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Category Archives: Child Custody

What You Need to Know About Long-Distance Custody Arrangements

What You Need to Know About Long-Distance Custody Arrangements

One of the most important assets created during a divorce is the child custody agreement. After all, it’s critical that your children have adequate parenting time with you and your ex-spouse in most cases. Yet, what happens if you or your spouse must move away?

Distance doesn’t stop you from having a relationship with your children. Long-distance custody arrangements are a great way to ensure you and your spouse co-parent effectively.

Potential Scheduling Ideas for Long-Distance Arrangements

During your divorce, you and your attorney will work together to create and propose an arrangement that fits you and your child’s needs. There are many ways a long-distance arrangement can work, depending on where you must live, travel requirements and finances.

Some schedules include children staying with the distanced parent during summer breaks as well as spring break every year. Some allow the child to visit the distanced parent every other Christmas for a week or more. Other options include:

  • A visit every other week, depending on travel requirements
  • A visit every other month for a week or more
  • A visit for one weekend each month

Long-Distance Co-Parenting Tips

Long-distance co-parenting, although challenging, is far from impossible. You and your ex-spouse must continue to communicate and work together to parent your children. Here are some other quick tips that can help:

  • Use your tech tools: Technology makes it easy to remain in your child’s day-to-day life no matter where you are. You can use tools such as Skype to video chat. If you have an older child, text messaging and apps can help keep you in touch.
  • Respect your ex-spouse’s parenting time: Both parents need to have dedicated time with their children. While your child is with your ex-spouse, respect their time and give them space.
  • Revisit your plan when appropriate: Long-distance arrangements may need revising as you and your ex work out the kinks. Remain open to revisiting your plan and making changes to improve it over time.

Need Help With Your Custody Arrangement? Reach Out to Our Legal Team!

In most cases, it’s in your child’s best interest for you and your ex-spouse to share parenting time. Although long-distance custody can be difficult at first, an attorney can help you create a plan that works best for your family. To learn more about child custody, give our Fort Worth office a call at 817-755-1852 or send us a message.

 

 

Child Custody for Military Parents

Child Custody for Military Parents

With the strong presence of the U.S. military in the Fort Worth area, we’ve become familiar with just how child custody issues affect military families. We have handled numerous military divorce cases, as well as child custody disputes that happen outside of marriage or years after a divorce has occurred. Here are some key things that military parents should know about child custody.

Determining Child Custody During Deployment

Child custody can be tricky for military parents because relocations and deployment can interfere with parenting time. The process of determining child custody and a parenting plan may be especially complicated if one parent is deployed overseas.

When a parent is on active duty, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act protects them. If a parent attempts to change the child custody status while the other parent is deployed, the deployed parent can invoke their rights under the SCRA to postpone the hearing.

When the primary parent is deployed, courts can’t permanently change child custody. However, they can change it temporarily. Courts can order that temporary child custody is with someone else while the primary parent is deployed.

The law states that the first choice for custody should be the other parent unless other circumstances keep the arrangement from being in the child’s best interest. If the other parent isn’t given custody, the law says the second choice must be someone of the primary parent’s choosing.

Interstate and International Custody Disputes

For military families, child custody disputes can often reach across Texas borders—and sometimes even international borders. When a child custody dispute spans multiple states, state law determines the child custody dispute. It takes an experienced lawyer to make sure that the parent-child relationship is properly protected.

When a child custody dispute spans multiple countries, international law comes into play. The 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction aims to protect children from the harmful effects of parental abduction.

The convention provides a process for a parent to get a child back when the other parent has taken the child out of the country. Countries that have signed on to the convention promise to cooperate to make sure a child is returned to the custodial parent. This law interacts with other important laws, like the International Parental Kidnapping Crime Act (IPKCA) and the UCCJEA to protect the parent-child relationship.

Contact Us for Help With Military Child Custody Matters

If you need help with child custody matters, talking with a lawyer is a good way to get real information. For a confidential consultation, call our Fort Worth office at 817-755-1852 or send us a message. At the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., we have extensive experience helping military families in matters affecting their children.

