Every order that requires one party (Obligor) to pay child support to another party (Obligee) will outline how the Oblligor is to make payments.  It will say the following:

Payment – IT IS ORDERED that all payments shall be made through the state disbursement unit at Texas Child Support Disbursement Unit, P.O. Box 659791, San Antonio, Texas 78265-9791, and thereafter promptly remitted to OBLIGEE for the support of the child.

As parties go through the process of a divorce, parentage action, or modification, they often soon learn, that it can take some time for the wage withholding orders to take effect.  As such a transition period often stretches the financial situation of both parties, the delay in receipt of child support can be a concern. Sometimes OBLIGORs take it upon themselves, to pay or give the child support directly to the OBLIGEE in an effort to make things smoother, to not be counted late, or to make sure that the parent with primary custody has the funds necessary to provide for the children. However, every order that obligates one party to pay child support will include the following provision:

No Credit for Informal Payments-IT IS ORDERED that the child support as prescribed in this decree shall be exclusively discharged in the manner ordered and that any direct payments made by OBLIGOR  to OBLIGEE or any expenditures incurred by OBLIGOR during OBLIGOR’s periods of possession of or access to the child, as prescribed in this decree, for food, clothing, gifts, travel, shelter, or entertainment are deemed in addition to and not in lieu of the support ordered in this decree.

So, by doing what the OBLIGOR thinks is the “right” thing- i.e. paying the OBLIGEE directly, the OBLIGOR has put him or herself in danger of not receiving credit for the child support paid directly to the OBLIGEE.  By the time money starts coming out of their checks, the State Disbursement Unit will have the OBLIGOR already in arrears in their records. In order to get proper credit for the payments that were made directly, the OBLIGOR now has to rely on the OBLIGEE to execute an affidavit acknowledging that he or she has received the child support that was not paid through the Disbursement Unit and to send it with the proper information to the proper location.  Additionally, the OBLIGOR then has to rely on the Office of the Attorney General to properly credit the account in a timely manner. While all of this is happening, the Office of the Attorney General has the ability to take a number of actions to collect what in the eyes of the State is unpaid child support, including, but not limited to, the garnishing of your tax refund or placing a lien on property you may own.

There are steps that you and your attorney can take to protect or assist you during the transition phase and the time between the reaching of an agreement and the effect of a wage-withholding order.  However, unless you have previously discussed these options with your attorney and are satisfied that adequate protections are in place, send your payment directly to the state disbursement unit at Texas Child Support Disbursement Unit, P.O. Box 659791, San Antonio, Texas 78265-9791.

For more information, or to discuss what possible options would apply in your specific case, please consult an attorney to discuss the issue.  Also, the Child Support Division of the Office of the Attorney General of Texas has a very informative site that can be helpful and which also contains the forms mentioned in this blog. (https://texasattorneygeneral.gov/cs/welcome-to-the-child-support-division) (https://texasattorneygeneral.gov/cs/parents-and-guardians)>

The truth is that there are various ways that an order can be crafted to protect the children and still allow them to have an ongoing relationship with their parent that is struggling with alcohol issues, depending on the severity of the issues.  The solution is normally a combination of protections during periods of possession, testing and/or treatment requirements, and injunctions that depend upon the specific facts of the case.

The court can require or the parties can agree that the struggling parent submit to an alcohol assessment.  Other possible requirements include, but are not limited to, the following:

  1. rehabilitation, inpatient and/or outpatient;
  2. breathalyzer testing, before, during, and/or after periods of possession;
  3. ignition interlock and breathalyzer devices; and/or
  4. attending AA meetings

It is important to remember, however, that the options available will depend on the facts of each case, as the court will not require breathalyzer devices unless there is a proven concern.

As far as periods of possession go, the highest level of protection would be supervised possession and access.  Period of possession can be supervised by whatever party the parents can agree to and/or a court-approved visitation program.  It is important to remember that the parties would have to agree to the supervision or the party requesting that the periods of possession be supervised would have to have enough evidence to convince the court that the safety and well-being of the child require that periods of possession be supervised.  If the problem is not so severe to require all possession and access be supervised, periods of possession could also be limited in time or frequency until the parent completes treatment.  Typically, such a possession order will step up to less restrictive periods or possession in phases and into a standard possession either over time or upon completion of different portions of treatment (Ex: Step One- Supervised possession for a few hours every other weekend, Step Two- Unsupervised possession for a few hours every other weekend, Step Three- one overnight every other weekend, Step Four – standard possession order).

