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 + Associates 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.

Every family struggles with visitation agreements but your children deserve the best solution possible.

Custody Rights of Fit Parents in Texas

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Children are a contentious part of many divorces. Who will get primary custody? How does a judge decide what is fair? And what can you do if you think the court has made a mistake? Today’s blog will look at a recent decision by the Texas Supreme Court in a case called In Re C.J.C. The case involved a separation, an accidental death, and the custody rights of fit parents. If you or someone you know is expecting a messy custody case, it is worth your time to be familiar with it. 

Background of the Custody Battle: A Fiancé and a Traffic Accident

Custody arrangements are modified with a court order that must meet the requirements of Texas Family Law code.
Custody arrangements are modified with a court order that must meet the requirements of the Texas Family Law code.

The Texas Supreme Court issued its ruling in 2020. But like most cases, this one was several years in the making. According to the Court’s opinion, a couple had lived together for five years. They never married, but they did have a child, who the court called “Abigail.” After five years, the couple separated. Their custody arrangement called for Abigail to live with her mother about 54 percent of the time, and with her father the remainder of the time. 

Afterward, the mother started dating someone else, a man named Jason. They moved in together; thus, when Abigail was living with her mother, she was spending time with her new boyfriend as well. Jason stated that he had a good relationship with Abigail, and she called him “Pops.” This arrangement had continued for about 11 months. 

The couple eventually got engaged. And at some point in the process, the girl’s mother filed a suit seeking to modify the court order: She wanted full custody of Abigail for her and Jason. But in 2018, before they could be married, the mother was in a car accident and died suddenly. 

A Question of Custody

Besides being an obvious tragedy, the mother’s death added an unexpected complication to the child custody case. After the accident, Abigail moved in with her biological father, named Chris. 

However, Jason did not want to lose access to Abigail. The girl’s maternal grandparents also worried they would not get to see their granddaughter. So both parties filed a petition with the court and asked to be named joint managing conservators. The fiancĂ© also wanted periods of possession. In other words, they wanted shared child custody. 

Abigail’s biological father, Chris, opposed this plan, and the case went to court. A lower court dismissed the grandparents’ case. But the court allowed Jason’s case to proceed. Learn more about your legal rights as a grandparent. 

Why Did the Fiancé Want Child Custody?

In his suit, Jason stated that his request for shared custody was an attempt to fulfill his fiancé’s wishes. He also argued that, even though he was not Abigail’s biological parent, he was a significant part of the girl’s life and had served as a parental figure for her for at least six months. Six months is the amount of time Texas requires before a non-parent can request custody rights. 

The Texas Family Code states that the child’s best interests must always be the court’s primary consideration. A trial court awarded Jason temporary custody order. The court noted that the fiancĂ© had lived with the girl for at least six months and that it was in the child’s best interests for him to continue to be involved in her life. 

Chris, the biological father appealed this decision. And in June of last year, the case made its way to the Texas Supreme Court.

Why Did the Father Think He Should Have Full Custody?

Chris maintained that the temporary child custody order issued by the trial court violated his parental rights. His attorney’s argument relied heavily on a ruling issued by the U.S. Supreme Court in 2000 in the case Troxel v. Granville.

Texas Supreme Courtroom interior.
Texas Supreme Courtroom interior.

In that case, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that if someone is considered a “fit” parent, he or she has a right to care for their child as they see best, without interference by the state. The court further held that any judge’s decision that overrides the parental rights of a fit parent is unconstitutional. The father argued that the ruling in Troxel v. Granville overrode the fiancé’s claim for custody. 

For his part, the fiancé’s lawyer argued that when Chris had gone to court seeking help in the custody matter, he had effectively surrendered his parental rights to determine the child’s best interests. If this was true, it would nullify the precedent set in Troxel v. Granville.

How the Court Decided this Custody Case

Supreme Court of Texas building in Austin, Texas
Supreme Court of Texas building in Austin, Texas

The Texas Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of Chis. The Texas Supreme Court recognized the right of fit parents to decide what is best for their children, and this presumption is “deeply embedded” in Texas law. Just as important, the court noted there was no indication that Chris was in any way an unfit parent. 

The Texas Supreme Court ruled that when the lower court had given the fiancĂ© temporary custody, they had essentially overridden the parental rights of Chris to decide what was best for Abigail. The court wrote: 

“When nonparents seek court-ordered custody of a child subject to an existing order, under which one or both fit parents were appointed managing conservators, that parent or parents retain the presumption that protects their fundamental right to determine their child’s best interest.” 

Texas Supreme Court – In Re C.J.C.

Why This Custody Rights Case Matters to Fit Parents

Children routinely have other adults involved in their lives. This can be especially common when the parent’s divorce. The divorced parents may start dating; eventually, one of those people may become the child’s stepparent. When someone who has parental rights dies, the question of who gets custody can get complicated and ugly. 

