Guardianship And Texas Family Law

A guardianship is a court created and monitored relationship between a person appointed by the court as a guardian and an incapacitated adult or a minor child with no living parents. This relationship is governed by the Guardianship provisions of the Texas Probate Code.



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The person who has allegedly lost their mental capacities is referred to as the proposed ward. In order to obtain a guardianship of the person or estate of an incapacitated adult, or both, the applicant must have standing to do so, and must present a “doctor’s letter” describing the nature and extent of the proposed ward’s incapacityTexas Probate Code section 687. Most courts require that the doctor’s letter be in a particular form. As an example, see The Dallas County Physician’s Certificate of Medical Examination.



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In order to obtain a guardianship of the person or estate of an incapacitated adult, or both, the applicant must have standing to do so, and must present a “doctor’s letter” describing the nature and extent of the proposed ward’s incapacityTexas Probate Code section 687..Most courts require that the doctor’s letter be in a particular form. As an example, see The Dallas County Physician’s Certificate of Medical Examination.



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There are many reasons a person may be disqualified to serve as a guardian. Some of the more usual reasons an applicant is disqualified as the guardian of a person or of a person’s estate are that the applicant owes the proposed ward money, has a felony conviction, or is too inexperienced to manage another person.Texas Probate Code section 681. Additionally, the proposed ward may specifically disqualify a person through a written document signed before the need for a guardian arises. Texas Probate Code section 679.



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This is a document in which you mat choose who would care for your person and your estate (your money and property), in case you need that at some point.  Having powers of attorney and advance directives can reduce or eliminate the need for a guardianship.  Additionally, with this document, you may specifically disqualify someone by stating that you do not want them to serve as your guardian.



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The person who is not an adult, and incapacitated only by age is referred to as the proposed ward.  In order to obtain a guardianship of the person or estate of a child the applicant must have standing to do so.  Pursuant to Texas Estates Code Sections 1104.051(c), the surviving parent “is entitled to be appointed guardian of the minor children’s estates”.    Further, when one parent is deceased, “the surviving parent is the natural guardian of the person of the minor children”.  Id.



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A surviving parent according to Texas Estates Code Sections 1104.051, or one of the parents in the event the parents do not live together.  In that case, the court determines which parent should be named as guardian in the best interest of the minor child. If there are no surviving parents, then a person designated in a will of the parent may be named as guardian of the minor child or children. Texas Estates Code Sections 1104.053.  If the parents had no will, or named no guardian for their children, then a relative, the “nearest ascendant” is entitled to serve as guardian. Texas Estates Code Sections 1104.052.  Additionally, however, if the minor child is aged 12 years or older, the court may consider a selected person of the child, if the “person selected is suitable and competent; and the appointment of the person is in the minor’s best interest”, Texas Estates Code Sections 1104.054.



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Texas Adoption

To accomplish an adoption of stepchildren, your husband must file suit and give notice to the father of the child. It is possible that the father would be agreeable, and if he is, he can sign an affidavit to that effect. The judge may decide that an attorney should be appointed to represent the child (attorney ad litem) in a step-parent adoption circumstance. If so, you can expect to pay that attorney as well.



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To accomplish an adoption of stepchildren, your wife must file suit and give notice to the mother of the child. It is possible that the father would be agreeable, and if he is, he can sign an affidavit to that effect. The judge may decide that an attorney should be appointed to represent the child (attorney ad litem) in a step-parent adoption circumstance. If so, you can expect to pay that attorney as well.



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When you know the county where the adoption took place, it is a simple matter to unseal the records and get a certified copy of the records. In fact, exploring your medical history is one of the best reasons to unseal adoption records. Then there is an order allowing the unsealing of the records that must be obtained. Usually, unsealing the adoption record and obtaining copies of the records take less than a few days.



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It is legal to provide financial assistance to a birth mother in a private adoption in the State of Texas, but that financial assistance must pass through a licensed adoption agency. Furthermore, not all financial assistance is legally acceptable to be provided to the mother. Generally, only monies that are ‘fair and necessary’ may be provided to the birth mother by the adoptive parents. These often include rent, utilities, food, and maternity clothing. They do not include payment of a vehicle note or vehicle insurance. If the financial assistance is found to be unreasonable the adoptive parents could risk prosecution for purchasing a child.



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Under Texas Family Code section 2.004, a parent cannot marry a child that they have previously adopted.



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To accomplish an adoption, you must give notice to the mother of the child. It is possible that the mother would be agreeable, and if she is, she can sign an affidavit to that effect. It depends on the judge concerning whether an attorney would be appointed to represent the child, an attorney ad litem, in a step-parent circumstance. If so, you can expect to pay that attorney as well. Some judges don’t require an attorney ad litem in a step-parent scenario.



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Yes. The law makes no distinction between biological obligation to support the child versus the adoptive parent having the same obligation. You accomplished an adoption, which created a parent-child relationship between you and the child, and presumably terminating the biological parent’s rights. Consequently you have a duty to support your child.



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To accomplish an adoption, the parent who has custody of the child must file suit and give notice to the other parent of the child. It is possible that the father would be agreeable to the adoption of the child, and if he is, he can sign an affidavit to that effect. It depends on the judge concerning whether an attorney would be appointed to represent the child, an attorney ad litem, in a step-parent circumstance. If so, you can expect to pay that attorney as well, if that is required by the court.. Some judges don’t require an attorney ad litem in a step-parent scenario.



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To accomplish an adoption, you and your partner may need to marry. Then you and the partner must file suit for an adoption and give notice to the father of the child. It sounds likely that the father would be agreeable, and if he is, he can sign an affidavit to that effect. It depends on the judge concerning whether an attorney would be appointed to represent the child, an attorney ad litem, but should be expected in this circumstance. If so, you can expect to pay that attorney as well. Additionally, the Court may and probably will require an adoption social study be completed, which includes an another fee. My initial retainer for an adoption would $2500.00 plus the filing fees. Please contact me at the number below since this is a Dallas County area matter. We should probably set up an appointment to further discuss the situation. An initial 30 minute consultation is $100.00.

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Texas Alimony

Alimony is available by court order for marriages ten or more years in length, and the requesting spouse is unable to provide for their minimum reasonable needs. Texas Family Code §8.051. Alimony may also be ordered for shorter marriages in a case where one spouse is convicted or accepts deferred adjudication for family violence during the pendency of the suit or within two years of the date the suit is filed.  As a practical matter, the vast majority of alimony is paid as a matter of agreement between the parties.



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Alimony may be reduced by filing a Motion to Modify the Alimony, and seeking a court order if there is a material and substantial change in circumstances of the paying spouse. Texas Family Code §8.057.



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Alimony terminates on the death of either party, or the remarriage of the recipient of the payments. Additionally, a court may order the termination of alimony if the court finds that the recipient cohabits with someone with whom the recipient has a romantic relationship in a permanent place on a continuing basis. Texas Family Code §8.056.



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Alimony is tax deductible for the paying spouse, and is treated as taxable income to the recipient. Usually, alimony should be paid for at least three years to maintain its deductibility.



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A court may order not alimony or post divorce maintenance in an amount exceeding $5000 per month, or more than 20% of the payor spouse’s average monthly gross income.  Texas Family Code §8.054.



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A court may order alimony or post divorce maintenance to continue for: (1) 5 years if the parties were married less than 10 years and the maintenance is awarded on the basis of family violence; (2) 5 years if the parties were married more than 10 years, but less than 20 years; (3) 7 years if the parties were married more than 20 years, but less than 30 years; (4) 10 years if the parties were married for more than 30 years. Texas Family Code §8.054.



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Texas Annulment

The length of the marriage has nothing to do with the question of the availability of an annulment. The Court may grant an annulment if the marriage is void or voidable under very specific statutory requirements. One classic example is the regrettable Las Vegas marriage. If one spouse was incapable of effective consent because that spouse was drunk, an annulment may be possible. Another basis for annulment is impotence of a partner that was not known before marriage.



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Since there is already a divorce, there is no annulment available through the court. You must contact the church for that. In other words, the court, after a divorce has already been granted, cannot grant an annulment, would not have the jurisdiction to annul that same marriage. The legal choice of approach at the time of the end of the marriage is divorce OR annulment.



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You may qualify for an annulment, but the rules are pretty specific. However, if an annulment is not possible, a divorce will be. Void or voidable marriages are subject to an annulment. An example of a void marriage is if John marries Joan while he is still married to Sally. The marriage to Joan is void. An example of a voidable marriage is if John marries Ruth, who is 15, without parental consent. That marriage is voidable until Ruth turns 18. These examples are under Texas law.



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When you are married in another state, yes, you may be able to get an annulment in Texas, if Texas can exert jurisdiction over you for this purpose because you or your spouse are here. However, the question of eligibility for annulment is answered by the law of the state where the marriage took place.



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Texas Child Support

If a person ordered to pay child support has an arrearage, the US State Department will not issue or renew the passport, depending on the amount owed. The gatekeeper on this matter is the US State Department. In order to obtain a passport, you must meet the requirements of the US State Department. The easiest way to address this issue is to pay off any child support arrearage, so that then the child support becomes a non-issue. Child support is considered a unique obligation and its collection is subject to a long statute of limitations. However, the law now requires that a child support collection action must be filed no later than the tenth anniversary of the child’s graduation from high school. Then, if a judgment is granted, it may be collected as any judgment. In addition, reporting a child support arrearage that is existing does not violate any Fair Debt Collection Act. Payment of arrearage may be negotiated. You may need to have the amount of child support due determined by a court. This is accomplished with a Motion to Determine Arrearage.