Injunctions are additional protections that could be added to the order that require the struggling parent to abstain from alcohol during possession and for a certain period before and after periods of possession.  Additionally, if appropriate, the court could prohibit the struggling parent from transporting the child in a car.

Finally, a provision can be included that in the event of a relapse by the struggling parent, that parent begins again at Step One of the possession schedule to avoid the necessity of having to return to court every time there is a relapse in the future.

For more information, or to discuss what possible options would apply in your specific case, please consult an attorney to discuss the issue.

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Very few people seeking a divorce want to see the process drag out longer than necessary. Divorces can be difficult and expensive. If you’re seeking a divorce, you likely don’t want to spend a lot of time and money in the process either. But the answer to how long a divorce takes in Texas will depend on a number of factors. An experienced divorce attorney can typically help you estimate the timeframe during your initial consultation.

What to Expect

Truth be told, there is no such thing as a quick divorce in Texas. Texas requires a minimum 60-day waiting period between filing for divorce and issuing the final divorce decree. The court cannot have a hearing until 60 days after the complaint is filed. This is considered a “cool off” period, and it gives the spouses time to think and decide if they really want a divorce. In cases where domestic violence is involved, the court may waive the 60-day waiting period.

Once the two parties are ready to move forward, the court will be able to schedule a hearing to take place sometime in the future, and how long the divorce takes in a Texas court depends upon the numerous and varied legal complexities involved in the case. Most couples find it takes longer than two months to officially dissolve the marriage.

Uncontested Divorces

The 60-day period begins to run from the time the Original Petition for Divorce is actually filed with the court. If the divorce is “uncontested”, meaning the parties agree to all divorce terms, then the divorce may be finalized any time after the 60-day waiting period. Usually, these divorces are much more efficient. Sometimes, the divorcing couple decides upon the terms of their divorce before filing, while other couples reach their agreement soon after. In these situations, the divorce may be finalized almost immediately following the 60-day waiting period.

Contested Divorces

A contested divorce will usually take much longer to resolve and require more legal fees. How long an uncontested divorce in Texas takes often depends upon how much information each party needs to gather from the other. Each side will have time to conduct discovery, which is a time when your attorney may demand that your spouse produce certain financial evidence like bank statements or credit card bills. Your attorney should do all they can to determine what you’re entitled to in the divorce agreement, and they should negotiate with your spouse or their attorney to get you a good settlement before facing trial. However, if you cannot reach an agreement the case may go to trial.

Many divorce cases do not end up in a trial, but if they do, they can take several days or even weeks to resolve. At trial, a judge will hear testimony and review evidence about the divorce. At the end of the trial, the judge will issue an order with the terms by which the divorcing couple must comply.

If you have questions about how long your divorce in a Texas court will take, contact Ramos Law Group today for a consultation.

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If you’re considering handling your own divorce paperwork and proceedings, you’re not alone. There are many couples who start the divorce process without representation from an attorney. While this practice is legal, it can be dangerous when people believe in several common myths about divorce before trying to start a do-it-yourself divorce in Texas.

The feasibility of getting a divorce without an attorney can change considerably depending on the details of your marriage, and the type of divorce you will need. This is generally only possible during an uncontested divorce, when both parties agree on every detail, including about how community property will be split. If there are any disagreements, however, you’re in for a contested divorce and should seek representation immediately.

Finding the right Information

You may have friends and family members who have been through a divorce, and may feel like you have a good idea of the process, but every state has their own laws and regulations concerning the requirements for issuing a final divorce decree. These laws can change over time due to new legislation and court rulings affecting Texas divorce. Do-it-yourself attempts at divorce may seem like a money saving move in the short-term, but you stand to lose more in the long-run if you have the wrong information.

If you go into your do-it-yourself divorce in Texas with the wrong information, you may make decisions that could hurt your case. That’s why it’s crucial to seek advice from an experienced divorce lawyer as your first move toward a divorce, or as soon as you are notified of your spouse’s divorce intentions. Your divorce lawyer can tell you the truth about how divorce works and debunk many of the myths surrounding it. Here are the top 10 myths about do-it-yourself divorce in Texas.

