Parental alienation is taken seriously by Texas Family Courts

Parental Alienation in Texas

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Divorce can be a difficult time, and you may be feeling a lot of emotions. Disappointment, bitterness, and anger all are common. There are many people you can turn to for support. Friends, family members, and counselors all are good options. However, the options do not include your children. No matter how upset you may be, it usually is not wise to speak critically about your spouse to the kids. For one, it can impact your relationship with your children. It also might end up hurting you in court. So here are a few things to know about parental alienation in Texas. 

What Is Parental Alienation?

Parental alienation occurs when one parent attempts to “turn” the children. The alienating parent says or does things that are intended to make the kids believe the other parent is selfish, bad, dangerous, or does not love them. 

At the same time, the alienating parent also is trying to “win over” the kids. The parent may be looking ahead to the custody battle. He or she may be hoping that the children will “choose” him or her. In extreme cases, the alienating parent may be hoping the children decide they don’t want anything to do with the other parent. 

Is Parental Alienation a Sickness?

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines parental alienation as a child “being manipulated” by one parent to turn against the other. The APA does not formally recognize parental alienation syndrome. They note that there is a lack of scientific evidence. The American Psychiatric Association also does not recognize it. However, mental health professionals are well aware of the dangers of parental alienation in Texas. Some psychologists have called for it to receive greater attention

Is Parental Alienation A Crime in Texas?

The Texas Penal Code does not have a specific law against parental alienation. So you can’t be arrested for it, and you can’t go to jail. But as we will see, there still can be significant consequences for doing it. However, do not think this means that Texas courts do not take parental alienation seriously—in fact, the exact opposite is true. 

What are the Warning Signs of Parental Alienation in Texas?

As noted, there is no specific law against parental alienation. Even so, there may be warning signs of alienation, and many judges are able to spot them. These include: 

  • Openly criticizing your spouse to your children. For example, “Your dad has never been good for anything,” or “This is all your Mom’s fault.”
  • Preventing the kids from communicating with the parent, or interfering with the communication. For example, listening in on their phone conversations or checking text messages. 
  • Preventing the kids from spending time with the parent, or interfering with the visit. 
  • Intentionally excluding your spouse from important events, such as sports or birthday parties.
  • Withholding important information about the children from your spouse. 
  • Making important decisions about the well-being of the children without involving the other parent.
  • Creating situations where your children have to “choose” between the two parents. 
  • Withholding affection from your children because they still care about the other parent. 

This is not a complete list. In short, anything you do that may cause the children to dislike, fear, or hate the other parent may be considered parental alienation. And while your goal may be to get closer to your children, the result may be the opposite. 

What if My Spouse is Committing Parental Alienation in Texas?

The priority of all parents is to care for and raise their children. That includes helping them have the best relationship possible with your ex.

Because there is no specific law, this can be difficult to prove. Judges are cautious in dealing with suspected parental alienation in Texas.

Start by documenting situations where your spouse has done this. You can also speak with anyone who regularly interacts with the child. This would include relatives, adult teachers, or coaches. Ask if they have observed any incidents and if they would be willing to appear in court. Direct testimony can be very helpful. The court may rely on input from a third party, such as a counselor, mental health expert, or legal guardian. 

If your spouse will go along with it, you may have your child speak with a therapist. And if you think the impact on the child’s life is serious enough, you may consider filing a motion to restrict his or her’s parenting time. 

What If I am Accused of Parental Alienation in Texas?

Just as it can be hard to prove alienation, it also can be hard to disprove it. If your spouse has accused you of this, start by doing some self-reflection. Is it possible you really have been committing parental alienation? If so, you can consider openly acknowledging it. Then commit yourself to do better in the future. A counselor or mental health expert may be able to help you. 

If you are not sure, start by asking for details. Have your spouse describe the specific situations where he or she thinks you committed parental alienation in Texas. Family members and friends may be able to affirm that you are a good parent. 

Whatever the outcome, there is one positive thing you and your spouse can do. Make an agreement that you will not use the children as “weapons” in the divorce. Commit yourselves to speaking highly of each other. If nothing else, you should at least staying neutral. 

Can My Child Testify in a Parental Alienation or Child Custody Case?

This depends on a number of circumstances. In Texas, a child must be at least 12 years old before he or she can state a preference as to who they will live with. (The court does not have to honor this request.)

The court is unlikely to put a child on the witness stand. However, the judge may request to meet with the child. A court reporter may be present to prepare an official transcript. If your child provides clear examples of how you have attempted parental alienation, it could impact your divorce. 

False Allegations of Child Abuse Are A Felony

Some parents may be tempted to go beyond these tactics. In an effort to win over the children, they may accuse the other parent of child neglect or child abuse. 

This also can be a form of parental alienation. But it is much more serious. The Texas Family Code states that knowingly making a false accusation of child abuse is a felony. If you are convicted, the punishment can be a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to two years in prison. 

Of course, these charges won’t help your relationship with your children. Thus, the possible advantages of a false abuse allegation rarely are worth the enormous potential consequences.

A parent acts this way because he or she wants more control. But the consequences for parental alienation in Texas can be serious.  For one, the court is likely to be distrustful of you. The judge may restrict your visitation rights, or give primary child custody to the other parent

The reality is that when you commit parental alienation, you are jeopardizing the very control you are trying to gain. 

Making Your Child the Victim of Parental Alienation Also Can Affect You After the Divorce

Some parents may wait until after the divorce before they try to “turn” the children. For example, a parent may ignore court orders about child custody and visitation rights. This also has legal ramifications. 

If your ex can prove that you are guilty of parental alienation in Texas, he or she may seek to get the custody or visitation arrangements modified. The Texas Family Code calls this a Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship, or SAPR. The law states that judges must make custody decisions based on the best interest of the child. This includes modifying a court order when necessary. 

Parental Alienation Can Permanently Damage Your Relationship With Your Children

Of course, it is possible to be an alienating parent without getting “caught.” But in the larger sense, that shouldn’t matter. The question is not whether making your child the victim of parental alienation in Texas will affect your custody case. The question is how it will impact your child. 

When you attempt to “turn” children against the other parent, you are damaging your own relationship with them. One psychologist has called parental alienation “a significant form of harm to children.” He believes that courts should approach it the same as they do child abuse. 

Regardless, your children eventually will figure out what you did. And they may forgive you for being an alienating parent. But they also may resent you for acting against their best interest. The frustrated children may end up concluding that neither parent can be counted on. Or they may end up just turning on you. 

In sum, parental alienation is a terrible thing to do. Your primary concern should always be the same one the court has: Doing what is in the best interest of your children. Period.

An Experienced Attorney Who Can Help You With Your Divorce or Child Custody Case

Whether you have children or not, divorce can be stressful. And if you are concerned your spouse is committing parental alienation, the challenge can be even greater. The law firm of Sean Lynch and Associates has been providing expert legal help for more than 10 years. They are ready to serve clients in Fort Worth, Arlington, and Greater Tarrant County. To schedule a no-cost case consultation, contact our family law practice today, 817-668-5879.

