Monthly Archives: April 2015

Vehicle Tracking Devices & Other Illicit Approaches to Obtaining Evidence

Vehicle Tracking Devices & Other Illicit Approaches to Obtaining Evidence

Electronic devices may seemingly have changed the way private investigators can conduct investigations. It is easy to understand why people would believe that today, the process to obtain cell phone records or retrieve cell phone messages should be easier. The truth is that tracking devices for private investigation purposes do have their limits, even now. Do you feel slightly confused by all these technicalities? In this article we will address what methods of collection of evidence for private investigation use is considered illegal.

Here is a breakdown of frequently sought after services that we cannot provide, based on violation of privacy laws:

Cell Phone Records: Many of our clients want to know how to get cell phone records. Unless you are on the same cell phone account as the individual you are trying to investigate, you cannot legally obtain cell phone records relating to that person without a court subpoena. If you obtain cell phone records or retrieve text messages illegally, it will not only get thrown out of any court hearing, you may also face federal criminal charges.

Email Passwords: It is illegal to hack an email password of a spouse or significant other, just as much as it is illegal to hack an email password of a stranger. If you were never given the email password, or if you were given a previous email password and it has changed, then you are no longer entitled to the privacy of that person’s email. Any illegally obtained emails will not stand up in a court of law.

Vehicle Tracking Device: A vehicle tracking device is most commonly known as a GPS device. A vehicle tracking device is usually placed in a person’s vehicle or placed on a person in order to track their physical location. In most cases, a vehicle tracking device can offer an exact location of the person in question. Private investigators can legally place a vehicle tracking device on a car only if the owner who is on the title gives permission to do so. Unfortunately, to use a tracking device to investigate someone outside of a criminal case and without the approval of the person whose name is on the title of the vehicle is invasion of privacy and illegal.  Even as the legal owner of a vehicle, there are some stipulations in place that may prevent us from utilizing a vehicle tracking device. If you feel a GPS device may be beneficial to your investigation, we can help guide you toward the right direction, based on your individual case. Anyone who participates in using a vehicle tracking device on an unknown participant can possibly face consequences.

As private investigators, it is crucial to maintain our integrity, as well as our client’s integrity. We adhere to all privacy laws, because in the long run it will guarantee solid evidence that will stand up in a court of law and keep our clients from being criminally charged with violation of federal privacy laws. We can assure you that the evidence we can uncover will be evidence that you can present to an attorney and use for legal proceedings. If you would like to learn more about how to lawfully investigate someone you know, one of our private investigators is waiting to assist you.

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Questions About Surveillance

surveillance

What exactly is surveillance?
Surveillance, sometimes referred to casually as “tailing someone,” is a tactic frequently used by private investigators that involves the investigator following and observing a person primarily suspected of cheating. This could be a husband, wife, boyfriend or girlfriend. Any suspicious activity is documented and typically captured on film when possible. Surveillance is also used to obtain evidence of fraud with Workers Compensation claims, bad business practices, activities of an employee or business partner. There are many ways surveillance can be beneficial for the consumer outside of spousal surveillance.

What should I do if I’m too embarrassed to talk about my suspicions that my partner is cheating?
You should not have any feelings of embarrassment. While we understand that it can be awkward to discuss the private details of your personal relationship with someone whom you barely know, rest assured that you will experience nothing but the utmost sensitivity. We deal with cases of suspected infidelity on a very regular basis, and your case will be handled with the same level of professionalism and confidentiality with which all of our cases are handled. We fully understand and respect your desire to confirm the validity of your suspicions. You are entitled to the peace of mind that you are seeking.

What if my suspicions are proven wrong?
If there is no evidence that your partner is cheating, then you are in a better position than before you obtained our services! You have gained the peace of mind that you were looking for, and you have validation that the integrity of your relationship is in tact. In addition, since all of the investigations that we conduct are 100% confidential, there is no risk of your partner being upset with you for being being suspicious of him/her.

Is surveillance legal?
All of our surveillance techniques are performed within the parameters of the law. We will capture and document all of the available evidence using tactics allowed by law. As licensed investigators, we are intimately familiar with all laws regarding surveillance.

