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Received Divorce Papers? Here’s What to Do Next

Received Divorce Papers? Here’s What to Do Next

Have you been served with divorce papers? A divorce can be a bewildering experience—especially if you weren’t expecting it. If you’ve been served, here’s what to do.

Don’t Ignore the Divorce Petition

Depending on your personality and the way you cope with stress, it can be tempting to tuck the papers away and ignore them. Don’t do this. Ignoring legal documents never makes the problem go away.

Instead, it can make things worse because you may be caught unaware, miss important deadlines, or fail to give your attorney enough time to work effectively on your behalf.

Review the Divorce Papers and Check Important Dates

Take a careful look at the divorce papers that you’ve been served. The papers likely tell you important information, like the deadline you have for responding. Usually, this is 30 days in a Texas divorce. You’ll need to work with your attorney to respond by that date.

If you fail to respond to legal papers on time, your ex can take certain actions. You may have waived your right to make certain claims or your ex may be able to obtain a default judgment against you.

Stay Calm

You may be tempted to go crazy—posting about the life-changing event on social media or calling up your closest friends and relatives to tell them what just happened. Before you act, take a moment to collect yourself and process what just happened.

Stay calm and try to make rational decisions during this difficult time. The things you post to social media never truly go away and the things you say to the people you love may sound regrettable tomorrow.

Get Legal Help from an Experienced Texas Divorce Attorney

You’ll want to get help from an experienced divorce lawyer as quickly as possible. Of course, we recommend the attorneys at the Schneider Law Firm as the best choice. However, you’ll want to do your research and find a reputable law firm with in-depth knowledge of Texas family law. Arrange a consultation and bring the divorce papers with you for the attorney to review.

Contact the Schneider Law Firm, P.C.

At the Ft. Worth office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., our attorneys can answer your questions about the divorce process and what steps to take next. Call 817-755-1852 or send us a message to talk with us about your situation. We often hear from people who were surprised and upended by divorce papers, and we can be there to guide you and protect your interests during this difficult time.

Child Custody for Military Parents

Child Custody for Military Parents

With the strong presence of the U.S. military in the Fort Worth area, we’ve become familiar with just how child custody issues affect military families. We have handled numerous military divorce cases, as well as child custody disputes that happen outside of marriage or years after a divorce has occurred. Here are some key things that military parents should know about child custody.

Determining Child Custody During Deployment

Child custody can be tricky for military parents because relocations and deployment can interfere with parenting time. The process of determining child custody and a parenting plan may be especially complicated if one parent is deployed overseas.

When a parent is on active duty, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act protects them. If a parent attempts to change the child custody status while the other parent is deployed, the deployed parent can invoke their rights under the SCRA to postpone the hearing.

When the primary parent is deployed, courts can’t permanently change child custody. However, they can change it temporarily. Courts can order that temporary child custody is with someone else while the primary parent is deployed.

The law states that the first choice for custody should be the other parent unless other circumstances keep the arrangement from being in the child’s best interest. If the other parent isn’t given custody, the law says the second choice must be someone of the primary parent’s choosing.

Interstate and International Custody Disputes

For military families, child custody disputes can often reach across Texas borders—and sometimes even international borders. When a child custody dispute spans multiple states, state law determines the child custody dispute. It takes an experienced lawyer to make sure that the parent-child relationship is properly protected.

When a child custody dispute spans multiple countries, international law comes into play. The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction aims to protect children from the harmful effects of parental abduction.

The convention provides a process for a parent to get a child back when the other parent has taken the child out of the country. Countries that have signed on to the convention promise to cooperate to make sure a child is returned to the custodial parent. This law interacts with other important laws, like the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA) and the UCCJEA to protect the parent-child relationship.

Contact Us for Help With Military Child Custody Matters

If you need help with child custody matters, talking with a lawyer is a good way to get real information. For a confidential consultation, call our Fort Worth office at 817-755-1852 or send us a message. At the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., we have extensive experience helping military families in matters affecting their children.

