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San Marcos Texas Legal Blog

Charged with neglect? You need a strong child protection defense

Parents in Texas have to be the best they can with what they have, and many sacrifice their own needs in order to meet their children's. Sadly, parents who are struggling financially are often easy targets for the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services -- DFPS. In these situations, creating a strong child protection defense is essential.

Child neglect is obviously a very serious problem that DFPS agents should address as quickly as possible. But neglect does not always look the same from case to case, so agents look for certain signs during investigations, such as dirty or torn clothing. Agents also consider whether children who are frequently absent from school or who are routinely tardy. Unmet medical or dental needs are also a possible sign of neglect.

Moms struggle to get the child support they need

Although both men and women can be excellent caregivers, the majority of parents with primary custody are mothers. In Texas, these mothers can typically get child support whether they were ever married or not. But for many, getting that support is probably harder than it should be.

As of 2018, around 13.4 million parents of children younger than 21 live separate from their child's other parent. Mothers make up the majority of custodial parents -- five out of every six -- while fathers are usually expected to pay child support. However, that support is not always a given. Only half of moms with primary custody have support orders.

What you should know when creating your child protection defense

Being investigated for alleged child abuse is frightening enough as it is, and not fully understanding the process can make it worse. Parents may feel as if they have few -- if any -- options for defending themselves. However, taking the time to learn more about how these allegations are handled in Texas can be very helpful when creating a child protection defense.

When suspected abuse or neglect is reported to the Department of Family and Protective Services, DFPS will then investigate the matter to determine whether any children are being abused or neglected. Families will not always have to head straight to court if DFPS decides that something did take place. Instead, the agency may offer help to the family, even if children are temporarily placed in someone else's care.

Divorce can be a positive step in the New Year ahead

The choice to file for divorce is never easy, no matter how amicable the two parties may be. Ending a marriage is a long process, and it can lead to financial changes for both spouses. Concerns over money and economic status post-divorce is one of the main reasons why people have concerns about moving ahead with this step, even if they are ready to do so.

Thankfully, a divorce does not necessarily have to result in financial devastation for you. With preparation and a knowledge of your rights, you can pursue final terms that allow you to have security and stability well into the future. In fact, there may actually be an advantage to filing for and finalizing your divorce in the New Year.

Owning a pet is complicated when it comes to a Texas divorce

Some families just do not feel complete without a four-legged friend. These pets are often regarded more as family members than animals, forming deep bonds with owners. While there is perhaps nothing quite like the experience of developing that unique bond, it poses a pretty big problem during divorce. Namely, who gets the dog?

Texas state law considers any pet, whether it be a furry mammal or slithering reptile, as nothing more than property. This means that divorcing couples will address what happens with their pets during property division. Some couples are able to work out their own arrangements, such as deciding to keep the pet with the parent who has primary custody when children are involved. Others choose to create an agreement for pet custody in which they share both time and expenses.

Do you know the most popular month for divorce?

The end of the year is usually a time of introspection. Many people in Texas use this as an opportunity to look back over the past year and to consider their hopes and goals for the future. This means that some people are thinking about whether divorce is the solution to their unhappy marriages. For many, it absolutely is.

Between Jan. 6 and Jan. 12, 2019, Google searches for "divorce" hit its peak for the year. And it is not just people looking out of curiosity, either. The divorce rate almost always spikes following what is supposedly the happiest time of the year.

Are you financially prepared for divorce?

Really looking into personal finances can be hard, especially for someone who has money worries constantly on the back of his or her mind. Avoiding these thoughts is usually not a good idea, especially when filing for divorce. This is because divorce can and usually does impact people's financial positions. This thought is not pleasant either, but the average person in Texas can minimize any negative impacts by focusing on both of these uncomfortable topics.

Refusing to confront difficult financial situations might make someone feel better in the moment, but it can hurt in the long run. This is because all marital assets have to be divided during divorce, and it is impossible to ensure an even split if one person is not sure whether all of the property is even on the table. Everyone should be as prepared as possible during property division. Equipping oneself with information on everything from bank accounts and retirement savings to credit card debt and auto loans is one of the easiest ways to do so.

Can you catch a divorce from a friend? Maybe

There are few things quite as personal as deciding to end a marriage, or at least it seems that way. However, it is possible that factors outside of marriage could influence whether a couple actually files for divorce. One factor might come as a surprise to couples in Texas, because simply knowing someone who gets divorced raises a couple's chances of doing the same.

Married couples have about a one in two probability of filing for divorce. Scientists say that the statistics go from 50% to 75% when a family member or close friend divorces. A marriage is 150% more likely to end in divorce when a person has several friends who are divorced. The rate is much lower for couples who largely hang out with other married friends.

What do your parents have to do with family law?

Even though the last millennials were born over 20 years ago, some baby boomer parents are still actively involved in the details of their childrens' lives. These parents are even inserting themselves into family law matters. As the predicted amount of generational wealth transfer grows, baby boomers are frequently insisting that their kids sign prenups before getting married.

In Texas, inheritances can be compromised during divorce. Since baby boomers are expected to leave more than $60 trillion for their children, they understandably want to make sure that family wealth stays safe. Parents are doing much more than just asking their kids to get prenups -- they are even taking the steps to make sure it happens. For some parents, this means recommending meeting with a family law attorney. Others actually take over the prenup process.

Crafting a parenting plan that will work for years to come

When you and your spouse make the choice to file for divorce, you are probably most concerned with what will happen with your children. You want to provide them with stability and continuity of lifestyle as much as possible. You may also strive to give them the opportunity to have a solid relationship with both parents, even after your divorce is final.

One way you can accomplish these goals is to have a good, solid and thoughtful parenting plan. You have the right to draft your plan instead of having an impersonal family court make these important choices on your behalf. As you make this plan, however, there are specific things for you to take into consideration as you make a schedule and make decisions that will impact your kids.

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