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Barbara L. Jouette, Attorney, P.C.
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McKinney TX Family Law Blog

Disobedience of child custody orders can lead to serious charges

Most Texas parents are likely aware that in many cases, a custody order is put in place by the court to assure that children have a good chance at a loving, stable relationship with their families. In cases where adult parties may not always agree on what is in the best interest of a child, the court will decide the child custody and visitation terms. While in most circumstances, child custody orders are put into place between parents, grandparents and other family members, on occasion, the state becomes involved. Such cases are common when a parent is suspected of placing a child in harm's way. 

Recently, a Texas mother was ordered to surrender her child to Child Protective Services. Instead of obeying the order, she made the decision to attempt to evade the authorities and go on the run with her child. While certainly, most mothers would be frightened at the prospect of losing custody of their children, when a court issues such an order, it must be taken seriously. 

Child custody case ends in tragedy

Many Texas residents are now likely familiar with the headlines involving the tragic case of the Hart family. For persons that may not be aware, a foster mother and her partner were found dead in their vehicle, after reportedly intentionally driving the family, which included six fostered or adopted children, off a cliff. Three of the children were found dead, and the other three have not yet been found. A child custody case resulting in loss of life, this has been a frightening story to many.

Now that authorities have investigated the initial crash, they have begun to delve into the history of this ill-fated family. Accusations of previous child abuse were investigated in at least three states where the family had previously resided. New details have recently come to light in the case of one of the missing children, a 15-year-old boy. 

Willful failure to pay child support is a crime

Texas parents are probably aware that the costs of raising children continue to increase. In the case of parents that maintain separate households, a child support order may be put into place by a family court. Child support is a payment made to the custodial parent by the noncustodial parent, meant to contribute toward the financial needs of any children involved. The amount of the payments may remain the same, or may be adjusted to allow for changes in income or custody plans. 

Many people may not yet be aware that willfully failing to make timely child support payments is a crime. Once an order has been put into place, failure to comply can cause serious legal ramifications. Flagrant violations of this nature may be treated as a criminal matter, rather than a civil one. 

Disobedience of court orders may cause loss of child custody

Many Texas parents choose to pursue an official court order when it comes to sorting custody issues. The purpose of a court order is to determine the best interest of any children involved, and it can be a difficult task for many parents to agree on child custody arrangements. Monetary support, dividing time with the child between both parents, living arrangements and education are some of many factors that can be considered.

Many times, once an order is set in place, it can be peacefully followed by all parties involved. However, there are cases where some disgruntled parents attempt to take matters into their own hands. Such was the case in a recent Texas court battle. 

New tax laws may affect couples who divorce

Texas couples may choose to end their marriage for a variety of reasons. Much like each marriage, every divorce is unique. Some divorcing couples may find the process to be straightforward, while others may find it a bit more complicated. Recently, new laws have changed the way alimony will be taxed. 

Alimony is a payment made by the spouse with a greater income to the spouse whose income is less. Under current tax laws, the party paying alimony may deduct the amount, while it is considered taxable income for the payee. Beginning in 2019, this policy will reverse. 

Child support enforcement can affect adult lives

Many Texas residents are aware that when parents choose to live separately, it is common to face a period of adjustment in which the best interest of all children involved must be determined. Typically, these proceedings include a child support order. While in most cases, financial support of a child is easily resolved, on some occasions it may become a tangled web of complications. 

Recently, a Texas businessman found himself in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings. While he likely expected an arduous task of settling debts with creditors, he surely did not expect to factor in decades old child support. Much to his surprise, he found himself facing a lien stemming from unpaid support from over 30 years ago. 

Youth sports can lead to child custody matchups

Many parents that choose to separate will find themselves faced with the task of determining the most effective plan to co-parent their children. The same can be said for parents that never married or shared a home. Issues like visitation schedule, education, child custody arrangements and location are common points of contention.  

Sometimes, parents in this situation may find themselves faced with issues they did not anticipate to be a point of contention. Recently, the issue of brain injuries suffered by football players has made it's way to family court. Texas is historically home to a love of youth sports, specifically tackle football. 

Common-law marriage and divorce

These days, the notion of a common-law marriage can seem a bit antiquated. However, in a handful of states, including Texas, this type of marriage still exists. The rules of common-law marriage can vary from state to state. Individuals in a recognized common-law marriage may still find themselves eventually in need of a divorce. In that case, the couple must still undergo the usual divorce proceedings.

There is a common myth that one enters common-law marriage once he or she has cohabited with a partner for seven years. It remains unclear where the seven-year myth originated, because it typically is not a requirement in places where this relationship is recognized. Usually, the couple must declare themselves as married, live together for a certain significant period of time and also present themselves to the public as a married couple. 

More fathers asking for fair child custody arrangements

Many fathers treasure the time that they get to spend with their children. Some fathers want nothing more than to be able to raise their child in an environment that is conducive to the health, safety and well-being of the child. A parent facing divorce may have to consider several types of child custody arrangements that suit the best interests of the children. Older traditions would say that when parents separate, the children should remain with the mother. Luckily, new attitudes are prevailing, with research to support them, and fathers in Texas are now getting more opportunity to spend time with children. 

Any parent who wishes to be part of a child's life should be prepared to financially support the children, and to provide the necessities of life for the child. The person should be stable and not engage in any activities which could threaten the child. If any parent, father or mother, can demonstrate the ability to support and desire to see the child, he or she should have a fair chance. 

Divorce planning can help set a stable financial future

Some individuals finds checklists and written plans to be helpful when they face a complicated task. When one sets a plan down in writing, and spells out important details, the plan is more likely to go according to written expectations. At the end of a marriage, careful divorce planning can help a person review the most important details that should be attended to. In Texas, individuals often choose several items to add to a post-divorce checklist. 

Finances can be firmed up by completing tasks such as checking one's credit. If the person shares any credit cards with the soon-to-be ex, he or she may choose to cancel them and sever credit ties. Another place where an ex can be found lingering is in an estate plan, insurance policies and other accounts in which there is a named beneficiary. Part of planning for a divorce can be to identify and change the beneficiary for these types of accounts.