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A divorce court appoints Gardians at Litem, or GALs, to represent the best interest of a child during their parents' divorce. If a divorce goes smoothly, the parties, usually through their attorneys, are able to reach a mutually acceptable custody arrangement. However, it is not uncommon for divorces to turn even the most amicable parties into ferocious adversaries with children caught in the middle. RigersIf the divorce is hotly contested and there are children involved, there is a fear that there is an inherent risk that the parties do not have the child's best in mind. For example, in a fight over split custody, one parent may accuse the other of having an unsanitary or dangerous house that is unfit for children. Obviously, this is an allegation and it may or may not be true, but most judges will not disregard a potential source of harm to a child. This often results in divorce judges being faced with competing stories, each told with the emotion and ardor that usually accompanies divorce cases. What is a judge to do? Enter the GAL. The judge will appoint a GAL to act as an advocate for the child and ensure that the ultimate resolution is in the best interest of the child. In the example above, the GAL would probably inspect the residence to substantiate the allegation and report the findings to the judge. Again, the goal is not to prove which parent is telling the truth or lying, but to ensure that the child is in a safe place. The Texas Guardian at Litem statutes, Texas Family Code §107.001 at seq., set forth the powers and duties of a GALs. If a judge orders a GAL to represent a child, it is very important that you have an experienced Texas family law attorney on your side to ensure that your interests are represented adequately.

Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.com

A recent research study highlights the connection between individuals feeling depressed and a lack of support from their spouse. The study found a strong link between the relationships that an individual has with their loved ones and their likelihood of experiencing depression in the future. There's a strong association between fighting and lack of support early on and emotional problems for the individuals in the future.

Laura Austin divorce attorney,Anyone who noted strain on their current marriage or relationship was much more likely to face depression later on. Knowing about the signals of a bad marriage can help a person know when it's time to file for divorce. A strained marriage can put a lot of pressure on not only the people in the marriage, but their children and other loved ones as well. A lack of support can have a serious impact on the other spouse, including emotional problems and issues making new friends. This kind of problem can also cause resentment to build within the marriage. What is unique about this study is that those without a spouse did not face any increased risk of depression down the line.

It's well documented how much a positive marriage can impact a person's life, but there can also be devastating consequences when the spouse is simply not supportive or helpful to their partner. The study determined that those with the "lowest quality" relationships (meaning those where severe strain and emotional troubles were already reported) face nearly double the risk of depression when compared with those in the best relationships.


Posted on in Family Law
There is much debate among parents, kids, and awareness groups when it comes to child abuse. However, Texas law does define child abuse. Chapter 261 of the Texas Family Code states that child abuse is considered anything that is an act or omission of an act that directly endangers or in some way impairs the child's physical, mental, or emotional health. Child abuse is always a major concern when the issue of child custody is discussed in family court and is a major determination in the custody hearing. TheresaChild abuse can be physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual. While a parent is within their right to "reasonably" discipline the child, the penal code does protect the child against sustaining substantial harm. Physical abuse can usually be recognized on sight. Physical abuse takes place when the child is hit, kicked, burned, cut, choked, or otherwise physically harmed by another person. Corporal punishment is considered abusive if there is an injury involved. Many abused children make excuses for the injuries such as saying that they had an accident, they were playing, or that they are just clumsy. There will not be a reasonable explanation for the injury and the injuries will often be recurring. Emotional injury is harder to detect. Emotional injury is usually inflicted via verbal assault on the child. The abuser may call the child names, belittle the child, threaten the child, or blame the child for things that they have no control over. Children who are verbally abused may also verbally lash out at friends or siblings, they may be socially withdrawn, or act out in other ways. Neglect is another form of abuse. A neglected child is often left at home alone and may be placed at substantial risk because the caregiver has not arranged for the proper care of the child. The definitions of abuse and the types of abuse can vary greatly. If you suspect that your ex-spouse is abusive, an experienced Austin family law attorney can help you get full custody of the children.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net

Posted on in Divorce

Divorced parents may wonder whether their adolescent children behave the way they do because they are just at that age or because of the divorce. The truth is that it may be both, according to an article in the Huffington Post.

