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How to enforce a child support order when the paying parent lives outside of Texas

How to enforce a child support order when the paying parent lives outside of Texas

Originally published by The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC Blog.

One of the most helpless feelings that a parent can experience is being in a position where you are not receiving the court ordered child support that you are entitled to. This can leave you vulnerable to the ups and downs of your own income leaving you little wiggle room to plan and budget for your family. On another level, it can and should anger you because your child’s other parent is placing other responsibilities ahead of providing for their child. Having someone essentially tell you that your child isn’t that important can be extremely hurtful- especially when that other person is your child’s parent.

Make no mistake, you have options available to you if and when your child’s other parent does not fulfill their end of the bargain when it comes to paying child support. The most straightforward and practical option when it comes to bringing the violations of your child support order to the attention of a judge is called an Enforcement suit.

An enforcement lawsuit seeks to do exactly what it sounds like- enforce something, namely a court order. You would file this lawsuit just like a Divorce or Original child custody suit. The only difference is that this the second case under the original case number that you were assigned in your child custody/divorce case. In this suit you would be notifying the judge of the other parent’s violations of the child support order and can then request “relief” from the court in the form of money and possible jail time for your child’s other parent.

It takes effort and planning on your part to get to the point where you can successfully present your case to a judge. Before then you are just another parent who is not receiving the child support payments you are supposed to be. Sometimes taking that first step towards learning about child support enforcement cases is the most difficult step in the process.

What happens, though, when your child’s other parent does not live close to your child or even within the State of Texas? Is the process the same for parents that do live in-State? Today’s blog post from the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC will detail this subject.

People moving frequently is a reality in today’s world

As economies change, the job market changes as well. Gone are the days where a person is well guaranteed to grow up and live in one geographic location. Many times, people will up and move not only across a city but across the country for a variety of reasons.

Family courts cannot force you or your child’s other parent to reside in a certain place. However, a family court does have jurisdiction to limit where your child resides. Many parents choose to include what is known as a geographic restriction within their original court order. This geographic restriction often limits where your child can live to the county where your case was filed and any county that borders it. Family law language would term this as any county “contiguous” to the county where your case has been filed.

I have seen families in the Houston area use Harris County and any county contiguous to Harris. I have seen parents state that their child can live in Harris or Montgomery counties. I have even seen some parents state that the child must remain in a school district due to the excellent reputation of the schools. Whatever option is chosen, you need to know whether a geographic restriction is in place for you child and if so where your child can reside.

Getting back to the specific topic of this blog post, it happens that sometimes parents will cross state lines and begin to live in another state even if a geographic restriction is in place for their child. This parent is most frequently the non custodial parent- meaning that their child does not live with him or her primarily. There is nothing against the “rules” to do this. Again, a court cannot tell this parent where he or she can live. However, what it does do is open up the places where the child can reside. The reason being is that once the non custodial parent leaves the geographic region, so can the custodial parent and child.

Out of sight, out of mind unfortunately

Once your child’s other parent moves out of state it becomes an unfortunate situation that because he or she does not see your child as frequently their motivation to pay child support can  decrease a great deal. Maybe their move was predicated upon the promise of a job in the new location that did not actually come together as planned. Whatever the reason, if you are left waiting on child support from a parent that lives out of state here is what you need to know.

There are procedures in place that all states follow that allow for parents to enforce child support orders when the parent who owes child support resides outside of the home state. The Uniform Interstate Child Support Act (UIFSA) is the federal statute that contains the specific laws that pertain to this subject. In Texas the Office of the Attorney General is the governmental body charged with overseeing the complex child support structure in Texas.

You as the custodial parent would need to send the child support order to whatever body governs child support enforcement cases in the State where your child’s other parent resides. Then the order is reviewed and it will be sent on to the county judge where the other parent lives. It is in that court that child support enforcement cases are hard.

You may be asking how an out of state court would so easily enforce the child support laws of Texas. To answer this question you would need to know that UIFSA operates based on the legal certainty that the out of state court would honor Texas state law and the court in the other state would apply our laws to the process in whatever state the other parent is residing in.

