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Non-Traditional Family Issues in Texas Family Courts

Non-Traditional Family Issues in Texas Family Courts
Hendershot, Cannon & Hisey, P.C.

Families come in all shapes and sizes and have radically changed throughout the years. Just as the cities in which we live have become strikingly more urbanized, our technologies more advanced, and our hairstyles less dependent on hair spray, our families can, and often do, look very different from how they did before.

As we always reiterate to our clients, every divorce and family law case is defined by its unique circumstances, and the available options and outcomes any client may have are dependent on many different factors – whether it’s a large estate, a family business, or a substance abuse problem.

The uniqueness of non-traditional family issues, however, can create the potential for added difficulties in Texas family courts, not only due to the simple fact that they aren’t very common, but also for reasons which indicate a lack of explicit, equal, or well-defined laws.

What’s a Traditional Family Anyway?

Researchers have exhaustively studied the “American Family,” and have found things like increased connectivity, modern migration, higher divorce rates, and more turnover in our intimate partnerships have created complex families on a scale never seen before – both in what they look like, and what issues they deal with.

In many ways, that’s a good thing. Families overall, according to public policy researchers at Johns Hopkins University, are more diverse in their beliefs, living arrangements, race, ethnicity, and style than they’ve ever been. A “Traditional Family” if one were have ever to existed, is still not immune from having issues that complicate their journeys in family court, and “Non-Traditional Families,” whatever they may be, may be more likely to face such challenges.

Examples of Non-Traditional Family Law Issues

Non-traditional issues can range widely and aren’t limited to any specific type of arrangement or family structure. Examples include:

  • Blended Families – High divorce rates have drastically increased the number of so-called “blended families,” but that doesn’t mean single-parent-divorcees are the only type of blended family. In fact, they can be just about anything; they can be a mix of step-children and step-parents, adolescent parents, and multi-generational households to grandparents, non-parents, and extended family raising a child.
  • LGBTQ Families – Laws are consistently being reshaped to better reflect the rights of same-sex families, and despite the landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges to legalize same-sex marriage, there remain legal issues LGBTQ parents, partners, and spouses may have to face when it comes to divorce, adoption, child custody, and more; and they can vary by jurisdiction and the particular facts involved.
  • Unmarried Parents / Cohabitation – Studies have confirmed that younger generations, specifically millennials, are getting married at a later age, or choosing to cohabitate and become parents without getting married. These arrangements can make for unique issues when it comes to splitting up, or resolving child custody, visitation, support, and paternity for unmarried parents and couples in common law marriages.
  • Gray Divorce – “Gray divorce” rates may be rising among older Americans, but it’s still a type of non-traditional issue that can be grounds for unique considerations in family law cases. At a time when they may be preparing for retirement, restricted income, and growing medical needs, these spouses often have specific concerns related to property division and spousal support (alimony).
  • Disability – Physical and mental disabilities are certainly cause for unique considerations in family law, especially when it comes to guardianship/conservatorship, ensuring care, and addressing financial needs.
  • Non-Traditional Work – Whether it’s military service, a career that requires constant travel, or other forms of non-traditional work, the unique elements of a person’s job can impact proceedings ranging from divorce to child custody and shared parenting when standard possession orders won’t work.

Hendershot, Cannon & Hisey, P.C. has earned a regional reputation for helping individuals and families navigate the complexities of their divorce and family law cases. If you have a potential matter to discuss, whatever it may involve, call (713) 909-7323 or contact us to learn how we may be able to help.