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A person owing child support may be put in jail for contempt of court for failure to pay child support. A party seeking such relief from the court may do so up to two years after the child becomes an adult or the child support obligation terminates. The old rule only allowed this relief for six months after the child emancipated.



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The presumptive maximum child support is calculated on net resources of $7500.00 per month upon which to apply the guideline child support calculation. In order to exceed the presumptive maximum net resources calculation on amounts that exceed the $7500.00 per month, you would have to show that the actual needs of the child exceed the guideline child support. In other words, if dad has net resources of $15,000.00 per month, the actual needs of one child, for example, would have to be proven and exceed the presumed figure of $1500.00 (20% of $7500) in order for the court to award more than the $1500.00 per month in child support. It is difficult to do so in Dallas area counties. Texas Family Code 154.125, 154.126, effective September 1, 2007.



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The monthly resources of the person paying support are used to determine child support. Calculations are made by taking the gross pay and subtracting taxes withheld and insurance coverage for the child(ren) only. Then the net resources are multiplied by a percentage depending on the number of children involved. For example, if the net resources were $3000/mn. and there are 2 children, 25% of the $3000/mn resulting is a figure of $750 for child support.



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Child support is an obligation set by the terms of your order. The usual case is that child support is paid until the 18th birthday of the child, or graduation, whichever is later. Texas Family Code Section 154.002.



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Step-parents have no obligation of support for the kids of the other spouse from a previous relationship. In other words, the Texas Family Code 154.069 actually prohibits the use of step-parent income in the obligor spouse’s child support calculation.



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On the issue of child support, that is a separate obligation of yours, unattached to your ex-wife’s obligation to allow visitation. You may be held in contempt of the order, fined, possibly jailed and be ordered to pay attorney’s fees. Courts in the Dallas area have little tolerance for failure to pay child support just because you choose not to. Refusal of visitation is not a valid reason to fail to pay court ordered child support. If she is refusing visitation and you are not paying child support, the court can hold you both in contempt.



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The short answer is No. Your duty to pay child support is not at all related to the other parent’s duty to surrender the children according to the order in place. You both may be in violation of your orders. You should appear at the appropriate place to collect the children for visitation. Make notes on a calendar. Pay your child support; because when you take the other parent to court over lost time with your kids, you will have to address the child support as well.



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It is very unlikely that “signing over your rights” would be approved by the court. The issue you bring up is the termination of the father’s parental rights. Dallas area judges are quite reluctant to allow a termination of your rights unless someone is also seeking adoption of the child. It is more likely that the paternity of the child would be established at this time. Texas law recognizes that children have a right to know their parents, and vice versa.



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Under Texas law, all child support orders must provide for witholding from the obligor (paying) parent’s salary or wages. However, mandatory witholding is not required if good cause is shown or if the parties agree that there shall not be withholding.



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You probably need to file a Motion To Declare Child Support Obligation Fulfilled, also requesting that the court determine any overpayment. The current order probably states the arrearage amount at a particular time. Then you may request an order for reimbursement from the overpaid parent, with terms for your repayment.



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We should check the math of an offset calculation of child support. For example, in a situation where each parent has custody of two children of the marriage about 50% of the time, the court often looks at what child support one parent would pay for two kids based on that income, and what the other parent would pay for two kids on the other income. Then, you look at the difference, and the person who makes more money pays the difference. Sometimes it works out to be a wash, and no child support is ordered.



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The court may modify an order that provides for child support if the circumstances of the child, or the parent paying support, have materially and substantially changed. Texas Family Code 156.401 (a)(1). The way to address this issue is to file a Motion to Modify the child support payment. A parent has a monthly court ordered obligation to pay support that continues to accrue unless the order is changed. In fact, the court has the discretion to retroactively reduce the child support obligation back to the date of filing or when the parent receiving support is given notice. So for example, in the case of a job loss, a Motion to Modify child support should be filed as soon as possible.



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There are various approaches to bring violations of an order to the attention of the court. The most harsh remedy for violation of a final order of the court would be technically a contempt action, which is a separate lawsuit, involving filing fees, new service upon the parent in violation of the order, etc. Because contempt actions involve a quasi-criminal situation, meaning that if the person sued is found in contempt of a civil order, they risk suffering incarceration and fines, and the person sued may choose to remain silent. Another approach to inform the court that child support is unpaid would be through a Motion to Determine Arrearage. This is also a new action requiring filing fees and new service on the Respondent. Additionally, attorneys’ fees may be sought, along with other more creative remedies, which could be tailored to the circumstances of your case. Finally, since jail is not a potential sanction under this option, the person sued may NOT remain silent. In other words, the court can compel answers to questions asked at the hearing.



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The Texas Family Code generally requires that child support would change by 20% or $100.00 per month to constitute a material change of circumstance AND it has been three years since the last order regarding child support. Texas Family Code section 156.401. However, if a person ordered to pay child support were to lose a job, that would be a material and substantial change in circumstances that would presumably support a child support change. See the same statute above. Another such change would be the move of the child’s residence from one conservator to another.



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Child support is considered a unique obligation and its collection may be commenced no later than the tenth anniversary of the child’s graduation from high school. Then when a judgment for child support is obtained, it is subject to regular rules for the length of time for collections of debts. In addition, reporting a child support arrearage that exists does not violate any Fair Debt Collection Act. Payment of arrearage may be negotiated.



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The issue you bring up is the termination of the father’s parental rights. Dallas area judges are unlikely to allow a termination under these circumstances. It is more likely that the child support arrearage would be established at this time.



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Child support in Texas is calculated on the net resources of the person paying the support (the “obligor”), taking into account the cost of health insurance and how many children the obligor has a duty to support. For example, as in your case, if there are two children, and there is a third child now in the obligor’s household, for whom there is a duty to support, the calculation is 22.50% of the net resources for the support of the first two children. This is a reduction from the 25% that would be paid for the two children in the absence of the third child in a different household. There may be other factors that should be considered. The way to address this issue is to file a Motion to Modify to reduce the child support payment.



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Child support in Texas is calculated on the net resources of the person paying the support (the “obligor”), taking into account the cost of health insurance and how many children the obligor has a duty to support. For example, if there are two children, and he has a third child for whom he has a duty to support living with him, the calculation is 22.50% of the net resources. There are other factors that may need to be considered.



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Any child support ordered in the past by the court cannot be recalculated, based on any past increase in the earning capacity of the obligor, the person paying support. However, you may ask the court to modify the child support obligation by increasing it now based on current income for future child support payments.



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You probably need to file a Motion to Determine Arrearage. The order we obtain will state the arrearage amount at a particular time and the balance will begin accruing interest at the statutory rate of 6% simple interest annually.



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You probably need to file a Motion to Determine Arrearage. In the context of this lawsuit, you may contact the other parent to work out a payment plan. If you have been on public assistance, then the state will seek reimbursement from the parent who failed to pay child support. The court will approve any agreement the two of you make, as long as the state is not owed money for public assistance. Child support is considered a unique obligation and its collection is subject to a longer statute of limitations. Specifically, the court retains jurisdiction to confirm child support arrearages for ten years after the child becomes an adult, or the date the child support obligation terminates. Texas Family Code §157.005 (b). Then, after a court has determined any arrearage and reduced that finding to a judgment, the court has continuing jurisdiction to enforce its order, “until all current support and medical support and child support arrearages, including interest and any applicable fees and costs, have been paid”.Texas Family Code §157.269. And that is NOT limited to a particular time frame. You should file a Motion to Determine Arrearage to request that you be awarded a judgment for the full amount of past child support owed, plus interest, and request that the parent paying child support address the arrearage in a larger amount payable per month. It is often the case that the child has graduated from high school, child support is owed, and the parent owing the child support now makes more money. Consequently, the paying parent should be able to afford higher monthly payments.



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The short answer is no. Bankruptcy does not affect any court hearing regarding child support in family court: setting it, collecting it, or enforcing an order about it. Therefore, if you are sued, with a request that you be held in contempt of court for failing to pay child support, the court may go forward with the hearing even if you file bankruptcy. Child support is considered to be a special obligation and not merely a debt. In contrast, any other litigation regarding settlement or collection of debts are stopped cold by bankruptcy.



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If a person ordered to pay child support were to lose a job, that would be a material and substantial change in circumstances. Texas Family Code 156.401 (a)(1). The way to address this issue is to file a Motion to Modify to reduce the child support payment. You have a monthly court ordered obligation that continues to accrue unless the order is changed. In fact, the court has the discretion to retroactively reduce the child support obligation back to the date of filing or when mom is given notice, so you want that to be as soon as possible.



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The short answer is probably not, as to current child support. If a person ordered to pay child support were to then have the child for whom support was ordered living in his house, then he would have a defense to the child support obligation. In other words, since the point of child support is to provide housing and groceries for the child, if dad (for example) were providing housing and groceries for the child, then he has already discharged his child support obligation.



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If a person ordered to pay child support were to then have the child for whom support was ordered living in his house, then he would have a defense to the child support obligation. In other words, since the point of child support is to provide housing and groceries for the child, if you and dad now live together and are providing housing and groceries for the child, then he technically does not owe child support. The problem comes in when the child support is withheld from the obligor’s paycheck. The order for child support probably has language describing that child support ends if you marry. So you could show the employer the marriage certificate and the order, and that might be enough. If the employer is not comfortable with that-because the employer is ORDERED to withhold child support, then a Motion to Modify Child Support will be necessary.



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The child support that was ordered at the time you went to court previously cannot be recalculated, based on any past increase in the earning capacity of the obligor, the person paying support.



