What You Can Do if Visitation is Denied
The following are the steps you can take to stop the custodial parent from withholding child visitation:
• Keep track of any missed visitation time – Any time visitation was denied, you should record the dates in a calendar, notebook, or even an online document. Additionally, keep copies of any correspondence with your ex-spouse, so make sure you act composed and calm each time you two interact.
• Attempt to resolve the issue on your own – Before taking any legal action against your ex-spouse, at least try to amicably work things out. Attempt to schedule make-up dates for any lost time, which is why it is important to document missed time.
• Go to court – If your ex-spouse continues to withhold support, despite sending the letter, you can raise the issue before a judge. By filing a motion to enforce, the court will issue an order to make up any time missed, as well as order the cost of court and attorney fees to your ex. This is why keeping track of any missed time is necessary to build a strong case in your favor. Avoid trying to get law enforcement involved since many departments hesitate to get involved with civil issues unless there is a potential for criminal activity.
Remember, withholding child support as retaliation is never a good idea. Child support and visitation are not related because your child is legally entitled to financial support—not the custodial parent. If you stop paying child support, it is considered a violation of a court order, which could result in you being held in contempt.
What Happens If I Don’t Pay Child Support?
Custodial parents in Texas and across the country depend on child support payments to help with the costs of raising a child. When the non-custodial parent does not make those payments, not only does this hurt the child, it also makes the non-custodial parent at risk for enforcement action from the state of Texas.
If child support payments are not made as ordered by the court, there are several enforcement actions that may be taken.
— Income withholding: The state may require employers to withhold wages and send them to the Texas Child Support Division.
— Liens may be filed against the noncustodial parent’s assets.
— Intercepting lottery winnings, federal income tax returns or other money that the noncustodial parent has coming in from federal or state sources.
— Suspension of professional licenses, fishing and hunting licenses and even a noncustodial parent’s driver’s license.
— A judge may also sentence a non-custodial parent in arrears on his or her child support to jail.
There are many instances in which a noncustodial parent is simply unable to make his or her child support payments. This might occur due to a job layoff or serious illness or injury. In cases such as these, the noncustodial parent may want to file for a modification of child support. Unfortunately, this will not usually absolve the noncustodial parent of payments that are in arrears, but it may lower the payments to a more manageable amount until the person’s financial situation improves.
Virtual Visitation Can Help When Custody is Limited
When parents divorce or separate, it is the children who often suffer the most. Figuring out the best custody arrangement is not always easy, and sometimes life demands or the need to relocate make it difficult for one or both parents to get the time with their kids that they really want. Is there any way to improve custody time without changing the amount of physical time children get with each parent?
Yes. Virtual visitation is not new, but it is something that parents have not really considered including as part of their custody arrangements.
What is virtual visitation?
Virtual custody is keeping in contact with children by utilizing various forms of technology. Just about everyone has a cellphone, phone, computer, tablet, or at least access to one of these things. It is just the way the world works now. Examples of virtual visitation would include:
- Video calling
- Sending texts or emails
- Using social media messenger apps
Not a replacement
Virtual visitation is not a replacement for physical custody time. This type of visitation may be a good supplement to a custody plan. It is, by no means, meant to keep parents and kids from seeing each other in person.
Limitations and specifics
If a custody plan includes virtual visitation, it does not mean that parents have unlimited access to their children. In some cases, it may be necessary to set limits.Adding specific details about how virtual visitation will work will serve to keep each parent on the same page as to how it works.
DIVIDING MARITAL PROPERTY IN A DIVORCE
One of the largest areas of divorce that is widely contested is that of property division. Texas has a community property status. This however, does not mean that the court has to divide marital property equally between the spouses. Property acquired during the marriage is generally considered community property unless it is separate property for one of the reasons below.
Separate property consists of four factors:
- Property owned before a marriage
- Inherited property
- Gifted property
- Recoveries related to personal injury claims
WHAT CAN IMPACT THE DIVISION OF PROPERTY?
In a divorce, there are several factors in Texas that can impact how property is divided up. Some factors include:
- Physical Health
- Size of Separate Estates
- Size of the Community Estate
- Gifts Between Spouses
- Property in Other Jurisdictions
- Fault in Failure of the Marriage
MISTAKES TO AVOID
When discussing the division of marital property, one of the biggest mistakes someone can make is to insist on being the one to ‘keep the house.’ Spouses need to consider the long-term game instead of making a decision out of animosity.
For example; the home is an asset and requires upkeep that may or may not be viable for one parent to undertake. Also, when the time comes to sell the home, the spouse who wanted full ownership may end up getting less than they would have, had the asset been properly assessed as a division choice during the divorce proceedings.
Should You Date During a Divorce?