Reasons to Modify a Child Custody Order

Reasons to Modify a Child Custody Order

Putting a divorce behind you can feel liberating. Instead of being tied up in the emotions that came with your divorce, you begin to focus on moving forward. This can be complicated—especially when child custody is involved. Your children have changing needs and schedules that may make it necessary to return to court to modify an existing court order.

Relocation: Changing Child Custody When Moving Somewhere Else

Relocation is a common reason for modification of child custody. When one parent moves, a child custody and visitation schedule that used to meet the family’s needs may no longer work. Parents and courts can amend the schedule to be a better fit.

It’s important to know that a law called the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) protects non-custodial spouses in Texas. The law says that custodial parents can’t move more than 100 miles away without getting prior approval from the court. If you’re considering moving with your child, you will want to get the court’s permission before you make the change.

Remarriage: Child Custody After a Parent Remarries

New marriages often mean changes to existing child custody agreements. That’s because they often come with changes in living arrangements and schools, new siblings and financial changes that can all affect the time parents can spend with their children. They also affect the decisions that need to be made for them. We often hear from parents who need to modify an existing agreement after remarriage.

Change in a Work Schedule That Affects Child Custody

When there’s been a significant change in circumstances, like long-term changes to a parent’s work schedule, it’s possible to ask the court to change the child custody and visitation agreement. You’ll probably need to provide the court with evidence of the change. Official documents that list your new work schedule are usually sufficient evidence.

Change in Ability to Provide Childcare

Significant, long-term changes in one parent’s ability to provide childcare can also be the reason for child custody order modifications. Often, parents create a plan that takes their schedules and finances into account. But changes to those schedules and finances can mean they need to make different childcare plans.

Change in the Child’s Needs or Health

Courts aim to consider the best interests of the child in parenting matters. When a child’s needs change significantly, this can impact the court’s assessments. A medical diagnosis—like a learning disability or a chronic illness—or an accident that requires rehabilitation can be reasons to modify an existing court order.

Get Help With Child Custody Modification. Contact an Attorney.

Matters of child custody can be stressful because they affect the people who are most important to you. That’s why it’s critical to have an experienced attorney on your side.

If you need legal help with modifying a child custody order, get started by calling the Arlington office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-799-7125 or send us a message. Our Texas child custody lawyers are here to support you.

Your Divorce and Your Ex’s Pension: What You Should Know

Your Divorce and Your Ex’s Pension: What You Should Know

When you’re married, the financial decisions that you and your spouse make affect both of you. The money you put towards retirement becomes your plan for the future, and a pension becomes a crucial part of that plan. So, when you divorce, it’s important to consider your pension.

Division of Pensions in Texas Divorces

Texas is one of nine states that are community property jurisdictions. Divorcing in a community property jurisdiction means that property you and your spouse acquire during the marriage is considered to be equally owned by both of you (with a few exceptions). It’s then divided between you.

Courts consider a pension that you or your spouse earned during the marriage to be community property. In a divorce, the pension is subject to division—either by a judge in court or an agreement between you and your spouse in mediation.

The pension should be included in the divorce agreement as property to be divided. However, a separate order called a Qualified Domestic Relations Order (QDRO) will allow you to gain control of the pension funds. The QDRO lists the specific details, including when the payments should be paid out and whom they should go to.

Enforcing a Court Order and Getting Access to a Pension

If your divorce agreement outlined pension division but you never got a QDRO, it’s probably not too late. Texas law allows you to go back in time and get one.

Sometimes, years after the divorce, a former spouse refuses to retire or to give you access to the pension funds you are supposed to receive. If that is the case, you can reach out to our legal team for help in getting the court to enforce the court order. When one spouse is acting in bad faith to prevent you from gaining access to a pension that is rightfully yours, the court can step in and protect your interests.

Talk With an Attorney About Your Rights to a Pension

The law is complex, and the outcome of a case often depends on very particular facts—especially when you have a pension. The only way to get answers that apply to your situation is to talk with a lawyer.

Start by calling the Arlington office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-799-7125 or send us a message. Consultations with our attorneys are confidential.