1. Divorce can be denied. In Texas, you do not have to prove fault in order to have the court grant the divorce. Therefore, even if you don’t want the divorce and your spouse does, the judge will still grant the divorce. Once all the financial, custody, and visitation issues have been resolved at settlement or trial, a divorce will be granted.

2. If you commit adultery, you’ll lose everything. Some people mistakenly believe they cannot have a do-it-yourself divorce in Texas because adultery is involved. Just because someone has been unfaithful during the marriage doesn’t mean that they’ll lose their home, kids, assets, and rights during the divorce. This can still be used as an argument by the other spouse to try to gain more of community property acquired during the marriage, but this argument is not usually seen as a large factor determining the division of property. If the person who has been unfaithful wastes community assets during the course of committing adultery, that factor will likely be taken into consideration during a property division.

3. Mothers are always awarded custody of children. In the past, there was a legal bias in favor of mothers, but the law has evolved so that both fathers and mothers can have the primary right of possession. The court makes decisions about custody and visitation that are in the best interests of the child. If you’re a concerned father, we recommend speaking to an experienced divorce lawyer for men.

4. You can avoid paying child support. Child support payments in Texas are established by law. Unfortunately, some people have the mistaken impression that they can avoid paying child support in Texas divorce through a do-it-yourself divorce. If you have a minor child and you are not the custodial parent, you will have to pay child support. If you fail to comply with a child support order, both your spouse and the state of Texas can take steps to enforce those orders.

5. I can deny visitation to my ex if they don’t pay the child support we agreed upon. Access to the children and parenting time are not related to the payment of child support. There is a process for enforcing child support obligations, but threatening or denying a parent visitation is not one of them. Initiating a do-it-yourself divorce in Texas does not mean you can decide to withhold visitation from your spouse.

6. Only Women get maintenance payments. Decisions about spousal support, just like custody decisions, are no longer are based on gender. Women may be ordered to pay alimony following a divorce if they earn more than their husbands. Decisions about spousal support are based on the economic realities of the respective spouses regardless of their gender. Do-it-yourself divorces in Texas are no different. If you are considering a divorce and expect child support or alimony to be a contested issue, it’s important to schedule a consultation with a competent attorney to protect your rights.

7. Children get to decide who they live with. If a child has reached the age of 12 and has expressed a preference as to which parent they would like to live with, a judge may decide to take that fact into consideration in the determination as to custody. The judge is not required to follow a child’s choice and will make their custody decisions based on what is in the best interests of the child during your Texas divorce. Do-it-yourself divorces are no different in this regard.

8. Divorce always leads to battles. Divorce can often be full of hostility, blame, and finger-pointing, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Do-it-yourself divorces in Texas have the best results when all parties agree, but this is not an effective means of de-escalating the divorce process. Other methods such as collaborative divorce, mediation, and negotiation are all options if you are trying to keep the divorce from becoming highly contested. If you tell your attorney that you would rather focus on resolving conflicts as opposed to starting or escalating them, the attorney can help make your divorce a process of negotiation and agreement rather than argument.

9. Equitable distribution results in equal division. Property in Texas is divided based on what is just and right in light of the circumstances. Property can be and often is divided in an unequal manner based on the many factors that go into a judge’s decisions about property division. Whether that property is divided 50/50 is not one of them.

10. You must have a lawyer. You have a right to represent yourself in your own do-it-yourself divorce in Texas, but it is not always the best option. You could make errors that harm you in the future. Once the judge signs the Final Decree of Divorce, there is nothing about the property division that can be changed. You may also make mistakes regarding your children and child support that could be difficult to change later.

If you’re thinking about getting a divorce in Texas, contact the offices of Ramos Law Group for a consultation. We’re here to help. Call us today to schedule a consultation.

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There may be a time when you need to get copies or verification of your divorce records. For example, you may need to show them to an employer or a state organization so that you can give cause for a name change. You may need to show them to a governmental entity so that you can receive some type of assistance. Furthermore, you may need your Texas divorce records so that you take some steps to move on with your new life. Divorce records in Texas are public, so anyone can access them by following a few simple steps. These steps are the same regardless of whether you want to access public divorce records in Texas from your home or in person at the clerk’s office.