The case In Re C.J.C. reaffirms, in no uncertain terms, the constitutional right of fit parents to determine the best interests of the children. Specifically, the case reaffirms the right of that parent to retain sole custody over the wishes of a non-parent to have custody. 

Simply put, if you are a non-parent who is trying to get custody of a child, you are facing an uphill battle. And if you are a parent who is battling with a non-parent to retain custody, you need to know that the law is on your side. 

How Do Courts Decide Who is a Fit Parent?

The Texas Family Code outlines several conditions that can justify a parent losing possession of his or her children. A parent may lose custody if he or she:

  • Was absent for at least three months
  • Knowingly engaged in conduct that endangered the well-being of the child, or knowingly allowed the child to be in a situation that endangered his or her well-being
  • Has abused drugs or alcohol
  • Has been convicted of a serious crime
  • Voluntarily and knowingly abandoned the woman, or failed to provide adequate support, during the time of her pregnancy and through the birth;
  • Is responsible for the child being born addicted to alcohol or an illegal drug;
  • Knowingly refused to comply with court orders
  • Failed to provide adequate support for the child over an extended time
  • Voluntarily abandoned the child with an expressed intent not to return;
  • Has had his or her parental rights terminated in another case

In making custody decisions, courts work from the presumption that ideally, it is in the child’s best interests to have both parents actively involved in his or her life. Courts also will assume that parents are fit to care for their children unless proven otherwise. 

To override that assumption, someone must show that the parent is somehow unfit. In their initial lawsuits, neither Jason nor the girl’s grandparents had presented any evidence that Chris was in any way an unfit parent. Thus, the mother’s initial lawsuit seeking full custody of Abigail probably would have failed anyway. Read our blog about how to win custody in Texas. 

The Custody Rights of Fit Parents Are Too Important to Leave to Chance

Stephanie and Sean are ready to represent your child custody arrangement or court order modification case.
Sean Lynch + Associates are ready to represent your child custody arrangement or court order modification case.

Custody cases can be stressful, contentious. and complicated. At Sean Lynch + Associates, our lawyers are experts in the Texas Family Code and very experienced in the complexities of these cases. We will fight for your family in court, while always remaining sensitive to the concerns of protecting your child or children. We also offer transparent, affordable pricing.

For a no-cost, initial consultation, contact our office or call 817-668-5879. You’ll be happy with your decision to consult with our award-winning Tarrant County divorce attorneys.

Every family struggles with visitation agreements but your children deserve the best solution possible.

What Are Reasonable Visitation Rights?

Reading Time: 6 minutes

As a parent and going through a divorce, chances are you will be sharing custody with your ex. This means the court is likely to address the question of possession of the children and set up a reasonable visitation schedule.

But you may be wondering, how does the court decide what are reasonable visitation rights? And what happens if your ex doesn’t hold up his or her end of the deal? So let’s learn a little more about your visitation rights as a parent. 

What Does It Mean to Be a Conservator?

A successful visitation schedule works for everyone but is critical for your children's happiness.
A successful visitation schedule works for everyone but is critical for your children’s happiness.

Have you been hearing the term “conservatorship” a lot lately? If so, it might be because the pop singer Britney Spears has been in the news, contesting her conservatorship.

However, Spears is a grown woman. Let’s briefly explain what it means to be a conservator in Texas, as the terms can be confusing. The State of Texas has two types of custody. Physical custody defines who the children will live with.

Legal custody means having the right to make important life decisions regarding the upbringing of the children. Often, the judge will give primary physical custody to only one person. The court refers to this person as the custodial parent. The other person, of course, is called the non-custodial parent. 

However, Texas courts typically don’t use the word custody. Instead, they use the term conservatorship. The court calls the custodial parent the primary conservator, and the non-custodial parent the possessory conservator. The possessory conservator may not have decision-making authority but usually does have visitation rights. 

How Does the Court Decide Who Gets Custody in Texas?

Texas Family Court Judges focus on children's needs in signing-off on custody and visitation agreements.
Texas Family Court Judges focus on children’s needs in signing off on custody and visitation agreements.

The Texas Family Code Section 153.002 states that the court shall make decisions about child custody and visitation based upon the best interests of the child. In an ideal scenario, it is the child’s best interest to spend equal time with both parents. In addition, both parents are equally involved in making decisions for the kids. The court calls this arrangement a Joint Managing Conservatorship. 

Of course, in some situations, the judge will restrict the legal and physical custody and visitation rights of a parent. The court calls this arrangement a Sole Managing Conservatorship. This arrangement also can impact the parent’s visitation rights. The judge may require that the visits be supervised. In extreme cases, he or she may forbid any child visitation. 

Reasonable Visitation Rights Should Be Flexible

As we mentioned, the State focuses on the child’s best interests. However, parents (usually) have a legal right to spend time with their child. And it is (usually) best for both parents to be involved in the child’s life. 

Texas judges understand that one parent or both may have non-traditional schedules. For example, firefighters, police officers, and health care workers often work unusual schedules. In these cases, a strict custody and visitation schedule may not work.

