What You Need to Know About Child Custody in Texas

Before you determine terms for child support, you, your spouse, and both attorneys will review child custody. In Texas, we call custody “conservatorship.” It means the right to make decisions about the child; where the child lives, goes to school, religious preferences, and medical treatment options. You will need a Houston child custody attorney to help you decide custody rights following a divorce.

Grandparents have rights, too. Texas recognizes the important role grandparents play in child development. Grandparents have visitation rights, and in some cases, may request custody of the child if:

  • A court-order terminated the parent-child relationship
  • The child has lived with the grandparent for at least six months
  • The parent abused or neglected the child
  • The parent has been incarcerated, found incompetent, or died

Types of Child Custody

“The majority of the research literature has found no relationship between the type of custody and child outcomes,” according to the Canadian Department of Justice. As a result of their studies, they concluded the various child custody options had no negative impact on child development. Types of custody include:

  • Joint – The parents share childcare responsibilities, and agree to child custody conditions. Sometimes parents maintain one residence for the child and alternate parental visits. Together, the parents can set the terms that are best for the child and the family unit. This is, most believe, the best arrangement, where parents agree on schools, religion, and long-term as well as day-to-day child care.
    • Joint Legal Custody – Parents share care and control, but child has one primary residence
    • Joint Physical Custody – Child has two residences and spends at least 35% of the time with the other parent
  • Legal – This is the right to make long-term plans and major decisions for the child.
  • Physical – This is the right to make day-to-day decisions, and the child has one primary residence.
  • Sole – This is “legal” and “physical” custody of the child, and the child has only one residence.
  • Split – When there are two children involved, one parent may obtain custody of one child and the other may obtain custody of the second child. Children’s ages and their preferences contribute to this option. In Texas, children 12 years and older can also consult privately with the judge about what they prefer regarding custody and residence.
  • Temporary – This is exactly as it sounds. Temporary custody is awarded to a parent or another party, based on the best interests of the child, until the court makes a final child custody determination.


Your Houston Child Custody Attorney

“At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents.”
– Jane D. Hull

Divorce can be a new beginning for your family, and Diane Reul, Board Certified, Family Law – Texas Board of Legal Specialization can help you create a “new and improved” family unit. Your concerns are important and your questions can be answered by an experienced Houston child custody attorney. Call (713) 622-3770 today or send a message.

What is Property Division?

Sometimes when things are falling apart
they may actually be falling into place.

When you divorce, you and your spouse will agree to divide your property. If there are disagreements, the court will decide how the property should be divided. In many states, all property that is acquired during the marriage in which your combined income was used for the purchase is usually considered marital property regardless of which spouse “owns” it or how it is titled. As part of a divorce, property division in Houston can include:

  • Brokerage accounts
  • Closely-held businesses
  • Deferred compensation
  • Houses/real estate
  • Professional practices and licenses
  • Rental properties
  • Retirement/pension plans
  • Stock options/restricted stock

Texas is a community property state, which means that most of the property acquired during your marriage belongs to both of you and must be divided at divorce. Separate property is yours to keep.

What is Separate Property Division in Houston?

“Separate property” is everything you and your spouse own separately and it doesn’t need to be divided. Separate property can include:

  • Anything inherited or received as a gift during the marriage
  • Anything owned prior to marriage
  • Anything that one spouse gives up to the other spouse in writing

If you feel that your separate property is just that – yours – but your spouse feels it is community property, you will need to be able to trace the payments and show where the separate and/or community money came from. Here’s an example:

  • Spouse 1 made the complete down payment for a home before the marriage.
  • During the marriage, the home was paid off.
  • Spouse 1 could be entitled to receive the entire down payment reimbursement as a separate property.

You can also have community debts – debts acquired during the marriage – and separate debts; your student loans, for example. Similar to separate property, separate debts belong to one spouse. All debts incurred before marriage are separate debts.

Putting the Pieces Together for Your Future

Try to prepare for your divorce as carefully as you prepared for your marriage. If you do, your property division in Houston should be fair and amicable. Divorce can be challenging, but you don’t have to face it alone. Diane Reul, Board Certified, Family Law – Texas Board of Legal Specialization, is a Houston attorney proficient in family law. Call (713) 622-3770 or send us a message to learn more.

