Texas Court Order Hearing

Steps of an Enforcement Case in Texas Family Law Court

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Is your ex-spouse violating the terms of your court order decree? If so, you can order the court to enforce your rights. Denial of financial support after a divorce can be devastating, especially for the custodial parent. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to get the money, property, and custody time you’ve been assured.

As you could imagine, Texas Family Court does not take lightly people who disobey their decree. Failing to adhere to a court order can result in criminal penalties, including jail time. Still, court orders aren’t always easy to enforce. When your rights are being dismissed, you must motion to enforce them.

Even if your motion for enforcement seems straightforward, it can be fraught with legal complexities. This is why it’s crucial to hire an experienced Fort Worth family law attorney. Whether you’re a custodial parent not receiving maintenance payments, or a noncustodial parent being denied child visitation rights, we can help.

Steps of an enforcement case in Texas court

From start to finish, the motion for enforcement process takes around a month. Here’s how we can work together, client and attorney, to enforce your Texas court order and hold your ex accountable.

Hire a family lawyer to file your enforcement motion

As mentioned earlier, holding another party accountable for violating a family court order isn’t always a slam dunk. Even when the violation is clear, it’s essential to hire an attorney with experience in enforcement cases. Even the smallest mistakes and paperwork issues may derail your motion to enforce. As a custodial parent, do you really want to take that chance?

With our affordable attorney’s fees, you don’t need to worry about enduring your enforcement case alone. Our award-winning family law firm will review your case and recommend the best course of action. In many cases, the best next step will be filing a Motion for Contempt. If we find that your order cannot be enforced, we’ll recommend other corrective action.

Document every court order violation

Before you motion for enforcement, it helps to have detailed notes of the specific transgressions your ex committed. Keep a log of every court order violation, including each time the person has:

* Denied your visitation or possession rights as a parent
* Violated your child custody schedule
* Failed to remit payment of court-ordered spousal support (and the amount)
* Failed to remit payment of court-ordered child support (and the amount)
* Other court order violations

Remember to jot down every date and time. Also, write down the names of witnesses. Being able to include these records as evidence will help strengthen your motion for enforcement case. Additionally, it will help ensure that your ex is held accountable for every enforceable count of contempt.

File a motion of contempt, also known as a motion of enforcement

If taking legal action is the best move, we will file a Motion for Contempt with the court clerk. In state court, this is a common practice for enforcing a court order. Contempt of court may be filed for many reasons, but in most cases, it’s for one of the following:

* Failure to pay spousal or child support to a custodial parent
* Being denied visitation or possession rights

Each court order violation may result in a “count” of contempt. If the Texas judge agrees that your ex-spouse is disobeying your court order, they can be held in contempt of court. This will mean the spouse is required to provide back pay for all scheduled payments they missed. You can also seek additional civil or criminal punishments, including up to 180 days of jail time.

Provide notice of contempt

After we file the motion for enforcement in court, the person will be notified of the charges they face by a process server or a constable.

After the notification is delivered, 21 days must pass before a hearing can be set. This gives the other party enough time to review each specific count of contempt and to plan their defense. Even if your ex refuses the notice you have options.

When the trial is scheduled, the defendant is served a Notice of Hearing. Once this happens, it sets the stage for the motion of enforcement hearing to begin.

Continue to prepare for our enforcement hearing

Now that your ex-spouse is aware of the specific counts of contempt, we have three weeks or longer to build our case. If your hearing is related to child custody issues we have a good guide for you to read.

This is where your notes from Step 1 will really come in handy. If it helps our case, we may request your witnesses to appear in court to testify on your behalf. Having this outside perspective can be extremely valuable.

As your family law attorney, we will also prepare you to testify. Delivering testimony can be a stressful experience, especially for first-timers. We’ll coach you on what to expect, what to wear, and what to say. In short, we’ll do everything in our power to make sure you’re as prepared as possible.

Our experienced Tarrant County family law attorneys have assisted clients through many enforcement cases over the years. We know what it takes to maximize your chances of success. 

Appear in court for your enforcement hearing

While any trial is nerve-inducing, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. You designated lawyers for a reason. We will shield you from the most complex aspects of the trial and only engage you when needed.

During the hearing, we will present our findings, as well as the relief and remedies we seek from the other party. The only time you may need to speak is when you’re testifying. Your job then will simply be to answer questions truthfully. And remember, we will rehearse with you so that you’re well prepared.

Once all the evidence has been presented, and the defendant is given an opportunity to dispute, the judge will make their decision. If the judge rules in your favor, our Fort Worth family law attorneys will draft an order that both parties and the judge must sign.

Judge’s Ruling

After all the evidence has been submitted, their ruling. This ruling will be based on whether there was a clear violation of the court order. Other factors may also be considered, including whether the violation was intentional and part of an extended pattern.

If the judge does not rule in our favor, or if the judge rules the order is not enforceable, it’s not final. We can always appeal the decision or explore other legal alternatives. If you have any specific questions, address them to your attorney, who can explain the reasoning, implications, and potential next steps.Consultation with an attorney

Enforce Your Texas Court Order With Our Fort Worth Family Law

At Sean Lynch, our seasoned lawyers take pride in fighting for families in court. We offer transparent, affordable pricing as well as a no-cost initial consultation. We always fight to make sure your best interests are served, and your rights are enforced.

Don’t let your ex-spouse get away with violating your court order decree. Contact our office or call 817-668-5879 to begin your motion for enforcement. We have an excellent track record when it comes to court orders in Texas. You’ll be happy with your choice to consult with our award-winning Tarrant County family law practice.

How to Change a Texas Court Order for Child Access

Reading Time: 7 minutes
Texas Family Courts are responsible for determining child access rules and requirements.
Texas Family Courts are responsible for determining child access rules and requirements.

It’s common knowledge that going through a divorce is both emotionally draining and logistically complex. To go through the process is to make a series of difficult compromises, or to leave your fate in the hands of a judge whose interests may not be aligned with yours.

While the financial complexity of divorce is widely known, many will tell you that the hardest part of the process is determining the custodial and timeshare arrangement with their children. In particular, child access time is often a major source of contention.

At Sean Lynch, our experienced family law attorneys have observed that child access negotiations can get very heated. We’ve seen individuals jockey for more care and possession time with their children and deprioritize what’s in the child’s best interest. We’ve even seen some disgruntled spouses attempt to use their children as bargaining chips in custody order negotiations.

While only one parent can be recognized as the custodial parent for purposes of a child’s primary residence, hiring an experienced Tarrant County family law attorney to handle child access negotiations on your behalf will help ensure that your interests and rights are represented in the final agreement.

Difference Between Child Access and Conservatorship

In Texas, the legal term for custody is “conservatorship.” Instead of being referred to as a custodian, the parent with court-ordered custody of a child is called a “conservator.” In Texas, there are 3 types of conservatorships:

  • Joint Managing Conservatorship: Both parties share decision making about most issues.
  • Sole Managing Conservatorship: One party has the exclusive right to make most decisions about the child.
  • Possessory Conservatorship: The party that is not the Sole Managing Conservator.

While conservatorship determines the child’s primary residence, it doesn’t specify how much time the child spends with each parent. This important framework is determined separately in a child possession schedule.

In most cases, both parties try to reach an agreement on this important issue through mediation. If they’re unable to strike a deal, they can petition the court to make the schedule on their behalf.

It’s worth noting while children must be 18 to determine which parent they live with, Texas does allow children who are at least 12 years old to have a say in terms of where they live and who they spend time with.

Difference Between Child Custody and Child Visitation

In divorces, child custody and child visitation must both be determined. While child custody and child visitation both relate to the parent-child relationship, there are significant differences between them from a legal standpoint.

Child custody, known in Texas as conservatorship, refers primarily to which parent the child lives with. The child custody arrangement also defines how much say each parent has when it comes to major decisions, such as the child’s education and healthcare treatments.

Child visitation refers to how much time each parent spends with the child. This will be determined separately by a child care and possession schedule agreed to by the parties, or if necessary, by the judge who oversees the proceedings.

What Is a Child Visitation Schedule?

A child visitation schedule outlines how much time each parent is able to spend with their child. Establishing this schedule is especially important for the noncustodial parent, or the parent with whom the child does not primarily live.

Given the high cost and unpredictable nature of the courtroom, it’s always better if the parties can reach an agreement outside the courtroom. But when that’s not possible you can ask the court to determine the possession and access schedule via court order.

Either way, it’s essential to hire a Tarrant County child access lawyer who can help you navigate your case. We have your best interest at heart and will make sure your parental rights are protected and respected.

Standard Possession Order

Instead of customizing an access schedule that suits the specific needs of each parent, the court typically issues a standard possession order (SPO). This is a templated framework that gives each party what the state of Texas deems is a reasonable amount of possession and access time.

Under a standard possession order — which may vary based on the child’s age and the parents’ proximity to each other — the noncustodial parent will see their child on the following days. The rest of the time, the child will be with the custodial parent.