Reasons to Modify a Child Custody Order

Reasons to Modify a Child Custody Order

Putting a divorce behind you can feel liberating. Instead of being tied up in the emotions that came with your divorce, you begin to focus on moving forward. This can be complicated—especially when child custody is involved. Your children have changing needs and schedules that may make it necessary to return to court to modify an existing court order.

Relocation: Changing Child Custody When Moving Somewhere Else

Relocation is a common reason for modification of child custody. When one parent moves, a child custody and visitation schedule that used to meet the family’s needs may no longer work. Parents and courts can amend the schedule to be a better fit.

It’s important to know that a law called the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) protects non-custodial spouses in Texas. The law says that custodial parents can’t move more than 100 miles away without getting prior approval from the court. If you’re considering moving with your child, you will want to get the court’s permission before you make the change.

Remarriage: Child Custody After a Parent Remarries

New marriages often mean changes to existing child custody agreements. That’s because they often come with changes in living arrangements and schools, new siblings and financial changes that can all affect the time parents can spend with their children. They also affect the decisions that need to be made for them. We often hear from parents who need to modify an existing agreement after remarriage.

Change in a Work Schedule That Affects Child Custody

When there’s been a significant change in circumstances, like long-term changes to a parent’s work schedule, it’s possible to ask the court to change the child custody and visitation agreement. You’ll probably need to provide the court with evidence of the change. Official documents that list your new work schedule are usually sufficient evidence.

Change in Ability to Provide Childcare

Significant, long-term changes in one parent’s ability to provide childcare can also be the reason for child custody order modifications. Often, parents create a plan that takes their schedules and finances into account. But changes to those schedules and finances can mean they need to make different childcare plans.

Change in the Child’s Needs or Health

Courts aim to consider the best interests of the child in parenting matters. When a child’s needs change significantly, this can impact the court’s assessments. A medical diagnosis—like a learning disability or a chronic illness—or an accident that requires rehabilitation can be reasons to modify an existing court order.

Get Help With Child Custody Modification. Contact an Attorney.

Matters of child custody can be stressful because they affect the people who are most important to you. That’s why it’s critical to have an experienced attorney on your side.

If you need legal help with modifying a child custody order, get started by calling the Arlington office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-799-7125 or send us a message. Our Texas child custody lawyers are here to support you.

Overcoming Common Co-Parenting Issues After a Divorce

Divorce is an emotional and confusing time for your children. After your divorce, effective co-parenting is critical for their wellbeing. You and your ex-spouse will need to use patience and problem-solving to ensure you’re able to work together.

Common Co-Parenting Issues & How to Overcome Them

There’s bound to be some growing pains while you and your ex-spouse figure out what life looks like after divorce. After all, you’ll both need to coordinate schedules and make decisions regarding your children. This is where some of the most common co-parenting issues arise.

1. Negative Talk

Divorce is stressful, which often results in anger and heightened emotion. Some parents may be shocked to hear their child relay that their ex-spouse has been speaking negatively about them when they’re not around.

This type of behavior confuses your child and may leave them to feel at-fault. They may also feel the need to choose between their parents.

It’s important to keep the issues you have with your ex between the two of you. Don’t use your children as a buffer or expect them to relay messages on your behalf.

2. Schedule Changes

Two different schedules will need to entwine to meet the needs of your children. And when changes occur, it could result in less parenting time and frustration. It’s best to communicate schedule changes with your ex-spouse as far in advance as possible.

For example, if you wish to take your child on an extended vacation, discuss it with your ex first. If your work schedule changes, tell your ex as soon as possible. You can then work together to come up with a plan.

Some changes, such as work schedule changes, may necessitate a custody modification. Reach out to your attorney if you feel your custody or parenting plan needs to change.

3. Lack of Cooperation

Unfortunately, some couples find it difficult to co-parent. One ex-spouse may be completely uncooperative when it comes to communication and the parenting plan. If this is the case for you, it’s important to remember that you can’t control your ex’s actions—you can only control your own.

Disagreements will happen, especially at first. You should expect to work through them together by communicating and sharing your concerns. If your ex refuses to co-parent, we recommend reaching out to an attorney for help.

Call Schneider Law Firm, P.C. in Ft. Worth Today

The attorneys at Schneider Law Firm, P.C. have years of experience supporting clients going through divorce and co-parenting. To learn more about effective co-parenting or for support with custody modifications, give our Ft. Worth office a call at 817-755-1852 or send us a message.

