The State of Texas takes failing to pay child support very seriously; you can face several different types of penalties. These penalties include contempt, liens/foreclosures, suspension of licenses and child support liens.
Failure to pay child support obligations is punishable by coercive and punitive contempt. A motion for enforcement by contempt can be filed with the court. A motion for enforcement may be filed by the parent to whom the child support obligation is owed or by the Office of Attorney General. If the court finds the non-paying party to be guilty, they face incarceration for up to six months, fines and paying attorney’s fees. If a nonpaying party fails to make an appearance at an enforcement hearing, the court may issue a capias, which is a warrant for arrest.
Parents who fail to pay child support can also face the following penalties:
- Suspension of driver’s license
- Denial of tax refunds or other government benefits
- Garnishment of wages
- Liens placed against real property
- Denial of hunting, boating or professional licenses
- Jail Sentence
- Fines and Court Costs
- Attorney Fees
A court may find a party in contempt and sentence them to jail but suspend the sentence and place a party on community supervision. Provisions of such probation can include a payment schedule for making up owed support as well as the requirement that all support payments be made on time. Should a party fail to follow the terms of probation, it may be revoked and that party ordered to serve the originally ordered jail time.
The Texas Family Code has a provision related to taking a Parent Education and Family Stabilization Course. While the provision does not mandate the taking of one of these courses, many of the family law courts in Harris County do require the completion of one of these courses.
These courses are typically four hours long and are designed to educate parents to the consequences of divorce or custody battles on children. Pursuant to Texas Family Code Section 105.009, the course must include information on the following issues:
- the emotional effects of divorce on parents;
- the emotional and behavioral reactions to divorce by young children and adolescents;
- parenting issues relating to the concerns and needs of children at different development stages;
- stress indicators in young children and adolescents;
- conflict management;
- family stabilization through development of a coparenting relationship;
- the financial responsibilities of parenting;
- family violence, spousal abuse, and child abuse and neglect; and
- the availability of community services and resources.
Some judges in Harris County will not approve a final decree of divorce or final modification order unless both parents have completed a parenting class (Online or In Person) and filed a completion certificate with the court. So while you may believe your parenting skills are superb and the class is not applicable to you, it is a requirement to finalize any pending family law cases.
CRITICAL NOTE: There is one Harris county court that will switch custody if the primary parent has not completed the parenting course. Furthermore, if neither parent has completed a parenting course this court has been known to have CPS take custody of the children.
Please contact the Ramos Law Firm if you have questions about court approved parenting classes or would like more information.
The system update process to Jelly Bean (Android 4.1.1 & 4.1.2) is fairly straight forward and depending on your network speed can be completed in under half an hour.
Caution: Before upgrading your phone it is always recommended that you backup your data.
To update your Galaxy S3 phone to Android 4.1.1 & 4.1.2:
- Click on the “Menu” (left) button and Select “Settings” from the popup menu
- Click on “Application Manager”
- Select the “All” view to see all running applications
- Click on “Google Services Framework”
- Click the “Clear Data” button
- Click the “Force Stop” button
- Open “Menu>Settings” again
- Click on the “System Update” option
- Click on the “Update Samsung Software”
BAAM it’s done! In a little under a half hour you will have the 348MB (4.1.1)/157.6MB (4.1.2) download and it will automatically install after a reboot.
Disclaimer: Use at your own risk.
A common misconception in the arena of Texas family law is that conservatorship and custody are the same thing. In the state of Texas, conservatorship is the designation as to which parent has the right to make certain decisions and exercise certain duties.
A parent designated as sole managing conservator has all exclusive rights regarding the children and does not share them with the other parent. These rights and duties are set out in section 153.132 of the Texas Family Code. The other parent is designated as the possessory conservator with limited rights but still may exercise possession and visitation with the children.
In Texas there is a presumption that parents shall be appointed as joint managing conservators of a child. Most divorces or custody suits result in parents being named as joint managing conservators. The presumption of joint managing conservatorship may be rebutted with facts showing that the child’s emotional and physical well being would be impaired by the appointment of the parents as joint managing conservators. This is often evidenced by documented neglect or abuse. A parent who has been granted a protective order against the other parent due to domestic or familial violence is entitled to be appointed sole managing conservator.
In today’s economic times, divorce and bankruptcy often go hand in hand. It’s important to know what role bankruptcy can play in a pending divorce suit.