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For incarcerated individuals, the ruling with regard to child support depends on the judge of the court. Some judges rule that the person in jail cannot work, and thus should pay child support upon release. Other judges believe the actions of the person in jail put them there, and so they should be obligated for child support for the entire time behind bars. If the person went to jail after child support was already ordered, then he should file a motion to modify the child support based on his change of circumstances. This is the case because this parent is obligated under the existing order until that order is modified.



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If you have a special needs child the court should be made aware of the costs involved. In your child’s situation, the more time the child is with you, the more it costs you in time and money. In addition, if the actual needs of the child exceed guideline child support, the court has the discretion to order child support in excess of the guideline.



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Health insurance and payment of uninsured expenses are considered to be additional child support in Texas. In theory, the parent who pays for uninsured medical expenses (like copays, prescriptions, and deductibles) is supposed to send those receipts to the other parent in a timely fashion, usually within 30 days. If the receipts are provided too late, the court may not make the other parent pay. Since the math is determined according to the discretion of the court, it can be expensive to get the answer. I generally suggest that the order require the sending of unreimbursed medical receipts EVERY month on the 15th of the month. That way, it is predictable, and the saving up of receipts is discouraged. The mechanism to determine the outstanding medical expenses, and who pays them is a Motion to Determine, which is very similar to a Motion to Determine Arrearage.



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You should file a Motion to Determine Arrearage, and work out a settlement with the other parent. This way, while your credibility with the court is great, you can address the math, make sure payments have been applied correctly, and obtain credit for other things you have paid for the benefit of the child.

Note: All of your payments since the last child emancipated/graduated from high school have been applied first to interest, then to principal. The interest amount on any arrearage before January 1, 2002 was 12%. All arrearage accrued since then bears interest at 6%. See Texas Family Code 157.265.



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Since everybody is in the other state, maybe you domesticate the Texas order there, and file a motion to determine arrrearage, and determine that it is “x” or zero, whatever you can work out with the other parent. Then, the other state has jurisdiction, not Texas. Since I practice in the North Texas area, meaning Dallas and area counties, you should contact an attorney in your county. The best way to do that is to contact the local county bar association or the State Bar of your state and ask for a referral to a family law attorney.



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Texas Child Visitation

On the issue of travel outside the US, the gatekeepers on this question are the US State Department, and the airline. The usual requirement now since a passport is necessary to travel, is that both parents must consent to the travel. Court orders now have provisions that deal with this eventuality. You should check with the US State Department (for the passport), and the airline for their particular needs. Do it now, and do not wait until a few weeks before a trip. Passports can take as long as 6-8 weeks to obtain, and that is if all signatures are readily available. In a difficult case, the court may order a parent to sign the necessary consent for the child to travel. This would be in the context of a Motion to Modify, which would be filed in the county that has continuing jurisdiction over the child.



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Your order states exactly when you are to have the child. The order will also state if you are actually obligated to do the shuttling back and forth to extra curricular activities. Check your order again, send the other parent notice in writing for the dates to which you are entitled, then show up at his house to pick up the child according to your schedule. Go to a nearby business and buy something, anything, coke, gum, keep the receipt. Tape the receipt to your calendar. Do this when you attend a sporting event. Then do it again the next time you should have the child. This shows you were in the vicinity of the ordered pick up place/sports event place at the appropriate time. In other words, this is evidence against the other parent for a motion to enforce visitation, or just for your motion to modify the visitation schedule. Then you are ready to file a Motion to Modify and to show the court how much time and money it takes to visit your kid. Further, it shows you have no discretion about how you spend time with your kid. More and more, orders address the extra curricular activities for children, how they affect your access, who pays for what, etc.



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The Texas Family code sets out a comprehensive January through December schedule involving first, third and fifth weekends, alternating holidays and extended time in the summer for the visiting parent. The whole schedule is set out in Texas Family Code sections 153.311-153.317.



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The presumption is in favor of both parents enjoying unsupervised time with kids. The Texas Family code sets out a standard visitation schedule presumed in the child’s best interest at age 3. Many courts use it for younger kids. The whole schedule is set out in Texas Family Code sections 153.311-153.317.



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Regardless of any agreements between you, you should establish paternity. By establishing the identity of the father with a court order, terms would then become enforceable and you could be sure that he would be given a specific visitation schedule and given credit for any child support paid.



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The court will appoint the parent a Possessory Conservator unless the court finds that such an appointment is not in the child’s best interest. Texas Family Code section 153.191. There is a rebuttable presumption in Texas law that the Standard Possession Order set out in the family code is reasonable minimum possession for a parent and is in the best interest of the child. Texas Family Code section 153.252. In order to be granted supervised visitation only, this presumption must be rebutted by evidence that it would be harmful to the child, or that the child may be uncomfortable because he doesn’t know his parent. Even if the court found that a supervised visitation schedule was warranted, it is usually short-lived. In other words, the court’s goal is generally to achieve a Standard Possession schedule for the parties and the child eventually. This is true because it is logistically difficult to implement supervised visitation since this usually requires an imposition on the schedule of a volunteer supervisor, such as a family member. Paid supervisors are available, but it gets expensive. Plus, it is not ideal because the child obviously doesn’t know the paid supervisor.



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The Texas Family code sets out a comprehensive January through December schedule involving first, third and fifth weekends, alternating holidays and extended time in the summer for the visiting parent. The terms address a schedule if the parents live within or beyond 100 miles from each other. The whole schedule is set out in Texas Family Code sections 153.311-153.317. The primary differences in the schedule for visitation when the parents are over 100 miles apart, or even out of state, are very few. Essentially the distant visiting parent would be entitled to every spring break and 42 days in the summer. When the parents are within 100 miles of each other, they alternate spring break, and the visiting parent would have 30 days in the summer.



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In your child’s situation, you have an obligation to surrender the child according to the ordered schedule, which you apparently have done. If you think the schedule is inappropriate, you must go to court to modify the schedule. If you refuse to allow visitation, you could be held in contempt of the order, fined, possibly jailed and be ordered to pay attorneys fees. Courts in the Dallas area have little tolerance for refusal of access to the child under a standard order. The upshot is that the older kids get, the more the child’s schedule and activities should be taken into account. However, the court also is concerned that the child spend extended time with both parents. There is no magic age at which the child may “choose” not to visit with the other parent. You should probably take the child to a counselor available on your health plan, which will help the child and provide necessary documentation for the court proceedings.



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Your order states exactly when you are to have the child. Check your order again, send her notice in writing for the dates to which you are entitled, then show up at her house to pick up the child according to your schedule. Go to a nearby business and buy something, anything, coke, gum, keep the receipt. Tape the receipt to your calendar. Then do it again the next time you should have the child. This shows you were in the vicinity of the ordered pick up place at the appropriate time. In other words, this is evidence against the other parent for a motion to enforce visitation, or just for your motion to modify the visitation schedule. This can be fixed.



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Generally, the visiting parent collects the child at the beginning of the visit at the home of the parent with the right to determine the primary domicile of the child. Texas Family Code Section 153.316. However, the court may make appropriate orders for the exchange of the children at another location. The problems with “meeting half-way” to exchange the children are many, including traffic, car trouble, last minute illness of the child or the parent. The method to bring this situation to the Court’s attention would be a Motion to Modify.



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You may ask for more summer time or other time that the child is not in school and hope to work out a compromise. The general rule is that if you fail to take visitation time, you waive it.



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Yes, the first, third and fifth weekend visitation do continue for the non-custodial parent in the summer, except for the extended summer visit of the custodial parent. In other words, both of you have the right to take a vacation with the child, including a weekend from the other parent (but not father’s day weekend). But the non-custodial parent has first choice for the summer visit.



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In your child’s situation, the mother has an obligation to surrender the child according to the ordered schedule. If she thinks the schedule is inappropriate, she must go to court to modify the schedule. If she refuses to allow you visitation, she could be held in contempt of the order, fined, possibly jailed and be ordered to pay attorneys fees. Courts in the Dallas area have little tolerance for refusal of access to the child under a standard order. The upshot is that the older kids get, the more the child’s schedule and activities should be taken into account. However, the court also is concerned that the child spend extended time with both parents. There is no magic age at which the child may “choose” not to visit with the other parent. You should probably take the child to a counselor available on your health plan, which will help the child and provide necessary documentation for the court proceedings.



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In your child’s situation, you have an obligation to surrender the child according to the ordered schedule. If you think the schedule is inappropriate, you must go to court to modify the schedule. If you refuse to allow visitation, you could be held in contempt of the order, fined, possibly jailed and be ordered to pay attorneys fees. Courts in the Dallas area have little tolerance for refusal of access to the child under a standard order.



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Standard Possession Schedule is the legal term for the Texas Child Visitation Schedule. The Texas Family code sets out a comprehensive January through December schedule involving first, third and fifth weekends, alternating holidays and extended time in the summer for the visiting parent. The whole schedule is set out in Texas Family Code sections 153.311-153.317.



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Some of the usual bases under the Texas Family Code cited for standing to sue for access to children are that the person is a parent, guardian, or person who has had actual care, custody and possession of children for at least six months ending not more than 90 days before filing suit. Texas Family Code section 102.003.



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The presumption is in favor of unsupervised time between parents and children, regardless of the age of the child. Dad needs to have bonding time with the child, too. The Texas Family code sets out a standard visitation schedule presumed in the best interest of children at age three. Many courts use it for younger children. The Standard Possession Schedule is a comprehensive January through December schedule involving first, third and fifth weekends, alternating holidays and extended time in the summer for the visiting parent. The whole schedule is set out in Texas Family Code sections 153.311-153.317. On the other hand, some courts have their own policy when it comes to infant children, opting for shorter times with the visiting parent to accommodate breast-feeding, for example. These schedules usually contemplate the first, third and fifth weekends, and alternating holidays, with weekends defined as Saturday overnight instead of the standard Friday to Sunday weekend. There has been much debate on this issue because under an abbreviated schedule the visiting parent is at a severe disadvantage to bond appropriately with the child. This is also a downside for the child.



