Holiday Activities For Kids in TexasAs the song says ” It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas”. Lights are glistening all over the city and you can feel the excitement in the air. There is so much to do with the kids. It doesn’t matter what you are doing, it can be something as simple as taking in the lights of the city while enjoying some hot chocolate. I encourage you to take advantage of the many activities throughout the city. You will be making memories for your children that will last a lifetime. Below are just a few of the opportunities going on throughout the city:

1. Zoo Lights

Zoo Lights is held beginning mid November continues on through the month of December. During Zoo lights, the Houston Zoo is transformed into a winter wonderland for all ages.

2. Santa’s Wonderland

Santa’s Wonderland, just an hour north of Houston in College Station, is a great time for the whole family. You can buy various tickets for to either drive through the Wonderland, walk or ride on a horse and carriage. After you are through with the lights, you can head in over to the village where you can eat, visit with Santa and warm up with some hot coco.

3. Festival of Lights

Festive of Lights is Galveston’s very own kickoff for the holidays with its annual full of fun, festival. The Festive of Lights is held at Moody Gardens in Galveston. Kids can take pictures with Santa, see the class holiday movies you grew up on a take a walk under the Christmas light displays. The Festival of Lights is held all the way until the New Year and January 7th.

4. Magical Winter Lights

The Magical Winter Lights is happening until January 2nd at Gulf Greyhound Park in La Marque where they light up various themed light displays. There is also a kid’s area, arts and crafts, holiday market and more.

5. Lights in the Heights

Lights in the Heights is held in the Heights neighborhood where the whole neighborhood gets in the spirit of the holidays and the event. During the event, people are able to walk throughout the neighborhood while enjoying the live music, food, hot chocolate and lights. Lights in the Heights is held the second Saturday in December (December 9th), however they are often left up throughout the whole season for people to enjoy.

6. Ice Skating at Discovery Green

Especially if the weather has not gotten into winter temperatures, Ice-skating at Discovery Green is the perfect way to cool down, while also getting in the spirit. Additionally, living in Houston, we do not get to experience real ice-skating on frozen ponds in the winter so this is certainly the next best thing. Discovery Green sets up their outdoor rink no matter the temperatures. There is not cost to get into the park but ice-skating will cost you rentals for the skates and entrance to the ice rink itself.

7. Breakfast with Santa

I certainly remember attending this event as a kid and would highly recommend it to anyone with little kids. The Downtown Aquarium restaurant will host its traditional Breakfast with Santa event. Santa may even make an appearance in the 500,000 gallon fish tank!

Child Custody Holiday Schedule

It’s always best when families work out a holiday visitation schedule that works best for them. Any time two parents can not otherwise come to an agreement, the holiday visitation schedule in the Standard Possession Order of Texas takes effect.

On Even-numbered Years:
The possessory conservator gets the kids for kids for Christmas
The managing conservator gets the kids for Thanksgiving and New Years

The custody roles switch for odd-numbered years

§153.314 of the Texas Family Code

Sec. 153.314. The following provisions govern possession of the child for certain specific holidays and supersede conflicting weekend or Thursday periods of possession without regard to the distance the parents reside apart. The possessory conservator and the managing conservator shall have rights of possession of the child as follows:

(1) the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in even-numbered years beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in odd-numbered years;

(2) the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in odd-numbered years beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in even-numbered years;

(3) the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in odd-numbered years, beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school before Thanksgiving and ending at 6 p.m. on the following Sunday, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in even-numbered years.

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After a divorce, getting your life back on track can be a challenging process, especially if you’re trying to move out of state and navigate a custody agreement. Before you move out of state with your kids, read our blog to learn more about the process to ensure that you are operating within Texas family law.

If you still have questions, or would like to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys to help you work through this process, please contact us today.

Moving Out of State with Custody and an Agreeable Spouse

First and foremost, if your spouse is agreeable to you relocating to another state with your kids, then you will be free to do. The divorce decree would have to specify that you are the conservator with the exclusive right to determine the primary residence without regard to geographic location or within a certain geographic area that includes the area to which you would like to relocate.

Please keep in mind that an agreement with your spouse could include a geographic restriction that includes more than one place. For example, you could agree to a geographic restriction that says that you have the right to establish the child’s residence within Houston (Harris and its contiguous counties) and/or your hometown.

Can I Move if My Spouse Is Not Agreeable?

If your spouse is not agreeable, it is likely that your ability to move could be restricted to a geographical area.

Section 153.001(a) of the Texas Family Code states:

The public policy of this state is to:

  1. assure that 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; and
  3. encourage parents to share in the rights and duties of raising their child after the parents have separated or dissolved their marriage.

