When matters of the family reach the legal point we at Lowe Law handle every client and the situation with extreme care. We understand the delicacy required in this area and will handle every issue with dignity and grace which leads to the greatest possible outcome.
Family Law is a sensitive yet very necessary area of law. This is why Lowe Law is committed to handling family law cases with the dignity and respect they deserve.
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Child custody refers to the rights and obligations between parents, regarding their children, after a divorce, legal separation, or paternity decree. There are two independent types of custody.
Physical custody refers to the amount of time each parent is permitted physically with a child. This may be sole, primary, or joint custody.
Legal custody refers to a parent's decision-making rights regarding a child's health, education, and welfare. It, too, may be sole, primary, or joint custody.
Often, the Court designates one parent as the primary physical custodian, giving the other parent a schedule of temporary custody and visitation. In some cases, however, the Court orders a joint legal and physical custody, by which, both parents have substantial access to their children.
The Court's decision in a particular case is based upon, among other things, the child's wishes, each parent's historical nurturing role, and the relative circumstances of the parties going into the future.
Representing parents in custody cases is a challenging task that requires an attorney willing to advocate for your rights. Call Lowe Law, PLLC at (832) 953-LOWE(5693) to discuss your child custody matters now, don’t wait!
Can a child decide who he or she will live with?
A child who is 12 years or older can execute an affidavit stating who he or she wants to be his or her managing conservator. The purpose of this affidavit is to inform the judge of the child’s election and is not binding on the judge. Additionally, a child older than 12 may be allowed to speak with the judge about his or her preferences on the parent he or she wants to reside with going forward.
How do I decide whether to seek sole custody or joint custody?
Lowe Law, PLLC can help you decide whether to file sole custody or joint custody. Texas law presumes that all parents will be granted the title of joint managing conservators. The presumption may not apply when issues such as drug abuse, alcohol abuse, or domestic violence affect the children. In those instances, one parent may be named the sole managing conservator and the other parent will be named the possessory conservator. The title given does not necessarily affect the other issues pertaining to the children. Regardless of the title, both parents will be awarded certain rights and duties to the children, and both parents will be awarded periods of possession of the children. It is important to discuss the specifics of your case with a child custody attorney prior to making this decision.
How can I get legal custody if my child is living with me but the other parent has court-ordered custody?
If the person having custody of the child under the last court order voluntarily leaves the child in the possession of another person for a period of more than 6 months and the court finds that this arrangement is in the best interest of the child, the court may modify custody upon the filing of the proper motion with the court.
Additionally, the court can always modify a previous order if a material and substantial change has occurred and the previous order is no longer in the best interest of the child. Lowe Law, PLLC will provide details on any such modifications as your case is reviewed.
What sort of visitation is usually awarded?
Texas law presumes that a standard visitation schedule will be followed in most cases for children age 3 and older. A judge can deviate from the standard schedule with good cause, and special allowances can be made for religious holidays.
Of course, parents can agree on custody arrangements that differ from the standard visitation schedule, and judges frequently approve their agreement. Even if you and your spouse are in agreement on a schedule, it is still advised to hire a child custody lawyer to comb through the legalities.
Regardless of the visitation schedule written into the divorce decree, divorced parents can always agree to follow any workable schedule of visitation they feel is in the best for their child. Possession orders are made by judges to provide a definite visitation schedule in case parents cannot agree.
What is the standard possession order?
The Texas Family Code provides a standard possession order for parents who live within 100 miles of each other or over 100 miles of each other. For parents residing within 100 miles of each other, the standard possession basically divides holidays evenly between both parents and gives the parent with visitation the 1st, 3rd, and 5th weekend of every month, two hours on Thursdays, and 30 days during the summer. Lowe Law, PLLC will ensure your time is divided fairly.
What type of visitation is included in the Standard Possession Order?
As your child custody attorney will explain, the standard child custody order for parents who live less than 100 miles apart states that one parent will have visitation on the following schedule:
- Weekends starting at 6:00 p.m. on the first, third and fifth Friday of each month and ending at 6:00 p.m. on the following Sunday. (Under the expanded option visitation begins when school is dismissed on Fridays and return Monday to school).
- Thursdays during the school year starting at 6:00 p.m. and ending at 8:00 p.m. (Under the expanded option, Houston child custody lawyers can ensure the period begins when school ends and/or ends when school resumes the following Friday morning).
