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:
The public policy of this state is to:
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;
Provide a safe, stable, and nonviolent environment for the child;
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:
Allowing or not allowing the move.
Order of psychological evaluations or social studies of family members
Modification of custody and adjusting of child’s time spent with parents
Adjusting child support
Order of mediation to settle dispute
Allocating transportation costs
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!
Does the intended relocation interfere with the visitation rights of the non- moving parent?
The effect on visitation and communication with the non-moving parent to maintain a full and continuous relationship with the child
How will this move affect extended family relationships living in the child’s current location?
Are there bad faith motives evident in the relocating parent?
Can the non-moving parent relocate to be close to the child? If not, what type of separation hardship would the child have?
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?
Is there a significant degree of economic, emotional or education enhancement for the relocating parent and child in this move?
Any violation of an order or prior notice of the intended move or a temporary restraining order
Are Special Needs/ Talents accommodated for the child in this move?
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.
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.
For better or worse,
For richer or poorer,
Until . . . a divorce is filed.
When there are several zeros at the end of your bank balance, as in $500,000.00; $5,000,000.00 or more, the financial aspects of divorce can be high risk.
Texas divorce laws are the same regarding the division of property whether the money and assets in a marital estate are a lot or a little; however, the courts will inevitably encounter and address more complex issues regarding the property division in a divorce case with substantial financial and business assets.
Texas is a community property state. What does that mean, as a practical matter, when divorce occurs?
1. The law presumes that all property owned by either spouse is community property, meaning that both spouses own an undivided one-half interest.
2. The court cannot divest a spouse of his or her separate property in divorce.
In a very simple explanation: Texas community property is everything earned or acquired during the marriage other than inheritances or gifts. Your paycheck is community property, your rental income is community property, the cars you purchase are community property, retirement funds accumulated during marriage are community property.
At the time of the divorce, the court will make a just and right division of the community property. “Just and right” does not mean 50/50. Often the courts will split the community property equally, but many factors may affect this division including:
1. The spouses’ earning abilities and education.
2. The spouses’ actual earnings.
3. Who has care and primary custody of the children.
4. The value of separate property owned by the spouses. If the wife inherited $3,000,000.00, should the husband be awarded more of the community property?
5. Fault in the break up of the marriage, especially if a cheating spouse spent substantial assets dating or cavorting with others.
6. The debts of the spouses.
7. Tax consequences.
The bigger the marital pocketbook, the bigger the risk to assets in play.
Texas Child Support and High Asset Divorces:
The court also has discretion in setting child support when the parents are wealthy. The Texas Family Code provides guidelines and the guidelines are presumably in the best interest of the child.
The law caps the Texas child support amount guidelines to a percentage of the first $9,200.00 of the paying parent’s earnings. However, the cap is not made of steel. The law is a guideline.
The court has the discretion to order child support in excess of the guidelines based on the children’s best interest which includes an examination of the proven needs of the children. In the case of children growing up in a high-income household, do not expect the court to necessarily limit its consideration to basic food and shelter. The court may consider many factors in setting child support, including the children’s current living standards, such as private education, nannies, medical issues, emotional issues, sports and other extracurricular activities and, in the rare case, a body guard.
When setting child support within a wealthy family undergoing divorce, the court has discretion, based on the evidence, to set order child support above the presumptive amount in the guidelines. The court’s determination is subjective and is reversed by higher courts only if the trial court “abused its discretion,” a high threshold indeed.
With so much at stake, you should hire an experienced family law attorney who can present your case clearly, and persuasively.
What about a Texas Father’s Summer Visitation? The Standard Child Possession Order – Texas Family Code
When parents are battling over divorce issues and child custody, they often times do not understand that the Texas Family Code has expanded the standard child possession order to make joint managing conservators with more equal rights and duties and possession of the child. It is important to keep in mind that, under certain circumstances, and depending on the age of a child, a judge may alter the standard possession order in any way that serves the best interest of the child.
The following is an example of a standard possession order for a parent who lives within 100 miles of their child under the Texas Family Code.
IT IS ORDERED that the conservators shall have possession of the child at times mutually agreed to in advance by the parties, and, in the absence of mutual agreement, it is ORDERED that the conservators shall have possession of the child under the specified terms set out in this Standard Possession Order.
PARENTS WHO RESIDE UNDER 100 MILES APART:
Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, when Possessory Conservator resides 100 miles or less from the primary residence of the child, Possessory Conservator shall have the right to possession of the child as follows:
Weekends that do not occur during the regular school term, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the first, third, and fifth Friday of each month and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday.
2. Extended Summer Possession by Possessory Conservator—
With Written Notice by April 1—If Possessory Conservator gives Managing Conservator written notice by April 1 of a year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession for that year, Possessory Conservator shall have possession of the child for thirty days beginning no earlier than the day after the child’s school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending no later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation in that year, to be exercised in no more than two separate periods of at least seven consecutive days each, as specified in the written notice, provided that the period or periods of extended summer possession do not interfere with Father’s Day Weekend. These periods of possession shall begin and end at 6:00 p.m.
