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San Antonio Family Law Blog

Adopting your stepchild: Things to consider

Legally adopting your stepchild is a big step. Doing so offers a lot of benefits, the main one being that you and your stepchild officially become "family." That gives you certain rights to custody and visitation if you and your spouse divorce. It also imposes a support obligation on you for that child's welfare. Your stepchild also gains inheritance rights and the right to important benefits if you should die.

But stepparent adoption isn't always right for every family. Here are a few things to consider as you debate the option:

  • Is your stepchild's other parent in the picture? If so, that may make stepparent adoption difficult or impossible unless they give their consent because their parental rights will end with the adoption.
  • What does your stepchild think about the idea? Some kids may be very excited about the idea, but others may have their doubts. Don't take it personally if your stepchild hesitates. An adoption, in many ways, makes them a whole new person. Not every kid can adapt to that idea.
  • How does your family feel about the adoption? What about your stepchild's other family members? Adoption can create issues with extended family members that can make your experience difficult. While that shouldn't stop you, it should inform your decisions as you move forward.
  • Are you ready for the realities of adoption? Adoption is usually a cause for celebration, but you have to prepare for the unpleasant times that may come ahead with as your stepchild matures, rebels and develops their own way of living.

Does money really destroy marriages?

Does money really lead to that many breakups between spouses? According to the statistics, it's the second-most common cause of divorce in this country. (Only infidelity causes more marital splits.)

Money woes are, somewhat logically, a big problem for many couples. The bigger the pile of debt that a couple has to manage, the bigger the strain on the marriage. Aside from the stress and frustration of all that debt, couples may find their relationship fraying simply because they have to put all of their energy toward work -- just to keep the bills paid. Plus, the subject of money (or debt) may become a couple's primary topic of conversation -- which doesn't exactly keep a relationship warm.

6 steps to use when asking your spouse for a divorce

iStock-638560916.jpgYou may have been considering divorce for a while now, but actually approaching your spouse about the issue can seem overwhelming -- and a little scary. Most people don't cope well with major changes and disappointments in their lives, and there's no guarantee that your spouse will be receptive (or even aware that there's a real problem in your marriage).

Here are the steps you can take to ease the process:

  1. Be sure this is what you want. If you haven't already seen a therapist, consider doing so before you take the next step.
  2. Plan what you intend to say. It's not over-the-top to write out your thoughts. Doing so can help you clarify your feelings and decide what you should and shouldn't say in this early conversation.
  3. Start by addressing your mutual dissatisfaction with your relationship. The odds are very high that your spouse isn't totally happy, either. You need to frame divorce as a healthy alternative to staying in a destructive and unpleasant relationship.
  4. Be very clear about your intentions. If you're still willing to work things out, you shouldn't be having the "divorce talk" yet, so don't give into your spouse's entreaties to try couple's counseling or other rescue methods.
  5. Don't try to work out all the details. It's okay to offer your spouse some reassurances that you'll willing to work toward a fair and peaceful split, but don't commit to any particular vision of how that will work just yet. You both need time to get your bearings.
  6. Stay calm (even if your spouse does not). If your spouse starts to get angry, verbally abusive or overwrought, suggest that it's time to take a break and retreat. You can resume the discussion when they've calmed down.

Dealing with custody issues during a national emergency

iStock-947845146.jpgThe COVID-19 virus has developed into a national emergency unlike anything the nation has experienced in generations, and it's upending the normal way of life for almost everyone.

It's also causing some unexpected problems for divorced parents -- specifically, those whose children were away with their other parent during spring break. Now that spring break has been extended beyond the usual week-long duration and could go on indefinitely, some parents are unsure about what's supposed to happen next. The parent with primary physical custody usually wants the child returned at the expected time -- regardless of the extenuating circumstances related to the virus.

Get a postnuptial agreement before starting a business

iStock-1132392927.jpgYou and your spouse are happy together and your marriage seems solid. So, why should you consider a prenuptial agreement essential just because you've decided to follow your entrepreneurial dreams or your spouse is starting their own business?

It all comes down to security -- both the financial and emotional kind. When a married individual starts their own business, there are dangers to both spouses.

Who engages in parental alienation?

iStock-913017856.jpgThere's a thin line between love and hate -- and that's never more obvious than when someone channels all of their anger, grief and disappointment at a failed marriage into demonizing the spouse they supposedly once loved. When they involve the children in that process, ultimately playing games with their affection and turning their ex-spouse into the enemy of all, that's parental alienation.

Parental alienation doesn't just hurt the victimized parent. It also damages the psyche of the children involved in permanent ways. It usually destroys or deeply damages their relationship with one of their parents for good and does not make for a loving, supportive childhood -- which naturally affects their adult lives.

Divorcing a narcissist? Here's what you need to know

iStock-1093575416.jpgThere are many reasons to seek a divorce, but if you have the misfortune to be married to a narcissist, you may expect the process to be even more problematic than it otherwise would be.

The reason for this is that most divorcing couples try very hard to avoid the contention and acrimony of a protracted court battle. But for the narcissist, this doesn't matter nearly as much as winning -- at all costs. Read on for some things to know when divorcing a narcissistic spouse.

Accolades & Achievements

Brandon, Karen, Michael, Megan Are Proud To Have Achieved The Following Legal Accolades for Exemplary Legal Service.

*Karen Marvel was recognized in Texas Monthly in 2008-2019 as a Texas Super Lawyer by Texas Super Lawyers (a Thomson Reuters service)

**Karen Marvel is Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization