Dissolving a marriage with children – a digestible overview – Let’s move on in the conversation of divorce suits that involve children and dive into the process itself. Not to worry, this blog is not meant to inundate you with too much information – just a digestible overview.
As stated before, these suits can be quite complex and emotionally driven. It’s a slippery slope where the court – not you – must decide what is in the best interest of your child. It is fact driven, and in some cases, can lead to the complete termination of a parent-child relationship. Thankfully, a saving grace is the process itself, which is set up to promote consistency, fairness, and judicial economy.
The Texas Family Code requires a married couple seeking divorce to file a dissolution suit AND include with it a separate suit affecting the parent-child relationship. Going forward, I will refer to this special separate suit as an SAPCR.
The reason for separate suits is because, in theory, the primary function of a dissolution suit is to determine the parties’ marital status and division of property. A SAPCR determines the parties’ rights and responsibilities to that child. Each suit has separate procedural frameworks, yet they overlap since there are discussions needed for child-support obligations, visitation rights, assignment of child custody and other overlapping fact questions and considerations.
Having each of these suits filed – and decided – by the same court keeps everything fair. When all is said and done, it is the goal of the court to provide a stable and caring home for the child while promoting a meaningful relationship with the other parent.
Dissolving a marriage with children
A few procedural notes to keep in mind:
- Either spouse can file a dissolution suit. In some cases, a person other than a spouse can bring a divorce suit on behalf of that spouse, such as a guardian or next friend of a spouse who suffers from a mental illness. The details depend on if it’s a divorce, annulment or declaring the marriage void.
- Either parent can file an SAPCR. If the dissolution suit involves a spouse who is not the biological or adoptive parent of a child, such as a stepparent, the spouse must assert another basis for having the right to file an SAPCR.
- A suit for dissolution of marriage combined with an SAPCR must be filed in the county where it is proper to hear the dissolution suit – typically the county where the family and child live.
- Either petition can ask the court to issue temporary restraining orders, temporary injunctions, or temporary orders. Temporary relief is usually requested to preserve marital property, protect the parties and the children, and provide for temporary conservatorship and child support during the suit.
Perhaps the biggest opportunity I provide here at Nelson Law Group, PC is for my clients – new or existing – to feel like they can come talk to me about anything. If you are considering ending your marriage or the relationship with the other parent of your child, I urge you to seek counsel from a knowledgeable attorney who will keep you and your children’s best interests in mind. Talking these details out beforehand can help steer your family in a more positive direction. Our staff is always available. Give us a call today.
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