- From 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on the child’s birthday. Fathers have possession for Father’s Day from 6:00 p.m. on the Friday before Father’s Day until 6:00 p.m. on Father’s Day. Mothers have the same period for Mother’s Day.
- In even-numbered years: Parent A has the child during Spring Break, Parent B has the child for Thanksgiving, Parent A has the child for Christmas from the time school lets out until noon on December 28th, and Parent B has possession from December 26 until 6 p.m. on the day before school resumes. In odd-numbered years, the holiday schedule is reversed. Custody lawyers in Houston, TX should be familiar with this regulation so agreement on such details can more easily be reached.
- The parent with visitation has the child for 30 days during the summer. If that parent gives notice before May 1, he/she can designate the 30 days during the summer when he/she has possession in up to two separate periods of at least seven days. If no notice is given, he/she has possession from July 1 until July 31.
What is the expanded standard possession order?
The Texas Family Code states that an expanded standard possession order shall be granted if parent with visitation requests it and it is in the best interest of the child. Your child custody lawyer will study your case and suggest this order if it is advisable. In most courts in the greater Houston area, an expanded standard possession order will be granted upon request.
An expanded possession order allows the parent to pick up the child for weekend possession at the time school is regularly dismissed, instead of at 6:00 p.m. The weekend ends when the child is dropped off at school on Monday, instead of at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday. Instead of 2hours every Thursday, there is an overnight visitation every Thursday.
What are the differences between a standard possession order for fewer than 100 miles and a standard possession order for over 100 miles?
The possessory parent has visitation every spring break when the parents live farther apart, instead of every other spring break when the parents live near each other. Similarly, summer visitation is expanded to 42 days, instead of 30 days. Finally, if a parent is unable to visit on the first, third and fifth weekend due to distance, the possessory parent may choose any one weekend per month for visits. Call (832) 953-LOWE(5693) to discuss your child custody rights and options.
Are parenting classes required in custody cases?
Many courts require parents to take parenting classes when custody is at issue. There are many court approved courses online and in person.
BY ORDER OF HARRIS COUNTY FAMILY DISTRICT COURTS, all parents who are parties in divorce cases with suits affecting the parent-child relationship or motions to modify custody filed on or after May 1, 1997, are ordered to attend an educational seminar prior to appearing in court for final orders. Certificates verifying attendance by both parents at one of the parent education seminars listed shall be filed with the clerk of the court. Parents need not go to the same seminar or attend on the same date. Parents are URGED to make reservations at one of the seminars listed as soon as possible. There is a charge for attending these seminars, which is paid by the client but may be waived in cases of real financial hardship. Nearly all of the surrounding counties also require parenting classes. Some programs waive or reduce fees based on your financial need
- All Parents who are parties in Divorce with Suit Affecting Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR) or motions to modify custody MUST attend a course in a Parent Education Program
- This Program is not about how to parent, but about what you and your child will experience during a divorce/custody case
- Parents gain the most benefit when they attend early in the case
* It is recommended that you and the other parent attend at separate times, not together
Every parent has an obligation to support his/her child from birth. Child support is a court ordered payment by one parent to the other parent for the support of their child. Child support is calculated using guidelines promulgated by the Texas legislature, requiring that a certain percentage of a parent’s net monthly income goes to the support of the child. Contact Lowe Law, PLLC at (832) 953-LOWE(5693) to discuss your child support case.
How much does a parent have to pay for child support?
The Texas Family Code has guideline percentages which apply to the first $8,550.00 of the non-custodial parent’s monthly net resources. Therefore, if the parent responsible for paying child support earns more than $8,550 and has two children in the same household, his max child support would be $2,134.50. However, If the child has additional proven needs, then additional support may be warranted.
What are the guideline percentages?
The following percentages are presumed to be appropriate under the Texas Family Code:
Child Support Guideline Percentages
Number of Children
20% of the obligor’s net resources
25% of the obligor’s net resource
30% of the obligor’s net resources
35% of the obligor’s net resources
40% of the obligor’s net resources
6 or more
Not less than 40% of the obligor’s net resources
When it comes to child support, how does the court calculate net resources?
Lowe Law, PLLC can explain the detailed make-up of ones net resources. To put it simply, Texas Courts use the total amount of money received by the person obligated to pay child support from all of the sources listed above and then subtracts social security taxes and federal taxes (using one deduction), state income tax (if any), union dues, and the cost of the health insurance for the child. The Court will only look at the first $8,550 net monthly resources for purposes of calculating support.