Factors that Determine Child Support

Once you pass the emotional and life-changing dynamics that are part of preparing for divorce, you can focus on re-weaving the fabric of your family. Living arrangements may change, but loving your children is unconditional; they need to feel that especially at this time.

Child Support in Texas

Your Houston child support attorney will help you create the terms and conditions for restructuring your family; he or she may call it a “parenting plan.” The parent who has the children the majority of time is the “custodial parent,” and the other parent is obligated to pay child support. Parents can agree to almost any amount of child support, but the basic State of Texas child support guidelines (for net resources under $8,550/month) are 20% of net resources for one child and an increase of five percent for additional children; for 6 or more children, child support is not less than 40% of net resources.

Factors That Determine Child Support

In order to be “fair and impartial,” the judge is not allowed to consider the sex of either parent, the sex of the child(ren), nor the parents’ current marital status. Technically, child support is meant to cover housing, food, and clothing, but all of us know that raising a child involves much more expense than the cost of basic human needs. Some of the consideration factors your Houston child support attorney may present to the judge include:

  • Additional benefits (company car/housing, for example)
  • Anticipated time with the child
  • Child’s age/needs
  • Childcare expenses
  • Debts
  • Each parent’s ability to contribute to child support
  • Educational expenses
  • Health/medical insurance
  • Income from businesses/investments
  • Other children from previous relationships
  • Other paycheck deductions
  • Spousal support (alimony)
  • The noncustodial parent’s employment situation

In Texas, the Attorney General’s office handles unusual or difficult child custody situations, which can include:

  • Collecting/enforcing child support
  • Establishing paternity
  • Finding “deadbeat” or absent parents
  • Modifying child support/medical orders

It’s Not About You

It’s important to keep your spirits up and maintain good health during the stress of a divorce; not only for yourself, but to better care for your children. Consider asking your children to share their feelings and even create their own terms for their new family unit. They might create stipulations such as, “Ice cream every Friday,” but here’s what they truly need both of you to do:

  • Ask questions. Their answers aren’t nearly as important as the fact that you cared enough to ask.
  • Communicate directly with each other – don’t send messages back and forth between the children.
  • Don’t be jealous of each other. Children don’t want to be forced to “take sides.”

There’s no such thing as too much love when it comes to raising children. Your children need both parents. Diane Reul, Board Certified, Family Law – Texas Board of Legal Specialization, is a Houston child support attorney proficient in family law. Both parents, working together even during a divorce, is what your children want and need. That is ultimately, the best child support you can offer.

The Importance of Mediation and Your Lawyer’s Role

Mediation is a confidential settlement process where parties in dispute meet with a neutral person – the mediator – to try to find a resolution to areas of conflict. The mediator may meet with the people in conflict and/or their attorneys to understand each party’s goals for resolution. When an agreement has been reached, the mediator writes a legally binding document that outlines the terms of the settlement.

Benefits of Mediation

When you go to court, the court makes a decision and you are required to adhere to the court’s ruling. With mediation, you make decisions, not the court. The main advantage of mediation is that you control the outcome; you and the other party or parties can structure the settlement any way that is mutually acceptable. Mediation costs less than a trial and it often feels better. It’s more informal and can be a friendlier way to settle a disagreement.

The Value of Mediation

Creating your own resolution to a dispute through mediation is beneficial to both parties. You design your own terms and outline your resolution in such a way that (hopefully) all parties are comfortable with the decision.

  • You can be creative in ways to resolve the issue.
  • Everyone has all the time he or she needs to explain the situation; its causes and possible, agreeable resolutions.
  • Mediation can better preserve relationships, especially when it involves families.
  • Mediation lets you and the disputing party work together for a solution. Solutions are your shared goal; mediation can and should be the end to “the blame game.”

The Role of Your Houston Mediation Attorney

Taking your dispute to court is what you do if mediation doesn’t settle all issues. Here in Houston and throughout Texas, mediation is mandatory prior to divorce trials, so it’s important that you have an attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced with the mediation process.

