Child Custody

Jul
05

Out of State Child Relocation and the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA)

In today’s hectic pace, moving to another state for business, family demands, or pleasure is a very common occurrence. But what about the family that is separated by divorce or separation and share custody of their children?  What happens to this family situation when Mom or Dad decides to take another job or wants to move to another state and take the children to or from the other? A Child Custody Relocation Case?

Sadly this happens frequently. Most Texas attorneys employ a geographic restriction in divorce decrees for couples who have children.  These restrictions dictate that the Child and Custodial Parent must live within a school district, County of Domicile, or consecutive contingent counties near the non-custodial parent. But what happens if this restriction clause is not contained in the divorce decree or if Dad/Mom were never married?

Forty Nine States, including Texas have adopted the UNIFORM CHILD CUSTODY JURISDICTION AND ENFORCEMENT ACT (UCCJEA) drafted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1997. The UCCJEA is a very helpful law since all states but one participate in the determination  of the ”HOME STATE” and which jurisdiction will  handle the family case. UCCJEA also helps to protect non-custodial Parents fighting for child custody out of state when their children have been moved to another state or over 100 miles away from them.

How does The State of Texas treat an initial Child Custody determination?

Texas Family Code 152.201 of the UCCJEA states, among other things, that a court may consider custody issues if the Child:

*Has continually lived in the state for 6 months or longer and Texas was the home state of the child within six months before the commencement of the legal proceeding.

*Was living in the state before being wrongfully abducted elsewhere by a parent seeking custody in another state. One parent continues to live in Texas.

*Has an established over significant time relationships with people (family, relatives or teachers), ties, and attachments in the state

*Has been abandoned in an emergency: or is safe in the current state, but could be in danger of neglect or abuse in the home state

Relocation is a child custody situation which will turn on the individual facts of the specific case, so that each case is tried on its own merits.

Most child custody relocation cases tried in Texas follow a predictable course:

  1. Allowing or not allowing the move.
  2. Order of psychological evaluations or social studies of family members
  3. Modification of custody and adjusting of child’s time spent with parents
  4. Adjusting child support
  5. Order of mediation to settle dispute
  6. Allocating transportation costs
  7. Order opposing parties to provide all information on child’s addresses and telephone number.

There is another important cause of action in Texas where the court will “take “EMERGENCY JURISDICTION’ over a case even though another state has the original jurisdiction. If the opposing party can prove that a legitimate emergency exists and Texas needs to assume the jurisdiction. These emergency situations could be abuse of the child, abandonment or cause neglect of the child, or any action that would put the child in immediate harm’s way.

The Nacol Law Firm P.C. @ www.nacollawfirm.com  is committed to helping parents have the right to have frequent and continuing contact with their child at all times and encourage parents to co-share in the rights and duties of raising a stable, loving child. Many times, because of parental alienation or other personal factors, a child will be taken away from the non-custodial parent and this can cause some serious mental and behavior problems for the child which could follow her/him into a lifetime adult situation.  

Sometimes you can settle, SOMETIMES YOU FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT!  We can help!

By Nacol Law Firm | Child Custody . Interstate Jurisdiction
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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) 

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Nov
11

When the Custodial Parent Dies – Who Will Have Custody of the Child?

When the custodial parent of a child dies, in the state of Texas, not only is the child and family union devastated, but now is presented the difficult issue of who will become the child’s guardian.  Who are the possible candidates that may be legal guardians?

  • Non- Custodial parent, if paternity is acknowledged
  • Grandparents
  • Other relatives
  • Godparents, Family friends, Neighbors
  • State Foster System 

Usually, the surviving non-custodial parent will have an automatic right to custody of the child. Texas law favors a child having a solid relationship with both parents and in the event of death, the living parent will take over permanent exclusive custody of the child.   What factors should be considered in the child’s best interest that could determine custody by the surviving parent if he/she is not appropriate for the child? 

  • Did the court, after the divorce, terminate your parental rights in a legal proceeding? If the non- custodial parent had legally been terminated of his/her parental rights this is binding and the terminated parent WOULD NOT be granted permanent custody of the child. 
  • What if the custodial parent remarried and the new stepparent legally adopted the child? If the child was legally adopted by the stepparent and the non-custodial parent had waived their parental rights, the stepparent would be granted permanent custody of the child.
  • What if the non-custodial parent has acknowledged parentage, but paternity has not been established? To be entitled to custody of the child, the father would first claim parental rights through paternity testing to determine if he is the biological father of the child or if he has signed the child’s birth certificate. After Paternity is established, a separate legal proceeding may need to be initiated to override the terms of the mother’s will. 
  • What if the Custodial Parent created a will that stated the grandparents/godparents would take over as the legal Guardians of the child in the event of death? Many parents will request a particular person or group, such as grandparents, relatives, or godparents to become guardians for their minor children in the case of their demise, but a child is not a piece of property to give away to others when the other biological parent is living.  The judge will view what is in the best interest of the child and will always first look at the surviving parent. If this parent meets basic standards the child will live with this parent. If the surviving parent cannot serve the child’s best interest, then the judge will consider the guardian designated in the deceased parent will.  