What You’ll Need Before Starting

  • In order to access a Texas public divorce records, you’ll first need to gather some important information:
  • The full name of the party/ person you’re searching for
  • The date and place of divorce
  • The relationship with the person
  • The type of order
  • The reason for wanting the information

Obtain a Certified Copy at the District Clerk’s Office

Parties to the divorce (the divorcing couple) may obtain certified copies of their divorce decree from the District Clerk’s office. Since certified copies of divorce decrees are only available in person, you will need to visit the district clerk in the county or district where the divorce was filed.

Obtain a Verification Letter from the Texas Vital Statistics Unit Website

If you’re seeking verification of your divorce, but you don’t need a certified copy of the final decree, you can visit the Texas Vital Statistics Unit for a divorce verification letter. You may request a divorce verification letter online or by mail from the Texas Vital Statistics Unit. Divorce verification letters are different from certified copies of the final divorce decree, and they’re not a substitute for providing a final divorce decree when one is needed for legal purposes.

Verification for divorce decrees is available for divorces that have been filed since 1968. The website for the Texas Vital Statistics Unit contains an index of public divorce records in Texas by year, and you can search these records on the website. These records may be purchased or downloaded for free from the website.

Try an Online Search

Although requesting information by mail is fairly easy, it usually takes much longer to obtain your divorce records by mail as opposed to by online. In today’s world, it’s extremely easy to find a lot of publicly accessible information online. A quick search for “public divorce records in Texas” via popular search engines will reveal websites where you can access Texas public divorce records. Some of these websites may require registration or a fee to access some public records. Even some ancestry research websites provide access to public divorce records in Texas.

If you have questions, or if you’re considering divorce, call Ramos Law Group today. We’re here to help.

Under the Texas Family Code, there are certain circumstances where grandparents can file a suit requesting the court to grant them possession of or access to their biological grandchildren. However, there are certain statutory requirements that the grandparent must prove before the Court can award possession and access to grandparents in Texas.

First, the grandparent(s) must prove that at least one of the child’s biological or adoptive parents has NOT had their parental rights terminated. If both parents have had their parental rights terminated, the grandparents will not be able to get possession of or access to the child without first proving that it will be in the child’s best interest that possession and access be awarded.

Second, the grandparent(s) must show by a preponderance of the evidence that the children’s physical health or emotional well-being would be significantly impaired if the grandparent(s) were not allowed to exercise possession of or access to the children. In Texas, parents are presumed to be able to act in the best interest of their children. As such, the grandparents must rebut that presumption by showing that there would be a significant impairment to the children’s physical health or emotional well-being. This is a fairly high burden – one that will not be met simply by showing evidence that the grandchildren love their grandparents and they would be sorely missed if they were not allowed to see their grandparents. A significant impairment has been found in situations where the grandparents have established a continuous relationship with the grandchildren and assumed certain parental responsibilities – i.e. taking the child to their doctor’s appointments.

Third, the grandparents must prove that they have been wholly denied possession of or access to the grandchildren by the parent. Just because the grandparents aren’t seeing the grandchildren as much as they would like does not mean that they have been wholly denied possession or access. Remember, the court presumes that parents can act in their children’s best interest. As such, parents are also presumed to be able to determine appropriate visitation for the grandparents without having the Court order a specific schedule.

Fourth, the grandparents must be able to prove that they are a parent of one of the children’s parents and that one of the following is true about that parent of the children:

  1. The children’s parent has been incarcerated for at least 3 months before the petition was filed;
  2. The children’s parent had been judicially declared incompetent;
  3. The children’s parent is dead; or
  4. The children’s parent does not have actual court-ordered possession of or access to the children.

There is no standard schedule that the court must order if a grandparent is awarded possession of or access to the grandchildren, but the court will typically order some weekend and holiday periods of possession for a grandparent who meets all of the above criteria.

It is important to keep in mind that the requirements listed above are only for grandparents seeking possession of or access to their grandchildren. The Texas Family Code details a different set of requirements when grandparents are seeking custody of their grandchildren.

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