Child Custody

Jun
24

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’

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Jun
23

Are You An Alienated Parent With A Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) Family Experience? What Can You Do?

There is nothing worse than a family torn apart by parents who are battling over child custody.  Many of these cases are in serious litigation and often, these disputes will continue for years.

What is Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS)?   In the 1980’s, forensic psychiatrist, Dr. Richard A. Gardner noticed a large increase in a disorder where one parent will program or brainwash a child to alienate the other parent.  He also found the child was self-creating contributions supporting the alienating parent’s campaign of denigration against the targeted parent.

Dr. Gardner’s definition of PAS: Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a disorder that arises primarily in the context of child-custody disputes.  Its primary manifestation is the child’s campaign of denigration against a parent, a campaign that has no justification.  It results from the combination of a programming (brainwashing) parent’s indoctrinations and the child’s own contributions to the vilifications of the target parents. (Gardner, the Parental Alienation Syndrome)

There is no pure PAS diagnosis if the child still has a positive relationship with the parent even though the other parent is trying to alienate the child.

Courts are generally more conservative in their judgment acknowledging PAS in high conflict cases.  Even though Parental Alienation evidence may be overwhelming, often courts will enter judgments allowing the “parents to make joint decisions about the child’s welfare.”  This will not ever happen between two alienated parents! In many situations it will take a dramatic or tragic situation to force the court to change primary custody. When the alienating parent becomes unstable mentally, the court will recognize that there is something “out of line” and will become more supportive of the targeted parent.

What are the Best ways for the Alienated Parent to Deal with the PAS issue?

  1. Keep your “cool”. Never retaliate. Never act in anger since anger=unstable.

  2. Never give up! You cannot let your child grow up in this environment of hate. The child is the victim of a situation that he/she never asked to be in.

  3. Be “Proactive”! It is a terrible situation for the entire family, but work on seeking constructive action to solve the problem. Do not allow yourself to become a victim!

  4. Always keep a journal of dates and times of major key events. Explain when the situation occurred and what happened specifically. Any Witnesses?

  5. Always call and show to pick up the child even when you know he/she will not be there. Try to contact the police to have a record of the no-show event or take a witness to video the denial of possession. You do have an interest in your child, no matter what the alienating parent says.

  6. When you do see the child, focus on enjoying your parent-child time together. Never talk badly about the other parent and do not let children overhear inappropriate conversation on the telephone.

  7. Hire a skilled family lawyer who has experience in parental alienation syndrome issues.  Do your homework on PAS and interview the lawyer on his experience and what your issues are. If you are not satisfied look again.  This is your life and you are trying to save your child.

  8. Be prepared to financially see this case to the end.  Most of these case last for years. You cannot start and stop.

  9. A forensic evaluator in PAS cases is usually an asset in showing that there is truly alienation occurring and recommend changing legal and primary custody to the alienated parent. An appropriate parenting plan included showing how well the child will be taken care of with the alienated parent, is advised.

  10. Always pay your child support on time and never violate court orders. Never give the alienating parent reason to question your behavior.

  11. Last but not least, to show that your parenting skills are superior, take a comprehensive parenting course to be able to show the court that you strive to be the best parent you can to the child, no matter what the alienating parent says.

By Nacol Law Firm | Parent Alienation
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Jun
07

I Need A Father – (A Fathers Role in Child Custody)

The number of fathers caring for their children is growing at a rate almost twice that of single mothers.  The bottom line is more men are choosing to be hands-on fathers.  In addition, presumed joint custody — or shared custody by both parents of children of divorce — is now the law of the land in most states.

Scores of research have documented the positive effects of a father’s involvement in a child’s life.  Regrettably, currently approximately 30% of American children live without their father’s involvement in their life.

As the number of women in the work force has increased, some men appear to have become more involved in fatherhood and show greater interest in child-care responsibilities.   With more women in the workplace than ever before — 68% of women with children under 18 — divorce courts in most states are not simply awarding custody and care of children to mothers by default.  In some cases, the mother has neither the time, nor the will, to care full time for her offspring. In other cases, she may not have the financial means.  The gradual progress towards leveling the playing field for women at work has resulted in slowly leveling the playing field at home.  The law is beginning to catch up as well. Divorce laws of more and more states are taking into account the importance of children maintaining relationships with dads as well as moms after divorce.