Thus, courts are likely to give parents the opportunity to create their own parenting agreement. This allows the custodial and non-custodial parent to come up with a plan that is reasonable for both parties. If both parents can agree on a plan, they can submit it to the court for review. This plan may become part of the final visitation order.   

What If the Parents Cannot Agree on Reasonable Visitation Rights?

The court wants parents to work together. But if they cannot, the court will develop a possession schedule for them, ensuring that the non-custodial parent will have time with the child. 

The Texas Family Code has what is called a Standard Possession Order (SPO).  This is the default possession order and visitation schedule in Texas. The typical SPO works like this:

  • During the school year, children spend the first, third, and fifth weekend of each month with the noncustodial parent.
  • They also spend one weeknight evening with the non-custodial parent during the school year. 

The Standard Possession Order also covers visitation rights for summer and holidays. 

Can a noncustodial parent request more time with his or her children? Yes. In this case, the parent can request a Texas Expanded Standard Possession Order (ESPO). In a typical ESPO, children also spend Thursday nights with the non-custodial parent. The child stays with this parent until Monday morning, following the regularly assigned weekends as well. The ESPO also addresses visitation during the holidays and summer vacation time.

What do Do If A Parent Is Not Following the Visitation Order

Unfortunately, divorcing parents do not always have an amicable relationship. Or parents who previously got along well may have a falling out. In these cases, the parent with primary custody of the child may act in spite, intentionally trying to punish the ex. For example, your ex decides to stop cooperating, making it difficult for you to spend time with your child. 

If the custodial parent strays from the reasonable visitation rights you originally agreed to, you may need to modify the court order. As a Texas parent, you (usually) have a legal right to see your child. We recommend you consult with an experienced family law attorney who can help protect your parental rights. Read our recent blog, Enforcing a Court Order in Texas.

Don’t Let Temporary Visitation Rights Become Permanent

Life is unpredictable, and occasionally, parents end up having to adjust their visitation plan to accommodate unforeseen circumstances. One parent may end up caring for the children more or less than the court’s original possession schedule. This was a common occurrent last year, when many parents were struggling to cope with the pandemic. Some parents worked from home or had to work additional hours. Others had to home-school their kids. And many parents lost their jobs. 

During the pandemic, these temporary adjustments may have gone on for several months. Parents who were now sharing equal custody time began to wonder why they were still paying child support. And primary conservator parents began to worry that they would lose custody. Some parents thought this might be a good time to request a legal change to the possession and visitation agreement. 

Parents who have had a significant change in circumstances do have grounds to request a court order modification. However, even if you get a 50/50 custody arrangement in Texas, you may still need to pay child support. In these cases, we suggest you talk with a trusted lawyer. Read our recent blog, Does Being Unemployed Affect Child Custody?

How Long Does It Take to Get Visitation Rights Set Up?

Texas Child Custody Agreement are signed by your judge as part of a final divorce decree. Modifications can take much longer to settle and be signed.
Texas Child Custody Agreement is signed by your judge as part of a final divorce decree. Modifications can take much longer to settle and be signed.

Courts usually can establish visitation rights quicker if they can address them in conjunction with the divorce petition. The process also is likely to go quicker if you and your spouse can agree to a temporary possession and visitation schedule. 

On the other hand, the court may need more time to address custody cases for parents who are not married. Again,  the judge’s ability to establish reasonable visitation rights will be heavily influenced by how well the parents get along.

An attorney experienced in child custody issues can be very helpful in these situations. Sean Lynch + Associates have over twenty years of Family Law experience and have been voted Best Family Law Attorneys by Fort Worth Magazine five years in a row.

Texas Judges Cannot Make a Parent Visit His or Her Children

If the custodial parent is denying the other parent court-ordered visitations, the court may intervene to ensure that the parenting agreement is being followed. However, the court cannot force the non-custodial parent to spend time with his or her children. 

Of course, in these situations, the children suffer the most. If a parent doesn’t show up for a visit, the kids may hold themselves responsible. 

If the non-custodial parent routinely misses visitations, the primary conservator can petition the court to modify the visitation agreement. Unfortunately, limiting the other parent’s visits, even if they are inconsistent, may not be in the child’s best interests. 

One more point: If your ex is consistently failing to visit the kids, try to be discreet. We recommend you resist criticizing him or her in front of your kids. You may have more success by meeting with a family counselor. Read our recent blog, How to Win Child Custody in Texas.

Have Questions About Visitation Rights in Texas?

Sean Lynch + Associates are ready to work with you to get the visitation schedule that works for your families happiness.

Our family law lawyers in Fort Worth TX have the skills and experience to serve you. To schedule a no-cost case consultation, contact our firm by phone at 817-668-5879 or connect with us online.