What are the costs associated with surveillance cases?
Each case has different needs and requirements. The first step is to gain an understanding of your needs and expectations and then develop a surveillance strategy around those needs and expectations. This is the most cost effective approach. From there, a budget can be established. No work will begin until you have agreed on the costs. Surveillance is customarily billed at an hourly rate, plus a mileage charge. Rates can vary based on the location of the required surveillance. A retainer is collected prior to the commencement of work. Credit cards, cash, checks and money orders are all acceptable forms of payment.

What happens if my retainer is not used in its entirety?
If there is any unused portion of your retainer, once your case is closed, we will reimburse those remaining funds to you.

How is the surveillance strategy determined?
Designing a solid surveillance strategy is a critical success factor in a surveillance case. We don’t even think about launching an investigation without first having a surveillance strategy that has been methodically and thoughtfully created. We will require your assistance in the development of this strategy as you have far more firsthand knowledge of your partner’s schedules, behaviors and habits. We will rely on you to guide us in determining where and when to watch them. There will be a number of things that we will consider, jointly with you, as we determine the proper surveillance strategy.

How many investigators will be assigned to my surveillance case?
The number of investigators required to conduct a successful surveillance is something that will be addressed as we design the surveillance strategy. This can depend on a variety of factors, ranging from the surveillance locations and the habits and behaviors of the subject, for example. We have surveillance cases where one investigator is sufficient, and other, more complicated cases where two or more investigators are needed to get the job done. We will ensure that we are dedicating the appropriate resources to effectively execute your surveillance case, while being sensitive to costs. Know that if we recommend additional investigators be assigned to your case, it is in your best interest. And you should be prepared for any additional costs as it will result in a more effective surveillance.

What should I do once the surveillance is under way?
Your job is to go about “business as usual.” Make sure that you do not change your daily habits and behaviors. And it is advised that you not ask your partner too many questions about his or her activities, plans, etc. This could cause your partner to become alarmed and possibly suspect that he or she is being investigated.

Can I be assured video and/or photos on my case?
We do everything possible to obtain video, but you must realize that video and/or photos may not always be easily obtained. There are times when investigators enter establishments where no cameras are permitted. Sometimes the lighting may not be appropriate. And other times it may create suspicion from a subject. So we used our professional judgment to determine when to capture video and/or photos. But rest assured that since we are considered expert witnesses anything we personally observe is treated as credible testimony in court.

How do you follow someone?
One must remember, we are not invisible. The movies make tailing someone look easy, but there is actually quite a bit of technique involved. It is definitely an acquired skill that requires the delicate ability to follow someone closely enough while still remaining completely covert. It’s somewhat of a balancing act as our goal is to maximize how closely and effectively we can follow the subject, but minimize the chance of being discovered or losing tthe subject. Many times, if the circumstances call for it, we will recommend the use of at least two investigators.

What if my partner finds out that I’ve hired a private investigator?
It is unlikely that your partner will find out that he or she is being followed and watched, but there’s always a risk that may happen. We take many steps to ensure that the investigation remains covert. You should do your part to secure the covertness as well by not doing or saying anything out of character. You especially never want to make any threats to hire an investigator. This could result in the subject becoming suspicious and thus more difficult to pursue. If you have ever threatened to hire a private investigator – even in jest – please inform us as this may cause us to readjust our surveillance strategy. Lastly, if we ever suspect that the security of the investigation has been compromised, we will notify you immediately and jointly determine how best to proceed.

What evidence can I expect to receive upon conclusion of the investigation?
You can expect to receive a video (when possible) or photos with documentation, along with a comprehensive written surveillance report that details the subject’s activities. At that point, you should have enough evidence to determine your plan of action.

What forms of payment do you accept?
We accept checks, cash, money orders and credit cards, including MasterCard, Visa, Discover and American Express.

