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“Joint custody” in Houston, Texas is a very broad term. It doesn’t necessarily mean a 50 / 50 split of actual possession of the children. It is a form of child custody arrangement that addresses how certain rights and duties when it comes to raising their children are assigned as well as how time with the children is divided.

Even in a very equal ruling, the split may be closer to 53/47, with the primary or custodial parent getting 53% of the time with the child and receiving child support.

How the rights and duties and possession schedule are decided is a matter of each individual case, but is often a variation of the standard possession order. Parents who have less custody of their child (or are named as the “Possessory Conservator” per the Texas Family Code) are often ordered to pay child support, exercise a possession order schedule and may have less rights and duties than the other parent (the Primary Conservator).

The opposite of joint custody is “sole custody,” where one parent retains all exclusive rights regarding their kids. The courts don’t like to award sole custody unless there is a very good reason. For example, a history of substance abuse or neglect.

How Is Custody Decided?

It is important to understand that, no matter how much you dislike your ex, and no matter how messy the divorce is, these things by themselves don’t necessarily mean that sole custody is a good outcome for the kids. Instead, when making decisions on sole or joint custody in Houston, Texas, the courts look at the best interest of the children. Some of the most important questions include:

  • Can each parent take care of the kids, both physically and financially? (If you have been a stay-at-home parent, don’t worry: This isn’t necessarily a deal breaker; you might be awarded spousal maintenance to give you time to reenter the workforce.)
  • Will the kids have a safe and stable home with each parent?
  • Has each parent been involved in their children’s lives so far?
  • Will the kids’ daily lives be severely disrupted in some way (for instance, by moving far away)?
  • What arrangement do the children themselves desire (if they are 12 years or older)?
  • Is either parent dangerous or a bad influence on the kids?
  • Is each parent willing to accept that the kids might wish to maintain their relationship with the other parent?
  • The answers to these questions will help determine the specifics of your arrangement for joint custody in Texas.

Texas-Sized Terminology

In Texas, the legal name for custody is conservatorship. There are two types of conservatorship:

Possessory conservatorship is more commonly known as “physical custody.” It refers to where the kids will live and what sort of possession schedule will be awarded.

Managing conservatorship is more commonly known as “legal custody.” It refers to the power to make decisions about the children’s education, healthcare, and so forth.

It is possible for arrangements of joint custody in Houston, Texas to involve any combination of both kinds of custody, depending on your particular circumstances.

For example, if one parent has a disability that would make it hard for the kids to live with them, they might have a custody arrangement where they have a limited possession schedule but share joint rights and duties for the children.

Alternatively, a parent who can provide a safe home for the kids but is terrible about planning for the future and saving money might have equal physical custody but limited ability to manage the children’s finances (for example, an inherited estate).

Typically, both forms of custody are shared in an arrangement that the courts or the parties deem to be in the best interest of the children.

What If My Ex Looks Good on Paper but Is Bad for the Kids?

This is a thorny issue that comes up very often in custody disputes. Sometimes, there is a genuine case of one parent putting on a good public face but doing bad things at home. If this is true of your ex, then Ramos Law Group can help you document these parental fitness issues and demonstrate them to the court or a mediator. It is important to do your best to document these instances to provide solid evidence rather than a “he said-she said” situation. Documentation can come from school records, social media, text messages or emails, medical records, etc.

What If I’m the One Being Accused as Unfit for Custody?

If you’re the one being accused of parental unfitness, we can help you defend against those accusations by refuting them if they’re false. It is especially important to consult with an attorney for swift legal action if a protective order has been filed against you.

If there is some truth to the accusations, it is not necessarily a deal-breaker. The court’s primary goal is to preserve a relationship between the child and both parents. It’s still very possible for you to earn joint custody in Houston, Texas or elsewhere, as long as there is nothing that would be deemed harmful to the best interests of the child.

The Ramos Law Group can help you do this by charting a path for you to overcome or minimize any weakness in your fitness as a parent. For instance, if you have anger issues, it will go a long way in court if you can show the judge that you’ve been attending counseling sessions. If you’re bad with money, you can open a savings account and prove that you’re capable of financial responsibility. We may also be able to help you by going through a mediation process rather than litigating everything in court.

