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Child Custody - Frequently Asked Questions

This is a guide of frequently asked questions in child custody cases. Our family team has the answers you need and is ready to help you. If you need more information on a family law issue, we offer free family law consultations at Forney and Rockwall offices. Call Guest and Gray Law Firm today.

How do you get a parent to pay child support when they are refusing?

If the other parent is refusing to pay child support, your attorney can file a Motion for Enforcement of Child Support on your behalf. Typically, within the motion you request that the court confirm the arrears at the amount, jail time, and attorneys’ fees. Contact an attorney to discuss your options.

Can I have my geographical restriction modified?

It is not an easy process, but not one that cannot be done. There are several non-statutory factors that the Court can take into consideration when having a hearing over a matter such as this. Several appellate courts have heard this issue and rendered opinions that trial courts can use as guides. Even with this guide, however, the cases are still determined on a case-by-case basis and are decided upon the facts.

When I can modify a final family order as to child custody and child support?

Modification of child custody/support orders can be filed when there has been a material and substantial change in the circumstances of the child and/or the conservators. That is just the basic burden that all parties face in modifications. If you are asking for something such as a change in the parent who has the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child, then there are additional hurdles that you must overcome. Consult with an attorney.

Can I modify my child custody orders to keep a person away from my child?

If the new paramour of the other parent is concerning to you in any way, you should consult with an attorney to determine your options in modifying the child custody orders. However, be advised that the paramour is not a party to the suit and therefore cannot be ordered to do something. Rather, it would be an order for your ex to stay away from that particular person and not have that person around your child. This type of decision by a judge will be heavily based upon the facts your case presents.

How are parental rights terminated in Texas?

Parental rights can be terminated either voluntarily or involuntarily. If voluntarily, you sign a voluntary relinquishment document which contains all of the required admonishments as to your rights and what you are giving up. If involuntary, there are specific statutory grounds that must be met before a court can order a termination.

If I fail a drug test in my child custody case, what happens?

More than likely your visitation will either be terminated or greatly reduced and you’ll be placed on supervised visitation. You will have to prove to the court, through a series of steps involving several passed drug tests, that you are not a danger to your children and that you are clean.

Will I have to pay attorneys’ fees in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship?

Attorneys’ fees are few and far between in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship (SAPCR). Several factors are taken into consideration when trying to prove attorneys’ fees and the attorney must go through another set of factors to prove that the fees charged are customary, reasonable and necessary and so forth.

What is a Temporary Orders hearing?

Temporary Orders are the typical midpoint in any custody case. You are basically seeking that the judge maintains the status quo of the case and put orders into place. However, this is of course unless there is a request for change in custody, child support or something of that nature. This hearing is a chance to present the issues and have things decided for a temporary basis, and most cases involve presenting testimony and evidence.

What are grandparents’ rights in child custody cases?

Grandparents’ rights in Texas are very limited for a number of reasons. In order to become involved in a case involving your grandchildren, you must first establish standing. Standing is acquired only through specific statutory means. Consult with an attorney today to determine if you have standing and if you do, the steps that you must take then to file the case and fight for your grandchildren.

What are my options when my spouse talks to my children about the divorce?

First, make sure that your child custody orders contain an injunction against both parties discussing the case with the children. Then, if you are not under a constraint in doing so, there are several options such as counseling for the children, a parenting class for the parties, and a contempt action against the other party if they have in fact violated a court order.

What happens if I don’t know I’m in the father of the child?

You need an attorney to ensure your rights are protected. You have options if you are concerned or not sure that you’re the father such as requesting a paternity test. You need to discuss your options with an attorney before it is too late.

What type of visitation will I have with my child during the holidays?

Texas Family Code Section 153.314 governs holiday possession unaffected by distance of parents who reside apart. This is specific statutory possession that is set out in most orders where there is a parent who has the exclusive right to designate the primary residence of the child and the other parent is ordered to have standard or expanded standard possession. In some unique cases, parents have 50/50 visitation but still have this holiday possession schedule.

What do I do if I suspect child abuse or neglect?

You must contact Child Protective Services and your local police. It is a misdemeanor if you fail to report, especially if you are a professional (teacher, doctor, psychologist, counselor, etc.). If you have a reasonable belief that something is going on, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

What does it mean to be an alleged father vs. a presumed father?

Alleged fathers aren’t adjudicated fathers in the eyes of the law. So, the best example would be if the mother is claiming that you are the father but you are not on the birth certificate and you have not been ordered the father by a court. A presumed father is one that meets certain statutory specifics; the best example being you are the husband of the wife who gave birth to the child during your marriage.

What does it mean when my child custody orders include a right of first refusal?

This is a provision in which the Court will order that if the parent in possession of the child is gone for a specific amount of time, they must first give the parent not in possession the right to take possession of the child during that absence. If they fail to do so when it is ordered, they face possible contempt. If they do so and the parent not in possession is not available, then the parent in possession can choose an acceptable sitter.

What is the process to get child support started?

You must have a court order to start the process of a child support. That order is then sent to the local Attorney General (AG) office and they open a monitoring case and assign a number to you.

What is the process to get a restraining order in my child custody case?

You must meet the burden that if the restraining order is not granted, irreparable harm will come to the child physically and/or emotionally. Your attorney will meet with you and craft an affidavit per your words and allegations regarding the other parent’s misconduct and it will be presented to the Court ex parte for consideration.

What happens with a Temporary Restraining Order in Kaufman County?

Temporary Restraining Orders are not to be taken lightly. This is an ex parte document that is presented to the judge to try and keep a parent from seeing the children or giving them only supervised access. If you have been served with a Temporary Restraining Order, it is imperative that you hire an attorney to represent you.

What happens if my ex is not paying child support in Kaufman County?

If your ex is behind on their child support, do not hesitate to contact an attorney. A Motion for Enforcement can be filed on your behalf in Kaufman County seeking several forms of relief, but most importantly that the Court order the arrears to be paid as well as the child support.

What is a Social Study?

Social studies are typically ordered in all contested cases in Kaufman County involving children. Each party pays their own portion of the social study and is ordered to participate. Once the fees have been paid, the social worker conducts their investigation and then makes a written recommendation to the Court as to how custody and visitation should be ordered.

When can my child express to the judge their desire to live with me?

If your child is 12 or older, then they can speak with the judge (upon your attorney filing the appropriate motion) regarding which parent they want to designate as having the exclusive right to determine the child’s primary residence. Remember it is crucial to not prompt such a discussion with your child, but rather just be a listening ear if they are expressing this and then relay to your attorney.

How can I keep my ex from moving away with the children?

This is a frequent concern for many parents who are not designated the primary custodian of the children. It is imperative that a geographical restriction of some sorts is put in place on the children’s residence to ensure that the other parent cannot pack them up and move far away such as out of state. Consult with an attorney to determine the best possible geographic restriction for your family.

Do I have to make my child visit their father when they do not want to?

Unfortunately, even if your child is expressing a desire to not visit the other parent you must still abide by the Court order that you’re currently under. Interfering with the other parent’s visitation in any way is a felony and can cause serious issues. It would be best if you discussed with your child the reasons they do not want to go and then consult with an attorney about a possible modification of the other parent’s visitation.

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