Nacol Law Firm P.C. 
tel: 972-690-3333

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Preventing Out of State Relocation of Children by Custodial Parent

Mom and Dad are divorcing or have been divorced and are now sharing joint custody of their children in the same city in Texas.  One parent receives a letter from the other parent’s attorney requesting that this parent be allowed to relocate the children to another state so he/she may take a better job position with another company!  This is a dilemma no parent ever wants to experience!  Child Custody cases involving interstate relocation jurisdiction issues cause much heartache and are costly legal battles.

What can a Parent do to protect themselves from children being relocated away from the non-moving parent to another state without her/his consent?   How may this affect the parent’s relationship with the children?

The Texas Family Code 153.002 Best Interest of Child states “The best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child.”

The Texas Family code does not elaborate on the specific requirement for modification in the residency-restriction context, and there are no specific statutes governing residency restrictions or their removal for purposes of relocation. Texas Courts have no statutory standards to apply to this context.

The Texas Legislature has provided Texas Family Code 153.001, a basic framework on their public policy for all suits affecting the parent-child relationship:

  1. The public policy of this state is to:

  1. Assure the children will have frequent and continuing contact with parents who have shown the ability to act in the best interest of the child;

  2. Provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child;

  3. Encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.

How does The State of Texas treat an initial Child Custody determination?

Texas Family Code 152.201 of the UCCJEA states, among other things, that a court may rule on custody issues if the Child:

*Has continually lived in that state for 6 months or longer and Texas was the home state of the child within six months before the commencement of the legal proceeding.

*Was living in the state before being wrongfully abducted elsewhere by a parent seeking custody in another state. One parent continues to live in Texas.

*Has an established relationship with people (family, relatives or teachers), ties, and attachments in the state

*Has been abandoned in an emergency: or is safe in the current state, but could be in danger of neglect or abuse in the home state

Relocation is a child custody situation which will turn on the individual facts of the specific case, so that each case is tried on its own merits.

Most child custody relocation cases tried in Texas follow a predictable course:

  1. Allowing or not allowing the move.

  2. Order of psychological evaluations or social studies of family members

  3. Modification of custody and adjusting of child’s time spent with parents

  4. Adjusting child support

  5. Order of mediation to settle dispute

  6. Allocating transportation costs

  7. Order opposing parties to provide all information on child’s addresses and telephone #

Help to Prevent Your Child’s Relocation in a Texas Court by Preparing Your Case!  

  1. Does the intended relocation interfere with the visitation rights of the non- moving parent?

  2. The effect on visitation and communication with the non-moving parent to maintain a full and continuous relationship with the child

  3. How will this move affect extended family relationships living in the child’s current location?

  4. Are there bad faith motives evident in the relocating parent?

  5. Can the non-moving parent relocate to be close to the child? If not, what type of separation hardship would the child have?

  6. The relocating parent’s desire to accommodate a new job, spouse, or other criteria above the parent-child relationship. A Parent’s personal desire for move rather than need to move?

  7. Is there a significant degree of economic, emotional or education enhancement for the relocating parent and child in this move?

  8. Any violation of an order or prior notice of the intended move or a temporary restraining order

  9. Are Special Needs/ Talents accommodated for the child in this move?

  10. Fear of child and high cost of travel expenses for non-moving parent or child to visit each other to be able to continue parent- child relationship.

  11. What other Paramount Concerns would affect the child concerning the relocation from the non-moving parent?

At the Nacol Law Firm PC, we represent many parents trying to prevent their child from relocating to another city or state and having to experience “A Long Distance Parental Relationship” brought on by a better job or new life experience of the relocating parent! We work at persuading courts to apply the specific, narrow exceptions to these general rules in order to have child custody cases heard in the most convenient forum in which the most qualifying, honest evidence is available; cases where the child’s home state or other basic questions are clarified, and cases where a parent has the right in close proximity with their child regardless of other less important factors.

By Nacol Law Firm | Child Custody . Interstate Jurisdiction
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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