What Do Judges Look for in Child Custody Cases?

In child custody matters, judges have a tough job. Experienced judges have heard thousands of child custody cases throughout their careers. This means:

  • They’re familiar with parents who didn’t tell the whole truth, who tried to manipulate the system or who turned to tricks to gain leverage in a divorce.
  • They’re often skeptical about what parents say.

This can make it challenging to convince them of your side of the story—especially in high-conflict cases when both parents are seeking sole custody.

It can be helpful to know what judges look for in child custody cases. Knowing how a judge looks at your case can help you give your attorney the information needed to represent you effectively in Texas courts.

The Best Interests of the Child

Generally, Texas courts use the “best interests of the child” standard when deciding child custody matters. This standard was outlined in a case called Holley v. Adams, and judges have said that it should apply in all child custody cases. The best interests of the child include the child’s basic needs, as well as emotional and mental health needs.

Are the Child’s Basic Needs Being Met?

The judge usually starts with an analysis of the child’s basic needs. The judge wants to see that the child lives in a safe home with enough food, clean clothes and regular care. They want to see proof that your child has a comfortable bed, as well as spaces for play, doing homework and eating meals.

Are the Child’s Emotional Needs Being Met?

Judges also look for a solid support network of family and friends. They’ll look for a network of extended family members who play an important role in your child’s life. They’ll also look for childhood friends and a school where your child is supported by knowledgeable professionals.

Are the Child’s Mental Health Needs Being Met?

Divorces and child custody disputes are mentally challenging—not just for parents, but for children too. You’ll want to share proof of your child’s well-being and appropriate mental-health support. This means setting appropriate boundaries without saying anything manipulative about the other parent or oversharing about the divorce.

If domestic violence has been a factor in the home, the child’s mental health needs are especially important to the judge’s decision.

Talk With Our Lawyers About Child Custody

At the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., we work to protect your relationship with your child. For a confidential consultation, call our Ft. Worth office at 817-755-1852. We can answer your questions about child custody and what a judge may consider in your unique case.

Sources:  

https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/FA/htm/FA.153.htm#:~:text=1%2C%201999.-,Sec.,and%20access%20to%20the%20child.

https://law.justia.com/cases/texas/supreme-court/1976/b-5880-0.html

Who Has Custody of a Child When the Parents Never Married?

When a child is born to unmarried parents, Texas law says that the mother automatically has legal and physical custody of the child. That means that she has the authority to make legal decisions about the child’s life like the healthcare the child will receive, the child’s education and religion. It also means that the child will live with her. This holds true even if the father’s name is on the birth certificate.

What Can a Father Do To Gain Child Custody?

In Texas, fathers must establish paternity if they wish to have parental rights, including legal and physical custody. There are two ways to establish paternity in Texas:

  1. Sign an Acknowledgement of Paternity (AOP). An AOP is a legal document that allows parents who aren’t married to establish legal paternity. To get started, you can call the Attorney General’s AOP Hotline at 866-255-2006 or find an AOP certified entity online.
  2. Get a DNA test. Fathers can also file a special paternity lawsuit—or Suit to Adjudicate Parentage—in court. The lawsuit will require the father to take a DNA test, and the mother and child may also be required to file one. If the mother doesn’t consent, the father may need to ask the court to order her to submit to the DNA test.

After paternity is established, child custody isn’t automatic. The court will still need to issue an Order that gives the father child custody rights. This generally also includes an Order for the father to pay child support.

Like in other child custody cases, courts consider the best interests of the child when considering child custody in a paternity lawsuit. Courts weigh things like:

  • The desires of the child
  • The emotional needs of the child
  • The parental ability of the parent seeking custody
  • Programs available to assist the parent and the children.

The court’s analysis is different depending on the age of the child and that child’s unique needs.

Talk With a Lawyer About Protecting Your Parental Rights

If you are worried about protecting your relationship with your child in Texas, it’s a good idea to talk with the lawyers at the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., as soon as possible. We focus on protecting the best interests of the child by keeping parents and children together.

Call our Arlington law firm at 817-799-7125 to get started. Consultations with our attorneys are confidential. We’ll talk with you about your options and help you understand the best course of action.