Parents separated by less than 100 miles 

  • Thursday evenings during the school year (from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.)
  • The noncustodial parent can choose to have one weekend of possession per month instead of standard weekend visits (if notice is given 14 days in advance).
  • 1st weekend of the month (from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday)
  • Spring break every year
  • 3rd weekend of the month (from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday)
  • June 15 to July 27 every summer (different days can be scheduled by April 1)
  • 5th weekend of the month (from 6 p.m. Friday to 6 p.m. Sunday)

If the child is younger than 3 years old, the judge may award a more carefully structured access schedule, which more acutely considers the child’s best interests. To that end, here are a few factors a judge in Texas may consider:

  • Whether the parent has a history of caring for small children
  • The child’s separation anxiety from one parent
  • The child’s physical health
  • The child’s behavioral, medical, and developmental needs
  • The child’s emotional development
  • The distance between the spouses
  • Others who live with the parents, including siblings
  • And more

Modifying a Child Access Order

In Texas, the law recognizes that circumstances change over time and the rigidity of court orders can create complications for the average Texas family. For this reason, court orders are not written in stone.

Either parent can file a motion to modify an existing order for child visitation, as well as child custody and other divorce-related issues, at any time. The court may consider a suit to modify the parent child arrangement if both parents agree to the change, or if the petitioning parent has experienced a material and substantial change in circumstances.

Depending on whether both parents agree to the changes to the existing order, the modification process can either be simple or complex. The complexity of your case can also be eased by hiring an experienced family law attorney like Sean Lynch.

If Both Parties Agree

If each party agrees to the modification order, the process is typically quick and painless. All your child access lawyer will need to do is submit to the court a proposed order highlighting the changes. The judge will then review the modification case and likely approve it.

What Happens If Both Parties Do Not Agree

If the parties do NOT agree to the proposed modification, gaining approval becomes more challenging. The burden will be for the petitioning party to prove there has been a “material and substantial change in circumstances” in their life that warrants them spending more time with their child. Qualifying life changes may include:

  • Employment situation changes
  • Your ability to financially support the child changes
  • Changes to your health and wellness

Another path is to argue that your child’s emotional or physical well-being is in danger, either due to abuse or neglect, and that your child would be safer spending more time with you.

No matter the circumstances of your modification request, it’s critically important to have an experienced Tarrant County family lawyer who can guide you through the process. Our Texas law firm has a wealth of experience helping individuals modify their current order, and we can do the same for you in your case.

Even if you have a great argument for getting your court order modified, you should never take the results you want for granted. Judges take all modification petitions very seriously, especially when the outcome may not be in the child’s best interest.

Obtaining legal help from an experienced family law attorney will give you the best opportunity to achieve the outcome you desire.

How Can I Change My Child Access Court Order

Under Texas law, you can adjust an existing order by filing a petition to modify in the court that granted the divorce, unless the child has moved. Sean Lynch has helped countless clients research and amend their existing agreements. Our process looks like this:

Case Review and Research

We review your change in circumstances and research whether your request has merit

Legal Pleading

If it does, we send a petition to the court

Courtroom Argument

We argue our case before the court

Court Decision Published

The court determines whether changes to the current order is warranted

Can Visitation Be Ordered If One Parent Poses a Threat

If one parent has a history of misconduct, such as physical or emotional abuse, the judge may still allow him or her to visit with the child under supervision. This will typically be the case if the judge believes it’s necessary for the child’s safety and well-being. It can also be something that the custodial parent requests with reason.

Child Access Rights for Unmarried Fathers

All biological fathers have the right to seek child access, even if they were not married to the child’s mother at the time of birth. If the mother is not allowing the father to spend time with the child, the father can petition for visitation rights.

In Texas, courts rule in the best interest of the child. In many cases, what’s best for the child is to spend time with both mother and father. Even still, securing child visitation rights is not guaranteed. When reviewing your case, the judge will consider many factors, including your criminal background and any history you have with the child.

Child Custody Modifications

Getting a child custody modification is similar to the process of modifying an existing child access order. It ultimately comes down to whether there has been a “material and substantial change in circumstances” that warrant an alteration to the current order. You will need to file a petition with the court to initiate the process.

Given the magnitude of the change, custody orders may prove difficult to modify, but the Fort Worth family lawyers at Sean Lynch are here to provide legal advice and give you the best chance to win your modification case.

How Child Access Impact Child Support

Many wonder if modifying the child possession schedule may impact their child support requirements. The short answer is: no. Increasing or decreasing the amount of time you spend with your child will not affect the amount you owe (or receive) in child support.

Either parent can separately petition for changes to the child support order if changes to the payer’s financial situation warrant a modification.

Other Court Order Modifications

Whether it’s related to child custody, child support, or spousal maintenance, the court may update any order if the change in circumstances rises to the standard of material and substantial. To reasonably ask the court for a change, your modification order must meet at least one of the following criteria.

Type of court order

What you’ll need to prove

Child support
  • There has been a significant and permanent change to income or living expenses.
  • The child in question requires new and extraordinary medical support, and the custodial parent requires additional income.
Spousal maintenance
  • There has been a significant and permanent change to income or living expenses.
  • The spouse in question requires new and extraordinary medical support.
Visitation schedule
  • Your new circumstances (improved living arrangement, improved emotional well-being, etc.) would warrant you spending more time with your child.
  • Your child’s emotional or physical well-being is in danger, and he or she would be safer spending more time with you.
Asset division
  • You can prove the original arrangement was influenced by fraudulent information (failure by an ex-spouse to disclose assets) or mistakes in the proceedings.

Contact Our Top Fort Worth Family Attorneys

The award-winning lawyers at Sean Lynch, PLLC, are pleased to offer some of the most affordable and effective legal advice and services in Fort Worth and Arlington. Unlike other family law attorneys, we are up-front about our pricing, so you know exactly what you’ll pay in your modification case. And we ALWAYS have your best interest at heart.

Our top Texas law firm is ready to help you modify your court order so you can spend more time with your child. If you need help or would like legal assistance, we are here for you.

Contact our family law practice today to schedule a no-cost consultation with a top-rated attorney in Fort Worth.

The Children’s Bill of Rights in Texas

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Texas promotes child health, happiness, and well being with the Texas Children's Bill of Rights.
Texas promotes child health, happiness, and well being with the Texas Children’s Bill of Rights.

After a divorce in Texas, one of the court’s top priorities is protecting the well-being of children. The court takes this duty so seriously that it developed the Texas Children’s Bill of Rights. The bill provides clear language about the rights of children who have two homes. The overriding goal: to protect the relationships children have with both sides of their family and prevent them from being caught up in their parents’ drama.

Highlights of the Texas Children’s Bill of Rights

Living in two homes can be confusing for a child. It’s even harder when their parents don’t get along. While getting divorced is a choice, protecting the welfare of children is not. The Children’s Bill of Rights establishes the rights reserved by children, and the rules that either parent must follow to defend them.

As Tarrant County family law attorneys, we know how difficult it can be when a child is dragged through a divorce. It’s often one parent who acts carelessly and makes the situation worse. If this describes your co-parent, contact a Fort Worth attorney from Sean Lynch. Whether you need legal questions or services, our family law experts are here for you.

You Cannot Undermine Your Co-Parent

If the Texas Children’s Bill of Rights has a theme, it’s this: you cannot knowingly undermine your co-parent. For example, you can’t badmouth your child’s other parent or relatives. Additionally, you must prevent your child from overhearing arguments or negotiations about your legal or business dealings.

In other words, neither parent can actively attempt to make their child a partner in contempt after their divorce. You must deny these urges and cooperate to the greatest extent possible for the good of the child.

You Must Allow Phone Calls and Correspondence

Neither parent can interfere with communications between the child and the parent who isn’t physically there. You must allow the child to receive or access phone calls, letters and gifts from the other parent. The reason? To make sure that children who live in two homes are able to stay connected to both of their families at any given time.

You Cannot Manipulate Your Child

Neither parent may manipulate their children into thinking their other parent loves them less. Additionally, they can’t communicate moral judgements that aim to make their child think less of their other parent. Some parents do this hoping it will help in their child custody arguments/negotiations. in reality, this strategy often has the opposite effect.

You Must Permit the Child to Display Photographs

Children of divorce often take comfort in having photographs of relatives and loved ones nearby. Neither parent shall deny their children from displaying photos or other cherished mementos in their room. Parents must respect the physical integrity and personal space of their child and allow them to display reasonable items that bring them happiness.

Parents Must Support Each Other

You might not want to engage with your fellow parent, but the Texas court system holds that you must support them to the greatest extent practicable. In other words, you must cooperate with your ex and not deny your children’s wish to have a relationship with them.

Specifically, neither parent shall deny that their children should spend time with their other parent. And neither parent shall make the child feel guilty for having a positive experience.

You Cannot Encourage the Child to Behave Poorly

In some joint custody arrangements, it’s common for one parent to instruct their children to misbehave in their other parent’s home. Rewarding negative behavior in an attempt to sabotage your child’s relationship with your ex-spouse or their relatives will simply not be tolerated.

