Child Custody

May
24

How Fathers Can Improve Their Chances of Getting Child Custody in Texas

Times have changed! Mothers’ having primary custody of the children is not always the accepted social presumption as in the past. Courts, legislatures and juries are becoming more aware of the vital necessity of father’s being involved in the lives of their children. Children with positive father involvement have fewer behavior problems, higher levels of sociability, and perform better in school.

Recent research suggests that father involvement is essential to a child’s social, moral, and physical growth during the adolescent period. A father’s involvement during pregnancy affects multiple areas of child development and family well- being, from prenatal care, to the likelihood that the father will provide ongoing financial and emotional support. This body of research is gaining momentum. Local and regional governmental agencies are focusing more and more on parental father involvement in the lives of children.

As a result of the continuing evolution of fathers’ rights, Courts are now recognizing a father’s ability to care for his children as an equal to that of the mother. Starting out on an equal plane, the Court may look to which parent is more stable, has a superior income, has a parenting plan in place for the child and is capable of providing proper child care and spending more quality time with the child.

As a father, how can you increase your chances of getting child custody in Texas? You must be a good father and spend time with your children by involving yourself in their daily lives. You need to be responsible and reliable to the needs of your kids. Know and participate in all aspects of their lives. This includes school activities, doctor’s appointments, extracurricular events and getting to know and bonding with their friends.

Reflect on your own personal experiences as a child growing up and think about what was really important to you and your parent’s interaction during that period.

If a father voluntarily gives up rights to his children based on prejudices of the past in the Court system, he will feed a mother’s confidence and sponsor unnecessary ongoing litigation. The number one mistake made by fathers in the court system today is a failure to take the time to learn how the system works. Failing to learn how the family law system works may doom your case. Once you have learned the ins and outs of the family law system you will need to form a viable plan, set goals and never relent in enforcing your rights as a father.

Five of the biggest mistakes men make in a legal action are: 1) failing to respond to the legal action itself; 2) obtaining incorrect legal advice (from friends and family rather than a legal expert); 3) signing a settlement agreement that is not in agreement with and later deeply regretting it; 4) failing to perform under the actual settlement agreement signed; and 5) getting frustrated and/or acquiescing to unreasonable demands and orders.

Some of the things you may want to consider as you prepare for the custody battle are as follows:

  1. Who has the financial ability to best care for the child(ren)? Be sure to have income tax verification, W-2 Forms and other financial information available.
  2. Form a parenting plan (child care, after school care, transportation, pediatrician, etc.).
  3. Who is more stable and/or can provide the best home for the child (ren)?
  4. Where has the child (ren) been attending school? Is it possible to keep the child in the same school district?
  5. Prepare a chronology of events leading up to the divorce including treatment of the child(ren), time spent with the child(ren), activities with the child(ren), the child(ren)’s schedule.
  6. Consider if a home study should be prepared regarding each home of the child.
  7. Consider whether a psychological evaluation should be done on the mother?
  8. Is drug testing necessary? (Be sure to request hair follicle drug testing.)
  9. Is there an alcohol or other addiction problem in the home?
  10. Who can provide the best moral upbringing for the children?
  11. Is there evidence such as pictures, video tapes, etc. that may help your case?
  12. Avoid unnecessary compromising photos or data on Facebook or other social networking sites.

List any other relevant issues you feel may be important to your child custody case before you meet with an attorney about your rights as a father.

By Nacol Law Firm | Child Custody
DETAIL
May
06

Modification of Child Custody or Visitation Rights for Texas Fathers

Texas family law states that a court may modify a child custody order if the change is in the best interest of the child and one of the following applies:

1. The circumstances of the child or parent have materially or substantially changed since the date of the original child custody order or order to be modified.
2. The child is at least 12 years of age and will tell the court in private chambers with the judge that he/she would like a change.
3. The custodial parent has voluntarily given the child’s care and custody to another person for at least 6 months.

Material or Substantial Change
What could be acceptable as a change for the Texas family courts? Some examples could be a parent’s remarriage, a medical condition the affects a parent’s ability take care of the child, a parent’s criminal acts or convictions, a parent’s change in residence that makes visitation a hardship for the other parent, family violence, drug or alcohol related issues, absence of supervision, and other material changes concerning adequate care and supervision of the child.

Child Wants Change
The child must be at least 12years of age and maybe interviewed in the judge’s chambers. The court will consider the child’s desire but only make a change if it is in the child’s best interest.

