Termination of Parental Rights in Texas

In Texas, the law provides that parental rights may be terminated as long as grounds for termination exist and the judge finds that termination is in the best interest of the child. 

Texas courts are more likely to terminate parental rights when an adoption may also occur. In that case, grounds could simply be that the biological parents failed to support the child for one year.

Sometimes the court will grant a termination of parental rights without an adoption. A very tragic and obvious example would be that one parent murdered the other parent.  The offender parent is a felon and is actively dangerous. Another example is that the parent molested one or more of the children.

At the end of the day, the court will decide if termination and/or adoption is in the best interest of the child. Some defenses a person may assert who is having his parental rights terminated is parental alienation, hostility toward the parent, and failure to co-parent.

For more information please call The Barrera Law Firm at (956) 428-2822 or contact us on line for a no-charge consultation.

Texas Holiday Season Child Visitation Order Enforcement

happy young father and his cute son spending fun time together at pumpkin patch; family of two at fall

You’ve been looking forward to the holiday season all year. Maybe you have family coming in for your favorite food, favorite games, annual football games, or annual hunting trip. You took days off and everyone is looking forward to it. Then, the worst happens. Whether it is an excuse, a misunderstanding of the court order, or an outright denial of the children — there you are, heading for an embarrassing and depressing holiday. 

The Texas Standard Possession Order, and most custom visitation orders, provide visitation for the children during the Thanksgiving holiday, the Christmas holiday, and the New Year’s holiday. They distinguish each parent’s rights to that particular holiday as to odd or even years. The dates and times for pick up and drop off are set out in the court order. 

One should put the other parent on notice, call in advance to the school with a copy of your court order and do whatever you can in advance to make sure you don’t get denied your holiday season visitation.

If you do get denied, or anticipate you will, call The Barrera Firm for a free consultation to enforce your rights, get your attorney fees paid and get your make up time, while the person violating the court order may get fined or be otherwise punished.

Call us at (956) 428-2822 or fill out our online form for prompt service.

Custody Modifications for Children 12 and Older

Under Texas law, a parent that does not have the authority to designate the primary residence of a child 12 years of age or older may file a modification of conservatorship for the purpose of reviewing whether that designation should be changed.

An attorney may prepare an application for the court to interview a child 12 years of age or older regarding child’s preference of which parent should have the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child. However, despite the child’s preference, it is ultimately up to the court to decide. That means that although the child may have a totally valid preference as to who they would like to live with, it is ultimately up to judge to consider a number of factors that shed light on the best interests of the child.

Below are a few tips to observe:

  1. Ensure you are up to date on child support. While this is not a mandatory requirement, it can be considered by the court.
  2. Ensure that you have a good record of following the court’s order on visitation as well as the rest of the provisions.
  3. Do not bribe or try to persuade your child to prefer to live with you primarily over the other parent.
  4. Be active in investigating how your child is doing in school and how your child is doing physically or emotionally with the intention of setting up an environment for the child that is an improvement.

A child needs two parents in their life. Parental alienation will not be tolerated by Texas courts. In fact, South Texas courts are getting tougher and tougher on this. The right thing to do is to consult an attorney well before legal action is taken to increase the probability of success.

How Can a Stepfather or Stepmother Adopt a Child in Texas?

Texas law provides that a stepfather or stepmother may be a co-applicant, along with the biological parent, for the termination of parental rights and adoption of a child in Texas.

Termination of parental rights can be achieved through various means that focus on the best interest of the child.  One of the more popularly used means is “failed to support the child for one year.” Another popular method is by agreement and voluntary affidavit to terminate parental rights and consent to adoption.

It is permissible to give rights to certain back child support upon adoption, but the State of Texas may intervene if the child received state benefits. Health support arrears for Medicaid is completely up to the state and often remains as a debt that becomes the asset of the state.

For more information, call The Barrera Law Firm at (956) 428-2822 for a free consultation or fill in our online request form.

How do Courts Feel About Separating Siblings in a Custody Battle?

Texas law puts a strong emphasis on keeping families together. Judges are usually reluctant to split the children up, especially when they are young. 

However, judges do take into consideration all circumstances, including whether a sibling is a good or bad influence on the other (for example, whether one of them is abusing drugs or participating in illegal activity). 

Sometimes, the court will allow one child who is, for instance, failing in school, not attending school, or having other behavioral problems to go with the other parent and leave the other siblings behind.  A requirement is that the child be enrolled in a special program or school district equipped for dealing with those issues and where the child will get more supervision and help. 

Other times, there can be a situation where one child is blind, mentally disabled, deaf or has another condition that requires much more attention from a single parent. 

At the end of the day, courts are usually open to maximizing the help to ensure the proper development of the child. However, the courts will almost always want a plan in place to ensure siblings that are separated see each other as often as possible.