You Must Respect Boundaries of Your Child

Children of divorce are dealing with complex issues that can be particularly challenging to parents struggling with custody arrangements and co-parenting.
Children of divorce are dealing with complex issues that can be particularly challenging to parents struggling with custody arrangements and co-parenting.

Parents must respect that children are children. An adult should not use a child as an agent for gathering information, or an intermediary for communicating with your ex. You must respect emotional boundaries and refrain from making inappropriate comments about your ex that attempt to pressure your child or children into thinking less of their other parent.

You Must Be Responsible Around Your Child

Children have a right to be safe and free from exposure to illegal or potentially harmful activities. Specifically, neither parent shall permit their child to be transported by a person who is intoxicated due to consumption of alcohol or illicit drugs. Additionally, neither parent shall smoke tobacco products inside a home or vehicle occupied at the time by the child.

The Children’s Bill of Rights in Texas is very clear about protecting children after a divorce. If your ex-spouse is violating any of these laws, take action to defend your child or children. Contact our affordable Tarrant County family lawyers for a free consultation.

Violating Children’s Bill of Rights

The court takes seriously its duty to protect the welfare of children. The judge can impose harsh penalties for parents who ignore or violate the Texas Children’s Bill of Rights. Penalties may include costly fines; in some cases parents can even be held in contempt.

Failure to acknowledge and adhere to legal responsibilities could ultimately result in loss of shared custody or access time. This would likely only happen if the aggrieved party petitions for a court order modification.

Hire Experienced Fort Worth Family Lawyers 

A parent’s right to protect their children is sacred and absolute. If your co-parent is violating your child’s rights, it’s important to engage an experienced Fort Worth attorney. Our law firm will review your situation, communicate your legal options and provide you with top representation for a reasonable price.
It’s time to act. Contact us or complete the form on our site today to schedule a free consultation. You’ll be happy with your choice to consult with our award-winning Tarrant County family law practice.

Texas Requirements For Full Child Custody

Reading Time: 7 minutes
Torn child's drawing of a family illustrating their impression of child custody in Texas divorce.
Texas Family Court Child Custody focuses on the well being of the child.

After a divorce in Texas, the court’s preference is to award parents joint custody of their children. The idea is here that giving children access to both their parents is what’s in their best interest.

Indeed, in a perfect world, both parents would be equal partners when raising their child. However, we all know this can’t always be the case. Some people are simply unfit to be parents or cannot provide adequate care. Fortunately, Texas law recognizes this truth and allows the court to make decisions based on what’s best for the child.

What the Law Says About Child Custody

Per Chapter 153 of the Texas family code, the best interest of the child transcends all other considerations. In other words, when the child is better off in the custody of one parent versus two, state law allows it.

Like most matters of family law, child custody is a complex legal issue. In this article, we’ll walk you through Texas requirements for full child custody. We’ll also cover related topics, such as child support payments.

If you need legal support for your custody case, contact our award-winning Fort Worth family lawyers for a free consultation. We specialize in custody cases and will defend your parental rights to help you achieve the results you desire. Even if you only need information or want to ask questions, don’t hesitate to call!

How Does Child Custody Work in Texas?

Let’s start by defining a few key terms. First and foremost, the word for “custody” in the state of  Texas is “conservator.” A parent during a divorce is not awarded custody of their child, but rather conservatorship. Since it’s the more familiar term, we’ll often refer to conservatorship as child custody in this article.

Under family law in Texas, there are three types of conservatorships.

  • Joint Managing Conservator: Both parties have the right to make decisions regarding most issues.
  • Sole Managing Conservator: One party has the exclusive right to make decisions regarding the child.
  • Possessory Conservator: The party that is not the Sole Managing Conservator. This parent may have some rights and duties, but they are generally limited in scope.

As noted previously, judges in Texas prefer making parents joint managing conservators because it generally serves the best interests of the child. Under this construct, one parent receives custodial rights. This is the parent with whom the child lives and spends most of their time. However, the noncustodial parent is still very much involved in the child’s life.

Among their rights and duties, the noncustodial parent will have possession of the child at least 35% of the year. They will also be legally empowered to help make parenting decisions about the child’s…

  • Healthcare
  • Family values
  • Education
  • And more

In a joint managing conservatorship, the noncustodial parent still has meaningful parental rights. However, this is not always the case in a sole custody arrangement.

How to Gain Sole Physical Custody After a Divorce

Texas judges prefer making parents joint managing conservators but certain situations can lead to sole child custody.
Texas judges prefer making parents joint managing conservators but certain situations can lead to sole child custody.

Divorce isn’t your only opportunity to gain full child custody in Texas. In short, if you’re upset with the original ruling or circumstances change materially, you can petition for sole custody after the divorce. The process for doing this is known as a court order modification.

Under family law in the state of Texas, either parent can petition to modify the custody arrangement at any time. However, the court will only consider a modification if there’s a “material and substantial” change in circumstances. The exception to this will be if both parents agree to the shift.

Our Fort Worth family lawyers are as familiar with family code as we are with Texas courts. We can walk you through the Texas requirements for full child custody, and help get you the results you desire.

Visitation Rights for Noncustodial Parents

While the possessory conservator does not live with their child, they may still retain some parental rights. This may include the right to petition for child access through scheduled visitation. In cases where the noncustodial parent is considered a potential threat, visitation sessions may be limited and happen under supervision.

Visitation is a way for the noncustodial parent to have some access to the child, even when they don’t have custody. As a result, the court prefers this because it maintains some degree of the parent-child relationship.

How to Make a Case For Sole Custody in Texas

Texas Child Custody laws seek to find the optimal solution for the wellbeing of a child.
Texas Child Custody laws seek to find the best solution for the wellbeing of a child.

Judges in the state of Texas require a compelling reason to change any court order. Consequently, their standard is exceptionally high when it comes to awarding sole child custody. As stated previously, judges consider above all else what’s in the best interests of the child. Most of the time, this is having access to both parents.

The court recognizes that in some cases, what’s in the best interest of the child is to be in the care of just one parent. After all, judges don’t want dangerous parents to have access to the child, let alone to make decisions for the child.

If your child is better off in your custody alone, the Fort Worth custody lawyers at Sean Lynch can help. Our experienced Texas family lawyers specialize in child custody cases and will give you the best chance of winning.

The court order modification process in Texas is challenging to navigate, and you don’t want to take it on alone. Whether you have legal questions or need immediate support, contact our award-winning law firm for a free consultation about your Texas child custody case.

Reasons For Being Awarded Sole Child Custody in Texas

In cases where the judge deems it necessary, one parent may receive sole custody of a child. This can happen either during a divorce or after the fact via a court order modification. To win full custody in Texas, you will need to prove that your ex-spouse is unfit to be a parent or has created a poor environment. More on this below.

Generally speaking, being granted full custody will have less to do with you and more to do with your co-parent. In other words, the judge is unlikely to award you sole managing conservatorship unless your ex is unfit — even if you’re the best mother or father in the world.

These are some of the top reasons your ex-spouse could be considered unfit to parent. While these provide helpful information, keep in mind that Texas child custody cases are nuanced. It’s essential to hire an experienced Tarrant County family law attorney who has your best interest at heart.

Domestic Violence

If your ex-spouse has a history of domestic violence, it could be grounds for the judge awarding you sole child custody. That’s especially true if the instance or pattern of physical abuse led to your petition for divorce.

It should come as no surprise that judges in the state of Texas do not treat domestic violence lightly. Giving a parent with a history of abusive behavior joint custody is bad for everyone. Parents with a history of abuse may even struggle to gain visitation rights without supervision.

Emotional Abuse

With mental health issues drawing heightened attention in Texas and throughout the country, judges are more inclined to consider the impact emotional abuse can have on a child. Abusive behavior goes beyond just verbal tirades against the child. In addition, it may also include neglect and manipulation.

One type of manipulation that we see quite often is parents who try to “turn” their child against their ex-spouse. If your ex is manipulating your child into thinking less of you, it may rise to the standard needed to petition for sole custody. The experienced family lawyers at Sean Lynch are happy to review your case and provide affordable legal advice based on your best interests.

Violating a Court Order

During a divorce, the judge will dictate the parental rights of each party. This includes issues relating to child visitation and child custody. If you violate your court order, you could owe fees and costs to your spouse. What’s more, the court could even hold you in contempt.

Repeated court order violations could eventually result in parental rights being revoked or reduced. That’s especially true if the violations are glaring and intentional. For example, let’s say your co-parent takes the child or children on an unscheduled vacation on your parenting days. You can file a complaint to the court, which could result in a court order modification that terminates his or her custodial rights.

Neglect

If your co-parent consistently fails to tend to their children’s basic needs, you can make a case of neglect. This is a serious charge that you must have a strong case to prove, including specific examples. Proving neglect is often difficult because, in many cases, it’s unseen. That’s why it’s crucial to have testimony from people who’ve seen the neglect take place.