When rendering an order appointing parents as joint managing conservators, the court shall designate on conservator as the one the has the exclusive right to determine the primary residence of the child. Additionally, the court shall specify either the geographic area within which that conservator can establish the child’s primary residence or that the conservator can establish the child’s primary residence without regard to geographic area.

Factors the Court May Consider

The Texas Family Code does not explicitly state the factors a trial court should consider in deciding whether a geographic restriction would be in the best interest of the child. However, there are a number of things that courts have looked at in the past, including, but not limited to the following:

Reasons for and against the move

  • The opportunities afforded by the move
  • Whether the move could assist in meeting the child’s special needs or unique talents
  • The effect of move on relationships with extended family
  • The effect on the noncustodial parent’s visitation and communication with the child
  • The child’s age
  • The noncustodial parent’s ability to relocate

Also, it is important to note that even if you are appointed as sole managing conservator of your child the court still can restrict the ability to designate the primary residence of the child. Although the section of the Texas Family Code that deals with the appointment of the rights and duties of a parent who is appointed sole managing conservator does not specifically mention a geographic restriction, it does say that the rights can be limited by order of the court.

Schedule a Consultation

If you’re still unsure about whether you’re legally within your rights to move out of the state under your custody arrangement, make sure you consult with an experienced Texas family law attorney before you make any decisions. To speak with one of our attorneys regarding whether you can move out of the state with your children, please contact us today.

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If you’re recently divorced, you may be wondering, ‘Can my ex take my child out of state’? Depending on whether or not you and your former spouse had an agreement in place, the answer may be different. Read below to find out what factors determine whether or not a parent and ex-spouse is legally allowed to take your child across state lines.

If you need additional information or legal assistance, contact our office to schedule a consultation with our experienced Texas family law attorneys.

What If There is No Custody Agreement in Place?

Yes, if there is no custody agreement in place, your ex-spouse may take your child out of state.

Until there is an order of the court in place regarding custody, both parents have equal rights to possession and access of the child. This means that both parents can make decisions regarding the child, including where to go on vacation and whether or not to move out of state with the child. Although these actions may be frustrating, without a court order in place, they do not constitute kidnapping.

If you feel that the other parent of your child is thinking about moving out of the state, the best way to keep them from taking your child with them, is to speak to an attorney about getting a formal custody agreement in place. It is best to get the momentum on your side before the move, so acting sooner rather than later is key. The courts are much less likely to order that a child be returned to the jurisdiction than they are to order they remain in the jurisdiction.

What Can I Do Once an Agreement is In Place?

Once an agreement is in place, the parties’ rights to possession and access to the child will be set by order of the court. Generally, this will include a geographic restriction. For example, a final order in a suit for custody in Harris County, Texas will often include a provision restricting the residence of the child to Harris and contiguous counties. This is quite a large area including Montgomery, Liberty, Chambers, Galveston, Brazoria, Fort Bend, and Waller Counties.

A geographic restriction means that if the other parent is the joint managing conservator with the right to designate the residence of the child, they must do so within the geographically designated area. If you’re still wondering, but ‘can my ex move my child out state?’, you should know that the other parent would first need to file a motion to modify the order asking that the geographic restriction be removed and show that such a move would be in the best interests of the child.

What About Traveling Temporarily?

As far as traveling out of the state with the child, often once there is an agreement in place, the only requirement is that the domestic travel take place during their period of possession. Many agreements also require written notice outlining the child’s travel itinerary be provided a certain amount of time prior to the trip. Parties can even go so far as to require that the other parent consent before any domestic travel.

For international travel, there may be additional restrictions regarding passports and consent. If there are concerns about the other parent traveling with the child, make sure to discuss them with your attorney so that they can be addressed in the final order.

Schedule a Consultation

If you’re still uncertain about whether your ex can take your child out of state, make sure you speak with a Texas family law attorney to get the facts and know your rights. To get in touch with one of our attorneys regarding the custody arrangement with your ex-spouse, please contact us today.

Video Transcription:

In the State of Texas, the idea often referred to as ‘custody’ is referred to as ‘conservatorship’, while ‘visitation rights’ is known as ‘possession’. A Standard Possession Order is the statute which details who has ‘possession’ of the child or children when parents do not agree. Read on to learn more about the Texas Standard Possession Order, and if you still have questions, contact our office to set up a consultation with our experienced Texas family law attorney.

What is the Standard Possession Order in Texas?