Custody Relinquishment
This happens when the custodial parent has voluntarily given up custody of the child to another person for at least six months. This does not apply to a period of military deployment or duty.

After finding one of the three prerequisites, the court must still consider whether the change will be in the child’s best interest. The court will consider factors affecting the child’s physical, emotional, mental, education, social, moral or disciplinary welfare and development. The factors considered for this evaluation are:

1. Child’s emotional and physical needs.
2. Parenting ability of the conservators or potential conservators
3. Plans and outside resources available to persons seeking the modification
4. Value to the child of having a relationship with both parents
5. Visitation schedule that requires excessive traveling or prevents the child from engaging in school or social activities
6. Stability of the person’s home seeking the modification
7. The child’s desires
8. Child’s need for stability and need to limit additional litigation in child custody cases.

Modification within one year of prior court order
A parent who files a motion to modify a child custody order within one year after a prior order was entered must also submit an affidavit to the court. The affidavit must contain, along with supporting facts, at least one of the following allegations:

1. The child’s present environment may be endanger the child’s physical health or significantly impair the child’s emotional development.
2. The person who has the exclusive right to designate the child’s primacy residence is the person seeking or consenting to the modification and the modification is in the child’s best interest.
3. The person who has the exclusive right to designate the child’s primary residence has voluntarily relinquished the primacy care and possession of the child for at least six months and the modification is in the child’

DETAIL
Apr
16

Co-Parenting: Time to Mutually Agree to Save and Protect Your Children During Coronavirus Pandemic

Dealing with a worldwide medical pandemic and personally trying to stay alive and healthy is mentally changeling, but for parents who are divorced or have separate custody agreements and co- parent, it can be a disaster for the entire family. Hopefully, this Coronavirus Pandemic will be a short-lived life-threatening situation, but how the Co-parents cope with the problem could deeply impact their children’s emotional life.

In Texas, on March 13, 2020, the Texas Supreme Court issued an emergency order that divorced /single parents should go by the originally published school and visitation schedule in their current decree.  Since the last life-threatening pandemic in the United State was the Spanish Flu Pandemic of 1918, most divorce/ single parent agreements do not include a pandemic clause! 

Do not be one of those parents who decides that they “are the decision maker” and drives away with the kids for an extended vacation to Grandma’s in Florida without telling the other parent. Or deciding that the family circle of trust does not include their Other Parent and refuses visitation or joint decision making.  These hasty, irrational decisions may seem reasonable in this time of national panic but consider the legal ramifications of violating an order.  Since all courts, in Texas, are now closed except for emergency litigation matters only, when the courts are fully operational again and the medical danger has passed, how will a violation of your current decree look to the Judge?  Judges always look to the needs of the child versus the unreasonable expectations of the parent. There will be serious ramifications against the violating parent. 

Let’s look at some ideas on how co-parenting during this pandemic season can work the best for all family members and by joint agreement will save your both money that would normally go to legal fees. 

Just remember that as co-parents your children are most important.  Your child has been told that they can’t see their grandparents because of their age and if infected by the coronavirus, may die. No school, no playing of sports, or playing with friends since they may be infected with a deadly virus and become very ill. Decide to cooperate as responsible co-parents to navigate the child to the new changes in their daily routines without a lot of stress and anxiety on the child.  By keeping the child calm and showing “a united family circle” the child will know that Mom and Dad are there for him/her.  

Some areas of agreement should be that the child will have regular email, phone calls, FaceTime, Zoom visits, and texting with the other parent. The child needs to know that both parents are safe and interested in their wellbeing. Regular visitations times must be made available for the child to see each parent. Remember the child’s core circle of trust are his/her parents and siblings. 

Another very serious matter is the decision of what will happen to the child if one parent becomes ill and cannot care for the child. The joint decision must be made by both parents and must ultimately be in the best interest for the child. 

Custody disputes and circumstances that have totally changed in the last month. Just remember, co-parent cooperation is the best choice. There is no doubt that judges will be happy to hear that parents have worked together to meet their child’s best interest, by taking steps to protect the child’s health and safety. 

This is a time for mutual give and take from both parents. No one is always right nor always wrong. In this upside crazy pandemic world, jointly trying to navigate your family to a better place will have its own rewards. 

