Cheap divorce ?

As a family law attorney, one particular question I receive from potential divorce clients on a regular basis is “How cheap can we get this done?”  My answer is almost always “It depends.” The hardest part about being a family law attorney, like family lawyers Arlington TX can turn to, is figuring out how “cheap” we can make a divorce process. The answer depends on the facts in the case as well as what happens as the case progresses. Many potential clients are not satisfied with the “it depends” answer, as a quick internet search will reveal several websites that offer divorce packages from $99.00 on up. Quite often potential clients are unaware that there are additional costs associated with initiating a divorce and the flat rate fee they have viewed on the internet is far from what they will pay overall. This blog will give a brief explanation of costs and the “it depends” answer.

Upfront Costs

Every divorce action has automatic upfront costs to file a lawsuit in court. These costs known as filing fees can be different for each county and case. These costs will have to be paid in addition to the fees paid to a website or an attorney.  For instance, as of September 1, 2017, the filing fees for the following counties are:

Tarrant County, Texas

Divorce with Children filing fee – $345.00

Divorce without Children filing fee – $294.00

Dallas County, Texas

Divorce with Children filing fee – $348.00

Divorce without Children filing fee – $297.00

Ellis County, Texas

Original Divorce Petition filing fee – $278.00

*Ellis County does not make a distinction between divorce with or without children

Johnson County, Texas

Original Divorce Petition filing fee – $278.00

*Johnson County does not make a distinction between divorce with or without children

In addition to filing fees, there are other costs associated with a divorce. If the other spouse needs to be served with citation then an additional $8.00 will be charged to issue a citation to the other spouse. A citation is legal notice to the other spouse that a divorce has been filed. The citation will need to be served to the other spouse along with copies of the filed divorce petition. Typically, a process server or constable is used to serve citations. The costs can range from $78.00 on up depending on how much time is required to serve the other party.

If we were to recap for a moment. For example: Spouse A decides to use an online divorce website that advertises $99.00 divorce. Spouse A has one child with Spouse B and they live in Dallas County, Texas. The below breakdown is how much Spouse A would pay upfront to have the petition and corresponding documents prepared, case filed in court, and Spouse B served.

Website –                                                     $99.00

Dallas Divorce with Children filing fee –     $348.00

Citation –                                                      $8.00

Process Server/Constable –                         $78.00

TOTAL UPFRONT                                         $533.00

Contested or Uncontested

When I tell a potential client “it depends” I also follow that remark with a question of my own. “Is your case contested or uncontested?” Whether a case is contested or uncontested determines how much of a financial impact the divorce will have on a potential client. An uncontested case will cost a lot less than a contested case because the spouses have agreed to pretty much every aspect of the divorce. A true uncontested case, will only require the attorney/attorneys to fine tune the agreements and incorporate them into a final order to be entered in with the court.

A contested case will require a considerable amount of work to reach a solution for the divorcing spouses. In a contested case, the following may happen:

  1.     Temporary Orders Hearing

A temporary orders hearing is a hearing that allows the court to put a Band-Aid on the situation while the parties and their respective attorneys continue to work through the divorce. Preparation for a temporary orders hearing may range from simple to complex. The preparation will depend on the facts of the case and the evidence brought forth to prove any allegations by the spouse or spouses. Witnesses may need to be subpoenaed and interviewed prior to the hearing. The potential client will need to prepare with their attorney with regards to their testimony, evidence, courtroom etiquette etc. Preparation for a temporary orders hearing (although temporary) is treated the same way a final hearing is treated.

  1.     Mediation

Mediation is a process that allows the spouses to come to a settlement with their attorneys and a third party neutral mediator. Mediators have fees that can range from a few hundred dollars to several hundred dollars depending on the time required to reach a settlement.

  1.     Discovery

Discovery is the process of requesting information from the opposing side. Responding to a discovery request is not only time intensive but requires both the attorney and client to work together to answer the questions posed in discovery.