In time of divorce, we always think about cost

What is the Difference Between Hourly, Fixed Cost, and Flat Fee Attorney Billing?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

If you’re considering divorce, you probably have a lot of questions, And one of the biggest might be, “How much is this going to cost me?” The short answer is that the cost of getting a divorce can vary wildly. So let’s answer the question.

If you understand a little about the different types of attorney’s fee structures, you will be better prepared when you meet with a divorce lawyer. You also might be able to save yourself some money.

How Do Attorneys Set Their Fees? Many Factors are Involved.

Texas Law states that attorneys may charge fees that are “reasonable.” But what that means in the real world is not always clear. In fact, attorneys have great leeway in setting their rates.

However, there are a few sensible guidelines an attorney may use to set his or her fee. These include:

  • Experience and training;
  • Rates of comparative local attorneys;
  • Complexity of the case;
  • Reputation and consumer demand;

In addition, metropolitan-area attorneys usually have higher fees than ones in rural areas. Also, if the case has an unusual time urgency, the lawyer may charge more.

Attorney fees depend on many factors including their experience, reputation, training, and the city you reside.
Attorney fees depend on many factors including their experience, reputation, training, and the city you reside in.

The American Bar Association (ABA) states, “The most common billing method is to charge a set amount for each hour of time the lawyer works on your case.”  

Attorneys who use hourly billing usually charge in increments of 1/10th of an hour. In other words, they bill you for every six minutes of work.

Because of the factors mentioned above, it’s hard to identify a “standard” hourly rate.  For example, a lawyer working on his own in a small community might charge $100 an hour, while an attorney working for a large firm in a major city might charge $400 an hour for the same case.

Of course, this can make it hard to do an “apples to apples” price comparison. The ABA makes another point to consider: “More experienced lawyers tend to charge more per hour than those with less experience—but they also may take less time to do the same legal work.”

Something else to be aware of: Lawyers often charge more for time spent in the courtroom than for time spent doing research and preparation.

“Flat fee” means that the attorney sets a rate for the case. For example, if you wanted to have a simple will prepared, the lawyer can tell you his or her flat fee for this work. And once the lawyer and client have agreed to work together, the lawyer can prepare the invoice in a snap.

Flat fees are not based on how many hours are spent on the case, or on the outcome. They also are called fixed cost billing.

Sean Lynch use flat fee billing because we believe it has many advantages. First, it simplifies our billing process. But much more important, it takes a lot of stress off our clients. When people come into our Fort Worth law office, we know they already have a lot on their minds. With our flat fee structure, they can know upfront how much the divorce will cost. It is one less thing for them to have to worry about—and we think it is a big thing.

We also believe flat fee billing works very well for divorce cases. Be aware, however, that it is not useful in all types of law. For example, lawyers who handle complex criminal and corporate cases rarely use flat fees. This is because there are too many uncertainties involved. It’s just too easy for the attorney to end up doing much more work than he or she originally billed.

Are Hourly and Flat Fee the Only Types of Attorney Billing?

Divorce attorneys use either hourly or flat fee billing. There are a few other structures:

Contingency: In this arrangement, the client pays only if the attorney wins the case. The lawyer then takes a percentage of the settlement paid. Contingency fees are more common in personal injury cases, such as automobile accidents and medical malpractice cases.

Retainer: You have probably heard this term mentioned in the movies or on TV. It simply means that a client agrees to pay a sum of money up front to secure the attorney’s services. As the lawyer works on various cases, he or she uses this fund for payments.

Pro bono: This means that the lawyer does not charge the client a fee but they may be compensated from other sources. As you might guess, divorce lawyers rarely work on contingency or retainer.

Hourly and Flat Fee Billing are Only Part of the Attorney’s Costs

In addition to the fees paid directly to your attorney, you will be required to pay other costs. For example, you may have to pay for the cost of filing the lawsuit, for serving the divorce papers to your spouse, or for document delivery services.

We encourage you to be sure to ask if you will be responsible for any other fees. And regardless of whether your attorney bills hourly or with a flat fee, we encourage you to make sure he or she gives you a contract to sign.

Why Are Attorney’s Fees So Expensive?

As with most professional services the cost of your attorney is dependent on his or her history of success and experience.
As with most professional services, the cost of your attorney is dependent in part on his or her experience and history of success.

While fixed-cost attorney billing saves you money, lawyers are still expensive. Did you ever wonder why? Here is a brief explanation.

First, law school is expensive—very expensive. After graduation, lawyers must pay for professional development courses. 

Lawyers also have to pay for routine operating expenses, such as office rent, equipment, and administrative staff. 

Also, attorneys tend to charge more as they become more experienced. This knowledge can help them analyze a case quickly and identify potential issues. It also can help them calculate the cost of your case, and perhaps save you some money. In short, practicing law is a lot like practicing surgery: Education and experience count for a lot. 

What Can I Do to Reduce My Attorney Fees?

The ABA has very simple advice for people hiring an attorney. They suggest, “Answer all your lawyer’s questions fully and honestly. It will save time and help your lawyer do a better job.”

If your attorney is billing you hourly, you can also ask if there are any clerical tasks you can perform. For example, you might make photocopies, or deliver some documents.

There are two other simple things you can do to potentially reduce your costs. First, promptly provide your divorce attorney with all the documentation he or she needs or requests. Remember, if the lawyer is billing hourly, you pay for each minute of time—including time spent making duplicate requests.  

Second, don’t do anything to jeopardize your case. Perhaps you’re considering quietly selling some of your property, or moving out of state. This just makes your attorney’s job harder—and can add to your costs.

Don’t Pick a Divorce Attorney Based Solely on the Cost

What is the Difference Between Hourly, Flat Fee, and Fixed Cost Attorney Billing? In at least one way, the answer is, “Not much.” Divorce attorneys are like any other product or service: You get what you pay for. So while you can buy a car for $1,000, you shouldn’t expect it to perform on a level comparable to a $40,000 vehicle. has some very smart advice for people shopping for a divorce attorney. They write, “Remember the most expensive lawyer is not necessarily the best one for you. Nor is a ‘bargain’ rate always a great deal. Look for the best balance of experience and cost.”

Our Law Provides Experience and Award-winning Service at a Great Price

Attorney Sean Lynch understands that fixed cost legal services are a good value to Tarrant County clients.
Attorney Sean Lynch understands that fixed cost legal services are a good value to Tarrant County clients.

The attorneys at Sean Lynch, PLLC, offer some of the most affordable and effective legal representation in Fort Worth and Arlington. We are upfront about our pricing, so you know in advance what you’ll pay in your divorce case. And we ALWAYS have your best interests at heart.

If you need help contact our family law practice today to schedule a no-cost consultation with a top-rated attorney in Fort Worth.