For more information, call The Barrera Law Firm at (956) 428-2822 or fill out this form for a free consultation.

Non-Parent and Grandparent Rights and Access in Texas

Has a child been voluntarily left in your care, custody, and control for more than six months? As a grandparent, has your child passed away, and you are no longer able to visit your minor grandchildren? 

These are applicable questions under Texas Law that help establish whether or not non-parent or grandparent custody or visitation may be attempted.

If you qualify, an attorney would be needed to assist in gathering facts and evidence that show the child is safest in your home. 

Sometimes, a social investigation report is in order. Other times, it’s simple, such as the situation where one or both parents are incarcerated, and the child has been under your care, custody and control for more than six months.

Do you need help with a child custody issue?  Call The Barrera Law Firm at (956) 428-2822 or complete our on-line form for a free consultation.

Deadbeat Dads and Moms – What to do about a Child Support Evader

Texas law allows private attorneys to seek out individuals that are intentionally not paying child support and who owe a back-child support amount.

We’ve all seen it — she or he drives a beautiful vehicle, is always on time to pay the bar tab, and travels to destinations that would make you jealous, yet they pay little or no child support. Maybe they take their boyfriend’s or girlfriend’s kids to a fancy resort while your own kids are on free lunch and haven’t even been as far north as San Antonio because money is tight.

The Texas Family Code provides that are person who may be found to be intentionally under-employed, or that the support they get from their significant other or family members may be included as income for calculating higher child support, or that the job they have from their parents may be calculated at market value instead of a sham pay check.

The first thing to do is to serve them with a petition to enforce and confirm arrears, then take them to court and ask they be jailed until the arrears are paid and that child support be properly calculated. Show the judge what they drive, where they live, where they go, and take it from there. 

Do you need help with a deadbeat ex?  Call The Barrera Law Firm at (956) 428-2822 or fill out this form for a free consultation.

Child Custody — Who Controls the Extracurricular Activities?

Texas law provides the parent in possession with certain rights. The law also encourages healthy co-parenting that is in the best interest of the child.

So does that simply mean if your child has a dance recital during your visitation period, you’re in the right to keep her from going? No, not exactly. It means that if that dance recital is something you knew about in advance, and it is important to the child, that you take her and support her instead of blasting the child’s expectation to show her development and progress in that activity.

Judges like problem-solving parents, not problem-creating parents. If a judge sees an abuse of discretion in either overloading the child with activities that interfere with the visitation period of the other parent, or sees abuse of discretion in non-support of the child in a reasonable extracurricular event or practice, they may modify the court order in the best interest of the child to cure any abuse of discretion.

Do you need help with a child custody issue?  Call The Barrera Law Firm at (956) 428-2822 or complete our on-line form for a free consultation.

My Child Does Not Want to Visit Me — What Do I Do?

Unfortunately, parental alienation can get to a point to where the child will object to seeing the other parent to the degree that only physical force will bring the child to the vehicle of the parent picking up that child.

It is very often found that one parent is either encouraging the child to not visit the other parent or “making it okay” not to visit, which causes parental alienation. 

Some examples would be the other parent planning events for that weekend that the child believes they will miss out on, such as pizza, going the beach, a barbeque, cousins visiting, or some other tactic. Another example would be that one parent is stricter than the other, such as a boyfriend or girlfriend can come over to mom’s but is not allowed at dad’s. 

Regardless of the reason, there are ways to handle this. One would be to change pick up and drop off to the time school is dismissed. Another would be to provide a court appointed advocate to interview the child to straighten out any foul play.

At the end of the day, the worst thing you can do is nothing as that would be setting a pattern of conduct in allowing the child to act in their own best interest instead of taking charge.

For information about visitation and other child custody issues, please call The Barrera Law Firm at (956) 428-2822 or complete our on-line form for a free consultation.

What to Watch Out For When Your Child Tells You They Want You to Have Custody

In Texas, it is true that a child that is 12 or older may tell the judge who he or she wants to live with. However, the judge has to examine all the factors and decide if it’s in the best interest of the child.

Here are some factors the judge may examine:

1) The grades of the child;

2) The attendance records of the child;

3) The family support for the child, including half-siblings or other factors that may worsen the child emotionally if separated from;

4) Whether the parent will be able to adequately supervise the child due to work obligations;

5) Whether the child was enticed through a vehicle or other “gifts” as conditional to them telling the judge they want to live with them;

6) A professional’s or court appointed attorney’s opinion following a full investigation.

It is important that one properly deals with a child who suddenly wants you to have custody, so the court understands that any other factor is addressed prior to filing with the court, and to make very certain it has nothing to do with healthy discipline and teenage rebellion.

For more information call The Barrera Law Firm at 956 428-2822 for a free consultation.

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