Texas Common Law agreement

Texas Common Law Marriage and Divorce

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Just about everyone has heard of “common law marriage.” But many people don’t really understand what the term means. For most of us, that’s not important. But if you are in this type of marriage and wanting to get out, it’s very important. The decisions you make could be both disappointing and costly. So today we will explain what you need to know about common law marriage and divorce in Texas. 

Texas recognizes informal marriage but the couple must meet legal requirements.
Texas recognizes informal marriage but the couple must meet legal requirements.

The first thing to know is that this IS a “real” marriage. The State will recognize common law marriage in Texas as both acceptable and legal. The key difference is that the marriage was done without any of the traditional steps. Specifically, the couple did not get a marriage license from the county, did not wait 72 hours, and did not have a ceremony performed by a legally qualified person. Texas law refers to common law marriage as “informal” marriage. 

However, to achieve recognition as a common law marriage, the couple does have to meet certain specific requirements. The partners must meet ALL of these requirements, which are as follow: 

  • Both partners were at least 18 years of age when the marriage was created;
  • Neither person was married, informally or formally, to anyone else at the time the marriage was created;
  • Both partners willingly agreed to be married;
  • The partners have lived in Texas as a married couple;
  • The partners have represented themselves to others as being married. 

How Do We Prove that We Represented Ourselves to Others as a Married Couple?

Don't confuse Common Law Marriage with a more formal Domestic Partnership.
Don’t confuse Common Law Marriage with a more formal Domestic Partnership.

The court makes this decision by reviewing a number of factors. For example, if the two of you lived together like a “regular” husband and wife. Specifically, this means the two of you did things like file a joint tax return, or sign a loan or rental agreement together. The court also will want to know if you actively told others about your common-law spouse and whether one partner took the last name of the other.

Note that Texas does NOT grant common law marriage status based upon how long you lived together. The fact you had children together also does not establish marital status. The State will not allow you to claim you just “assumed” the two of you were married. The Texas Family Code Section 2.401 discusses common law marriage in detail. 

Once a couple has met all of the State’s requirements, they can go to the office of the Tarrant County Clerk (or the county they live in) and sign a document called a Declaration of Informal Marriage. In a divorce and other legal matters, this document has the same authority as a traditional marriage license. 

The State considers this signed document valid proof of a legal, common law marriage. And you decide to end your “informal” marriage, it will be very important for you to get the help of a Fort Worth divorce attorney and get a legal, formal divorce. 

Your relationship is eligible for community property division if it meets common law marriage requirements
Your relationship is eligible for community property division if it meets common law marriage requirements

Texas is a community property state. This means that, with a few exceptions, when a couple divorces, ALL of the assets they acquired during the marriage will  be divided equitably. This is true regardless of which partner purchased the asset. 

However, if you cannot prove that you had a legal marriage, you lose the right to claim half of your marital property. Each partner will keep their personal property and the assets they are entitled to. You can imagine how complicated this can become. For example, who gets the house the two of you bought? 

Community property law also applies to inheritances. If your spouse passes away and you can prove you were married, you may be entitled to some of the estate. 

Be aware that if you have children together, it does not matter whether the two of you were legally married. The court will establish guidelines for child custody, child support, and visitation. 

Couples Who Separate Should Act Quickly

One significant difference with common law marriages is what happens if the couple separates. In a common law marriage, you have two years from the time of separation to file for divorce. If you do not take any action during that timeframe, the State presumes you never intended to be married. The court will probably deny your request to get a divorce.

In that event, you may lose your right to request alimony, child support, and a share of any assets or inheritances. You can still assert that you were legally married, but the court may be less sympathetic to your claim. 

Do I Have to Get a Common Law Marriage Divorce?

Strictly speaking, you do not have to go through the divorce process. In some common law marriages, the parties simply gather up their possessions and go their separate ways. They act as if the relationship never existed. Of course, this option is less expensive than hiring a family law attorney. 

But as we have seen, if you wish to claim property or inheritance from the relationship, this is usually not a good option. The common law marriage divorce also will be important if you expect to move into a higher income bracket or inherit some wealth in the future. With a legal divorce, you will be able to show that your ex-spouse has no claim to these new assets. 

Can I Deny the Existence of a Common Law Marriage?

Don't be frustrated by claims of common law marriage. Your attorney can provide the legal requirements to prove your case.
Don’t be frustrated by claims of common law marriage. Your attorney can provide the legal requirements to prove your case.

You have the right to claim that you were never legally married. As you might guess, one of the most common reasons someone would do this is to protect their wealth and property. In this case, your ex will probably hire an attorney to help with the case. 

You can prove your claim of no marriage if you can provide evidence that the two of you did not meet all of the requirements of informal marriage. For example, perhaps you were underage at the time of marriage. Of course, if you have previously signed a Declaration of Informal Marriage, you will not have a very strong case.  

Does Common Law Marriage Divorce Law Apply to Same-sex Couples?

Yes. Because same-sex marriages are now legal in Texas, all of the laws apply, including those about common law marriage divorce. For example, the couple must have lived in Texas after they married. 

Let Us Help You With Your Formal or Informal Divorce

Sean Lynch + Associates are ready to aggressively represent your family law rights and at a price, you can afford.

Divorce can be complicated and stressful. This is true for both formal and informal marriages. If you are considering ending your marriage, we are ready to provide you with expert legal help and a compassionate ear.

We have more than 10 years of award-winning experience serving the Fort Worth Near Southside and greater Tarrant County. To schedule a no-cost case consultation, contact our family law practice today, 817-668-5879


Worried man reviews divorce decree

Child Custody Lawyers for Fathers

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When a father gets divorced, the end of the marriage isn’t the only thing on his mind. He also is thinking about his kids. As Fort Worth attorneys who specialize in father’s rights, we know judges try to be fair. But they are human and can make mistakes. So here are some things to know about child custody lawyers for fathers—how the law works, what your rights are, and how to make sure you’ve found the right attorney for you.

Prioritizing custody is critical to a father's divorce decisions.
Prioritizing custody is critical to a father’s divorce decisions.

Before we can talk about child custody and attorneys, we need to explain some legal terms. The State of Texas has two types of custody: 

Physical custody defines who the children will live with, and for how much time. In some instances, the court will divide physical custody equally between the two parents. But other times, the judge will give one parent primary physical custody. 