It's usual that spouse try to hide assets in time of divorce

How to Find Hidden Assets During a Divorce

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Some divorces go smoothly. But experienced family law attorneys will tell you it is not unusual for a divorce to get ugly. And one of the things couples fight over most often is assets. This includes cash, houses, buildings, and other assets the couple shares. And some couples fight over assets they don’t share: Sometimes, one spouse will try to hide assets from the other. Attorneys will tell you it takes work to dig up things your spouse is concealing, but it can be done. So here’s what you need to know about how to find hidden assets during a divorce. 

It Is Not Unusual for Divorcing Spouses to Conceal Assets

The first thing to know is that financial “cheating” is common—very common. For example, in a recent survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), 42 percent of respondents admitted to cheating on their partners financially. 

Part of the reason for this is that Texas is a community property state. This means that, with some exceptions, all property acquired during the marriage is owned equally by both spouses. For some spouses, the idea of having to split the assets equally with their future ex is enough to motivate them to act illegally. 

One of the most common reason for hiding assets, spouse want to minimize the child or spousal support
One of the most common reason for hiding assets, spouse want to minimize the child or spousal support

Spouses also may be motivated to hide assets because they want to minimize the amount of child support or spousal support they will have to pay. Others want to hide behavior that has gone on previously—for example, gambling, drug use, or purchases for a mistress. 

And some people try to hide assets for the worst possible reason: Because they think they can get away with it. 

What Are the Most Common Hidden Assets?

A spouse can try to hide almost anything during a divorce. But generally, they will conceal something of value. Here are some likely hidden assets during divorce:

  • Investment accounts and offshore accounts
  • Real estate
  • Inherited monies and trust accounts
  • Credit cards
  • Fine art and jewelry
  • Bonuses

Family law attorney Sean Lynch notes that dishonest spouses will tend to focus on cash and items that do not create an obvious paper trail.

“Cash makes it harder to trace the individual’s activity,” he said. “And once the money is gone, it’s gone. Judges try to split the assets 50/50, but they can only go off the numbers presented to them.”

Signs Your Spouse May Have Hidden Assets

Lynch said that, while every case is different, some warning signs may indicate your spouse is hiding assets. These include:

  • Being secretive or vague about finances, accounts, etc.
  • Maintaining total control over accounts and finances
  • Having a private PO Box or mailbox
  • Erasing computer records or programs
  • Frequent stock sales
  • Unusual purchases, trips, or activity
  • If your spouse has a safe deposit box

Some people will try to deceive the spouse by constantly complaining about a lack of money. And others will complain about having no money while at the same time seeming to live a lavish lifestyle. 

How Do Spouses Hide Assets During a Divorce?

As you might expect, there is no limit to the number of ways a spouse can conceal the couple’s wealth. Some people will do it by opening new accounts in the name of the children. If asked, the partner may make an excuse, saying it is a fund for the children’s future. Or they can transfer stock ownership to an ally, and then transfer it back later. 

People also try to hide assets by doing business with family or friends. For example, your spouse may sell the family boat to his buddy at a bargain deal, with the intention of buying it back later. Or your spouse may give a gift to a family member, again with the intention of reclaiming it after the divorce.

Lynch added that deceitful people sometimes try to create ownership. For example, the house may be in their parents’ name. “Or we might have a situation where the guy’s wife’s brother bought his truck for him and the payments are going to him,” he said, “Or maybe he is storing his RV at a buddy’s place.”

How Can a Business Owner Hide Assets During a Divorce?

Family-owned businesses provide a convenient way to conceal wealth, making it harder to find hidden assets during a divorce. 

“By running everything through the business, a person can greatly lower his or her personal income,” Lynch said. ”This is especially common when it comes to paying child support. If your spouse hides assets in the business, he or she may be able to significantly lower the payment amount.” 

Here are three ways business owners can hide their wealth:

  • Unreported income: Businesses that work in cash can easily conceal their income.
  • Phony payments: The owner may “pay” friends for products and services they did not actually do, artificially reducing the owner’s wealth. 
  • Nonexistent staff: The owner may be “paying” employees who don’t exist, helping hide total assets. This is another way the owner can appear to be “poor.”

Also, both business owners and regular employees may have offshore accounts. 

“Most clients are very upfront,” Lynch said. “They just want to be done with the divorce. The ones you have to keep an eye on are the people who are approaching the case like a battle they have to win. They often try to show themselves only in the best possible light.”

How to Reduce Your Risk of Losing Assets in a Divorce

In a difficult divorce, an experienced family law attorney can be your best ally. However, even the best attorneys need help. One of the best things you can do to help your attorney find hidden assets during a divorce is to become knowledgeable about your finances.

In a complicated divorce, family law attorney can help you to reduce the risk of losing assets
In a complicated divorce, family law attorney can help you to reduce the risk of losing assets

“It’s not unusual for one spouse to handle most of the finances,” Lynch said. “But if you are getting divorced, being financially uninformed is a real handicap. If the other party is hiding something and you are not aware of it, it makes my job much harder. Initially, have to go off what the other party says.”

Lynch believes being financially informed is good advice for everyone, not just divorcing couples.

“Even if divorce is the furthest thing from your mind, it’s wise to be knowledgeable about your financial affairs,” he said.

How to Find Hidden Assets in a Divorce

So what should you do if you suspect your spouse is holding back on you? Lynch said to find hidden assets, you must take action—and the sooner, the better. 

“If you’re suspicious, the first thing is to get more involved in the day-to-day family finances,” he said. 

You also will want to start collecting documents as soon as possible. That includes bank account statements, credit card statements, loan paperwork, retirement account records, and other information about your assets.

One of the best things you can do is get your own copy of your tax returns. And you should keep a discrete eye on your spouse’s credit reports and spending habits, particularly for expensive items. In extreme cases, you may even need to hire a private investigator.  

“If you suspect your spouse is hiding assets from you, act quickly,” Lynch said.

Last, don’t sign any important documents that you do not fully understand.

If You Think Your Spouse is Hiding Assets, Talk with an Attorney

Of course, if you’re worried about the honesty of your spouse, you probably also are worried about the stability of your marriage. If you are considering divorce, Lynch recommends you speak with an experienced divorce attorney as quickly as possible. And as difficult as it may be, you need to tell the lawyer that you may need help finding hidden assets. 

The attorney will be able to provide good legal advice. In some situations, the attorney may even hire a forensic accountant to help track down hidden assets. 

“If your spouse is hiding stuff, there usually is going to be a paper trail,” Lynch said. “For example, all of sudden, it looks like his direct deposit paycheck is a little smaller. Or maybe they took out a second mortgage on the house.” 

Sean Lynch is a Metroplex Attorney Who is Experienced in Discovering Hidden Assets During Divorce Cases

Attorney Sean Lynch is ready to represent your hidden asset divorce case.
Attorney Sean Lynch is ready to represent your hidden asset divorce case.

