Texas family law has a strong presumption that it is in the child’s best interest to give custody to a parent. Generally, the court must appoint sole managing conservatorship to the parent instead of a non-parent unless it finds doing so would not be in the child’s best interest due to significant impairment of the child’s emotional development or physical health. Tex. Fam. Code § 153.131(a). What if the parent lives in another country? A Texas appeals court recently considered this issue.
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 ›
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 ›
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 ›
Are you currently serving in the military or know someone who is? Texas is home to one of the largest populations of active military members in the nation. As such, the Texas Family Code has specific statutes that address the unique issues facing our military members in the family law context.
For instance, what happens if you have primary custody of a child after a divorce and you are called overseas or ordered to military duty in another state? Texas Family Code § 153.701 states the following: Continue Reading ›
Should a rapist have the right to custody of a child who was conceived by rape? The United States Senate recently answered—unanimously—“No!” to that very question when it passed an amendment to human trafficking legislation that would give states a strong incentive to ban rapists from having parental rights regarding a resulting child.
The Rape Survivor Child Custody Act passed the Senate 99-0 and targets a pressing problem: in 40 out of 50 states, a woman cannot sue to terminate the parental rights of her rapist. In those states, a rapist can sue for custody of a child conceived by the rape. That means that a woman could be forced to face her rapist “every other weekend” to exchange their child—an outcome that can have devastating traumatic results. Continue Reading ›
For the parents of a brand new baby boy, oftentimes the first medical decision to be made for the child is whether he should be circumcised. This medical procedure is usually performed in the hospital shortly after the birth of the child and outside the presence of the parents, or in the Jewish faith, eight days after the birth of the baby boy, which is part of the brit milah (a.k.a. bris) ritual. But what happens when the parents do not agree on whether their baby should be circumcised? What legal recourse do the parents have in Texas? The answer is not an easy one.
In Texas, parents can legally resolve their disputes in a “Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship” (“SAPCR”) wherein the Court is asked to appoint the parents with certain rights, powers, and duties over their child. The problem in the case of circumcision, however, is that a SAPCR may not be filed for an unborn child. Therefore, if a parent has a strong objection to circumcision, then he or she must wait until after the child is born to prevent an unwanted circumcision and then act quickly. Assuming that the medical professionals will not perform the procedure against one parent’s clear objection, the objecting parent will need to file a SAPCR immediately and request a Temporary Restraining Order to prohibit the non-objecting party from consenting to the circumcision until the Court cannot decide the matter after notice and hearing.