Dallas Divorce Lawyer Blog

Articles Posted in Parenting Class

I am by no means a licensed mental health professional, psychologist or psychiatrist; however if you have been a follower of my blog regarding divorce, child custody, or any family law issue you know that I constantly write about the psychological tolls that the cases take on my clients.  This is because I witness every day the psychological struggles that my clients go through.   Divorce is hard on everyone involved, no matter how you slice it.  Many people hear this, but do not actually understand until they are in the trenches.  However, it is so important to understand, for your mental and physical health, before you are in the trenches that this will be a difficult process and have a list of coping mechanisms to help you through it.

So many people fall into the trap of bitterness, anger and resentment and cannot get past those emotions.    While I will agree that your feelings are legitimate, you also need to work through those feelings so that you can get to the other side and feel a release.  Many people hang on, even after the divorce is finalized.  I have seen what this does to people, and I do not wish it on anyone.  Getting past that anger is not an easy feat, but one that is beyond necessary.

Also, divorce is difficult because it bring change—the familiarity is no longer there, you have to move, your holidays are not the same, you lose a pet, you have to split the time with the children, etc.  Change is so hard and I will be the first to admit that I hate it.  But, change is a part of life; in fact, life is about seasons and weathering those seasons.  How will you weather in a mentally healthy way?

For children, divorce is scary and they do not understand it.  They cannot process why mommy and daddy do not love each other anymore.  If you are in the middle of a divorce or are considering it and you have children, take a parenting class now.  You should definitely address these feelings on the front end rather than in the midst of the storm.  For example, For Kids’ Sake is a parenting class offered to help parents understand how their divorce is affecting their children and gives them tools to help the children cope through this.  To understand what your bickering, pointing fingers, talking about daddy in front of them, etc. does to the children will truly convict and humble you.  If your children can see you both on a united front to love and protect them in the very beginning, it will help the process in so many ways.  But, if you are in the middle or even already divorce, it is absolutely not too late.  It is never too late to work on parental relationships.  Your children just need to know that no matter what happens, they will always be loved, they will always have access to both parents, and they will always be protected.

So, I discussed having coping mechanisms in your arsenal so that you can get through this; but, what would they be?  I tell my clients to do what makes you happy—do you love to go walking; do you like to run; do you like to work out; do you enjoy playing a musical instrument; whatever you like to do, do it.  But, it is also important to enroll in counseling or something of this nature.  Many people do not realize it because they are in denial; but, you do need help working through those difficult emotions.  If you do not want to or cannot afford formal counseling, a lot of churches and other institutions offer support groups that are specialized for loss, grieving, and even divorcees.  Finding someone that you can vent to is such an achievement because then you are able to get it all out so that you do not bring it into the courtroom.  Also, you will find yourself less inclined to discuss this with your children and maybe even less angry with your soon to be ex-spouse.  Having the opportunity to be heard is half of the battle.   Just be sure that the company you keep is the encouraging kind and not the kind that will keep you in the negative rut.  Remember that life is short; this divorce is just a season, and after winter comes spring.

In Texas, if the child custody visitation schedules are court-ordered they are typically either standard possession or expanded standard possession (alternate beginning and ending times).   One parent will have the exclusive right to designate the child’s primary residence and then the non-primary parent has the visitation schedule.  In contrast to the school year, summer and spring break visitation schedule, the holiday visitation schedule is regardless of distance between the parents’ residences and most courts only focus on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day.  However, additional holidays can be requested and ordered such as Easter, Halloween, etc.

In custody orders, holidays are divided out as even and odd years.  So, if you are the primary parent you typically have odd Christmas and even Thanksgiving.   A parent will not have the same year for both holidays.  Because Christmas falls in an odd year this year, the primary parent would have possession of the child from the day the child is released from school until December 28 at noon.  Texas Family Code Section 153.314 specifically sets out the language for the court orders and is follows:

Sec. 153.314.  HOLIDAY POSSESSION UNAFFECTED BY DISTANCE PARENTS RESIDE APART.  The following provisions govern possession of the child for certain specific holidays and supersede conflicting weekend or Thursday periods of possession without regard to the distance the parents reside apart.  The possessory conservator and the managing conservator shall have rights of possession of the child as follows:

(1)  the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in even-numbered years beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in odd-numbered years;

(2)  the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in odd-numbered years beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in even-numbered years;

(3)  the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in odd-numbered years, beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school before Thanksgiving and ending at 6 p.m. on the following Sunday, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in even-numbered years;

(4)  the parent not otherwise entitled under this standard possession order to present possession of a child on the child’s birthday shall have possession of the child beginning at 6 p.m. and ending at 8 p.m. on that day, provided that the parent picks up the child from the residence of the conservator entitled to possession and returns the child to that same place;

(5)  if a conservator, the father shall have possession of the child beginning at 6 p.m. on the Friday preceding Father’s Day and ending on Father’s Day at 6 p.m., provided that, if he is not otherwise entitled under this standard possession order to present possession of the child, he picks up the child from the residence of the conservator entitled to possession and returns the child to that same place; and

(6)  if a conservator, the mother shall have possession of the child beginning at 6 p.m. on the Friday preceding Mother’s Day and ending on Mother’s Day at 6 p.m., provided that, if she is not otherwise entitled under this  standard possession order to present possession of the child, she picks up the child from the residence of the conservator entitled to possession and returns the child to that same place.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995.  Amended by Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 1036, Sec. 14, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.

Amended by:

Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 1041, Sec. 3, eff. June 15, 2007.

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1113, Sec. 8, eff. September 1, 2009.

