Fort Bend County Harris County Experienced Texas Child Modification Enforcement – Jason Lawrence
Texas Child Modification Enforcement Lawyer in Fort Bend County and Harris County, Texas
Can custody, visitation, and child support be changed after a divorce decree is final?
Custody, visitation and child support can all be modified after the divorce decree, or any other court order, is final. Either parent may file a motion to modify with the court that last entered an order regarding the children. If the children have lived in a different county for six months, a motion to transfer the case to that county may also be filed by the parent filing the modification motion or the parent responding to it.
When can custody and visitation be modified?
Modification of child custody and visitation may be ordered if the circumstances of the child or one or both parents have materially and substantially changed or the current order has become unworkable or inappropriate. Additional procedural steps must be taken if a party seeks to modify a decree within one year of it being signed by the judge.
When may an order of child support be modified?
An order of child support may be modified at any time upon a showing of substantial change in circumstances or after three years from the original order if the amount of support would change by $100 per month or 20%.
Can I order child custody modification without a showing of substantial change in circumstances?
Yes. Generally, an order of child support may be modified one year or more after it has been entered without a showing of substantial change in circumstances if:
• the order works a severe economic hardship on either party or the child
• the child is no longer in the age category on which the current support amount was based; and
• the child is still in high school and there is a finding that there is a need to extend support beyond the eighteenth birthday to complete high school.
How do I start a Texas child custody modification?
First, talk to an experience family law attorney to discuss the merits of your case. If you would like to move forward, a petition to modify must be filed. This is very similar to the original petition that was filed in your original custody. The rest of the process is very similar as well. The other party is served with notice of the lawsuit, generally by a process server. Depending on the issues and the court, mediation may be required. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court will hold a final trial on the merits and make a ruling on the issues in this case. Temporary Orders hearings are only held in modification cases when operating under the previous court order would harm the emotional or physical development of the child.
How long does the other parent have to respond? The responding party's answer must be returned to you (or your attorney) and the answer filed with the court within twenty days after service of the petition.
VISITATION AND ACCESS
WHO WILL MY CHILD LIVE WITH?Both parents will be awarded certain rights and duties with regard to the child. Usually, one parent will be designated as the parent with the right to determine the primary residence of the child. Regardless of that designation, in most cases, the child will spend significant amounts of time living at both parents’ homes. Child visitation rights ensure both parents see their children.
HOW IS THE CONSERVATOR WITH THE RIGHT TO DETERMINE THE PRIMARY RESIDENCE SELECTED?Often, parents reach agreement regarding these issues. If the parents can’t agree, the court will designate one parent as the conservator with the right to determine the primary residence of the child based on the best interest of the child. The court along with child visitation lawyers will determine the child’s best interest based on the evidence which may include the recommendation of an amicus attorney, the recommendation of psychologist or other individual appointed to evaluate the situation, testimony of the parents, school and medical records of the children and testimony of other individuals who can help the court understand the situations of all parties. Child visitation lawyers will present each parent’s case and the court will weigh the ability of the parties to provide for the child’s emotional and physical needs, to create a stable home, to foster good relationships between the child and the other parent, and any other factor that may be relevant to the best interest of the child.
HOW IS THE AMOUNT OF VISITATION DETERMINED?Child visitation rights are outlined in the Texas Family Code, which includes a standard possession order that states the minimum reasonable contact between a child and a non-possessory parent. The standard possession order is presumed to be in the best interest of a child over the age of three. Unless evidence is presented that the standard or expanded standard possession order is not in the child’s best interest, this will be the amount of visitation ordered by the court, although the parties can work with their child visitation lawyers to agree to a different possession. The amount of visitation for a child under three will be determined based on the age and needs of the child.
WHAT IS THE STANDARD POSSESSION ORDER VISITATION SCHEDULE?The standard possession order states that, for parents who live within 100 miles of each other, visitation should occur every first, third and fifth weekend of the month, every Thursday during the school year, for 30 days during the summer and on alternating holidays. The standard order states that weekend visitation begins Friday at 6:00 p.m. and ends Sunday at 6:00 p.m., and that Thursday visitation is from 6:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. every week. If a parent elects, they may request their child visitation lawyers to look into expanding this possession order into what is known as the expanded standard possession order. Under an expanded order, weekend possession begins Friday when the child is released from school and ends Monday morning when the child returns to school. Thursday possession begins when school is released and ends Friday morning when school resumes.
THE STANDARD VISITATION SCHEDULE DOESN'T WORK FOR MY FAMILY- ARE THERE OTHER OPTIONS?There are many creative visitation schedules that fall within child visitation rights. Some visitation schedules allow parents who live close to one another to share custody on a 50/50 basis. Other visitation schedules can be drafted to allow regular visitation for a parent who does not have a standard 9-5 work week. Long distance travel provisions can be added for parents who live considerable distances apart. The child visitation lawyer at Lawrence Law Firm can help you create a unique, clear and enforceable visitation schedule that works for your family.
MY SPOUSE AND I HAVE AGREED SPLITTING THE TIME SPENT WITH THE KIDS 50/50, WILL THE COURT APPROVE THAT?Just because parents agree to 50/50 custody, does not mean that the Court will approve their agreement. 50/50 custody arrangements are complicated and can create unexpected problems for parents who do not fully understand the legal ramifications of their agreements. This makes judges hesitant to sign off on agreements that may result in additional litigation in the future. While, not every 50/50 split will be approved by every court, Jason, an experienced attorney at Lawrence Law Firm, is familiar with the preferences and requirements of the judges in the greater Houston area and can help you create an agreement that will be approved.
ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS IN FAMILY LAWIn family law, an enforcement action is the process by which you legally document the opposing party’s failure to abide by the order of the court. You may need to pursue an enforcement action against the opposing party for a variety of reasons, including violations of existing injunctions (such as a custody order, or a support order), alimony, division of community estate, and more.
Penalizing Litigants that Fail to Follow Court Orders
Whatever the reason, enforcement actions are inherently frustrating because you are being forced to spend money to compel the opposition to do something that he or she is already obligated to do under the existing court order. Recognizing this, the Texas legislature has given our courts broad powers when it comes to penalizing litigants that fail to follow the court’s orders. Specifically, failure to comply with a court order could result in judgments being issued against the defendant, the imposition of hefty fines, attorney’s fees, and sometimes even jail time.
Seeking to File an Enforcement Action? Contact Us.
Enforcements are serious lawsuits, both for the party seeking relief and the one defending against it. Being represented by a knowledgeable and skilled attorney throughout the enforcement process is important to ensure your rights are protected. If you must address family law enforcement action in Houston, contact Jason Lawrence, an experienced enforcement action attorney, today.