Legal custody defines which parent has the right to make important life decisions regarding the upbringing of the children. For example, parents typically decide where the kids will go to school, if they need medical care, and guide their religious education. 

What is Conservatorship in Texas?

Here is where a conversation about a father’s rights can get a little confusing. Texas courts don’t use the word custody. Instead, they use the term conservatorship. So in addition to the two forms of custody, the State has three forms of conservatorship. 

Sole Managing Conservatorship (SMC): In an SMC, the judge grants only one parent the right to make the major decisions regarding the child’s well-being. In addition, the judge usually gives this parent sole physical custody as well. 

S + L attorney's will discuss the Texas Family Law's related to custody.
Sean Lynch + Associates will discuss the Texas Family Law related to custody.

Joint Managing Conservatorship (JMC): In a JMC, the court gives each parent equal authority to make life decisions for the children. In other words, they have equal legal custody. However, the parents may not have equal physical custody. The court calls the parent with whom the children primarily live the primary conservator. 

Possessory Conservator: If the judge has decreed that one parent will serve as sole managing conservator, he or she may name the other parent a possessory conservator. 

A possessory conservator does not have the right to be involved in making critical decisions on the child’s behalf. However, the parent does have visitation rights. The possessory conservator often will be required to make child support payments. 

How Does the Court Decide Who Gets Child Custody?

These terms can be confusing, but it is important to have some understanding of them. For example, you’ve started considering child custody lawyers for fathers. And you tell one of the attorneys that you want custody of the kids. Your attorney may respond, “Okay. What type of custody do you want?”

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. Whenever possible, the judge will declare that the parents will have a Joint Managing Conservatorship. This is because, in an ideal scenario, the children will enjoy frequent and ongoing contact with each parent after the divorce. 

Occasionally, a court may determine it is in the children’s best interests to restrict a parent’s possessory rights. In these cases, the court may declare that visitation times must be supervised. Be aware that a judge cannot prevent a parent from seeing his or her children due to nonpayment of child support. Read our recent blog, Texas Child Support for Non-Custodial Parents. 

How Can Child Custody Lawyers for Fathers Help?

Consultation with an attorney
Divorce is like surgery: It can be a lot less painful if you prepare, ask the right questions, and follow the recommendations.

There was a time when courts almost always gave custody of the children to the mother. Many women did not work outside of the house, while the fathers had to work long hours or travel extensively. In addition, many courts just assumed that women were better at parenting than men.

Thankfully, that time has largely passed. Today, courts must make custody decisions based on the merits of each individual case. In addition, in many families, both parents work full-time. Today, fathers have the opportunity to be just as good a parent as the woman—and perhaps even better. 

This is where child custody lawyers for fathers can play a critical role. A skilled family law attorney can help a father prepare a case to show he is capable of caring for his children. And if you truly think the children will be better off living with you, the lawyer can provide legal advice to help you with that as well. 

In short, judges usually do not make child custody decisions based solely upon gender. The most important factor is what type of parent you are. 

If you think you are a good father who is deserving of custody, you will want to focus on finding an attorney who specializes in father’s rights, someone who knows how to help you prepare the strongest possible case. Read our recent blog, How to Win Child Custody in Texas.

Do Fathers Always Have to Pay Child Support?

Judges determine child support payments using a formula established by the State.

Anytime we talk with fathers about divorce, the subject of child support comes up. Like most states, Texas receives federal funding. To be eligible for this money, Texas law must comply with federal requirements. This means courts actually have very little leeway in establishing child support payments. 

Instead, Texas judges use a formula. The main considerations are your income, the number of children involved, and the percentage of time each party has physical possession of the children. The good news is that, depending upon the circumstances, a father also may be able to collect child support payments. 

But remember, the judge’s job is to look out for the best interest of the child. It is possible that the judge’s goals will not seem fair to you. This is another reason why a man should want an experienced father’s rights attorney. 

Should I Hire a Male Child Custody Lawyer?

It is not necessary for a father to hire a male attorney. A female can do the job just as well, and sometimes better.   

On the other hand, we understand that divorce is a personal experience. Getting divorced is not the same as contesting a will or dealing with a bankruptcy case. So we understand that some men may just feel more comfortable hiring a male divorce lawyer. Sean Lynch has extensive experience helping fathers fight for their rights in custody, visitation, and child support. 

Ultimately, whether your attorney is a male or female is not important. What does matter is that you find the right father’s rights lawyer. You’ll want an attorney who you feel comfortable with and can have confidence in. You’ll also want a child custody lawyer who can give you good advice. And you’ll want someone who can represent you without breaking your budget. Read our recent blog, How Fixed-cost Billing Saves You Money. 

One of the Best Child Custody Lawyers for Fathers

Sean Lynch + Associates are eager to review your case and help you prepare to fight for your children’s best future.

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. He is an experienced Fort Worth divorce lawyer who will fight for your father’s custody rights while still being sensitive to the concerns of your children. For a no-cost, 30-minute case consultation, contact us today at 817-668-5879. Because while your role as a spouse may be ending, you want your role as a father to remain stronger than ever.

What To Expect From A Mediated Divorce In Texas

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A mediated divorce is where a mediator helps a divorcing couple to reach a mediated settlement agreement about the issues of their case including child support, alimony, child custody and visitation, and property division. Learn what to expect from a mediated divorce in Texas.

It can be a much more affordable option to settle compared to taking a divorce case to trial in court. You and your ex-spouse have more control over the mediation process. This is different from a court case where a judge has all the control. Mediation is also a confidential process and private information provided to your mediators cannot be disclosed in any future court trial.

Some Texas counties may require mediation before parties can go to trial in court.

Mediators are typically family law attorneys who are trained in mediation. They are a neutral third party to help a divorcing couple reach a settlement. Both parties can engage lawyers to help them through the entire divorce mediation process.

How Long Does Texas Divorce Mediation Take?

S + L law firm's team will find a time that works for both parties in a mediated divorce case.
Sean Lynch + Associates law firm’s team will find a time that works for both parties in a mediated divorce case.

A mediation will always be scheduled in advance so that both parties and their attorneys can be prepared. A single mediation session may take the whole day. The entire process could require a few sessions in one week or many sessions that stretch over months depending on the issues and whether both spouses are willing to negotiate.