The above are just a few examples of what can transpire in a contested case. The costs associated with every step of a case will depend on the retainer agreement and the hourly charge by the attorney. For example:

Let us say an attorney Jerry has an hourly fee of $200. The attorney spends four (4) hours preparing for the temporary orders hearing by interviewing witnesses, preparing the client for the hearing, putting together the evidence for the hearing and researching case law for possible objections from the other side. The temporary orders hearing lasts three (3) hours. Then a few days later, the attorney receives a complex discovery request from the other side. The attorney spends another three (3) hours responding to the discovery request. So far, the attorney has spent ten (10) hours on the divorce case. If the attorney bills hourly the bill would be $2000.00. However, if there were no temporary orders hearing or discovery request, then there would be no $2000.00 bill. This is why “it depends” is the only answer an attorney can give when a potential client asks about the price.

Comparison with or without an attorney

It is inevitable that potential clients looking for a cheap divorce will analyze the cost savings through comparing how much a divorce will cost with or without an attorney. We will use the same examples of Spouse A and B as well as attorney Jerry in the example below:

Spouse A without attorney Jerry                                                   

Website drafts petition-                              $99.00                 

Dallas Divorce with Children filing fee –     $348.00

Citation –                                                      $8.00

Process Server/Constable –                         $78.00

Preparation for hearing-                              $0.00

Temporary Orders hearing-                         $0.00

Discovery response-                                     $0.00

TOTAL SO FAR                                                     $533.00

Spouse A with attorney Jerry

Attorney Jerry drafts petition-                     $200.00 estimated one hour

Dallas Divorce with Children filing fee –     $348.00

Citation –                                                      $8.00

Process Server/Constable –                         $78.00

Preparation for hearing-                              $800.00

Temporary Orders hearing-                         $600.00

Discovery response-                                     $600.00

TOTAL SO FAR                                                     $2634.00

Looking at the cost comparison it is clear that the costs for Spouse A are “cheaper” without an attorney. The differences between the two are not so clear. What many potential clients do not realize is that the websites that offer cheap divorces do not prepare them for the divorce case. Potential clients are not well-versed in the courtroom nor are they well versed in responding to discovery. Potential clients often attempt to complete a divorce on the “cheap” and end up hiring an attorney to fix their mistakes. The costs potential clients save handling a case on their own may very well end up costing them much more in the end.

No really how can I keep the divorce on the cheap?

Here is how you can keep the divorce on the cheap.

  1.     Talk with your spouse

Open communication about the wants and needs of each individual during a divorce goes a long way. The simple act of communication may end up saving each spouse thousands of dollars of fees.

  1.     Set realistic expectations

In many cases, potential clients believe they can get everything they want in a divorce. Realistically, that may not be the case in their particular divorce. A realistic expectation will help keep the situation grounded.

  1.     Pick your battles

There are stories where spouses have spent thousands of dollars fighting over miniscule items just because they did not want the other spouse to have it. There is a huge difference in fighting for a frying pan versus fighting for a million-dollar property. Think about what you are fighting for and whether it is worth spending the money to fight for it.

  1.     Get your attorney everything they ask for.

This cannot be stressed enough. If your attorney asks for a document, get it to them as soon as possible.

  1.     Be upfront and honest with your attorney

Your attorney is there to help you through your case. Your spouse knows all the details of the marriage good and bad. The last thing you want is to have evidence presented in court that you did not share with your attorney.

  1.     Be open to settlement

Settling a case is much more cost effective than fighting a case until the end. Keeping an open mind about settlement allows each spouse to think about what they truly want during the divorce.

  1.     Control your emotions

Divorce is an emotional event. One of the best ways to control your emotions is to pinpoint what is driving the emotion. Emotional decisions during a divorce can have far lasting implications on the wallet.

  1.     Speak with an attorney

This step is for the potential clients who choose to use a flat fee web based divorce product. Many web sites offer blanket forms for divorce but do not fully explain everything with regards to a divorce. Property, retirement, child issues and debt often are too complex for basic forms. Imagine getting a divorce only to realize that you gave your spouse the house and all the property simply because you checked the wrong box on a blanket form. Imagine getting a divorce and realizing that you have no access and possession to your children because you signed the wrong form. Issues such as these have happened on numerous occasions. Speaking with an attorney and even having the attorney go through the documents can save you heartache in the future.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Brandy Austin Law Firm, PLLC for their insight into divorce law practice.

