In our practice, we see cases in which there is a pending criminal charge, such as for DWI, and a civil case, involving child custody issues. Sometimes, the criminal charge involves an alleged assault. Whenever we have one of these cases, we build our case on demonstrating the best interest of the child. It is too easy for the parents to focus on one another, as opposed to what the court truly cares about: what is best for the child or children of those parents. Our job is to make sure that the case is properly focused where it should be.
This is the second installment in this series. We previously discussed the allocation of parental rights, in Part 1. If you have not read that one already, or if you have, but need a refresher, please check-out that post.
Today, we will discuss the ways that possession of a child may be allocated between parents. The presumption is that one parent should have “Standard Possession” of the child(ren) who are 3 years of age, or older; and, that the other parent should have possession during the balance of the time. Many of us are already familiar with the concept of parents sharing weekend possession, with Mom having one weekend, and Dad having the next one. Similarly, it is fairly common for folks to be familiar with the idea of splitting the Summer between the two parents. What may be unknown is the allocation of time on each child’s birthday; the allocation of holidays and Spring Break. All of those are covered by the Standard Possession Order.
There are a number of circumstances in which a person might ask a Texas court for custody, or possession and access to, a child. A couple of the more common circumstances are when the child has been left by the parent for a long time, or when both of the child’s parents have passed away (there are other particular circumstances, too, which are beyond the scope of this article). In addition to those situations mentioned above, the Texas Family Code makes special provisions for a Grandparent, or certain other relatives, to seek custody of, or possession and access to, a child.
When a romantic relationship ends, whether by divorce or otherwise, parents often find that their residual emotions spill over into their dealings with one another as they try to work together to parent their children. This can, obviously, pose difficulties in a shared child custody arrangement. We have previously discussed techniques which you can use to mitigate conflict when attempting to co-parent with someone who cannot, or will not, treat you politely and with respect. A review of those articles (Part 1 and Part 2 of this series) will give context to the information which we are discussing today.
As mentioned in this prior article, reducing the contact and communication between parents who highly-conflict with one another is usually beneficial for a child or children, everything else being equal. One of the effects of these reductions, however, is that “regular” co-parenting will not work. These parents will, instead, “Parallel Parent” their child or children.
It is well established that healthy parents provide stability to their families. As children grow, learn, and work to figure-out how to be and thrive in this world, they derive security from parental love, support and protection. That security allows them to develop as they should. And, even if their parents do not live together, children tend to thrive if they feel that both parents are still there for them.
We have been successfully handing divorce cases for our clients since 1991. Over that time period, we have literally represented hundreds of women. In fact, our very first divorce client was a woman who had a contested divorce case involving child issues. While representing women, we have noticed that certain issues arise more frequently for them as a group, than for men. This piece will discuss a few of those issues, and then, will offer additional information about how everyone should prepare for an upcoming divorce case.
So, you have a Child Support Order that you believe is no longer right for you, and you want to know if it can be changed. How can you tell?
The Texas Family Code provides that your Child Support Order may be modified if:
- It has been three or more years since the order was established or last modified and the monthly amount of the child support ordered differs by either 20 percent or $100 from the amount that would be awarded according to the Child Support Guidelines;
According to the most recent statistics available, approximately 3,200,000 children are investigated each year by the various Child Protective Services agencies operating within the United States of America. Of course, not all of those investigations result in findings of abuse or neglect. And, while no one who has been through that experience would call it “enjoyable,” we, unfortunately, have no system of investigating child abuse or neglect which is perfect at avoiding putting innocent parents through such investigations.
The purpose of this writing is to lay-out some ideas on what you can do if you find yourself being investigated by CPS.
The first thing to do is to remain calm. This lets you converse intelligently with the CPS case investigator with whom you are dealing.
Texas law (the Texas Family Code) provides that CPS shall investigate reports that a child has been abused or neglected. Those reports are typically made through either a phone call, or online ( ph. 1-800-252-5400 or www.txabusehotline.org).
The law goes on to state that the investigation shall be “prompt and thorough,” and may require the assistance of local law enforcement. And when that investigation reveals an “immediate danger” to the welfare of the child, then CPS may remove the child from his or her home, either with or without first obtaining a court order, depending on whether “there is …time” “consistent with the health and safety of (the) child” to first obtain a court order (such as a temporary restraining order).