Each spouse and their lawyer will typically sit in a separate room while the mediator goes back and forth to communicate offers. Once all parties are in agreement and the mediation is successful, the mediator prepares a mediated settlement agreement which both parties will sign. A lawyer will typically review the document to make sure it documents all the agreements.

Once all parties sign the final agreement, it will be effective immediately.

How Can You Prepare For Divorce Mediation?

Divorce mediation includes the complete disclosure of all assets.
Divorce mediation includes the complete disclosure of all assets.

Some documents you need to prepare for mediation include financial data, valuation of assets, and information about the children.

These include:

  • Financial spreadsheets listing assets and liabilities and supporting documents
  • Proposals for property division using the financial spreadsheet
  • Proposals for child support and child custody and visitation issues
  • Terms of ancillary agreements such as co-ownership agreements before selling property
  • A letter for the mediator describing your objectives and any other relevant information that is important for the mediator to know

Sometimes attorneys may meet with the mediator in advance to identify the important topics for the mediation.

If you can prepare an offer and some agreement over certain issues before the mediation, the mediation time can be greatly reduced and the mediator can simply focus on issues of dispute.

Sometimes you may only reach a partial settlement agreement in which case the issues over which you still do not agree will be decided by a judge during a court hearing. However, the court hearing will require a shorter time.

What Happens After Mediation?

The mediator will file the agreement with the court for a judge to review. In some cases, one party may have to attend court. He or she will have to explain the outcome of the mediation and the terms agreed. This often takes place in cases regarding children.

The judge will then review the agreement to ensure that it complies with Texas law. After approval, an attorney will request an entry date. All parties will sign the final decree and submit it to the court by this date.

This legal document will generally be reviewed by both sides and their lawyers before prior to submission.

Get a No-Cost Case Review

Sean Lynch + Associates have successfully represented clients in mediated divorce in Fort Worth and Johnson County.

Mediation is usually the more economical way to resolve any disputes, encourage compromise between two spouses, and help them end the relationship on a good note. Engaging an experienced family law attorney is important to help when negotiating and to tell you what to expect in a mediated divorce in Texas.

Let the Family Law experts at Sean Lynch + Associates help you with your case. Contact us today for a no-cost case review.

How Social Media Hurt My Divorce

Reading Time: 6 minutes

I recently finalized my divorce. I’m glad to be done with it. My ex was hardly the ideal spouse or parent, and I have no regrets about our marriage ending. What I do regret, however, is how I handled one part of the divorce. That’s because I hurt my case considerably by doing something very foolish: I shared information about it on my social media accounts. I’m not sure why I did it. I was upset and wanted to get some amount of “revenge” on my spouse. However, all it ultimately did was hurt my case, a lot. So let me share with you how social media negatively impacted my divorce. 

Social Media is Not the Place to Discuss a Relationship or Marriage

Divorce is bad enough without having your friends and family privy to every angry post.
Divorce is bad enough without having your friends and family privy to every angry post.

The first thing I did wrong was innocent enough: I posted that my spouse had left me, and we were getting a divorce. A lot of my friends responded, assuring me I would definitely be better off. I have to admit, that part felt nice.

The problem was, that one post opened the floodgates. In the weeks to come, friends were constantly posting comments asking me how it was going and sharing their thoughts. And foolishly, I answered them online. 

But as I learned, all those comments can be used as evidence against you. at least twice, I posted a comment that started, “My divorce attorney says …” I also said a couple of things about my spouse that weren’t very nice. 

Now I understand: During a divorce, NOTHING about your relationship, marriage, or the divorce process should be shared on your social media. 

One mistake I did not make: You don’t want to criticize the family law firm you hired, either. The last thing you want when your marriage is strained is to strain the attorney-client relationship. 

In a Divorce, You Can Be Guilty by Association

Goofing around with my buddy's gun seemed innocent until it showed up in as child custody court evidence.
Goofing around with my buddy’s gun seemed innocent until it showed up in my child custody court evidence.

But in divorce court, that didn’t matter. The Texas Family Code states that courts must make custody decisions based on the best interests of the child. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with owning firearms. But my spouse’s attorney had a photo of me looking very irresponsible with weapons, and that had a negative impact on my divorce. 

That picture did not cost me the chance to win full custody. But it didn’t help me, either. Read a recent blog about Texas divorce due to family violence.    

I also hurt my case totally by accident. One of my friends is an avid gun collector, and shortly after the divorce process had begun, he bought a new gun. I went over to see it, and while I was there, another friend took a selfie of us goofing around with all his guns. It was innocent enough—after all, I don’t even own a gun. 

What Your Friends Post Can Negatively Impact Your Divorce, Too

Another thing I did wrong was something I didn’t even do. I know that sounds crazy, but here’s what I mean: After I announced my plans to divorce, one of my single friends commented that when the divorce was done, we would be partying every night and finding some new “companionship.” In addition, a co-worker posted that I should hide our bonus paychecks in a secret account. 

Of course, I had no intention of doing any of these things. My days of hard partying about beyond me, and I definitely wasn’t ready to start dating. And I knew it was illegal to hide assets during a divorce. Even so, I foolishly posted comments agreeing with my friends. Like I said, I was angry and just blowing off steam.

But when we got to court, my spouse’s attorney had gathered all those posts as evidence. I planned to present myself as a model parent. The posts talking about partying every night and hooking up with someone undercut that goal. And the suggestion that I might hide money from my spouse did not sit well with the judge at all. 

As I said, I didn’t actually do any of this stuff. But in the court’s eyes, it didn’t matter. As my divorce attorney explained, in making custody decisions, the court looks carefully at each parent’s state of mind. And all of that talk, even if it was not serious, did not reflect well on me—again, it’s that “best interest of the child” thing. Read a recent blog on how to win child custody in Texas

Divorce Is Not the Time for Partying … Or Purchases

Even innocent get-togethers with friends can have a different impression when a Texas Family Court judge evaluates child custody.
Even innocent get-togethers with friends can have a different impression when a Texas Family Court judge evaluates child custody.

But the real way social media negatively impacted my divorce was entirely through my own doing. My spouse moved out immediately after announcing plans to end our marriage. I felt hurt, angry, and betrayed. I wanted to get even. And one way I tried to do that was by having fun on my own. 

That might not have been so bad, but I foolishly decided to post it on my social media, so my spouse could see. For example, my friends and I went on a little weekend getaway. We stayed at a hotel, went to the casino, had a few drinks. And because my spouse had taken our good TV, I bought a new big-screen set for the house.