The Standard Possession Order in Texas comprises of a weekend possession calendar, which is normally the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekends and a Thursday during the school year, for a weekday period of possession. Parents also have to include a possession calendar for the holiday schedule, and need to determine when the holiday schedule would actually begin based on the school district that the child is enrolled in. If the child is not enrolled in school, the school district that he or she would be enrolled in.

To determine when the holidays would start, the schedule would technically include Thanksgiving. One year is to one custodial parent, and the following year the second custodial parent would have that holiday, meaning the parents would rotate, even in odd years. There are two halves of Christmas Break every year. Typically, the parent who exercised the Thanksgiving holiday will then have the second half of Christmas Break so that the other parent will then have Christmas, and will rotate that every year.

Typically, Christmas Break does start from the beginning of the Christmas Break or Winter Break for the school year and ends at noon on the 28th with the second parent picking up noon 28th and returning the child after school begins following the Christmas Break and will rotate that every year.

There’s also Spring Break every year. Again, custodial parents will rotate years even in odd years. Mother’s Day will have Mother’s Day weekends for mothers. Fathers will have Father’s Day weekends for fathers. The extended 30 day summer time, 30 days for the non-custodial parent.

On the child’s birthdays, if one parent is in possession of the child for the day, then the other custodial parent may come and pick up the child and the child’s siblings from 6 to 8 p.m. on their birthday to take them to dinner.

The Texas Standard Possession Order and schedule for your children is in lieu of the two parents actually having an agreement that outlines when said parents want to actually exchange their children. If the two parents decide on their own schedule and choose to put this order away in a drawer and never look at it, that is fine. But the minute you cannot agree, then you must refer to the order because that would be the least amount of time to which you you would be entitled.

Contact Experienced Family Law Attorneys

If you’re still unsure about how to create a visitation schedule with your ex-spouse, or require further clarification regarding the Texas Standard Possession Order, be sure to schedule an appointment with our team of experienced family law attorneys. Contact Ramos Law Group today.

If you’re going through a divorce and you and your spouse have children, it’s important to take parenting classes to learn how to communicate effectively to serve their best interests. However, the court may also require that you and your spouse attend classes as part of an agreement made with your child custody lawyer. Above, board certified family law attorney Mary E. Ramos outlines a few of the benefits of parenting classes during a divorce in Texas.

Parenting After Your Divorce

There is a four-hour parenting class that’s required and depending on the court, you may be required to attend multiple classes. Our attorneys encourage clients to take these classes early on, so that they have that knowledge and information to utilize during the case. The parenting class doesn’t teach you how to be a parent, but it teaches you how to communicate in two different households. This is where you can leverage the benefits of parenting classes.

It can be hard enough to discipline children in one household; in two separate households, being able to discipline and communicate with your children can become extremely difficult. Children of divorce will learn how to manipulate their parents, and parents, despite their separation, need to be on the same page with how they’re going to move forward and address these issues.

If divorced parents don’t talk to each other, children will pick up on it and start to say what each parent wants to hear. If you are on the same page with the other parent, you can address concerns you have with your children directly with the other parent — not through your child. It’s a better way to protect your child from being impacted with the divorce process. Regardless of your divorce, you’re going to be a co-parent for the rest of your life.

Contact Our Team Today

Choosing a divorce lawyer and going through a divorce can be one of the most emotionally challenging events in one’s life, and attending co-parenting courses with your spouse will be no different. Yet the benefits of parenting classes during a divorce extend well beyond satisfying the orders of the judge; it’s important to put the wellbeing of your children front and center to help them with this difficult transition.

If you have more questions about parenting classes during a divorce in Texas, or you need the expert advice of a board certified family law attorney, schedule an appointment with Ramos Law Group, PLLC, today.

Video Transcription:

Normally when parents have an issue with communicating with each other, there is a great website that a lot of attorneys and judges use, called OurFamilyWizard. Now this is an online calendaring program where both parties can actually log in and create an account for their children. On this website, they can post the children’s extracurricular activities, doctors’ appointments, they can even include requests for exchanges of weekends and whether or not the other custodial parent will actually accept or deny those exchanges. And you can post uninsured medical expenses all to the same website.

One of the benefits is that you can’t go in and change the information from the website and if a judge wants to, they can always log in, and look, and review the communications between the parties. If you have a disagreement about whether or not you exchanged weekends, or agreed to a different schedule other than your order that’s in place, you can also refer to the website as a means of documenting what happens.