Without Written Notice by April 1—If Possessory Conservator does not give Managing Conservator written notice by April 1 of a year specifying an extended period or periods of summer possession for that year, Possessory Conservator shall have possession of the child for thirty consecutive days in that year beginning at 6:00 p.m. on July 1 and ending at 6:00 p.m. on July 31.
Notwithstanding the Thursday periods of possession during the regular school term and the weekend periods of possession ORDERED for Possessory Conservator, it is explicitly ORDERED that Managing Conservator shall have a superior right of possession of the child as follows:
2. Summer Weekend Possession by Managing Conservator—If Managing Conservator gives Possessory Conservator written notice by April 15 of a year, Managing Conservator shall have possession of the child on any one weekend beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday during any one period of the extended summer possession by Possessory Conservator in that year, provided that Managing Conservator picks up the child from Possessory Conservator and returns the child to that same place and that the weekend so designated does not interfere with Father’s Day Weekend.
3. Extended Summer Possession by Managing Conservator—If Managing Conservator gives Possessory Conservator written notice by April 15 of a year or gives Possessory Conservator fourteen days’ written notice on or after April 16 of a year, Managing Conservator may designate one weekend beginning no earlier than the day after the child’s school is dismissed for the summer vacation and ending no later than seven days before school resumes at the end of the summer vacation, during which an otherwise scheduled weekend period of possession by Possessory Conservator shall not take place in that year, provided that the weekend so designated does not interfere with Possessory Conservator’s period or periods of extended summer possession or with Father’s Day Weekend.
PARENTS WHO RESIDE OVER 100 MILES APART:
If the possessory conservator resides more than 100 miles from the residence of the child, the possessory conservator shall have the right to possession of the child as follows:
1. Summer Possession:
(A) 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 42 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
(B) 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 42 consecutive days beginning at 6 p.m. on June 15 and ending at 6 p.m. on July 27;
2. 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 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 (3), provided that if a period of possession by the possessory conservator exceeds 30 days, the managing conservatory may have possession of the child under the terms of this subdivision on two nonconsecutive weekends during that time period, and further provided that the managing conservator picks up the child from the possessory conservator and returns the child to that same place; and
3. If the managing conservatory give the possessory conservator written notice by April 15 of each year, the managing conservator may designate 21 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, during which the possessory conservator may not have possession of the child, provided that the period or periods so designated do 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.
Holidays Unaffected by Distance
Notwithstanding the weekend and Thursday periods of possession of Possessory Conservator, Managing Conservator and Possessory Conservator shall have the right to possession of the child as follows:
Father’s Day Weekend—Father shall have the right to possession of the child each year, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on the Friday preceding Father’s Day and ending at 6:00 p.m. on Father’s Day, provided that if Father is not otherwise entitled under this Standard Possession Order to present possession of the child, he shall pick up the child from the other conservator’s residence and return the child to that same place.
General Terms and Conditions
Except as otherwise explicitly provided in this Standard Possession Order, the terms and conditions of possession of the child that apply regardless of the distance between the residence of a parent and the child are as follows:
1. Surrender of Child by Managing Conservator—Managing Conservator is ORDERED to surrender the child to Possessory Conservator at the beginning of each period of Possessory Conservator’s possession at the residence of Managing Conservator.
If a period of possession by Possessory Conservator begins at the time the child’s school is regularly dismissed, Managing Conservator is ORDERED to surrender the child to Possessory Conservator at the beginning of each such period of possession at the school in which the child is enrolled. If the child is not in school, Possessory Conservator shall pick up the child at the residence of Managing Conservator at 6:00 p.m., and Managing Conservator is ORDERED to surrender the child to Possessory Conservator at the residence of Managing Conservator at 6:00 p.m. under these circumstances.
2. Surrender of Child by Possessory Conservator—Possessory Conservator is ORDERED to surrender the child to Managing Conservator at the residence of Managing Conservator at the end of each period of possession.
3. Return of Child by Possessory Conservator—Possessory Conservator is ORDERED to return the child to the residence of Managing Conservator at the end of each period of possession. However, it is ORDERED that, if Managing Conservator and Possessory Conservator live in the same county at the time of rendition of this order, Possessory Conservator’s county of residence remains the same after rendition of this order, and Managing Conservator’s county of residence changes, effective on the date of the change of residence by Managing Conservator, Possessory Conservator shall surrender the child to Managing Conservator at the residence of Possessory Conservator at the end of each period of possession.
If a period of possession by Possessory Conservator ends at the time the child’s school resumes, Possessory Conservator is ORDERED to surrender the child to Managing Conservator at the end of each such period of possession at the school in which the child is enrolled or, if the child is not in school, at the residence of Managing Conservator at [address].
4. Surrender of Child by Possessory Conservator—Possessory Conservator is ORDERED to surrender the child to Managing Conservator, if the child is in Possessory Conservator’s possession or subject to Possessory Conservator’s control, at the beginning of each period of Managing Conservator’s exclusive periods of possession, at the place designated in this Standard Possession Order.
5. Return of Child by Managing Conservator—Managing Conservator is ORDERED to return the child to Possessory Conservator, if Possessory Conservator is entitled to possession of the child, at the end of each of Managing Conservator’s exclusive periods of possession, at the place designated in this Standard Possession Order.