For some reason, I documented all of this on my social media. And every bit of it came back to haunt me. 

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words—And Can Negatively Impact Your Divorce

For example, I had hoped to get a favorable ruling on the alimony. But my spouse’s attorney pointed out that I had gone on a trip, visited a casino, and had a nice, new TV as well. I’m not a super-rich person, but those purchases did not support my argument about the terms of alimony.

My spouse’s lawyer also had all these photos of me having fun. That did not help my plans to talk about the stress and sadness that my spouse had caused by abruptly leaving me. 

Another big problem: Our son’s recital was the same weekend I was gone. Of course, I gave my spouse an excuse why I couldn’t be there. So posting the photos of us on our little trip was not very smart. It’s hard to argue that you will be a good, wise parent when you’ve given the other side that kind of evidence.

One mistake I did not make: After I realized that my social media could negatively impact my divorce, I wanted to delete some of my posts. My attorney pointed out that once the divorce litigation has begun, you cannot delete posts or shut down your account. The court can consider this destroying evidence. Read a blog about how the Texas divorce process works

What I Learned About Social Media Impacting Divorce

You might think I acted pretty foolishly during my divorce. And you would be right. But keep in mind two things: First, I’ve never been through divorce before. So while it’s easy to see now all the mistakes I made, it was different when I was going through it at the time. Also, it was not a happy time. I thought my marriage would be forever. When my spouse ended our marriage so abruptly, it was hard. And I did not handle it as well as I could have. 

So now that the divorce is behind me, here are some things I learned about how social media can impact a divorce:

  • Your spouse’s attorney will probably go through every bit of your social media looking for evidence to use against you. I saw an article that said more than 80 percent of the divorce attorneys had seen social media presented as evidence. 
  • Social media posts are never really “private.”
  • Posts should not be deleted during the divorce process.
  • Avoid using social media to discuss the status of your case. 
  • Never post anything that is remotely angry or threatening. 
  • Things your friends’ post about your spouse or divorce also can hurt your case.
  • Nothing is really “innocent, either. Passive-aggressive memes and jokes, even inspirational quotes—an attorney may be able to find a way to use them against you.

During a Divorce, Less Social Media Is More

I have one more tip. I suggest you seriously consider stopping all social media activity until the divorce is finalized (just DON’T delete your accounts or posts). If you have any doubts, talking with your divorce attorney. 

Time spent on social media can be a waste. And during a divorce, time spent on social media can be costly. 

Divorce Attorneys Who Are Knowledgeable in Social Media—and Much More

Sean Lynch + Associates will fight to protect your rights and at a price you can afford.

Social media is only one thing that can negatively impact your divorce. That’s why you will want an experienced family law attorney. We can guide you through a process that can be complex and stressful with compassion and skill. For a no-cost, 30-minute case consultation, contact us today or call 817-668-5879.

NFL Star Modifying Child Support Order Due To Changes In Income

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People exchanging money over a gavel.
Court orders for child support can be modified when a party’s financial situation has changed significantly.

NFL stars may modify child support orders due to significant changes in income. In yet another example of how celebrity lives are not like the rest of us, the ex-wife of former NFL star Michael Strahan is demanding that he pay more than $500,000 for back child support and half the cost of their children’s horseback lessons. The former couple’s twin daughters are accomplished horseback riders, and they are enrolled in some pricey lessons. Strahan’s ex claims to have paid $450,802 for the little equestrians since 2017. She is demanding that the former Giant’s defensive end reimburse half of that figure.

She is also demanding payment of back child support in the amount of $321,654. The couple married in 1999 and finalized their divorce in 2006. Under the initial agreement, Strahan had to pay $18,000 per month. The judge modified the order in 2009, lowering the monthly payment amount to $13,000. His ex-wife is now seeking another support modification based on Strahan’s increased income from television appearances on Good Morning America and Fox NFL Sunday. She wants the monthly payment increased to $18,378.

Strahan’s ex-wife claims she and Strahan agreed to split the expenses of the horseback lessons and that he never paid. If they did have such an agreement in place, the court could find Strahan to owe the money for the lessons. In many cases, it is possible to seek a modification of a child support order if a party’s financial circumstances have changed significantly.

For many football stars, their incomes can change dramatically over a short period of time. While signing with a team can often net an NFL player one hefty payday, they can be cut from the team anytime. This may leave them unable to meet their child support obligations which can lead NFL stars to modify child support orders.

Upward Modification

In 2005, Franklin Gore signed a rookie contract in the National Football League. He had very little assets and a modest income. He had a son with Shasta Smith with whom he had a mediated settlement for his child support obligation.

6 years later, the mother went to a Florida court to ask for an upward modification in child support payments. The father’s income had increased massively as one of the top running backs in the league. This was something that both of them could not have expected at the time of settlement.

With a contract paying him an average of $7 million per year followed by a $6 million per year contract, the father had achieved great wealth. He now had an increased ability to pay child support to meet the growing needs of his son. This would be in the child’s best interests. Franklin Gore, the father, was ordered to pay $5,665.80 per month from $4,000 in monthly child support previously.

The law allows your attorney to make a case to the judge to ask for an upward modification if the two conditions can be proved:

  • Tthe father or mother of your children has had a significant increase in income
  • Your children have increasing expenses that warrant an upward modification

Downward Modification

Here are two cases of former professional football players who could not afford their obligations.

Missing Payments Due To Drop In Income

Former football player Andre Rison owed $300,000 in child support payments. Even after he had been ordered to pay $1,000 per month in child support, he could not afford it. He earned less than $10,000 per year as a high school football coach and received $3,300 monthly in disability benefits after his professional sports career ended.

He turned himself in after the judge was expected to order an arrest warrant for him.

Unable To Meet Payments Of $50,000 Per Month To 4 Mothers

Terrell Owens struggled to continue paying his court-ordered monthly payments as a parent of 4 children from 4 mothers. No team had signed him and he had no income. He had to request reductions in his child support payment. In addition, he put houses up for sale to meet his legal obligations as a parent.

If you have a change in your situation due to events like a job loss that have caused a genuine financial need, your attorney or law firm may look for ways to modify your existing obligation to make it easier for you to support your kids.

