Courts are working to head off problems with custody orders caused by the Coronavirus.  If you have a custody order you must keep up with these orders, since they apply to you. The most recent order on family cases in Kaufman County is from March 25th.

Standing Order Governing Possession and Access During the Shelter in Place Order of Kaufman County Judge Signed March 24, 2020

For all cases arising from the Family Law Courts of Kaufman County, the Court ORDERS that:

The coronavirus is impacting courts across Texas. Kaufman County Judges have issued the following orders to reduce the number of hearings and to help with the social distancing recommendation by the CDC.

These guidelines are effective from March 23, 2020, until further order of the Courts-

  1. If a Person is Sick- Everyone who is sick or who thinks they have been exposed to COVID-19 should contact (phone or email) the court to reschedule their hearings or trials. These individuals should not appear in court.

Coronavirus is impacting family law in Texas, and one of the first areas that had to be addressed is spring break visitation. Most possession orders refer to the time when spring break ends as a time for possession and visitation to change. But what happens when we are under quarantine and spring break is extended by your school district?

Dallas County has just announced that they are going to enforce the original school calendar for issues of visitation, possession, and access. Most courts and counties that have issued statements have adopted the same position. So if you are trying to extend your spring break visitation because of a coronavirus shutdown, you are probably going to have a bad time.

Here is the text of the order-

Parents can agree, or be ordered, to pay private school tuition as part of a custody or divorce case. Let’s say that you and your spouse agree that you will pay for your child’s private school tuition, you put that in the decree, then the bill comes, or you lose your job and can’t pay. What now?

This was the subject of a recent family law case in the Dallas Court of Appeals- IN THE INTEREST OF H.L.B. AND B.L.B., CHILDREN

In that case Mother and Father had two children. In 2015, as part of an agreed divorce decree Father agreed and was ordered to pay all private school tuition. In 2018 Father filed a petition to modify and asked that either Mother pay all the private school tuition, or the children start attending public school.

Most people assume that if you are awarded primary custody, and you have a child living with you the majority of the time, then the other parent will pay you child support. The Dallas Court of Appeals recently heard a case in which Father was ordered to pay child support, even though Father had the child 70% of the time and was considered the custodial parent with primary custody.

How did this happen? Let’s look at In the Interest of ARW, No. 05-18-00201-CV from the Dallas Court of Appeals.

What happened in ARW?

If you and your spouse are considering a divorce you may want to avoid costly litigation and mediate the case. Mediation is the process of asking a third party, a family law mediator, to help you settle the issues regarding property, custody, visitation, child support, etc.

Mediated Settlement Agreements Are Binding-

One reason to settle a case at mediation is that a Mediated Settlement Agreements, or an “MSA”, is almost impossible to change or challenge once signed. If you can reach an agreement and sign an MSA, you can know that those issues are behind you and move forward and enter a decree finalizing the case.  A valid MSA “is binding on the parties and requires the rendition of a divorce decree that adopts the parties’ agreement.” Milner v. Milner, 361 S.W.3d 615, 618 (Tex. 2012); see also Loya v. Loya, 526 S.W.3d 448, 451 (Tex. 2017).

In Texas, grandparents have a limited ability to seek court-ordered access and possession of their grandchildren. Grandparents who are considering filing a lawsuit to obtain possession and access need to understand the requirements, which are found in the family code.

Texas family code section 153.433-

This section allows a court to order reasonable possession of or access to a grandchild by a grandparent if:

Texas allows divorce and family law cases to bet set for a jury trial. Most clients don’t realize this is an option when they begin a family law case, but Texas does allow a jury to decide some issues in divorce and custody cases. If you are considering a jury trial you should talk to your lawyer about the advantages or disadvantages over a bench trial (having the judge decide the issues in your case.) Juries get to make binding decisions on some issues, but other issues are left to the judge to decide, even in a jury trial.

What issues can a jury decide in a Texas family law case?

  1. Grounds for divorce- If you plead for a fault divorce, a jury can decide if those grounds exist.

You are involved in a child custody case and you need to protect your children from the other parent’s dangerous behavior. Perhaps the other parent was arrested for DWI, is abusing drugs/alcohol, or has moved into a home with a dangerous criminal. These are common reasons our family law clients seek temporary restraining orders. Let’s talk about what parents can do to keep their children safe with a restraining order.

What is a temporary restraining order (TRO)?

A temporary restraining order is used to preserve the status quo in a case by restraining a party from doing something or preventing them from doing something. It is common for a parent to ask the court to protect the children in a case, and ask that the other parent be restrained from access or possession to the child in a case. If a TRO involves access or possession of a child, then an affidavit will need to be attached when your lawyer files for the TRO.

What is Discovery

If you’ve ever been in a lawsuit, chances are you have served the other party, or have been served by the other party, discovery requests. Discovery simply put is the exchanging of relevant information about the case that can help parties decide the best course of action to move forward, to come to an early settlement offer, or to help present the case in trial. If you are served Discovery Requests, you are required to respond to them. Not responding to them can lead to Court enforcement. 

Types of Discovery