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Benefits of Hiring a Private Investigator

Benefits of Hiring a Private Investigator

Many people don’t realize there are many services a private investigator can provide. The industry today far surpasses the “Colombo” days. The industry today is full of professional, ethical and moral individuals. Some private investigators only specialize in certain areas while others are a full service agency. Many of the services provided, that the general public is not aware of, include the following:

Education/Experience/Resources
Most private investigators, but not all, come from Law Enforcement backgrounds or criminal justice degrees and/or careers. Their training and experience alone can expose them to resources and tools that the average person does not. Furthermore, most individuals don’t have the time, education, legal liability knowledge, skills or training to perform an investigation on their own. Many individuals do not want their own privacy compromised. There are many risks involved in performing an investigation and it is best to let the professionals, who have the knowledge, perform the task.

Benefits for Business Owners/Employers/Individuals
In today’s society, performing a background check on your potential employee is critical. This could be a staff member, business partner, household employee, nanny, etc. These are all individuals that should be checked thoroughly. Private Investigators have access to databases unavailable to the general public. A private investigator will also have the skills to dig deeper into a person’s history. You may also be checking on a potential relationship partner. With the increase of internet dating it has become imperative that you perform safe dating checks to avoid entering into a potentially dangerous or volatile situation.

Domestic and Criminal Investigations

Many attorneys, as well as individuals going through a civil or criminal law suit, need the assistance of a Private Investigator. Most attorneys don’t have time to do the digging in their client’s case. Many cases are won in court with the assistance of a Private Investigator and the evidence they collected. Licensed Private Investigators are considered Expert Witnesses. Private Investigators can interview subjects, perform surveillance and prove the facts they provide. Anything they personally observe is considered credible testimony in court.

Bringing families together
In cases of runaways, missing persons, or long lost friends and relatives, Private Investigators can work in the courts, along with other resources, in order to find these missing or lost individuals. Sometimes a Private Investigator is the only answer. Once the information is obtained, you will know it was collected in a legal and professional manner.

This entry was posted in Child Custody, Divorce, Identity Theft, Internet Safety, Runaways, Safety, Surveillance. Bookmark the permalink.

Fathers Custody Rights Matter

father-custody-rights-txA custody battle might be every divorced parent’s worst nightmare – but for fathers, custody rights take on a whole different meaning. Texas dads have it better than some: about 50% of fathers looking for sole custody are eventually granted it, but it takes a lot of work. For some divorcees, the only way to protect their children is through a child custody investigation conducted by a professional. And if that’s the case, then a private investigator can help.

If you’re new to the areas of divorce and child custody, hiring a private investigator might seem like a drastic step. It isn’t. That’s because there’s no such thing as a drastic step when it comes to your children’s welfare. Their safety comes first, because in Texas it’s not about the gender, it’s about who’s the better parent.  The Texas Equal Rights Amendment of 1973 ensures that judges cannot rely on the sex/gender of a parent in determining custody. That means fathers have custody rights equal to mothers, and hiring a PI to sort it all out can save you time, money and heartache, while limiting the amount of damage an unfit parent can do.

There are certain things you need to consider about how to gain custody of a child:

Age: There’s a MASSIVE difference between a breast-feeding infant and a pre-teen. In fact, if the child is at least 12 years old, a judge may consider that child’s preference.

Cooperation: Are you and your ex-spouse able to come to mature, rational and mutually supported decisions? If you’ve gone through a divorce, and the child custody arrangement isn’t working, a judge will look at you and your ex to see if the problems are being caused not by the arrangement, but by your mutual unwillingness to work together.

Character: So many child custody investigations lead to proof of poor character on behalf of one spouse or another. Fathers seeking custody rights are often granted sole custody because the mother has proved unfit in some way.

Stability: Do you have a job, while she does not? Do you have health care, while she does not? Do you have a better home in a better suited neighborhood, with spaces for bedrooms for all children? Are you the one playing the role of “Mr. Mom” while she is out with her friends or doing things for herself? All of these things matter in a child custody investigation.