Modifying Your Order

Parents in Texas who have questions about divorce or child support might want to meet with a family law attorney for a consultation. This includes the circumstances under which a court might grant a modification. A lawyer may also be able to help parents negotiate the terms of property division during divorce or file a petition to begin divorce proceedings.

If you need help, let the award-winning Family Law experts at Sean Lynch + Associates 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.

Owing Child Support

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Image of diapers, money and a pacifier.
Easy ways you can learn whether or not you owe child support to your ex, need to negotiate arrears payments, and the consequences of owing child support.

If you haven’t had contact with your children but still want to do the responsible thing and pay child support, there are easy ways to find out whether or not you owe your spouse money. Owing child support can have legal consequences.

First, you need to search for specific information to find out if a child support order has been filed. You should also take note of when the order was filed for when you contact the court.

It is important to regularly check the mail to see if anything has arrived from a local court. A local court is likely to send a person a notification of a scheduled court date for a child support hearing. If nothing has arrived in the mail, you can visit or call the local court and ask if there is any pending information.

You will want to be aware of any back child support that you may owe. To gather this information, you can ask the children’s guardian or the local court. You may receive a Notice and Finding of Financial Responsibility, which is a form that informs an individual of back child support that they owe.

Can You Negotiate Back Child Support Arrears?

There are certain things that a state court may allow you to do if you are having trouble meeting child support payments due to a significant change in your financial situation. An experienced attorney can help you show that you want to pay child support but are having difficulty doing so. Even if you cannot pay the full amount, you should pay as much as you can to show your desire to make the payments.

Note that you must pay back child support even if your children are over 18.

Waiver Of Interest

You may be able to get the interest charges of your child support arrears waived. The state of Texas charges 6% annual interest on unpaid child support. However, you must submit a plan that shows how you are going to pay your back child support in a certain period of time.

Filing for bankruptcy does not mean you do not have to pay any back child support arrears owed.

Equitable Forgiveness

If your children lived with you during the time where you were supposed to make child support payments, the state court may forgive a part of your child support debt.

New Payment Schedule

You may request a new payment schedule that is more manageable for you. The court will generally grant it if you can show that you genuinely want to make your child support payments.

Settlement With Custodial Parents

The custodial parent may be willing to waive some of your child support debt if you can make a lump sum payment to settle the unpaid child support that you owe. However, the court must approve any settlement agreement you have with the custodial parent.

Correction Of Errors

If you have evidence to prove that the court is requesting the wrong amount of child support and keep records of your child support payments, you can request the court to recalculate the amount you owe.

Consequences Of Failure To Pay Child Support

There are many consequences on the federal and state level for not paying child support. Government databases are used to track people who have not paid child support.

Suspension Of Driver’s License

All states have the right to suspend the driver’s license of any parent owing child support. Your local or state child support enforcement agency regularly reports to the state Division of Motor Vehicles when a parent falls behind on their payments.

States can also suspend licenses by over 60 licensing agencies including professional, hunting and fishing licenses.

Denial Of Passport

The state child enforcement agency and Attorney General can deny your application to receive a passport if you owe at least $2,500 in child support, even if you are renewing your passport. Once you have made the payment owed, your state agency must report to the federal U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Your name can then be removed from their list and you can apply for a passport.

Wage Withholding

In many cases, states can ask an employer to remove child support money out of your paycheck. The state will then transmit the money to the custodial parent.

If you’re wondering how this happens, all employers must report their new hires to the state child support enforcement agency. This information is forwarded to the National Directory of New Hires. It has a government registry that matches the names of employees with the names of any parent who owes child support. This agency will set up income-withholding orders for parents who did not pay child support.

Liens

State authorities could place a lien on your property if you have not made your child support payment. This can include bank accounts, retirement accounts, personal injury awards, and insurance settlements.

Credit Bureau Reporting

The government is required by law to inform the credit reporting agencies about any amount of child support you owe and the amounts you have already paid.

Interception

States can intercept income tax refunds and lottery winnings to be paid to parents owing child support. If you have arrears of over $500 and the other parent has contacted the state agency for help, the state agency will notify the federal U.S. Department of the Treasury. The government then has the right to take money from your tax refund.

If you have an outstanding payment amount of over $150 and the custodial parent is on welfare, the U.S. Department of the Treasury will also be notified.

Public Child Evader Programs

Some states publish a “most wanted” list of parents owing child support. Typically, they request the public to forward them information about these people. The only way to have your name removed from the list is to make your payments.

Dismissal From Military Service

If you are a noncustodial parent in the military, you can be dismissed from service due to not paying child support.

Fines And Penalties

States have the right to impose fines and penalties for parents who do not pay their child support.

Jail Term

This is often the last resort as a noncustodial parent cannot work to earn the money needed to pay child support in jail. A state judge can find you in contempt of court and order a jail term of up to six months.

Under the Texas Penal Code, it is a criminal offense to knowingly miss child support payments and fail to provide for your child. This is punishable by up to two years in jail.

Parents who willfully fail to pay child support for a child who lives in another state and is the subject of a court order will be liable for prosecution under federal law. Federal authorities also handle child support issues regarding payments past due for more than 1 year or missed payments that exceed the amount of $5,000.

How Long Can You Owe Child Support?

Your ex can file a motion to enforce any time after you miss a payment. If an arrest warrant has been issued and you are at least six months behind on your payments, you might be part of the Child Support Evaders Program by the Office of the Attorney General in Texas. Texas law requires the Office of the Attorney General to publicly identify evaders owing child support. This program seeks tips from the public to locate parents who are avoiding their obligations.

Federal authorities can get involved if you have not made your payments for over two years.

Parents who do not see their children may be concerned about their kid’s financial needs, medical needs, and everyday expenses. Child support payments can help to cover these expenses. A person who has questions about disputes may wish to speak with an attorney. The attorney may also be able to provide information about the consequences of failure to pay child support.

If you did not receive the full amounts that are owed to you by the other parent, you can ask your attorney to file a motion to enforce the court order so you can pursue the payment through legal channels.

If you need help defending your claim, let the award-winning Family Law experts at Sean Lynch + Associates help you prepare your legal case. We have decades of experience in family law.

Contact us today for a no-cost case review.

Teen Emotions During Divorce

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Mom and teenage daughter talking on the couch.
Divorce can have a great impact on your child’s life.