Child Custody Tips

Custody cases can be long arduous affairs that often end with neither party really happy with a judge’s ruling.  In order to be successful, sometimes you need to change your perspective.  Here are some tips to help you navigate a contentious custody case.

Change your Perspective

Sometimes you will have to change your perspective in order to get a favorable result.  Remember that a court is going to do what is in your child’s best interest.  You are more than likely not going to get “full custody” of your child.  That only happens if your child has been abused or neglected.  A court is going to give your ex time sharing with the child.  So prepare for that to happen and begin to consider what kind of time sharing schedule you believe will be in your child’s best interest.

Do Not Deny Timesharing

One of the worst things you can do in a contested custody case is completely deny timesharing to the other party.   The court is going to want to see that you believe the other parent should be in your child’s lives. The court wants to see that you are flexible in scheduling time sharing and that you will honor a time sharing schedule once it is implemented.  Sit down with the other parent and discuss what time sharing schedule you think is in your child’s best interest.  

Gather Documents

If you believe your custody case is headed to a contested hearing, then you will need to be prepared.  Remember that you will have to prove every allegation you make against the other parent.  If you allege any medical or psychological issues, then you will need to gather doctors and therapist records.  This is not always easy because of numerous regulations and it is best to discuss this issue with a Tampa divorce lawyer.  I always advise my clients to communicate to the other parent in writing.  That way, there is a record of any issue that arises during the pendency of the litigation.  Almost every case I see will have text messages, emails or social media messages placed into evidence.  Some other pertinent documents that may be relevant to your case include school and educational records, report cards, photographs, bank statements, employment records and criminal/police records.  

Communicate Professionally

Because so many cases involve text messages and emails, I always advise that you communicate with the other party professionally.  Refrain from negative, rude language.  Especially derogatory words or curse words.  Emotions are involved in every custody case, so I understand how difficult it can be to refrain from acting out when your ex does something you do not like.  But remember, during a custody case you’re living in a fish bowl. Anything you do can and will be used against you in court.  So always communicate with as little emotion as possible.  

A custody case can be difficult and hard to navigate.  Always discuss your concerns with a Tampa divorce attorney to be advised on the best way to conduct yourself in order to have a successful outcome.  

Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Mckinney Law Group for their insight into family law.

Beginning stages of Adoption in Family Law

A legal adoption requires both biological parents to consent to the adoption unless parental rights have been terminated or if the parents are deemed unfit. Most states don’t allow the parents to consent until after the birth and other states will require a longer time period before allowing the birth parents to sign their rights away. They have  a window of opportunity to change their minds. State laws differ in this respect, but you can check the laws to ensure the time period before consent can be given and when it becomes final.

Adopting a child is a beautiful and selfless thing usually done by people who truly have all the love to give to a child. However, the process is emotionally difficult and bureaucratic to ensure that all parties are in agreement and that the child has the best life possible as a result.

Home Study Conducted by Social Worker

All 50 states require an investigation or “home study” to ensure their fitness to be parents. An agent of the state or a social worker usually does the investigation and examines the home life of the prospective parents and provides a report justifying or negating a recommendation of adoption. No matter what, the court has the final say on these decisions.

A few considerations made by the person conducting the investigation include:

  • financial and marital stability
  • State of lifestyle
  • Presence of other children
  • Obligations of both parents’ professions
  • State of both physical and mental health
  • History on conduct

The home study also provides education to adoptive parents and helps them prepare for adoption by discussing how to handle certain issues like speaking to the child about the possibility of adoption and breaking the news to the family.  If there is a negative report turned in, there is an opportunity to contest it. There are different appeal procedures depending on the state. There will either be a separate procedure or an appeal as part of the original adoption hearing.

No matter what, the court must approve of the adoption. The family must file a petition and attend adoption hearings.

Notice and Petition

Anyone whose signature is required for consent must be notified before the hearing and invited. The legal representative of the child, the child’s parents, and the adoption agency are all parties that must be notified. The notice requirements vary.  A petition will include personal information about the child and the prospective parents which will also include the written consent of the biological parents to the adoption.  