It’s also important to keep in mind that neglect is more than just a one-time mistake, like forgetting to pick up your child from football practice or pack them a lunch. It’s a pattern of carelessness and disregard that puts your child’s physical or emotional health at risk.

Does Having Sole Physical Custody in Texas Affect Child Support?

Having sole custody can affect the amount you receive in child support. Unlike a joint managing conservatorship, when the child will share time with both parents, having sole physical custody means the child will be in your possession the vast majority of the time. As a result, you’ll be singularly responsible for all of your child’s living expenses, including:

  • Housing
  • Education
  • Healthcare
  • Nutrition
  • Clothes

Given the financial burden of paying for your child’s education, healthcare, and more, it’s only fair that you receive additional compensation. This is especially true if you’re transitioning from a joint custody arrangement.

How Much Child Support Can I Receive

If you have sole physical custody of your child, you could be entitled to additional child support. Several factors determine the amount you’re eligible to receive in the state of Texas, including:

  • The number of children
  • The non-custodial parent’s income
  • The non-custodial parent’s overall financial situation

Generally speaking, you can determine the amount using the following formula.

Number of childrenPayer’s monthly net income
1Multiply monthly net income by 20%
2Multiply monthly net income by 25%
3Multiply monthly net income by 30%
4Multiply monthly net income by 35%
5Multiply monthly net income by 40%
6 or moreMultiply monthly net income by at least 40% 

Contact Our Top Fort Worth Family Attorneys

The award-winning child custody lawyers at Sean Lynch, PLLC, provide top legal services in Fort Worth, Arlington, and elsewhere in Tarrant County.

Beyond our professionalism and experience, what separates us from other law firms is our pricing. Unlike other family law attorneys, we are up-front about our pricing, so you know what you’ll pay in your family law case. And we ALWAYS have your best interest, and the best interest of the child, at heart.

Whether you’re going through a divorce or seeking a court order modification, one of our top lawyers is ready to assist in your Texas child custody case. Our attorneys are not only legal experts; they’re parents, too. We understand the importance of custody and take matters involving parental rights and the welfare of children personally.

The search for the right family lawyer is over. Contact our family law practice today to schedule a no-cost consultation with a top-rated attorney in Fort Worth.

8 Reasons a Mother Would Lose Custody of a Child

Reading Time: 8 minutes
No one wants the heartache of a mother losing custody of a child.
Children can experience inconsolable stress and confusion when their Mother is denied custody.

There’s a widely held belief in Texas that mothers are always awarded legal custody of their children during a divorce. This may have been the case several years ago when state law reflected an older family framework. Now that the mother isn’t the primary caretaker in all families, the law looks at things differently.

The law recognizes that mothers and fathers play an equally important role in the raising of their children. As a result, both parents theoretically have the same chance of being awarded custody rights. The court will ultimately rule on custody and parenting time based on what’s in the best interest of the children.

At Sean Lynch, our award-winning family lawyers have seen many fathers get awarded full custody or joint legal custody. We’ve also provided legal services to countless mothers and other family members looking to secure or retain custodial rights. No one wants the heartache of a mother losing custody of a child.

As the principle of parental equality becomes more widely accepted in Texas, the trend of fathers getting sole legal custody will continue. Whether or not a parent loses their case could come down to the quality of their attorney.

If you’re a mother who fears losing custody of your child or children, don’t take winning your case for granted. Our experienced Fort Worth law firm will help you prepare the best legal strategy so that you can hold onto your most prized possessions: your children.

3 Different Types of Conservatorship

In Texas, the legal term for custody is “conservatorship.” As such, you may see both words used throughout this article and other recent posts by Sean Lynch. The rights of parents who aren’t married fall into one of these 3 conservatorship buckets, as defined by state law.

Failure to comply with the terms of your agreement can result in your rights being reduced or terminated. It can even result in you losing parenting time or, worse, physical custody.

These are the 3 types of conservatorships in Texas.

Joint Managing Conservatorship

In a joint managing conservatorship, also known as joint custody, both parents can make important decisions about the child. This does not mean, however, that the mother and father share parenting time. Visitation schedules and the amount of parenting time each party receives will be determined by a possession order.

Judges prefer a co-parenting arrangement versus giving one parent sole physical custody. This is because having access to both parents is generally in the best interest of the child.

Sole Managing Conservatorship

In cases where it’s deemed necessary by the court, one parent can be named Sole Managing Conservator. This parent will have sole physical custody of the child or children, and the exclusive right to make most decisions.

Texas law prefers that parents are named Joint Managing Conservators and therefore share custody. However, the court may name one parent Sole Managing Conservator if the co-parent has a history of the following:

  • Family violence
  • Child abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Physical abuse
  • Child neglect or absence
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Child abduction
  • Parental alienation

Possessory Conservatorship

In cases where one parent is named the Sole Managing Conservator, the other is usually named the Possessory Conservator. If a nonparent is named the Sole Managing Conservator, both parents will generally be named Possessory Conservators. A Possessory Conservator still has the rights of a parent, but won’t have the last say on most choices.

Can I Lose Custody of My Children?

Every Mother dreads is losing child custody of their child.

When entering a custody battle, the first thing to do is educate yourself about some of the most common reasons mothers lose their custodial privileges. Violating even one of these infractions will give your ex-spouse grounds to mount a legal challenge.

Even if a case can be reasonably made against you, though, it doesn’t mean you’re going to lose custody. Similarly, just because you’re not guilty of any of these violations doesn’t mean you’re automatically going to win your child custody case.

The court recognizes the seriousness of child custody. Therefore, it will consider context and testimony from both sides when rendering a decision. This is why it’s essential to hire a Tarrant County child custody attorney. We will aggressively defend your rights as a mother and provide you with the best legal advice for your case.

Here are 8 of the most common reasons a parent, specifically a Texas mother, could lose custody of a child.

Reason 1: Lose Custody Due To Domestic Violence

It may surprise you to learn that more than 1 in 4 men in the U.S. experience some form of physical or sexual violence by an intimate partner, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. If you have inflicted any sort of domestic violence against someone in your family, your spouse can press charges.

At that point, the husband can request an investigation of his claims, and petition to be recognized as the sole managing conservator of your children. This would make the father the custodial parent and give him the exclusive right to make most parenting decisions. His home would also become the children’s primary residence.

Not surprisingly, the court has little tolerance when it comes to child abuse. Charges of physical abuse of any kind reflect poorly upon the mother. They can also be difficult to overcome in family court, especially if the father has filed a restraining order. If this occurs, the mother’s only access to her children may be through monitored visitation sessions.

Reason 2: Lose Custody Due To Emotional Abuse

Upset, stressed, and suffering is a poor environment for everyone.

While emotional abuse is often more difficult to prove in court, it can be just as damaging for the mother. The court takes seriously the emotional health and well-being of children. If it’s suspected that the mother has inflicted emotional damage on her kids, it might result in loss of custody.

While many people associate emotional abuse with harassment and verbal attacks, the definition is much broader. The court also considers acts of manipulation, such as turning their child or children against their co-parent, as emotional abuse. The judge may view this type of treatment even more harshly if the child is young and easier to manipulate.

In summary, any form of child abuse, whether it’s emotional or physical, will be taken very seriously by the court. It’s why they are among the top reasons you could lose custody of a child.

Reason 3: Lose Custody Due To Neglect

If the mother consistently fails to tend to her children’s basic needs, a case of neglect can be made. Proving neglect can be difficult because it often depends on testimony from others who have seen it take place.

If you’re a mother, it’s important to remember that neglect is a pattern, not a one-off lapse in judgment or memory. The judge is highly unlikely to take away your parenting rights for forgetting to pick up your child or children from soccer practice that one time. There must be a repeated history of neglectful behavior that puts the child’s physical or emotional health at risk.

When defending a charge of neglect, or parental alienation, character witnesses can be very valuable. They can speak to your character and help you combat claims that you’ve been shirking your duties. These individuals may need to testify under oath, so it’s important to find people you really trust.

Reason 4: Lose Custody Due To Violation of Custody Order

Violating any custody order is grounds for the termination of custodial rights. For example, let’s say you take your child or children on a surprise vacation the weekend your ex-spouse is scheduled to be with them. Your ex-spouse can file a complaint to the court. This could result in a court order modification and possibly the termination of your custodial rights.

While your custody order must be honored, you can always petition for a court order modification. If you and your ex-spouse agree to the change, the modification process can be quite simple. If you do not agree, you’ll need to prove there has been a “material and substantial change in circumstances.”

An experienced Fort Worth family law attorney from Sean Lynch can help you modify your court order as desired. But be sure not to violate your existing order until the changes are official. Otherwise, it could impact your child custody rights.

Reason 5: Lose Custody Due To Poor Co-Parenting

If your child or children are suffering while in your possession, the father can petition to have your custodial rights terminated. Especially if the suffering is due to neglect, alienation, or lack of structure in the home. For the father to effectively make this case, he’ll need to prove the children are struggling as a result of the environment you have created. A Tarrant County family lawyer from Sean Lynch can help defend you from these assertions. 

