type of case. The term "annulment" is often casually tossed around by the client and the attorney, but that is only for VOIDABLE marriages. A void marriage never was. It does not get annulled. It gets a declaration that it is void. Such void marriages are properly filed as "A Suit to Declare Void the Marriage of ___ and ___". Also remember that unlike a normal divorce, there is no 60 day waiting period after filing suit. It is a small favor from the legislature that you can get these muddled messes over quick.
Remember that any type of marriage dissolution case has the same considerations if there are children involved; i.e. kids from these relationships are not "bastardized" by these proceedings. You have to do a full "Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship" and assign all rights, duties, access, visitation, etc. regarding the children.
Yes, this can get complicated quick. You should see a dedicated family lawyer if any of these issues are involved with your case. Many lawyers claim that they handle family law cases, but they only "dabble" when it is slow in their primary area of practice. If your attorney doesn't know the difference between "void" and "voidable" marriages, then you probably should find another lawyer. Proper pleading and initial fact gathering will save you a lot of hassle (and money) in these types of suits.
A tricky question that will eventually face anyone who is either going through, or has recently been in a Texas Divorce is when you should tell others about the break up. As we are looking at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, you may be wondering whether or when to tell your child’s school.
In this blog, we’ll answer that question along with other back to school tips for divorced or divorcing parents.
Informing Your Child’s School
Experts say that it is not necessary to jump ahead and tell the school until things are actually in motion. My general advice however, is to make your child’s school aware of the divorce once it has been finalized and a custody order has been put in place. If you have temporary orders, you may also need to inform the school once those orders are put in place. This becomes an even better idea if your custody case was or is a contentious one. Making sure the school is aware of the visitation schedule will help ensure your child goes home with the right parent on the right day.
However, in some cases, my advice moves beyond “it’s a good idea” to a very pointed and urgent admonishment that if you are involved in a case with a finding of family violence and a protective order, it is absolutely necessary to inform the school of the existence of the order. The school needs to know who and who does not have access to the child. Fortunately most schools are very aware of their responsibilities to keep your child safe. Bringing them a certified copy of your protective order is an excellent way to ensure they can do their job by clarifying their duties as it relates to your child.
General Parent Rights on Education
Fortunately most cases do not require that amount of vigilance. There are certain conservator rights that are usually granted to both parents in the bulk of all cases, although a Texas court may limit them if it is warranted for some reason. Many of these relate to schools. Unless the court specifically ordered otherwise, under 153.073 of the Texas Family Code both parents have the right to receive educational information about their child and to have access to their child’s school records. Each parent can independently consult with school officials about their child’s educational and extracurricular activities. Each parent can attend school activates, and each parent has the right to be notified by the school in the case of an emergency.
If you have a standard custody order in Texas, or if you anticipate no reason the court would limit these educational right in your pending divorce or custody suit, then it is probably a good idea to let the school know what is going on. If the school knows you are living apart, they can take necessary steps such as sending home two copies of report cards, discipline reports, and the like. This will keep both parents in the loop and avoid any potential conflicts. And avoiding conflict will always save you emotional stress, time and potentially litigation costs.
Need more information about this or any other topic involving family law in Texas?
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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.