Are you concerned that your ex might have a hidden bank account or other assets? Talk with the award-winning family law attorney Sean Lynch, PLLC. He can help you prepare your case and track down the assets that you rightfully deserve a share of.

For a no-cost case review, contact him today or call 817-668-5879.

Always show legitimate reasons to get child custody

How Do I Write A Texas Letter of Intent for Child Custody?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Imagine wanting to get full custody of your children. Imagine having to go to court to do it. And then imagine having to testify in front of a judge about it. If all that sounds a little intimidating, you are in good company. The good news is, there is an alternative: You may be able to write a letter of intent for custody. Is this right for your case? Here’s what you need to know to help you decide.

What Is A Letter of Intent for Custody?

The letter is essentially written testimony for the judge to review. It is commonly called a declaration. The purpose of the declaration is to formally state your desire to have full custody of your child. The letter includes evidence and reasons why you think you should have custody of your children.

Note that in Texas, the term for “sole custody” is sole managing conservatorship. This means that, in addition to having the children live with you, you also have the sole legal authority to make decisions about their education, health care, and general well-being.

The letter of custody intent will be reviewed by the judge. If your spouse has an attorney, he or she also will examine this letter, and likely will challenge it. Therefore, it is very important to write a letter correctly.

Key Points about the Letter of Custody Intent

While it is important to write this letter correctly, you also should not feel overwhelmed. Remember that the court knows you are not a lawyer, and does not expect you to sound like one. Here are some key things to remember about the letter of intent for custody:

  • Use “bullet points,” to make your key points, as we have done here.
  • State your ideas in plain language, using your own words. Stick with facts. 
  • Avoid calling your spouse names and making any personal attacks.
  • Provide any evidence you have. This may include photos or pay stubs. (If any of your documents have a Social Security number or other personal information, be sure to black it out.) 
  • Make sure your custody requests are reasonable. For example, it’s usually not wise to demand that your spouse be kept permanently from the children.
  • While it’s important to be thorough, try to also be brief. The judge probably will not want to read a 100-page letter of intent for custody. 
  • Acknowledge that you are making these statements under oath and under penalty of perjury. 

Your Letter of Custody Intent Should Address Relevant Issues

In terms of child custody, the judge will decide mom or dad or both will get child custody
In terms of child custody, the judge will decide mom or dad or both will get child custody

Before you write your declaration, make sure you are aware of any other relevant custody documents that have been filed.

For example, in Texas, judges do not make decisions based on who they think is the “better person.” Instead, they make custody decisions based upon what they think is in the best interests of the children. You should try to use this information to your advantage. Use your letter of intent for custody to make clear why it is in the best interests of the children to be with you.

You can also use the declaration to address the objections of your spouse. For example, if your spouse has claimed that the children don’t want to spend time with you, you can cite examples and provide photos to prove this wrong.

An Outline Can Help You Get Started with Your Letter of Intent for Custody

Writing a legal document can feel a little intimidating. To get started, try writing an outline. 

For example, imagine your letter of custody intent could only be five sentences long. To get your point across, you will have to write some very direct sentences. For example,  “For the last five years, I have been the primary caregiver for the children,” and “My spouse has repeatedly stated that she is not interested in helping raise our kids.”

The outline will help you organize your thoughts and clarify the key points you want to make in the letter of intent for custody. It also will make the next step easier. 

Writing Your Letter of Intent for Custody 

Start by introducing yourself. Briefly explain what you are requesting from the court. Example: “Jane Smith and I were married in May 2011. We had our first child in July of 2013, and another in December 2015. I am asking for full physical custody for me and supervised visitation for my wife.

Use the outline to help you expand on your points. What are some simple, specific examples of how you have been the primary caregiver? What are some specific times when your spouse said she was not interested in raising the kids? Has your spouse done anything in the past that endangered the well-being of the children?

Try not to let your emotions carry you away as you write your letter of intent for custody. It does not help to say, “My spouse has never been good for anything.” Instead, stick with the facts, providing as many specific examples as possible. Examples of Factual Statements in a Letter of Custody Intent

“If the children live with me, they will not have to change schools.”

“Last month, the court ordered my spouse to attend anger management classes.”

“On April 10,11, 16, and 18, the school called me because my spouse had forgotten to pick up the children.”

Five Tips for Writing a Strong Letter of Intent for Custody

Your attorney will provide both the legal expertise and the Family Court experience to provide your best shot at successful child custody.
Your attorney will provide both the legal expertise and the Family Court experience to provide your best shot at successful child custody.
  1. Be as accurate as possible. If you don’t remember a specific detail, it’s okay to admit it. Example: “On or about on August 13, my spouse …” Also, do not exaggerate in your declaration. “My husband has never spent a single penny on the kids” probably is not true.
  2. If you wish to include second-hand information, you should make an effort to verify it. You can also have a witness provide a written statement. 
  3. As mentioned above, avoid personal attacks. When judges are making decisions about a letter of intent for custody, one of the things they consider is which parent is most likely to help facilitate the children’s relationship with the other parent.
  4. Tell the truth. If the court finds out you have intentionally lied or withheld key information, the judge may be upset with you. And it could jeopardize your custody request.
  5. Have Someone Else Review Your Letter of Intent for Custody. More on this below. 

And as mentioned, your letter of custody intent should also include any relevant evidence, such as pay stubs or photos. 

How to Have Someone Review a Letter of Intent for Custody

  • Ask the person to check it for spelling, punctuation, missing words, etc.
  • Ask them to review your style. Did you stick with the facts, or did you make petty attacks? Did you ramble on too long?
  • Is the format correct? Many courts require that the form include specific information, in a specific format. In Tarrant County, you can get help by calling 817-884-1111.
  • A trusted friend can review the letter of intent for custody for you. However, we recommend you have your letter reviewed by an experienced divorce attorney. Given the potential complexity and emotions of a custody case, we believe most people will be much better off having the support of an experienced divorce attorney.

The Last Step is to Sign and File Your Letter of Intent for Custody

Your county family court can advise you on the specific procedures for this. But as noted, given the importance of this letter, we recommend you hire an experienced attorney. Keep in mind that, even if you do write a letter, you may still have to testify in court. At the least, the judge is probably going to have some questions for you.

This is another reason why the letter of intent for custody is so important. Before you get to court, you can use it to help organize your thoughts. The letter also can help you stay focused during what might be a very stressful situation. 

Last, keep in mind that even if you write a perfect letter of custody intent, there is always a possibility that the judge may deny your request. However, in the event this happens, you still have an opportunity to file an appeal.

In a Difficult Custody Case, An Experienced Attorney is A Crucial Ally

After decades of successful Texas Child Custody clients, attorney Sean Lynch knows what is needed to fight for your case.
After decades of successful Texas Child Custody clients, attorney Sean Lynch knows what is needed to fight for your case.

Even under the best circumstances, a custody case can be emotional and exhausting. That’s because you’re not just thinking about yourself: You’re also thinking about your children. 

