Texas Modification of Custody Orders and Other Orders

 

It is important to know that if your current court order does not work in best interests of your children, it can be changed.

In Texas, you can modify (change) a court order for many reasons.  Here are some examples:

  • More than one year has passed since the judge signed the existing order and there has been a major change that you can prove is detrimental to the children.
  • Less than one year has passed since the judge signed the existing order and there has been a major change that you can prove is detrimental to the children, and you can show (and swear to in an affidavit) there is a danger to their physical and emotional needs.
  • You were laid off of work and you now have a different job or make less money, and have a different work schedule.
  • You can prove the other parent or their spouse is violating the law and the children are at risk of harm.
  • Your child is over 12 years old and has explicitly stated their desire to live with you, without any pressure or persuasion, and you can demonstrate that you will be more active and capable in raising them than the other parent.
  • You are seeking a court order to restrain the other parent from moving out of the county or state.

There are many other scenarios.

Whether it is a divorce decree or a child support order, any order affecting the best interests of the children can be changed, but it must be done right. If it’s done wrongly, you may lose attorney fees and, even worse, your case could be dismissed.

Feel free to call The Barrera Law Firm, P.C. at (956) 428-2822 for a free consultation today.

Grandparents’ Rights to Custody or Visitation in Texas

Under Texas Law, there are exceptions to the rule that a parent has a superior right to children and that a grandparent has no legal right to custody or visitation of their grandchildren.

The law is grounded in both common sense and fairness. The first thing the court looks at is whether or not a grandparent has the legal standing to bring a suit for custody or for access to and possession of the child.

Some grandparents do not qualify and a competent attorney may be hired to ask the court to deny a request for a legal order for custody or a visitation schedule.

Some grandparents have always had care of and control over a grandchild, yet do not receive the necessary rights in the form of a court order to be able to fully, legally and independently care for the grandchild.

Temporary custody or temporary possession and access are also available for grandparents who qualify with conditions put in place while a parent is away or otherwise unavailable, unfit or incompetent.

Some grandparents have lost touch with a grandchild because the parent they had access through died.

To find out if you qualify to request a legal order for custody or access to grandchildren, call The Barrera Law Firm at (956) 428-2822 for a free consultation.

Enforcement of Summer Possession in Texas Family Law

The Texas Family Code Standard Possession Order is one of the most misunderstood and controversial areas of visitation in Texas. It is broken down into two very different versions that are based on whether the parents live more than 100 miles from each other, or less than 100 miles from each other.

The Standard Possession Order summer visitation also may change up, depending on whether the parent entitled to summer possession designates dates for visitation prior to April 1st, that are different than the standard dates that begin on June 15 (if you are over 100 miles from where your children reside) and July 1 (if you are less than 100 miles from where your children reside). Also, the custodial parent can designates one weekend in between the 30 days visitation (if less than 100 miles) or the custodial parent may designate two weekends in between the 42 days (if more than 100 miles).

Here are some simple tips in dealing with summer possession:

1) Make sure and notify the other party three different ways, such as email, text, and certified letter of the pick up of the children (even if the court order clearly states it).

2) Keep an agenda over the summer of activities for the children that focus on bonding, developing the children’s education, and having fun.

3) Provide generous electronic access to the other parent, so the children feel comfortable, so long as it at a time that does not interfere with activities.

4) Order education apps or computer programs with lessons and tracking ability to work on the weakest subjects that child has problems with, according to their most recent report cards, You can always ask the teachers for recommendations.

For further information on how one can make sure their visitation rights are enforced, made up, or the other party is penalized for not providing court ordered visitation without a legitimate excuse, call Ricardo A. Barrera with the The Barrera Law Firm, PC at (956)428-2822 for help.

Two Main Changes to Texas Family Law for 2018

If your lawyer does not know this, keep looking. Laws change and a good lawyer has to stay on top of those changes or bad things can happen.

On September 1st, Texas Courts will obligate the non custodial parent to cover dental insurance at a reasonable cost in addition to health insurance. The cost will also be deducted from the non custodial parent’s monthly net resources for child support calculations.

Another very big change has to do with the modification of child support when the parents reach an agreement on a payment amount that does the guidelines in the Texas Family Code. If the parties agree to an order under which the amount of child support differs from what would have been awarded in accordance with the Texas Family CodeTWO guidelines, then the court may modify the order only if the circumstances of the child or person affected by the order have materially and substantially changed since the date the order was rendered.

There are more changes that occurred.

It is important that you get a lawyer who knows the law. If a lawyer does not know the law, you may be damaged and embarrassed as a result.

For more information on divorce and Texas child custody cases, call the The Barrera Law Firm, PC, for a free consultation at (956) 428-2822.