What happens if the other parent does not pay

Whatever collection methods are approved by Texas law will be enforced in the out of State court. Garnishing the parent’s wages is a possibility if the parent’s employer can be found out. Missed child support payments can be made known to credit bureaus and liens can be placed on the property of that parent. Finally licenses like hunting, fishing, driving, commercial driving, etc. can be suspended for the failure to pay court ordered child support.

In extreme situations you can ask a Texas court to hold a non-paying parent in confinement for a period not to exceed 180 days or six months. Depending on the amount of child support that is actually owed this may be an option. Either way, an enforcement case is pretty straightforward in the sense that you must show the missed payments and the amount of money that is owed. There is not much the other parent can do to counteract your alleged proof of the violations.

Experience is essential when managing a child support enforcement case

If you intend to pursue a child support enforcement case against your child’s other parent it is in your best interest to become as well versed in the child support laws of our state as possible. If at all possible you should hire an attorney who has handled these type of cases before so that you can be as prepared as possible heading into the case.

After reading today’s blog post if you have any questions about the material that we covered please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC. We offer free of charge consultations with our licensed family law attorneys six days a week. Whether you live in Baytown, Katy, Conroe or Tomball we work tirelessly on behalf of our clients and take pride in doing so. Before you rush into a case without much knowledge of the process or the law it is best to meet with an attorney who has been there and done that. The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC are those attorneys and we thank you for your consideration.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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order of protection

4 Things You Need To Know About An Order Of Protection

order of protection

 

Otherwise known as a restraining order, an order of protection is a legal document that limits the contact one individual can have with another. The laws pertaining to restraining orders are different in each state. In the state of New York, an order of protection is an order from the court that tells a person the amount of contact he or she can have with another person. It also states what he or she is not allowed to do to the other person.

The amount of contact allowed will depend on the case. In some cases, there will be some contact permitted, while in others, no contact will be allowed at all. An order of protection is meant to limit the behavior of the person who may threaten or harm to another individual.

Both family courts and criminal courts possess the power to institute an order of protection. Your divorce lawyer can assist you in this legal process.

How Is an Order of Protection Obtained?

Start by contacting your divorce lawyer, so they can help differentiate which orders of protection will work best for your specific circumstance. You will need a professional attorney to back you up in court.

An order of protection in a criminal court will be issued against this person who has committed a crime. Should they commit this crime, contact the police immediately. The terms and conditions of the order of protection will be determined in the Criminal Court.

To get an order of protection through a Family Court, you must have a particular relationship with the individual whom you are issuing an order against. Specifically, here are the relationships we mean:

  • Spouses (either current or former).
  • A family member who is blood-related or related by marriage.
  • Individuals who have had children together.
  • Having a current or former intimate relationship (this is more than a casual relationship, but does not have to be sexual. The court will determine the state of the relationship when given the details).

Make sure that before filing a case in court, you contact a legal professional that has your best interests in mind.

How Long is The Order of Protection Valid?

Initially, you may receive a temporary order of protection. When the case comes to an end, the court may issue a final order of protection. This may last anywhere from one year to several years depending on the case.

What Can I Do if an Order of Protection is Violated?

Violating an order of protection is against the law. Violation is considered a crime and should be reported to the police. You should contact your divorce lawyer in Plainview right away if your order of protection has been violated.

Can The Details of an Order of Protection Be Changed?

The court who issued the order of protection can make changes according to the details of the case. The court may add or limit child visitations. The court may also change the wording in the order such as changing “refrain from” to “stay away” or vice versa. The order can also be extended if needed.

Who Can Help?

Legal professionals can help you in filing for an order of protection. With the help of a top-quality attorney that specializes in family and matrimonial litigation, you can have all bases covered. You should not have to live your life in fear or discomfort with the looming thought that you’ll have to deal with a particular individual. So do not feel ashamed to reach out for help because you do have options. With the help of a divorce lawyer, you can ensure that you are getting as much space as you need.

The post 4 Things You Need To Know About An Order Of Protection appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Texas Court May Not Make Substantive Change When Clarifying a Custody Order

Texas Court May Not Make Substantive Change When Clarifying a Custody Order

Originally published by McClure Law Group.

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Most Texas custody cases are between a child’s parents, but in some cases other family members may be involved.  In a recent case, an uncle challenged a modification of the access and possession terms of a court order related to his brother’s child.  Although the trial court expressed an intention to clarify the original order, the appeals court found it had improperly made a substantive change.