About 50% of marriages in the United States end in a divorce. Divorce can take a devastating toll on children, and the trauma and uncertainty can have profound effects on their behavior in the process. Babies, toddlers, and preschoolers may show regressive behaviors, and grade-school children may lash out against the world. Teenagers are a more complicated case since they often act out regardless of whatever else is happening in their lives. Understanding your teen’s emotions during a divorce can help you identify ways to support them along the way.

What Does Divorce Do To A Teenager?

Some problems that many teenagers experience during divorce include:

  • Poor grades
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Anger at both parents or one parent
  • Defiant acts
  • Substance abuse
  • Depression
  • Challenges getting along with family members and peers
  • Early sexual activity

Many children of divorce think that their parents’ divorce may have been partly their fault, including adolescents and teens. They might think that they could have done more things like having better behavior and preventing arguments. This can lead to feelings such as stress, anger, or sadness. They can get angry if they blame one parent or feel protective over another parent about the situation. Adolescents can also feel abandoned or worried about the changes to come.

Emotional Effects Of Divorce

The emotions your teen experiences from divorce can be complex. Your teenage child might act like they do not care about the other parent to avoid upsetting you even though they actually miss their parent. They might refuse to visit another parent if they don’t like one parent’s disciplinary practices.

While teens can sometimes feel relieved about the changes, especially if there was a lot of emotional conflict and problems at home, most of the time your kids can feel overwhelmed about the changes. Many kids have to change schools or move house as a result of the divorce process. It can feel like the world as they know it and their lives are crumbling. They might have to travel between parents which might disrupt their school routine or time with their friends. Sometimes, teens feel worried about one parent who now has to be financially independent after not working for a long time. Your child may be concerned that there is now less money for college, their previous lifestyle, or other things.

Your teenage child may feel obliged to care for their younger brothers and sisters. They may take on more responsibilities, or even work a part-time job to help the family out. As a result, adolescents may not focus on school or social activities.

If your teenage child does not feel that their needs are respected by their parents, they are more likely to act defiantly and engage in risky behaviors such as the use of substances and sexual activity. Their perception of a romantic relationship and a healthy family unit might also be affected by the divorce which can affect their own romantic relationship and family years later in the future.

Ways To Support Teens During Divorce

Although it can sometimes be unclear what motivates a teen’s behavior, there are ways parents can support their teen during these times of change. For example, you may consider how you can keep parental conflict private, show that you are available when your teen needs you, and create a custody schedule that works for your teen. If both parents have their child’s best interests at heart, parents can work together to ease the transition for their teen.

Explain The Situation

Don’t keep your child in the dark about the situation and its causes. Use age-appropriate terms that they understand. Helping them to understand why you are getting divorced can help them see that the end of the marriage is not their fault and that the outcome may be for the best. They may also see that they don’t have to make a choice between their parents. They can still maintain family relationships with the both of you.

How Do You Explain Divorce To A 14-Year-Old?

Let them know that you and your partner have decided to get a divorce and the basic reasons in simple terms. Avoid using terms that place any blame on your partner. Explain that you and your partner will always be their parents, and that you and your children are always family even if you and your partner are not married to each other.

Be specific about the custody and visitation arrangements and welcome your child’s input. They are old enough to express their needs.

Keep talking to your child even if they act like they don’t want to talk to you. Kids still want a connection with you and they might be checking if you really still care about them. Don’t force them to talk to you and they will come to you when they are ready.

Avoid Fights

Just as you would with younger children, try to avoid fighting in front of your teen or on the phone where your teen can overhear. You should also abstain from badmouthing the other parent or venting your feelings to your teen. If you must express your feelings about the emotional conflict you’re having with the other parent, turn to your friends or a mental health professional instead.

Don’t force your children to take sides. Your children need to feel comfortable spending time with both parents. It’s not good for their well-being to be exposed to regular fights. Don’t stop them from maintaining a relationship with either parent.

Provide Emotional Support

Make sure your teen knows you are available and open to talk about his or her experiences. Teens may try to push their parents away, but they still want a connection with their parents. Encourage your teen to ask questions and share his or her feelings about what they are going through. You can also show that you are available by making time to support your teen’s healthy activities, such as sporting events or dance recitals.

Admit the uncertainty you are facing to your teen to encourage them to talk to you and share their concerns. You might not have all the answers about where you’re going to move to or how life will be like after the divorce. If your teen expresses their worries, let them know you are also uncertain about many things. However, reassure them that both of you will get through it together.

Sometimes you may need to be firm and follow through with helping your teen realize the consequences of their actions. Don’t let them get away with irresponsible or disrespectful actions just because they are experiencing grief from their parents’ divorce.

Work Out A Favorable Custody Schedule

It can be helpful to work with the other parent to create a custody schedule that will work for everyone and develop a co-parenting strategy. Keep in mind that it is important for teenagers to have time to participate in extracurricular activities, work a part-time job, and socialize with friends. It may even be appropriate to talk to your teen about his or her preferences, so you can incorporate those preferences into the plan. Let your child decide how they would like to celebrate special occasions such as their birthday. Put their best interests at heart.

Ideally, you can work with the other parent to make sure both of you use consistent discipline practices. Give them responsibilities they can handle given their custody schedule. Help your child to maintain a predictable schedule as they process the emotional impact of a divorce and the end of their parents’ marriage.

Seek Professional Help

You may expect your teen to experience grief, anger, frustration and other emotions in response to your divorce. However, if your teenager begins to show behavioral or mental health problems, it may be necessary to seek professional help. Sometimes your child may benefit from talking to other people their age who are going through a similar experience about separation and divorce.

Divorce and separation can cause changes that affect everyone in a family. Although the effects of divorce on teens and their emotions may not always be obvious, there are still actions parents can take to help their teenage children adjust to life after divorce. Sometimes children need help figuring out how to cope.

Inform Other Adults

Let the other trusted adults in your child’s life know about the separation and divorce. This can include your child’s teachers, counselors and doctors. They can detect if your teen is struggling with the feelings they might experience and provide the support your child may need as they adjust to the new family life.

Cooperate With The Other Parent

Don’t rely on your child to communicate with your ex-partner. Don’t use your child as a pawn against one another. Exchange all the information you need about your children and make decisions about your children together. Keep the focus of your conversations on co-parenting your kids. It’s still possible to have a good family life even though you and your ex-partner are divorced.

