For many Texas co-parents, relocating to another state is their “white whale:” relentlessly sought after, but seldom granted by the family courts. However, one Texas mother recently obtained the (nearly) unobtainable. This mother had spent years dealing with a co-parent, the father, who made even the simplest of child-rearing decisions difficult. The father had cancelled dentist appointments without telling the mother, hid the children from their mother, taught the children how to fight (by telling them to hit the mother), and refused to consent to the children’s enrollment in daycare despite one of the children suffering from speech delays that required professional attention. Nonetheless, this mother persisted.
On June 26, 2020, the Supreme Court of Texas issued a ruling that is sure to have a major impact on future non-parent custody cases in the state of Texas. In the case of In re C.J.C., the Supreme Court of Texas found that the presumption that it is in the best interest of a child to award possession to a fit parent versus a non-parent extends to modification cases. This decision is certain to be seen as a major win for parents, as the Court reinforced the long-held notion that in most cases, a parent having custody of their child is best for the child.
The case involved grandparents of the child and the boyfriend of the child’s deceased mother attempting to modify the possession of the child and gain at least some court-ordered possession from the child’s father. The trial court found that the boyfriend was entitled to some possession and even some rights, such as the right to consent to emergency medical decisions. The child’s father appealed this decision. Continue Reading ›
As COVID-19 began to take hold in the United States, Texas and other states took action to ensure that child possession schedules remained in effect and were followed according to court orders. These actions were effective, and as COVID-19 continues to persist in society, parents have adapted to working within court-ordered possession schedules. Now, however, new issues have surfaced regarding the safety and protection of children who are subject to the court-ordered possession schedules. Continue Reading ›
Parenting is hard. Those three words are enough to capture the entire outlook of parenthood from the moment that the sweet child enters the world.
In today’s world, parenting has taken on a number of new issues such as parenting after a divorce, as an unmarried couple; single parenting; and co-parenting. Briefly stated, parenting is hard. According to the National Statistics Unit, in 2016 39.8% of births in the U.S. are by unmarried women. It is important that expecting or current modern parents consult with an attorney who can help guide them through the legal processes of ensuring full legal rights to conservatorship, possession of and access to their child and identifying numerous nuances that are becoming more and more prevalent in this modern era. Parents today face many challenges that older generations never even dreamed about.
The right to establish primary residence of a child has generally been perceived to have an inherent control over certain aspects of the right to make educational decisions. The Texas Court of Appeals out of Austin, however, recently handed down an interesting ruling regarding the connection between these two rights, thereby changing how many will interpret the meaning behind the right to designate primary residence. Continue Reading ›
Can a married couple get divorced in Texas while the wife is pregnant?
It is highly unlikely.
Most Texas courts will not grant a divorce to a married couple if the wife is pregnant. Instead, the couple will have to wait until after the baby is born to finalize their divorce, oftentimes causing significant delays to the already lengthy divorce process. This is the case even if the husband and wife both want the divorce and are in agreement on all issues.
A Court in Houston recently reinforced the importance of honesty and full disclosure during the Collaborative Law process when it found that a husband potentially committed fraud by failing to disclose changing job circumstances. See Rawls v. Rawls, 2015 WL 5076283 (Tex. App.–Houston [1st Dist.] 2015, no pet.).
A husband and wife in Houston chose to use Collaborative Law to complete their divorce proceedings in 2014. They successfully reached a settlement that included provisions for the wife to receive portions of her husband’s bonus over the next few years. Unfortunately, before the settlement agreement was signed, the husband received a job offer, which he failed to disclose to his wife, and he resigned from his job. Full and complete disclosures of such information is a critical part of the Collaborative Law process, because the goal is to make both parties feel safe to make informed decisions. The Houston Court is currently examining whether the husband committed fraud and breached a fiduciary duty under the Collaborative Law agreement he signed by concealing his job change from his former spouse during the collaborative law process. Continue Reading ›
Our society is rapidly changing—from technological advances, to medicinal breakthroughs, to the meteoric ascension of the multinational corporation, individuals and communities are forced to adapt to our culture’s fast-paced global expansion. While there are certainly many factors that have contributed to these changes, our ability to communicate instantly across thousands of miles and travel thousands of miles in a matter of hours has created a society less focused on the proverbial “home roots.”
When parties finalize their divorce or have an order issued relating to their children, what happens when one or both parents have their home roots pulled up by out-of-state job transfers, family issues that require relocation, or new opportunities that send one parent across state lines? Is the order issued in the first state enforceable by the parent who has moved to a different state? Can the traveling parent modify the prior order in another state, or are they stuck litigating in the courts of the state that issued the original order? What if both parents and the child no longer reside in the state that issued the original order?
The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act was crafted to provide answers to these questions. Continue Reading ›