Finishing the hearing and Receiving the Order

If the adoption is approved at the hearing, an order will be issued of approval and finalization of the adoption. The order is called a final decree of adoption and legalizes the relationship and a name change if they opt for one.

Consulting an Adoption Lawyer

You may need to hire a lawyer even if you do work through an adoption agency. You are not legally required to hire one, but you may feel safer doing so because they will be able to guide you in your best interest. Adoption is complex and there are plenty of ways to misstep when working on your own.  Consult a Scottsdale AZ guardianship lawyer with experience to determine the unique factors of the case.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys for their insight into guardianship.


How do I change custody of my children to me?

Steve Harrelson  has years of experience in child custody disputes.  In most jurisdictions, there are two major hurdles to clear when attempting to change custody: that (1) a material change in circumstances has occurred, and (2) it is now in the best interest of the child(ren) that custody be changed from one parent to the other.  And while this particular article does not analyze this part in detail, in the event you are attempting to change custody away from a parent to a non-parent, you would have the additional burden of proving that the parent is unfit, as parents have a natural right to raise their children absent this additional burden – and that appears to be a very high hurdle to clear.

While you may consider these two standards fairly easy to prove, you must consider that someone who has never heard the issues in your case – the judge – may see it entirely differently.  Plus, as the old adage goes, there are two sides to every story.  You should be prepared for a defensive strategy as much as you prepare for an offensive strategy.

(1) Material Change in Circumstances:

In order for a court to even review the custodial arrangement, you must prove to the court that a material change in circumstances has occurred – the important word in this phrase being “material.”  This will be considered different way by different judges, but if you are going to spend your time, effort, money, and energy in attempting to change custody, there should be a very significant change in life since the last time you were in court that requires court intervention – drug use in front of the children, a felony conviction by the other party, the children being placed in a very dangerous or unhealthy environment are all examples of a material change in circumstances.  One caveat: you generally cannot “go behind” the previous court order or decree when making your arguments.  The reason behind this is that those issues have already been litigated.

(2) Best Interest of the Child Standard:

Once you have established that a material change in circumstances has occurred, you must then prove to the court by a preponderance of the evidence that it is now in the best interest of the child(ren) that they be uprooted from their current home and placed in the home of the other parent.  This is a challenging objective, and you should be prepared to strategically lace a mountain of evidence before the court in an organized manner to prove your case.  You must constantly remember that you are asking a court to take the children out of one environment – often during the middle of a school semester – and place them in a different home and environment, so you better have great reasons for this extraordinary request.

As a child custody lawyer Little Rock respects might attest, the presiding judge will have wide discretion in determining whether these two burdens are met.  In many jurisdictions, a judge is not required to place in detail in his ruling why or how he or she arrived at the ultimate decision made.  Therefore, it’s important to place each and every item that is relevant to these two standards before the court, as you cannot be sure which item of evidence may be the tipping point.

For these reasons, it is imperative to hire a veteran litigator and experienced family lawyer who has been involved in interstate family disputes for years.


Thanks to Steve Harrelson and our friends and co-contributors from Harrelson Law Firm, P.A. for their added insight into child custody disputes family law cases.

Major Events that Should Make You Consider Estate Planning

You may not want to consider what it means to begin estate planning, but you should know it is a significant chapter of your life. The grief that will come for your family members when you pass will surely overwhelming and by having an estate plan in place, you will be able to ease some of that grief by making probate as painless as possible. This way, your wishes will be extremely clear, no one will have cause to contest your will, and your family members will not squabble over assets.

Creating a will doesn’t have to wait until old age. There are some points throughout your life that should get you thinking about how to plan for the future. Surprises are the only thing you can count on in life, so that should convince you to begin estate planning in light of the following events.

When Should I Begin Estate Planning?

Now, depending on the type of estate plan you have, you will likely have the power to change it at any time, so it isn’t too early to begin. If life circumstances change, like it will when you hit each of these milestones, you will be able to adjust accordingly.