5 Benefits of Seeking Therapy During & After Your Divorce

The process of divorce isn’t easy. In the throes of it, you may feel overwhelmed and wonder if you’ll ever be okay again. While divorce might be the best decision for you and your spouse, you’ll need to take extra care when it comes to your mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. Don’t struggle through these times alone—gain support through therapy.

5 Benefits of Therapy During & After the Divorce

1. Gain Emotional Support

During your divorce, you may experience a wide range of emotions, from anger to sadness. Although completely normal, it’s easy to get bogged down. A therapist or counselor can help you better understand and work through those emotions.

For example, your therapist may teach you coping mechanisms such as stress reduction techniques. With emotional support, you’ll be better prepared to handle the process of divorce and the months to follow.

2. Talk Through Your Anger

Anger is a completely valid response to divorce. When left unaddressed, however, it has the potential to affect you and your family well after the divorce is complete. 

Anger can keep you from being an effective co-parent to your children. It can also cause you to say things you can’t take back. A therapist will help you work through that anger by communicating and processing.

3. Learn How to Communicate Effectively

Communication will be critical during your divorce, especially if you and your spouse are going through mediation. You’ll also need to understand how to communicate effectively when co-parenting your children. 

A counselor can give you tips and insights on how you can make communication simpler. They can also teach you how to best respond to disagreements between you and your ex.

4. Discover How to Move Forward

Moving forward after your divorce will take time. Your therapist will help you work through the residual anger or sadness you may feel for the weeks and months to come. They can also help you work through job changes, parenting challenges and other moments that may occur to support you through life after divorce.

5. Learn How to Better Support Your Children

Your children deserve a strong support system, too. Your counselor can help you learn how to better support your children through the emotions they’ll experience during and after the divorce.

Struggling With the Thought of Divorce? Give Us a Call.

We know that divorce is an emotional and stressful process. You don’t have to go through it alone. We’re here to support you! To learn more about divorce or to speak with a Texas divorce attorney, call our Ft. Worth office at 817-755-1852 or send us a message.

Overcoming Common Co-Parenting Issues After a Divorce

Divorce is an emotional and confusing time for your children. After your divorce, effective co-parenting is critical for their wellbeing. You and your ex-spouse will need to use patience and problem-solving to ensure you’re able to work together.

Common Co-Parenting Issues & How to Overcome Them

There’s bound to be some growing pains while you and your ex-spouse figure out what life looks like after divorce. After all, you’ll both need to coordinate schedules and make decisions regarding your children. This is where some of the most common co-parenting issues arise.

1. Negative Talk

Divorce is stressful, which often results in anger and heightened emotion. Some parents may be shocked to hear their child relay that their ex-spouse has been speaking negatively about them when they’re not around.

This type of behavior confuses your child and may leave them to feel at-fault. They may also feel the need to choose between their parents.

It’s important to keep the issues you have with your ex between the two of you. Don’t use your children as a buffer or expect them to relay messages on your behalf.

2. Schedule Changes

Two different schedules will need to entwine to meet the needs of your children. And when changes occur, it could result in less parenting time and frustration. It’s best to communicate schedule changes with your ex-spouse as far in advance as possible.

For example, if you wish to take your child on an extended vacation, discuss it with your ex first. If your work schedule changes, tell your ex as soon as possible. You can then work together to come up with a plan.

Some changes, such as work schedule changes, may necessitate a custody modification. Reach out to your attorney if you feel your custody or parenting plan needs to change.

3. Lack of Cooperation

Unfortunately, some couples find it difficult to co-parent. One ex-spouse may be completely uncooperative when it comes to communication and the parenting plan. If this is the case for you, it’s important to remember that you can’t control your ex’s actions—you can only control your own.

Disagreements will happen, especially at first. You should expect to work through them together by communicating and sharing your concerns. If your ex refuses to co-parent, we recommend reaching out to an attorney for help.

Call Schneider Law Firm, P.C. in Ft. Worth Today

The attorneys at Schneider Law Firm, P.C. have years of experience supporting clients going through divorce and co-parenting. To learn more about effective co-parenting or for support with custody modifications, give our Ft. Worth office a call at 817-755-1852 or send us a message.

Property Division Principles in a Texas Divorce

“Will I lose everything?”