While continuity and strict orders are absolute necessities in some cases, some parents find it difficult to go by these standard holiday orders because they conflict with family traditions.  Therefore, we have many families who are able to agree upon a holiday possession schedule that allows both parents to fit in their family festivities so that the child does not miss out anything.  Most families do not know that their orders allow for this deviation from the standard possession order, even if the visitation is otherwise a standard possession order.  In fact, Texas Family Code Section 153.311 mandates court orders to state the following:

Sec. 153.311.  MUTUAL AGREEMENT OR SPECIFIED TERMS FOR POSSESSION.  The court shall specify in a standard possession order that the parties may have possession of the child at times mutually agreed to in advance by the parties and, in the absence of mutual agreement, shall have possession of the child under the specified terms set out in the standard possession order.

Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 20, Sec. 1, eff. April 20, 1995.

Amended by:

Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1113, Sec. 5, eff. September 1, 2009.

Therefore, if both parents agree upon a different holiday schedule in advance (I advise that you absolutely get it in writing in some shape or form—email, text message, letter, My Family Wizard), then it is okay to deviate from the standard possession order.  Most courts encourage parents to try and work something out if they can—it is more peaceful and stable for the child and allows the child to spend quality time with both parents rather than just one.

Christmas is quickly approaching.  Do you know your holiday schedule, need one, or need it modified?  Contact a family law attorney at Guest & Gray.  We are fully staffed to meet your needs.  We look forward to helping you.

You get your children back from your ex’s house after their visitation and they are openly telling you all about the divorce case, what your ex has called you and where you should go, etc.  You are appalled and upset that your children know anything about your case.  You call your ex and tell them that this is inappropriate to discuss with the children and they completely dismiss you.  You know that the judge clearly said that neither you nor your ex could discuss anything about the case with your children.

While the damage has already been done with your children with what they have overheard or discussed so far with your ex, there are some helpful requests that you could make to deter this type of behavior.  For starters, as long as your orders do not contain anything requiring an agreement before enrolling the children in counseling then you should do so.  Having a professional who can meet with the children, give them an outlet for their emotions as to the divorce, and help them process the effects of the divorce is such a positive movement forward when this type of situation arises.  If the professional meets with you and discusses any concerns with respect to what they are reporting about your ex, then their testimony can be used in a court hearing.

Additionally, if you do decide to pursue a contempt hearing against your ex for violating a court order (discussing the case with the children and making disparaging remarks about you), then you will need proof of such.  If your children are 10 or older most judges will talk with them and the children can tell the judge themselves what they have overheard or what they have been told.  If your children are too young or are too afraid to be put in the middle, then this would be where a professional’s testimony would be helpful.

Moreover, you could also request or the Court might require that both parents participate in a parenting class.  Often times, this helps both parents understand how the case is affecting their children and teaches you how to co-parent with each other when you are no longer a couple.   A good parenting class that most courts utilize is called For Kids’ Sake and it is offered in Dallas County and Kaufman County.   Dr. Nancy Ferrell teaches the class and many people say it a life-changing experience that definitely puts the divorce process into perspective for them.

As you can see, there are many ways to approach this issue.  Do not let these actions go unnoticed.  Call and schedule your consultation today with an attorney at Guest & Gray.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, “in 2009, 14 states had divorce rates for men that were significantly above the U.S. average, ranging from 10.0 to 13.5 per 1,000” which included Texas.

Divorce is present throughout our state and it is a difficult and emotional process. But, it’s even more difficult when there are children involved. All parents worry about the choices they make and how those choices will effect their children. Divorce is no exception. And, parents have every right to worry–research indicates that the manner in which parents handle divorce can have a direct effect on children’s adjustments.

But, parents, don’t fret because there are healthy and helpful ways to deal with these effects and the divorce process. In fact, many family clients of attorneys are not only urged but also required to take parenting classes that focus on these issues–how is the divorce effecting your child, how can you talk to your child about the effects of divorce, how to manage the divorce process without placing the child in the middle of the parents, how to maintain the relationship you have with your children despite the changes in your lives, etc. One such class is called “For Kids’ Sake” and it is taught by a psychologist trained and educated in these particular fields.

So, let’s say you become interested in this class and you call your attorney at Guest & Gray, P.C. in Kaufman County. This is the information that you would find out:

Any person can attend. It can not only be you, but you can bring your support system too–your parents, friends, aunts, uncles, etc.

There are seminars offered at several locations and times. Many parents are adjusting to their new schedules, and For Kids’ Sake understands that and makes accommodations. In fact, For Kids’ Sake is currently in over 50 counties throughout Texas.

For a list of classes and the times, you can call 214-526-4625. Also, you can request a registration form from this number as well. Or, your attorney at Guest & Gray can get that form on your behalf.

Nancy K. Pherrell, PhD, is the person who will lead the class primarily. But depending on the size of the class, there may be assistants also there.

The cost is a mere $50.00 per person which you pay in advance of attending the seminar.

Upon completion of the four hour class, you will receive a certificate of completion. This is not only beneficial for you and your child or children. But also, it can be filed in your case if your divorce is still pending and the judge will see the efforts and steps you are taking to ensure your child’s well-being.

The success rate of For Kids’ Sake in parents’ and their children’s lives is why so many courts are now requiring this program for many parents. As said before, divorce is an emotional, draining, and overwhelming process. It is so easy to be absorbed by your own emotions and not realize that it’s also effecting the children in the same ways it’s effecting you and in different ways as well. Being informed and receiving training is the only way to combat this. Call your attorney at Guest & Gray to receive more information. We are happy and honored to guide you through this process.