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Abilene TX Divorce Law Blog

Resolution looks at domestic violence and child custody cases

Living in an abusive relationship is a terrible set of circumstances. That said, when there are children involved it can be even more stressful for Texas residents. Many people stay in unhealthy relationships for years to ensure that their kids do not have to go through child custody and visitation struggles with an abusive parent. Unfortunately, there are cases in which a family experiences the greatest possible loss during a child custody struggle.

According to research by the Center for Judicial Excellence, nearly 600 children have been killed at the hands of a parent over the past decade while a child custody case was underway. That outcome is simply unacceptable to many, and has led to a new resolution introduced by United States Representative Pat Meehan and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney. The resolution asks the courts to change the way that custody cases are handled when there are allegations of abuse. Instead of beginning with a focus on the best needs of the child, courts are asked to first consider any safety issues at play.

4 different approaches to complex property division

Texas couples who are preparing to bring their marriage to a close have multiple options on how to complete the divorce process. Each path has advantages and disadvantages, and spouses must choose the approach that is best in line with their interests. When a divorce will include complex property division, it is critical to select an approach that allows for an emphasis on dividing marital wealth.

The first option, which is not recommended for complex property division, is for the couple to sit down and work out the details of their divorce on their own, without legal counsel of any kind. This approach is ill-advised partly due to the risk that one spouse may take advantage of the other. A do-it-yourself divorce approach is not a good option for couples with complicated financial holdings because dividing those assets requires a skilled and experienced approach. Without that guidance, it is possible to lose money from fees, excessive taxes and penalties.

How to present the best child custody stance without trying

When a Texas parent is faced with a custody battle, he or she often searches for ways to improve his or her legal stance in the matter. That approach, however, fails to recognize the realities of a child custody case, which task the courts with making a determination that is in the best interests of the child. That involves looking at the family's history, and no volume of last-minute scrambling will make much of a difference. That is why the best way to look good in a child custody case is to have been a great parent from the beginning.

Parents should make every effort to remain close with their children from infancy on. That can be a challenge for households in which one parent spends a great deal of time at work, and the other handles most of the duties associated with child care. Even then, the absent parent should find ways to bond with his or her children, even if that means taking time away from other obligations. Some parents create daily routines where a parent/child bond can be strengthened, such as having the working parent drive the kids to school every morning. Other parents set aside time for parents to take occasional one-on-one weekend trips with the kids, which also gives the primary caregiver a much-needed break.

Father of tennis star daughters in child custody dispute

Few Texas tennis fans would not know the names of Venus and Serena Williams. The sisters have made headlines in the sport for many years, and have changed the face of women's tennis. Their father, Richard Williams, is credited for pushing his girls to achieve ever-higher goals as children, and helping them to hone their skills on the court. Now, Richard Williams is making headlines of his own due to a divorce and child custody case with his second wife.

Richard Williams married Lakeisha Williams in 2010, and the couple welcomed a child in 2012. In recent filings, Richard Williams is asking for custody of their child, and brings up a number of assertions against his wife. He claims that she abandoned the child when the marriage went south, and that she has exposed the child to "unreasonable and dangerous" conditions. He also alleges that his soon-to-be-ex has moved in with an individual who is facing pending felony charges and could be a danger to the child.

Parents can lessen negative effects of child custody disputes

Coming to the end of a marriage is never a simple or easy matter, even when both parties are absolutely certain that divorce is the best course of action. For those in Texas who share children, it can be hard to know how to make the process of divorce easier for the younger members of the family. What decades of research has made clear is that divorce and child custody disputes can weigh heavily on children, and can have lasting negative consequences. Fortunately, parents can help reduce the negative impact that their divorce may have on their kids.

Researchers have long known that kids who go through divorce have higher rates of anxiety, depression, problems at school and other social issues as compared with kids who live in intact families. What has recently become clear, however, is that it may not be the divorce itself that leads to issues, but rather how the parents handle their shifting relationship. Those who are able to transition gracefully from spouses to co-parents can make the process far easier on themselves and their children.

Life insurance can present problems after military divorce

Once the end is in sight, many Texas servicemembers are excited to move on with their lives and gain a fresh start. It is important to understand, however, that there are certain military divorce issues that can present problems long after the papers have been signed and filed. Life insurance is one example and is something that should be addressed directly within the divorce agreement.

One common issue lies in the requirement that one party maintain a life insurance policy that names either the former spouse or shared children as the beneficiaries. Both spouses might agree to such provisions during the course of the divorce, only to see things differently a few years down the line. Insurance can be expensive, and the spouse who is tasked with paying might decide to let the policy drop. That can require a return to court, which is another expensive proposition.

YouTube family facing serious child custody issues

Love it or hate it, most Texas residents have had some exposure to YouTube, the online platform that allows users to upload and share video content. Users can create "channels" for uploaded video, and can even monetize those channels by allowing ads to be placed alongside uploaded content. As one family recently discovered, however, there is a limit to the type of content that can and should be shared with others. The couple behind the YouTube channel DaddyOFive is now facing a serious child custody battle based on videos of their family.

Members of the YouTube community became concerned after watching videos in which the couple's five children were repeatedly "pranked" in various ways. One of the younger children was regularly brought to tears on camera as one or both of his parents convinced him that he was in trouble over fabricated infractions. At one point, the child was convinced that he was going to be placed for adoption and would no longer be allowed to live with his family.

Could timing lead to a child custody dispute?

One of the hardest things for Texas parents to consider during a divorce is how to divide parenting time. There are a limited number of days that parents get to spend with their kids before they are all grown up and out of the house, which is why making the most of those days is a priority. Parents may want to consider how the timing of their divorce could create an unexpected child custody dispute.

Several states are looking at legislative changes that would create or alter mandatory waiting periods before couples could obtain a divorce. One southern state recently voted on the matter, and a proposal to change the waiting period from one year to six months was rejected by the state's House of Representatives. Even with a proposed change that would require couples to get counseling before their divorce could be made final, the bill could not pass.

Did the judge mishandle child custody issues in this case?

When a family court judge in Texas or any other state is faced with a custody case, he or she is tasked with making a determination that is in the best interests of the child or children at the heart of the matter. Often, that means determining which parent is best suited to provide the bulk of care for a child. In some child custody cases, however, a judge is asked to determine if a child should be removed from his or her home and placed into the care of the state. That can be a devastating set of circumstances for parents, especially when they fear that their child might be in danger while in foster care.

A distressing example is found in the case of a mother and father who lost custody of their 5-year-old twins, as well as an older child who has the same mother as the twins. The children were removed from their home after a judge ruled that they were being neglected, and were witness to domestic violence between their parents. Once in foster care, the older child (the man's stepdaughter) spoke out about sexual abuse she had been subjected to.

Jesse Jackson Jr. agrees to pay increased child support

Many Texas residents have followed the divorce between Jesse Jackson Jr. and his wife, Sandi Jackson. There have been numerous areas of contention between the parties, including debates over how much child support should be paid. In a recent shift, Jackson has agreed to increase his child support payments considerably.

In early March, a judge ruled that Jesse Jackson's child support obligations should be reduced to just $329 per month. Taking matters a step further, the judge also suspended payments for April through July, which would mean that Jackson would pay nothing until August. An attorney for Sandi Jackson quickly spoke about on the matter, accusing Jesse Jackson of placing the financial support of his children at the bottom of his priority list.

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