Under Section 153.001, the Texas Family Code sets out that it is the public policy of the State of Texas to:

(1) assure that children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child;
(2) provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child; and
(3) encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.

The goal of this code is usually accomplished by enacting a geographic restriction in a divorce or family law matter.  A geographic restriction specifies the geographic area the children may reside. It can be as specific as a school district or as general as the state of Texas.  The most common geographic restriction is “Harris and contiguous counties,” or the current county of residence as well as any adjacent counties.  The primary conservator is given the exclusive right to designate where the children reside within a defined geographic area.

Sometimes an original order relating to conservatorship, such as a final decree of divorce or suit affecting parent-child relationship, does not include a geographic restriction. This becomes an issue when the primary parent wishes to relocate and the non-possessory parent files a modification suit to prevent a parent from moving.

The Court enact sanctions against a parent who chooses to violate an existing geographic restriction. The existing order can be modified changing conservatorship or the existing order. The Court can also hold a contempt hearing and possibly award punitive contempt such as an incarceration or fine. If there is an existing geographic restriction in your existing order it is very important that parties comply.

If you believe a geographic restriction will be an issue in your pending divorce or child conservatorship case, please contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC to schedule a consultation with an experienced family law attorney.

A person may still receive a divorce in the state of Texas if they are unable to locate their spouse, it just requires a few extra steps than a regular divorce.

If you truly do not know where your spouse is living, you may petition the court to allow you to serve your spouse via publication known as Divorce By Publication. This entails filing a notice with a local published newspaper. Once such a notice has been published and a service of citation has been returned to the Court, you will also need to swear and affirm to the court that you have made a good faith effort to locate your missing spouse.

The Judge may appoint what is called an attorney ad litem, who is an attorney that is appointed to represent the interests of your missing spouse. They will do public searches and attempt to locate your spouse. If they are unsuccessful, they will file with the Court a Statement of Evidence which sums up their efforts to locate your spouse.

Once your spouse has been served notice of the pending divorce through publication and the attorney ad litem has completed their searches, you may proceed at trial on a default basis, meaning your spouse is not there. If the Judge is satisfied that you and the attorney ad litem have made all reasonable efforts to locate your spouse, you may proceed with a default divorce and finalize your case.

If you are contemplating a divorce but unable to locate your spouse, please contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC.

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The Top 5 Divorce Mistakes

To avoid the top five mistakes in a divorce you must take a step back, remove the emotions and treat the process similar to a business transaction. If you are considering divorce, use these tips to help you expedite the process and avoiding the additional cost of an extended litigation. Avoid these divorce mistakes to move on with your life as quickly and painlessly as possible.

1. Having Unrealistic Expectations

The Texas Family Code will dictate many aspects of your divorce, including child support, custody, and division of property. You will probably be awarded what is considered a fair and equitable division of the marital estate and you will probably be awarded or ordered to pay guideline child support. Expecting to take your spouse to the cleaners or having sole custody of the children, absent strong circumstances to support otherwise, is not likely to happen. You should focus on a reasonable resolution rather than “winning” your divorce.

2. Withholding Information from Your Attorney

Your attorney is there to guide you through the divorce process as well as zealously represent your interests. But your attorney must have your cooperation and full disclosure; withholding information will only hurt your case in the long run. You may think that something is trivial or embarrassing but it may be vital information to your case and you need to disclose it to your attorney. The best path to avoiding other divorce mistakes is to be open and honest with your attorney from the moment you are considering divorce.

3. Being a Passive Participant in Your Own Divorce

A divorce is likely addressing vital issues such as your children, your money, and your home. It can be an overwhelming process and you may prefer to let your attorney handle everything and distance yourself from the logistics. It’s important, however, that you remain apprised of the status of your divorce. Ask questions if you are confused and make sure you understanding everything you are signing, whether it’s a mediated settlement or your final decree of divorce.

4. Allowing Emotions to Dictate Your Actions

Divorce is an emotionally trying time. You are probably going through a rollercoaster of emotion, which is understandable for someone in your position. Divorce mistakes are more likely if you let your emotions get in the way of the big picture. You’re ending a relationship you were likely hugely invested in, but you need to set the hurt and pain aside and focus on closing this chapter in your life. Considering the divorce will be over at some point and you will move on with your life, don’t let feelings of anger or hurt cloud your judgment.

5. Believing Your Soon-to-be-Ex is Your Friend

Divorce, by nature, is an adversarial process. There are many divorces where the spouses can come to an amicable solution but there are also many divorces where one spouse will take advantage of the other. Don’t sign anything your spouse wants you to sign without consulting with a competent divorce attorney or let your spouse convince you that you don’t need an attorney. The most important party in your divorce is you; your focus should be on protecting your assets and interests, not remaining friends with your soon to be ex.

The Worst Divorce Mistake: Foregoing Legal Representation

A divorce process can easily be one of the most emotionally and financially turbulent time a person can go through. Having professional legal advice and representation of a board certified attorney will protect your rights to join assets as well as make the entire process less stressful. A family law attorney will keep you from making these potential divorce mistakes and confidently move on to the next chapter of your life.

If you’re looking for an experienced attorney for this important role, contact our team at Ramos Law Group today to schedule your initial consultation.

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Top 5 Reasons to Mediate 

Mediation is very popular as a method for settling divorce cases rather than going to trial and it has many proponents. But why should you attempt mediation rather than go forward at trial?

1. Some courts require mediation

Mediation is so successful that many family law courts make mediation a requisite before parties may proceed at trial. So while you may believe your case needs to go before a judge at trial, chances are good that you will be required to mediate your case at some point during the divorce process.

2. You retain control over the outcome

Should you go to trial, the end result is entirely in the hands of one person sitting on the bench or twelve people sitting in the jury box. These are people that don’t know you, don’t know the facts and must make a judgment call about the lives of two strangers based on what is presented in possibly a two hour trial. Mediation is a collaborative process where both parties come to an agreement about all the issues, whether it’s property division or child custody issues. Mediation is about compromise

3. Less costly than litigation

Litigation is very costly. You’re going to have to take off work; you’re going to incur attorney’s fees for the court appearance itself as well as for prepping for your trial and your trial may last for days. Mediation can finalize all issues in one day.

4. Privacy concerns

Divorce proceedings, including the record of testimony presented during the trial, are public record. That means that every bit of dirty laundry aired about you or your spouse during trial is available for public consumption. What is said in mediation is confidential; only the parties, their attorneys and the mediator will know what was said.

5. Timetable

Courts are burdened with huge case loads and judges can only hear so many cases a day. You may be scheduled for trial on a certain date but there is no guarantee you will actually be heard that day. Mediation allows for all the parties to agree on a date that fits their schedule and is not dictated by a busy court’s schedule.

For the reasons stated above, mediation is an invaluable tool in a divorce and parties should be open-minded to the process. If you are going through a divorce or are interested in learning more about the mediation process, please contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC.

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