Following is a sample of what other sources have had to say about the risks faced by fatherless children:

  • 63% of youth suicides are from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. D.H.H.S., Bureau of the Census)
  • 85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes (Source: Center for Disease Control)
  • 80% of rapists motivated with displaced anger come from fatherless homes (Source: Criminal Justice & Behavior, Vol 14, p. 403-26, 1978.)
  • 71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes (Source: National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools.)
  • 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions come from fatherless homes (Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept 1988)
  • 85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home (Source: Fulton Co. Georgia jail populations, Texas Dept. of Corrections 1992)

After economic factors are excluded, children reared in fatherless homes are more than twice as likely to become male adolescent delinquents or teen mothers.

Recent studies have suggested that children whose fathers are actively involved with them from birth are more likely to be emotionally secure, confident in exploring their surroundings, have better social connections with peers as they grow older, are less likely to get in trouble at home and at school, and are less likely to use drugs and alcohol. Children with fathers who are nurturing, involved, and playful also turn out to have higher IQs and better linguistic and cognitive capacities.

The divorce process is difficult for all involved.  It is far better for the children if the parents are able and willing to place them outside of difficult divorce issues.  Children want to run and laugh and play.  In many cases they are not mature enough to process adult issues.  Keep heated issues between the adults and away from hearing range of the children.  No matter how angry a parent is, they should promote the children viewing the other parent in a positive light.  Children need positive role models.  Even if a parent feels the other parent has wronged them, it is just as wrong for that parent to take away the ability for their children to have a parent they can be proud of and look up to.

By Nacol Law Firm | Child Custody
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May
27

Texas Fathers and Child Custody Cases – Time for Modifications or a Change?

The New Year is always a good time for personal changes and after another stressful Holiday Season with your kids and Ex, you have decided to make some serious changes in your child custody situation to stabilize the entire family. Mom is not helping and the children are seriously acting out.  What to do? What to do?

Maybe it is time to look at changing your child custody status with the children or at least modifying the current orders. Many changes have occurred in American Family Behavior and fathers are taking a more active role in their children’s lives.  The Pew Research Center has recently published some new research on today’s fathers with some important and surprising changes:

  • Fewer dads are the family’s sole breadwinner: dual income households are now the dominant arrangement (60%). Both mom and father must now be responsible for child raising and home chores.

  • Dad and mom roles are converging: fathers have taken on more housework and child care duties and moms have increased time spent at a paid job. There is definitely a more equal distribution of labor between mother and fathers in today’s world.

  • Fathers feel they spend more or as much time with their children as their fathers did when they were children

With the latest scientific research showing that a father’s involvement is essential to a child’s social, moral, and physical growth during the adolescent period, many state legislatures and family courts are now recognizing a father’s ability to care for his children as equal to the mother.  Courts are also looking at the more stable parent, who may have a better income and parenting plan in place for the child and is capable of providing a better home life and more quality time with the child.

Another reason for changing opinions regarding fathers’ rights child custody issues has been the high divorce rates and the affect it has had on the USA population life experiences.  Many adults have been raised in a divorced home with Mom as the main custodial parent. Now these adults are divorcing they want a different and better experience for their own children and their lives.

Things you want to consider as you prepare for your child custody battle are:

  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. Establish a detailed viable 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 (ren) 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 (ren).

  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, social networking sites, video tapes, texting, etc. that may help your case?

  12. Avoid unnecessary compromising photos, data on social networking sites, or texting!

Just Remember the five biggest mistakes men make in a custody suits are: 1) failing to respond to the legal action itself; 2) obtaining incorrect child custody legal advice (from friends and family rather than a legal expert); 3) signing a quick child custody settlement agreement while passions are high that is later deeply regretted; 4) failing to perform under the actual settlement agreement as signed; and 5) getting frustrated and/or acquiescing to unreasonable demands and orders.

Think smart when contemplating Child Custody Modifications, be prepared and get an experienced legal professional to help you accomplish your goals!

By Nacol Law Firm | Child Custody
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May
25

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
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