If you are going through a divorce or custody case, don’t risk going it alone. And don’t risk relying on someone who is not very experienced. Attorney Sean Lynch is known as one of the best divorce attorneys in Tarrant County.

The associates at Sean Lynch Law have the skill and experience to help you successfully navigate a difficult divorce or custody case. They offer you a no-cost, 30-minute case consultation. Call them today at 817-668-5879. 

Sean Lynch Named One of Top Tarrant County Attorneys for Fifth Consecutive Year

Reading Time: 3 minutes

This is an exciting day for us. I am honored to announce that Fort Worth magazine has selected me as one of the top attorneys for 2021. 

This award is special to us for two reasons. First, this is the fifth consecutive year the magazine has presented us with this award. This tells us that we are continuing to maintain our high standards of excellence. 

Secondand even more gratifyingthe voting was done by other Tarrant County attorneys. To have your peers recognize you as one of the best family law attorneys in Fort Worth and Tarrant County is truly humbling.

An article announcing the award will appear in the magazine’s December issue. 

A Top-Ranked Fort Worth Family Law Knows What Matters Most

Practicing law in real life is not much like what you see on TV.

For one, most cases are handled without going to trial. And when we are in court, there is almost never a big, dramatic, “gotcha” moment. (In fact, lawyers hate surprises.) 

Instead, most of our job is done at our desk. We gather documents, negotiate with the other party’s attorney, submit more documents. To be honest, a lot of the job is not very glamorous. 

But we don’t mind. That’s because we practice family law for a very simple reason: We love helping people. 

Whether it is a simple divorce, a complicated spousal support case, or an emotional child custody issue, we believe it is a privilege to serve others. 

Without a doubt, it is a great honor to have our work formally recognized by other professionals. But the most gratifying part of this job is having a client quietly and sincerely thank us for our work. For us, this is what matters most.  

We Appreciate Our Outstanding Staff and Our Fort Worth Neighbors 

Sean Lynch working in his law firm office.
Sean Lynch is a family law attorney located in the Fort Worth. He serves clients throughout Tarrant County, including HEB and Arlington.

I want to personally thank Fort Worth magazine for once again presenting us with this award. We know they put great effort into their selection process, and we are grateful for their recognition.  

I also want to thank our team at None of these five awards would have been possible without their hard work and commitment to service. 

In addition, I want to recognize Fort Worth. They do a tremendous job promoting businesses in the area, and we love being a part of this vibrant and diverse community. Simply put, Fort Worth is a great place to shop, dine, liveand work. 

Last but not least, I want to thank our clients. We are honored that you chose to trust us with such a huge responsibility. No matter how many cases we have, we strive to make each person who contacts us feel like he or she is our only client. 

A Fort Worth Family Law Attorney Offering a No-cost Case Consultation

As I said, much of an attorney’s job is not very glamorous. But that does not mean it is not important or meaningful. 

One day we may be helping someone win some badly needed child support payments, and the next we are helping someone protect possessions that are rightfully theirs. And every day, we come to work knowing we have the chance to make someone’s life better. 

And we are ready to help YOU, too. If you are dealing with the prospect of a divorce, child custody case, court order modification, or other family law issue, give us a call today at 817-668-5879. We offer a no-cost, 30-minute case consultation. And you will get to see for yourself why we have once again been named one of the top attorneys in Fort Worth and Tarrant County. 

Thank you again to our many clients and to Fort Worth magazine for presenting us with this important award. 


Most of the time, biological parents need to pay for child support as per state law

Can I Stop Paying Child Support If CPS Places Our Child In Foster Care?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Child Protective Services (CPS) has taken your child and placed them in foster care. This could be due to imprisonment or the serious medical issues of a parent. You don’t even get to see your child. Continuing to pay child support can place a heavy burden on one or both parents. Can you stop paying child support in this case?

The answer is no. You can be required to continue making your child support payments even if your child is in foster care but your payments will be directed to the state.

Why You Have To Pay Child Support For A Child In Foster Care

State laws recognize that biological parents have the obligation to provide for the child. In typical divorce cases, the court would require the non-custodial parent to pay child support to the custodial parent. This includes payment for any medical and dental costs not covered by insurance.

Just because your children are in foster care does not mean you can avoid your obligations. You can still be required to pay support to the state. This is to reduce the burden of using taxpayer money to fund the costs of supporting children in foster care.

You must pay the amount stated in your child support orders for as long as the child remains in foster care. Social services may only return the child to you when it deems you fit to support the child. You may have to meet conditions such as seeking medical treatment. Alternatively, you may also need to show that you can be responsible for your children. Alternatively, your children may be adopted by other families. Your child support obligations also cease once your children reach the age of majority.

Reducing or Removing Child Support Payments

Just because your children are in foster care does not mean you can avoid your obligations or child support
Just because your children are in foster care does not mean you can avoid your obligations or child support

In some cases, you may be able to ask to reduce your monthly child support paid to the state while your child is in foster care. If you need to spend money to improve the living environment for the child’s benefit, you may have a case to ask for a reduction.

The other way to remove child support obligations is to have the children returned to you. You can also obtain placement of the child if the child was originally under the physical custody of the other parent. The father or mother would then have the obligation to pay you child support under court orders to provide for the needs of the child.

Normally, a state court judge can calculate child support based on the presumption that a parent can earn minimum wage for a 40-hour workweek if they are not working. If the parent is underemployed or intentionally unemployed, the judge may determine the amount based on the parent’s earning potential. Note that the Texas Family Code states that these conditions do not apply if the parent is in prison for more than 90 days.

Consequences of Not Following A Child Support Order

If you have been ordered to pay child support, but do not meet your child support obligation, there can be severe consequences. The other person can ask state child support services to undertake child support enforcement actions that include license suspensions and salary withholding. You may also face criminal charges in court. Enforcement agencies can file a lien against your property. Your federal income tax refund can be withheld and directed towards child support. Enforcement actions apply even if you move out of state under federal law.

Contact Us For A No-Cost Review

Attorney Sean Lynch has represented hundreds of successful child support cases and is ready to fight for your case.
Attorney Sean Lynch has represented hundreds of successful child support cases and is ready to fight for your case.

Many families with children in foster care struggle with making their child support obligations. Get more information about your legal options to reduce your obligations while you work to get your children back.

Our family law experts at Sean Lynch Law with decades of experience can help. If you have any questions, contact us for a no-cost review.

The Child Support Enforcement Agency always in a support if needed

Can I Stop My Ex From Relocating If They Owe Child Support?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Your ex is moving to another state. You fear that you might not be able to get them to pay up the child support they already owe. Fortunately, there is a federal act that requires all states to uphold a child support court order when a non-custodial parent relocates to their state.

A parent relocation also often requires the court to change custody and visitation orders. This is to reflect the change in visitation schedules for the non-custodial parent and the parenting time the custodial parent has with the child. A custody order may also contain domicile restrictions that protect the visitation rights of the non-custodial parent and allow the children to spend time equally with either parent. The court may also change child support amounts as part of a relocation.

Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA)

The UIFSA protects parents who need to collect interstate child support. It gives a state the right to enforce a child support order issued in that state even though the non-custodial parent may have moved away. UIFSA also outlines procedures that allow the state where the order was issued to send a withholding notice to the new state. This states the amount, frequency, and duration of child support. It will also state any amounts of child support owed and other specifications relating to the payment.

Out-of-State Enforcement of Child Support Orders

The judge will decide the final agreement based on the facts of the case and the child's best interests.
The judge will decide the final agreement based on the facts of the case and the child’s best interests.

You or your attorney can file a motion to enforce a child support order across state borders. The court in the other jurisdiction can enforce child support arrears by requiring employers to withhold part of the parent’s paycheck to meet their obligations. This applies even though the parent is no longer in the state where the original child support order was issued.

While there are criminal penalties for parents who do not meet their child support obligations, in many circumstances it is more difficult to file criminal charges in another county or state. Your lawyer or law firm will have to file the criminal charges in the state courts where the existing orders were issued. The other parent must appear in court or be extradited for the case.

Locating Your Ex

If you are having trouble locating your ex, you can use parent locator services. These are available from your local Child Support Enforcement Agency or your state. Your state will contact the other state that you believe your ex has moved to.

The Child Support Enforcement Agency often has access to more data and resources to locate your ex. This includes new hire data, change of address information for driver’s licenses, and credit bureau data that the agency can use to locate your ex.

Once you’ve found the other parent’s new address, you can now contact them and proceed with legal action.

Modification of a Child Support Order

Any case for the legal modification of child support orders must be filed in the court that issued them. The only exception is if both parents move to a new jurisdiction. This provides the courts in the new jurisdiction the right to change the orders. The parent that is seeking to modify the legal orders should file the case to modify the orders in their new state.

In many cases, a relocation will require a modification of child support orders to establish new visitation and access schedules. The parent with primary physical custody may also request additional child support from the parent moving to another state.

Relocation will also affect geographic or domicile restrictions. If one parent decides to move to another state, the need for the current domicile restriction will be negated. Parents will need to decide if the restriction should stay in place. Alternatively, the custodial parent may now move to another state if they wish.

The legal process is much easier if parents are in agreement about the new arrangements. However, if parents cannot agree, they will hire a lawyer to present their case to a court judge.

Get A No-Cost Case Review From An Experienced Attorney

Attorney Sean Lynch will fight to ensure your child support order is successful in court.
Attorney Sean Lynch will fight to ensure your child support order is successful in court.

Need help with enforcing child support on an ex who is moving to another state? Let the award-winning Family Law experts at Sean Lynch help you prepare your legal case. We have decades of experience in family law.

Contact us today for a no-cost case review.

Be careful before signing any paper in time of separation

How Do I Find The Assets My Spouse Is Hiding From The Divorce Court?

Reading Time: 9 minutes

If you are in the middle of a divorce, you might suspect your spouse of trying to hide assets to avoid sharing them with you. Property division in Texas follows the community property principle. This means that marital property must be shared equally in a divorce.

A recent survey by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) found that 42% of American couples admitted to cheating on their partners financially. The same institution found that 40% of American couples who manage their finances jointly admit to keeping money secrets from their spouses.

While an experienced family law attorney may be good at finding hidden assets and has legal discovery tools available to them, it can still be challenging to find hidden assets in divorce if you’re not knowledgeable about your finances.

“In a lot of marriages, it’s not unusual for one spouse to handle most of the finances,” Sabelhaus+Lynch attorney Stephanie Sabelhaus says. “And we understand that.”

“But if you are getting divorced, being financially uninformed is a real handicap. If the other party is hiding something and you are not aware of it, there’s just not much we can do. We have to go primarily off what the other party says, which may or may not be true.”

Your lawyer also has to submit more requests and commit more time towards finding hidden assets, which can mean higher attorney expenses.

“Even if divorce is the furthest thing from your mind, it’s wise to be knowledgeable about your financial affairs. While it is typically the wife who is less financially informed, husbands have been known to make this same mistake,” Sabelhaus says.

Why Do Divorcing Spouses Hide Assets?

Ex-spouses may attempt to hide assets from one another during a divorce for several reasons, including the following:

  • They think the law might not share their assets in a manner they would be satisfied with
  • The possibility of surrendering or paying more than what they feel their former spouse deserves
  • They want to conceal certain behavior or conduct from their ex-spouse
  • They want to avoid paying child support or spousal support
  • The divorce is a high-asset case
  • One spouse was solely in charge of the property or assets

What Are The Most Common Hidden Assets?

Divorce or separation can turn ugly fast, and some former spouses may attempt to conceal assets. Some individuals may also sell any assets that can be easily converted to cash, such as bonds and stock shares

Other assets that might be hidden include:

  • Investment accounts
  • Bonuses
  • Real estate
  • Inherited monies
  • Trust accounts
  • Offshore accounts
  • Credit cards
  • Fine art
  • Jewelry

Signs Your Spouse is Hiding Assets

Spouse can hide assets from court for several reasons
Spouse can hide assets from court for several reasons

While you might not expect your partner to prevent you from getting what is legally yours, it’s not uncommon. There are many behaviors people engage in when they are concealing assets.

Here are some signs your spouse might be hiding assets:

Being secretive about money

Your spouse might generally be secretive about money and give vague answers when you ask questions about your finances as a couple. They might keep away tax returns and bank statements, and generally handle bank matters by themselves.

Maintaining total control

Your ex may maintain total control of shared resources and assets, including bank account details and passwords. It is your right to know as much about your family’s financial status as your partner does. You should have access to any joint bank account.

Deleting computer records or programs

Another way that a person may hide assets is by erasing financial records or computer programs like QuickBooks or Pastel. He or she may also claim that a computer has crashed when they have actually destroyed or stolen the hard drive. In some cases, they may regularly hide or dispose of paper statements.

Having a private mailbox

Your ex may own a private mailbox or separate PO Box to receive important financial information secretly. In this case, some spouses may consider using a private investigator to monitor the other person’s activities.

Complaining about money

Your ex may keep complaining about the bad state of their finances, like a major debt, mysterious loss of business, or unsuccessful investments. This may be an attempt to get you to think they don’t have as many assets. Overstating, exaggerating, or lying about one’s financial struggles can also end up skewing the property settlement in the other party’s favor.

Income and lifestyle discrepancies

If your ex lies about his/her earnings but is visibly living a lavish lifestyle, chances are he/she is concealing assets. For instance, if he or she takes expensive vacations or makes ridiculously extravagant purchases, chances are that he or he is lying about his or her financial situation.

Sudden or mysterious account activities

If a shared bank account has previously had a consistent withdrawal rate, but you notice sudden or strange withdrawals and purchases, then something may be amiss. Keep an eye on the transactions passing through any joint bank account.