Mariage inevitably changes most aspects of your life, including your plans for the future. Your estate plan will surely change if you have already created one, especially if this isn’t your first marriage. If you haven’t written a will, you should surely write one now including your new spouse as an heir of your estate. The state you live in may require you to rewrite your will if you are entering your second marriage and if you refuse, then your estate could be left to your previous spouse instead of your current one.

However, there are some exceptions that could keep this from happening. Your current spouse may inherit instead of the former if:

  • You have set up a premarital agreement that specifies that your former spouse will not inherit anything or that your current spouse is supposed to inherit a certain amount of assets.
  • Your will lists your current spouse by name and designated what they will inherit.
  • The will states that your former spouse will inherit nothing from your estate.


Divorce certainly changes your life, in similar ways to marriage. However, divorce is all about separation, which means there is a good chance that you will want to separate your former spouse from any non marital assets. It is especially important if you wish to leave everything to your children because if you do not designate them as heirs and you never remarry, your assets will likely go to your former spouse.

A New Addition to the Family

If you choose to have or adopt a child, you will have to ensure they are added to your will. If they are minors when you create your will, you will have to set up a trust to hold their inheritance until they come of age. You should also name them as beneficiaries to any of your financial accounts if that is what you wish.

Utilizing an Estate Planning Attorney

You should not have to stress yourself over your will. Although it can be a rough process, an estate planning attorney in Scottsdale AZ can help you begin the process by providing you with and walking you through the correct paperwork and by representing you accurately when your time comes.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys for their insight into estate planning.


Post Divorce Family Vacations

It will be time to establish new norms with your children once your divorce has been finalized. Just because you no longer share a home with your ex, and your children may be splitting their time between two homes, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have to forgo everything that families do together especially when it comes to family vacations. Allowing for quality time as a family to make new memories is still something that divorced parents do for their children by planning special trips as a family. The following will help you plan a fun and hassle free vacation with children as a divorced parent.

Communicate with Your Ex Partner Regarding the Vacation

It may be a good idea to initiate the planning process together by discussing ideas if you are on amicable terms with your ex. Communicate with your ex as open and honestly as possible regarding where you want to go and the type of vacation you would like to go on as a family. When it comes to logistics and finalizing future plans, discussing and agreeing to a vacation itinerary together will be important.

Avoid Spontaneity

Starting the process with much time to prepare for the trip will be a positive factor when it comes to planning a post divorce family vacation. In most situations, you will need to coordinate with your ex prior to scheduling a week long vacation. Book a wonderful vacation for you and your children by researching to find the best prices and giving yourself ample time to plan for a week that works best. In some situations, it is a good idea to begin the planning process more than 6 months ahead of time.

Proper Documentation

You will want to bring the correct documentation for your vacation as part of the preparation that is required when traveling with kids post divorce. You will be required to get permission from your ex in the form of a written agreement that will allow for you to take the children to the location where you will be going. You will also need to have the appropriate identification for your children. Your documents for travel will need to include the details of your vacation, such as the dates of travel and where you will be arriving and departing from. You will be able to prepare by putting together the required documents for your family vacation with the help of  your divorce attorney.

Once the dust settles, you and your children will begin to go on vacations that are fun and exciting together. You can coordinate the details of your vacation with your ex spouse by working with your divorce attorney to put together all of the arrangements whether you are going away for the holiday break or over summer vacation. Contact a divorce lawyer Phoenix AZ respects so that they can provide you with guidance and support regarding vacations, visitation schedule and custody agreements.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Hildebrand Law for their insight into divorce.


Divorce Mediation FAQ

As legal costs are skyrocketing, many spouses who wish to end their marriages are turning to mediators in lieu of courtroom processes. While almost every divorce will require a divorce lawyer at least briefly, mediation is a viable option for couples who wish for a peaceful and amicable settlement. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions.

Why use mediation for a divorce?

Divorce mediation can help retain friendly ties to your previous partner. If you have children, mediation can help them retain the feeling of having a family even after you’re divorced. The process of mediation is also generally less stressful and less costly than a traditional divorce.

Is divorce mediation right for everyone?