Hiring a Professional for your Child Custody Investigation

There are almost 2 million single dads in America, which makes a father’s custody rights a much bigger issue than one might think. But unless you’re a lawyer who specializes in family law, you probably don’t know much about divorce and child custody, nor about how to get your fair share of time with your children. If you’re like most single parents, all you know about how to gain custody of a child comes from Internet blogs or TV – and that’s okay. But it’s not going to get you sole custody of your child. Hiring a private investigator can help. A PI is a certified, licensed and professionally-trained individual who is not only familiar with the laws, but knows exactly how to determine if your ex-spouse is breaking them.

So what does a PI do?

  • Surveillance: Most private investigators use video surveillance to see if your spouse is spending enough time with your child, leaving the child in precarious situations, and/or treating the child well. Surveillance has been successfully used in court as evidence to give fathers custody rights of children who are being neglected or otherwise mistreated by their mothers.
  • Research: PI’s know the laws regarding divorce and child custody – period. They have access to research and files that might not be available to you, which means they can lead a much more thorough child custody investigation than you could. This understanding of the laws saves you time, money and aggravation. It can also lesson the anxiety associated with courtroom visits.
  • Documentation: A good private investigator documents EVERYTHING: everything s/he sees, hears, reads and/or writes. This leaves a “paper trail,” so to speak, that can help justify your reason for seeking out sole custody of your children.

You wouldn’t hire a roofer to replace your plumbing, right? So why wouldn’t you take advantage of a service that knows how to gain custody of a child? Divorces are difficult enough on fathers: custody rights shouldn’t add to the stress. So if you’re a dad seeking sole custody of a child because you believe his/her mother is a negligent, abusive or an unstable parent, it’s time to gather the evidence that proves you’re a better parent. Hiring a professional private investigator is the first step in ensuring the safety and well-being of your children.

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What to Do about Teenage Runaways

What to Do about Teenage Runaways

There are about two million cases of teenage runaways in America each year. The majority of them are under the age of 18. To put it in more relatable terms, the annual number of teenage runaways is equivalent to the number of people in Houston, Texas. On average, 1/3 of them will be sexually abused; another third will attempt suicide; about 1/10 are thought to be pregnant.

That’s why it’s imperative that every parent know the Dos and Don’ts of how to find a runaway. Time is of the essence in every case, and the following steps can help you save your child from becoming a statistic.

DO: Call the police. Immediately. Police are trained specifically in how to find a runaway, so alerting them immediately means they can starting looking as soon as possible.
DO: File a Missing Persons report, and ask your local law enforcement to issue an Amber Alert if possible. Contact the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, as well as any local community services that offer runaway hotlines.
DO: Make color copies of as many up-to-date photos of your child as you can. Distribute those photos in local hangouts, schools, restaurants and shopping plazas.
DO: Ask your child’s friends, schoolmates and teachers if they’ve seen your missing son/daughter. A number of teenage runaways will “let slip” valuable information about their whereabouts, or about their general plans for leaving.
DO: Activate the tracking devices for cell phones – yours and theirs. It may give the police a lead about your child has gone, and will help them keep in touch with you in case any evidence is uncovered. Ask other family members to install tracking devices for their cell phones, too, just in case your missing child makes contact.

DON’T: Touch your computer. At all. There could be valuable information stored in emails, instant messages and social media posts.
DON’T: Cancel any bank accounts or credit cards your child can access. Teenage runaways may use them for gas money or to make purchases, which can help law enforcement officials locate your child more quickly.
DON’T: List your home telephone number on “Missing” posters. Direct all inquiries and tips to your local police station.
DON’T: Turn off your child’s cell phone. Even if you haven’t activated any of the phone provider’s tracking devices for their cell phones, the cops may be able to get a location of your child by monitoring the number.
DON’T: Expect everything to be the same when your child returns. Remember that your child is frightened and angry, too. Seeking help from a counselor who specializes in teenagers and parenting is a good way to make sure everyone involved has a chance to air out their feelings.
DON’T: Be afraid to hire a private investigator. PIs work with the police all the time; their ultimate goal is to help you and your children reunite. When it comes finding teenage runaways, every little bit can help.

Professionals Know Best How to Find a Runaway Teen

It’s impossible to truly understand how a parent feels when a child runs away, but it’s safe to assume that you’ll be scared, angry, confused and/or depressed. You may also feel as though you’re better equipped to conduct a search than a private investigator or the local cops. After all – they’re “strangers,” right? Who knows your child better than you?

