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San Antonio Family Law Blog

Legal paternity matters: Here are the reasons why

Your relationship didn't last, but you and your ex-partner do have a child together. Does it really matter if you establish the child's legal paternity?

It does. The consequences of not taking this step can affect your child even beyond your lifetime. Here's what you should know.

Divorce rates are up in Texas: Here's why

iStock-1086037542.jpgTexas divorce courts are a little busy right now. That's not particularly surprising, given that much of the nation experiences a surge in the number of newly filed divorce petitions around this time of year.

Why does it happen so regularly (and predictably) every year? Most attorneys say that it comes down to several different reasons, depending on the couple:

  • Some couples have already agreed to divorce before the new year starts. However, they don't want to break the news to their children, family or friends until the holidays are over because they know the situation will detract from the holiday celebrations.
  • Some people quietly come to the realization that they're unhappy and use the new year as a starting point for their "new selves." Much like a commitment to get healthier, eat better or exercise more, deciding to finally leave an unhappy marriage is part of their New Year's resolutions.
  • Some couples (or individuals) were on the fence about their marriages and may have talked to attorneys before the end of the year -- but decided to give their relationship one last chance. The stress of the holidays, combined with an unusual amount of "togetherness" can either make or break a marriage that's already on the rocks.
  • Some couples delay filing for purely practical concerns: They want their tax filing status to remain the same and they want to use their tax returns to finance the divorce or their move to a new place.

How does custody differ in Texas from other states?

iStock-1134909206.jpgTexas laws can be somewhat unique -- including the rules surrounding child custody. The terminology used and the way that custody is divided in this state may surprise you.

Here are some of the basics you need to know about child custody issues in Texas:

What's the cost of a divorce in Texas?

cost.jpgOne thing that hits people hardest during a divorce is the expense of the process. Aside from filing fees, there may be expenses for realtors, appraisers, tax professionals and more. Every negotiation over how to divide the assets or what visitation and custody should look like takes time -- and time costs money.

While there can be a huge variation in the amount that any couple pays for their divorce, it's natural to wonder how much a divorce is likely to cost you. Unfortunately, there's a bit of bad news for Texans: The state is one of the most costly when it comes to ending a marriage.

Common marital stress that leads to divorce

divorce.jpgMarriages begin full of love, hope and desire. The drive to take care of each other for better or worse is alive and well. However, over time, the unfortunate realities of life may settle in and start to pry out those happy feelings, replacing them with stress.

A couple rarely wakes one day wanting to divorce. As the divorce rate hovers a little over 50%, the reality is that the stress that couples must endure through the years may wear down even the strongest allies. Becoming familiar with some of the common marital stressors that lead to divorce may help in getting you through.

What should you reconsider after filing for divorce?

iStock-1133641880.jpgIn Texas, there's a 60-day "cool-off" period between the time you file a petition for a divorce and the time the court can grant it. The law is purposefully designed to give couples a chance to reconsider. Divorce is, after all, a big step and highly disruptive to the lives of everyone in the family.

So, if you're one of the many people who have decided that January is the time to move forward with their divorce, should you reconsider your decision?

Support for a disabled child's needs

iStock-1137349662.jpgWhen a child has special needs, you know that there are often unexpected expenses waiting around every corner. Many of those needs should be factored into a request for child support so that you -- as your child's primary physical custodian -- don't end up footing an uneven part of the bills.

Here are some of the most commonly overlooked expenses that a special needs child may have:

  • Handicapped transportation services: Your child will have to get back and forth to appointments, school, therapy and more -- and that requires transportation. Whether you should ask your ex-spouse to cover part of the cost of transport services or modifications to your vehicle depends mostly on your situation.
  • Exercise equipment: Many children with special needs require physical therapy. In-home exercise equipment is sometimes the best solution -- but it's prohibitively expensive for many.
  • Electronic communication items: Your special needs child may benefit from things like a voice-activated computer, an e-reader, entertainment centers and more that help with learning issues, anxiety, behavior modification and other needs. Negotiating this expense outside of regular support is important.
  • Special home adjustments: This may mean everything from wheelchair ramps to special mattresses for your child. Making a home "disability-friendly" can be a very expensive project.
  • Home care: You may need respite care from time to time -- or simply need a hand managing your child's daily needs as he or she gets older. Expecting you to pay for the service entirely on your own out of a standard support agreement isn't fair.

Texas judge's Facebook post stirs trouble in custody case

gavel.jpgThere's been a very public and highly-charged custody case going on in Texas regarding a transgender child that has conservative lawmakers and action groups in an uproar. We've discussed the many twists and turns in this case before -- but a new incident has now thrown the case back into the spotlight prematurely -- and illustrates some of the dangers of trying a custody case in modern times.

Dallas County Judge Kim Cooks presided over a trial by jury in the custody case a few months ago. In that trial, the father of the child, who was assigned male at birth but identifies as female, demanded full custody of the child. He claimed that his wife was forcing the child to identify as a girl and wanted to emasculate him. The jury agreed that one parent should have full custody -- but said it should be the child's mother, instead.

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