Introduce New Partners Only When The Relationship Is Serious

It’s important to be honest with your teenage child if you are dating. They often already understand what dating is and may be dating others themselves. Talking to your child about how they feel about you dating can help to reassure them that new partners will not replace the love that you have for your child. Introduce new partners only when your relationship is serious and you are ready for them to become a bigger part of the family.

Divorce can have a devastating impact on teens and their emotions. Teens and adolescents can also handle divorce very differently from preteens or younger children.

An experienced attorney can provide you advice on the best way to safeguard the interests of your teen, whether both parents want to be involved in co-parenting or not. The experts at Sean Lynch + Associates have decades of experience in family law. Contact us today for a no-cost case review.

Read over our legal disclaimer

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Disclaimer

We’re here to help you, but can only do so once you’re a client. The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney regarding your case. We invite you to contact us by phone, email, fax, and mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until an attorney-client relationship has been established.

Spousal Maintenance And Your Marriage

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Woman holding envelope with money for spousal support.
Find out how spousal maintenance is decided by Texas courts.

How is Spousal Maintenance Decided?

Spousal maintenance after marriage isn’t as straightforward as it used to be. These days, spousal maintenance is not always an automatic part of a divorce. There are a variety of factors that determine if you’re obligated to pay or receive spousal maintenance.

The staff at Sean Lynch + Associates knows how volatile your finances can be in the wake of a divorce. For most people, every dime counts, and the stress of not knowing your financial obligations creates a cloud of uncertainty. We will help to talk you through your options in your case and advocate for your best interests.

What Determines If A Spouse Gets Alimony?

Alimony, or spousal maintenance, is a payment of money to one spouse ordered by the court after your marriage ends. Often, the non-working spouse or the spouse who made less money will seek alimony. The amount of alimony required can vary depending on the length of the marriage and the difference in income between you and your spouse. The factors considered are different from those for child support.

The purpose of spousal support is to help one spouse to support themselves and provide for their needs and expenses until they can become financially independent. The marital property might not be sufficient for one spouse’s needs. They might not be able to support themselves after the divorce, especially if they have given up a career or job to support the family.

Generally, spousal support is a temporary arrangement. The judge will consider the education or training needed by the recipient to become financially independent. However, the family law court can award permanent support payments in some cases. A common example is if you and your spouse are older and were a married couple for a long time before the divorce.

The judge can award spousal maintenance after marriage in the following scenarios:

  • The spouses come to an agreement that spousal maintenance should be paid for a certain period of time for financial support
  • The length of the marriage was at least 10 years, you or your ex do not have enough income to reasonably provide for your needs, and you have no earning ability or have a disability. You may also be caring for a disabled child
  • One spouse has received deferred adjudication or a conviction for family violence against the other spouse or the children within 24 months of the divorce

Spousal Maintenance In Texas

Texas state law does not state a formula for the judge to determine the amount of alimony to award. However, the court calculates the amount of spousal maintenance after considering many factors, including:

  • Your financial situations
  • The length of your marriage
  • The current difference in income between spouses
  • The receiving spouse’s employment capacity
  • The payor spouse’s ability to support themselves and provide spousal payments
  • Division of property
  • Education levels during the marriage and at the time of divorce
  • The lifestyle of the couple during marriage
  • Education, training, time, and money needed for the receiving spouse to reach the standard of living comparable to that enjoyed during the marriage
  • Age of the couple
  • Physical and mental health
  • Tax consequences

The court may also consider marital misconduct –– like infidelity or abuse –– when figuring out a spouse’s eligibility for maintenance. In most cases, spousal maintenance after marriage does not last indefinitely. The court may instead order temporary support, in which one spouse pays the other for a short time while he or she works to gain financial independence.

You and your spouse may arrive at an agreement on spousal maintenance without a court order. Even if you decide to negotiate with your spouse, the sound legal advice of an experienced family law attorney may protect you from a risky settlement.

Texas law states that the party ordered to pay alimony cannot be required to pay more than $5,000 or 20% of their gross monthly income, whichever is less. Changes to federal law now require that the payor spouse pay taxes on spousal support payments. Previously, the recipient spouse would have to count alimony payments as taxable income on federal tax returns. It’s important to get the help of an experienced attorney who understands the tax implications of spousal support payments.

Termination Of Spousal Support

The divorce decree typically states when the spousal support will terminate. However, if there is no termination date specified, you or your spouse would have to continue making spousal maintenance payments until the court orders otherwise.

There are some situations when the judge may determine that there is no further need for spousal support to be awarded. These include:

  • The receiving party remarries
  • The receiving party cohabitates with a new person with whom they have a romantic relationship
  • Either spouse passes away
  • A significant event occurs, such as the recipient spouse getting a new job that pays well

Texas law does specify the maximum duration on how long alimony should be paid. However, these limits do not apply in a case where disability, child support, or other circumstances are involved that require long term support.

The limits are:

  • 5 years, for marriages that lasted at least 10 years but less than 20 years or in cases where a spouse was convicted or received deferred adjudication for family violence within 24 months of the divorce
  • 7 years, for marriages that lasted at least 20 years but less than 30 years
  • 10 years, for marriages that lasted at least 30 years

How Does The Length Of A Marriage Affect Spousal Support?

If your marriage lasted under 5 years, the court will seek to put you and your spouse back to the economic positions you and your ex had before the marriage when deciding to order alimony payments. If you were legally married for at least 25 years, the judge will look to place both of you in roughly equal economic positions for the rest of your lives.

For marriages between 5 to 25 years, the judge will look at other factors such as the need of either spouse and the earning capacity of the parties.

The length of the marriage also affects the maximum duration of alimony.

Does The Wife Pay Alimony To The Husband?

The judge may order the wife to pay alimony to the husband in certain situations. The wife may earn significantly more income or the husband may be the one taking care of the children. While most alimony awards in the past were by husbands to wives when husbands were the traditional breadwinners, husbands are increasingly being awarded spousal support from their ex-wives where there is a need.

Another Way We Are Looking Out For You

While you struggle to keep your finances in order, you certainly don’t want the added burden of a crushing legal bill for your divorce. At Sean Lynch + Associates, we understand this reality, so we will never surprise you with an inflated bill. We base our fees solely on the services we provide. We do not charge an hourly rate or bill you for emails or calls. The attorney-client relationship is important to us and we advocate for your rights.