The child’s father is deceased.  In 2016, the father’s brother filed suit to be named as the child’s primary conservator.  The uncle and the mother ultimately reached an agreement, which was incorporated by the court’s order.  The order gave primary possession to the uncle and periodic possession to the mother.  The uncle had the right to request the mother undergo drug testing once a month.  She was required to appear for drug testing at a designated location within 24 hours of the uncle sending notice.  The uncle was prohibited from sending notice Friday through Sunday at 9:00 a.m. If the mother failed to appear within 24 hours, the results would be deemed positive.  If the drug test results were positive or deemed positive, the mother’s periods of possession would be suspended until there was a further court order.

The mother moved to enforce the order a month after it was entered.  She alleged the uncle did not make the child available to her during her time.  She sought criminal and civil contempt, additional periods of possession, and attorney’s fees.  She also asked the court to clarify the original order if it found any part of it was insufficiently specific to be enforced through contempt.

 

The trial court found the terms of the order were not sufficiently specific to be enforced by contempt.  The court added language requiring the uncle provide notice of the drug test “at a reasonable time” and give the mother 24 hours notice to comply. The court found the uncle in violation of the original order by failing to give the child to the mother on two occasions.  It also ordered him to pay $1,500 in attorney’s fees to the mother’s attorney.

The uncle moved for review of the attorney’s fees.  The judge confirmed the award but also specified it would be enforceable as both a debt and as child support.  The uncle appealed, arguing the court had not merely clarified the order but had made substantive changes to the terms.

A court may clarify a previous custody order, but may not generally modify a previous order unless certain conditions are met and the modification is in the child’s best interest.  A clarification cannot make substantive changes to the order.  Although a clarification can correct an error in the original judgment, it can only correct a clerical error, not a judicial error.  The clarification, therefore, cannot correct an error resulting from judicial reasoning.

The appeals court found the original order’s “possession and access terms were specific, non-ambiguous, and could be enforced by contempt.” The order allowed the uncle to request a drug test once a month.  It provided the method of the request and limited the times when he could request it.  The appeals court found the trial court had used judicial reasoning to add the requirement that the uncle send the request within reasonable time that gives the mother 24 hours notice.  The appeals court found the original text was unambiguous so the trial court did not have the authority to clarify.

The original order provided that a level of marijuana higher than 3.66 picograms would be deemed positive, but the modification added language limiting this provision to ingested marijuana. The appeals court found this was a substantive change.  The original order was unambiguous.

The appeals court struck the language purporting to clarify the previous order.

The uncle also argued there was no evidence that the enforcement of the order was necessary for the child’s physical or emotional safety or welfare, which would be required to enforce the attorneys fee award as child support.  The trial court did not find the uncle in contempt or enter a finding that enforcement of the original order was necessary to ensure the child’s health or welfare.  There was no evidence supporting characterizing the fee award as child support so the appeals court struck that portion of the order.

This case serves as a reminder that a Texas trial court’s ability to change a custody order is limited.  The court may not clarify an order by making a substantive change to its provisions, even if those provisions seem unfair.  An experienced Texas custody attorney can help you seek or oppose a clarification or modification of a custody order.  Call McClure Law Group at 214-692-8200 to schedule a consultation.

 

 

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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Court May Order Battering Intervention and Prevention Program in Texas Custody Case

Court May Order Battering Intervention and Prevention Program in Texas Custody Case

Originally published by Robert Epstein.

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In Texas custody cases, the best interests of the child are the primary consideration, and the court uses broad discretion in determining them.  If the court finds it is in the child’s best interest to do so, it may limit a parent’s visitation with the child or increase a parent’s time with the child, but only if certain conditions are met.  A father recently challenged a court’s order that he would have to complete a Battering Intervention and Prevention Program before the possession schedule could change.

The parents lived together with the child until the mother moved out of the home.  The father filed suit, asking to be named joint-managing conservator and to have the exclusive right to designate the child’s primary residence.  A jury found the parents should be joint-managing conservators. Although the jury gave the father the exclusive right to designate residence, it placed a geographic restriction on that right.

