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Fort Worth Family Law Blog

International child abductions create tough legal challenges

When Texas parents decide that it is time to seek a divorce, the resulting child custody battle can cause emotions to rise. In some cases, one parent may fear that the other parent will be granted full or joint custody of any children the couple may have had. In extreme cases, the parent may flee the country with their children, which often keeps the other parent from having any idea where those children went.

This is not that uncommon of an occurrence. In fact, the U.S. State Department noted that more than 1,000 American children go missing every year after being abducted by a parent. Part of the issue is that diplomatic pressures can make it very difficult for the country to demand the return of a child; in many cases, public perception, trade and even foreign may be at stake. Additionally, parents and attorneys in international abduction cases also often have to travel back and forth, which may not be financially feasible.

Protecting property without a prenuptial agreement

When Texas couples decide to get married, many negotiate a prenuptial agreement in order to protect their assets in case they decide to get a divorce down the road. However, there are cases where couples do not wish to sign a prenup or one spouse refuses to sign. Even if couples decide against getting a prenup, there are still ways that a person can protect their assets.

One of the easiest ways that a person can protect their assets is to keep their assets separate. When many couples get married, they commingle the property and cash that they owned prior to the marriage. If they do this, the commingled assets becomes marital property that can be divided should the couple get divorced. It is also recommended that separate cash be used to pay for or maintain non-marital property; for example, if a person wishes to make improvements to a home that they own separately, it is recommended that they use non-marital cash.

Surveys show social media as a growing issue in divorce

There are many reasons why a couple in Texas will choose to move forward with a divorce. In the past, infidelity, incompatibility and unhappiness were explanations for the end of a marriage. As technology has increased, new issues have arisen to cause couples to part ways. One that is becoming more prevalent is behavior on various social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and others.

A survey indicated that almost 25 percent of 2,000 British people who took part stated that they argued with their partner at least once per week about their activities on social media. Seventeen percent stated that these fights happened on a daily basis. It was also found that 58 percent of those in the poll said that they knew the passwords their partners used for social media sites.

Jailing parents for failure to pay child support

Texas parents who must make decisions about child support may want to keep in mind that it is important to agree upon an amount that the parent paying support can afford. Some experts argue that a lower-income parent may find themselves trapped in a cycle of poverty and incarceration.

Generally, what happens over time when a parent does not pay child support is that wages may be garnished, licenses seized and bank accounts frozen. Income tax refunds may be seized as well. Meanwhile, the missed support payments accumulate. A parent cannot get back on track by simply starting to make the payments again, as there are back payments as well. Eventually, the parent may be jailed. If the parent is released, they may have only a few months to catch up with payments and be unable to do so, and the cycle begins again.

Parental alienation syndrome after a Texas divorce

Children of divorced parents in Texas may experience many different emotions related to the family separation. However, estranged parents can make the situation less difficult for their children by keeping their own ill feelings about their ex-spouse to themselves. When a parent speaks unfavorably about their child's other parent in front of them, some children develop a condition that social workers call parental alienation syndrome.

Children with parental alienation syndrome often completely reject one parent in favor of the other parent. These children develop intense feelings of hatred for the rejected parent and deny any positive memories that they may have shared with the parent. Although the child's negative feelings about one of their parents may have been influenced by the other parent, the child will insist that their thoughts were formed independently.

Court allows woman to use Facebook to serve divorce papers

Texas residents who are seeking a divorce may wish to know about an unusual way to let a former spouse know that the marriage is ending. In certain extreme circumstances, parties may be able to use social media to alert their former spouse of a divorce.

A New York woman, who separated from her new husband shortly after their 2009 marriage, has convinced a court to allow her to use the social media site Facebook as a means to serve divorce papers. The judge allowed this method only after all other possibilities were exhausted. Reports indicate that the woman attempted to reach the man through phone calls, emails and even with a private detective. When none of these attempts were successful, she petitioned the court to let her try Facebook because she knew he checked in on it regularly.

Delinquent child support in Texas nears $11 billion

Many custodial parents in Texas rely on child support to make ends meet, and they often lack the financial resources to adequately provide for their children when these payments are delinquent. While over $3.5 billion was paid in child support to children in Texas in 2013 according to data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, noncustodial parents in the state still owed almost $11 billion.

Single mothers are particularly hard hit by delinquent child support. These payments make up 39 percent of their household income and raise a quarter of them above the poverty line. Authorities have a number of ways to collect delinquent child support, but figures show that these efforts are unsuccessful 40 percent of the time. While child support payments can be a vital source of income for custodial parents, they do not always place an undue financial strain on parents who are required to pay. In Texas, child support payments can total between 20 and 40 percent of a noncustodial parent's income depending on the number of children involved.

Foreign adoptions hit 30-year low in U.S.

Texas residents interested in adoption may be interested to learn that new data released by the U.S. State Department shows that foreign adoptions have fallen to their lowest level in more than 30 years. Americans adopted 6,441 babies from foreign countries in the 2014 fiscal year, which is down from 7,092 in 2013. It is the lowest number of adoptions since 5,749 were adopted in 1982 and a massive drop from the approximately 23,000 that took place in 2004.

According to adoption agencies, the sharp decline is due to a few factors. In China and South Korea, anti-adoption nationalist sentiment has grown, while in other countries, such as Ethiopia, new policies have been enacted to promote domestic adoptions. In 2013, Russia also banned adoptions by Americans after the U.S. sanctioned Moscow for human rights violations.

Garnishing Social Security benefits for unpaid child support

For people in Texas who are receiving child support, it is important that the payments are on time and paid in full. Frequent family legal issues that arise center around what to do if the payments are not being made or if there are back payments owed. In some instances, the parent who has been ordered to make the payments receives some form of Social Security. An available avenue for a parent who has failed to receive the payments is to take steps to garnish a portion of the supporting parent's Social Security benefits.

It is important to know the facts as to which benefits can be garnished. Forms of Social Security such as disability and retirement can be requested to collect what is owed in back child support. If these payments are not enough to cover what's owed, it is also possible to pursue tax refunds.

Obtaining a protective order during divorce

Individuals in Texas who are divorcing and dealing with domestic violence in their relationship may want to obtain a protective order. A protective order can stop another individual from stalking or threatening them. In an emergency, a court can issue a temporary protective order than can later be replaced with one that lasts for up to two years.

A county office, local domestic violence center, attorney or legal aid program may all be able to provide an individual with forms for a protective order, and applying is free. If a divorce is in process, the protective order must be filed in the same county as the divorce. However, a protective order cannot be used as part of divorce proceedings.

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Fort Worth, TX 76102
Phone: 817-984-4610
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Fax: 817-334-0394
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