Archive for January, 2013

Key Mistakes to Avoid When Navigating a Texas Divorce

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

While retaining a competent experienced Texas divorce attorney can provide an effective way to protect your interests during a divorce, any party to a divorce also can take steps to avoid certain mistakes that adversely impact the outcome of one’s marital dissolution.  If you have questions about how to handle certain issues, your attorney can provide legal counsel and assist you in avoiding pitfalls that can result in undesirable outcomes on issues like alimony, conservatorship, timesharing, property division and other key issues.  However, at the Texas family law office of Alex Tyra, we often hear from prospective clients that do not contact us until after they have made critical errors.  We have provided an overview of mistakes to avoid if you are involved in a Texas divorce proceeding:

Be Reasonable and Businesslike: Many of the most high conflict divorce cases arise out of unrealistic expectations and unnecessary animosity.  It is understandable that the divorce process will involve emotions like anger, jealousy, fear and anxiety that may hinder constructive positive solutions.  However, both spouses lose when they run up unnecessary legal fees and litigation expenses because one side or the other takes a position that is not reasonable given the possible spectrum of orders that a judge might issue.  We frequently hear prospective clients that insist they want “sole custody” or “no spousal maintenance.”  It is the exception rather than the norm when such orders are granted so you should let an experienced divorce attorney help you develop realistic expectations.

Provide Your Attorney with Requested Information: There are disclosure requirements and discovery obligations for both parties in a Texas divorce.  When your Texas divorce attorney requests documents or information, it important to provide this information promptly so that your attorney can respond to discovery and provide mandatory disclosures.  The best practice is to gather financial documents, title documents, paystubs, retirement plan statements, tax returns, paystubs, monthly bills and mortgage statements because your attorney will need these to develop settlement positions on property and debt distribution, spousal maintenance, child support and other issues.

Perceiving Your Spouse as Confident: Because of the long duration of many marriages, it is natural to feel comfortable disclosing information with your spouse during an amicable divorce process.  Even in an amicable divorce, it is important to understand that a marital dissolution is an adversarial proceeding.  You should be careful providing confidential and proprietary information with a spouse because it may be used against you.  It is imperative that you consult your Texas divorce attorney before executing any document provided by your spouse.

Focus on the Forest Not the Trees: Because you may be overwhelmed by strong emotions in a divorce, it is easy to get bogged down in winning short-term battles while damaging your long-term prospects.  It is important to step back when you are being spurned on by intense emotions so that you do not make a poor decision that runs counter to your best interests.  Divorce attorneys can provide sound legal advice which put issues in proper perspective.

If you are involved in a marital dissolution, Texas family law attorney Alex Tyra offers a free consultation so that he can help you understand your rights and options.  We invite you to contact us in our Longview, Texas office at 903-753-7499 or visit our website and submit a case contact form.

Why Domestic Violence Allegations Are Important in Texas Child Custody Cases

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

While an amicable relationship with the other parent in a Texas divorce is usually in the best interest of minor children and both parents, sometimes this is simply not a realistic alternative.  The process of developing timeshare and custody arrangements may be difficult when certain issues are present, including an uncooperative co-parent, domestic violence, substance abuse and prior acts of abuse or neglect.  When issues of the fitness of a parent or willingness of a parent to cooperate in promoting a positive relationship with the other parent arise, this can promote acrimonious child custody disputes.  Domestic violence allegations in particular are extremely common in the context of child custody disputes in a divorce or paternity action.

Domestic violence can have a significant impact on child custody and parenting plan determinations in a Texas divorce.  Texas courts apply the best interest of the child standard when developing parenting plan and custody orders.  Although Texas courts generally regard close and continuing relationships with both parents to be in the best interest of minor children, courts may limit contact by a parent found to have a history of domestic violence toward the other parent.  Texas law bars a judge from awarding joint custody to both parents if there is credible evidence of domestic violence by one of the parents toward the other parent.

One type of evidence often used in Texas to establish domestic violence is a protective order (i.e. restraining order) issued against a parent.  It is important to understand that a protective order can be obtained on an ex parte basis with virtually no notice.  Although restraining orders obtained on this basis are of short duration, they can prevent you from having access to your children and even result in you exclusion from the family residence until a formal hearing.  Even if you have never been charged with spousal assault or any other form of domestic violence, the other parent may attempt to provide other forms of evidence, such as police reports and witness testimony.

While domestic violence is common and constitutes a very serious issue, sometime domestic violence allegations are used in a Texas family law case as a sword rather than a shield.  If you are involved in a divorce involving children or a paternity action where domestic violence is alleged, it is essential that you seek prompt legal advice so that your relationship with your children is not compromised by custody and parenting plan arrangements predicated on unfounded domestic violence claims.

Whether you are involved in a divorce with contentious child custody issues or you are seeking to reach an amicable child custody and visitation settlement, Texas family law attorney Alex Tyra offers a free consultation so that he can help you understand your rights and options.  We invite you to contact us in our Longview, Texas office at 903-753-7499 or visit our website and submit a case contact form.