Involvement in a child's life is important for every parent and can become even more so when there is a divorce or custody dispute.
As a legal case unfolds, a lot of details about the day-to-day life of the family are sure to emerge.
A parent who must work, or travel often may feel discouraged and unable to "compete" with the parent who provides more clock hours of child care. However, it is important not to become discouraged. Each parent should strive to do the best they can as a parent, while still dealing with the reality of day-to-day life.
For instance, you may be simply unable to go to school events during the work day, but you can attend open house at night and show up for weekend activities. You may not be able to be a Room Parent, but you can talk to your children about school, know what classes they are taking, and know their teacher's names. You can make sure that you are listed in your child's school records, you can ask for online access to review your child's grades and you can make sure that you are informed of school activities.
When custody and visitation is an issue a lot of factors will be considered in the case. Involvement in the child's life, sincere interest in what the child is doing and taking pleasure in your child's company are important. The history of your day-to-day care of your child will be discussed. Don't wait to get involved.
Having an attorney who is familiar with the county where your case will be filed has its advantages.
There are benefits to having a lawyer who is comfortable with the procedures in your specific court. Comfort that comes from knowing what the judges and the court staff expect. This can help streamline the process and allow the attorney to plan the case very efficiently from the beginning.
Most counties now have their local rules online for everyone to see. A lawyer who practices often in that particular county courthouse will be familiar with those rules. He or she will also be familiar with the preferences of the judges which do not appear online. (such as whether or not the family law judge requires an in-person appearance for certain orders to be signed, which days certain types of probate hearings are generally held, and so on.)
The "local attorney" does not have to be someone that is right on the courthouse square. For instance, in Montgomery County Texas we have a lot of fine attorneys that are right on the courthouse square. But we have equally fine attorneys who have offices throughout the county who routinely go to the Conroe courthouse.
In times past, it was a great benefit to have an office on the courthouse square because paperwork could be filed quickly. The lawyer or legal assistant could just walk across the street and file documents, rather than having to wait for U.S. mail or take a big piece of the day driving back and forth to the courthouse. Not anymore. E-filing has put the clerk's office within every lawyer's immediate reach, no matter where the office is located.
There are a lot of factors to consider when deciding which attorney to hire and location of the attorney is only one. When searching for a lawyer, you have the ability to ask these questions and more in the initial consultation.
I enjoy sharing information with our readers to help them navigate the confusing legal process.
Harris County, Texas has some excellent information about probate on their "helpful guidelines" page .
This information can help you understand what to look for in a will, how property passes in the State of Texas if the person doesn't have a Will, what to do if more than 4 years has passed since the person died, information about how having Medicaid Benefits can affect the estate,and more!
If your loved one has recently passed, reviewing this information can help you decide whether or not it is time to contact an attorney and what you need to gather to proceed on your own.
Keep in mind that this is Texas law and each state has its own probate laws. Also, any procedures described for Harris County probate courts may vary in other counties.
If you are the parent who usually takes your child to the doctor, you are probably the one who most often pays the co-pays and deductibles.
Even if your divorce or paternity decree states that you are entitled to reimbursement from the other parent, you may find it difficult to actually get that reimbursement. Here are the most important things to remember to help you recover the money that you are entitled to have.
Keep your receipts- This may sound simple, but it isn't always easy to do when you are surrounded with a lot of activity and have a lot to keep track of. Here is a shortcut: take a picture of the receipt with your phone, then keep the original hard copy receipt in a file.
Keep track of the total medical amount and the total reimbursement due- You can use a financial app, a spreadsheet or a good old-fashioned spiral notebook.
Email or text to communicate with your ex in order to have evidence of your attempts to collect reimbursement for the medicals. So, if your ex completely ignores the attempts, you will have a record of what you sent in case you need to involve an attorney. Or you can send a gentle reminder to your ex, letting him/her know the date that you first sent your request and showing exactly how long you have been waiting for payment.
The most common complaint heard from a non-paying parent, "S/he didn't tell me about any medical expenses and then I suddenly got a long list of expenses due and s/he wanted them paid immediately! It was a lot of money." Submitting the expenses regularly makes it easier on everyone and allows you to ask for smaller amounts, which your ex may have a easier time paying to you.
If all else fails, consult a family law attorney: If you are unable to collect medical support that is due, you may have to take legal steps to do so.
Both parents should be involved in the child's life: Knowing when the child is going to the doctor, getting braces, receiving counseling or other health care prevents the surprise of a large medical bill.
- By Paralegal Myrna Ramirez and Attorney Laura Kalish.