Temporary Restraining Orders in Divorce and Custody Cases

In the Texas Family Code, Temporary Restraining Orders may be issued by the court to protect the parties, to protect the children, to protect the property, and to provide for child support and fees to one or both parties for support of the children and property. These orders are signed based on limited information provided to the court when they are petitioned for. They become effective on the party once they are served upon that party. They only remain active for 14 days unless extended, unless the parties agree to an arrangement, or unless the judge makes temporary orders after an evidentiary hearing.

It is important that once you are served with a Temporary Restraining Order, you read it completely. Violation of such an order can result in negative consequences and can even ruin a case. There should always be a hearing date somewhere on the Temporary Restraining Order or attached to it. If you are served and you do not show for the hearing, the court may proceed without you and orders will be issued that may result in negative consequences for you.

The evidentiary hearing provides an attorney with little time to prepare and discover evidence against the other party. A court will usually try to do its best to keep in place whatever arrangements have been there for children, they will do their best to preserve the property and evidence, and they will ultimately do their best to protect the children and provide for their temporary support.

If you have been served with or need a temporary restraining order in a divorce or child custody dispute, call Attorney Ricardo A. Barrera with The Barrera Law Firm, PC at (956) 428-2822.

 

Enforcement of Court Orders Relating to Custody or Visitation

The Texas Family Code provides a way to make sure court orders are enforced when a person is breaking those orders. That means, that the court may impose civil fines, jail time or probation, make up time and attorney fees against the party that is found to have violated this orders of the court for custody or visitation.

The violations must be proven through clear and convincing evidence. Each violation of the court order must be clearly stated in the Petition for Enforcement that is filed with the court. It is best to keep a journal and calendar with notes on visitation, not only to use in the event there are violations, but to defend yourself if you are accused of such violations. Police reports are best when an officer is called to the residence to see that the attempted pick up of the child was timely and the child was never produced. That police officer may be ordered to testify in court in order to back up your claim.

In the alternative, police reports may also be used to show there was no pick up at all. Security cameras are inexpensive these days and may be used to show the parent never showed up at all. It is important that these camera record accurately date and time because a good lawyer will always challenge those recording based on that. The important thing is to make pick up and drop off as normal as possible, so use good judgment about how to employ the techniques mentioned here.

Should you need any help with enforcement of court orders, call Attorney Ricardo A. Barrera with the The Barrera Law Firm, PC at (956) 428-2822.

Fathers’ Rights in Texas Child Custody Suits

Fathers custody rights divorce attorney
A divorce doesn't have to mean a father loses custody of his children.
More women may be out in the workforce and more men may be opting to stay home with their children, but the truth is that society hasn’t completely accepted the idea of males as caregivers. If you are a father who wants custody of your children as well as child support, you’ll need to have a compelling argument regarding why the court should take your side.

In Texas, the law encourages the court to award both parents with joint custody. But judges in individual child custody cases look at a number of different factors when considering which parent should receive the conservatorship of the child. These can include:

  • the child’s age
  • the child’s preference in cases where he or she is 12 or more years old
  • the age, health and character of each individual parent
  • the relationship each parent has with child
  • the nature and extent of each parent’s involvement with the child
  • the ability each parent has to provide for the child
  • evidence of child abuse

Of course, the main question courts will ask is “what’s in the best interest of the child?” Fortunately, none of these factors favors either parent. Best of all, the Texans Equal Rights Amendment which went into effect in 1973 specifically states that courts must look at the qualifications of the parent and not the sex when determining custody.

Statistically, men who ask for sole custody of a child in a divorce will now receive it at least 50% of the time. So the odds of you becoming your child’s conservator are equal to those of the child’s mother. The attorneys at The Barrera Law Firm are experts in the field of divorce law. We will defend your rights as a father. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.

Children 12 and Over Have a Say in Court

Managing custody can be difficult for the child. They're faced with many circumstances to consider.
Managing custody can be difficult for the child. They’re faced with many circumstances to consider.

The Texas Family Code provides that children 12 and over can communicate directly to a judge relating to his/her preference on where they want to live.

However, the judge ultimately decides whether it is in the child’s best interest to change the primary residence of the child based on his/her preference.

A number of factors have been found in Texas courts to not be in the best interest to change the residence of the child, despite an expressed preference:

  1. Child gets into fight with custodial parent relating to reasonable and rational rules of the home.
  2. Child has more freedom to be at home alone, go out on weekends, or be in a relationship with another person.
  3. Child wants to leave the home because they get into disagreement with a sibling.
  4. Child has alcohol or drug problem and wants to leave the home to enable continued drug use.
A number of factors have been found in Texas courts to be in the best interest to change the residence of the child, along with the expressed preference:
  1. Grades suffer and no action is taken by custodial parent.
  2. Child has been previously alienated from other non-custodial parent and would benefit from change of residence.
  3. Child has half siblings or step-siblings that the child wishes to bond with at non-custodial parent’s home.
  4. Custodial parent is not active in the school and extracurricular activities of the child.
It benefits a parent wishing to have custody of a child, 12 and over, to consult a qualified attorney to submit a written motion to the judge, along with ample reasons, specifically referenced in a motion to modify custody (with evidence) to back up why the change in primary residence is in the best interest of the child.