Father and child enjoying time together

How to Win Child Custody in Texas

Reading Time: 6 minutes

You’ve made the decision to get divorced. And now you are considering making another big decision: You want to have possession of the kids. We should say upfront, it is not easy for a mother or father to achieve this. But it can be done. So if this is something on your mind, here are some key things to know about how to win custody in Texas. 

What Does it Mean to Have Child Custody?

Texas Family Law seeks to provide the best future for children in every situation. Don't take for granted that you will gain custody of your child or have the visitation access you expect.
Texas Family Law seeks to provide the best future for children in every situation. Don’t take for granted that you will gain custody of your child or have the visitation access you expect.

Before explaining how to win child custody, we need to explain a few things about family law in the State of Texas.  

First, Texas has two types of custody, physical and legal. In a divorce, the court usually orders the children to live most or all of the time with one of the two parties. The person has physical custody, and the court calls him or her the custodial parent

But a parent can also have legal custody. A parent who has legal custody has the right to be involved in making important decisions for the child. For example, the parent has the right to make decisions about the children’s education, medical care, place of residence, and general welfare. 

What Does It Mean to Be a Conservator?

Changes to the family are confusing to children. Don't let your divorce issues become a source of stress for your children.
Changes to the family are confusing to children. Don’t let your divorce issues become a source of stress for your children.

Child custody cases in the State of Texas can be confusing because courts don’t use the term “custody.” Instead, they refer to conservatorship. The court calls the parent with whom the children live the custodial parent, or primary conservator. 

Judges call the other party the non-custodial parent, or possessory conservator. The judge often requires the non-custodial parent to pay child support. 

For example, when the divorced parents have equal decision-making authority, it means they have a joint managing conservatorship. You may also hear the term joining legal custody. And when a parent wants the exclusive right to make decisions, it means he or she is requesting to be named sole managing conservator. This may also be called sole custody, or your friends may casually mention it as “full custody.”

These terms matter because if you tell your family law attorney you want to get custody of your children, he or she is likely to ask, “What exactly do you mean?”

It is Not Easy to Win Child Custody in Texas

As family law attorneys will tell you, it is not easy to be named sole managing conservator. This is because of how Texas Courts operate. The Texas Family Code Section 153.002 states, “The best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.

Obviously, this sounds very appealing to a parent—we all want what is best for the children. However, courts are inclined to believe that the children’s “best interest” means having both parents deeply involved in their children’s lives. So if you are wanting to be named the sole managing conservator, it means you are asking the court to parent your ex from having any say in the lives of his or her children. 

Thus, while it is possible to win custody, it is not easy. It will be up to YOU to convince the court that this is in the best interest of your children. And it will not be enough to simply claim that your spouse is a “bad parent.” This is why if you think you will have a custody battle, we encourage you to hire a skilled family law attorney. 

What are the Grounds to Win Sole Custody in Texas?

The Texas Family Code, Chapter 161, Subchapter A defines the requirements for a parent to win custody in Texas. Here is a simplified list of reasons why the court may terminate the custody rights of the other parent: 

  • Was absent for at least three months
  • Knowingly engaged in conduct that endangered the well-being of the child, or knowingly allowed the child to be in a situation that endangered his or her well-being
  • Has abused drugs or alcohol
  • Has been convicted of a serious crime
  • Voluntarily and knowingly abandoned the woman, or failed to provide adequate support, during the time of her pregnancy and through the birth;
  • Is responsible for the child being born addicted to alcohol or an illegal drug;
  • Knowingly refused to comply with court orders
  • Failed to provide adequate support for the child over an extended time
  • Voluntarily abandoned the child with an expressed intent not to return;
  • Has had his or her parental rights terminated in another case

Generally speaking, if you want to win custody in Texas, you need to be able to show that your spouse or ex has put your children in serious physical or emotional danger. 

As we mentioned, this not a full explanation of the grounds for winning a custody case. Every situation is a little different, and it is not always easy to know the best interest of the child. This is another reason why if you are facing a custody battle, we highly recommend you consult a divorce attorney. 

It Is Time-consuming and Expensive to Win Custody

We have already stated that it is difficult to get full custody in Texas. It also can take time. Your spouse or ex is not likely to accept your decision and probably will hire a lawyer. While it is unlikely, a sole conservatorship case can last for years. 

Of course, the longer a case goes on, the more expensive it is. And keep in mind, family law is not the same as personal injury law. Thus, you should not expect the lawyer will only charge you only if he or she wins the case. 

We don’t want to discourage you. If you sincerely believe that terminating your ex’s parental rights is in the best interests of your children, then you should pursue it. We just want each Texas family to be aware of the potential issues that may arise. 

A Parent May Want to Consider Other Alternatives to Full Custody

How important is it to you to get full possession of your children? The court system usually is more open to alternative arrangements. For example, a parent could ask the court to limit the amount of access and visitation rights the ex has. Another option is to ask the court to deny your ex the right to make decisions on specific issues. 

The more things you are willing to negotiate, the more receptive a family law judge may be to your requests. You also may have more success convincing your spouse or ex to go along with your plan. Read our blog about how to change a Texas Court Order for Child Access.