One of the top concerns many of our clients have about their divorce is property division. We know that a divorce can seem daunting, especially when there are assets such as a home involved. Fortunately, Texas law protects you and your spouse from walking away without your fair share of the property.

How Is Property Divided in a Texas Divorce?

The state of Texas follows the rules of community property. This means that community or marital property must be divided equitably between each spouse. Marital property is property that was obtained while you and your spouse were married. This includes assets such as your home, vehicles, bank accounts and more.

Property you obtained before your marriage, known as personal or separate property, is typically yours to keep in the event of your divorce. Yet, these lines can become blurry when discussing retirement assets and businesses, among many other assets.

The Process of Division

If your divorce heads to court, the judge will have the responsibility of determining which property is separate or community property. Your attorney will be there with you to advocate on your behalf. The process of division will vary depending on the assets you and your spouse share.

Some assets such as personal debt are easy to divide, as many couples simply take their own debt after the divorce. Other assets such as your home may be more difficult, as they may need to be sold to divide properly.

Another difficult asset is often the family business. If you and your spouse own a business together, you’ll need to have it valued first. You and your attorney can then decide if selling the business is the best next step or if sharing interest with your spouse is enough.

Property Division Isn’t Always 50/50

The term “equitable” means fair. Equitable property division doesn’t always mean a 50/50 split in a divorce. There are certain circumstances where the court will allow one spouse to walk away with more. For example, if a spouse has suffered through family violence or adultery, the court may decide to grant them additional assets.

The court will also consider a wide range of factors when determining the balance of property. Factors such as who will have primary custody of the children and who has a higher level of income may affect property division.

Considering a Divorce? Call the Attorneys at Schneider Law Firm, P.C.

If you’re considering a divorce, you don’t have to figure it all out on your own. We’re here to help. Reach out to the Arlington, Texas, divorce attorneys at Schneider Law Firm, P.C. Give us a call at 817-799-7125 or send us a message.

Virtual Visitation: Parenting Time in the Digital Age

Now more than ever, parents and kids use technology to keep in touch. Advances including Zoom, FaceTime, email, and text have made it possible for parents and their children to forge close connections through a virtual visitation—even when one parent lives far away.

Texas law has changed over time, as well. Texas is one of several states that allow virtual visitation. The law is codified in Texas Family Code Section 153.015. Also called “e-visitation” or “e-access,” virtual visitation helps parents stay close to their children by having regularly scheduled online visits. 

It’s most often used in certain situations:  

  • When one parent lives far away, like in a different state or country
  • When frequent contact between the parent and child is required
  • When a family’s schedule or special needs make virtual visitation in the child’s best interests

Virtual Visitation Rules

Virtual visitation is allowed by Texas courts only when it’s in the best interests of the child. Courts weigh a series of factors to determine this, including the child’s needs and the parent’s capacity. Courts also make sure that the family has access to the technology necessary to make this work smoothly. It may seem like this is a given, but many people still struggle with access to technology.

Generally, courts order virtual visitation to supplement in-person visitation—not to replace it. A typical schedule may involve some virtual visitation in between periods of regular in-person visitation. For example, maybe Dad’s regular days are Tuesday and Thursday, but he likes to attend his kids’ soccer games virtually or help with homework on the days he’s not there in person.

There are some situations—like when a parent is an abuser or has substance abuse issues—that virtual visitation may not be appropriate. Courts look to protect children from their abusers, and virtual visitation is not adequate protection.

Parents must also promise not to interfere in the virtual visitation. It works best in situations in which a parent lets the child talk freely with the other parent without the conversation being monitored or interfered with.

Get the Support You Need To Bring You and Your Kids Closer

If you’re thinking that virtual visitation might be an option for you and your family, talk with the lawyers at the Schneider Law Firm. At our Ft. Worth law office, our attorneys can represent you in the child custody matters you face. Call 817-755-1852 or send us a message to discuss your situation and how we can get the best possible outcome for you.

What Is Parental Alienation?