If, however, one parent unilaterally refuses to make fair agreements for the children or violates your custody orders, avoid retaliation and follow your decree orders faithfully. This Pandemic will pass, and most Judges will not treat lightly intense misconduct when the courts reopen.

Mark A. Nacol
The Nacol Law Firm P.C.
Dallas, Texas
(972) 690-3333

Click to open Copy of Texas Supreme Court Emergency Order on Child Custody Schedules during Coronavirus Pandemic. (pdf) 

DETAIL
Feb
24

A Fathers Rights – Child Custody for Texas Fathers

Courts, legislatures and juries are becoming more aware of the necessity of father’s being involved in the lives of their children.  Children with positive father involvement have fewer behavior problems, higher levels of sociability, and perform better in school.

Recent research suggests that father involvement during pregnancy affects multiple areas of child and family well- being, from prenatal care initiation and mother and child health outcomes, to the likelihood that the father will provide ongoing financial and emotional support.  This body of research is gaining momentum.  Local and regional governmental agencies are focusing more and more on parental father involvement in the lives of children.

As a result of the changes taking place in society today, the Courts are now recognizing a father’s ability to care for his children as becoming equal to that of the mother.   Starting out on an equal plane, the Court may look to which parent is more stable, has a superior income, has a parenting plan in place for the child and is capable of providing proper child care and spending more quality time with the child.

If a father ignorantly gives up rights to his children based on prejudices of the past in the Court system he can feed a mother’s confidence and sponsor unnecessary ongoing litigation.  The number one mistake made by father’s in the court system today is a failure to take the time to learn how the system works.  Failing to learn how the family law system works may doom your case.  Once you have learned the ins and outs of the family law system you will need to form a plan, set goals and never relent in enforcing your rights as a father.

Five of the biggest mistakes men make in a legal action are: 1) failing to respond to the legal action itself;  2) obtaining incorrect legal advice (from friends and family rather than a legal expert);  3) signing a settlement agreement they are not in agreement with and later deeply regretting it;  4) failing to perform under the actual settlement agreement signed; and  5) getting frustrated and/or acquiescing to unreasonable orders.

Some of the things you may want to consider as you prepare for the custody battle are as follows:

  1. Who has the financial ability to best care for the child(ren)?  Be sure to have income tax verification, W-2 Forms and other financial information available.
  2. Form a parenting plan (child care, after school care, transportation, pediatrician, etc.).
  3. Who is more stable and/or can provide the best home for the child(ren)?
  4. Where has the child(ren) been attending school?  Is it possible to keep the child in the same school district?
  5. Prepare a chronology of events leading up to the divorce including treatment of the child(ren), time spent with the child(ren), activities with the child(ren), the child(ren)’s schedule.
  6. Consider if a home study should be prepared regarding each home of the child.
  7. Consider whether a psychological evaluation should be done on the mother?
  8. Is drug testing necessary?  (Be sure to request hair follicle drug testing.)
  9. Is there an alcohol or other addiction problem in the home?
  10. Who can provide the best moral upbringing for the children?
  11. Is there evidence such as pictures, video tapes, etc. that may help your case?
  12. Avoid unnecessary compromising photos or data on Facebook or other social networking sites.

List any other relevant issues you feel may be important to your case before you meet with an attorney.

The most important thing to remember is that your failure, if based on dated concepts and inapplicable worn out prejudices, will be her victory and your parental failure.

By Nacol Law Firm | Child Custody
DETAIL
Feb
23

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.

DETAIL

Please contact father’s rights Dallas Attorney Mark Nacol, or father’s rights Dallas Attorney Julian Nacol with the Nacol Law Firm P.C., for legal insight to your rights as a father. Both attorney Mark Nacol, and attorney Julian Nacol , provide counsel in the area of family law including divorce, father’s rights, interstate jurisdiction, child support, child custody, visitation, paternity, parent alienation, modifications, property division, asset division and more. Attorney Mark A. Nacol is board certified in Civil Trial Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Our attorneys at The Nacol Law Firm P.C. serve clients throughout Texas, including Collin, Dallas, Denton, Ellis, Grayson, Kaufman, Rockwall and Tarrant counties and the communities of Addison, Allen, Arlington, Carrollton, Dallas, Fort Worth, Frisco, Garland, Grapevine, Highland Park, McKinney, Mesquite, Plano, Prosper, Richardson, Rowlett and University Park, Murphy,Wylie, Lewisville, Flower Mound, Irving, along with surrounding DFW areas.

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