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On June 26, 2020, the Supreme Court of Texas issued a ruling that is sure to have a major impact on future non-parent custody cases in the state of Texas. In the case of In re C.J.C., the Supreme Court of Texas found that the presumption that it is in the best interest of a child to award possession to a fit parent versus a non-parent extends to modification cases.[1] This decision is certain to be seen as a major win for parents, as the Court reinforced the long-held notion that in most cases, a parent having custody of their child is best for the child.

The case involved grandparents of the child and the boyfriend of the child’s deceased mother attempting to modify the possession of the child and gain at least some court-ordered possession from the child’s father. The trial court found that the boyfriend was entitled to some possession and even some rights, such as the right to consent to emergency medical decisions.[2] The child’s father appealed this decision. Continue Reading ›

As cases of COVID-19 are continually popping up in the North Texas region (currently 155 confirmed cases in Dallas County and growing) and with the recent “Stay Home Stay Safe” Order that went into effect at 11:59 PM on March 23, 2020, parents are scrambling to find reliable answers to their questions regarding possession schedules and quarantine, as well as concerns about child support. These are questions that are relatively unprecedented in today’s world, and with the courts recently ruling on several of these topics, this blog seeks to provide helpful updates during this difficult time.

In its March 17, 2020 emergency order, the Supreme Court of Texas, ordered that court-ordered possession schedules remain in accordance with any original published school calendar regardless of the newly extended Spring Breaks or school closures. This order is effective until May 8, 2020 or until further notice. However, as the situation continues to ramp up, and fears about this pandemic are at an all-time high, many parents want to take precautionary measures to keep their family safe.

Various concerns have arisen regarding possession schedules when one parent is quarantined for possible contraction of COVID-19. The Dallas County family courts have recently released a statement encouraging parents to keep open lines of communication with and one another and to make all decisions with the well-being and health of the child as the primary concern. This communication should include notifying the other parent of any exposure to or a positive diagnosis of COVID-19, as well as discussing any actions necessary to ensure the child’s safety. Unfortunately, disagreements regarding the custody or possession of a child may arise, and it is imperative that you consult with your attorney to discuss questions about establishing alternative schedules before making any decisions with your co-parent or ex-spouse

Although it can be difficult, in certain circumstances, Texas family law may permit a grandparent to obtain custody even when a parent wants custody. In a recent case, a mother appealed an order giving the grandparents the exclusive right to determine a child’s primary residence.

In 2014, the trial court named the mother managing conservator of her 18-month-old son with the exclusive right to determine his primary residence. The mother and child lived in Lubbock for about a year, and then moved to live with the mother’s brother for about a year.  After that, however, the mother and child moved multiple times.  The mother dated men who had violent criminal histories.  Child Protective Services opened an investigation and developed a safety plan. The child’s paternal grandparents petitioned for the exclusive right to determine the child’s primary residence, and the court granted the petition. The mother appealed.

The mother argued the trial court erred because the grandparents did not have standing to move for modification.  She also argued the trial court abused its discretion when it found there was a material and substantial change in circumstances justifying a modification.

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In a recent Texas domestic violence decision, the plaintiff appealed from the lower court’s judgment granting his divorce petition. The couple had married in 1999 and had eight kids. After 15 years of marriage, the husband sued for divorce.

At the divorce trial, the primary issue was who should have conservatorship of the eight kids. The parents and a counselor who prepared a social study testified. The father argued there was credible evidence showing that the mother had a history of past or present physical abuse against him and that the lower court was prevented from appointing him and the mother as joint managing conservators. The father also argued the lower court should appoint him sole managing conservator. Alternatively, he argued the lower court should appoint him joint managing conservator with exclusive right to determine their primary residence.

The mother argued that the lower court wasn’t prevented from appointing her and the father as joint managing conservators. The mother also argued that the lower court should appoint her the joint managing conservator with exclusive right to decide the primary residence.

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In a recent Texas appellate case, a wife appealed from a final divorce decree that incorporated the terms of the couple’s mediated settlement agreement. After she and her husband entered into the agreement, she asked the trial court to set it aside.

The couple had married in 1997 and had no kids. They decided to divorce in 2015 and mediated their differences. They signed an agreement dividing up their property and debts, but it was contingent on a short sale of a house they owned. The husband was awarded the interest in the property, and the wife had to sign certain documents. She would be paid a portion of the proceeds from the sale. Meanwhile, the husband got all of the interest in their two trusts.

A few weeks later, the wife tried to withdraw, and the trial court granted the motion. The husband asked the court to sign a final divorce decree, while the wife tried to quash the agreement. The husband asked a receiver to be appointed, claiming that the wife refused to sign the papers in order to facilitate the property sale.

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McClure Law Group, PC is proud to announce that both partners, Robert Epstein and Francesca Blackard have been voted by their peers as Texas Rising Stars for 2017 in Super Lawyers Magazine and Texas Monthly Magazine. Only 2.5% of attorneys in Texas receive this noteworthy distinction of a Texas Rising Star.

The attorneys are nominated by other attorneys in the state, making this an exceptional designation as they are recognized by their legal peers. At McClure Law Group, PC we strive for excellence and are proud to have both partners applauded for their hard work and dedication to our clients.

For more information on these two partners, you can access their bios by clicking here: Robert Epstein :: Francesca Blackard

 

For any of you Gossip Girl fans or parents of Gossip Girl fans, you probably remember Serena van der Woodsen’s mother, Lily van der Woodsen. Her real name is Kelly Rutherford, and her life is just as dramatic as the scenes of the popular TV show.

Rutherford’s marriage to Daniel Giersch in August 2006 has led to all sorts of personal trouble for her. They had their first son Hermes in October 2006. In 2008, she was pregnant again with their second child, but ended up filing for divorce from Daniel  in December of the following year. Their child, Helena, was born a few months after the date of filing. Since then, Kelly and Daniel have been in a seriously heated custody battle. Things took a major change in the divorce suit when in April 2012, Kelly’s attorney allegedly leaked information concerning Daniel’s improper business activity in the United States…which got him deported. Custody win for Kelly? Think again.

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Perhaps the most frequent questions we encounter from clients shortly after filing for divorce are “How long is this going to take?” and “What happens next?”  Of course the answer to these questions depend upon Continue Reading ›

Last month was an exciting one for Texas family law attorneys.  During this year’s legislative session, our friendly representatives down in Austin had their hands full with a number of new bills that sought to alter significant portions of the family law landscape.

There were three bills that passed their way through a House committee but ultimately were voted down after strenuous lobbying by the Texas Family Law Foundation.  The first bill that was voted down was HB 4093, which sought to repeal section 6.001 of the Texas Family Code.  Section 6.001 provides that “the court may grant a divorce without regard to fault if the marriage has become insupportable because of discord or conflict of personalities that destroys the legitimate ends of the marital relationship and prevents any reasonable expectation of reconciliation.”  Had HB 4093 passed and been signed by Governor Abbott, parties seeking divorce would have to prove another valid ground for divorce, including adultery, cruelty, living apart, or abandonment.

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