What is a material and substantial change?

The Texas Family Code allows for a modification of a suit affecting the parent-child relationship if modification would be in the best interest of the child and the circumstances of the child, a conservator, or other party affected by the order have materially and substantially changed since the date of the order or the date of the signing of the mediated settlement agreement that the order is based off of. Material and Substantial change is not defined in the code, but obviously this is a term that has been dealt with by Texas Courts extensively. Material and Substantial change may sound like a high standard, but in actuality the courts give very broad discretion to trial court judges in their assessment of what a material and substantial change is.

What have appellate courts said about material and substantial change?

Can I appeal my divorce while still accepting benefits from the parts of the judgment that work in my favor?

As with most questions asked about the law, the answer to whether you can appeal a part of your divorce while accepting benefits from the parts of the divorce you do like is, it depends.  More accurately, the answer is, probably not. This is because of a legal concept called estoppel.

What is estoppel?

The Texas Family Code requires that a child in the conservatorship of DFPS attend all permanency hearings. This section also requires that if the court determines it is in the best interest of the child, and the child is older than four, that the court must consult with the child in a developmentally appropriate manner regarding the permanency plan. However, Texas courts do not consistently require children to attend permanency hearings.

Why aren’t children attending the hearings? 

The code has an exception that states that judges can make an individual determination that excuses a child from attending a specific hearing. Apparently,  many judges are deciding that it is not necessary for the children to be at the hearings. Of course, issues with school attendance and actually getting children to court are factors that contribute to children not being able to attend permanency hearings, but options like video conferencing and the fact that a child attending court while in foster care is an excused absence should help to alleviate any of these problems.

What is a direct Payment?

A direct payment is any payment that is made outside of payments made to the State Disbursement Unit in San Antonio. Most child-support orders require that all payments be made directly to the State Disbursement Unit in order to satisfy a child-support obligation. In fact, if a child-support order has an income withholding order, which most do, then federal law requires the employers to send these amounts that they withhold from an employee’s check directly to the State Disbursement Unit. However, there are many times that either because of an old order or because of confusion between parties, the person who is supposed to be paying child-support decides it would be easier to just pay the money directly to their child’s parent. This can be a real problem when it comes to enforcement and can cause a huge headache for both parties. Some people may assume that when an order says that child-support must be paid through the state registry that there is no hope for someone who gets pulled into court with enforcement and who could potentially owe hundreds, thousands, or even tens-of-thousands of dollars. At least one court of appeals in Texas would have even agreed with you on that up until recently.

Can a trial court look at direct payments as evidence?

El Codigo de Familia de Texas (TFC) tiene bastante que decir sobre los derechos y tambien las obligaciones de un padre.

Primero, quien es considerado un padre?

De acuerdo a lo que dice la seccion 101.024 del TFC, un padre es un hombre legalmente determindo ha ser padre, ha sido juzgado a ser padre, ha reconocido la paternidad, o es un padre adoptivo.

Despite the URL Guest and Gray hasn’t had a physical office in Dallas (we shared a space in Irving for a bit). We had a lot of Dallas cases and clients, but not a space. Years ago my SEO team said that Rockwall/Kaufman County weren’t big enough to really target on their own with the blog title. So while we’ve been litigating in Dallas, we just haven’t had a place to meet clients there.

That’s about to change. We are proud to announce that we opening our new West End location next week. Remember the West End? It was the coolest when I was growing up. Laser tag, mini golf, fudge, Planet Hollywood (I’ve never actually eaten there, but it felt like a cool get at the time). That building is still closed I think, but we are moving in next to TGI Fridays. I haven’t eaten at a Friday’s in a while, I had a salad and it was pretty good. So check that out if you have time.

So stay tuned for more news on that front and thanks for your support. We only continue to expand because of our friends and clients.

Do you pay child support? Are you in arrears on your child support payments? If you answered yes to both of these questions, a child support lien may attach to you real or personal property after it has been perfected, even if you are not in possession of that property. The Texas Family Code provides many different ways by which to perfect a child support lien. One of the methods by which to perfect a child support lien is to deliver a valid statutory child support lien notice to a third party believed to be in possession of the personal or real property that belongs to the person obligated to pay child support. As long the notice meets the statutory requirements of The Texas Family Code, no court action is required for the lien to attach.

If you are in possession of real or personal property that belongs to a person who has a child support lien against them, you should not knowingly dispose of that property after receiving proper notice that a child support lien has attached to the property. If you do, you may be held liable for the amount of the value of the property, but it cannot be greater than what is owed in child support. For notice to be proper it must include the name and address of the person to whom notice is sent, the court of continuing jurisdiction, the obligor (person ordered to pay child support), the obligee (person entitled to received child support), the amount of child support or arrearages owed, the name of the person asserting the lien, and statements that the lien attaches to all nonexempt real and personal property of the obligor located in or recorded in the state, that unpaid future support constitutes a final judgment for the amount due and owing, and that obligor is being provided with a copy of the lien notice.

If a person files a claim alleging disposal of property subject to a valid child support lien, there are three things they must prove. First, they must show that the lien notice complies with the statutory requirement of the Texas Family Code. Second, they must prove the specific elements of the Family Code to establish the person knowingly disposed of the property. Third, they must prove the value of the property disposed of. In a recent opinion, the Texas Court Appeals ruled that a person did not knowingly dispose of property subject to a child support lien when they deposited rent payments into a savings account following receipt of a lien notice, and then closed the savings account. In the Court’s opinion, it amounted to nothing more than transferring money from one account to another, and not actually getting rid of the money.

Family Law Discovery Issues:

If there is one aspect of practicing law that a consensus of attorneys will agree is a mental beat-down, it would be the discovery process. Since discovery is a necessary evil, discovery is a tool that attorneys must effectively wield in order to adequately represent their client.

Very often, we have men and women who are attempting to battle through a divorce on their own, and once they are served with discovery requests they come looking for help. That is the smart move. An experienced family law attorney will know exactly what needs to be done and will get your case on track.

The Texas Family Code has a lot to say on what it means to be a father, what rights fathers have in regards to their children, and what obligations come along for the ride.

So first off, who is considered to be the father?

It is “a man legally determined to be the father, a man who has been adjudicated to be the father by a court of competent jurisdiction, a man who has acknowledged his paternity under applicable law, or an adoptive … father.” TFC § 101.024.

Dads are very important people. Very important to some really cool little people in this world. We are not say that because Dads are important that Moms are not. Moms are important too. Yet it seems, and maybe it’s just us, that during custody proceedings, the courts have to choose who is the most important to that kid. Then they give that winning parent the most Time. And Time is extremely precious.

In many cases, the most valuable parent award goes to Mom. Sometimes it’s Mom even when Dad has been doing most or the same amount of the caregiving, bathing, cooking, cleaning, homework supervising, and story-time-reading-before-the-kid-will-think-of-going-to-bed work.

Dads, stereotypically, have an uphill battle. So what is a good strategy for Dads fighting for more time with their kids? Dads who will fight to be in their kids lives, because their kids are important to them and they are important to their kids?