No. Divorce mediation is most suited for couples where both parties agree on the divorce and are willing to work with each other to ensure a positive outcome. An angry partner out for revenge, a dangerous partner, or a deceitful partner can prevent mediation from being effective. Each situation should be evaluated independently to determine whether mediation is the best option.

Who is the mediator?

Many people believe that the mediator is a lawyer. This could be the case, but more often than not, the mediator is a marriage counselor, psychologist, or social worker. Mediation can therefore also serve as therapy for all parties involved, hopefully leading to a more favorable outcome than it would be if the matter was settled in court.

Is the mediator’s recommended agreement legally enforceable?

The mediator’s recommendation is not a legally enforceable — it’s simply a recommendation. However, if you and your former spouse decide to follow the recommendation and you sign the mediation agreement, it then become legally enforceable. The agreement, once signed by both parties, is a contract, and it is enforceable as such.

Does mediation completely eliminate my need for a lawyer?

It is your choice whether to retain an attorney. However, remember that your mediator may not be a lawyer. Even if the mediator were a lawyer, they would not legally be allowed to give either party advice. Having a divorce lawyer Bloomington IL prefers to guide you through the process and help you arrive at fair demands may greatly help your case.

What happens when everything can’t get resolved by a mediator?

It is virtually unheard of for all issues to be solved in single session with a mediator. Of course, the hope is that everything major can be ironed out through several mediation sessions. If two spouses cannot come to an agreement, they will likely spend some time reconsidering and trying to come to a compromise. If they cannot arrive at a compromise, the next option is to litigate over whatever it is that cannot be specifically agreed upon.

Do I still have to go to court if I use a mediator?

While there is no guarantee you won’t end up in court if you and your spouse cannot resolve everything through mediation, the mediation process itself will not require you to go to court.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Pioletti & Pioletti for their insight into divorce.


When to Update Your Will

It is important to acknowledge the importance to both you and the ones you love the importance of writing a will, no matter how stress inducing it may be. Alleviating some of the difficulties that may result in the event you pass away by having a will in place can prevent your loved ones from  guessing when it comes to your final wishes. Unexpected events can happen, making it all the more important to plan for your family’s future by putting together a will. Once you have created a will, it’s important to keep it updated in case you experience changes in your situation. The process can be easier to navigate, and you can rest assured that it is legally sound if you choose to work with an attorney, like an estate lawyer Sacramento can trust.  

What to Include in Your Will

There are a number of things that can trigger a person to either update or draft their will. An estate planning attorney can be most beneficial in helping you figure out how to get things started. In some situations, events that you experience that are life changing, can prompt you to create a plan with your final wishes. The following situations are good indicators that it’s time to contact your attorney and update your will.


You will want to incorporate your spouse into your will once you get married. If you are in a long term relationship or remarried, but your estate plan reflects a previous marriage or partner as the recipient of your assets, they still may stand to inherit those assets if you were to pass away. This is regardless of whether or not you have a new partner. You may be required to update your will following marriage depending on the state where you live. In some states, if you do not have a will in place your spouse could stand to inherit your estate.  


You will likely no longer want your ex to inherit your assets if you are no longer in a relationship with them. This is an important reason to update your will. It will be important to include information regarding custody or guardianship of your children in the will. When completing an estate plan with minor children, you will want to work with an estate planning attorney to put into place plans for guardianship and a trust for them.


Sustaining a future for your child is what you sign up for when it comes to giving birth or adopting a child. Children have the ability to inherit money or properties that are assigned to them but, as minors, they don’t have the ability to assume ownership. When estate planning, establishing a trust should be incorporated into the plan.

When you Make a Major Purchase

It will be important that you include in your will any new investments or large purchases including:

  • Art
  • Jewelry
  • Vehicles
  • Boats
  • Houses or property
  • Collectibles

It can be an incredibly stressful process to come up with an estate plan. Working with an estate planning attorney will allow for you to prepare your loved ones in the event that the unexpected occurs.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Yee Law Group for their insight into updating your will.



Different Types of Child Custody

If you are approaching a divorce and have minor children, deciding custody and living arrangements for the children can be one of the most difficult parts of the process. If you and your partner are on decent terms, then this is a decision you can make together. If you are in disagreement about a custody arrangement, then courts are likely to get involved. There is no one custody agreement that fits all situations. Each relationship and family has different circumstances that should be considered when deciding on a custody agreement. It is best, however, to choose an arrangement that is best for your children. The following are the types of custody arrangements to consider.