Our goal is always to help you get the rights you deserve when it comes to joint custody in Houston, Texas.

What If Things Change Down the Road?

Custody arrangements are not always permanent. A court can modify them if circumstances change as long as the children are under the age of 18. If you’re worried that an upcoming custody dispute will end unfavorably for you, here at Ramos Law Group we can help you prepare both to get the best outcome possible, both today and down the road.

Advice for Dads

There’s a common belief that the courts treat fathers unfairly, giving preferential consideration to mothers when it comes to arrangements for joint custody in Houston, Texas and the surrounding counties.

The good news is that, legally, this is no longer true. In the past, due to stronger views about the roles of men and women in society, and the fact that many mothers stayed at home instead of working, the courts often did grant favorable custody arrangements to women. Today, however, this is illegal and the focus is on the children’s needs rather than traditional gender roles. The courts must consider the rights of each parent regardless of gender. (This also applies to certain other traits, such as race.) And most courts get it right!

The bad news is that old beliefs die hard, and sometimes there is still a prejudice against fathers. However, since it’s against the law, you can fight it. Ramos Law Group offers divorce and custody lawyers for men who can help walk you through the steps you need to take in your proceedings for joint custody in Houston, Texas.

You Need an Experienced Custody Lawyer

Many good parents lose custody rights because they did not properly prepare their case or put on the best possible evidence or legal arguments. Ramos Law Group has a long record of experience in winning custody disputes and getting parents the rights they deserve.

If you’re involved in a dispute for joint custody in Houston, Texas, or the surrounding areas, we can help! Contact us today to discuss your situation and get the ball rolling toward a healthier, happier tomorrow for you and your kids.

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Spring Break is quickly approaching, and Texas parents with a custody order (whether from a divorce or suit affecting the parent-child relationship) in place may want to know how this affects the normal possession schedule.

First, a reminder that different people may have modified versions of the Texas Standard Possession Order, so spring break visitation may be different for those families. If you have questions about your specific order, it is essential to reach out to a qualified family law attorney to help.

Get Help. Schedule Your Consultation

On the On the Standard Possession Order

Assuming the parties have a Standard Possession Order in place with no modifications, then it reads as follows:

“The possessory conservator shall have possession in even-numbered years, beginning at 6 p.m. the day the child is dismissed from school for the school’s spring vacation 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 odd-numbered years.”

As we are now in 2019, managing conservators (i.e., typically the primary conservator) should be exercising Spring Break possession this year, absent a mutual agreement between the parties. It is important to remember that a holiday period of possession, including Spring Break, supersedes any regularly scheduled period of possession.

For example, Houston ISD Spring Break is March 11 – March 15, 2019. This means that the Spring Break period of possession begins at 6:00 p.m. on March 8, 2019, and ends at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 17, 2019, as school resumes on March 18, 2019. This Spring Break possession period encompasses both the second and third weekend of the month. The possessory parent does not get their normally scheduled third weekend. Spring Break replaces that weekend by operation of law.

See the Standard Possession Order Calendar for details.

Have Questions? Schedule a Consultation

Other Ways Spring Break Changes Visitation in Texas

If a possessory conservator usually has overnight possession of the children on Sunday nights and returns the children to school on Monday during regular possession, Spring Break changes that. The possession now ends at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday and regular periods of possession resume the next day.

For questions about your specific possession schedule, please contact the Ramos Law Group, PLLC.

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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.

grandfather carrying grandchild on his shoulders while standing next to grandmother

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.

pregnant woman standing by the water and holding her belly

Divorce is a difficult and painful process for almost any couple experiencing the end of a marriage partnership. Making decisions about property division and custody arrangements can be extremely stressful and emotionally-charged for the parties involved. Divorce becomes even more complicated when one party becomes pregnant before the divorce is finalized. Couples who are considering getting a divorce in Texas while pregnant will face some additional steps throughout the divorce process due to the pregnancy.