Be aware that even if you win custody in Texas in your divorce, the judge may still award visitation rights to your ex. In addition, if the court gives you sole managing conservatorship, it is possible that your ex will not have to provide any child support. An experienced divorce lawyer can be very helpful in advising you on these matters. 

What if I am at Risk of Losing Custody in Texas?

A parent also must be prepared to consider the other side of the coin: what if your spouse or ex is trying to take the children away from you? Ideally, we all prefer to avoid conflict, and we always want to focus on the best interests of the child. 

But while it’s nice to have an amicable separation, your children are a different matter. If you decide to handle your own conservatorship case, you might make a mistake that gives your ex sole child custody. 

True, you can always request a court modification afterward. But the judge may well wonder why you accepted the custody arrangement in the first place. And if you file an appeal, it is going to cost you more time—and more money. Read our blog about changing a custody order without going to court.

In a Family Law Case, the Stakes are High

Sean Lynch + Associates understand the stress of custody questions and are ready to provide a no-cost case review to help.

Divorce can be stressful. If it involves a custody case, the divorce can be both stressful and contentious. 

At Sean Lynch + Associates, our lawyers are experts in the family code and very experienced in the complexities of a child custody cases. We will fight for your family in court, while always remaining sensitive to the concerns of protecting your child or children. We also offer transparent, affordable pricing, as well as a no-cost initial consultation. 

Your parental rights are important to you, and they are important to us, too. For a no-cost, initial consultation, contact our office or call 817-668-5879. You’ll be happy with your decision to consult with our award-winning Tarrant County divorce attorneys.

Court Order for Child Custody

Can You Change a Custody Order Without Going to Court?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

If you are a divorced parent, your decree included instructions from the court about child custody arrangements. This court order is legally binding, and both parents must abide by its terms. But life can change, and it’s possible that one or both parents may decide the existing arrangements are no longer practical. So you may be wondering, “Can you change a custody order without going to court?” The short answer is “Yes.” But there’s much more to know, so let’s discuss it now.

Defining Child Custody and Conservatorship

Father and child enjoying time together
Texas courts recognize the critical role both parents play in a child’s happy life.

First, a quick refresher. There are two parts to custody, physical and legal. Physical custody refers to who the children live with. Legal custody refers to having the right to be involved in making decisions about the children. This includes decisions about their health care, education, and well-being.

However, Texas courts do not use the term custody. Instead, they use the term conservatorship. If both parents share custody, it is called joint managing conservatorship. And if only one parent has custody, it is called sole managing conservatorship.

In a divorce case, it is likely your friends and family will use the term custody. But with your attorney and in court, you can expect to hear the term conservatorship. 

How Easy Is It to Change a Custody Order Without Going to Court?

The good news is, it relatively easy to change a custody order without going to court—sometimes. The first step is to talk with your ex. If you both are in agreement on the change, you can get the custody order modified by working with a local mediator. The process can be completed in about X weeks, and you will need to pay a fee.

The second step is for the two of you to review your current custody order and make sure you fully understand it. While unlikely, it’s possible you won’t need to make any modifications to the order.

Third, you will need to be able to provide a compelling reason why you want the custody order changed. 

What Are Some Reasons to Change a Custody Order?

Child Custody Court Orders set out rights and obligations for the welfare of your children including visitation rights.

As noted, Texas requires parents to have a compelling reason for wanting to change a custody order, even if you do not go to court. Usually, this means there has been a significant change of circumstances. Examples of a significant change include:

  • A change in the work schedule of a parent
  • One of the parents is being neglectful, unreliable, etc.
  • The child or children wish to spend more time with the non-custodial parent
  • One parent moves closer to the other
  • One parent wishes to move away

Be aware that Texas courts make custody decisions based on what they think is in the best interests of the children. So you will want to be prepared to address this concern. But as noted, if you want to change a custody order without going to court, the key factor is whether you and the other parent agree on the modification.  

You Can Change a Custody Order without Going to Court, But there are Risks

If you and your ex are on good terms, you may be tempted to work out a new custody arrangement entirely on your own. Clearly, this approach is both quick and much less expensive. But it also has pitfalls.

  1. First, it is alarmingly easy for one or both parents to take advantage of an informal agreement. This can create unnecessary and unfortunate tension for the two of you. For example, your former spouse might request to have the children stay with him or her for an extra day. But the “extra day” turns into extra days. Then you find that these “extra days” become a reoccurring pattern. And then you start considering getting even. 
  2. Second, be aware that if your ex does violate the informal agreement, you have no legal recourse. Your only remedy is to go to court and request a court-ordered modification. Of course, at that point, your ex may not be as willing to agree to the original plan.
  3. Of course, the opposite holds true as well: Your spouse could go before a judge at any time, and you would have no way to prove to the court that the two of you had made an informal agreement. 