I also like clients to consider using this website because when you come in for a divorce, you have to create a story and a history of your relationship, and address the concerns that you’ve had with the other parent, regarding your children or any other situation. If you maintain participation through Our Family Wizard website, then that’s all been documented for you, and you can just hit print and we will have all of that documentation ready to go, and it’s in admissible form for the court. The courts now are actually requiring a lot of parties to participate through Our Family Wizard, and this is a good way to keep everybody accountable for their actions.

Ramos Law Group, PLLC, your family law team of experts.

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Read on to learn the top 10 rules for protecting kids during a divorce.

Divorce can get nasty and a lot of times parents don’t consider the emotional toll it can take on the children. Below are some rules parents should keep in mind when going through a divorce.

1.  Don’t Make the Child Choose a Side

Children instinctively love both their parents and being asked or expected to choose a side can be severely traumatic for a child. It’s natural for a child to want to please both parents so expecting them to be on one side or the other is harmful and cruel. Understand that a child has loyalty to both parents and the circumstances leading up to the divorce or custody battle rarely change that loyalty.

2.  Don’t Expect the Child to be a Messenger

Don’t use your kids to deliver messages to the other parent, even if it is a simple reminder about soccer practice. That is placing a burden on the child when you should be able to effectively communicate with the other parent. You’re expecting a child to remember details and relay responses, which is a lot of pressure. If you can’t talk to the other parent yourself, how can you expect your child to do so?

3.  No Fighting in Front of the Kids

Seeing or hearing parents argue is something that can be very difficult to cope with for a child. Children will also pick up on the negative or hurtful statements said in the heat of the moment and are not able to properly process such information. Don’t scream or yell or make snide remarks. The children are listening.

4.  Don’t Say Bad Things About the Other Parent to the Kids

It hurts a child to hear bad comments about someone they love. Justifying such comments by saying it’s the truth doesn’t help the matter. It makes you look bad and it makes the child feel bad by hearing such negative things. Of course you need an outlet or a place to vent, but save the anger and vitriol for a dinner with your friends or a phone call to your mom when the kids are at dance practice. Conversation with your children should always be happy and focus on them, not on issues outside of their control.

5.  Don’t Allow Friends or Family to Say Negative Things Either

Just because the nasty words aren’t coming out of your mouth doesn’t mean it’s okay either.  Friends and family often want to stick up for a parent but allowing them to make negative statements has just as bad an impact as if you were saying it yourself. Let your friends and family know that under no circumstances are they to make negative comments in front of the kids.

6.  Try to Put on a United Front for Activities

It’s important that both parents remain supportive during a pending litigation, even if they can’t stand the sight of one another. Kids will remember which parent didn’t go to the dance recital or which parent couldn’t show up for Thanksgiving dinner. It may be difficult or painful for you as a parent but you need to remember that these are the lasting memories a child will have and you want them to remember that both parents were always there for them.

7.  Don’t Talk About Pending Litigation

Children don’t need to be privy to when a court date is or whose lawyer filed what paperwork. It’s distressing and harmful to know the specific details about your case. If you need to vent about how a hearing went, talk to a friend or family member. Children need to remain as blissfully unaware as possible about litigation.

8.  Understand the Children Love the Other Parent

Nothing you say or do will change that, your actions just may cause the child to have intense guilt for a natural feeling. Accept it. Embrace it. Never make your child feel guilty for loving the other parent.

9.  Keep Life as Normal as Possible

While you may be going through an intense and emotional time in your life, your child is still going through childhood. Don’t let a divorce cloud their happy childhood memories. Keep them enrolled in extracurricular activities, keep homework schedules the same and do everything possible to keep life as normal as it was prior to the divorce.

10.  Treat the Kids like Kids

Many parents, after losing a partner, will begin to treat the children as close confidantes. This is not helpful to the parent or the child. You’re still the parent and need to keep the parent-child relationship defined. Your kids don’t need to know about your dating life, your money problems or what’s going on with your divorce. Young children aren’t equipped with the maturity or knowledge to have those types of conversations so save it for your friends.

Oftentimes a child won’t express emotions or show outward signs of distress during a divorce. It’s important for parents to keep the above rules in mind and do everything possible to maintain a safe and emotionally balanced environment for the children, even if the pending litigation gets nasty. Children should always come first.

How does visitation work during the HolidaysHoliday season is upon us and Texas parents working under a divorce or child custody agreement may be wondering how they will share custody of the child during the upcoming holidays. Ideally the parents will have mutually agreed to a custody plan the maximizes the time the children spend with their families over the holidays; however that may not be the case for all families. Most divorce decrees of final orders explicitly state the terms and conditions of each party’s time of possession of the child and some orders may have modified language, so it is important to first read your final decree of divorce or final order regarding the custody and possession schedule.