Waiting Period

Texas requires almost all couples to wait sixty days before finalizing a divorce, regardless of whether or not one of the spouses is pregnant. A divorce in Texas while a spouse is pregnant is unlikely to be finalized until after the baby is born. Courts in Texas typically wait to finalize the divorce until after the birth of the baby so that orders regarding the child can be included in the final divorce decree. (One of the few exceptions to this rule is in the case of domestic violence.) Therefore, if the pregnancy is already a few months along, the waiting period shouldn’t take much longer than the two months already required by Texas law. Even if the divorce is contested, it’s unlikely the pregnancy would delay the process since contested divorces often take longer than the length of a pregnancy.

Paternity Issues

Divorce courtroom with jury box and judge's bench

Divorces in Texas involving a pregnant spouse become more complex when the paternity of the unborn child is in question. In this case, the husband will need to file documents with the court denying paternity of the baby. If the biological father will not agree to sign an acknowledgment of paternity, the court will need to order the biological father to take a paternity test. If the paternity test verifies the identity of the biological father, the divorcing husband will need to file for the court to adjudicate parentage so that the court can name the father in the final divorce decree.

Child Support

tiny baby hand holding a person's finger

Husbands who are unable to prove they are not the biological father of their wife’s unborn child will still be subject to paying child support since the court views children born during the marriage as being the husband’s children. A husband who strongly believes he is not the father of his wife’s baby can petition the court to order a paternity test. This process may be necessary once the baby is born to determine who the father is.

Although getting a divorce in Texas while pregnant adds an additional layer of complication to the divorce process, it is possible to navigate this complex territory by finding a good Texas divorce attorney. Working with the right legal experts will provide you with the knowledge and guidance you desperately need during one of the most difficult times of your life. If you’re facing a divorce and you need trusted, expert legal guidance, contact Ramos Law Group today to schedule a consultation.

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Military divorces — divorces where one or both of the spouses are active duty military personnel, in the National Guard, or reservists — often require additional steps and procedures to finalize as compared to civilian divorces. Most states, including Texas, have laws and procedures that only pertain to military divorces. There are also federal laws that govern the steps necessary to finalize a military divorce in Texas. This is why it’s important for service members and their spouses to consult with Texas military divorce lawyers to ensure their divorce proceedings are conducted according to all of the requirements found in both state and federal law.

Protection from Military Divorce in Texas

Federal laws exist to protect active duty military members from being divorced by their spouses without knowing an action has been filed in federal court. Under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), and in the discretion of the local court, a military divorce in Texas may be postponed while the service member is on active duty and for an additional 60 days afterward. Active duty service members may waive these protections if they wish to continue with the divorce proceedings as soon as they are filed.

Serving an Active Duty Military Spouse

In order for a Texas court to hear the divorce proceedings involving an active duty military spouse, the active duty member must be served in person with divorce papers. It is also possible for the spouses of military members to file a waiver affidavit not to be served in person, but this is only possible when the divorce is uncontested.

Residency and Filing Requirements

camouflaged soldier kneeling and kissing a black dog on the head

The grounds for filing for a military divorce in Texas are the same as those for civilians. Divorces are usually filed where a couple lives, but this is not always possible for military couples on active duty. Active members of the military may be deployed at any time, and that can cause problems when planning a military divorce. Some couples may not have lived in a state long enough to establish residence. Texas military divorce lawyers can help individuals determine whether or not they meet the residency requirements for obtaining a divorce in Texas. If a divorcing couple meets the residency requirements for a state other than Texas, military divorce lawyers may advise their client to file for divorce in the other state.
In order to proceed with a military divorce in Texas, either the active duty member or their spouse must have been a resident of Texas for at least six months and a resident of their county for three or more months. The active duty service member must be stationed in Texas for these residency requirements to apply. If the active duty service member is deployed or stationed in a different state, then the process may require filing in a different state.

Property Division

The rules regarding the division of property and marital assets in military divorces in Texas are the same as those for civilian marriages, but there are federal laws governing the division of military retirement benefits. Division and disbursement of military retirement assets are determined in accordance with the guidelines set by the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act (USFSPA). In order for a dependent spouse to receive any disbursement from retirement benefits, the couple must have been married for at least ten years while the military member was on active duty. Federal law grants direct partial payments of military retirement to spouses married to a soldier for at least ten years, but military divorce in Texas requires the division of any future military retirement benefits that accrued during the marriage regardless of its length.