But it’s important to be realistic. A professional investigator will know how to find a runaway far more quickly and efficiently than you will. PIs have been trained to find missing persons, and they’re able to survey the situation in a much more objective manner. They may have access to police records that you won’t have, and can reach out to a vast professional network for help.

Teenagers and Parenting: How to Prevent Your Child from Running Away

Ideally you’ll never need any of the information you just read, because your child won’t leave home without telling you first. But most teenage runaways aren’t looking for attention: they’re looking for a way out of a bad situation. If you think your child might be planning to run it’s time to sit down and hear him/her out. Ask your child if s/he’s happy – and be open-minded about the response. Listen to what s/he says, and ask questions. You may not like what you hear, but becoming accusatory (“How could you hurt me like that?”) or placing blame (“It’s your fault I yell all the time: you never help me around the house!”) will escalate a bad situation quickly.

Make it a point to learn the names of your kids’ friends, teachers and employers/fellow employees. Keep a record of their license plate numbers and the types of cars they drive. Don’t be afraid to ask for the names of your children’s friends’ parents, either. Your teen may gripe a bit about you being “nosey,” but information like that makes it easier for you to stay up-to-date on your kids’ lives. In the end, it’s better to know what your child is up to than have to learn how to find a runaway teen.

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Important Safety Information for Parenting Teenagers

Important Safety Information for Parenting Teenagers

When you’re parenting teenagers, September might seem like the most wonderful time of the year: your children are back in school, so you know where they are at all times, right? But as any mom or dad will tell you, the academic year doesn’t give you a break from parenting. Teenagers are surrounded by their friends all day and may be connected online all night. As a parent, you need to be ever vigilant to ensure that your kids are safe.

That’s why we’ve collected this list of back to school tips for parents. Here you’ll find concrete advice and recommendations for keeping your kids safe – even when they’re out of your sight.

Staying Safe: Back to School Tips for Parents

For many teenagers, the best part of school is social. But when your children are making new friends – online or in person – it may introduce them to realities that you weren’t quite prepared for. In order to keep your kids safe, we recommend the following steps.

  • Meet the friends. Make sure to learn their full names, cell phone numbers and addresses of any new school friends. If you think you’ll feel safer, invite the new friends to your home for the initial meet and greet. Don’t allow your children to take trips or car rides with the new friends until you’ve met them.
  • Meet the parents. Ask your children for their friends’ parents’ telephone numbers. Your children may grumble – nobody said parenting teenagers would be easy – but two sets of parents keeping an eye out is safer than one. You should also consider exchanging information about what kinds of cars you drive, so that you (and the other parents) will know what to look for if your children go out together.
  • Meet the teachers. Your teen will spend more time in school than awake at home. One of the best back to school tips for parents is to get involved with your children’s education. Teachers may pick up on problems that you miss, and children whose parents are involved with their schooling tend to fare better while there.
  • Meet the bus driver. Parents tend to forget about school bus drivers, but you trust them to take your children safely to school and back home again. Plus, your children are making new friends on those buses who you may not know. It helps to know who the driver – and those new friends – are when you put your kids on the bus.

In the Cloud: Internet Safety Tips for Parents

Because schools are making the shift to web-based learning, your children will spend more time online doing school work than you may expect. To help you keep more children protected while online, we suggest the following internet safety tips for parents:

  • Use parental controls on all computers – even those belonging to your teens
  • Limit time spent on social media sites
  • Ask teachers about online homework assignments ahead of time
  • Stay with your children while they do their homework
  • Eliminate internet access on your child’s cell phone
  • Help your children with their online homework assignments
  • Remind your kids that anything they put online is public knowledge

Remember that there’s nothing wrong with asking for help when it comes to parenting. Teenagers are undergoing incredible hormonal changes, and their personalities may appear to change without warning. Teachers and school administrators have years of schooling and skills, and they may be able to offer some valuable advice about keeping your kids safe and sound, in school and out of it.