Divorce is seldom about two people; it can impact the lives of other family members for years to come, so you should seek professional assistance as you make what can be life-changing decisions. A mediation attorney in Houston who is certified in family law can help you make the long-term choices that are best for you, your spouse, and your children.

A Houston mediation attorney can explain what is legally advisable and possible so that the mediation resolution doesn’t put you at future risk. Your Houston mediation attorney can ensure you are “protected” during the process and the outcome of issue resolution.

Diane Reul, Board Certified, Family Law – Texas Board of Legal Specialization, is a mediation attorney in Houston who wants to help you through the mediation and – if needed – divorce. Her proficiency in family law is driven by compassion as well as experience. If you need conflict resolution or want to know what divorce options are best for you and your family, call (713) 622-3770 or contact her today. Tomorrow can be a better day.

Steps to Prepare for a Divorce

The dissolution of a marriage may be the most difficult life events a person can endure. Divorce is often an acrimonious process that can get personal and emotional, and it is critical that you do everything in your power to protect your interests. In beginning the next phase of your life, you will want to emerge in the most advantageous position possible. The following steps will help you get and stay organized prior to initiating a filing:

  1. Take Emotional Stock of the Situation

The decision to initiate a divorce is not one that should be made hastily. People are commonly surprised at the emotional toll that can be suffered in dissolving a relationship in which there once existed a passionate and sacred bond. Proceedings that involve child and pet custody can be exponentially more taxing. Ultimately, only you can know for certain if a divorce is the appropriate option for resolving marital conflict.

  1. Consult an attorney

Put yourself in a great position by seeking sound legal advice at the outset. Do research to identify an attorney with a solid resume in divorce and family law, and consult local listings for reviews, testimonials, and credentials. A seasoned attorney will have experienced every permutation of potential outcomes in matters similar to yours.

Consulting competent legal counsel will help you draw a solid road map, leaving you prepared at each step before and after proceedings initiate. In fact, you should consult with your attorney at each step that follows.

  1. Prepare and review financial documents

Moving forward, you will need to have a clear picture of your overall assets, and determine what portion you may be entitled to in the divorce. Identify what is owed on individual and mutual debts – minimizing your responsibility for these is every bit as critical as acquiring assets. Mortgage and bank statements, vehicle titles, receipts for significant purchase and the like will be critical in the equitable division of shared assets.

  1. Make self-care a priority

Once divorce proceedings are initiated, there is little hope of going back, and the steps that follow can be emotionally exhausting. It is critical that you find ways to keep your spirits up. Identify those in your social circles who will serve as emotional touchstones – they will be happy to support you.  

Contact the Law Office of Diane B. Reul Today

Divorce can be a grueling process in innumerable ways. In addition to your social supports, the right attorney should be your best advocate, and a pillar of knowledge and assurance as you move through an extraordinarily difficult life event.

Diane Reul is a reputable and dependable Houston divorce attorney, board certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. She can help you navigate the most challenging of life experiences with empathy, compassion, and expert representation. Your post-marital life is a critical investment. Contact Houston divorce and family law attorney Diane by calling (713) 622-3770 today.

Law Office of Diane B. Reul Launches New Website

Thank you for visiting the new website and blog of the Law Office of Diane B. Reul. With this update, you will see a new look which was designed to make it easier to find the information you need about the firm’s services and practice areas, and comprehensive news, facts, and information specific to family law in Texas – all in an easily navigable, user-friendly format.

Family law is complex and encompasses many areas. On this new website and blog you will find information about all the areas in which Diane’s expertise can assist you with your case:

Additionally, you will find useful information on this blog. The goal is to provide you with information that is applicable to what you may be going through in your own life, or in the lives of your loved ones. Please check back regularly for updates, new posts, and articles, that will help you better understand divorce and family law in Texas.

Family Law Attorney Serving Houston, TX

Diane Reul is committed to offering honest and straightforward advice to help clients face difficult and turbulent family-related legal issues. You don’t have to fight alone – Diane is here to help. Contact her office or call (713) 622-3770 to discuss your case today.