Divorcing couples must include a section in the divorce decree that spells out provisions for the Survivor Benefit Plan premiums, if any, as well as the length of the marriage, the time on active duty service and the computed amount of the retirement payments the spouse will receive if any. Health care benefits will also continue for the minor children and, if the marriage lasted for 20 years, the spouse as well, so the soldier will be required to obtain military identification cards for his dependents as needed. Because of these unique circumstances, it is important to consult with a Texas military divorce lawyer who understands the specific requirements for finalizing a military divorce in Texas.

Custody, Child Support, and Spousal Support

Child during parents' divorce

The normal Texas child support guidelines, worksheets, and schedules are used to determine the amount of child support to be paid in a military divorce in Texas. Although support orders in Texas are decided according to the normal guidelines for support determination, the support may not exceed 60 percent of the pay and allowances of the active duty member.

Parents who are divorcing in Texas must agree on a written parenting plan or allow a judge to enter an order regarding conservatorship and possession, the terms used for custody and visitation. Military couples must consider what will happen if the active duty member is deployed or sent to another location. For example, in military divorces in Texas, a deployed service member may ask the court to allow extra visitation after they return. Therefore, the parties might agree to include an automatic provision to that effect in their parenting plan. They might also agree to let the child's grandparents visit with the child while the service member is away.

Starting The Process

With the assistance of a Texas military divorce lawyer, actions filed in Texas are generally the same as most other divorces, with the exception of some specific requirements for the action to proceed within the state. Active duty military members should always work with an experienced law firm that is familiar with military divorces in Texas. It is important during a military divorce to know the best way to handle concerns such as jurisdiction, child custody, and division of property as it applies to a military member to let divorcing couples reach the most favorable resolution for their individual situation.
The board-certified attorneys at Ramos Law Group can help. Contact us to start the process of achieving the best possible result for your case.

Being agreeable while ending your marriage can save both of you from unnecessary grief and litigation cost. But there are important reasons to contest a divorce, times when you should choose not to compromise with your soon-to-be former spouse.

The first reason is plain and simple – when you believe the safety and welfare of your children will be jeopardized if you choose to compromise. Let’s be honest, when it comes to divorce emotions run high and all too often parties get hung up on “besting” the other parent to the detriment of their children. A zero-sum game framework is not conducive to a healthy co-parenting relationship.

Designation of Primary Conservatorship

No compromise during divorce

The number one issue we’ve seen driving contested divorces in Texas is when parents disagree on who will decide the primary residence of the children. The parent with this right is designated as the primary conservator. This parent gets to designate the primary residence of the children and generally is also the parent who will receive child support. This is certainly an important right, but in practical application, it may mean much less than you think. This is because conservatorship in Texas consists of two parts - designated by the Court as “rights and duties” and “possession and access”. Just because a party has the right to designate the primary residence of the children does not mean that they have the exclusive right to make all other decisions for your children. All other rights listed below can be designated exclusively to one parent, joint (decision must be made together), or independently (each parent can make the decisions on their own), so just because you are not the primary conservator does not mean that you do not get to have a say in important parenting decisions. You need to consider these aspects when preparing for a contested divorce in Texas.

Parental rights independent of sole conservatorship

  • The right to consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment involving invasive procedures.
  • The right to consent to psychiatric and psychological treatment of the children.
  • The right to receive and give receipt for periodic payments for the support of the children and to hold or disburse these funds for the benefit of the children.
  • The right to represent the children in legal action and to make other decisions of substantial legal significance concerning the children.
  • The right to consent to marriage and to enlistment in the armed forces of the United States.
  • The right to make decisions concerning the children's education.
  • Except as provided by section 264.0111 of the Texas Family Code, the right to the services and earnings of the children.
  • Except when a guardian of the children's estates or a guardian or attorney ad litem has been appointed for the children, the right to act as an agent of the children in relation to the children's estates if the children's action is required by a state, the United States, or a foreign government.
  • The duty to manage the estates of the children to the extent the estates have been created by community property or the joint property of the parent.