Reason 6: Lose Custody Due To Failure To Support Other Parent

In most divorces, the court makes each parent a “joint managing conservator.” In this arrangement, each parent may share possession time and decision-making about most issues related to the child or children. The family courts prefer this arrangement because it doesn’t cut off the child’s access to one of their parents. But it only works if each parent sticks to the plan and puts forth an effort to support each other.

If you are unsupportive, uncooperative, or hostile toward the other parent, it won’t be viewed favorably by a judge. From texts to social media posts, it’s easier than ever to prove a parent is acting in bad faith. Anything you publish that demonstrates contempt or disregard for your co-parent can be used against you. It can even result in you losing custody of your child.

Reason 7: Lose Custody Due To Bad Behavior

Public displays of bad behavior and emotional recklessness can result in your legal custody being reduced or eliminated. For example, getting into a public fight with a bartender can hurt you in family court. Especially if you have a history of erratic decision-making.

Don’t let poor self-control cost you access to your children.

While it’s unlikely that one incident will result in something as serious as custody loss, crazier things have happened. If you’re concerned that a recent indiscretion could jeopardize your parenting rights, our award-winning family law attorneys can provide legal advice and services to help you navigate the situation.

Reason 8: Lose Custody Due To Substance Abuse

It should come as no surprise that the court will consider a parent’s history of substance abuse when awarding conservatorship. Abusing any substance, even cigarettes or alcohol, can result in you being characterized as an “unsafe” or “unfit” parent. This can tip the scales in the favor of the other parent competing for sole legal custody.

Of course, context matters here. For example, smoking a cigarette outside after your child goes to sleep is not the same as chain-smoking in the car with your child in the backseat.

The judge will also consider the context when reviewing any history you may have with substances. If you were arrested for driving while intoxicated once in college, the judge may not place much emphasis on it. But if you have used hard drugs like heroin since becoming a mother, that’s a different story. It will be hard for the judge to ignore that when awarding or ruling on custody.

Depending on the nature of the situation, substance abuse could result in the judge awarding conservatorship to your ex-spouse. Especially if your addiction or repeated history of substance abuse puts your children in danger.

Contact Our Experienced Fort Worth Divorce Attorneys

Any challenge to your custodial rights is something to take seriously. We’ve seen many parents lose their legal custody rights when it could have been avoided with more preparation. Our award-winning Fort Worth family law attorneys take pride in helping mothers fend off legal custody challenges and retain the custodial rights of their children.

We are pleased to offer some of the most affordable and effective legal services in Fort Worth and Arlington. Unlike other law firms in Tarrant County, we are up-front about our pricing, so you know exactly what you’ll pay in your custody case.

Our experienced legal team has handled many custody cases and is ready to help you navigate yours. If you have questions or would like legal advice on your child custody situation, an attorney from our law firm is here for you.

Schedule a no-cost consultation with our family law experts at Sean Lynch today. It might make the difference between loss of custody and restoration of your parenting rights.

Shelter-in-Place Provisions Don’t Change Court-Ordered Child Custody Rules

Reading Time: 5 minutes
Little girl holding her father's hand, wearing a face mask.
How Coronavirus Impacts Child Custody

Has Child Custody Changed Since The Shelter-in-Place Orders?

In the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, many people have questions and concerns regarding self-quarantining, court-ordered possession, and access. Does the shelter-in-place order that’s in effect in Tarrant County mean that non-custodial parents can’t see their children? Is it considered a violation of social distancing initiatives to allow your children to leave home during a child custody exchange? 

Though the rule book on dealing with this virus is being written on the fly, as it stands today, these quarantining measures should not hinder court-ordered possession and access times. Many parenting plans include a visitation on Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and that should still continue. Shelter-in-place orders will not affect visitation during the summer vacation. While current measures prohibit non-essential travel, you can travel with children for the purposes of custody exchange.

What this means is that if you and the other parent do not have an agreement to modify the possession and access of one parent, the withholding parent could be in violation of the court order and potentially held in contempt. Punishment of contempt could include monetary fines, make-up time for the victimized parent, or even jail time for the withholding parent.

Can Children Fall Sick With COVID-19?

Generally, medical experts believe that most children have fewer health risks than older adults who contract COVID-19. However, some children can still develop serious complications. This could happen if they have a pre-existing medical condition that puts them at high risk of COVID-19 complications. You may want to modify your child custody and visitation arrangement if you or your co-parent believe that one of you has had COVID-19 exposure or has a high risk of exposure.

What if Your Child’s Other Parent is Withholding Visits?

The courts can modify custody orders in certain cases. For example, one parent suspects the other of failing to abide by the shelter-in-place rules by going out, having friends over, or some other behavior that would put the children at risk. Parents should discuss their expectations with each other. Communication is important due to the ever-changing rules in place to address the spread of this pandemic. 

Proposing Temporary Changes To Child Custody And Visitation Orders

You may believe that having your child go over to the home of your co-parent may not be safe for your child. This could depend on the circumstances that put your co-parent at high risk of contracting the virus. For example, the other parent might not be practicing adequate social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic when your child is immunocompromised.

You may also believe that having your child go back and forth between homes is simply not in their best interests. It may also not be in the interests of the health of other family members. Sometimes this can be because one of you is working in an industry with a high risk of COVID-19 exposure such as in a hospital or as a first responder. This can put your child in danger if he or she lives in your home. Other times you may be living in an apartment building or in close proximity to other positive coronavirus cases.

Divorced or separated parents can work out new arrangements and propose temporary changes to their custody agreement as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. These changes may include:

  • Temporary postponement of in-person visits to a later time when the crisis is over
  • Temporary suspension of shared physical custody
  • Virtual visitation through video calls or phone calls
  • Supervised visitation
  • Maintaining contact via text messages, emails or letters

Factors That May Allow Parents To Apply For Changes To Orders

Divorced parents may have a case to apply to the court for a temporary modification to a custody order. However, you will typically need to show imminent danger or evidence of an emergency situation to get a hearing date quickly. Courts are backed up with divorce and other family law cases at this time. This can be due to the following factors:

  • Either parent has been exposed to COVID-19 or is showing symptoms
  • The child is immunocompromised and has a high risk of COVID-19 complications
  • Either parent works in an industry with high risk of exposure to COVID-19. They may work as frontline staff in the healthcare industry or as a first responder

However, if both parents cannot agree to modify visitation schedules or custody orders, you may need to seek legal advice from a family law attorney. You may still consult a family law attorney online or via a phone call. The courts still make Zoom hearings available among other virtual options to keep cases moving including divorce and family law cases.

Many states have also made information available with legal guidance on COVID-19 rules for child custody.

What Can You Do If Your Child Is In Immediate Danger?

You might have evidence to believe that the other parent is violating social distancing guidelines or stay-at-home orders. This could be from something your child told you or something you saw on social media. However, both parents might not agree to temporarily change the parenting agreement.

Cannot resolve the issues yourself and your ex does not want to negotiate changes? There is legal action that you can take to protect the health of your children. You can seek the help of your attorney to help persuade your ex to agree to modify the parenting agreement. However, if that doesn’t work, your attorney can apply to the judge for an emergency custody order. You must have evidence to show that the current parenting plan is not in your child’s best interests.

Can You Withhold Visits From The Other Parent?

You are at risk of being held in contempt of court if you do not allow your ex to have visitation in line with the schedule defined in the parenting plan and custody order. Seek legal advice from your attorney who can advise you on potential issues and possible solutions if you want to pause child visitation.

You must document evidence to prove to the family court that your concerns are valid. Write down the date and time of the visitation according to the visitation schedule. Record the events, the time when you called the police, and the number of the police report you made. Write down the things that made you concerned that handing over your child to the other parent would not be in your child’s best interests.

Record all communication, whether verbal or by text message. Get a copy of your child’s medical records that show they are at high risk of developing COVID-19 complications.

How Does Virtual Visitation Work?

Legislators in the state of Texas have created statutes that allow courts to include virtual visitation into child custody and visitation orders. These statues were in place even before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Virtual visitation typically comprises regular Zoom calls or phone calls to keep in contact. It cannot fully replace in-person time with your child. However, you can still help them with schoolwork and be a part of celebrations while keeping your child safe.

The COVID-19 crisis has thrown established custody agreements and routines into disarray which can also have implications on child support. However, parents may be able to apply to the judge to make modifications to child custody orders to protect the child’s health.

If you think the withholding of visitation is warranted, or if the other parent is withholding your visitation due to the current pandemic, contact the family law experts at Sean Lynch. We can help you navigate divorce and custody issues during these difficult and unique times. Contact us for a no-cost case review and we’ll explore your legal options in this new environment.

How Do Judges Decide Alimony?

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Image of American dollars on a table next to a gavel.
There are many things taken into consideration by a judge before reaching a decision about alimony.

