Most people probably don’t think of all the new people they might meet during a divorce. When we think of divorce, we usually think of the two spouses and the kids. We may even consider the parents-in-law. But there are other people who may play a role in the divorce. Don’t be surprised to see the following folks make an appearance in your divorce.
Office of Attorney General
The Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG) represents the State in collecting child support. The OAG doesn’t intervene into every divorce, but expect to meet the OAG if the children are receiving any state benefit like Medicaid, CHIPs, or WIC. If a parent can pay support, then why should the taxpayers be on the hook for these services? That’s the OAG’s theory. The OAG’s plays the role in the divorce of protecting the taxpayers from the expense of state benefits by requiring child support and medical support.
When the OAG intervenes, it’s supposed to be only for the purpose of collecting child support. Many people make the mistake of thinking the OAG is there to help them in the divorce. The OAG represents the State of Texas, not the parties in the divorce. Many issues in a typical divorce exceed the scope of the OAG’s interest and job. Simply put, the OAG collects child support; making sure things in the divorce are fair is not the OAG’s job. Competent divorce lawyers make sure the OAG stays neutral and account for the taxpayers’ interest in the proceedings.
Occasionally, law enforcement appears in divorces. Use extreme caution when dealing with law enforcement.
Keep in mind that cops have the job of stopping crime, so they are always looking for crimes to stop. If cops show up to your house, be careful to avoid any act that remotely resembles a crime. The police will arrest the person they think is the aggressor regardless of who “started it.” Generally, if one person has scratches or is bleeding, the other is getting arrested. Cops can be subpoenaed for trial, so be careful what you say too.
Cops play a role in divorce in a few ways. Sometimes one spouse calls the police alleging the other spouse committed a crime, usually assault. In the case of a loud altercation, neighbors frequently call the police too. Rarely, the cops show up on the request of a spouse to supervise one spouse leaving the residence. In this case, the cops serve as peacekeepers, but they don’t always have time to serve this role.
Rule: If a crime has been committed, or if a crime is imminent, call 911. Police won’t get involved in marital disputes, but they will arrest abusers. They will make one of the spouses leave the residence if they think the situation is volatile. If you get arrested, don’t answer any more questions from the police until you speak with your lawyer. Whether you get arrested or not, keep your divorce lawyer updated on the situation as soon as you can.
Child Protective Services
The Texas Department of Family Protective Services gets involved in many divorces. The agency used to be called Child Protective Services, or CPS for short. The agency changed names because it also deals with abuse of the elderly and disabled. Still, most folks still call the agency CPS. They show up in divorces when there are allegations of abuse or neglect of a child.
Not surprisingly, parents in a divorce call CPS on each other. Sometimes, the reporting parent legitimately believes the other parent is abusing or neglecting the child. Other times, parents falsely allege abuse to CPS to try to gain leverage in the divorce. If you believe your children are in danger, please report the issue to CPS or law enforcement.
If you think an unfounded report to CPS will help your case against your spouse, DON’T. Filing false reports with CPS is a crime. Likewise, the divorce judge will only see a vindictive parent who is willing to file false reports against the other parent. That won’t help your case at all.
School personnel like nurses, counselors and teachers have a duty to report suspected abuse to CPS. Counselors and doctors also share the same duty. Even your lawyer has a duty to report abuse of children. So, there are several ways a CPS investigator can show up at your door with questions.
Rule: If a CPS investigator is looking into allegations of abuse against you, you need a lawyer. Professionalism, skill, competency, and ethics vary greatly between individual investigators. The “I have nothing to hide, so I will tell the truth” concept is extremely dangerous with CPS. Don’t meet with investigators without your divorce lawyer. Don’t sign a safety plan until your lawyer advises you.
Your Spouse’s New Love Interest
Most people who file for divorce have been thinking about doing so for two years or more. Consequently, divorcing spouses often have a new love interest by the time the divorce is actually filed. Or maybe, they were “just friends” until the divorce is filed, but now they are dating. Of course, in long divorces, it’s possible for spouses to start entirely new dating relationships.
Be ready to meet the new love interest. He or she will have his or her own agenda and will be squarely on your spouse’s side. The new lover will believe everything your spouse says about you, good or bad. He or she can complicate the divorce and ratchet up conflict on your spouse’s side.
The courts generally don’t care about adultery. If the new lover is safe around the kids, he or she won’t affect the custody much if any. If the paramour uses illegal drugs, has a criminal past, or is a sex offender, the courts care about those things. Make sure your lawyer knows the facts about the paramour.
If your spouse didn’t spend significant money on the lover, he or she likely won’t affect the property division either. If your spouse spent money on romantic getaways, helped pay the lover’s rent, or some other big expense, those issues can affect the divorce. However, proving up the expenditures the spouse made on the paramour is often expensive work. The legal fees required for this work could be more than the lost money. Your lawyer should help you with a cost/benefit analysis of proving up money wasted on a lover.
If you are the one who is dating during the divorce, we have addressed that topic before. See our blog about dating during your divorce.
Youngblood Law, PLLC is a Fort Worth, Texas law firm dedicated to family law. We help working people through divorce so they can start their new happily ever after. We also proudly offer the collaborative divorce process for our clients. This essay is intended for educational use only and is not a replacement for competent legal counsel. If you are facing a family law matter, we recommend obtaining competent legal counsel like Youngblood Law, PLLC. For more information, contact us at (817) 601-5345, find us on the web at youngblood-law.com.
Paul Youngblood #beforeyournext #lawfw #youngbloodlaw #collaborativedivorce #beingdivorceddoesntsuck