A Standard Possession Order, which is the custody agreement most parents operate under, awards custody of the children in an alternating fashion. The language of the Standard Possession Order, which is likely included in your final decree of divorce or custody order, is dictated by §153.314 of the Texas Family Code. The holiday possession language is as follows:

Sec. 153.314.  HOLIDAY POSSESSION UNAFFECTED BY DISTANCE PARENTS RESIDE APART.  The following provisions govern possession of the child for certain specific holidays and supersede conflicting weekend or Thursday periods of possession without regard to the distance the parents reside apart.  The possessory conservator and the managing conservator shall have rights of possession of the child as follows:

(1)  the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in even-numbered years beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school for the Christmas school vacation and ending at noon on December 28, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in odd-numbered years;

(2)  the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in odd-numbered years beginning at noon on December 28 and ending at 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes after that vacation, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in even-numbered years;

(3)  the possessory conservator shall have possession of the child in odd-numbered years, beginning at 6 p.m. on the day the child is dismissed from school before Thanksgiving and ending at 6 p.m. on the following Sunday, and the managing conservator shall have possession for the same period in even-numbered years;

So what does this mean for parents in 2014? The possessory parent, the person who is entitled to visitation under the Standard Possession Order (the non-primary parent), is entitled to possession of the child or children  beginning at 6 p.m. the day the children are released for the Thanksgiving Holiday and must return the child or children to the managing parent by 6 p.m. on the Sunday following Thanksgiving.

The managing conservator parent will then get the child or children beginning when the they are released from school for the Christmas holiday and ending at 12:00 p.m. on December 28th.  From that point until the child returns to school, the possessory parent has visitation with the children.

So typically a parent will have either Thanksgiving and New Year’s or Christmas and it alternates by year. Again, parents can come up with whatever schedule fits their individual family’s needs, these are only guidelines and in place should the parents be unable to come to an agreed possession schedule on their own.

Other holidays such as Kwanzaa or Hanukah are not addressed in a Standard Possession Order so if those are the holidays your family celebrates you will need to refer to your final decree or order or speak to a family law attorney.

If you have any additional questions about how the Holiday Possession Schedule works, please contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC.

child custody support divorce

A divorce can have a significant impact on other family members – especially children. As you go through this strenuous time, it is so important that you take steps to preserve the best interest of all children involved. Naturally, using child support lawyers in Houston, TX is essential if you want the best possible results. When it comes to your loved ones, there is no room for gambling, and going into a divorce without proper legal representation is a serious risk. A good divorce attorney can help you get an ideal custody and child support plan that works for you and your children.

Try to Compromise

As you go through your divorce, it is best to avoid conflict wherever possible. Of course, when it comes to something important to both spouses (children for example), that is not always possible. However, if you can work with your child support lawyers in Houston, TX to negotiate with the other party, you may be able to make progress in finding a reasonable solution that works for both parties. Of course, a good lawyer will fight to help you get the plan you want, but if you can come to an amicable agreement, that is always the best option.

Keep the Best Interest of the Children in Mind

parental alienation

When you are going through this emotionally turbulent period of your life, it can be all too easy to make rash, irrational decisions out of spite. Although you may harbor feelings of resentment and anger towards your former spouse, it is so important that you remember that the children do not need to have those issues projected onto them. Although you may want to exact revenge by fighting to keep the other parent away from the children, this is only going to be harmful in the long run. Of course, if the other parent is abusive or addicted to alcohol or drugs, it may be necessary to seek sole custody. Talk to your child support lawyers in Houston, TX for information on arriving at a reasonable compromise that works for both parents.

Consult Your Lawyer to Make Sure You Are Getting a Fair Deal

white gavel, block, and scalesWhether you are the one receiving child support or paying it, it is essential that you give and receive a fair amount. Even if the divorce has already been finalized, you can always consider modification if you feel that you are paying more than you should be or that you are not receiving appropriate custody or visitation rights. When all is said and done, an ideal divorce has both parents feeling like they are satisfied with the proceedings. Of course, this is not always possible, so it is important that you fight for your rights when necessary. A child support lawyer in Houston, TX will fight alongside you to get what is rightfully due.

Contact Ramos Law Group, PLLC

If you need a reputable child support lawyer in Houston. TX, look no further. At Ramos Law Group, PLLC, we have years of first-hand experience in child custody and child support cases. We go to great lengths to make sure that you are satisfied with every decision made – no matter how large or small. When it comes to protecting the best interest of your family, we realize the importance of this process. Call (713) 225-6200 to set up a consultation, or simply fill out our online contact form. Take this important step to protect your family today.

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