6. Personal Effects—each conservator is ORDERED to return with the child the personal effects that the child brought at the beginning of the period of possession.
7. Designation of Competent Adult—each conservator may designate any competent adult to pick up and return the child, as applicable. IT IS ORDERED that a conservator or a designated competent adult be present when the child is picked up or returned.
8. Inability to Exercise Possession—each conservator is ORDERED to give notice to the person in possession of the child on each occasion that the conservator will be unable to exercise that conservator’s right of possession for any specified period.
9. Written Notice—written notice shall be deemed to have been timely made if received or postmarked before or at the time that notice is due.
10. Notice to School and Managing Conservator—If Possessory Conservator’s time of possession of the child ends at the time school resumes and for any reason the child is not or will not be returned to school, Possessory Conservator shall immediately notify the school and Managing Conservator that the child will not be or has not been returned to school.
Again, a Judge may under varied circumstances change any provision of a Standard Possession Order.
Effective September 1, 2019 The Texas Child Support Division of the Attorney General increased the Maximum child Support under the Texas Child Support Guidelines from $8,550 to the “new cap”of net monthly resources to $9200 annually. This change in the law will increase the amount of maximum child support from of $1,710.00 to $1,840.00 monthly (20% of $9200. For one child)
Texas Family Code §154.125(a)(1) requires that every six years the presumptive amount of net resources to which the child support guidelines apply shall be reviewed and adjusted for inflation by the Texas Office of the Texas Attorney General (OAG). That section sets out the formula for doing so based on the consumer price index. The last adjustment was done in 2013 when the current amount of $8550 per month was established.
How does the “cap” work and what could this mean for you? If your net monthly resources are less than $8,550, the child support obligation will not change on Sept. 1. You are under the “current cap” and lower than the “new cap”. All stays the same.
If you are currently going through litigation and your net monthly resources exceeds $8,550 and the Court orders child support prior to September 1, 2019, Texas Child Support Guidelines will mandate that the Court apply the appropriate child support percentage to the first $8,550 in net monthly resources based on the number of children. But, if the Court orders child support after September 1, 2019, it will apply the new appropriate child support percentage to the first $9,200 in net monthly resources.
Child support under the guidelines is determined by applying the applicable percentage, beginning at 20% for one child and increasing incrementally for each additional child, to the net resources amount. If a child support obligor has monthly net resources over $9200, a party seeking above the guideline’s child support has the burden of proving to the court that additional support should be ordered according to factors set out in Texas Family Code §154.126.
Important to Know: The new “cap” increase of September 1, 2019 will not automatically increase the obligor’s existing child support obligation. Any change in child support standing before September 1, 2019, can only occur through the court with a modification order to increase the child support to the new “Cap” amount of $9200. After September 1, 2019, any new suit for child support will be subject to the new “cap”.
Please review the Texas Office of the Texas Attorney General (OAG) website for a child support calculator for the new breakdown: https://csapps.oag.texas.gov/monthly-child-support-calculator
The Nacol Law Firm PC
8144 Walnut Hill Lane
Dallas, Texas 75231
The Texas 87th session was very uneventful this year, with two additional sessions. Listed below are some new bills and bill revisions that passed this year for the Family Code:
- HB 3774: Effective September 1, 2021, The date of the marriage must now be included in all final decrees of divorce in an official court document. Proof of the length of marriage is required to apply for Social Security retirement benefits.
- HB 2926: September 1, 2021, Reinstatement of Parental Rights after Involuntary Termination. This is a new and significant procedure that allows certain people, including the Department of Family and Protective Services and a previously terminated parent, to move for reinstatement of their parental rights. Subchapter D added to Ch. 161 of the Texas Family Code, sets out the basic requirements for filing and hearing procedures.
- SB1936: September 1, 2021, expressly states the standard Possession Order that the alternative ending time for Monday school holiday and teacher in-service days is 8a.m. on the following Tuesday and if a conservator lives less than 50 miles from the other conservator, the court shall also award that conservator the alternative beginning and ending time for standard possession order. This award does not apply if the possessory conservator declines one or of the alternative times or possession is limited by the court in the best interest of the child.
*If the Possessory Conservator lives more than 50 but not more than 100 miles from the child’s primary residence, the law will not change: that parent may still opt into the Expanded Standard Possession Order (ESPO) – but it will not be automatic.
- HB 1012: September 1, 2021, Access to residence or former residence to retrieve personal property. If entry is denied by a current occupant, the denied person could seek a writ, authorizing them to go to the residence to get their possessions with a peace officer. If the property was listed in a Decree, relief can be sought in court granting such Decree.
- HB 3009: September 1, 2021, Child Custody evaluators must be able to communicate with a parent in their primacy language or have someone who can assist the parent in their primary language for Child custody evaluations.
This legislature Session caused a lot of “smoke” but “little fire” for Texas Family Law.
Nacol Law Firm P.C.
Walnut Glen Tower
8144 Walnut Glen
Dallas, Texas 75231
Call (972) 690-3333