If You Change a Custody Order without Going to Court, Be Sure to Do It Properly

Any request to modify child custody needs to be a signed and witnessed court appeal that both parents are in agreement with.

This is why, even if you do not court, we strongly recommend you put your revised agreement in writing. The agreement should be easy to understand, and include provisions for custody, visitation, and child support. 

For example, the new agreement might say, “This custody revision change does not affect the existing child support arrangements in any way.”

You can prepare this document without a lawyer, but as we noted above, there are risks. Therefore, we also highly recommend that you have an experienced divorce attorney write the document or at least review it. Down the road, this could save you a lot of heartache—and expense.

Last, you also will need to sign the custody order change in front of a notary public, who also will charge a fee.

Can You Change a Custody Order without Going to Court if Your Ex Is Opposed to It?

Simply put, no. If your ex does not want to change the custody arrangement, you will need to hire a lawyer. He or she will help you prepare the documents and present them to the court. As previously noted, this is where you will need to provide compelling evidence why the judge should modify the court order, and how it serves the best interests of the children.

Considering a Change to a Custody Order? Our Award-winning Law Firm Can Assist You

S + L attorney Stephanie Sabelhaus plan case work with staff members
Finding the right attorney for you is critical to the success of your family law case.

Child custody arrangements can be one of the most contentious parts of a divorce. Even if you and your ex are in agreement on the need for a modified custody order, it is wise to seek the input of an experienced divorce attorney.  Sean Lynch + Associates, PLLC, our Fort Worth divorce attorneys with more than 10 years of experience. They have successfully handled divorce cases, including issues of child custody and asset division. If you need help, contact our family law practice today to schedule a no-cost consultation with our top-rated attorneys.

Enforcing A Child Custody Court Order In Texas

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It’s a parent’s worst nightmare. You may have allowed your child to go to the other parent’s house as part of the visitation agreement. Unfortunately, the parent refused to return the child to you. Fortunately, if you have court orders, you can ask the court to help you with the enforcement of a Texas child custody court order.

Here are the enforcement options available to you under Texas law if you have court-ordered possession.

Petition for Writ of Habeus Corpus

When you as the custodial parent initiate a Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus, you are asking the judge to order the child’s return given that you have superior possession to the child. This will require the other parent to appear in court with your child while the judge determines who has the superior right to possession.

Note that the Writ of Habeas Corpus will not make a modification to any existing visitation order or custody order. It will also not punish the other parent for the time denied to you if your child was returned to you by the date of the court hearing.

Having a family law attorney file a Writ of Habeas Corpus will simply help to ensure your child is returned to you if one parent is violating your legal rights.

Writ of Attachment

The Writ of Attachment orders your ex-spouse to surrender the child to a sheriff so that they can be returned to you. Your family law attorney can file for this at the same time that they initiate the Petition for Writ of Habeas Corpus. Here are the conditions for the judge to order the child’s return to you:

  • You did not give up possession of your child during the period of six months before you filed the Petition
  • You have a court order that shows you have the superior right to possession
  • There is no concern about the child’s welfare under your care and custody
  • A parent or non-parent is illegally withholding the child from you.

Contempt of Court

Another method of child custody and visitation enforcement that the Texas courts can use is to hold the other parent in contempt of court. Your attorney can initiate the legal process with a Motion to Enforce.

If you want the Texas courts to start contempt proceedings, your child custody order must be enforceable. This means the order has to be specific about the locations of exchange, visitation dates, times and any detailed schedule, and any activities that are not allowed while a parent has custody of the children. It should also clearly state the names of the parents and children involved. This will allow the courts can enforce the order.

Make sure you prepare all the evidence required to support your case. It should record your attempts to contact the other party and seek the return of your children. In some cases, the person involuntarily does not comply with the order, possibly if their attempts to do were hindered by the other person. It is within the court’s rights to not hold them in contempt.

A parent may be liable for criminal and civil penalties for the violation. This usually happens if they knowingly refused to follow visitation orders. Consequences for parents can include jail time or monetary damages according to state law for missed parenting time.

What If I Don’t Have Court Orders?

Unfortunately, you cannot initiate the Writ of Habeas Corpus against another parent. You can only initiate it against another person who is not a parent.

Enforcement of Child Custody Orders

The family law attorneys at Sean Lynch + Associates have decades of experience with family law issues. We can support you with the enforcement of Texas child custody court orders against violations. Contact us for a no-cost legal case review.

A woman holding her child

Does Being Unemployed Affect Child Custody?

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Does being unemployed affect child custody? The short answer is no. But of course, there is much more to consider. After all, if you are divorced, have kids, AND are unemployed, your world can be extremely stressful. You can’t help but worry: If I don’t have a job, will I lose custody of my kids? It’s not something any parent wants to happen, and we’re happy to report that it can be prevented. Let’s take a quick look at this topic.

What to do If You Lose Your Job

If you become unemployed, there are several things you can do to help protect your custody rights. First, immediately tell your ex that you have lost your job. We know how difficult this can be, especially if you and your ex are not on good terms. But it’s essential for your ex to know that your financial situation is changing. Besides, he or she will find out soon enough.

