The Texas Legislature closed the 2017 session on May 29. Several laws were passed that affect Texas Family Law. Here is one small – yet important – child custody change in the statute that governs modification of an order for the Conservatorship, Support, or Possession and Access to a Child. Temporary Orders in a Suit to Modify Primary Conservatorship What the new language states is that – in cases where no parent has been granted the exclusive right to determine the child’s primary residence (primary conservatorship) – a court may not create a temporary order that has the effect of granting one parent this exclusive right. And also, no temporary order may be created that has the effect of changing or eliminating the geographic area within which a parent must maintain the child’s primary residence. This new language does provide for an exception when the temporary order is in the best interest of the child [...]
Texas Family Law Changes in the 85th Texas Legislature The Texas Legislature closed its biannual session for 2017. Although a Special Session may be called by Governor Abbott, it will not affect any Family Law issues. The Legislature did pass several bills that impact Texas Family Law. Here is one. Child Custody Evaluation The statute dealing with Child Custody Evaluations was revised this year. A significant change now offers more protection to child custody evaluators from being liable for civil damages arising out of the evaluator’s actions, recommendations made or opinion given in their capacity as a child custody evaluator. These protections have been in place for a guardian ad litem, attorney ad litem, and amicus attorneys for some time now. Finally those protections have been extended to evaluators. As anyone who has ever been involved in a child custody case knows, someone is always unhappy with the conclusions in a child custody evaluation. Many [...]
84th Texas Legislature Begins January 13, 2015 The Texas Legislature will convene on Tuesday, January 13 and run through June 1, 2015. The Law Office of Chris A. Spofford will watch the topics related to Texas Family Law and provide legislative updates and insight to our friends and clients about the 2015 Texas legislative session. As always, it is our commitment to be proactive in protecting our clients’ interests under Texas Family Law, which will continually evolve at the legislature and in the courts.
Texas Family Law and parental rights In Texas Family Law, the most common grounds for termination of parental rights in a step-parent adoption are: Natural parent is deceased; Abandonment of a child or children; Failure to provide support (emotional as well as financial); Imprisonment; or Abuse. To make the step-parent adoption process go as smoothly as possible under Texas Family Law, every effort should be made to gain consent of the absent parent. There many remedies that we can pursue in helping you to achieve this and to make other preparations, including achieving a court order terminating the former parent, if necessary. Provisions in Texas Family Law Some of the provisions outlined in Texas Family Code § 161.001 that can support a termination of the parent-child relationship, if found to be in the best interest of the child, are: Some form of abandonment of the child for a specified period of time where [...]
The Texas Legislature made changes in 2011 that impact many in the area of Texas Family Law. All of these Texas Family Law updates are now in effect: Termination of parental rights by a father after DNA testing New “fraud on the community” statute Protective orders enforced anywhere in Texas without transfer Guidelines for ordering possession for children under three years Spousal maintenance orders Voluntary termination of parental rights for men mistakenly adjudicated a child’s biological father. Senate Bill 785, codified into §161.005 of the Texas Family Code and effective as of September 1, 2011, now enables a man who has been adjudicated by the court to be the father of a child, or who willingly executed an affidavit of paternity believing he was the father, to terminate his parental rights after learning that he is not the biological father of a child. Note that a petition to terminate parentage under this [...]
Child Custody and Time The term “reasonable” appears at least once in virtually every order involving children in a Texas Family Law divorce or child custody matter. So what does “reasonable” mean? In Texas Family Law, “reasonable” is considered to be what an ordinary person would think it means, without considering the emotional motivation of a parent involved in a Texas Family Law divorce matter. This is a delicate situation that arises with child custody and we offer this article to help parents understand how Texas family courts operate so parents can be better prepared to make decisions in their best interest and in the best interest of their children. Here are two areas where the question, “What is reasonable?” often arises. Reasonable telephone access to your child while he or she is with the other parent tends to be considered about one time per day and, to some, it could mean less frequently. Why [...]
In addition to the changes I discussed in my earlier blog entitled “Texas Family Law changes by the Texas Legislature in 2011,” significant revisions were made to the Spousal Maintenance (Alimony) statute by the Texas Legislature in 2011. In 1997, the Texas Legislature passed the first Spousal Maintenance (Alimony) statute under Texas Family Law. Until 2011, that statute remained basically unchanged. They made up for that in 2011. The primary changes cover: duration of the spousal maintenance order doubling the maximum spousal maintenance available a definition of gross income for purposes of determining the amount of spousal maintenance additional clarifications about suing for overpayment, ability to pay and justification for granting spousal maintenance Duration of a Maintenance Order The most significant change was to increase the maximum duration of a spousal maintenance order. In the old statute, maintenance could not be ordered for more than three years, regardless of the length of the [...]
Contrary to what many people believe, Texas Family Law does not mandate a 50/50 division of property in a divorce. Under Texas Family Law, the Court is charged with a duty to divide marital property in a manner that is “just and right.” Appellate Courts have found in some cases that an 80/20 property division was “just and right.” However, depending on the size of the estate, we generally see disproportionate property divisions falling somewhere in the range between 51 percent and 60 percent. Whether a divorcing spouse is entitled to a disproportionately larger share of the community estate under Texas Family Law depends on the facts of a particular case. Each case is unique and one of the primary factors the Court considers in making a disproportionate property division is disparity in earning capacity. If one party has an earning capacity of $150,000 per year and the other can only earn $30,000 [...]
The role of Family Law mediator continues to grow in Texas Family Law Courts. Virtually all family courts in Harris and surrounding counties now require mediation prior to temporary hearings where the custody of children is in dispute, as well as prior to final trials.
2011 was a busy session for the Texas Legislature, with legal changes that will affect many in the area of Texas Family Law. There are a few items of higher significance and this Blog will address these four areas: paternal rights, community property, protective orders, child custody.