LeeviThe teen years are a time when many kids start to become independent and establish an identity for themselves. This process won't simply happen overnight. In adolescence, children often begin to challenge their parents over chores and other tasks. But if a parent has built a reasonably good relationship with his or her child in the past, it is more likely that their relationship will continue to be civil.

Divorce often makes home life more difficult. Parents have their own worries to deal with and they may be stressed about being a single parent. The loss of the family unit greatly affects both parents and teens. While it may be relieving that they don't have to see their parents' fights any longer, many teens experience other problems in the aftermath of a divorce.


Marriage vows end with "Til death do us part". But just in case it doesn't work out that way, it's always good to have a prenup.

A prenuptial agreement is a plan that addresses the financial consequences if a marriage does end. There are many important reasons why couples should have one in place before the wedding. If one of the parties is wealthy and the other is not, it protects both in the event of a divorce, by clearly spelling out what each party is entitled to upon the dissolution of the marriage.

Powers familyIf one party is bringing a high load of debt into the marriage, a prenup can help make sure the other spouse doesn't become responsible for paying those debts if the marriage ends.


Posted on in Divorce

One of the biggest happenings in the news this year is the Supreme Court addressing the issue of same sex marriages. However, according to My FOX Houston, states that do not support same sex marriage are having to address issues of same sex divorce.

Theresa 3-27 Powers family lawWhen different states across the nation were passing laws making same sex marriage legal, same sex couples from other states were flocking to those states to exchange vows. Now this has created a new issue. There are now couples who  are seeking to get a divorce, and they are hoping to have the case handled in the state in which they reside.

The Attorney General submitted a brief, stating that gay marriage simply doesn't exist as far as Texas is concerned. While it may exist in other states, it doesn't exist in Texas. He also went on to state that the state of Texas cannot preside over a divorce case when the marriage itself does not exist.


Posted on in Prenuptial Agreements

In the midst of planning your wedding, many legal experts say you and your future spouse should also be creating your prenup. A prenuptial agreement is a legal agreement between two people who marry that deals with the financial consequences should the marriage not work out. Every couple has a prenup in place when they get married – it's called divorce law. However there are many reasons why the laws of the state you may be living in if your marriage ends may not be beneficial to you. A prenup overrules those laws and is specific to you and your situation.

Kerry powers familyIf you have more wealth than your partner, a prenuptial agreement protects your assets should the marriage end. It also is important if you earn a lot more than your partner does. It would limit the amount of alimony, if any, they could be awarded.

If your partner is bringing a high debt  into the marriage, a prenup will protect you from becoming responsible for those debts if the marriage ends.


MelissaTexas newspaper Austin-American Statesman first reported the story in early March about a Pflugerville woman who is facing a felony injury to a child charge after reportedly using a stun gun to taser her 14-year-old son four times. The affidavit claims that the son was punished after he went to play basketball without permission. Kimira Hysaw, 32, allegedly used a pink stun gun in order to discipline her son, whom she calls a "handful." She also claims that she threatens him with it often, and that she doesn't "even know where [her] child is half the time." After telling this to authorities, she refused to speak more of the incident. The New York Daily Times claims that the event was first reported by the 4-year-old daughter, who told her teacher about the incident and drew a pink stun gun, saying that it was kept in her mother's purse. She also told them that her brother was tased four times by her mother, including once in the head, while her father held him down. When the son was questioned, Texas authorities noticed burn marks and other injuries consistent with stun guns on his back and arms. Unfortunately, the son was uncooperative, stating that he doesn't get involved with his mother's business. Hysaw and her husband have children ranging in age from 4 to 18 years old. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services declined to comment on the pending case, but did state they usually remove children from homes being investigated for their own safety. Causing injury to anyone is a very serious offense. If there is violence in your family, a domestic violence attorney can help with orders of protection. Victims of any attack resulting in a personal injury should speak to an Austin family law attorney today to start working on your case.

Image courtesy freedigitalphotos.net

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