Authority over the visitation schedule is important and can be a major issue affecting contested divorces in Texas. If you ask for an expanded standard possession schedule the time each parent gets to spend with the children is nearly even. With an expanded standard possession schedule, possession and access begins and ends at the time the children start and are dismissed from school. So, instead of picking up the children at 6:00 PM on Friday and dropping them off on Sunday at 6:00 PM, you will pick them up at school on Friday afternoon and return them to school on Monday morning. This gives you one extra overnight period of possession. Additionally, instead of having the children for Thursday dinners during the school year from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM that same evening, you get the children from the time they are released from school on Thursday until they return to school on Friday morning every week during the regular school year.

With all of the above in mind, if you believe that the safety and welfare of your children will be endangered by compromising on a specific issue, then it’s absolutely a reason to contest your divorce. Attorney’s fees can get expensive during contested divorces in Texas, but some issues are too important to avoid during a divorce - if you do not bring them up now, you may not have the opportunity later. Modifying an existing order can be difficult - you have the burden to show a material change in circumstances since the underlying order was signed. Except in very limited circumstances, you cannot introduce evidence of things which took place prior to the divorce. Furthermore, if an issue was not important enough to bring up in the initial proceedings, the Court will require good cause to show it is important enough to modify an order after the fact.

Parents fighting over child custody

It is important to weigh the costs and benefits of any legal action in your divorce. However, when it will benefit your children in the long run, this may be the time to dig in your heels and fight.

In your divorce, fighting only for the sake of “winning” will only draw out the process and negatively impact everyone involved. If both of you are excellent parents who love and care for your children, an uncontested divorce will minimize the impact on your children - and you.

Putting it all Together

Before you initiate your contested divorce in Texas, it’s important to decide if your reasons to contest the divorce are worth the added time and expense for you, the other party, and for your children. An expert attorney will help you determine the best course moving forward, working to the best possible outcome for all involved. If you’re looking for a divorce in the greater Houston area, contact Ramos Law Group and schedule your initial consultation with some of Texas’ best Family Law attorneys.

Fatherhood

Termination of parental rights in Texas is the legal process by which a court ends the official parent-child relationship between a child and his or her parent. This process should not be confused with the awarding of sole custody, which is the process by which one parent is granted guardianship of the child and decision-making responsibilities, but visitation rights of the other parent remain. Both termination and custody proceedings are initiated through a lawsuit called Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship, also known as a “SAPCR”.

Grounds for Termination

As a father, it is imperative to have complete understanding of the termination process as the consequences of this act are severe and difficult to reverse. Grounds for termination include the court’s determination that termination is in the best interest of the child, in conjunction with:

  • Voluntary abandonment of the child
  • Knowingly placing the child in harmful conditions
  • Failing to support the child for a period of one year ending within six months of the filing of a termination SAPCR
  • Failure to enroll the child in school
  • Being absent from the child’s home without consent of the other parent or guardian
  • An unrevoked affidavit of relinquishment on file as provided by the Texas Family Code
  • Conviction or being placed on community service or deferred adjudication for crimes against children within Title 3 of the Texas Penal Code
  • Having your parent-child relationship terminated with respect to another child per certain provisions of law
  • Failure to complete required substance abuse treatment programs or continuing to abuse substances following the completion of such program
  • Knowingly engaging in criminal conduct that results in conviction and being imprisoned or otherwise unable to care for the child for more than two years from the date of SAPCR filing
  • Murder or attempted murder of the child’s other parent

Legal Challenges Facing Fathers

As a father, you must be aware of your rights as a parent, as well as defenses against potential claims to end your relationship with your child. For many men familiar with divorce or child custody disputes, it often feels as though the legal system is working against you.

Only 17.5% of fathers are designated as the custodial parent of their children following divorce. While over half of custodial mothers are awarded court-ordered child support, only around a third of custodial fathers are awarded the same –and of that third, only around 9% of fathers actually receive the court-awarded support amount. With the plethora of challenges to fathers rights in Texas, intimate understanding the family court system is a must.

Court Order Required for Termination

When defending your rights as a father, it is necessary to understand how those rights could be taken away. Termination of parental rights in Texas is only able to be effected via court
order.