Contact our Fort Worth offices to speak with an attorney who cares about your outcome. Call 817-668-5879 or email us. Your first 30-minute consultation is at no cost.

Modifying Court Orders to Fit Your Changing Life

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Judge signing documents with a gavel by his side.
If you are making changes to your life, court orders can also be modified to fit your new life.

When Can You Make Changes to Child Custody or Support?

Life can move fast. Sometimes a substantial change in circumstances to your job, living arrangement, or something else means that the child custody or support orders a judge signed no longer work for you. If you, your parenting partner, or your children are experiencing a change significant enough that your order is no longer appropriate, you may want to modify your court orders.

The lawyers at Sean Lynch + Associates have guided many families in Fort Worth through the challenging process of modifying a court order.

Common Reasons For Modifications

Parents who request child support modifications want the court to reduce the amount they pay or increase the amount they receive. You may request a reduction because of a financial setback or health issues. You may also seek higher payments if your child’s other parent’s finances have significantly improved. Texas laws are strict about child support obligations. The courts will focus on the best interests of the child, and our team will work to protect your rights.

Similarly, with child custody issues, if you or your former partner has experienced a substantial life change, your current custody plan may no longer work for you and your children. In fact, a common reason for requesting a modification is when a teen wants to live with the other parent, drug use, or criminal behavior of the other parent. Bringing these matters to court is complex. The Sean Lynch + Associates law firm will help you prioritize your goals before presenting them in court.

What Does It Mean To Modify A Court Order?

Modifying a court order means a legal change in the terms of a divorce decree.

You or your attorney will have to file a petition to modify a court order with the court that issued the order previously. However, the judge and the court have the final right to decide whether to modify the order or not.

If your child has lived in another Texas county for the last 6 months, you must file the modification case in the county where the order was made. However, you can ask the court to transfer the case to the new county. If your child has lived in another state for the last 6 months, you will need to consult your lawyer about where to file the case.

The judge will rarely agree to any legal changes to property division after the deadline to appeal a divorce decree. However, it is much easier to modify child support or child custody orders. This is because the courts recognize that a child’s needs will change over time.

Conditions For Modification

Generally, the court will hear a petition to modify the order a year after the last order or divorce decree. If you want to file a suit to modify the order within one year, you must show that the child’s present environment threatens a child’s physical health or emotional development. Alternatively, the person with child custody must agree to the legal order being changed or has voluntarily relinquished primary care and possession of the child for at least six months, except in the case of military deployment.

To ask a Texas court to modify custody, you must meet either of the following conditions:

  • The child is at least 12 years old and wants to change the primary caregiver
  • The change to the custody orders will be in the best interest of the child
  • The person with primary custody has relinquished care and possession of the child for at least 6 months. This must be for reasons other than military deployment
  • There has been a material and substantial change in circumstances

Examples of a material and substantial change in circumstances include:

Material and Substantial Change In Circumstances

  • Unemployment of one parent or a change in their financial situation that affects their ability to care for the child
  • Relocation to another state due to a job that will affect the child’s time with the other parent
  • Changes to parents’ marital status such as a remarriage that has a negative impact on the child
  • Child abuse or neglect which threatens the child’s physical health and emotional development
  • Substance abuse by either parent
  • Medical conditions that reduce one parent’s ability to care for the child

A motion can be deemed to be frivolous if the motivation behind the motion seems fishy. The judge can penalize you for filing an inappropriate motion.

What If We Have An Informal Agreement?

If you have an informal agreement on new changes to an existing order, there is the risk that the agreement can fall apart when conflict arises. You will not be able to get legal enforcement of an informal agreement under Texas law. Ideally, you or your lawyer should have the new terms added to your divorce order.

The court can hold a parent liable for not meeting their child support obligations even if the other person is sympathetic. On the other hand, there is no guarantee that another parent will pay more child support than they are required to under court orders without a legal modification to the terms.

Modifying A Child Support Order

You can file a petition to make a modification to an existing child support order. However, you have to show that the other person’s income or your income has changed significantly.

If you have lost a job or received a pay cut, you can file a legal petition for modification to reduce the amount of child support you have to pay. You can also ask an attorney for help to do so. You will have the right to do so since your circumstances have changed. Conversely, if you have a major increase in income due to a new role or a new job, the court can change the amount of child support and medical support you need to pay. You can discuss your case with a lawyer if you don’t agree with the order.

Modifying A Child Custody Order

The needs of children can change as they grow up. Your child may want to spend more time with one parent. Alternatively, they can start to resent having to comply with strict custody arrangements. They can also express their wish to change their primary caregiver once they are over the age of 12. In this case, a child can make the modification request to a Texas court.

If you have primary custody and you want to move to another city or state, you will need to file a modification petition as that will affect the parenting time for the other parent. Your family law attorney can help you make your case to the judge.

In another case, a custodial parent could forfeit their right to care for the children for more than 6 months. This would allow the non-custodial parent to make the case to the court to have primary custody transferred to them. The non-custodial parent or their lawyer must petition the court for the modification.

Modifying A Visitation Order

The court may modify a visitation order in some cases. For example, parents could be dissatisfied with the visitation schedule or are unable to comply with it due to genuine difficulties. Sometimes there may be changes over time as your children grow up that require a new visitation schedule. You can get the help of your attorney or a law firm to file a motion for the visitation order modification.

If one of the parents is facing a conviction for child abuse or family violence, the other parent may ask the court for a modification to reduce the visitation rights of the other parent.

How Long Do You Have To Wait To Modify Custody?

The time it takes to modify the child custody order depends on whether parents agree on the need to. If both parents agree, you need to submit a proposed child custody order to the court that includes the changes. The court will review it to ensure it is in the child’s best interests before approving the order. When determining the best interest of the child, the judge will consider the child’s needs, relationship with either parent, and their wishes if they are old enough to express it.

If either parent does not agree to change a custody order, both of you will need to go to court. You may need help from your lawyer to fight your case in court. This can take more time to get your proposed changes passed.

Reach Out To Us

Ideally, you and your former partner can negotiate an agreeable modification. This may streamline the process as long as your agreement complies with Texas law. If you need help, our experienced family law attorneys will review your agreement, provide legal advice, and fight for your goals in court. Contact us at 817-668-6704 or through email to schedule your no-cost 30-minute consultation with our law firm.