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Depending on the length of time since the parent has regularly visited the child, the court may want to make special orders to allow a “warm-up” period of visitation, for the comfort of the child.



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The name of the action to take in this situation is a Motion to Modify, which is necessary to change the visitation arrangement and possibly the child support. In my experience, the court will take the work schedule of the parties into account in determining a schedule in the best interest of the child. For example, if one or both parents work every weekend, a visitation schedule dependent on weekends doesn’t make much sense. Usually the actual logistics of the distance and timing between home and work and the school make the decision for the parties.



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Texas law is interpreted to require that the parent in possession of the child encourage the visitation and “tender” the child. In other words, get the child on the porch and if they refuse to go, so be it. However, parents must not engage in alienation of the children against the other parent. It is ultimately harmful to the children. Incidentally, the older the children are, the more their opinion is appreciated by the court.



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In a city the size of Dallas, with this traffic, the courts generally do not get involved if the lateness for visitation, pick up or delivery, is 15-20 minutes. Most local judges regard 30 minutes as the limit beyond which you should not have to wait.



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There are various approaches to bring the violations of an order to the attention of the court. The most harsh remedy for violation of the temporary orders of the court would be technically a contempt action, which is a separate lawsuit, involving filing fees, new service upon the person who violated the order. Because contempt actions involve a quasi-criminal situation, meaning that if the person sued is found in contempt of a civil order, they risk suffering incarceration, and the person sued may choose to remain silent. Another approach to inform the court would be through either a Motion for Additional Temporary Orders, or a Motion for Sanctions. Either or both of these motions could be brought without additional expenses of filing fees or service of process. Additionally, attorney’s fees may be sought, along with other more creative sanctions, which could be tailored to the circumstances of your case. For example, make up time visitation orders can be requested. Finally, since jail is not a potential sanction under these options, the person sued may NOT remain silent. In other words, the court can compel answers to questions asked at the hearing.



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There are various approaches to bring the violations of an order to the attention of the court. The most harsh remedy for violation of the temporary orders of the court would be technically a contempt action, which is a separate lawsuit, involving filing fees, new service upon the person who violated the order. Because contempt actions involve a quasi-criminal situation, meaning that if the person sued is found in contempt of a civil order, they risk suffering incarceration, and so the person sued may choose to remain silent. A couple of more cost effective and immediate ways to inform the court would be through either a Motion for Additional Temporary Orders, or a Motion for Sanctions. Either or both of these motions may be brought without the additional expenses of filing fees or service of process. Additionally, attorney’s fees may be sought, along with other more creative sanctions, which could be tailored to the circumstances of your case. Finally, since jail is not a potential sanction under these options, the person sued may NOT remain silent. In other words, the court can compel answers to questions asked at the hearing.



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The short answer is No. Your duty to pay child support is not at all related to the other parent’s duty to surrender the children according to the order in place. You both may be in violation of your orders. You should appear at the appropriate place to collect the children for visitation. Make notes on a calendar. Pay your child support; because when you take the other parent to court over lost time with your kids, you will have to address the child support as well.



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On the issue of child support, that is a separate obligation of yours, unattached to your ex-wife’s obligation to allow visitation. You may be held in contempt of the order, fined, possibly jailed and be ordered to pay attorney’s fees. Courts in the Dallas area have little tolerance for failure to pay child support just because you choose not to. Refusal of visitation is not a valid reason to fail to pay court ordered child support. If she is refusing visitation and you are not paying child support, the court can hold you both in contempt.



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The short answer is yes. In a divorce where one spouse is using illegal drugs, abusing prescription drugs, or drinking alcohol to excess, judges routinely order that access to children be limited, exercised under suspicion, or both. The courts’ focus will always be the safety and the best interest of the child.



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Texas Divorce

In a Texas divorce, the court has jurisdiction to divide community property of the parties, which is presumed to be all property or liability obtained during the marriage. The short answer to your question about inherited money is that it would be the SEPARATE property of the person who inherited it. Divorce courts can only divide COMMUNITY property, which is any property accumulated during marriage except for gifts or inheritances.



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Whenever a person is sued, they are entitled to be given actual notice of the lawsuit by “service of citation”, which is a person, the process server, personally delivering the citation of the lawsuit to the person being sued. Then the process server files a return of service with the clerk of the court to evidence the actual delivery of the paperwork to the sued person. Any person may waive their right to be personally served, and they do that by signing a Waiver of Citation. A Waiver of Citation is an affidavit in which the sued person essentially says, “I waive my right to be personally served, and enter my appearance in this case”.



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Annulments differ from divorce in that in a divorce, the marriage is valid but request is made to end it. In an annulment the marriage itself is void or voidable, and declared to not be valid.



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Texas law requires that a divorce may not be granted until 60 days have passed from the date of filing. In most cases, divorces average from 90-180 days. There is no legal limit for longer periods.



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The issues you will address in your divorce include, but are not limited to, child support, visitation schedule for the child, property division (which includes debts) and possibly a name change. The retainer depends on the issues in play and how complicated your circumstances may be. Generally it is most productive to set up an appointment to evaluate your scenario.



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If the person is on public service from elsewhere here in Texas, as soon as the person is in Texas for 6 months and in a county for 90 days, a divorce may be sought in that county. If a Texan is overseas or elsewhere on public or military service, the Texan may pursue a divorce in the Texas home county.



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If both want a divorce, this is very simple. If you both are not agreeable to the idea and have no agreements about the divorce, it can be very expensive and time consuming. You may file the case, but if the military spouse is not agreeable to service of citation, it is costly and difficult just to do that. Secondly, if the military spouse invokes the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, neither of you will be obligated to appear in court until the military spouse is ready.



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Since the car was community debt, the bank is now looking to you to pay the outstanding balance. They can do this because your name is also on the note, and therefore you agreed to be responsible on the note. The bank was not involved in the divorce proceeding, and the agreements about who pays for the car are just between you and your spouse.



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You must live in Texas for six months and reside in a county for ninety days to file for a divorce in that county. The ninety-day residency requires actual, physical, continuous living in the county of suit by one of the parties to the suit with an intention to make that county home. The law requires also that you be a “domiciliary” of the state for six months. Tex. Fam. Code 6.301. There are other factors that may need to be considered.



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The 60 day waiting period is the minimum jurisdictional period of time for a divorce to last in Texas. In other words, the court cannot grant a divorce sooner than 60 days after filing. There is no length limit beyond 60 days.



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At this point you must set the case for a Motion to Enter the Judgment. You must file an order along with the motion that complies with the court’s order and an Employer’s Order to Withhold Income if there are orders for child support. You set it for hearing and send your version of the order to opposing counsel to review. If you cannot agree to the language in the order, then you are on the court’s docket for a hearing, and the court will help you finish the case.



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In a Texas divorce, the court has jurisdiction to divide community property of the parties, which is presumed to be all property or liability obtained during the marriage. This includes retirement assets. Many corporate retirement plans require a Qualified Domestic Order (otherwise known as a QDRO) from the court in order to set aside the asset to the non-employee spouse. It is not uncommon for the divorce decree to be entered without the necessary QDRO. This is true because the husband and wife are anxious to finish the divorce, and it can be tedious waiting for the company QDRO department to approve of the form of the QDRO order. The QDRO should not require the signatures of the parties to be entered. If one party attempts to hold up the process, by not signing off, then you may file a Motion to Enter the QDRO. That way, the judge reviews the requirements of the decree, the company has already approved of the FORM of the QDRO and the hold up from the other spouse is nullified.



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At this point you must set the case for trial. The court will likely then order you to mediation. If an agreement is reached in mediation, the court can enter a final order based on the terms of the mediated settlement agreement. If not, then you are on the court’s docket for trial.



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Since there is already a divorce, there is no annulment available through the court. You must contact the church for that. The court, after a divorce has already been granted, cannot grant an annulment, would not have the jurisdiction to annul that same marriage. The legal choice of approach at the time of the end of the marriage is divorce OR annulment.



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You can file for divorce if you are pregnant, but the divorce cannot be finalized until the child is born. This is true so that appropriate orders may be made for support and access, and sometimes the paternity, of the child. If the father of the child is not the husband, the court will require that the biological father be joined as a party to the divorce. This is necessary because the law presumes that a pregnancy during marriage is a child of the husband of the marriage. This process insures that the correct person is named as the father of the child.



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In a divorce, the court has jurisdiction to divide community property of the parties, which is presumed to be all property or liability obtained during the marriage. Property acquired before marriage is characterized as separate property, and therefore is not subject to division by the court. Separate property may also be obtained during marriage by gift, inheritance, or through personal injury damages (but lost wages obtained through a personal injury suit are community). However, income to separate property during the marriage is a community asset. Obviously, this gets a bit complicated, and there are numerous rules for particular kinds of assets.



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When a parent is using illegal drugs or abusing prescription drugs, a divorce court will almost always require that access to children of the marriage be supervised. Supervised visitation is performed by family or friends (by agreement or court approval) or there are paid services.



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If you both are not agreeable to the idea it can be very expensive and time consuming. You may file the case, but if he is not agreeable to service of citation, it is costly and difficult just to do that. Secondly, if he invokes the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, neither of you will be obligated to appear in court until he is ready.



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Under Texas law, undivided property remains the property of both spouses. If the divorce decree does not address a piece of property, then either spouse may file a motion to divide property not divided by the decree, as contemplated by Texas Family Code section 9.201 and 9.202.