The stress of a job loss can seem overwhelming even if you are not responsible for raising children.
The stress of a job loss can seem overwhelming even if you are not responsible for raising children.

The next step is to file for unemployment benefits with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC). If you are making child support payments, be sure to provide this information. In most cases, TWC will deduct the payments from your unemployment benefits.

The next step is to consider telling your kids that you are unemployed. Again, we recognize how painful this might be. But—unless your kids are very young—they will be better off knowing what you are dealing with, and what you are doing to make sure you do not lose custody.

Be sure to tell your friends that you are unemployed, too. They may be able to help you find a job, and you want to do everything you can to keep custody of your children.

If I Am Unemployed, Will I Lose Custody of My Kids?

Woman in mask holds sign lost my job.
Even if you have lost your job you will not automatically lose your children.

In Texas, judges are expected to make custody decisions based on what they believe is in the best interests of the children. And whenever possible, Texas courts want both parents involved in their kids’ lives. In Texas, the courts describe this as joint managing conservatorship.

Therefore, you will not automatically lose child custody just because you are unemployed. For example, in order to provide a stale home for the kids, you may move in with a relative or friend.

However, know that what a court considers to be best for the children does not always seem “fair” to the parents. For example, your ex may argue that he or she has a more stable income, and deserves to have custody of the children.

Therefore, if the judge determines that the unemployed parent truly is not able to meet the best interests of the children, he or she may give custody to the other parent. Of course, this can be very distressing. But keep in mind that the parent can petition the court to regain custody after he or she has found work. 

Caring for the Kids is Different than Being Unemployed and May Not Affect Custody

When the couple is married, it is not unusual for one parent (usually the mother) to stay home and care for the children. In this case, being “unemployed” is not the same as losing your job. In fact, the court may give the woman child custody and order the other spouse to pay child support and spousal maintenance, commonly known as alimony.

At the same time, the court is likely to expect the parent to actively search for employment eventually. More important, if a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, this can significantly affect their parental rights.

If You Are Making Child Support Payments, Keep Doing Them Even if You are Unemployed

If you are making child support payments, the court expects you to keep up with them—even if you have lost your job. So you should keep paying child support even if you are unemployed. If you skip payments, you will have to pay them eventually, perhaps with interest added. 

More significant, failing to pay child support can seriously endanger your child custody and visitation rights. In a worst-case scenario, the court could find you in contempt. The judge could fine you or order you to do time in jail.  

You Can Request a Modification to Your Court Order

If you become unemployed, you can petition the court to adjust your child support payments. The Texas Attorney General’s Office states, “Noncustodial parents who lose their job or see their income decrease can complete a Request for Review.” 

However, the Attorney General’s Office also states, “Your child support ordered amount does not change until the court changes it.” Therefore, you should submit your request as soon as possible. And keep making payments while your request is under review.

In short, don’t let anything, including being unemployed, jeopardize your child custody rights, now or in the future. A family law attorney experienced in child custody cases can be very helpful in these situations.

What if I Am Ineligible for Unemployment Benefits?

As noted, the court expects you to continue making child support payments. If the TWC denies your request for benefits, you should share this information with your ex and with the court as quickly as possible. Also, be sure to keep an accurate record of your job search activities.

Again, being unemployed does not directly affect child custody. You want to keep it that way.

Don’t Take Chances with Your Children

Whether you are unemployed or working, if you are going through a divorce, you don’t want to take chances with your child custody rights. Sean Lynch + Associates, PLLC, is here to help. Our Fort Worth law firm can provide you with experienced, compassionate legal representation. We will fight to protect your parental rights while being sensitive to you and your family. For a no-cost, 30-minute case review, call us today at 817-668-5879.

Father and child enjoying time together

Can a Father Regain Child Custody?

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Father’s and Their Children

Divorce is stressful. But the pain of seeing your marriage end is nothing in comparison to the impact of losing custody of your children. To have a judge tell you that your kids would be better off living with someone else is truly gut-wrenching. Can a father regain custody of his children? Yes. It isn’t easy, but it can be done, and here are some guidelines to help you. 

We’ll start by explaining some basic terms. Most people think of “custody” in the sense of who has the kids. That’s correct, but in fact, it’s only half of the story. 

Physical custody refers to the children’s primary residence

The parent who has the children most of the time is known as the custodial parent. The other parent, who probably has visitation rights, is the noncustodial parent. 

In other words, if the parents have Joint Legal Custody, both have the right to be involved in making decisions about the children’s schooling, medical care, and other issues. 

What Does Conservatorship Mean?

People get confused because it is not unusual for the court to set up separate legal and physical custody arrangements. In Texas, when discussing “custody,” the courts use the word conservatorship.

For example, the judge sometimes awards the parents joint legal custody,  but only one parent will get sole physical custody. And occasionally, the court will award one parent sole legal and physical custody. 