Asking for your signature

Someone who is trying to hide assets before divorce may keep demanding your signature on various financial documents. To be on the safe side, read financial documents carefully before signing it, or take it to your attorney for professional advice.

Gifting to loved ones and friends

Although giving gifts or large assets to family members or friends may seem like a generous act, it is a huge red flag. A spouse could reclaim the assets after the divorce is finalized.

Opening a new account

If you notice that your spouse is depositing money into a separate bank account from the bank statements, there is a chance that they may be hiding money. For example, your spouse may open another bank account with your child’s name to hide money. When asked, he or she may say they are saving for your child’s future milestones.

Frequent trips or financial activity overseas

If your ex has an offshore bank account or makes regular trips overseas without a good reason, you might need to investigate. Your lawyer may need to send an order to the overseas bank that you think your ex has an account in to get all records in his or her name.

Questionable business and/or tax practices

You might notice that your ex has started giving a salary to an employee you’re unfamiliar with. You might find that your ex exaggerates business expenses on his/her tax returns.

If your spouse has a business, it’s easier for them to hide money. “By running everything through the business, a person can greatly lower his or her personal income,” Sabelhaus says. “This is especially common when it comes to paying child support. The court uses a formula based on the individual’s wealth to determine how much he or she will have to pay each month. If your spouse hides assets in the business, he or she may be able to significantly lower the payment amount.”

If you notice any of these signs, you might need to take further steps to track your finances as a couple and investigate if your spouse is attempting to hide their income or money. In some cases, you might need to hire a private investigator.

Consequences of Hiding Assets During Divorce Proceedings

Hiding assets during a divorce is illegal
Hiding assets during a divorce is illegal

Not only can hiding assets lead to criminal penalties for the spouse involved, but the court may also transfer all of the discovered marital assets to the other spouse.

During divorce proceedings, both spouses are typically required to fill out a financial declaration form. This reveals all assets owned by both parties. Once you sign this form, you’re swearing under oath that what you have declared is correct to the best of your knowledge.

If one spouse doesn’t disclose his or her finances during a divorce, there are usually serious consequences. Once it is found that a spouse is trying to hide income or assets, the judge has several options for penalties to impose. These include:

  • Awarding a smaller share of the assets
  • Paying the legal fees of the other party
  • Criminal charges for perjury or contempt of court, which could lead to time behind bars.

What Should I Do If I Suspect My Spouse Is Hiding Assets?

Undervaluing marital assets, under-reporting income, or overstating expenses are more common than you might imagine.

Here’s what you can do to find hidden bank accounts and assets during a divorce.

How to Find Hidden Bank Accounts and Assets During a Divorce

Understanding the resources and methods used by professionals such as a forensic accountant, private investigator and a divorce attorney can help you avoid getting duped by your spouse or former spouse who is concealing marital property.

Here are a few common ways to find out if your spouse or ex-spouse is hiding assets from you.

Hidden Documents

Although the world is quickly going paperless, many paper documents are issued by the IRS, banks, and mortgage companies. Be mindful about the mail that comes in and find out where your spouse keeps those documents. Have your own copy of tax returns and any addendums.

You could find property titles, credit card statements, and bank statements that your spouse keeps in a certain location. It’s generally fine to look for documents in your own house or safe deposit box. However, hacking into another person’s online account or email account could be an illegal means of gathering evidence.

Credit Reports and Bank Accounts

One way for your ex-spouse to keep hidden assets is to open a secret bank account or credit card. Before the divorce process, he or she may transfer funds to the hidden bank accounts. If any small transfers go unrecognized for a long time, they can definitely add up. That’s why it’s strongly recommended to keep an eye on credit reports, tax returns, and bank statements before and during a divorce.

In addition to making these kinds of transfers to hidden bank accounts, a spouse may also transfer money to a friend or relative. Your spouse may also open new bank accounts in your children’s names and start transferring money to those accounts.

Therefore, one of the best ways to protect yourself and prevent your partner from hiding assets through hidden bank accounts is to keep a close eye on bank statements. If you believe that your spouse is trying to conceal the existence of a hidden bank account, consider working with a forensic accountant or private investigator.

You should also monitor credit reports. They can offer some important clues as to properties or bank accounts that your spouse may be hiding from you. The only thing that credit reports will not show is debit card accounts.

Monitor Spending Habits

Consistently review your spouse's bank statements during the divorce.
Consistently review your spouse’s bank statements during the divorce.

Your spouse may also be buying assets. For instance, your spouse may buy a new car, furniture, or other high-value items like jewelry.

Chances are that they may be buying such things to sell them and make money post-divorce. That is why it’s recommended to keep a close eye on any large purchases. It may be a way for your ex to retain hidden assets.

Seek Professional Help

Dividing assets during a divorce can create issues that have a long-lasting impact on your life. If you are going through a divorce, you need an experienced divorce lawyer on your side to ensure you receive the full amount of assets you are entitled to – and discover hidden assets.

Experts recommend you talk to an attorney if you or your former spouse:

An experienced attorney can conduct an asset search investigation to determine if a spouse has any assets that he/she is not accounting for. A qualified attorney can also handle the legal process to help find hidden bank accounts and get more information about the hidden assets.

For instance, an attorney can provide help and support in the following ways:

  • Request the testimony of a witness under oath
  • Request the court to order an asset search
  • Demand bank statements, loan applications, tax returns, and other documents
  • Request that a spouse answer written questions or “interrogatories”
  • Make search demands, including demanding an asset search investigation in certain properties and electronic records.

You may also want to hire forensic accountants and private investigators to help you discover potential fraud and illegal concealment of marital assets.

Timing is Everything

If you’re contemplating filing for a divorce or are already going through one, it is important to take stock of all marital assets as soon as possible. It’s not uncommon for spouses to hide assets when the divorce process begins.

If you suspect that your spouse has been concealing marital property and tax returns, discuss it with your divorce attorney. This is particularly important if one spouse has been the main breadwinner or has been solely responsible for evaluating bank statements and paying bills during the marriage.

Your divorce lawyer will find the best way to gain a good understanding of your shared assets and resources. That could involve requesting your ex to provide documents and subpoenaing banks and other institutions to provide the necessary information about your marital assets.

If you’re considering filing for divorce, it’s best to start collecting documents as soon as possible. That includes business account records, bank statements, loan paperwork, retirement account records, and other forms of information about your marital assets. This sort of information will come in handy when your divorce attorney starts to work on your case.

In some cases, you might be convinced that there are hidden assets somewhere but it may not be worth the cost. Sabelhaus has experienced this a few times with clients.

“A client might say, ‘I know he has an extra $1,000 or $3,000 hidden somewhere’,” she said. “And I understand how that can be a lot of money for some people. But you have to weigh it against the added legal expense of trying to find that money—and the stress of dragging out the divorce. Instead of focusing on victory at any cost, it makes more sense to focus on being as financially informed as you can now.”

Attorney Sean Lynch is ready to represent your hidden asset divorce case.
Attorney Sean Lynch is ready to represent your hidden asset divorce case.