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Under Texas law, animals are property, subject to division just like money or other property. This makes sense when you think in terms of livestock, horses and cattle, for example. However, most people regard their pets as a member of the family. In Dallas county, it is quite likely that animals as pets will be treated as property.



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In most cases, you must wait thirty days after the divorce to remarry because the divorce decree is just like any judgment. It may be granted on a particular day, but it is not final until thirty days have passed. This is necessary because this is the time period within which a Motion for New Trial may be filed. Consequently, it is wise to avoid conflict with the former spouse to prevent inviting a spiteful Motion for New Trial. However, the court may grant a waiver to allow remarriage earlier than thirty days upon proper request.



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Attorneys are not appointed in regular family matters. Only in a family case involving contempt can an attorney be appointed, and only then if you are indigent. Most judges find no indigency exists if you have a job or a vehicle – therefore no appointed attorney.



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With regard to debts, as spouses we have a duty to provide “necessaries” for each other, shelter, food, clothing, and medical care. Therefore, a first example is you should keep the spouse covered with health insurance during the divorce. Without the medical coverage, since you are married to this person, if anything happens to them-car wreck, etc-you could be tagged for 100% of outstanding medical expenses. So, the short version is, keep them covered! A second example involves credit card debt. In theory, a spouse could be liable for charges involving the “necessaries”, but most credit card companies do not pursue this avenue of recovery, unless it is a large amount of money. Plus, even if only one spouse can sign for charges on the card, the charges are technically community debt during marriage. However, as a practical matter, courts usually divide property in such a way to require the card account owner to pay it.



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This property circumstance arises because the bank that has the note on the marital house is not part of your divorce negotiation. Since the house was community debt, meaning you are both obligated on the loan for the house to the bank, if you fail to pay the note, the bank would then seek payment on the deficiency from the former spouse. That would adversely affect your former spouse’s credit. In this situation you are awarded the house in the divorce, so your spouse signs a Special Warranty Deed in your favor, transferring his interest in the house to you. In return, the law in Texas requires that you sign a Deed of Trust to Secure Assumption (“DOTSA”), promising that you will timely pay the note on the house. If you fail to pay the note, your former spouse can pay the note and seek for you to repay him. Ultimately, he could foreclose on you before the bank. But you would have the opportunity to pay him back before any foreclosure could take place. Remarkably, a bad outcome in which one spouse forecloses on the other with a DOTSA is rare. In over 20 years of practice, I have only seen this twice.



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The wedding ring is not treated the same as other property. A different analysis is required. The result depends on how the relationship ends. It is often the case that before marriage or even during divorce that people argue over who should be awarded the wedding ring. If the parties marry, the gift of the wedding ring is absolute, and the recipient may keep the ring. Of course the starting point in any conversation about property and marriage is the character of property as separate or community in nature. Initially, any gift or property owned before marriage is the separate property of the owner before marriage. Any gift or inheritance of property to a married person is also SEPARATE in character. Then, the COMMUNITY property presumption applies to any property acquired after marriage other than by gift or inheritance. So where does the wedding ring fit? What happens if the couple breaks up before the marriage? As often is true in the law, the short answer is “it depends”. The result depends on who ends the engagement. In Curtis v. Anderson, 106 S.W.3d 251, (Tex. App. Austin, 2003, writ denied), the Court explained the conditional gift rule. In that case, Mr. Curtis gave Ms. Anderson a ring for their engagement. Id. At 253. Curtis and Anderson broke up less than two months later, and Anderson refused to return the ring. Id. Historically, if the recipient of the conditional gift in contemplation of marriage had ended the relationship before the marriage, the gift could be recovered. Id. at 253 citing McLain v. Gilliam, 389 S.W.2d 131 (Tex.Civ.App.-Eastland 1965, writ ref’d n.r.e.)($4200 conditional gift woman to the man. He paid his debts, then ended the relationship. Woman recovered the money.) Curtis is a Texas case of first impression, determining what happens when the giver of the ring, the donor, breaks the engagement. Id. at 256. In Texas, the conditional gift rule involves an element of fault. Id. at 255. More simply stated, the circumstances of the end of the relationship provide the result. After reviewing the opinions of various other jurisdictions, the Curtis court stated, “On principle, an engagement ring is given, not alone as a symbol of the status of the two persons engaged, the one to the other, but as a symbol or token of their pledge and agreement to marry. As such pledge or gift, the condition is implied that if both parties abandon the projected marriage, the sole cause of the gift, it should be returned. Similarly, if the woman, who has received the ring in token of her promise, unjustifiably breaks her promise, it should be returned. When the converse situation occurs, and the giver of the ring, betokening his promise, violates his word, it would seem that a similar result should follow, i.e., he should lose, not gain, rights to the ring. In addition, had he not broken his promise, the marriage would follow, and the ring would become the wife’s absolutely. The man could not then recover the ring.” Id. at 256. Since Mr. Curtis terminated the relationship before the wedding, Ms. Anderson could keep the ring. This must have been quite a ring, because these parties tried to take this question to the Texas Supreme Court, but the petition for review was denied. 2003 Tex. LEXIS 395.



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The time limit to enforce property division differs between “tangible personal property” and monetary assets, such as money on deposit or stock in a brokerage account.

For personal property items, Texas Family Code  §  9.003 does impose a 2 year time limit, known as a statute of limitations, to enforce collection of “tangible personal property”.  It is then very important to either collect your personal items within two years of the date of the decree.  If your former spouse will not allow you to collect the items awarded to you in the decree, you must sue to request the Court make appropriate orders for your to take possession of your property.  If you do not timely sue for yoru property, you may lose it.

For monetary property or stocks for example, very simplified, Texas Family Code § 9.003 does NOT impose a 2 year limit, known as a statute of limitations, to enforce division of monetary accounts or stock, because money is not “tangible personal property”. In other words, you have to sue to get your personal stuff, the furniture, for example, within two years of the divorce, but you can sue to divide monetary accounts and stock accounts after that.

The Dallas Court of Appeals recently ruled, “we now hold that money and shares of stock are not tangible personal property for the purposes of section 9.003 [of the Texas Family Code]. Thus, we overrule [the Long case] to the extent that it holds that money or shares of stock constitute tangible personal property.” Chakrabarty v. Ganguly, 2019 Tex. App. LEXIS 1795, 2019 WL 1071844 (Tex. App.—Dallas, 2019, en banc opinion)(overruling  Long v. Long, 196 S.W.3d 460 (Tex. App. Dallas 2006), to the extent that it holds that money or shares of stock constitute tangible personal property.



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Texas Legal Name Change

A name change is available as long as you have not been convicted of a felony, are not now under indictment, not seeking to avoid creditors, the change will benefit you and is in the interest of the public. Texas Family Code section 45.103(a). If you have a felony conviction, you may still ask for a name change, but must show, in addition, that your probation is completed, not less than two years have passed from your discharge or you were pardoned. It is then only at the discretion of the court. See the same statute, section (b).



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Logistically, you would need to file a petition to change the name of the child. The name of a minor is something that requires the involvement of the father, even if he is not named on the birth certificate. In other words, you will not be able to legally change the child’s name without notice to him. Frequently, this also involves the issue of determining the paternity of the child with a court order.



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Texas Marriage

Unless the Court grants a special request, generally, you must wait 30 days after a divorce is granted to marry.



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Common law marriage is established by proof that you have cohabited (lived together), represented to others that you are married and had an agreement to be married. The agreement can be inferred from the other two elements. Texas Family Code section 2.401. Common law marriage, otherwise known as informal marriage, may also be established by filing a sworn declaration of and registration of informal marriage with the County Clerk of your county, pursuant to Texas Family Code 2.402. There is a rebuttable presumption of no marriage unless a suit is commenced to prove the marriage before the second anniversary that the parties “separated and ceased living together”.



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If the spouse were to die, you would have to prove the marriage. Common law marriage is established by proof that you have cohabited (lived together), represented to others that you are married and had an agreement to be married. The agreement can be inferred from the other two elements. Texas Family Code section 2.401. There is a rebuttable presumption of no marriage unless a suit is commenced to prove the marriage before the second anniversary that the parties “separated and ceased living together”. Then, as a surviving spouse, you would have a homestead right to remain in the house as long as you please, as long as you maintain the taxes, mortgage payments, and payments on construction improvements. Texas Estates Code sections 102.002 and 102.004. If you divorce the spouse, you would also have to prove the marriage, and then the character of any property, meaning separate or community property character, would matter.



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You and your spouse may go to the local County clerk and file a Declaration of Informal Marriage. This document allows you to declare your marriage as of a particular date. The filing fee varies by county. There may be other documents you should draft to meet your needs as a married couple, such as a will, or various powers of attorney.



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Common law marriage is established by proof that you have cohabited (lived together), represented to others that you are married and had an agreement to be married. The agreement can be inferred from the other two elements. Texas Family Code section 2.401. There is a rebuttable presumption of no marriage unless a suit is commenced to prove the marriage before the second anniversary that the parties “separated and ceased living together”.



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There is no statutory length of time, and it does not have to be years, or even one year.



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Generally the situation dictates that the best scenario involves both parties being represented by counsel. Full financial disclosure, of assets and liabilities, is an absolute necessity. Then the parties must decide how much community property they plan to accumulate during marriage. Additionally, in a prenuptial agreement, the parties may negotiate property distribution in the event of death or divorce.



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Texas Military Divorce

If the person is on public service from elsewhere here in Texas, as soon as the person is in Texas for 6 months and in a county for 90 days, a divorce may be sought in that county. If a Texan is overseas or elsewhere on public or military service, the Texan may pursue a divorce in the Texas home county.