Sources:

https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/child-support/paternity/acknowledgement-paternity-aop

What Is an Ad Litem?

When child custody matters become complex, the court sometimes appoints a professional called an ad litem to protect the interests of that child. Although they’re most commonly appointed in cases involving children, ad litems also represent adults who cannot represent themselves due to physical, mental or behavioral health issues.

Ad litems can also be appointed to represent missing or unknown parties who should have representation in a legal matter where they cannot be physically present. If your case involves complex matters—such as allegations of child abuse or neglect—here’s what you should know.

The Types of Ad Litems

There are three different types of ad litems. The ad litem’s duties depend on the type of ad litem and the role they are playing in your case. These include:

  • Attorney ad litems: Attorney ad litems are required to be attorneys.
  • Attorney/guardian ad litem (dual role): This person is appointed to act as both an attorney ad litem and a guardian ad litem.
  • Guardian ad litem: Guardian ad litems do not need to be attorneys, but they often are. Courts appoint them to represent the best interests of the child.
  • Amicus attorney: “Amicus” means “friend of the court”. An amicus attorney is appointed by the court to help the judge make decisions about a child’s best interests. The judge appoints the amicus attorney to help the judge be more effective. The amicus attorney does not provide legal services directly to a child.

What Are an Ad Litem’s Duties?

The Texas Family Code sets forth 27 specific duties of an ad litem. The first duty of an ad litem is to investigate to determine the best interests of the child. This can mean different things, depending on the case.

Your ad litem will likely conduct interviews with each parent. They may also interview relevant parties, including your child’s teacher and therapist.  They may also obtain copies of your child’s relevant medical records, psychological records and school records. If your child is four years old or older, the ad litem will also interview the child in a developmentally appropriate way.

The ad litem will then attend mediation related to the child and may attend relevant hearings and trials. The ad litem can testify to represent the child’s best interests effectively.

To get a full understanding of the role the ad litem is playing in your case, you’ll want to talk with an attorney.

If You Need Help With Child Custody Matters, Call an Attorney.

At the Ft. Worth office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., our attorneys can answer your questions about the role of an ad litem and help protect your children no matter what challenges you are experiencing. Call 817-755-1852 to talk with us about your situation.

Sources:

https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/FA/htm/FA.107.htm

2019-2020 Houston Family Law Handbook

Medical Decisions, Medical and Dental Support for Children

Most parents would do anything to keep their kids happy and healthy. So, when a child’s medical or dental care is affected, it can bring up co-parenting challenges that are difficult to resolve. At the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., we support our clients in working with their co-parents during the divorce process and afterward. Our focus is on making sure you stay healthy and financially secure.

Making Medical and Dental Decisions for Your Child

When Texas courts make child custody decisions, they decide on something called “legal custody.” Legal custody gives a parent the legal authority to make critical decisions for their child. These decisions can include what doctor your child will see or what type of medical care they will get for a serious health condition.

Legal custody can be given to one parent (sole) or both parents (joint) and is most commonly shared between the parents. That means you and your co-parent will need to communicate regarding important medical decisions affecting your child.

If you and your co-parent cannot agree on medical issues for your child, you have several options. You may be able to have a neutral third party make the decision for you. Sometimes, divorcing parents stipulate this neutral third party in the divorce decree.

You may also pursue mediation to help you arrive at an agreement that works for both parents and is in the child’s best interests.

Medical Support and Dental Support

Texas courts usually order medical support and dental support in addition to child support. This support makes sure that medical and dental costs are covered so that your child can receive the care he or she needs.

  • Medical support: Courts generally order medical support that requires a parent to pay the “reasonable cost” of the child’s health insurance, as well as other medical expenses for a child (like co-pays and deductibles). A judge may order you to provide health insurance coverage for your child, to reimburse the other parent for the cost of health insurance coverage, or to pay cash medical support if your child receives Medicaid.
  • Dental support: Since 2018, Texas courts have ordered that dental insurance must be provided for children in a divorce. Dental support is similar to medical support in that it covers the reasonable cost of dental insurance, as well as other dental expenses for a child (like co-pays and deductibles).