This entry was posted in General, Identity Theft, Internet Safety, Safety. Bookmark the permalink.

Keep the Holidays Merry with Our Safe Shopping Tips

To keep your holidays the most wonderful time of the year, try some safe shopping tips that really work. By following a few simple guidelines, shoppers can avoid losing their money, their identity or even their lives this year.

  • Shop during daylight hours. Try to avoid shopping later at night, when it’s dark.  If you must go out at night, choose shopping centers with well-lit parking lots or garages, and keep your keys out while you walk.
  • Don’t open car doors from far away. The remote that activates your car locks might seem like a useful tool — especially when you have lots of packages or bags — but if you open your doors too soon before you get to the car, you’re allowing potential predators to jump into your car.
  • Report “lurkers.” One of the most useful safe shopping tips comes from your gut: if it looks “wrong,” or if you feel uncomfortable, let a security guard or law enforcement officer know. Runaway teenagers may consider turning to theft if they’re hungry or cold during the holiday season, so report anyone who makes you feel unsafe, regardless of their age.
  • Avoid carrying a purse/wallet in your back pocket. Keep your driver’s license, cash and credit cards in your front pocket, for easy access and easy reach. It’s more difficult for someone to pick your front pocket, and purses and pocketbooks can attract thieves. Identity theft protection tips such as this may help you keep more than just your belongings safe, too.

Identity Theft Protection Tips that Work

For people who shop both in stores and online, we offer identity theft protection tips to keep your holidays from turning into your nightmares. Being alert may help you avoid losing your identity to hackers or thieves this year.

  • Don’t save your information online. It’s so much simpler to save your banking information on the sites you use often — but it makes it much easier for internet predators to steal that information.  Take the few extra moments to fill in your credit card information every time you shop — and only use sites designated as “safe” by your online protection services.
  • Don’t carry unnecessary information with you. One of the best identity theft protection tips law enforcement or investigators can offer involves keeping your identification papers at home, where they belong. Carry only what you need, such as a driver’s license, and leave what you don’t, such as passports.
  • Get credit cards with your picture on them. If your bank card has your picture on it, it’ll be harder to use it in person for a thief who looks nothing like you.  There are pro’s and con’s to this idea, so discuss with your credit card company as to what is the best option is for you.
  • Changes your passwords. Our safe shopping tips for online shoppers involve changing passwords and security questions and answers. If you use the same passwords for all of your social media and online shopping accounts, create new passwords for each site.

Prevent Kidnapping and Runaway Teenagers this Year

Tensions run high at the holidays. People are distracted, and sometimes we lose sight of what’s important. But by talking to your teens and children, you can keep your loved ones safe and prevent kidnapping attempts. As soon as possible, do the following:

  • Leave kids at home with a trusted babysitter during shopping trips, which can help you prevent kidnapping from a crowded place.
  • Don’t allow children to shop in the store without you.
  • Teach your children their full name and address, as well as their phone number, in case they become separated.
  • Teach children to wait for you at a register in the store. Store clerks and security officers can page you over the intercom.
  • Talk to your kids. Runaway teenagers are often under a lot of pressure, from themselves or someone else. Encourage them to discuss their problems with you in a stress-free environment, and really listen to their concerns.
This entry was posted in Identity Theft, Internet Safety, Runaways, Safety. Bookmark the permalink.

Talking to Children about Divorce and the Holidays Eases Stress

Talking to Children about Divorce and the Holidays Eases Stress

The holidays can be a stressful time, and talking to your children about divorce related topics – like who’s going to which house for Christmas dinner – can be hard for parents. But studies have shown that keeping your kids in the loop, and being willing to talk about their concerns, does more for helping children through divorce than almost anything else.

So what can you do to keep your kids calm and collected this year?  Try these ideas, and see how much better your holidays will be.

