New Texas Family Case Laws Effective Sept. 1, 2019

Two New Family Case laws have been passed by the Texas legislature and signed by Governor Abbott, effective 9/1/2019:

HB553 Relating to notice summer weekend possession of a child under a standard possession order in a suit affecting the parent-child relationship.

SECTION 1. Section 153.312, Family Code, is amended by adding subsection (c) to read as follows:

(c) Notwithstanding Section 153.316, after receiving notice from the managing conservator under Subsection (b)(3) of this section designating the summer weekend during which  the managing conservator is to have possession of the child, the possessory conservator, not later than the 15th day before Friday that begins that designated weekend, must give the managing conservator written notice of the location at which the managing conservator is to pick up and return the child.

SECTION 2. Section 153.312 (c), Family Code, as added by this Act, applies only to a court order providing for possession of or access to a child rendered on or after the effective date of this Act. A court order rendered before the effective date on this Act is governed by the law in effect on the date the order was rendered, and the former law is continued in effect for that purpose.

SECTION 3. This Act takes effect September 1, 2019

HB House Bill 558: Relating to the court ordered support for a child with disability:

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:

SECTION 1. Section 154.302, Family Code, is amended by adding Subsection (c) to read as follows:

(c) notwithstanding Subsection (b), a court that orders support under this section for an adult child with a disability may designate a special needs trust and provide that the support may be paid directly to the trust for the benefit of the adult child. The court shall order that support payable to a special needs trust under this subsection be paid directly to the trust and may not order that the support be paid to the state disbursement unit. This subsection does not apply in a Title IV-D case.

SECTION 2. The change in law made by this Act constitutes a material and substantial change of circumstance under Section 156.401, Family Code, sufficient to warrant modification of a court order or a portion of a decree that provides support for a child rendered before the effective date of this Act.

Section 3. This Act takes effect on September 1, 2019

More new Texas Legislature Family Laws to come!

Summer Visitation and Divorce? Your Sharing Attitude Will Be the Happy Force for your Children and Family!

We are approaching the end of the school year and the beginning of the long Summer Visitation!  You have probably received the letter/ email from your EX requesting the setup for the Summer Visitation with the children.

Usually this is not a happy time for the primary care giving parent, but from personal experience, you need a break and letting the children spend some extended time with the other parent will give them a chance to share time and experiences with this parent and make them happy. Remember your children love you and nothing will change that fact!

From practicing family law for a long time now, I believe there are elements in divorce that will never change:

  1. You cannot make someone love you and stay with you if they choose not to.
  2. The only person that you can be completely responsible for in behavior is YOURSELF!
  3. If you choose to have a bad attitude and try to hurt your EX by alienating your children, then not only are you not winning the divorce game, but you are causing serious damage to your Children. Even if you win, you are a loser. The Kids didn’t ask for this Divorce, they are often stuck because Mom and Dad couldn’t be happy together!

After considering these ideas and deciding no, your children were not the case of the divorce, try giving some effort to help make your children happy during Summer Visitation with their other parent and not worry about you.

Here are my “New Divorce No No Rules” that will make the Summer Visitation happier for the entire family including your EX:

  1. No talking bad about the other spouse! This is your battle, not the kids! The kids are still related to their other parent and love that parent.
  2. Make this Summer Visitation an adventure for the kids. Mommy and Daddy are not together anymore, but the children should feel that they are going to spend this special time with their other parent without you acting mad or hurt. Never let the kids know that you are unhappy about the Summer separation and may not love them if they are happy!  Let the kids look forward to a wonderful summer adventure with their dad or mom and don’t look back!
  3. Get with your ex-spouse and determine the Summer visitation schedule.  Share this schedule with the kids so they will know what is going on and what time will be shared with both parents. Meanness will not be tolerated, be nice!   
  4. Talk with the children on their ideas for the Summer Visitation. Maybe share these ideas with your EX. Remember: this is not about your feelings, it is about the love and needs of your family.

“The more you give in to the love of your family, the better you will feel in your heart.”

You, my friend,  will eventually get over this hurt of the Summer separation with the kids and maybe get a little rest yourself. Before you know it, the kids will be back, school will start and your family’s live will go on, but it is always the decisions you make to help your children cope with this family split that will determine your true character as a parent and a person.

Hoping you and your family will have a wonderful Summer and this blog has help to put a smile on your face!   —-Mark A. Nacol

Unique Possession Orders that Work with a Fathers Profession

Many professions create impositions on conservators making a standard possession order inapplicable and unworkable. The Court may deviate from a standard possession order if the order is inappropriate or unworkable in reference to the schedules of both the conservators and the child. Unique professions and irregular school schedules for children allow the Court to have flexibility to deviate from a standard possession order that is in the Best Interest of the Child. There are multiple ways in which the Court may depart from a standard possession order to fulfill the needs of all parties involved with the custody of the child.

First, the Family Code § 153.254 states that the Court will be allowed deference to modify the standard possession order if work schedules of either conservators or the school schedule of the child is irregular. The Court must attempt to narrowly tailor the modifications to keep the new possession order as similar to the standard possession order as possible. This instance most commonly occurs when the Managing Conservator and the Possessory Conservator cannot reach an agreement and one of the two Conservators has a unique profession such as a firefighter, police officer, or airline pilot. The working hours of these jobs allow the Court to modify the standard possession order even if both of the parties do not comply with the changes. The modifications must be made only if it is in the Best Interest of the Child.

Secondly, the standard possession order may always be modified if it is by the mutual agreement of both the Managing Conservator and Possessory Conservator. Family Code § 153.007 is the Agreed Parenting Plan Statute and allows for both parties to agree on a standard possession order for the child. This statute was passed to promote amicability in settlement for child custody issues and to give flexibility to the parents if they are willing to agree on custody terms. The Agreed Parenting Plan must be in the Best Interest of the Child for the Court to approve. If the Court grants the Agreed Parenting Plan then the Managing or Possessory Conservator will have a remedy as a matter of law for any violation of the agreement committed by either party.

Finally, both Conservators may enter into a Mediated Settlement Agreement under Family Code § 153.0071. A Mediated Settlement Agreement is the only time in which the Court will NOT look at the Best Interest of the Child when granting the custody agreement.

The Mediated Settlement Agreement § 153.0071 must be:

  • In bold, underlined, and capital letters that the agreement is NOT REVOCABLE
  • Signed by Both Parties to the agreement
  • Signed by the lawyers (if represented) of each party

The Mediated Settlement Agreement is binding and not revocable so if the Conservators wish to go this route they must understand that what is in the agreement will be held as binding. This method can be used to modify or change a standard possession order and the Court will not look at the Best Interest of the Child regarding the agreement, unless there exists a credible threat of domestic violence.

These are the methods in which a unique possession order may be obtained to accommodate irregular schedules or working hours of both the conservators. Any possession order must be correctly drafted and all future contingencies must be accounted for. An experienced lawyer must be contacted to safeguard an individual’s custody rights of their children and to make sure that a fair custody arrangement is obtained.