1. Legal Custody

Legal custody grants one or both parents the legal authority to make important life decisions for a child. These decisions include those regarding health, education, daily activities and anything pertaining to the child’s well-being. If only one parent has legal custody, then they are solely responsible for making these decisions, regardless of the physical custody of the child. If the parents have joint legal custody, they are required to continue making decisions regarding the children together. Most courts are in favor or granting joint legal custody.

2. Physical Custody

One or both parents can have physical custody of a child. If a parent has sole physical custody, the child lives primarily with that parent and the other parent can have visitation rights. If the parents share joint physical custody, then the child lives part-time with each parent. In such case, there will likely be an arrangement to determine how long the child stays with each parent depending on several factors. Courts commonly prefer joint physical custody

3. Sole Custody

A parent can have sole legal and/or physical custody.  Sole custody is usually only granted if one parent is seen as unfit to care for a child.

4. Joint Custody

Parents can have joint legal and/or physical custody. Family Law courts generally prefer to grant joint custody in full if both parents are seen as fit to care for and make decisions for the children. It is of upmost importance that children maintain relationships with both parents.

It’s important to always put your children first when making decision about custody arrangements. It may be in your best interest to have sole custody of your child, but it is probably in the child’s best interest to choose a joint custody arrangement. If you are unable to agree on an arrangement or you think the other parent is unfit to care for the children, a custody battle involving the courts may occur. If you find yourself in this situation, you should hire a trusted family lawyer who can help protect your legal rights and fight for your interests such as the family lawyer Peoria IL locals turn to.

Thanks to authors at Smith & Weer P.C. for their insight into family law.


Planning for holiday visitation and travel


The holidays are just around the corner and it is a good idea to plan for holiday visitation and figure out who is going where and if significant travel is going to be involved. As children get older and families grow there are more opportunities for family and friends to gather. What might have worked in the past could need adjustment. Hopefully you and your former spouse can work together and solve problems before they arise.


Working with the other parent to plan holiday visitation

Do you need to stick to your plan? In your original divorce decree there should be a parenting plan that states which parent has primary custody and with which parent will children be during holidays. Most standard visitation plans alternate holidays on even and odd years. These parenting plans and schedules may be flexible if you have a good relationship with your former spouse. Compromise is always appropriate when it is in the best interests of the children.

If you cannot come to an agreement and visitation schedules are leading to conflict, you might want to ask your attorneys, like a family attorney Collin County TX relies on, to help settle the disagreement with a creative solution that works for everyone. Most often this can be accomplished through a few phone calls, emails and a meeting.


Traveling long distances and out of state

As children grow older they become better travelers and a noncustodial parent might love to take their children on a holiday destination vacation. The bonding time with children is good for everyone. These trips however, might require some adjustment to the agreed visitation schedule.


If you are traveling far or out of state it is appropriate to provide the other parent with an itinerary and contact numbers and locations where the child will be. The other parent may have a right to ask for this information so offering it is appropriate. Additionally, issues including health and medical insurance and options for care and return of the children in the event of an emergency, should be addressed.


Setting the scene for a positive holiday experience for everyone

Who is planning to attend your friends and family gathering? The holidays are stressful enough without the surprise of an awkward conversation with someone who does not know how to filter themselves around you or your children. Use your best judgment in considering whether to talk to someone before your holidays to remind them not to talk about your divorce or former spouse because then children will be there.


Creating comfortable environments for guests is important so that people have options, especially if anyone there is not their favorite person. People appreciate feeling comfortable around others and having their own space in a social environment. Activates and spaces for adults and children can reduce the risk of unpleasant conversation.


Thanks to our friends and contributors from Scroggins Family Law for their insight into family law practice.

What Not to Do When You Get Divorced


Divorce is a stressful and traumatic life change for most couples, as well as their families, and it’s easy to fall victim to common pitfalls. Your divorce lawyer will tell you that these are a few of things that you should not do during the divorce process and after it has been finalized.


