Child Custody & Support Attorneys in Dallas
Custody / Visitation
Although “custody” is used in common parlance to mean the parent with whom the child will reside, technically Texas law determines conservatorship rather than custody. The two concepts are very similar. Basically, in Texas, a managing conservator can make important financial, schooling, and medical decisions, and a possessory conservator is the parent who has rights of access and visitation with the child but very little decision-making authority.
Interestingly, in Texas, both parents may be named as managing conservators (or joint managing conservators), and in fact, this is preferred by Texas courts. Even in a case where the court awards joint managing conservatorship to both parents, one parent will still have the power to determine where the child resides. Visitation time for each parent will be apportioned by the judge either according to an agreement between the parents or by considering factors such as whether the parents live in the same geographic area and whether the child’s schooling and extra-curricular activities will be disrupted by transferring the child between parents at certain times.
The court must make decisions about custody and visitation according to the best interest of the child.
This firm also handles additional child custody and child visitation issues, such as:
- Access/Visitation by Grandparents
- Domestic Violence Concerns
- Supervised Visitation
- Termination of Parental Rights
Child support is mandatory for the non-custodial parent until the child is either eighteen or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. Additionally, if the child is disabled, support obligations may extend even further. It is important to understand that child support payments are mandatory even if the child’s parents were never married.
The Texas Family Code has a formula for determining the amount of child support payments. Texas courts may vary the amount determined by the formula by taking into account certain factors. These factors include each parent’s income and each parent’s obligations. For example, if the parent who owes child support also owes child support for other children, this will enter into the calculation. The factors also include whether either parent is deliberately unemployed or underemployed and what the travel time and travel expenses are for the non-custodial parent. Child support obligations may be modified by court order, but it makes sense to consider as much information as possible in the initial divorce suit.
Remember, the Texas Attorney General’s office monitors child support payments. It is not uncommon for parents to make informal support payments, but such undocumented payments will not typically be considered if the parent owing support later falls behind on “official” payments made through the Attorney General’s office.
Child Support Modification
If you are having legitimate trouble making your child support payments, you may be able to seek a modification so that your required payments are smaller and more manageable. Seek a modification as soon as possible because you will continue to incur arrearages if you are not making full payments.
Similarly, if you are the custodial parent, you may be able to seek an increase of your ex-spouse’s child support obligations if, for example, the child’s care requires increased financial support.
Failure to Pay Child Support
Failure to pay court-ordered child support may result in wages and/or checking account(s) being garnished, the suspension of licenses including driver’s license or even a professional license, and being put in jail for contempt of court.
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