What if the person who should pay child support is not working?
Texas Courts will still order a minimum amount of child support to be paid each month. Lowe Law, PLLC will fight for you and ensure the child support is set accordingly.
Will the Court waive the child support requirement if my spouse agrees to it?
Some courts will not allow the parties to waive the child support requirement even if the parties are in agreement. Generally, the right to “waive” the support is construed to belong to the child and not to the parent with whom the child lives. Since the child is not competent to make this kind of decision, the Court is very reluctant to allow child support to be waived.
What is a wage withholding order?
As your child support lawyer will explain, a wage withholding order is an order provided to the obligor’s employer which results in an automatic deduction of the child support from the obligor’s paycheck. That money is then forwarded to the Texas State Disbursement Unit in San Antonio, which, in turn, sends the payments to the obligee.
How is child support enforced after a divorce?
The decree of divorce must have specific language on the amount of child support to be paid, who is to pay the support, to whom the support is payable, where and how it is to be paid, and when it is to be paid.
If specific language is not contained in your decree, you will have to file an enforcement action with the court if your former spouse becomes delinquent on child support payments. It is recommended that a family law firm like Lowe Law, PLLC should write your decree to ensure the correct language is included. The court has the authority to issue a wage-withholding order (if one has not already been issued by the court) to deduct child support from the obligor’s earnings.
Will the court order back Child Support?
If you qualify for retroactive child support, the Texas Courts may sign an order specifying the amount, interest rate and total time for the obligor to pay back the past due amount. If you think you may be required to pay child support, even if there is no order in place, you may want to start setting aside child support now, or sending the other parent a clearly labeled check or money order every month for the support of the child. Lowe Law, PLLC can provide more information on retroactive child support, call (832) 953-LOWE(5693) or visit the Contact Us Page!
I have two children from my previous marriage for which I am currently paying child support; does the court take that into consideration when setting the amount of child support that I have to pay for my child with my soon-to-be ex-wife?
Yes. Instead of using the regular percentages, the Texas Court may reduce the amount of child support by giving consideration to the number of children before the Court and the number of other children for whom the obligor has a duty of support. Ask your child support attorney for a review of your specific case.
Can custody, visitation, and child support be changed after a divorce decree is final?
Custody, visitation and child support can all be modified after the divorce decree, or any other court order, is final. Either parent may file a motion to modify with the court that last entered an order regarding the children. If the children have lived in a different county for six months, a motion to transfer the case to that county may also be filed by the parent filing the modification motion or the parent responding to it.
When can custody and visitation be modified?
Modification of child custody and visitation may be ordered if the circumstances of the child or one or both parents have materially and substantially changed or the current order has become unworkable or inappropriate. Additional procedural steps must be taken if a party seeks to modify a decree within one year of it being signed by the judge.
When may an order of child support be modified?
An order of child support may be modified at any time upon a showing of substantial change in circumstances or if three years has passed since the original order was rendered and the amount of support differs by $100 or 20% of what would be awarded if support was set in accordance with the guidelines.
Can I request a child custody modification without a showing of substantial change in circumstances?
Yes. Generally, an order of child support may be modified one year or more after it has been entered without a showing of substantial change in circumstances if:
- the order works a severe economic hardship on either party or the child
- the child is no longer in the age category on which the current support amount was based; and
- the child is still in high school and there is a finding that there is a need to extend support beyond the eighteenth birthday to complete high school.
How do I start a Texas child custody modification?
First, talk to a Texas family law attorney to discuss the merits of your case. If you would like to move forward, a petition to modify must be filed. This is very similar to the original petition that was filed in your original custody suit. The rest of the process is very similar as well. The other party is served with notice of the lawsuit, generally by a process server. Depending on the issues and the court, mediation may be required. If an agreement cannot be reached, the court will hold a final trial on the merits and make a ruling on the issues in your case. Hearings on Temporary Orders are only held in modification cases when operating under the previous court order would harm the emotional or physical development of the child. Contact Lowe Law, PLLC at (832) 953-LOWE(5693) to discuss your child support and/or custody modification.