Create a Plan for Revenge

It’s natural to have hurt feelings during a divorce, but revenge is not the answer. From minor pranks to serious actions, revenge is all too tempting but will only complicate matters further. Resist the urge to get back at your ex for what they did, and simply focus on figuring out the details of the divorce.


Decide that You are a Failure

When you are going through a divorce, it can feel like you have failed yourself, your ex-spouse and your family. However, it’s critical that you don’t fall victim to this overwhelming sensation. You are not a failure, rather, you are taking the steps necessary to create a better life for everyone involved.


Avoid Hanging Out with Friends and Family

As you begin to experience life during and after your divorce, it might feel like you don’t have a lot in common with your married friends and your extended family. It’s important that you do not isolate yourself, however, as loneliness can be a powerful emotion. Still maintain a social life, and spend time with those that you care about. Also take the time to try something new!


Take Out Your Stress on Your Children

Your children did not choose to go through this experience, and it’s a challenging time for them as well. Throughout the entire process, you need to let your children know that they are loved, safe, and absolutely not the reason for the divorce.


Taking On Additional Debt

Just as you need to prepare emotionally for the period after your divorce, you also need to prepare financially. Now is not the right time to splurge on an expensive car or run up a giant credit card bill. Instead, make an effort to reduce your spending and start living on the new budget that you will be working within after the divorce has been finalized.


Your divorce lawyer, like a divorce attorney Tampa FL can count on, will provide you with additional counsel and advice as to the best way to move forward with your divorce. When you avoid these mistakes, you’ll have a smoother and more amicable experience. To find out more information about filing for divorce, contact a divorce lawyer today.

Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Mckinney Law Group for their insight into family law practice.


5 Myths About Visitation Rights and Custody Arrangements

Copious amounts of stress usually accompany a child custody battle. Many parents are not fully aware of the the legal process and its implications. In addition, there are many misconceptions and myths that hinder parents from questioning or challenging custody arrangements. This can hinder a parent from fulfilling his or her legal rights in court, and thus, as a parent. The following list takes a closer look at some of the myths surrounding child custody arrangements:

Myth #1: The Court Will Not Change Existing Arrangements

Once a judge decides on a custody arrangement and visitation rights, some people think that the decision is fixed and unmodifiable. This may prevent a parent from requesting more time with his or her children.

Fortunately, existing arrangements are always subject to change. If something happens or the case is brought to the court, the judge will review all components of the case and consider any specific circumstances. If a new arrangement is likely to benefit the child, then the courts can make changes to the existing one as they see necessary.

Myth #2: Sole Custody Is a Common Solution

The court often tries to avoid granting sole custody. In fact, they encourage a child to maintain a strong relationship with both parents. Sole custody will usually only be granted if one parent is seen as unfit to care for a child.

Myth #3: The Mother Always Wins Custody

Though this is a very common misconception, it is not true. Parents are subject to the same review when the court is deciding the custody of a child. A judge wants the child or children to reside with the parent that can provide the safest environment and the best care. This may depend on a parent’s income, living arrangements, stability and even testimony. A father is just as likely as a mother to win custody.

Myth #4: The Courts Prioritize the Parent’s Wants and Needs

In child custody cases, the highest priority of the court is always the needs of the child. Decisions are made to best benefit the child, regardless of the parent’s needs. Therefore, they will consider which parent is best suit to care for and support the needs of the child.

Myth #5: Grandparents Cannot Gain Custody or Visitation Rights

In many child custody battles, the grandparents of the children are often involved to some extent. Some grandparents even take shared or sole custody when one or both parents are incapacitated or deemed unfit to care for the children.

In other cases, grandparents may request visitation rights. For a grandparent to be granted visitation rights, a number of circumstances are considered, and it must be in the child’s best interest.

Experienced family lawyers such as the Child Custody Attorney Phoenix AZ locals trust  can clarify many misconceptions regarding custody arrangements and visitation rights. They can also help you to determine the best options for your specific case, and ensure your legal rights are protected.

Hildebrand LawA special thanks to our authors at Hildebrand Law for their insight into Family Law.