  1. Plan out the child custody holiday schedule in advance. Kids get shuffled around a lot during the holiday season, and it’s not always fair to them. By planning out the child custody holiday schedule ahead of time, you can eliminate confusion and feelings of anxiety.  Plus, kids like routines: telling them what they’re doing, where they’re going and how long they’ll be there will allow them to feel as though they’re still in control.
  2. Create options for travel (when possible). If your child will have to travel extensively during the holidays, s/he may feel some anxiety over how much time s/he will have with loved ones.  If possible, create some different traveling options for your child. If your child believes that all the holidays are going to be spent traveling, s/he might be less likely to see the point of celebrating.  But if you give your kids some control over how and when you travel, you can avoid those feelings of anxiety.
  3. Consider “moving” the holidays to another day. One of the more difficult aspects of preparing your children for a divorce is deciding how the holidays will be split up. It might be easier on everyone if holiday celebrations can be “moved” according to schedule. So instead of shuffling your kids around all day on Thanksgiving, plan a special Thanksgiving dinner on Friday night for you and your family.
  4. Start some new traditions. Sure, Christmas Day is always fun – but there’s no reason that Christmas Eve can’t be just as fun.  Instead of forcing your children to move from home to home on Christmas Day, split the holiday into two full days of Christmas joy. You and your ex can always rotate between Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, if that’s best.  Plus, your kids have the added bonus of two full days of celebration.

Helping Your Children through Divorce at the Holidays

The most important thing to remember when talking to your children about divorce is that positivity goes a long way. As the old saying goes, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.” It’s imperative that you and your ex remain upbeat and positive around your children.  If you have concerns about things you may have heard, don’t let your children know: address them separately with your ex at a different time.

And remember that kids are pretty smart.  Asking them to “spy” on Mommy or Daddy creates big problems.  Allow your kids to enjoy the time they’re spending with their other parent in a safe and guilt-free way.

By speaking to your children in a clear and age-appropriate way, you’re helping the children through the divorce process in a healthy way. Encourage them to tell you what they feel and to ask questions when they’re confused.  If you keep the dialogue open and positive, your kids will end up happier and healthier. It may also have the added bonus of making the child custody holiday schedule easier to plan, because your kids will tell you outright what works best for them.  Ultimately, you’ll make the decisions – but a little bit on input goes a long way.

This entry was posted in Child Custody, Divorce. Bookmark the permalink.

Great Safety Tips for Spring Breaks, Vacations and Holidays

Vetting the safety tips for Spring break and vacations that you find on the Internet can be a tough job. You can find a number of sites that recommend good, common sense ideas.  But the best safety tips for spring breaks, vacations and holidays go beyond the obvious, and offer you valuable advice for keeping yourself and your loved ones secure.

  • Travel in a pack. The best travel safety tips you can follow remind you not to go it alone. Make trips to the ATM with all of the people in your group, and double-check your surroundings for suspicious looking characters.  If you must leave your hotel alone, make sure to inform your group about exactly where you’re going — and keep your phone handy.
  • Keep your eyes on your drinks. Whether you’re in a bar or drinking an orange juice at breakfast, keep your drink with you at all times.  It’s easy for dangerous people to slip something into your drink if you leave it unattended.
  • Stick to day time sight-seeing. Unless you and your group are planning a tour, it’s best to keep your sight-seeing experiences confined to daylight hours.  By traveling in groups during the day, you’re less likely to become a victim of an abduction or identity theft. It’s also easier to scan your surroundings for people who seem out of place or dangerous.
  • Wear sunscreen. What list of travel safety tips for spring break would be complete without mentioning sunscreen?  Sunburns are painful, yes, but they’re also dangerous — especially if you’ve been drinking.  You can dehydrate quickly, or suffer severe burns that require medical attention.
  • Trust your gut. If you feel uncomfortable, unsafe or anxious, get out — fast.  Make it a point to find the local police station.  For those traveling abroad, any list of safety tips — for spring break, for vacations, for holidays — worth its salt will recommend that you find the American Embassy in the country you’re visiting.

Travel Safety Tips That Keep You Secure While Traveling

Not everyone who goes on spring break is in college, of course — and some spring break travelers include children traveling alone for the first time. Below you’ll find some travel safety tips for people of all ages.  They’re effective whether you’re sight-seeing in another state or hopping a plane for another country, and everywhere in between.

