August 16, 2018

Helping Children Cope with Divorce (Part Two)

Helping Children Cope with Divorce

 

There are a number of programs to assist children with the disruption and trauma of divorce. The important thing  for divorcing parents to understand is that divorce does not mean the end of the family: Even when the marriage is dissolved, the parents will remain parents. Even in the midst of chaos in their own lives, it is imperative that parents cooperate with one another to meet the needs of the children.

 

The court may order the parties to attend a parent education course.  The course will be at least four hours long and will be designed to educate parents about the consequences of divorce on parents and their children. The course will include information pertaining to:

 

  • The emotional effects of divorce on parents
  • The emotional and behavioral reactions to divorce by

young children and adolescents

  • Parenting issues relating to the concerns and needs

of children at different stages of development

  • Stress indicators in young children and adolescents
  • Conflict management
  • Family stabilization through development of a co-parenting

Relationship

  • Financial responsibilities of parenting
  • Family violence, spousal abuse and neglect
  • The availability of community services and resources

 

 

 

If the court orders a parent education class, it will provide information about the courses in your area.

 

(The source of this information is directly from the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Texas)

 

 

Recording Phone Calls

Do not record telephone calls to which YOU are NOT a party.  This rules applies even if you own the house, the telephone, and the wires that make that telephone operable. This rule also applies even if the is child talking on a telephone that is yours. If an expert, employed by your spouse’s attorney, testifies as to that expert’s professional opinion (for example, a counselor who testifies as to whether your child would be better off with you serving as primary conservator) and that expert’s opinion is based on recordings that were obtained illegally, that opinion may be excluded from evidence.

 

You can, however, record your own conversations, Under Federal Communications Commission’s regulations, you should advise the party on the other end that you are recording the conversation. Recordings that contain gaps in time are suspect. Therefore, if you are going to record your conversations, start the recorder at the beginning and do not turn it off until the conversation ends and the other party hangs up the telephone.

 

You may be asked to produce recordings during the discovery process.  Make certain you give any/all recordings of any telephone conversations you have recorded to your attorney for safekeeping and, if necessary, for use at trial.

 

The circumstances surrounding any tape recorded conversation will determine whether or not the court deems the recording is admissible.  For example, tape recordings of a child who is apparently being coached about what to say, or of an adverse party who is intentionally being drawn into a verbal war, may be excluded from evidence.

 

As you can see, telephone recordings can be a double-edged sword.  Before you undertake recording any telephone recording, it is imperative that you discuss this with your attorney.

 

(*Source of this information is directly from the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Texas.)

 

PARENT-CHILD RELATIONSHIPS

                                                     A.       Understanding the Terminology  

 

The court may enter an order, or modify a prior temporary order, establishing temporary conservatorship of the children of the marriage.  The court will usually also order the payment of child support. The terms you need to know are “managing conservator” and “possessory conservator”.

 

The managing conservator is the person with the primary parental responsibilities.

 

The law presumes each parent should be appointed as a joint managing conservator (JMC) with the specific rights of each parent written into  the order. If there is a history or pattern of family violence, including child neglect or abuse by one of the parents, the court may not appoint the abusing party as a JMC. This subject is addressed more completely in Chapter XIII, “Family Violence”.

 

If one parent is appointed the managing conservator, the other parent may be appointed the possessory conservator,  so long as it is in the best interest of the children. The possessory conservator may have access to the children according to the order of the court which is usually in accordance with the standard possession order set out in Texas Family Code.

 

The law presumes it is best for children that parents be the conservators of their children. However there are situations that rebut this presumption, such as a history or pattern of family violence. Therefore, in such instances, the court may choose to appoint a non-parent as a managing or possessory conservator of the children.    

 

                                                      B.         Visitation  

 

Whether the parents are appointed JMC, or one parent is the managing conservator and the other possessory conservator, the court will set up a visitation schedule. To encourage the development of a close and continuing relationship between each parent and the child, it is the policy of this state to encourage frequent contact between a child and each parent.

 

Mutual Agreement or Specified Terms For Possession

In a standard possession order, the court will specify that the parties may have possession of the children at times mutually agreed to in advance by the parties. In the absence of mutual agreement, the parties shall have possession of the children under the specified terms set out in the standard possession order.

The following visitation schedule is an abbreviated version and does not include the terms and conditions of possession nor the schedule of parents who reside more than 100 miles from each other.

 

The standard visitation schedule for parents who reside within 100 miles of each other includes:

  • Weekends throughout the year from 6p.m. (or upon dismissal of school during the regular school term) on the first, third, and fifth Friday of each month until 6p.m. the following Sunday (or upon resumption of school after the weekend during the regular school term).
  • Thursday of each week during the regular school term from 6p.m. (or upon resumption of school Friday).
  • If a weekend period of possession of the possessory conservator coincides with a student holiday or  teacher in service day that falls on a Monday during the regular school term, as determined by the school in which the child is enrolled, or with a federal, state or local holiday that falls on a Monday during the summer months in which school is not in session, the weekend possession shall end at 6p.m. on Monday.
  • If a weekend period of possession of the possessory conservator coincides with a student holiday or teacher in service day that falls on a Friday during the regular school term, as determined by the school in which  the child is enrolled, or with a federal, state or local holiday that falls on a Friday during the summer months in which school is not in session, the weekend possession shall begin at 6p.m. on Thursday or the time the child’s school is regularly dismissed on Thursday.
  • In even numbered years-(Parent “A”) From 6p.m. (or upon dismissal of school) the day school is dismissed for spring break until 6p.m. the day before school resumes.
  • From 6p.m. (or upon dismissal of school) the day the child is dismissed for Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28.

The other parent (Parent “B”) shall have possession during the same period in odd numbered years.

  • In odd numbered years: (Parent “B”) From 6p.m. (or upon dismissal of school) on the day the child is dismissed for Thanksgiving break until 6p.m. the following Sunday
  • If it is a non-possession day for the parent, the parent shall have possession of the child from 6p.m. until 8p.m. on the child’s birthday.
  • If the father is the conservator, he shall have possession of the children during Father’s Day weekend, beginning at 6p.m. on Friday before Father’s Day and ending at 6p.m. on the Monday after Father’s Day.
  • If the mother is the conservator, she shall have possession of the children during Mother’s Day weekend, beginning at 6p.m. on Friday before Mother’s Day and ending at 6p.m. on the Monday after Mother’s Day.
  • 30 days during the summer. During summer visitation, the other parent will have visitation during one weekend from 6p.m. on Friday until 6p.m. the following Sunday.

This is not the complete version.

Court ordered visitation cannot be withheld due to non-payment or late payment of child support.

 

Child Support

If there are children, the court will order child support at both the temporary hearing (if there is one) and at the final entry of the divorce decree. The Court may order either or both parents to support a child until the child is 18 years old or has graduated from high school, whichever is later, or indefinitely if the child is disabled.

The Texas Family Code sets out guidelines for the Court in determining the amount of child support to be paid. There are a number of factors which may be considered, but generally the court will apply the following formula:

1 child         20% of the obligor’s net resources

 

2 children     25% of the obligor’s net resources

 

3 children     30% of the obligor’s net resources

 

4 children     35% of the obligor’s net resources

 

5 children     40% of the obligor’s net resources

 

6+ children  Not less than amount for 5 children

 

Source of this information was taken directly from the Family Law Section of the State Bar of Texas.

 

 

 

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