Couples in the middle of a divorce face a deluge of uncertainty. Their day-to-day lives are upended as they learn to adjust to their new realities. One of the major questions in a divorce concerns whether or not a spouse qualifies for alimony. While courts will look at a wide variety of factors, there are some general guidelines that determine how judges decide to award alimony. However, alimony is not compulsory in most states.

Factors Affecting Alimony

Here are the factors that a judge will need to consider when deciding how much alimony to order after a divorce. These factors are also considered when a judge determines how long the spousal maintenance should last so that both parties receive fair treatment.

  • Amount of income that each party can reasonably earn every month
  • Amount of reasonable expenses each party will incur
  • Whether alimony can make it possible for the recipient to maintain a standard of living that is close to what the couple had during the marriage
  • Length of the marriage
  • Earning capacity of each spouse
  • The financial situation of each spouse (i.e. inheritances or other savings that one spouse may have)
  • Length of time the dependent spouse has been out of the workforce
  • Time and resources the dependent spouse will need to gain marketable skills, get training and get a job
  • Property division in the divorce
  • Age of each spouse
  • The health of each spouse
  • Economic and non-economic contributions each spouse made to the marriage
  • Any economic opportunities lost due to the marriage, such as one spouse who gave up their career to raise children
  • Any other factor a judge deems pertinent

Here are considerations that go into some of the main factors a judge will use to decide spousal support.

Length Of The Marriage

Judges will also consider how long the marriage lasted. If an ex was not employed during the marriage, she/he is likely to qualify for alimony.

The longer the length of time of your marriage, the higher the amount of alimony you typically have to pay under the divorce order. If one party did not work for years while they were married, the dependent spouse would need more financial help the longer they have been out of the workforce.

The court will measure the length of the marriage from the date of marriage to the date of divorce. However, you might be able to add months to this length. You must have evidence to show that you were already living together and managing your finances jointly before the marriage. You can consult your attorney for help with your specific situation.

Standard of Living

The court will often look at the standard of living the couple enjoyed during their marriage to decide how much alimony they should order. The judge will try to gauge whether or not an ex spouse has the ability to maintain that standard of living.

The judge may take into consideration the fact that one partner may have devoted time to domestic duties while she/he was married as opposed to furthering her/his education or developing skills that would have allowed her/him to pursue a career. Additionally, spouses may have health issues that require more support to maintain their standard of living.

However, Texas law states limits on the amount of spousal support that the family law court can order. Alimony payments are limited to $5,000 per month or 20% of one spouse’s average monthly gross income, whichever is less.

Income And Expenses

The judge will decide how much alimony to order based on what each spouse can reasonably earn. Take note that child support payments typically take precedence over spousal support. If one spouse decides to work at a job that has a lower income than what he or she could reasonably earn, the courts may use a higher income to calculate alimony payments. For example, a spouse who quits a high paying job to find another job may be required to pay spousal support based on how much they were originally earning. This is unless they can present evidence to show why they needed the change in jobs. Your attorney can work with you to present your legal case.

The debts and assets of the couple will likely play a role when a judge is deciding on alimony. The court may look at any assets that would allow an ex to generate income or if that ex has a substantial inheritance that she/he will be able to use after the divorce. Some ex-spouses qualify for alimony if they retain the marital home but do not have the means to pay for it. Ultimately, the purpose of alimony is to support the dependent spouse after divorce. Alimony is usually temporary until they find a job and have the means to support themselves independently. The court will try to quantify your financial need and your ex’s ability to pay.

What If My Spouse Agrees To Pay Me Alimony?

Spouses can agree on their own alimony arrangement without having a judge to decide for them. The judge can agree to make the arrangement a part of the final divorce order for both parties. However, the alimony stated in the divorce decree cannot exceed $5,000 per month or 20% of the paying spouse’s average monthly gross income, whichever is less. While both parties can separately agree on a higher amount, that amount will not be enforceable in court.

The legal factors that judges consider when awarding alimony to an ex vary from state to state. Hence, the wise thing to do is consult a family law attorney. The attorney may be able to provide information about the likelihood that an ex would receive alimony based on the couple’s circumstances. The attorney can also provide information about spousal maintenance, failure to pay alimony, and/or spousal support modification.

If you are seeking legal advice, let the award-winning Family Law experts at Sean Lynch law firm help you prepare your legal case. We have years of experience in family law.

Contact us today for a no-cost case review.

Signs Your Marriage Is In Trouble

Reading Time: 8 minutes
Upset man and woman sitting on opposite sides of a wall.
Watch out for signs that your significant other is drifting away from your relationship.

No one wants to admit that they’re ready to break their marriage vows. Though unhappy couples don’t make the decision to end their relationships lightly, the decision to split can sometimes be the right one. There’s no point trudging through life in a miserable, dysfunctional relationship. Living angry and sad all of the time certainly isn’t doing your children any favors. How do you know when it’s time to pull the plug and reclaim your happiness? There are a few signals you will want to look at closely that your marriage is in trouble. That can help you decide to make the jump.

Your children should not be a reason to stay together. Often, unhappy couples behave in a way that’s damaging their children’s long-term mental health. As counter-intuitive as it may seem, divorce can often be in the best interest of your kids.

Warning Signs Of A Marriage In Trouble

Here are some red flags to look out for that can indicate your marriage is in trouble.

Constantly Criticizing One Another

If you’re always criticizing your spouse or vice versa, that can be a sign of trouble. Your spouse could also be constantly teasing you and making jokes that seem like veiled criticism. This is especially if the jokes are always about your character and not your actions.

If either of you feels like the other spouse is laughing at you at your expense, that can indicate that they are losing respect for you. This in turn can lead to resentment in the relationship.

Inability To Have An Uncomfortable Conversation

If you don’t feel comfortable talking to your spouse about difficult topics such as money, children, sex, or future plans, that may signal a breakdown in communication. Every attempt at an uncomfortable conversation may also feel like nagging where one of you shuts down.

No Disagreements

Every marriage has disagreements. If both of you never disagree with one another, it can be a bad sign. It can be because one of you is indifferent, both of you avoid the problem because either of you won’t like what you’re going to hear, or you are afraid of how the conversation will end.

Not having disagreements can mean that problems can fester and explode into a massive argument that can spark a divorce. It can often be a sign that the couple has given up on each other and the relationship.

Having The Same Argument Repeatedly

Healthy couples may argue. However, if a couple is having the same argument over and over again without being able to resolve it, it can be a red flag. It can indicate that there is a significant breakdown in communication if both of you can’t resolve problems together. A sign of the lack of communication is also if couples constantly fight over small matters.

One partner might also always go on the defensive and refuse to acknowledge that they had a part to play in the problem. They can come up with excuses all the time. This makes it difficult to find a solution and move forward.

Another sign of a problem is if the argument goes nowhere because one of you starts insulting the other person’s character. One reason to think twice about whether you’re in a healthy relationship is if you find yourself saying something you wish you could take back every time you argue. You might need to turn to a family therapist for help to change the way both of you resolve conflict and save a marriage in trouble.

Not Spending Time Together

It’s normal for couples to spend some time apart even if they love each other very much. One major red flag that indicates a couple could be headed for divorce is that they live completely separate lives. If you feel as though you and your spouse as just ships passing in the night, and you’re not considering the other’s feelings when making major decisions, your marriage is already in choppy waters.

If you find yourself wishing you could spend time with anyone else other than your partner, your marriage may be in trouble. You could also immediately go towards a private spot when you get home or focus on other things before acknowledging your partner.

If you don’t enjoy spending time together, that may mean the relationship is starting to be a burden to the couple. Another sign of not spending time can also be not having sex for a long time.

Keeping Secrets

You might start keeping secrets from your spouse. These could be about buying something you told your spouse you wouldn’t buy. You could be having a meal with an attractive co-worker or ex that you know your partner would be angry about. A loss of trust can be a sign that your relationship is in trouble.

If partners engage in actions or make decisions that they know will hurt the other person, this indicates serious trouble in the marriage. Perhaps they make life-altering decisions without consulting each other and the partner feels like they don’t have a say. Some spouses may even do things that their partner specifically asked them not to do.

Having An Affair

It’s normal to find someone else attractive. However, fantasizing about having an affair or actually cheating on your partner can show that you are not getting what you need from your current relationship or that you have given up.

Emotional cheating can also be considered infidelity, even if you don’t actually have sex with someone.

You Or Your Spouse Bring Up Grudges From The Past

If your spouse brings up something they were upset about 5 years ago during an argument, it can show that they have been holding grudges and allowing them to fester. It gets worse if you’ve forgotten what the grudge was about and have no way of defending yourself.

Not Respecting Each Other’s Privacy

Your spouse might be checking all your social media activity or reading your bank statements for your personal account. They may check messages on your phone by insisting you allow them access. Other times they could secretly check your phone when you’re not looking.

The lack of trust can indicate trouble in the marriage.

Your Partner Is Not The First Person You Turn To

When you are in a healthy marriage, you see your partner as the first person you typically turn to for help in bad times or to celebrate in good times.

