Law Office of Ellen Dixius

Fort Worth Divorce Law Blog

3 Common myths about child custody

Child custody proceedings can be mentally, physically and emotionally taxing. Many times, popular misconceptions can make parents fearful of court rulings, which only adds to the stress of the situation. It’s time these misconceptions are set straight so that you can go into your custody case with a better understanding of what to expect.


Divorce often stems from these common issues

When you and your spouse face conflicts, how do you know which ones are just minor issues that you'll move past in time and which ones are more serious? One way is to consider which issues often lead to divorce. It's clear that they have a serious impact on marital satisfaction and could prove impossible to overcome.

Every marriage is unique, and marriages end for more than a few reasons. However, here are some of the most common reasons for divorce, according to experts:

  • Abuse, which could be physical or emotional
  • Problems with money
  • Consistent arguing and an inability to resolve conflicts
  • A lack of communication
  • Infidelity, when one person is unfaithful to the marriage
  • Weight gain, which is common later in life
  • A lack of equality between the spouses
  • A lack of intimacy, which could itself stem from many causes
  • Two people who got married but were not prepared for the changes it would bring to their lives
  • Couples who held unrealistic expectations for their spouses or for marriage in general

Not paying child support may harm your credit score

Texas has a reputation in the U.S. for being one of the toughest states when it comes to child support. One of the problems parents who owe child support may encounter here and in other states is seeing nonpayment of child support show up on their credit report. When this happens, it may also cause a dip in their credit score.

NerdWallet acknowledges that non-custodial parents often feel resentment about paying child support. If the relationship ended badly, that parent may feel as though the money paid goes toward the spouse instead of the child. However, children are expensive to raise and need financial support from both parents whenever possible.

Managing mental health during divorce

For many Texas individuals, the divorce process creates challenging and potentially overwhelming emotions. The issues that caused the marriage to end and the changes in living circumstances may have a significant effect on a person's mental health. In some cases, divorce may cause or worsen some types of mental illness, such as depression or anxiety. Mental illness may also be one of the factors leading to a divorce. It may be helpful for individuals to understand the relationship between divorce and mental health issues.

A report from the National Law Review states that mental illness is not uncommon among adults in the United States. Statistics show that in a given year, about 20% of adults experience mental illness of some sort. About 4% of adults may experience mental illness at a level that interferes with at least one major life activity. The NLR states that mental illness may contribute to the breakdown of a marriage. When mental illness is a possible cause of a divorce, it may be especially challenging for spouses and children to know exactly how to proceed in a way that prioritizes both treatment and safety. A court may take mental illness into account during custody negotiations.

How do you establish paternity in Texas?

Going through the legal process to confirm that you are the father of your children may provide numerous benefits for both you and them. It may be especially vital if you are not married to your children's mother. When you establish paternity in Texas, you give your children an official record of their heritage. It also helps ensure you maintain a relationship with your children if you ever separate from their mother.

The Texas Attorney General's guide to paternity and child support indicates that your marriage status has a significant effect on your legal relationship with your children. If you are married to your children's mother, state law automatically recognizes you as the father. However, if you are not married when your children are born, you need to go through the steps to establish paternity before you get any legal parental rights to your children. When you establish paternity, you may get your name on your children's birth certificates, receive access to school and medical records, and petition for custody or parenting time if you end your relationship with the mother.

Your rights as a stepparent after divorce

You may have many options for maintaining close and healthy relationships with your stepchildren after divorce. It might even be possible in Texas to have legal rights and responsibilities toward them. But generally, a stepparent’s legal parental rights end along with their marriage to the biological parent. 

When to modify your child support

Many parents in Texas are not aware of this, but if they experience a life change, they may be able to modify their child support. Forbes asserts that parents can always make adjustments to a child support order. There are some key contributing factors courts take into consideration when deciding on child support payments, so any changes to these factors may be good grounds for seeking a modification.

The top factors used include the number of children, how much time each parent spends with the kids, the income of both parents and spousal support that is also paid to the ex-spouse. Other considerations may include who pays for education, health insurance and other living expenses. This helps to determine what the actual need is and how best to meet it.

How spouses and exes use technology to spy on each other

Divorces in Texas can sometimes take a nasty turn for the worst. When this happens, couples may resort to everything from GPS trackers to spyware to keep tabs on their ex. Some partners may even install these devices long before they disclose their intentions to leave. This may happen if a wife believes her husband is cheating. According to NPR, it may even happen when an ex-husband decides he wants to keep tabs on his ex-wife to terrify her.

After reviewing two dozen cases of using spying tools that made it into a U.S. courtroom, NPR found that judges were inconsistent in how they punished the people responsible. In one case dating all the way back to 2007, a Texan used SpyRecon against his wife. He faced a four-year sentence for his actions. Meanwhile, some people get away with these activities with little or no repercussions, particularly when it involves tracking jointly owned property, such as a car.

Joint custody may prove more beneficial for children

While getting a divorce in Texas, many parents argue about who should get custody of the children. While fathers do not ask for custody as often as mothers do, they may nonetheless end up in a situation where women get full custody. In these situations, they generally have to pay child support, but there is no guarantee that they will actually get to spend time with their child. Joint custody helps to prevent this, making it mandatory for children to spend time with both parents, even if the split is not 50/50.

According to the National Public Radio, except in cases with domestic violence or where one parent is unfit, joint custody better represents the interests of the children. When children spend a significant amount of time with each parent, they tend to do better emotionally and academically. That said, a 50/50 split creates issues when parents live far apart. It might also make it impossible for one parent to pursue any opportunities that take them away from a particular side of town. If parents do not get along, seeing each other that often could also spell trouble.

What do I do about back child support that added up behind bars?

Texas is one of the worst states to owe child support in America. From potentially losing driving privileges to facing jailtime, Texas stops at almost nothing to get child support money. But, what about parents that are unable to pay because they are incarcerated?

When they complete their sentence, many of these former inmates find themselves carrying the burden of back child support. Coupled with the difficulties of finding a decent job with a record, repaying that child support sometimes seems impossible.

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