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Once a child turns eighteen, the Texas Family Code provides that child-support payments can continue as long as the child is still enrolled in school pursuing a high-school diploma. However, at what point is a child no longer considered to be pursuing a high-school diploma for child-support purposes? Recently, one Texas father found out. Continue Reading ›

Unfortunately, former spouses do not always comply with all of their obligations under a Texas divorce decree.  When that happens, the other party may need to take action to enforce those obligations.  A father recently challenged a court order charging his interest in certain business organizations with judgments the mother obtained following the divorce.

After the mother was unable to collect on two judgments against the father related to his obligations under the divorce decree, she filed an Application for Charging Order.  She alleged the he had “a position of authority” in five business entities.  She alleged he received distributions from one or more of the entities, through funds disbursed to him and funds paid by the entities for his personal living expenses.

In his response, the father acknowledged holding an ownership interest in one of the organizations, but denied having an interest in any of the other named organizations.

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When a parent wants to modify a Texas custody order, they generally must show that the change is in the child’s best interest and that there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances since the prior order.  Whether a material and substantial change has occurred is fact-specific and varies depending on the circumstances of the case.  Recently, a father successfully argued that false allegations of sexual abuse and the resulting investigations constituted a material and substantial change in circumstances justifying a custody modification.

The father petitioned to modify the Order in Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship to give him the exclusive right to designate the child’s primary residence. The previous order gave the mother that right and included a modified standard possession order until the child turned five, at which time the father would begin a standard possession order.

The mother expressed concerns the child may have been sexually abused during the first extended summer visitation with the father under the standard possession order.  The father let the child go back to the mother’s home for a weekend because she was homesick.  The mother saw bruises on the child’s inner thigh and pubic bone and the child had a urinary tract infection.  The mother took the child to a clinic and then for an examination by a sexual assault nurse examiner (“SANE”).  She also took her for a forensic interview at the child Advocacy Center.

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When a parent seeks modification of Texas custody order, he or she must a substantial and material change in circumstances since the previous order.  Generally, the change must be material to the modification the parent is requesting.  A mother recently appealed a custody order modification allowing the father to have unsupervised visits, arguing he had not shown a material and substantial change in circumstances.

The mother filed a Suit Affecting Parent Child Relationship (SAPCR) asking the court to limit the father’s access to their daughter after he received a DWI in 2012.  Her affidavit detailed a number of events related to the father’s intoxication during the marriage.  She asked to be named sole managing conservator.  She also asked that the father be allowed only supervised visitation and that he be prohibited from drinking for 12 hours before and during the visitation.

The father was from Canada and had returned there.  He did not contest the suit and a default judgment was entered.  It named the mother sole managing conservator and limited the father to supervised visitation.

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Sometimes, couples’ lives remain intertwined even after divorce.  If the parties continue to mingle finances, own property together, or keep or take out loans together after the divorce is final, the divorce may not finally resolve all of their issues.

In a recent case, an ex-husband sued his ex-wife regarding property she had been awarded in the divorce years earlier.  The parties purchased a vacation home during their marriage.  The ex-wife was awarded the vacation home in the divorce decree, but a geographical restriction on where the children could live prevented her from living in it.

The ex-wife put the house up for sale after the divorce, but did not sell it after the husband offered to pay the mortgage.  The ex-husband received the statements and made the payments.  The ex-wife testified she was aware her ex-husband was paying the mortgage.

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For many Texas co-parents, relocating to another state is their “white whale:” relentlessly sought after, but seldom granted by the family courts. However, one Texas mother recently obtained the (nearly) unobtainable. This mother had spent years dealing with a co-parent, the father, who made even the simplest of child-rearing decisions difficult. The father had cancelled dentist appointments without telling the mother, hid the children from their mother, taught the children how to fight (by telling them to hit the mother), and refused to consent to the children’s enrollment in daycare despite one of the children suffering from speech delays that required professional attention. Nonetheless, this mother persisted.

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Recently a Twitter user named @cxkenobkerry shared her advice on 20 things that people should do before getting married. While Twitter may not seem like the most traditional place to seek relationship or marriage advice, the Twitter thread went viral and was even featured on the Daily Mail. With this list reaching such a wide audience and with it now being October and therefore wedding season in Texas, it seems appropriate to analyze its contents from a perspective focused on family law in the Lone Star State.

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A Texas court may order child support beyond a child’s 18th birthday if the child is still in high school, whether a public school, a private school, or course that provide joint high school and junior college credits.  The child must comply with the minimum attendance requirements in the Education Code or the private school’s minimum attendance requirements.  Tex. Fam. Code. Ann. § 154.002.  A mother challenged the termination of child support for her son after his 18th birthday in a recent Texas custody case.

The divorce decree ordered the father to pay monthly child support until one of the listed events occurred.  Child support would continue if he was in compliance with the requirements in Tex. Fam. Code. Ann. § 154.002.

The father petitioned to terminate child support in September 2018, following the son’s 18th birthday in April.  The mother claimed the son was enrolled in an accredited secondary school.  She then filed a petition for continuation and increase of child support and alleged her son was enrolled full-time in a private secondary school.

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Long term relationships that involve joint business dealings prior to marriage can lead to complicated divorces.  In a recent case, a wife challenged a trial court’s finding that she and her husband had formed a business partnership in 1995 and that properties purchased in her name belonged to the partnership.

The wife filed for divorce, alleging the parties married in 2009.  The husband alleged the parties had been informally married since 1984.  He also alleged, in the alternative, that they had entered into a farming and ranching business partnership in 1995.

The parties began a romantic relationship in 1984.  In 1995, the wife bought a property in her name and made all related payments. The husband moved into the property to work on the house.  The wife also worked on the house on weekends.

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In a Texas custody case, the court may grant certain rights and duties to one parent exclusively even if both parents are named conservators.  The court may limit the rights or duties of a conservator parent if it finds, in writing, that doing so is in the child’s best interest.  Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 153.072.  Courts may grant exclusive rights to one parent when the other reuses to cooperate with respect to those aspects of the child’s care.  A father recently challenged a court order granting the mother a number of exclusive rights.

The mother petitioned to modify the parent child-relationship.  She requested the exclusive right to designate the primary residence without a geographic restriction so she could accept a job and move to Louisiana.

The mother took a job in Monroe, Louisiana in 2015. The father also moved to Monroe, and they all lived there for several months. The mother testified he was abusive toward her.  She also said he took her green card and moved with the children back to Texas.

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