Are you seeing signs that your ex might have a hidden bank account or assets somewhere? Not sure about the options available to you to find hidden funds when your marriage is ending?

Let the award-winning Family Law experts at Sabelhaus and Lynch law firm help you prepare your legal case. We have years of experience in family law and most importantly are ready to listen to you.

Contact us today for a no-cost case review.

Genetic testing always a option

Can I Challenge Child Support If I Suspect I Am Not The Father?

Reading Time: 3 minutes

When a baby is born to a married couple, there is a presumption that the husband is the legal father of the child. That gives him parental rights and responsibilities including child support. However, if you suspect that you are not the father, there are options for you. The Texas Family Code allows you to ask the court to end the parent-child relationship between you and the child under certain conditions. This will be a case to determine mistaken paternity when you have been ordered to pay child support but you believe that you are not the child’s genetic father.

If you suspect you are not the father, you have an option to contest child support.
If you suspect you are not the father, you have an option to contest child support.

You can exercise your rights to terminate the parental relationship with the child even if you signed an Acknowledgement of Paternity or had a judge establish paternity. The only condition is that you did not take a DNA test beforehand. You are still required to meet the existing child support obligations you still owe. However, you can terminate any future obligations to pay child support.

Challenging Child Support Obligations For Mistaken Paternity

File A Petition

You or your attorney can file the petition to the court asking the court to terminate the parent-child relationship. You will need to meet the legal requirements below.

  • You’re not the biological father of the child
  • You mistakenly concluded you were the biological father due to misrepresentation
  • You signed an Acknowledgement of Paternity or had a judge establish you as the legal father without first getting a paternity test. It is required to show that you did not contest parentage at the time because you mistakenly believed you were the biological father.
  • There was no legal adoption of your children on your part
  • You are not the intended father based on a gestational agreement validated by the court
  • You did not agree to assisted reproduction to conceive the child
  • The petition was filed within two years of the date you discovered the mistaken paternity

Attend Pretrial Hearing

You and your attorney will need to present your case about why there is a strong possibility that you are not the biological father of a child. If you can sufficiently call paternity into question, the Texas court may legally require you to take a paternity test.

Go For Genetic Testing

You will need to go for genetic testing with an accredited lab.

Attend Final Hearing

If the paternity test has established that you are not the genetic parent, the judge will sign a court order terminating the parent-child relationship. This will mean you need not pay future child support. However, you will still have to pay the child support obligation that you currently owe.

Contact Us For A No-Cost Case Review

Tarrant County men trust attorney Sean Lynch to represent their cases and prove in family law court that they are not responsible for child support payments.
Tarrant County men trust attorney Sean Lynch to represent their cases and prove in family law court that they are not responsible for child support payments.

Want to challenge your obligations due to mistaken paternity? Let the award-winning Family Law experts at Sean Lynch law firm help you prepare your legal case. We have decades of experience in family law.

Contact us today for a no-cost case review.

Always collect all the evidence as it will help you later if you need to go court

Enforcement Of Texas Child Visitation Court Order

Reading Time: 4 minutes

It’s hard enough trying to maintain your relationship with your kids on a limited visitation schedule. It can be an incredibly frustrating experience dealing with an uncooperative ex who denies you court-ordered visitation. Fortunately, there are options for you when it comes to the enforcement of child visitation orders. If you’ve exhausted all attempts to resolve the issue outside of legal action, you can ask the court to enforce the order and give you your visitation rights.

Attempt To Settle The Issue 

Often, the court will expect you to show that you’ve made an effort to settle the visitation issue with the custodial parent before going to the court for visitation enforcement. Sometimes the other parent might have a legitimate reason and working things out amicably is a key part of co-parenting.

Get Help From The Domestic Relations Office (DRO)

Your county might have a Domestic Relations Office that you can ask for help when enforcing the court order. As the non-custodial parent, you must document a minimum number of attempts to comply with your visitation schedule. In each instance, you should have been denied access to your child.

Modify Your Visitation Order

The judge will likely take the decision that is in the child’s best interests in terms of visitation
The judge will make the decision that is in the child’s best interests in terms of visitation

If either or both parents are having difficulty when attempting to follow the existing order, they may want to discuss coming up with an alternative arrangement. If parents cannot come to an agreement, asking the judge to approve modification of the order may be the best option. 

The judge will likely take the decision that is in the child’s best interests.

Have Your Attorney Send A Letter

You may be able to have your attorney send a lawyer’s letter to the other person if they refuse to cooperate in allowing you your court-ordered visitation.

If nothing seems to work, make sure you start keeping track of the dates and times when denial of visitation occurred in a journal. Record any reasons given. Save any messages you have indicated that you were at the pre-agreed location at the pre-agreed time but your ex was not there to perform the exchange of your child. 

The evidence you collect can help you build your case if you end up having to go to court. 

Seeking Enforcement of a Child Visitation Court Order

Your lawyer may file a motion to enforce with district or county courts. This will request the judge to require the other party to follow the terms of the custody order so that you get your right to your parenting time. The evidence you have collected will be useful to support your argument and convince the judge to help. A child support court cannot handle these issues.

The court may also require your ex to give you make-up time for the days where you were denied your visitation. 

An experienced attorney will be able to advise you on the best way to present your case. In some cases, you can press contempt charges against the other party for denial of visitation, or seek to modify the custody order if you believe the other parent regularly breaches the existing custody orders.

Contempt Proceedings

In contempt proceedings, parents must appear in court.
In contempt proceedings, parents must appear in court.

Your lawyer may advise you to initiate a civil contempt hearing by filing a motion. Once you’ve filed, the other parent will have to be notified. Once notified, the other parent must appear in court with the child.

You can only petition the court to start contempt proceedings if you can show that one parent willfully and deliberately refused to comply with the court order. If the courts find in your favor, they can order that the other parent serve jail time or provide compensation.

Writ of Habeas Corpus

Your other option is to seek a Writ of Habeas Corpus if the other parent refuses to turn over the child to you. However, it is not a long-term solution if your ex constantly violates custody orders.

Can Police Enforce A Child Custody Visitation Order?

A visitation order is enforceable by local officers. However, they generally hesitate to get involved in what they see as a civil matter.

If there are criminal matters involved such as the threat of abuse that is not in the child’s best interests, the police may find it necessary to get involved to protect the children.

Enforce Your Rights

Child visitation is a complicated area of family law primarily because it is susceptible to changing life situations. Attorney Sean Lynch has represented hundreds of successful child visitation cases and is ready to fight for your rights.
Child visitation is a complicated area of family law primarily because it is susceptible to changing life situations. Attorney Sean Lynch has represented hundreds of successful child visitation cases and is ready to fight for your rights.

The award-winning family law experts at Sean Lynch take pride in fighting for the rights of families in court. Don’t lose access to your children and we can help you file a legal motion to enforce. 

Contact us today for a no-cost case review.