Questions About Your Kids’ Medical and Dental Needs? Contact an Attorney.

Call the Arlington office of the Schneider Law Firm, P.C., at 817-799-7125 to talk with us about your child’s medical or dental needs during a divorce or afterward. Our Texas lawyers are here to support you and your family.

https://statutes.capitol.texas.gov/Docs/FA/htm/FA.154.htm#154.064

 https://texaslawhelp.org/article/child-support-medical-support-and-dental-support#toc-4

Am I Eligible for an Uncontested Divorce?

Many couples know they wish to end their marriage yet fear the emotional pain of fighting in court. For those couples who wish to finish proceedings quickly and with cost in mind, there’s the option of uncontested divorce.

What Is an Uncontested Divorce in Texas?

An uncontested divorce is the simplest form of divorce. There is no “contest” which means both you and your spouse agree on all terms. Uncontested divorces are often resolved faster than contested divorces. It’s also common for these divorces to be less expensive due to reduced court costs.

Who Is Eligible for an Uncontested Divorce?

Those who wish to move forward with an uncontested divorce must meet specific requirements. First, you and your spouse must agree on all aspects of your divorce, including the grounds or reason for the divorce. Other aspects include:

  • Property division: You and your spouse must have a property settlement that fairly divides all of your marital assets and debts. This includes bank accounts, mortgages, vehicles, property, personal items and more.
  • Spousal maintenance: If you or your spouse will receive maintenance or alimony, you must have a plan that explains the amount of the maintenance and how long you or your spouse plans to pay.
  • Child custody and visitation: You must know who will have custody of your children and whether it’s joint or sole custody. You must also agree how much visitation each of you will have and when visitation will occur.
  • Child support: You must agree on the amount of child support you or your spouse will receive and when.

Divorce Mediation

Do you and your spouse disagree on the aspects of divorce? If so, your divorce is considered to be contested. Yet, you do have the option to try mediation. If you and your spouse are able to work together amicably, an attorney can help you negotiate and reach an agreement outside of court. Like uncontested divorce, mediation can also save you time and money in court costs.

Reach Out to Schneider Law Firm Today

Whether your divorce is uncontested or contested, we recommend reaching out to an attorney. We’re here to support you. To learn more about divorce or to discuss your options, give our Fort Worth office a call at

Military divorce requires a unique approach. The experienced military divorce lawyers at Schneider Law Firm are here to support you. To learn more about your divorce, give our Fort Worth office a call at 817-799-1852 or send us a message.

Understanding the Different Types of Child Custody & Visitation

During a divorce with children, you and your ex-spouse must reach a custody agreement. If you and your ex cannot create an agreement on your own, the court will decide what type of child custody is best for your child, as well as any applicable visitation arrangements. 

Understanding Child Custody

There are two parts to child custody: include legal custody and physical custody. Let’s dive a bit deeper into both.

Legal Custody

Legal custody gives you the ability to make critical decisions on your child’s behalf. These decisions can include, for example, where your child will attend school and what doctor they’ll see. Legal custody can be given to one parent (sole) or both parents (joint). 

Physical Custody

Physical custody refers to where your child lives. For example, you may have sole physical custody, which means the child lives primarily with you and your ex-spouse has visitation rights. Or, you might share physical custody, which means the child lives with you part of the time and your ex-spouse part of the time. 

In some cases, custody arrangements include one parent with legal and physical custody. In other cases, both parents will share legal custody with one parent having physical custody. It all depends on what the court decides is best for your child.

What Types of Visitation Are Available?

If sole custody is included in your custody agreement, you or your ex-spouse will be awarded visitation, so that you may be with your child on a regular basis. There are two common visitation methods used frequently by the court:

  • Unsupervised visitation: In unsupervised visitation, the parent can take the child to their own home or on any outing without supervision.
  • Supervised visitation: Courts will sometimes order supervised visitation, which means the parent must visit their child while another adult is present. This adult may be someone appointed by the custodial parent or a social worker designated by the court.

Call the Team at Schneider Law Firm Today for Custody Help

Child custody can be difficult to understand on your own. If you’re considering a divorce, reach out for help. For answers to your questions or to speak with a divorce attorney today, give our Arlington law office a call at 817-799-7125 or send us a message.