NO FAULT DIVORCE
Texas is a “no-fault” state. In a no-fault divorce, neither party is required to prove that the other party is at fault in any way or guilty of any misconduct that has caused the marriage to break down. The only showing that must be made to a court is that there is no prospect of reconciliation between the married parties.
A “no-fault” divorce means that a husband and wife can divorce when they have irreconcilable differences that have caused the marriage to break up and dissolve.
Need help filing A No-Fault Divorce?
The first steps you should take if you are considering filing a no-fault divorce action in Houston is to call Lowe Law, PLLC for a free consultation. Protect your legal interests and call Lowe Law at (832) 953-LOWE(5693) to speak with a skilled Houston no fault divorce lawyer.
Fault by either party does not have to play a part in whether a spouse can obtain a divorce in Texas. In other words, neither spouse has an obligation to prove the other spouse was at fault for the failure of the marriage.
What are grounds for a Fault-Based Divorce?
Grounds for a fault-based divorce include:
- Abandonment of a spouse for over one year with an intent not to return;
- Cruel treatment, which can be mental cruelty or physical cruelty to a spouse that destroys the marriage relationship;
- Abuse of a spouse, which can be physical, emotional or sexual in nature;
- Domestic violence; and
- Felony conviction of a spouse.
Lowe Law takes pride in its unwavering commitment to firmly represent our clients’ interests in family law matters. The next step to take is to contact a qualified Houston divorce attorney to discuss whether fault grounds might be available and appropriate in your case. Call us today at (832) 953-LOWE(5693) for a free case evaluation.
What are reasons for alleging fault in Texas divorces?
Each of the fault grounds for divorce can be considered by a family court in the division of marital property and assets. If a spouse is able to prove by documentary evidence or testimony that the other spouse was at fault for the divorce on one or more of these grounds, the judge can grant that spouse a disproportionate share of the marital estate’s community property. However, a spouse’s separate property is not subject to being divided by a divorce court, either by equal division or by disproportionate share.
Also, if a party is able to show fault in dissolving the marriage and obtain a fault finding from the court, the judge can then consider that party’s fault in assessing alimony.
If you are encountering resistance from your spouse on fault issues in the breakup of your marriage, you will need a responsive, effective Houston divorce lawyer by your side in family court. Contact Lowe Law, PLLC for a free consultation concerning your case at (832) 953-LOWE(5693) or by visiting the Contact Us page.
TEXAS IS A COMMUNITY PROPERTY STATE
Texas is a “community property” state. What this actually means can be more complicated than it sounds. Basically, Texas community property (also referred to as marital property) refers to the identification of assets, debts and liabilities in the “community estate” – in other words those jointly owned by the husband and wife together.
Community property assets include money, stock, bonds, 401(k)s, IRAs, undeveloped real estate, developed real estate, cars, boats, houses, condominiums, furnishings, jewelry and other items of value received or earned during the marriage.
Texas Community estate liabilities include debts or other obligations incurred during the marriage including credit card debt, mortgages, car notes, leases, boat loans, home equity lines of credit, 401(k) loans, “payday” loans, other bank loans, or other secured or unsecured financial obligations.
If you are concerned about protecting your rights in a complex Texas community property dispute, you should consult a skilled Houston divorce lawyer at Lowe Law, PLLC for guidance. Call today at (832) 953-5693(LOWE) for a free case review.
How is Community Property divided in Texas?
Absent an agreement between the parties such as a pre-nuptial agreement or post-nuptial agreement, all assets and liabilities obtained during the marriage are community property. However, if an asset was received by a spouse as a gift or inheritance during the marriage, that asset is presumed to be the separate property of the spouse who received the gift or inheritance. Generally, any assets or liabilities obtained by a spouse before the marriage are that spouse’s separate property. A spouse’s separate property is generally not subject to division by a divorce court.
However, it can often become more complicated. For example, if either community property or one spouse’s separate property contributes to the maintenance, support or repairs of the other spouse’s separate property, a claim of reimbursement for those contributions may arise in some circumstances. This is only one example of many possible marital property issues that often arise in divorce cases. As a Houston Divorce attorney, Attorney Lowe will help you identify issues pertaining to community property and separate property in your divorce.
Facing Community Property Division Issues?
At Lowe Law, PLLC, our legal team is committed to giving our clients zealous and aggressive legal representation in working through their community property division issues. For more information about your possible legal solutions, call our office now at (832) 953-LOWE(5693).