  • Photocopy your documents. Your driver’s license, your passport, any form of photo ID that you carry: make copies of all of them. Make sure to give a copy to a friend or neighbor, and pack an additional copy in your bags. This applies to children traveling alone or with a group, too.  A common form of identity theft involves stealing the Social Security numbers of kids.  You can protect their futures in the long-run by making copies now.
  • Keep your wallets in your front pockets. It’s easier for pick-pockets to get to your back pockets, and you’re less likely to feel it.  The same goes for men’s jacket pockets.  To keep your wallet safe, place it in your front pocket.  You may also consider keeping your money in one pocket and your wallet in the other.
  • Get your shots. Of all the travel safety tips we offer, this is among the most important.  Other places carry other forms of germs and bacteria.  (This is especially important for children traveling alone to visit relatives or friends around the country — or the world.) Being sick at home is bad: being violently ill in another country is dangerous.  Make sure to get you and your family vaccinated before you travel.

Spring break is supposed to be fun. But “fun” and “safe” don’t need to be mutually exclusive.  By following these basic travel safety tips, you can ensure that you have an exciting vacation while protecting yourself and your loved ones.

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Learn the Custody Laws in Texas to Ensure a Safe Summer Trip

Learn the Custody Laws in Texas to Ensure a Safe Summer Trip

Custody laws in Texas, like throughout much of the United States, are guided by specific rules set down by the courts. The main concern of the courts is always what’s in the best interest of the child. Because of this, child visitation agreements are designed with the rights of the children in mind as much as the rights of the parents.

But when holidays and summer vacation roll around, it may be hard for a custodial parent to remember that a child’s visitation rights are at stake — especially if your divorce wasn’t as amicable as you would’ve liked.  And it can be hard for a non-custodial parent to stick to a strict visitation schedule, especially if you feel like your parenting time favors the other spouse.  So to ensure that you’re not only sticking to the court-mandated guidelines around the custody laws in Texas, but that you’re also spending as much quality time with your child as you can, we recommend the following tips to create a stress-free summer visit for you, your former spouse, and most especially your kids.

Your Kids Have Rights, Too, under Child Visitation Agreements

Regardless of how you feel about child visitation agreements, it’s imperative that you and your ex work together to create a healthy and happy environment for your kids.  When you’re handling the details of a summer visitation schedule, consider the following:

  • Sometimes, you have to be flexible. It’s possible that your children are the ones who are pushing for more time at the pool or another sleepover in the tree house outside. Remember: your kids don’t care about the custody laws in Texas; they care about having fun with their mom or dad.  Before you fly off the handle at a former spouse who can’t stick to a rigid time table, or who needs to switch a weekend visit, take a deep breath and discuss concessions you’re willing to make to accommodate changes in schedules.
  • Sometimes, you need to be firm. “Child visitation rights” means that your child has a right to spend time with both custodial and non-custodial parents.  If your ex tends to blow off his/her weekends and vacations, it creates stress not just for you but for your children. Make it a point to sit down with your ex and rationally discuss the importance of sticking to the holiday or summer visitation schedule, so that your children don’t feel unloved or unwanted.
  • Always, you need to think about safety. If you find that your children come home different than when they left, or resist going on vacation with their other parent, don’t ignore the signs: speak with your lawyer immediately.  If you’re unsure whether or not your former spouse is being abusive, consider hiring a private investigator to collect evidence.  Courts will grant modifications to child visitation agreements if the safety of the child is in jeopardy. Working with your lawyer and a PI may be the difference between a holiday of abuse and a holiday of relaxation.

It’s hard to see your children leave for the summer, but by putting their best interests first, you can avoid a lot of unnecessary stress. If you’re suspicious of your ex’s behavior, speak with an investigator who can help. If you’re angry that your spouse can’t stick to the appropriate time frame to drop off the kids, think before you yell.  Ultimately, the parenting time plan should allow for you and your former spouse to spend enough time with your children — not just for you, but for your kids. By remembering that your child has visitation rights too, you’re in a better position to create a safe and secure environment for your kids that can satisfy everyone.

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