Sunday, August 21, 2016

Back to School Tips for Co-parents

Co-parenting after divorce is often a minefield, especially when there is still parental conflict or resentment because of what happened during the marriage or the divorce. The issues associated with the start of the school year can strain the co-parenting relationship as they negotiate the last days of summer, the first day of school, the purchase of school supplies and school clothes, child care arrangements, extracurricular activities, pickups and dropoffs, and much more. This time stresses the need for more communication, and unfortunately raises the risk of miscommunication between co-parents who probably have little tolerance or patience for the other.


A few helpful tips for avoiding pitfalls when starting off the school year (and lowering the risk for co-parent miscommunication and potential litigation):  
1) Get information directly from the school by enrolling in your child’s school’s Parent Portal System, if available. These programs allow parents to access information on grading, attendance, discipline and assignments.
2) Establish your own relationship with teachers, coaches, and school officials. Coordinate with the other parent a rotating schedule to bring in snacks and supplies so that the effort is shared and that one parent is not always bearing the burden (and accompanying resentment). Review the school calendar and add the school breaks and holidays to your personal calendar versus relying on the other parent to communicate this information. This goes for extracurricular activities as well.
3) Extend courtesy to the other parent.  One of the greatest lessons we can pass on to our children is applying the Golden Rule in our relationships. For example, if you have possession of your child on a holiday or a special milestone such as your child’s first dance, invite the other parent to come over for pictures and to participate. A little goes a long way.


The above tips will help you maintain focus on your child and demonstrate to your child (and co-parent even if they don’t readily acknowledge it) that your co-parenting relationship is important to you and that you have your childs best interest at heart.  If nothing else, it will provide good evidence in Court.  

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Changing your name in Texas

Many brides choose to change their last name to reflect their husband's and divorcees want to return to their maiden names but are often questioning how to do so after the wedding or the divorce. I'm going through such a process myself.  I've decided after almost seven years of marriage and four years of parenthood to finally change my name to the "family name". It's time consuming process which involves a lot of "notifications", phone calls, and and legwork.

1. Get several certified copies of Proof of Name Change.  

Brides:  get several certified copies of your certificate of marriage i.e. fully executed and recorded marriage license.  Divorcees:  Get certified copies of your divorce decree or if you're in the process of getting divorced, request that your attorney enter a one page order reinstating your maiden name that will be executed at the same time as your divorce decree. This will eliminate the need for you to pay for several copies of a very long order which usually ranges from 30-60 pages.

2.  Notify Government Agencies.

  • Driver's License. Take Proof of Name Change with you to your local DPS office in Texas. You will need to replace the ID so you can't go online like an address change.  You'll complete a form and then request that they update your voter's registration.  Two birds!  I got my new license in the mail in about a week and an updated voter's registration card shortly thereafter.
  • Social Security Card. Take the Proof of Name Change and your new license to your Social Security Office. You will need to complete the SS-5 Form, and take (or mail) your completed application and required documentation to your local social security office. You will need to provide proof of: (1) your legal name change (certified copy), (2) identity (new driver's license), and (3) US citizenship (if you were not a US citizen prior to the name change). The social security office will then notify the IRS.  Two birds!  
  • Passport.  This is a fairly simple process. If you have had your valid passport for over one year, and it was issued when you were 16 or older use the DS-82 FormIf your valid passport was issued within the past year use the DS-5504 FormIf you do not have a valid passport; your passport was lost, stolen or damaged; it has expired; or you don’t have proof of legal name change, use the DS-11 Form, which needs to be submitted in person. Fill out the correct form, then print and either mail to the Passport Agency or take to your local passport office. Make sure to include the appropriate fee, proof of legal name change, your old valid passport, and two passport photos. Locate the Local Passport Office nearest you. 
3.  Notify Everyone else! 

Most often your family and friends already know ;-) either because of their relationship with you or an announcement on Facebook.  But be sure to notify all those that you do "business" with whether personally or professionally.  Oftentimes these include the following:

  • Your Employer (payroll, medical plans, 401K etc.)
  • Banks
  • Credit Cards
  • Loans (mortgage, home, school etc.)
  • Investments (stock broker, mutual funds etc.)
  • Utility Companies (gas, electric, water, internet, cable, etc.)
  • Retirement Plans
  • Professional Organizations (professional licenses)
  • Doctors
  • Insurance Companies (Health, Dental, Life, Renters/Home Owners, Automotive, etc.)
  • Memberships (AAA, clubs, gym, etc.)
  • Professional Service Providers (attorney, accountant, etc.)



Monday, March 28, 2016

Now meeting clients at a new location closer to downtown

 I am now offering appointments at a new location closer to downtown at the request of my clients. The address is 901 Mopac Expressway South, Building 1, Suite 300, Austin, 78746. This location is by appointment only as I spend a majority of my time in court or at my 290 office which is closer to home and my daughter's school.This convenient location is just south of downtown on Mopac and very convenient to the courthouse and has free parking. You can schedule an appointment via email to jencochranlaw@gmail.com or call (512) 870-8187.

Sunday, November 08, 2015

Austin Adoption Day

Austin Adoption Day was held on November 5, 2016 at the Gardner Betts Juvenile Center in Austin, TX. 44 children were adopted into their forever families and had the opportunity to celebrate with other families at the annual event. The Law Office of Jennifer Cochran was a "lollipop" sponsor of the event and Ms. Cochran attended the festivities, "It was such a pleasure to be there to witness firsthand the families'joy at finally becoming a forever family. Every adoption that I witness, takes me back to the day when I became a mom. I'm so excited about the year ahead and the community's commitment to finding home for the 180+ children waiting for families here in Travis County.