The Barrera Law Firm in Harlingen provides legal services to Harlingen, Brownsville, McAllen and the Rio Grande Valley. Call (956) 428-2822 for legal assistance.

More Facts About Divorce in Texas and Child Custody

Divorce can be upsetting for childrenUnder Chapter 153, of the Texas Family Code, a court may not discriminate as to who would be the better custodial parent because of gender of the parent or marital status of the parent.

Rights of Parents at All Times

Unless limited by court order, a parent has at all times some of the following rights:

(1) to receive information concerning the health, education and welfare of the child;

(2) access to medical, dental, psychological and educational records of the child;

(3) to consult with a physician, dentist or psychologist of the child;

(4) to consult with school officials concerning the child’s welfare and educational status, including school activities;

(5) to attend school activities;

(6) to be designated on the child’s records as a person to be notified in case of an emergency.

Custody Battles and What Goes On

A custody battle can be intense. Evidence and witnesses will be examined by a judge and/or jury to determine what would be in the best interest of the child or children. Nothing is held back. The court may appoint personnel to assist the court in ensuring that the case is properly mediated beforehand and the children have their own attorney to look out for their interests. This may become costly and time consuming. Therefore, a key battle is usually getting temporary orders established that designate custody, access and possession.

Interference with Child Custody

A parent may not deny access and possession of a child with the intent to deprive or violate a court order under Texas Penal Code, 25.03. If a parent does so, and does not return the child within three days of the commission, the person perpetrating the crime may be found guilty of a State Jail Felony.

Motion for Enforcement and/or Contempt

A parent may request the court make additional orders to make up periods of possession that were denied, provide monetary compensation for causing one part to expend time and money to follow court orders, and to impose jail time or probation periods for failure to follow court orders.

Call The Barrera Law Firm, PC, at 956 428 2822 to get a free consultation, in order to inform of you of what your rights are and how to get started with taking action so that you are definitely an undeniable part of your child’s life.

Six Important Suggestions for Divorcing Parents About the Start of the School Year

Many parents who are in the midst of a divorce don’t often realize how important a role education can play in the awarding of custody. That makes this week, the first week of the new school year, particularly important to such parents.

Let’s look at why.

Family court judges are tasked by the Texas Family Code to make decisions based on their assessment of what is in the “best interest of the child.”

Courts look at parental involvement in school activities

Education has a big part to play in this because when a parent is given custody by the court, they are provided a number of rights such as:

  • Receiving information from others concerning the education of the child;
  • Making decisions concerning the education of the child;
  • Gaining access to educational records of the child;
  • Consulting with school officials concerning the child’s welfare and educational status, including school activities;
  • Attending school activities.

Therefore, this means that parents who take an active and responsible role in their child’s education will be seen in a favorable light by the court in a custody dispute.

The start of the school year is very important because it provides a renewed opportunity for divorcing parents to demonstrate their involvement in their child’s education.

Actions to take to improve school involvement

We can then make the following suggestions which are relevant, not only to divorcing parents but is good advice to all parents:

1. Attend teacher-parent meetings.  Go so far as to request monthly meetings to follow your child’s educational progress and learn of any difficulties so they can be addressed.

2. Attend your child’s extracurricular school activities, if possible.

3. If your schedule does not allow for school meetings or visits, then be involved with the school through email.  Check the school’s website regularly for activities.  Email the teacher to be in touch.  There is software online that can be downloaded to assist in this.  Download it and use it.

4. Have and enforce a schedule at home that is conducive to your child’s schooling.  This means having bedtime rules, a time set aside for homework and playtime, and keeping these things regular.

5. Be active in checking over your child’s homework assignments. Don’t hesitate to look through their backpack, looking for school announcements, papers or assignments.  Contact the teacher or school should you find something that they should know or something you have questions about.  Help your child and school authorities.

6. Know your children’s friends and their parents.  Invite them to birthday parties or attend birthday parties, but meet them.  Go with your child to visit them.  It is important that you be actively interested and knowledgeable about your child’s doings and who they are in contact with.

It is important to understand about the above that the courts are not looking for harsh discipline.  They are looking for an environment that will help the child grow and develop their potential.

A parent doing the above six things in a positive way may be seen in a more favorable light by the court.

 

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