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If both want a divorce, this is very simple. If you both are not agreeable to the idea and have no agreements about the divorce, it can be very expensive and time consuming. You may file the case, but if the military spouse is not agreeable to service of citation, it is costly and difficult just to do that. Secondly, if the military spouse invokes the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, neither of you will be obligated to appear in court until the military spouse is ready.

– See more at: Texas Divorce



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If you both are not agreeable to the idea it can be very expensive and time consuming. You may file the case, but if he is not agreeable to service of citation, it is costly and difficult just to do that. Secondly, if he invokes the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, neither of you will be obligated to appear in court until he is ready.

– See more at: Texas Divorce



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Texas Paternity

Regardless of any agreements between you, you should establish paternity. By establishing the identity of the father with a court order, terms would then become enforceable and you could be sure that he would be given a specific visitation schedule and given credit for any child support paid.



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It is very unlikely that “signing over your rights” would be approved by the court. The issue you bring up is the termination of the father’s parental rights. Dallas area judges are quite reluctant to allow a termination of your rights unless someone is also seeking adoption of the child. It is more likely that the paternity of the child would be established at this time. Texas law recognizes that children have a right to know their parents, and vice versa.



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If there is a “presumed” father, meaning the mother was married to someone at the time of the child’s birth, then under most circumstances an order for paternity, testing would have to occur by the child’s fourth birthday. Texas Family Code 160.607. If there is no presumed father, meaning the mother was single at the time of the birth, then there is no time limit for establishment of paternity underTexas Family Code 160.606. However, effective May 12, 2011, a man may seek termination of the parent child relationship if, without genetic testing, he signed an acknowledgement of paternity or was adjudicated the father of a child, because he was mistaken that he was the father. A petition must be filed no later than one year after the man learns he is not the genetic father, beginning September 1, 2012. Before that date, a termination may be filed due to mistaken paternity regardless of how long the man has been aware of the mistake. Texas Family Code 161.005.



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The identification of the father on the birth certificate merely creates a legal presumption that the named person is the father. The paternity of the child is only legally established by court order.



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If the father asks to have his name on the child, that request will most likely be granted by the court. This is an old Texas common law rule that the father has a protectable interest in the child bearing his surname. In re Baird, 610 S.W.2d 252 (Tex. Civ. App. — Fort Worth 1980, no writ). You could ask that the child’s name be hyphenated with yours, or request that the father’s name be a middle name, but these requests would be at the judge’s discretion.



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On the issue of the bio-father’s rights, paternity testing can be compelled by the court under these circumstances, if bio-dad or you request the test. He may also ask to have his name on the child, and that request will most likely be granted by the court. This is an old Texas common law rule that the father has a protectable interest in the child bearing his surname. In re Baird, 610 S.W.2d 252 (Tex. Civ. App. — Fort Worth 1980, no writ). You could ask that the child’s name be hyphenated with yours, or request that the father’s name be a middle name, but these requests would be at the judge’s discretion. He may request to have access to the child and a regular visitation schedule. He would have access to medical and educational records of the child. He would have the right to direct the religious training of the child while in his possession. These are a few of the rights a biological father may be awarded.



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If he is found to be the father, he can be ordered to pay prenatal and postnatal care for mom, as well as costs of delivery.



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You should file a paternity lawsuit to establish yourself as the father. On the issue of rights as the father, paternity testing can be compelled by the court if mom or you request it. You may also ask to have your surname on the child, and that request will most likely be granted by the court. This is an old Texas common law rule that the father has a protectable interest in the child bearing his surname. In re Baird, 610 S.W.2d 252 (Tex. Civ. App. — Fort Worth 1980, no writ). Mom could ask that the child’s name be hyphenated with yours, or request that the father’s name be a middle name, but these requests would be at the judge’s discretion. You may request to have access to the child and a regular visitation schedule. You would have access to medical and educational records of the child. You would have the right to direct the moral and religious training of the child while in your possession. These are a few of the rights a biological father may be awarded.



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Do you have a court order naming you as the father? The signing of a birth certificate creates merely a presumption that the person named is the father. In order to change the birth certificate, the paternity of the child would have to be determined by a court.



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Effective May 12, 2011, a man may seek termination of the parent child relationship if, without genetic testing, he signed an acknowledgement of paternity or was adjudicated the father of a child, because he was mistaken that he was the father. A petition must be filed no later than one year after the man learns he is not the genetic father, beginning September 1, 2012. Before that date, a termination may be filed due to mistaken paternity regardless of how long the man has been aware of the mistake. Texas Family Code 161.005.



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The short answer is no. The best approach would be to establish the father with a court order, because the terms would then be enforceable, and you could be sure that he would be given credit for the child support paid. That is accomplished by filing a lawsuit for paternity. However, the court will not establish orders or test for paternity until the child is born.



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In a paternity case, the court has wide discretion to determine if back child support would be paid. The questions for the mother would involve if she made the father aware of the child, invited him to the hospital for the birth, contacted him for help, etc. Questions for the father involve his knowledge of the birth of the child, whether he had a reasonable belief that the woman had other boyfriends and if he can be humble in court. If he is found to be the father, he can be ordered to pay prenatal and postnatal care for mom, as well as costs of delivery, in addition to retroactive child support.



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The issue you bring up is the termination of the father’s parental rights. Dallas area judges are unlikely to allow a termination under these circumstances. It is more likely that the paternity of the child would be established at this time.



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The signing of a birth certificate creates merely a presumption that a person is the father. In addition, marriage to a man at the time the child is born also creates merely a presumption that a person is the father. Since there is a “presumed” father, meaning the mother was married to someone at the time of the birth or shortly thereafter, then under most circumstances, testing would have to occur by the fourth birthday, by the biological father. Texas Family Code 160.607. However, effective May 12, 2011, a man may seek termination of the parent child relationship if, without genetic testing, he signed an acknowledgement of paternity or was adjudicated the father of a child, because he was mistaken that he was the father. A petition must be filed no later than one year after the man learns he is not the genetic father, beginning September 1, 2012. Before that date, a termination may be filed due to mistaken paternity regardless of how long the man has been aware of the mistake. Texas Family Code 161.005.



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Even after a divorce, effective May 12, 2011, a man may seek termination of the parent child relationship if, without genetic testing, he signed an acknowledgement of paternity or was adjudicated the father of a child, because he was mistaken that he was the father. A petition must be filed no later than one year after the man learns he is not the genetic father, beginning September 1, 2012. Before that date, a termination may be filed due to mistaken paternity regardless of how long the man has been aware of the mistake. Texas Family Code 161.005. However, the court may deny a request for paternity testing, depending on the needs of the child and the relationship between the man and the child.Texas Family Code 106.608.



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On the issue of the bio-mom’s rights, you may request to have access to the child and a regular visitation schedule. You would have access to medical and educational records of the child. You would have the right to direct the moral and religious training of the child while in your possession. You may have the right to receive, or be ordered to pay, child support. These are a few of the rights a biological mother may be awarded, if the court finds they are in the best interests of the child.



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In Texas, a child does not “divorce” the parents. For a minor to live separately from the parents and have the right to contract-meaning buy cars and rent apartments-the child must go through a court procedure called Removal of Disabilities of a Minor. The law requires that the child requesting Removal of Disabilities of a Minor by the court show: 1) that the minor is at least 16 years old, living separate from the parents, and, 2) the minor is self-supporting and managing his/her own affairs. Reference Texas Family Code section 31.001.



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Texas Probate

Probate is a court proceeding that relates to a decedent’s estate.  Texas Estates Code section 22.029.  It is the court procedure to prove a person’s Last Will and Testament as valid or invalid.  When there is no will, there are court procedures available to administer the estate of the person who has died. 



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Any will must be offered for probate within four years of the date of death, with very strict exceptions. However, it is almost always a good idea to probate the will earlier rather than later.



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Technically, the Texas Estates Code contemplates someone aware of a will to probate it. However, as a practical matter you should review the circumstances to determine if a different approach is possible or even desirable.



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The will must be contested within two years of the date it was admitted to probate, with some exceptions. Texas Estates Code section 256.204.



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The Texas Estates Code allows twelve months to pass from the time of the original grant of letters testamentary before any distributee may petition the court for distribution of the entire estate. Texas Estates Code section 360.001. However, an heir or distributee, or the executor may request partial distribution of any portion of the estate any time after the inventory has been filed and approved by the court. Texas Estates Code section 360.002. Usually, the executor has ninety days from the time granted letters testamentary, unless this period is extended by the court, to file an inventory of the estate. Texas Estates Code section 309.051. Then the court takes varying amounts of time to review it, and not much can happen until the court has approved of the inventory by written order.



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Yes, under certain circumstances an executor may be removed if the personal representative has “misapplied, embezzled or removed from the state, or is about to misapply, embezzle, or remove from the state” property of the estate.  Texas Estates Code section 361.052(1).  There are other grounds listed in the code that we should review. For example, if the executor fails to timely file the required inventory of the property of the estate. Texas Estates Code section 361.052(2).



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You may need to file an application for the probate of the estate, and ask for an heirship determination. This is necessary because your relative had no will naming his heirs. This means you may have to undergo a dependent administration. As you can see, this gets a bit complicated.



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As a surviving spouse, you would have a homestead right to remain in the house as long as you please, as long as you maintain the taxes, mortgage payments, and payments on construction improvements. Texas Estates Code section 102.004.



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Usually, the executor has ninety days from the time letters testamentary were granted, unless this period is extended by the court, to file an inventory of the estate. Texas Estates Code section 309.051. Then the court takes varying amounts of time to review it, and not much can happen until the court has approved of the inventory by written order.