When the court issued the order, it left the temporary orders for possession in place until the father finished a Battering Intervention and Prevention Program. The mother was granted the exclusive right to consent to invasive medical procedures, make decisions regarding the child’s education, and possess the child’s passport.  The father requested findings of fact and conclusions of law, then appealed.
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Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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financial house in order

How I Got My Financial House In Order After An Unwanted Divorce

financial house in order

 

Tax time. As I dropped by the post office to get the right postage for the thick packet of homework to send to my accountant, I smiled to myself, confident that I had my financial house in order. It brought back memories of all the effort it took to dig a new foundation years ago, after my divorce.

I no longer get weak-kneed and shaky thinking about those months leading to the divorce. The request for a divorce came as a surprise to me. So busy with family and career that I hadn’t been attending to the finer points of our family finances—that was something my trusted husband did.

Evidently, I wasn’t attending to the marriage either.

Rather, I was full throttle busy but confident that it wouldn’t be long before we would have an opportunity to do a reset as a couple once our last child left for college.  My husband was on another page. When the last child was launched, he would also start his new chapter. And, it didn’t include me.

The shock of divorce rattled me, and I don’t rattle easily. In fact, calm is my middle name. My career track steady and upward for the entirety of our marriage, I was now close to the top of my field, responsible for business lines that were valued at tens of millions of dollars. “On the rise” is what people would tell my husband about me at the rare work event of mine that we attended together.

I wonder now if that message didn’t send alarm bells to him—a signal that we were out of sync. After all, he had married a younger woman still in grad school with no prospects, and as he was older, his career was already launched. Perhaps neither of us took stock of what that would mean later.

Silly me, I thought we were happy and about to enter that golden time in a couple’s marriage when the burden of children is lifted, careers are set, and a second honeymoon is around the corner as empty nesters take the time to find one another again.

Some must find divorce a relief after years of strife, or abuse.

I found it confusing, embarrassing and disorienting. It took me months to feel myself again and to assure myself that the kids were ok—or as ok as they could be with their world shaken. But they had new worlds to explore, going off to college was a happy and understood rite of passage.

Divorce at middle-age is not. Although more “gray” adults are divorcing now, it still hurts me when I see a couple that is celebrating their 40 plus wedding anniversary. Surrounded by children and grand-children, toasting one another with loving looks, sometimes sharing a truth about having weathered a storm or two, but toughing it out. Good for them.

Life is hard. So, when you find someone to hang onto, it is a blessing. When you lose that person, it is difficult, regardless of the circumstances. After the initial shock wore off, and I adjusted to the fact that my husband of twenty years plus didn’t want to be married to me anymore, I wanted to get out of the marriage as quickly as possible. During that period of deep hurt, I realized how little I knew about our finances.

Pulling papers together, going through correspondence, talking to bankers, and finally, my own attorney, I was overwhelmed. I needed help. Someone to take charge of my funds—once I settled out— invest them, and work with me on managing them wisely. I also needed a CPA to help me with tax planning, short and long term.

I was startled by what I didn’t know. 

It’s not like I was a princess who had waited for her prince charming to come along and rescue her. I was a smart woman who had navigated to a high-profile career with a great future ahead of me. But I had not paid attention to the essentials of investing for my own future. Why would I? My future was intertwined with my husband’s, and he was looking out for both of us, right?

I felt powerless and knew I had to take control to conquer that fear. And, I did. But it took years, and a small village, to get me to a place that feels comfortable.

How I Got My Financial House In Order

Fortunately, through the referral from a trusted friend, I found a broker who was indispensable when it came time to receiving my settlement monies and guiding me through the decision making on where to make investments. Another friend referred me to her tax accountant who turned out to be heaven-sent. To this day, she has my back and has recently helped me through the intricacies of college savings for my grandchildren.

As I leave the post office, I realize that my comfort now is due to the fact that I educated myself, took advice from trusted friends, and brick by brick learned to build my financial house on solid ground.

My lesson was learned the hard way. Married couples are partners for financial planning and the tasks should not be delegated to one partner only.  Quarterly meetings to review your financials and make adjustments as needed, with both partners conversant and supportive of the financial plan is the best practice. Things happen, and when they do, the last thing you want is to be distracted about is your financial security.

The post How I Got My Financial House In Order After An Unwanted Divorce appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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