You Have the Right to Appeal the Court’s Child Custody Decision

In Texas, family law courts are required to make custody decisions based on what they believe is in the best interests of the children. That may sound appealing at first—until you realize that what a judge thinks is “best” for the kids may not seem completely unfair to you. 

After the court has finalized your divorce, you have 30 days to appeal the ruling. (This applies to custody decisions and any other rulings.) If you wish to appeal the court’s decisions, we highly recommend you get the assistance of an experienced Texas divorce attorney. Also, be aware that neither party can remarry for 30 days after the divorce is finalized. 

A Father Should Make Sure He Really Wants to Regain Custody

A father needs to be prepared to accept more than just financial responsibility if he is seeking sole custody of his children.

Before you decide to take on the fight to regain custody, we suggest one thing: Make sure this is really what you want. Are you wanting this because the court’s ruling hurt your pride? Are you hoping to “get back” at your ex?

These are normal emotions, but they are not good reasons for a parent to try to regain custody of the kids. The judge took them away from you because he or she believed it was in the best interest of the kids. You should want them back for the same reason. 

Start by Looking at Your Mistakes if You are a Father Seeking to Regain Child Custody

If a father wants to regain custody of his children, he should start not by looking at the court, but by doing some honest self-reflection. Where did you go wrong? There are four main reasons why you may have lost custody:

  • Drug and/or alcohol abuse
  • Child abuse or neglect
  • Domestic violence
  • Violation of a previous court order

As you can imagine, these are serious offenses. It will not be enough just to ask the judge to overlook them.  

A Father Usually Needs the Help of an Attorney to Regain Custody of His Children

You may be aware that it is possible to end your marriage without hiring a divorce attorney. That approach can work for some couples, but for a father to win back custody of your children, he probably will need to hire a family law attorney. These cases can get complicated, so we recommend finding one who is experienced in custody cases and has a track record of success. 

A related note: If you have been wrongly accused of child abuse or another offense, it is particularly wise to consult with a skilled Texas family law attorney. 

To Regain Custody, You Will Need to Request a Court Re-evaluation

A family law attorney can help you request an in-home Custody Evaluation. This evaluation is usually conducted by a licensed social worker, therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist. The evaluation is based on the guidelines outlined in Section 107.101 of the Texas Family Code. The evaluator will then submit a recommendation or written report to the court. 

As you might guess, if you are going to have your case re-evaluated, it’s essential to have a good home. This does not mean you have to have a large, expensive house—only that you can provide a home that is clean and safe. You also don’t need to have a home stuffed with toys. Learn more about the Tarrant County Custody Evaluation process. 

While You Are Trying to Regain Custody, Be Sure to Follow any Court Orders

When a father is trying to regain custody of his kids, it’s important to avoid any big mistakes. 

One of the most basic things you can do to improve your chances is to follow the court’s orders. For example, don’t take your kids out of town if the judge has told you not to. Conversely, if the court has ordered you to get treatment for drug addiction, attend parenting classes, or make child support payments, do it. 

You also need to be very careful about your activities and who you spend time with—especially romantic partners. Keep in mind, if you are a parent trying to regain custody of your kids, your ex probably is trying to hang on to them. It’s not enough to think that you are the better parent—you have to demonstrate it to the court.

It Takes Time for a Father to Regain Custody of His Kids

The time spent waiting for the court to make a decision can seem like forever. But courts can move slowly, and with the pandemic going on, there may be an even longer delay.

Therefore, it’s wise to be patient. It’s also wise to be productive. Make sure you spend as much time with your children as you are permitted to have, and make sure that time is meaningful. Don’t just meet the court requirements of the court begrudgingly, try to exceed them. And make every effort to cooperate with your ex in a sincere and respectful way. 

Speaking of your ex, here’s one more thing to consider: Do you have to have sole custody? Would you consider accepting joint legal and physical custody? If a father who wants to regain custody of his children is open to compromise, he may have more success with his ex—and with the judge. 

You Don’t Have to Go Through It Alone

Child custody cases can be complicated and emotionally draining. If you need a Texas family law attorney to help you with your custody case, Sean Lynch + Associates is here to help. We are experienced divorce lawyers who can serve you efficiently, compassionately, and affordably. Contact us today to schedule a no-cost 30-minute case consultation, 817-668-5879. Because even if your marriage has come to an end, your children’s future is just beginning.

How to Change a Texas Court Order for Child Access

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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 + Associates, 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 + Associates.

If Both Parties Agree

If each party agrees to the modification order, the process is typically quick and painless. All your Near Southside 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 Near Southside 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 + Associates has helped countless clients research and amend their existing agreements. Our process looks like this:

  1. Case Review and Research

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

  2. Legal Pleading

    If it does, we send a petition to the court

  3. Courtroom Argument

    We argue our case before the court

  4. 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 + Associates 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 + Associates, 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

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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 + Associates. 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 Near Southside 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.