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In your situation, the title company will require more than the death certificate to transfer title to the heirs, or to sell the property to a third party. They are concerned with the dependability of the chain of title on the real estate. The title company will want to see documents establishing the identity of the heirs of the estate.  Sometimes they will accept affidavits of heirship, if the circumstances are simple. Otherwise, the title company will require a letter testamentary (granted to the executor named in a will) an order admitting the will as a muniment of title only, or an order from the probate court identifying the heirs of the deceased.



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The short answer is yes, an out of state person may be appointed as executor of a Texas will in probate. However, the executor would then have to name a resident agent in Texas, for service of process. Attorneys that work on estates generally perform the role as the resident agent for estates that need one.



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A will must be contested within two years of the date it was admitted to probate, with some exceptions. Texas Estates Code section 256.204. A will may be contested on the grounds that 1) the testator did not have the capacity to make the will, or 2) undue influence was used on the testator to induce the execution of the will in its present form. Both of these are challenging and expensive cases to litigate.



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A will must be probated in a county that has jurisdiction and venue over the matter. A will must be probated in the county where the deceased resided, if he had a domicile or a fixed place of residence in Texas. Texas Estates Code section 33.001.  If the deceased person had no such domicile or fixed place of residence, but died here, then probate of his will would be appropriate in the county where the decedent’s principal property is located, or in the county where he died. Texas Estates Code section 33.001. There are other provisions in case your scenario does not fit within the above circumstances.



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Wills, under most circumstances, must be filed for probate within four years from the date of death. There are other factors that may need to be considered.



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Filing a will as a muniment of title only is appropriate if the only asset to transfer is real estate, and there are no unpaid debts owed by the estate, except for liens on real estate. Texas Estates Code section 257.001.  Essentially, this publishes the will for purposes of transferring the real estate to the named beneficiaries in the will. A court hearing is necessary to present the will for probate as a Muniment of Title.



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Texas Visitation Rights

Standard Possession Schedule is the legal term for the Texas Child Visitation Schedule. The Texas Family code sets out a comprehensive January through December schedule involving first, third and fifth weekends, alternating holidays and extended time in the summer for the visiting parent. The whole schedule is set out in Texas Family Code sections 153.311-153.317.



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The short answer is No. Your duty to pay child support is not at all related to the other parent’s duty to surrender the children according to the order in place. You both may be in violation of your orders. You should appear at the appropriate place to collect the children for visitation. Make notes on a calendar. Pay your child support; because when you take the other parent to court over lost time with your kids, you will have to address the child support as well.



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On the issue of the child support, that is a separate obligation of yours, unattached to you’re the other parent’s obligation to allow visitation.  You may be held in contempt of the order, fined, possibly jailed and be ordered to pay attorney’s fees if child support is delinquent. Courts in the Dallas area have little tolerance for failure to pay child support just because you choose not to. Refusal of visitation is not a valid reason to fail to pay court ordered child support.  If the other parent is refusing visitation and you are not paying child support, the court can hold you both in contempt.



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Your order states exactly when you are to have the child. The order should also address your obligations to do the shuttling back and forth to extracurricular activities. Check your order again, send the other parent notice in writing for the dates to which you are entitled to the child, then show up at the other parent’s house to pick up the child according to your schedule. Go to a nearby business and buy something, anything, coke, gum, keep the receipt. Tape the receipt to your calendar. Do this when you attend a sporting event. Then do it again the next time you should have the child. This shows you were in the vicinity of the ordered pick up place/sports event place at the appropriate time. In other words, this is evidence against the other parent for a motion to enforce visitation, or just for your motion to modify the visitation schedule. Then you are ready to file a Motion to Modify and to show the court how much time and money it takes to visit your kid. Further, it shows you have no discretion about how you spend time with your kid. More and more, orders address the extracurricular activities for children, how they affect your access, who pays for what, etc.



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The Texas Family code sets out a comprehensive January through December schedule involving first, third and fifth weekends, alternating holidays and extended time in the summer for the visiting parent. The terms address a schedule if the parents live within or beyond 100 miles from each other. The whole schedule is set out in Texas Family Code sections 153.311-153.317. The primary differences in the schedule for visitation when the parents are over 100 miles apart, or even out of state, are very few. Essentially the distant visiting parent would be entitled to every spring break and 42 days in the summer. When the parents are within 100 miles of each other, they alternate spring break, and the visiting parent would have 30 days in the summer.



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Depending on the length of time since a parent has regularly visited the child, the court may want to make special orders to allow a “warm-up” period of visitation, for the comfort of the child.



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Your order states exactly when you are to have the child. Check your order again, send the parent who has custody of the child notice in writing for the dates to which you are entitled, then show up at the ordered pick-up location to pick up the child according to your schedule. Go to a nearby business and buy something, anything, coke, gum, keep the receipt. Tape the receipt to your calendar. Then do it again the next time you should have the child. This shows you were in the vicinity of the ordered pick up place at the appropriate time. In other words, this is evidence against the other parent for a motion to enforce visitation, or just for your motion to modify the visitation schedule. This can be fixed.



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In your child’s situation, the mother has an obligation to surrender the child according to the ordered schedule. If she thinks the schedule is inappropriate, she must go to court to modify the schedule. If she refuses to allow you visitation, she could be held in contempt of the order, fined, possibly jailed and be ordered to pay attorney’s fees. Courts in the Dallas area have little tolerance for refusal of access to the child under a standard order. The upshot is that the older kids get, the more the child’s schedule and activities should be taken into account. However, the court also is concerned that the child spend extended time with both parents. There is no magic age at which the child may “choose” not to visit with the other parent. You should probably take the child to a counselor available on your health plan, which will help the child and provide necessary documentation for the court proceedings.



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Texas law is interpreted to require that the parent in possession of the child encourage the visitation and “tender” the child. In other words, get the child on the porch and if they refuse to go, so be it. However, parents must not engage in alienation of the children against the other parent. It is ultimately harmful to the children. Incidentally, the older the children are, the more their opinion is appreciated by the court.



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In your child’s situation, you have an obligation to surrender the child according to the ordered schedule, which you hopefully have done.  You have an obligation to”tender” the child. In other words, get the child on the porch or present the child at the appropriate place, and then the other parent can encourage the child to proceed with the visitation.  If you think the schedule is inappropriate, you must go to court to modify the schedule. If you refuse to allow visitation, you could be held in contempt of the order, fined, possibly jailed and be ordered to pay attorney’s fees. Courts in the Dallas area have little tolerance for refusal of access to the child under a standard order. The upshot is that the older kids get, the more the child’s schedule and activities should be taken into account. However, the court also is concerned that the child spend extended time with both parents. There is no magic age at which the child may “choose” not to visit with the other parent. You should probably take the child to a counselor available on your health plan, which will help the child and provide necessary documentation for the court proceedings.



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Some of the usual bases under the Texas Family Code cited for standing to sue for access to children are that the person is a parent, guardian, or person who has had actual care, custody and possession of children for at least six months ending not more than 90 days before filing suit. Texas Family Code section 102.003.



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There are various approaches to bring visitation violations of an order to the attention of the court. The harshest remedy for violation of the standing orders of the court would be technically a contempt action, which is a separate lawsuit, involving filing fees, new service upon the other parent, etc. Because contempt actions involve a quasi-criminal situation, meaning that if the person sued is found in contempt of a civil order, they risk suffering incarceration, so then and in that case, the sued parent may choose to remain silent. A couple of more cost effective and immediate ways to inform the court would be through either a Motion for Additional Temporary Orders, or a Motion for Sanctions. Either or both of these motions may be brought without the additional expenses of filing fees or service of process. Additionally, attorney’s fees may be sought, along with other more creative sanctions, which could be tailored to the circumstances of your case. Finally, since jail is not a potential sanction under these options, the person sued may NOT remain silent. In other words, the court can compel answers to questions asked at the hearing.



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In a city size of Dallas, with this traffic, the courts generally do not get involved if the lateness for visitation, pick up or delivery, is 15-20 minutes.   Most local judges regard 30 minutes as the limit beyond which you should not have to wait.



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There are various approaches to bring these violations of an order to the attention of the court. The harshest remedy for violation of the visitation orders of the court would be technically a contempt action, which is a separate lawsuit, involving filing fees, new service upon the petitioner, etc. Because contempt actions involve a quasi-criminal situation, meaning that if the person sued is found in contempt of a civil order, they risk suffering incarceration, so then and in that case, the sued parent may choose to remain silent. Another approach to inform the court would be through either a Motion to Modify, or a Motion for Sanctions. Either or both of these motions would involve additional expenses of filing fees or service of process. Additionally, attorney’s fees may be sought, along with other more creative sanctions, which could be tailored to the circumstances of your case. For example, make up time visitation orders can be requested. Finally, since jail is not a potential sanction under these options, the person sued may NOT remain silent. In other words, the court can compel answers to questions asked at the hearing.



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You may ask for more summer time or other make-up time that the child is not in school and hope to work out a compromise. The general rule is that if you fail to take visitation time, you waive it.



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Regardless of any agreements between you, you should establish paternity. By establishing the father with a court order, terms would then become enforceable and you could be sure that he would be given a specific visitation schedule and given credit for any child support paid.



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The presumption is in favor of unsupervised time between parents and children, regardless of the age of the child. Dad needs to have bonding time with the child, too. The Texas Family code sets out a standard visitation schedule presumed in the best interest of children at age three. Many courts use it for younger children. The Standard Possession Schedule is a comprehensive January through December schedule involving first, third and fifth weekends, alternating holidays and extended time in the summer for the visiting parent. The whole schedule is set out in Texas Family Code sections 153.311-153.317. On the other hand, some courts have their own policy when it comes to infant children, opting for shorter times with the visiting parent to accommodate breast-feeding, for example. These schedules usually contemplate the first, third and fifth weekends, and alternating holidays, with weekends defined as Saturday overnight instead of the standard Friday to Sunday weekend. There has been much debate on this issue because under an abbreviated schedule the visiting parent is at a severe disadvantage to bond appropriately with the child. This is also a downside for the child.