Sometimes, one parent actively tries to undermine a child’s relationship with the other parent. A parent may do this by talking badly about the other parent in front of the child or by taking steps to prevent the other parent from having visitation. This is called parental alienation.

Signs of Parental Alienation

Courts often deal with divorces and child custody disputes that involve allegations of parental alienation. Typically, one side takes action that limits the other side’s parenting time or affects the child’s views of the other parent. The court must assess the situation and determine if the behavior rises to the level of parental alienation.

There can be many signs that parental alienation is affecting your relationship with your child, including:

  • Making negative comments about the other parent to the child
  • Allowing others around the child to make negative comments about the other parent
  • Unnecessarily involving the child in divorce details
  • Making the child unavailable during scheduled visits with the other parent
  • Concealing important information about the child’s schedule and activities from the other parent
  • Monitoring and preventing communications between the child and the other parent

How Parental Alienation Can Affect Your Divorce or Child Custody Case

The State of Texas doesn’t provide legal standards for evaluating parental alienation. However, Texas courts have started to act when they suspect parental alienation, and they’ve been taking matters seriously.

In divorces or child custody cases involving parental alienation, a judge may order that the child receives therapy or that the child may spend more time with the alienated parent. In extreme and serious cases, the parent who is causing the alienation may lose custody of the child.

What To Do if Parental Alienation Is Affecting Your Relationship With Your Child

If you believe that parental alienation is a factor in your divorce or child custody dispute, it’s important to get help. If the situation is left to go on too long, it may permanently damage your relationship with your child. It’s not unheard of for parents to lose months—or even years—of time with their children, just because the other parent shared nasty rumors and false information.

Talk With Our Lawyers About Child Custody

At the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., we work to protect your relationship with your child. For a confidential consultation, call our Ft. Worth office at 817-755-1852 or send us a message. We can answer your questions about child custody and what a judge may consider if parental alienation is involved

Saving a Marriage When One Person Wants a Divorce

When one person wants to end a marriage, but the other does not, the situation can be heartbreaking. A spouse who wants to remain in the marriage may find himself or herself wondering if there is anything they can do to save the marriage, even though the other spouse wants a divorce.

Things You May Want to Do to Save Your Marriage But Should Avoid

When your spouse wants a divorce, it might be tempting to do whatever it takes to keep them in the marriage. You might be tempted to say ‘yes’ to whatever they’d like, to cook elaborate meals, or to change your physical appearance. Sometimes spouses are even tempted to appeal to the other spouse’s family members or to start thinking about adding another baby to the family. 

These things can seem like they’d help, but they’re not a real fix. If you want your partner to stay in the marriage, you have to look more deeply—taking effective action and getting real support.

3 Actions To Take When a Spouse Wants Divorce

Instead of trying to placate your spouse or change your appearance, try to take certain actions instead:

  1. Get your spouse to participate in therapy with you: Often, when one spouse has decided on divorce, they decide to stop working on the relationship altogether. If that’s the case, there’s not much that can be done. But, if your spouse agrees to work with you to address major challenges in your relationship, you may still be able to work things out and stay together. A licensed therapist can help.
  2. Make meaningful changes in your life: Sometimes, a spouse’s wish to leave the relationship has to do with serious issues. If your spouse has given you an ultimatum because of obstacles in your life—things like your drinking, drug use, temper or unhealthy lifestyle choices—you can take this opportunity to change things for the better. Look up local support groups and attend meetings. Get a therapist or a sponsor. Do the work on yourself and save your marriage. And even if you and your spouse do not end up staying together, you will still benefit because you will be taking care of your own mental, spiritual and physical health.
  3. Rely on your support system: If you and your spouse have your faith in common, turning to your faith can help get your marriage back on track. Sometimes, marriages just go through rocky periods. If you can return to your church, pray together or seek help from a spiritual leader, you both may begin to feel better about the relationship. And if you are not religious, turning to your support network of loved ones can also be powerful. Marriages take work to be successful, but sometimes they take a community, too.

Are You Facing a Divorce? Contact an Attorney.

Deciding to divorce can be a difficult step, especially when both spouses do not agree. Call the Arlington office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-799-7125 or send us a message to talk with us about your unique situation.