You may be able to file for divorce while you have a pending bankruptcy filing and the court may render judgment on issues such as child support or conservatorship issues. Many courts will not award property while your bankruptcy is still pending and your divorce may not be finalized until the bankruptcy has been discharged.
If the court does allow your divorce to be finalized, bankruptcy can have an effect on the property and debts that were awarded in the final decree of divorce. Obligations entered into in a divorce settlement are considered non-dischargeable, which means they may not be discharged in a later bankruptcy filing. And while creditors can’t come after you for payment after you’ve filed for bankruptcy, they can go after your ex-spouse for payment for any community debts. That opens you up to financial liability to your ex-spouse even after your divorce is finalized.
The complexity involved in a joint divorce and bankruptcy make it imperative that you are represented by an attorney who is experienced in divorces involving bankruptcy. Please contact the Ramos Law Firm if you are interested in consulting with an attorney and obtaining more information.
This is a difficult position for both parties involved. As the custodial parent, it’s your responsibility to foster a relationship between your child and their father, even if your relationship with their father is strained. But as you surely know, it can be difficult to convince a teenager to do anything they do not want to do. But it will be you, the parent, who faces repercussions for your child’s refusal to visit with their father.
As the custodial parent, you can be found in contempt for failure to comply with the court’s visitation order. Contempt entails being forced to pay fines, attorney’s fees and face up to six months in jail per violation. Family law judges do not take kindly to parents being unable to visit with their children and a finding of contempt reflects very badly on you as a parent in any future litigation involving the child.
You can’t physically get a teenager into a vehicle and you probably don’t want visitation to be a point of contention in your relationship with your child, but you need to remember that you are the adult and visitation is not up to the child. The judge won’t punish the child for their refusal to visit with their parent, those repercussions will come down on you.
So what can you do? If you have a decent relationship with your ex, it can be helpful to present a united front to your child. If you do not have a relationship with your ex, it’s important to stress to your child that both parents are a part of their life and that their refusal to visit with the other parent opens you up to liability for their actions.
If you are having issues with your current custody arrangement or have further questions, please contact the Ramos Law Firm.
Under Section 153.001, the Texas Family Code sets out that it is the public policy of the State of Texas 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.
The goal of this code is usually accomplished by enacting a geographic restriction in a divorce or family law matter. A geographic restriction specifies the geographic area the children may reside. It can be as specific as a school district or as general as the state of Texas. The most common geographic restriction is “Harris and contiguous counties,” or the current county of residence as well as any adjacent counties. The primary conservator is given the exclusive right to designate where the children reside within a defined geographic area.
Sometimes an original order relating to conservatorship, such as a final decree of divorce or suit affecting parent-child relationship, does not include a geographic restriction. This becomes an issue when the primary parent wishes to relocate and the non-possessory parent files a modification suit to prevent a parent from moving.
The Court enact sanctions against a parent who chooses to violate an existing geographic restriction. The existing order can be modified changing conservatorship or the existing order. The Court can also hold a contempt hearing and possibly award punitive contempt such as an incarceration or fine. If there is an existing geographic restriction in your existing order it is very important that parties comply.
If you believe a geographic restriction will be an issue in your pending divorce or child conservatorship case, please contact the Ramos Law Firm to schedule a consultation with an experienced family law attorney.
A person may still receive a divorce in the state of Texas if they are unable to locate their spouse, it just requires a few extra steps than a regular divorce.
If you truly do not know where your spouse is living, you may petition the court to allow you to serve your spouse via publication known as Divorce By Publication. This entails filing a notice with a local published newspaper. Once such a notice has been published and a service of citation has been returned to the Court, you will also need to swear and affirm to the court that you have made a good faith effort to locate your missing spouse.
The Judge may appoint what is called an attorney ad litem, who is an attorney that is appointed to represent the interests of your missing spouse. They will do public searches and attempt to locate your spouse. If they are unsuccessful, they will file with the Court a Statement of Evidence which sums up their efforts to locate your spouse.
Once your spouse has been served notice of the pending divorce through publication and the attorney ad litem has completed their searches, you may proceed at trial on a default basis, meaning your spouse is not there. If the Judge is satisfied that you and the attorney ad litem have made all reasonable efforts to locate your spouse, you may proceed with a default divorce and finalize your case.
If you are contemplating a divorce but unable to locate your spouse, please contact the Ramos Law Firm.