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The court will appoint the parent a Possessory Conservator unless the court finds that such an appointment is not in the child’s best interest. Texas Family Code section 153.191. There is a rebuttable presumption in Texas law that the Standard Possession Order set out in the family code is reasonable minimum possession for a parent and is in the best interest of the child. Texas Family Code section 153.252. In order to be granted supervised visitation only, this presumption must be rebutted by evidence that it would be harmful to the child, or that the child may be uncomfortable because he doesn’t know his parent. Even if the court found that a supervised visitation schedule was warranted, it is usually short-lived. In other words, the court’s goal is generally to achieve a Standard Possession schedule for the parties and the child eventually. This is true because it is logistically difficult to implement supervised visitation since this usually requires an imposition on the schedule of a volunteer supervisor, such as a family member. Paid supervisors are available, but they become quite expensive. Plus, it is not ideal because the child obviously doesn’t know the paid supervisor.



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In my experience, the court will take the work schedule of the parties into account in determining a schedule in the best interest of the child. For example, if one or both parents work every weekend, a visitation schedule dependent on weekends doesn’t make much sense. Usually the actual logistics of the distance and timing between home and work and the school make the decision for the parties.



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In your child’s situation, you have an obligation to surrender the child according to the ordered schedule. If you think the schedule is inappropriate, you must go to court to modify the schedule. If you refuse to allow visitation, you could be held in contempt of the order, fined, possibly jailed and be ordered to pay attorney’s fees. Courts in the Dallas area have little tolerance for refusal of access to the child under a standard order.



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The presumption is in favor of both parents enjoying unsupervised time with kids. The Texas Family code sets out a standard visitation schedule presumed in the child’s best interest at age 3. Many courts use it for younger kids. The whole schedule is set out in Texas Family Code sections 153.311-153.317.



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The Texas Family code sets out a comprehensive January through December schedule involving first, third and fifth weekends, alternating holidays and extended time in the summer for the visiting parent. The whole schedule is set out in Texas Family Code sections 153.311-153.317.



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On the issue of travel outside the US, the gatekeepers on this question are the US State Department, and the airline. The usual requirement now since a passport is necessary to travel out of the country, is that both parents must consent to the travel. Court orders now have provisions that deal with this eventuality. You should check with the US State Department (for the passport), and the airline for their particular needs. Do it now, and do not wait until a few weeks before a trip. Passports can take as long as 6-8 weeks to obtain, and that is if all signatures are readily available. In a difficult case, the court may order a parent to sign the necessary consent for the child to travel. This would be in the context of a Motion to Modify, which would be filed in the county that has continuing jurisdiction over the child.



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Generally, the visiting parent collects the child at the beginning of the visit at the home of the parent with the right to determine the primary domicile of the child. Texas Family Code Section 153.316. However, the court may make appropriate orders for the exchange of the children at another location. The problems with “meeting half-way” to exchange the children are many, including traffic, car trouble, last minute illness of the child or the parent. The method to bring this situation to the Court’s attention would be a Motion to Modify.



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Yes, the first, third and fifth weekends do continue for the non-custodial parent in the summer, except for the extended visit for the custodial parent. In other words, both of you have the right to take a vacation with the child, taking a weekend from the other parent (but not father’s day weekend). But the non-custodial parent has first choice for the summer schedule.



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Texas Wills And Living Wills

In order for a document to be a will, it must comply with the requirements of Texas Estates Code section 251.051.  If typewritten, a will must be signed by the testator and attested by two or more credible witnesses above the age of fourteen, who also sign the will in the presence of the testator. We should review your document to determine if it complies with the statute.



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The short answer is no. This is not precisely a will contest, but contesting the distribution terms of the will. Texas Estates Code section 201.058(d) prevents a “beneficiary of a life insurance policy or contract who is convicted and sentenced as a principal or accomplice in willfully bringing about the death of the insured”…from inheriting due to wrongful conduct. Courts would impose a constructive trust on the wrongdoer in favor of different beneficiaries. See Bounds v. Caudle, 560 S.W.2d (Tex. 1977), appeal after remand, 611 S.W.2d 685 (Tex. Civ. App.–Corpus Christi, writ ref’d n.r.e.). In other words, the murderer inherits nothing.



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You would want a trust for a minor child who might inherit from you through your Will, or an adult child to protect the child’s inherited money from their future spouse or creditors. With a trust, you can then name a trustee to manage the inherited money for the child. If you include no trust in your Will for your children or other beneficiaries, then a guardianship of the estate of any child beneficiary may be necessary. In addition, in the absence of trust language, the child you name as a beneficiary under your Will would have the right of access to all of your gift on her or his eighteenth birthday. Most teenagers or twenty-somethings gaining access to money spend it badly. You can make plans to protect property or assets you want to give to a child with a Will including a simple trust.



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Filing a will as a muniment of title only is appropriate if the only asset to transfer is real estate, and there are no unpaid debts owed by the estate, except for liens on real estate. Texas Estates Code section 257.001. Essentially, this publishes the will for purposes of transferring the real estate to the named beneficiaries in the will. A court hearing is necessary to present the will for probate as a Muniment of Title.



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Any will must be offered for probate within four years of the date of death, with very strict exceptions. However, it is almost always a good idea to probate the will earlier rather than later.



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The Texas Estates Code no longer requires that a will be probated. However, as a practical matter you should review the circumstances to determine if probating the will is an appropriate approach or if another approach is desirable.



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The will must be contested within two years of the date it was admitted to probate, with some exceptions. Texas Estates Code section 256.204.



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A will with simple trust language to protect children is $900.00, and other papers (powers of attorney, etc.) are $100.00 each. Please see the Will Information sheet on the Legal Forms page, which requests vital information in order to draft your documents.



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A “living will” is a document known in Texas as a Directive to Physicians in a form as contemplated by Texas Health & Safety Code section 166.033. Its purpose is to state your intention with regard to artificially prolonging your life. In other words, with this instruction, you may direct that life-sustaining treatment be administered, withheld, or withdrawn. Texas Health & Safety Code section 166.031(1). Very bluntly, this document reflects your request to be “unplugged” in the event of a terminal or irreversible condition. Specific concerns may also be itemized in your living will. For example, if you do not wish to be dependent on a respirator if you are determined to have no brain activity, you may say so. Likewise, if you wish to always be provided intravenous fluids, but do not want to be reliant on a feeding tube and have an imminently terminal condition, this may be stated as well. This document is revocable at any time. Texas Health & Safety Code section 166.042. This document is one part of a set of documents to specify your wishes with regard to your medical care.



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Infrequently, a will is recorded in the county records of the county where the testator, the person writing the will, lives and owns property. You may also contact the attorney who represented the person. Another place to look would be the probate clerk for the county where the person has lived and died-if the will has been filed for probate, it will be there.



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For a document to be regarded a will in Texas, under most circumstances, it must either be entirely in the handwriting of the person making the will (the testator) or, be a ceremonial will. A ceremonial will must be in writing, and signed by the testator in person in the presence of and attested by two or more credible witnesses over the age of fourteen, who in turn subscribe to the will in their own handwriting in the presence of the testator. Texas Estates Code section 251.051.The ceremonial will, which is the preferred choice, may be made “self-proved” by having it notarized with the appropriate language included at the end of a will. Texas Estates Code section 251.104.  This is preferred because such a will is easier and less expensive to probate. This is true since the witnesses to the will would not be required to come testify in court to probate the will.



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A will is your final personal statement that includes instructions about the custody of your children, who will own your property, and who will inherit your money. Without a will, the State of Texas determines who raises your children and who inherits your property and money. For this reason, it is important that everyone write a legal will. Most people avoid writing wills because they don’t like to think about their death and the details that follow. Once you decide that you prefer to determine your children’s guardian and who inherits your property and money, the process of writing a will doesn’t take much of your time. The whole process usually takes a couple of meetings and less than a couple of weeks. It is also important to update your documents periodically. A simple will is $800.00, a will with simple trust language is $900.00 and other papers (powers of attorney, etc.) are $100.00 each. Please see the Will Information sheet on the Legal Forms page, which requests vital information in order to draft your documents.



Call 214-373-9292 or contact us to discuss your concerns.

A simple will is $800.00, and other papers, advance directives (powers of attorney, etc.) are $100.00 each. Please see the Will Information sheet on the Legal Forms page, which requests vital information in order to draft your documents.



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If a person dies without a will, then the court determines the identity of the heirs of that deceased person.  This is known as an heirship determination in Texas.  When you write a will, you name your heirs to be whomever you choose, regardless of the members of your family.  Without a will, no heirs are named, and so the court must decide who the heirs of an estate will be.  The Texas Estates Code sections 201.002 and 201.003 dictate the shares of property that particular heirs, always family members, would be awarded in the absence of a will.



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A Medical Power of Attorney is authorized by Texas Health and Safety Code sections 166.163 and 166.164. Every adult has the right to make their own medical decisions, or to refuse medical care. A medical power of attorney is an important document that appoints someone you trust to help you obtain medical care and with medical decisions, taking your concerns and preferences into account. The person you appoint can then help you make medical decisions in the event you are not able to communicate. The person you appoint cannot have you committed to a mental institution or consent to an abortion. Additionally, your appointed person would then have access to your other medical records in order to obtain medical care for you. Every person should have these documents.



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