Summer Visitation Schedules for Texas Fathers

This question causes many divorced or single parents much stress concerning meaningful contact with their children. “What do I need to do to legally secure my specific summer visitation periods with my kids?” Since we have commenced the 2016 summer season here is a general breakdown today of the law on summer visitation:

Family code: 153.312: Notification of Summer Visitation: Parents who reside 100 miles or less apart.

A possessory conservator gives the managing conservator written notice by April 1 of each year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession, the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child for 30 days beginning not earlier than the day after the child’s school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending not later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation, to be exercised in not more than two separate periods of at least seven consecutive days each, with each period of possession beginning and ending at 6 p.m. on each applicable day; or does not give the managing conservator written notice by April 1 of each year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession, the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child for 30 consecutive days beginning at 6 p.m. on July 1 and ending at 6 p.m. on July 31;

If the managing conservator gives the possessory conservator written notice by April 15 of each year, the managing conservator shall have possession of the child on any one weekend beginning Friday at 6 p.m. and ending at 6 p.m. on the following Sunday during one period of possession by the possessory conservator under Subdivision (2), provided that the managing conservator picks up the child from the possessory conservator and returns the child to that same place;
and
If the managing conservator gives the possessory conservator written notice by April 15 of each year or gives the possessory conservator 14 days’ written notice on or after April 16 of each year, the managing conservator may designate one weekend beginning not earlier than the day after the child’s school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending not later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation, during which an otherwise scheduled weekend period of possession by the possessory conservator will not take place, provided that the weekend designated does not interfere with the possessory conservator’s period or periods of extended summer possession or with Father’s Day if the possessory conservator is the father of the child.

Divorce, paternity or other orders setting out access/possession rights should specifically set out this information. Such orders are usually custom and specific on times and dates for summer and other holiday visitations.

In today’s world, a statutory preset structured visitation schedule does not always work in a blended family environment. Many fathers are now either sole managing conservator or co-managing conservators with the mother. The current standard visitation schedule is used more as a basic presumed schedule to which extended time may be added for cause good for more equal shared time with the children.

With an enlightened public awareness and presumption under law that children need quality time with both parents, many parents are looking for modifications to child visitation orders that agrees with their lifestyles to share their children equally and fairly.

Parental Alienation Hurts Your Children – Know the Symptoms

Are you now going through or commencing a “High Conflict” Divorce with children where one Alienating Parent is encouraging or programming the child to reject the other parent without legitimate cause or justification. An alienating parent makes a child choose sides to bolster the alienators own parental identity and to undermine the target parent through denigration and interference with the child’s other parent relationship.  

Parental Alienation is more common than thought in divorce situations and many alienation situations continue throughout the entire relationship with the target parent and the affected child.   

A report from Fidler and Bala (2010) reported increased incidences and judicial findings in parental alienation and estimated signs of parental alienation in 11-15% of divorces with children. Psychiatrist, Dr. William Bernet, Professor at Vanderbilt University and advocate of parental alienation (Sept. 2013) “Almost every mental health professional who works with children of divorced parents acknowledges the PA (parental alienation) affects thousands of families and causes enormous pain and hardship”

What are the warning signs of “Parental Alienation Syndrome”?  Beware when a child starts displaying accelerated signs of hatred and anger rejecting any relationship with the target parent. This is especially transparent when a normal relationship existed before the deviant behavior manifests.

Are you having these types of problems with your children?  What are the basic symptoms of Parental Alienation(PA)? There are many versions but in our law practice, these are the most visible:

    • Under the idea of just being honest, the alienating parent tells the child “the entire family situation” through their opinionated eyes causing the child to think less of the target parent.  Placing singular blame for who caused the breakup of the family?
    • Alienating Parent refuses to allow the target parent access to school records/activities, medical/doctor records/appointments, extracurricular activities, or anything that would be a shared part of the child/parent life together.
    • An Alienating Parent makes demands on the target parent that are contrary to court orders. Allows the child to make choices about parental visits with the target parent contra to existing court orders causing the child to resent the target parent when the changes request cannot or should not happen.
    • Alienated parent may schedule the child in too many activities to assure no time is left for the target parent to visit with the child. Both parents need to be flexible with visitation to respond to the child’s need to have a relationship with both parents.
    • A parent listens in on the child’s conversation with the target parent or does not allow the child to talk with the target parent at the designed call time.
    • Refuses to allow children to takes their possessions to the target parent residence.
  • Alienated parent blames the target parent for financial problems, having a boy/girlfriend, or causing changes in the family lifestyle. Forcing adult issues on a minor to gain advantage.
  • When the child shows constant anger towards the target parent that accelerates to the point where the child avoids being with the target parent. No justified or demonstrative reason is given or exists for the anger and the child will not discuss the issue.
  • The alienating parent will use the child to spy and gather information against the target parent. This can cause the child to demean and fear the target parent while scaring the child’s self-image.
  • Alienating parent asks the child about the other parent’s personal life causing the child extreme stress/tension. A child not alienated wants to loyal to both parents.
  • Alienating parents have secret codes, signals, and words that reinforce very destructive on-going alienation.

In today’s world Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is now taken very serious in family law courts. Please review the symptoms of parental alienation and see if there are common elements in your relationship with your child to determine if parental alienation may be a factor.

If so, take action to help alleviate this this situation with your child.  Contact a medical professional who can help address this form of brainwashing.  The alienating parent always feels like they are helping the child, but in reality, by pushing the child into their way of thinking about the target parent, they are pushing the child into a life of low self- esteem, depression, lack of trust, and self- hate.  Many times the child will turn on the alienating parent when the real family picture comes out or as they grow and mature.

Nothing is ever gained by demeaning actions by one family member on all other members of the family unit. Many times it may also be necessary to contact a legal profession who is knowledgeable in Parental Alienation situations to legally intercede and help correct family issues before the child and parent regress to a non- existent relationship with each other.

Getting Even by using a child is never fair play.  The child has two parents and should be able to have a loving relationship with both.

Behind on Child Support ? Factors on Satisfying Texas Back Child Support Arrearage

In Texas it is the responsibility of a mother and father to adequately support their child. An adequate support usually comes in the form of child support payments monthly. It is a common mistake of judgment to attempt to hide from child support obligations or willfully ignore the obligation. Intentional non-payment gives rise to contempt proceedings

The circumstances regarding the parent’s decision not to pay child support is considered by the court in contempt proceedings. Texas Family Code 154.131 strictly deals with retroactive child support payments. There are four factors a Texas Court will consider when determining how far back a parent must make child support back-payments. They are:

  1. If the mother of the child had made any previous attempts to notify the obligor (delinquent parent) of his paternity or probable paternity;
  2. If the obligor (delinquent parent) had knowledge of his paternity or probable paternity;
  3. If the order of retroactive child support will impose an undue financial hardship on the obligor (delinquent parent) or the obligor’s family; and
  4. If the obligor (delinquent parent) has provided actual support or other necessities before the filing of the action.

All these factors will be taken into consideration by a Texas Court when determining how far back and how much an individual must pay child support.

If it is reasonable and in the best interest of the child then the Texas Family Code 154.131(c) allows for the Court to assign retroactive child support payments that only extends back 4 years. The option to confine retroactive child support payments to only four years may be contested by the parent requesting the child support. A parent that is contesting the Court’s decision in allowing the delinquent parent to pay back only four years’ worth of back-payments will have the burden of proof to establish:

  1. The Obligor (delinquent parent) knew or should have known that he was the father of the child for whom the support is sought

And

  1. The Obligor (delinquent parent) sought to avoid the establishment of support obligation to the child

If, however, a father is delinquent on child support because he did not know of the child’s existence, was told by the mother that his support was not wanted or needed, or the father had been paying a certain amount prior to the filling of the child support then the Court will likely only award retroactive payments of four years or less. If the father has willfully refused or ignored his obligation to pay support and adequately support his child, then the Court has the authority to order that delinquent parent to pay retroactive child support payments dating back to the day the child was born.

Retroactive child support can be complex and tricky considering the multiple circumstances in which this problem may arise. If you find yourself in this predicament and have received a summons to a Texas Child Support Court, then contact an experienced attorney immediately to see what can be done and how to best effetely address this unavoidable issue.