There are affidavits by which a parent may voluntarily agree to limit their parental rights. First is the Affidavit of Voluntary Relinquishment, by which the parent agrees that a court should terminate his or her interest to a child. A parent may also sign an Affidavit of Waiver of Interest, by which the parent agrees to give up any interest he or she has to a child.

Even if a father signs either of these affidavits, parental rights are actually not terminated until a judge signs a court order terminating those rights. Voluntary relinquishments on their own are insufficient to terminate fathers rights in Texas, so even if you have signed one of these affidavits, know that you still have rights prior to the issuance of a court order.

Be Informed About Protective Orders

Perhaps the single most damaging weapon that is wielded against fathers during custody disputes is the protective order. These legal orders are frequently issued by courts in situations where claims of domestic violence have been alleged. These legal orders require the subject of the order to cease acts of harm and limit contact between the alleged abuser and his or her victims.

Within the context of custody disputes, research has shown that a staggering 70% of abuse allegations are found to be unnecessary or false. Men bear the brunt of the majority of these allegations, making the defense of fathers rights in Texas even more challenging. Protective orders are far too often used as a tool to separate innocent men from their children.

In order for a protective order to be issued, a minimal “preponderance of evidence” is typically all that is required. Therefore, the claimant merely must establish that it is more likely than not that the alleged abuse took place. Since these orders are done on an emergency basis, also known as “ex parte”, the alleged abuser does not get a chance to defend himself or herself, allowing myriad opportunity for an unscrupulous claimant to take advantage of the justice system.

What to Do in the Event of a False Abuse Claim?

It is critical that fathers understand how to protect themselves against false claims of abuse in order to avoid termination of parental rights in Texas. As soon as you learn of a claim of abuse or the issuance of a protective order, it is critical to act immediately. Contact an attorney who specializes in defending fathers rights in Texas, and share with them all of the information you have regarding the claim.

Your attorney will be best suited to guide you with your defense, but will likely advise you to begin gathering evidence to present at your hearing. Texts, emails, recordings and similar materials may support your case or demonstrate the other parent’s lack of fitness to be custodian of your child. It is not uncommon for men to capture evidence showing that the other parent had been threatening to falsely claim abuse in order to gain an advantage within court proceedings or for other ulterior motives.

Most importantly, make sure to maintain your composure throughout the legal process. Avoid the temptation to lash out at your accuser in response to a false claim, and thereby establishing the poor conduct that the claimant is attempting to attach to you. Follow the protective order as directed while it is in place, and focus your energy on ways to better your situation with your children moving forward. Uphold your equanimity at court hearings and visibly show the court that you are not the abuser that you have been labeled. With the help of your attorney, you should be able to demonstrate to the court that you are a loving, supportive father who deserves parental rights and belongs in the lives of your children.

Invaluable Father-Child Bond

Too frequently the importance of a child’s bond with their father is understated. Studies have shown that fathers greatly contribute to the well-being and development of their children. When fathers are allowed to be supportive of their children and involved in their lives, language skills, social development, cognition, self-esteem and other developmental markers, show improvement.

The relationships of fathers with their children frequently set the tone for children’s relationships with others throughout their lives. Children who have good relationships with their fathers also tend to have less behavioral problems, including reduced alcohol and drug abuse issues.

If you find yourself facing termination of parental rights in Texas, make sure to find an attorney who appreciates the importance of your fatherly relationship with your child. You will need an advocate who understands the court system and is willing to fight for your rights –not just as a parent, but specifically in your infinitely important role as a father.

Protect Yourself from Termination of parental rights in Texas

Contact Ramos Law immediately if you are dealing with an issue involving potential termination of parental rights in Texas. We will vigorously defend your rights as a father and guide you through the nuanced challenges facing men during difficult child custody proceedings.

Sources:

  1. http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/FA/htm/FA.161.htm
  2. https://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2016/demo/P60-255.pdf
  3. http://www.ecdip.org/docs/pdf/IF%20Father%20Res%20Summary%20(KD).pdf
  4. http://www.saveservices.org/downloads/False-DV-Allegations-Cost-20-Billion

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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