If your partner isn’t one of the first people to know what’s going on with you, that can be a bad sign. You need to feel like you can rely on your partner for help.

Other times, it can be inappropriate to share information with other people before sharing it with your spouse. Making decisions by yourself without them can also sometimes not be respectful to them.

You Or Your Partner Forget Special Days

You or your partner might not be making the effort to remember special days such as birthdays or anniversaries. That might show that either of you is not putting effort into the relationship. Even if someone remembers the occasion, they may not put effort into celebrating it. The opposite of love is indifference, and your partner can be indifferent to things that are important to you.

Hiding Financial Issues

Financial issues are one of the most common marital problems. One partner might be hiding their lavish spending or gambling addiction from the other spouse.

It can be a source of betrayal, anger, and loss of trust in a marriage.

You Don’t Want To Go Home

Some spouses just do not want to go home. Perhaps they will stay late at work or sleep over at a friend’s house to avoid their partner. In these cases, the spouse may wish to discuss the matter of divorce with a family law attorney. The lawyer may be able to provide legal advice regarding property division, child custody, and other matters that relate to the divorce process.

If you consistently don’t want to go home even when you’re not in an argument, you might be consciously avoiding your home because of your partner.

Your Partner Consistently Threatens Divorce

Your partner might threaten a divorce each time both of you get into an argument. It’s certainly a sign your partner has been considering it. Perhaps they do not think the relationship will last, especially if they have been unhappy.

Disagreements About Parenting Issues

It’s normal for couples to have different parenting styles. However, if both of you cannot agree on consistent ways of enforcing discipline or making decisions for your children, it can be very difficult to hold your family together. You can easily get into conflict with your partner.

Disagreements About Friends

Your partner might not like some of your good friends and vice versa. You may be loyal to your friends. Nevertheless, hanging out with them without telling your partner when you know your partner would be unhappy can be a problem.

Feeling Lonely In A Marriage

If you feel lonely in a marriage, that is an issue. It means your partner is not fulfilling your need for companionship. Your partner may also not be willing to participate in things you enjoy doing. This means you can’t spend time together doing the things you like.

Happily married couples usually try to look past their different interests so that they can spend more time together. One partner may decide to try out an activity the other person really likes even if they don’t enjoy it much, and vice versa. Both people have to put in the effort to spend time together.

It’s also an issue if you’re not spending time talking to your partner as much as you used to for emotional support. Both of you may be spending more time on your phones as a way to avoid each other because you feel like you’re out of things to say to each other.

Stressing About Your Marriage

If you always feel stressed about your marriage and feel like you have to be on guard when you are around your partner, that is not an indication of a healthy marriage.

You might also find yourself dreading your spouse coming home from work which is not a good sign.

You Feel Controlled By Your Spouse

If your spouse consistently dismisses your opinions and thoughts, resentment might grow in your relationship with them which can lead to problems. It can seem like your spouse controls you and you cannot get what you need, or that they are trying to change the way you do things.

Finances are one of the ways spouses try to take control. They may not allow you to have your own bank account or credit card. You may also have no say in the house or car both of you purchase together.

Hesitation To Take Big Steps

You might find yourself hesitating to make big decisions to move to another state, change jobs, or buy a home with your spouse. If it happens consistently, it can be an indication that you’re holding yourself back from investing more into the relationship because your marriage is in trouble.

You could also not be able to see yourself with your spouse for the next 5 or 10 years in the future. Your spouse might be holding you back from your own life goals. You could start to dream of embarking on a new journey without them. Sometimes you’ll start fantasizing about how you would spend your free time, how you would take care of your child or where you would travel to while alone.

A couple can also count down the days to milestones such as financial independence or kids leaving the house to be free of their marriage.

Your Spouse Publicly Embarrasses You

If your spouse embarrasses you even though you’re in front of your family, friends, or co-workers, that can indicate that you’re in a toxic relationship. Light teasing in front of other people is fine. Even so, when it escalates to public humiliation, you might want to reconsider whether you will allow yourself to be treated that way and if you should be a couple.

There are ways to save your marriage and rediscover the love between a married couple. However, sometimes you might think that it’s not worth the effort to change things. You may not see a future with your partner. Deciding to end a marriage is a big decision.

Divorce can be a challenging legal process that takes a heavy emotional toll on your family. You will need to adjust to new changes in your lifestyle and financial situation. Let the award-winning Family Law experts at Sean Lynch help you prepare your legal case. We have decades of experience in family law to help you make the process as painless as we can.

Contact us today for a no-cost case review.

Parent Rights After Divorce

Reading Time: 8 minutes
Father dancing with his daughter in the living room.
You might be a non-custodial parent, but you still have a right to spend time with your child.

Even if you weren’t granted custody by a judge, you still have the right to spend time with your children as part of parental rights after divorce. However, the circumstances of that arrangement can vary wildly from case to case. The courts want what’s in your child’s best interest. If you, as a non-custodial parent, do anything that could jeopardize your child’s safety or well-being, or you fail to show up on time and as scheduled, the courts have an obligation to protect your children. In certain cases, the court may order supervised visits or take other protective measures.

If a non-custodial parent is having his children stay the night, you should prepare your home ahead of time. Be sure to have your child’s favorite toys, foods, and games available. You should also make sure the children have places to sleep and privacy. 

Put Your Arrangements In Writing

It’s often in the best interest of everyone involved to put down your arrangements in writing. This will allow all parties to be clear on what to expect. In a perfect world, parents will work to resolve any issues that may arise. If you can’t solve your problems amicably, you should seek the advice of a family attorney. An attorney may also be helpful if a parent wants to file for a change to a current child custody order.

Parents who are interested in expanded custody or visitation rights could ask a judge to modify an existing child custody order. A parent may also be able to ask a judge to put an end to supervised or limited visitation rights after completing a treatment program or complying with other court orders. Legal counsel can help a client retain consistent access to their children, whether in person or through digital tools.

Your Parental Rights After Divorce

Before a divorce, both parents have equal rights to make decisions about their children. These decisions can relate to where the children will live or go to school. This usually does not change after divorce. Parents may no longer live together. However, the law typically provides both parents with equal legal rights to be actively involved in their children’s lives.

Knowing the implications of legal and physical child custody and visitation is important to understand your rights as a parent after divorce.

Legal Custody

Not having child custody does not mean you will not be involved in the lives of your children. Custody can refer to legal custody or physical custody.

Legal custody means that you have the legal rights to be involved in decisions about your child such as where they will go to school and their medical care. Both you and your ex must agree on arrangements for care and access to the child. You still have parental responsibilities for your children and the right to be updated about your children’s activities.

Sole legal custody means that only one parent can make important decisions about the child. Joint legal custody means both parents are involved. Most often, the courts will award joint legal custody. This is because it is typically considered to be in the best interests of the child to have both parents involved in their lives.

However, the other parent may be found to be unfit to be involved in significant decisions regarding the child. This could possibly be due to substance abuse and addiction or poor mental health. In these cases, the court may give sole legal custody to one parent after a divorce.

Physical Custody

Physical custody of the child determines where they live and reside. In sole physical custody, the child will primarily reside with one parent, while the other parent has legal rights to visitation. The court may sometimes award joint physical custody after divorce where the child lives with each parent in turn. This could be a few days each week or half the year with each of the parents.

Sole Physical Custody

Sole physical custody means that the children stay with the custodial parent permanently. The noncustodial parent will get regular visitation rights. Children do not have to pack their bags or move houses regularly. This can add stability to their school routine and relationships with friends and neighbors.

However, sole custody can have a negative impact on the noncustodial parent’s relationship with the child. The noncustodial parent may not feel as involved in their child’s life because they don’t see them often. It can also be harder to bond and form a meaningful relationship with less contact.

The child may also express their wish to change the custodial parent as their needs may change as they age.

Joint Physical Custody

Joint physical custody can often allow the child to foster a strong relationship with either of the parents. This is because they will see each other more often and maintain contact. The court can impose a schedule for how the parents will share parenting time with their children if parents cannot come to an agreement. The time that the child spends with the father or mother does not have to be an equal split. Parents can agree to have the children stay with them on alternate months, weeks, or holidays.

Joint custody can often be a good option for children if the father and mother are on amicable terms even if they don’t like each other. However, the child may find themselves caught between both parents if the divorce was full of conflict.

It may also not be practical to have joint custody if the father and mother live far apart. If either of you has plans to move away, custody arrangements may also change. A divorce lawyer can help to advise you on your options for custody and rights as a parent after a divorce.

Visitation

The court awards visitation when one parent has sole physical custody. This allows the noncustodial parent to have parenting time with the child to maintain their relationship. You and your ex can come to an agreement and decide on the appropriate visitation schedule. The schedule must be in the child’s best interests.

Standard possession schedules in Texas law also set out guidelines for the child to spend time with noncustodial parents. The schedule states that noncustodial parents have possession and access every alternate weekend, spring vacations in alternate years, and extended time during summer holidays. However, if parents can decide and agree on a schedule, the court will typically include it in the divorce decree.