Dating your way through a divorce can be tempting, especially if you’re coming to the end of an unhappy marriage and hoping to find something better on the other side.
Before you jump back into the dating game, consider the following:
• As far as the courts are concerned, you are legally married until your divorce is finalized—even if you and your spouse are technically separated.
• Texas allows for both “fault” and “no-fault” divorce. Dating during divorce could be seen as adultery in fault-based cases, and it can certainly make it harder to deny an allegation of adultery prior to separation.
• A fault-based divorce involving claims of adultery could impact aspects of the settlement agreement, including spousal support and/or division of assets.
• If you have children, they are already dealing with confusion and complicated emotions in dealing with their parents’ divorce. Think how much more confusing it will be for them if they happen to meet (or see an email or hear a message from) someone you are dating before the divorce is even final.
• Dating during a divorce will almost certainly inflame an already volatile relationship with your spouse. If you are hoping to reach a settlement or to be able to co-parent post-divorce, you may not want to do something that will trigger negative emotions.
While we don’t condone one over the other, we do strongly advise that you fully consider your situation before moving forward.
3 Child Custody Mistakes to Avoid
One of the most difficult aspects of a divorce is the way it will affect your children, particularly as it pertains to the custody and support orders that are ultimately established. If you’re currently dealing with a contested divorce and heated custody battle, protect your parental rights by avoiding the following.
- Don’t make the matter public on social media.It’s easy to want to turn to social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter when in the midst of a frustrating and emotional custody battle. However, we strongly suggest that you resist the urge to do so. These are not private forums. Any frustrations vented here, any negative depictions of your soon-to-be ex, and/or any pictures of you drinking or partying could be used against you in a custody agreement. In fact, some of the most compelling evidence used against parents comes in the form of social media updates and pictures. Play it safe: Don’t post anything on social media that you wouldn’t want a judge seeing in court.
- Don’t break the Temporary Custody Order established by the court.At the onset of a divorce, it’s not uncommon for the court to issue a temporary interim custody order. The parameters established in this order should be strictly followed. Under no circumstances should you even consider disobeying the time-sharing, decision-making, and traveling stipulations governed by the temporary custody order. Something as seemingly harmless as failing to deliver your children to their other parent by a specific time and day could significantly impact the ultimate custody agreement approved by the court.
- Don’t exhibit a general unwillingness to communicate and co-parent.Now is the time for you and your soon-to-be ex to prove you can amicably and effectively communicate and co-parent. If you can’t do it now, the Judge will have no reason to believe you’ll be able to do it in after the divorce has been finalized. Your best shot at more time with your children is through the behaviors and interactions you display in the time leading up to finalizing your custody case. Act wisely.
Maximum Amount of Child Support a Parent can be Ordered to Pay in Texas
When the person being ordered to pay child support’s monthly resources are less than $8,550 a month there are presumptive amounts of child support set out in the family code and the court has the discretion to look at multiple factors in deciding how much child support should be paid. In general, the maximum amount in the code for someone making less than $8,550, without factoring in any special needs of the child or any of the other factors, is $1,710. When the person being ordered to pay child support makes more than $8,550 the statute states that the court should presumptively apply the child support percentage amount to the amount that doesn’t exceed $8,550. Basically, it is presumed that you shouldn’t be paying more than $1,710 a month in child support for one child no matter how much money you make.
However, the court could take into account the income of the parties and the proven needs of the child to set an amount above the $1,710 a month. The court has discretion to allocate the amounts to be paid into the proven needs of the child to each party in the Child Support case as long as they don’t order more than 100% of the proven needs of the child to be paid.
What Does This All Mean?
In short, there is no absolute maximum amount of child support that can be awarded. Although, the statute presumes that $1,710 should be the maximum for child support for one child.
What is Joint Custody?
In Texas, we don’t use the term “custody” to describe the time parents spend with their children. We use “possession and access” to describe what most people think of when they use the word custody. When people use the term joint custody they typically are speaking of a 50/50 possession and access schedule. The long and short of that blog post is that there is no 50/50 possession and access schedule listed in the Texas Family Code and that there are multiple “equal” possession schedules that courts use.
What is a Joint Managing Conservator?
Joint conservator describes a legal relationship a person has with a child. It is not the same thing as a possession and access schedule. The presumption in Texas is that biological parents should be named joint managing conservators of their children regardless of what their possession and access schedule is going to look like. Having equal periods of physical possession of and access to the child is not the same as being a joint managing conservator. Most people in Texas are named joint managing conservators of their children while the majority of possession schedules are not completely equal.
Joint Managing Conservatorship does not mean that the parties are going to have completely equal rights and duties when it comes to the child either. The court has discretion when naming parents joint managing conservators to limit rights and duties. Joint Managing Conservator is just a title given to a party.