Both the mother and father must follow the visitation schedule defined in the court order. If the parent with custody refuses to let the other parent see the children, or the noncustodial parent takes the children away without the agreement of the parent, the offending parent can be found in contempt in a family law court. There are exceptions to this when the parent has reason to believe that the child will be harmed or the children do not want to visit the other parent.

It’s important to get legal advice from a family law attorney if you’re facing an issue with the other parent interfering with your visitation rights.

Parental Rights Of Stepparents After A Divorce

A stepparent can develop a close relationship with their stepchildren with deep emotional ties. This often happens if the stepparent came in when the child was at a young age. However, as a stepparent, they can lose the legal rights to see their former stepchildren if they get divorced. The court will view them as a third party who is not a parent. This can result in contact being cut off.

Options For Stepparents

Stepparents have a few alternatives to resolve this issue. You can adopt your ex’s child before the divorce. This enables you to get all the legal rights that a biological parent normally enjoys. This can only happen if the other biological parent who is not active in the child’s life gives up their legal rights to the child. If the parent refuses to give up their rights, you can ask the court to terminate their rights. However, you must prove that the parent is not active in the child’s life, did not take care of the child, or is a bad influence. You may need to engage a divorce attorney for legal advice.

The second option is to seek legal custody. This may be an option if you can prove that you have a very close relationship with the child and are capable of their care. You could even get primary custody.

The third option for stepparents is to seek visitation rights. You may need to provide help for child care or pay child support as you will also have parental responsibilities. Many stepparents may go for this option.

Ultimately, judges will consider the child’s best interests. In many cases, cutting off contact between stepparents and children can have an emotional toll on the children. Finding out your rights as a stepparent after divorce can mean the difference between maintaining contact and having equal parenting time with the children, and losing your relationship with them. You do not have to give up custody of your stepchild after divorce if you feel that it is not in their best interests. Talk to experienced attorneys to find out your options and decide on the best course of action.

Child Support Rights

Under the divorce order, the court may order one parent to pay child support to the other. The state of Texas has guidelines on the maximum amount of child support that you or your ex are required to pay. However, judges consider a number of factors to determine the appropriate amount of support. Income is one of the most significant factors that determine child support.

You have the right to file an enforcement motion if your ex does not pay you the required child support amount on time.

What Rights Does A Divorced Father Have?

A father has equal parenting rights after divorce including rights to legal and physical custody of their children. In Texas law, the parent’s gender cannot be considered by the court when deciding who to award custody of the child to after a divorce. Judges will not start from the presumption that the mother will be more likely to provide better care for the child.

The Texas Family Code also states that divorce courts mainly have an interest in ensuring that the child continues a relationship with both the father and mother as that is usually in the child’s best interests.

A father may also be entitled to child support after divorce if he has sole physical custody, although the courts will consider other factors.

Enforcing Parental Rights

In some cases, you may have to engage attorneys to enforce your parenting rights after divorce in state courts. This can happen if your ex denies you these parental rights or does not comply with the terms of the divorce order.

If your ex is consistently late for child exchanges or plans activities with the children during your parenting time, you have to show evidence of their actions and that you attempted to keep up your side of the agreement like being at the appointed place at the appointed time. You can request a lawyer to file a motion to enforce on your behalf. Your ex will have to appear in court with your child and you can fight for equal parenting time.

If your ex threatens you and stops you from visiting the child during your parenting time, gather evidence. You can use it to have the court enforce your rights. You can also call the police to report the violation of your rights. While police officers can be reluctant to take action in what they see as a civil matter, you can use the police reports as evidence in court.

Your lawyer can also ask for an injunction if your ex is taking the child away and moving to another city or state without the approval of the court. If you want to modify the divorce decree, your lawyer can also help you to have these legal modifications approved especially if the father or mother is depriving you of your parenting time.

Contact Us For A No-Cost Case Review

In many divorces, children can be one of the most contentious issues. If you need help understanding and defending your parental rights, engage the services of the award-winning Family Law attorneys at Sean Lynch to help you prepare your legal case. We have decades of experience in family law and can protect your parenting rights after divorce.

Contact us today for a no-cost case review.

Common Custody Hearing Issues

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Judge ruling, using the gavel, while two people watch, in a court room.
Custody hearings, despite not being long, require preparation and legal help.

Even though a child custody hearing usually lasts only about 20-30 minutes, it can be the most important half-hour of your life as a parent. Here are some common issues relating to custody hearings.

Attending The Custody Hearing

Unfortunately, the courts will sometimes schedule a hearing at a time that’s inconvenient for you. You should not ignore the notifications of a hearing.

Failing to appear in court could result in serious consequences, including having less time with your children. The courts are obliged to act in the best interest of your children. Shirking a court date could signal to a judge that you’re not a responsible guardian and lead them to issue an order that is not in your favor.

In some cases, a court may be willing to reschedule the hearing or, in some rare instances, change the venue so that both parents can attend. Another option is for a parent to attend the hearing via a phone call or video.

It might also be advisable for someone who receives notice of a child custody hearing to get in touch with a family law attorney for legal advice. The lawyer could review the client’s case and make recommendations regarding ongoing child custody and support issues. Legal counsel may also be able to work with the other parent’s attorney and the court to arrange for appropriate representation at hearing dates.

Factors Considered During A Child Custody Hearing

In Texas, the state courts generally prefer to award joint custody to both parents. One parent will have primary physical custody of the child while the other parent has visitation rights.

Some of the factors that a judge will consider include:

  • Best interests of the child
  • Parent’s lifestyle, physical health, and mental health
  • Parent’s ability to provide a good environment for the children
  • Relationship between the parents and child

Some questions you can expect from a judge during a child custody hearing are likely to relate to:

  • Financial status
  • The custody arrangement that you are proposing and why it is in the child’s best interest
  • Current custody arrangements
  • Communication with the other parent
  • Plans to move away with the child
  • Domestic violence and substance abuse
  • Aspects of personal life that can affect the child’s home life

Experienced attorneys can help you to structure your answers well so you can express yourself clearly and support your answers with facts. This will be important in cases when both parents are not in agreement about child custody arrangements. You can also find out about what judges will look out for in a hearing.

Here are some specific details on common custody hearing issues that you need to know.

Financial Status

You may need to prepare information about your income and financial obligations such as debt to provide to the court. The judge will use this to determine if you have the financial ability to provide for your child’s needs.

If you are not the custodial parent, you will also have to pay child support. The judge will use your financial information to determine the amount of child support you are able to pay.

Type Of Custody Arrangement

The family law court typically prefers a joint custody arrangement. It is usually in the best interests of the child to maintain a relationship with both parents. However, if you are fighting for sole custody, you will need to provide evidence on why that is best for the child. You may want to work with a divorce lawyer to prepare your case.

You may also be asked questions about the appropriate visitation schedule that you think is best for the child. Visitation is one of the most common issues in child custody cases.

Communication With the Other Parent

The judge will take the quality and frequency of your communication with the other parent into account. If the state courts order joint custody, you will need to communicate regularly with one another about decisions and issues pertaining to your children and find common ground.

Current Custody Arrangements

If you already have a custody arrangement with your ex after having lived apart for a while, the judge may ask about it to understand what’s working and what’s not working at the moment.

The judge typically may not want to interfere with something that’s working and that both parents are in agreement on. They may order a similar arrangement in the final court order.

During the trial, the judge will often also gather testimony from child psychologists, Child Protective Services, family members, and other witnesses to get more information on the common custody hearing issues discussed. The wishes of your child may also be considered if they are at least 12 years old.

Tips For A Child Custody Trial

Do not insult the other parent even if it is a bitter divorce. This will leave a bad impression during the trial which can affect your case. Work with your legal attorney to learn the best way to present your case in a factual and objective manner, although you’re pointing out why the other parent is not the best person to take care of your child.

Dress professionally for the courtroom and your divorce lawyer can advise you on what would be considered appropriate attire to present a positive image. The judge will feel confident that you can be a good influence on your child and see your case more favorably.

Observe etiquette. Any inappropriate behavior can cause the judge to lose confidence in you even if your divorce lawyer has built up a strong case.

Final Custody Order

At the end of the trial, the judge will make the decision on the custodial parent. The other parent will receive visitation rights. Attorneys and parents will need to come to an agreement for a visitation schedule that is fair to both parties. The judge will issue a final court order with their decision.

You have the right to appeal the legal decision if you do not agree with any of the terms. However, appealing often does not mean you get a new judge to review your case. You may not be able to submit new information. Many times, appeals courts only review the decisions made in cases to determine if the judge made any legal errors.

The child custody hearing is important when you’re fighting for legal custody of the child or trying to get a fair visitation schedule that allows you sufficient parenting time with your child.

Let the award-winning Family Law experts at Sean Lynch law firm help you prepare your legal case. We can give you more information on common custody hearing issues.

Contact us today for a no-cost case review.