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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 

Do I need a Will? If so, What’s It All About?

Let’s start with the first question. Do you need a will? The answer is 1,000% YES! No matter what age you are, if you are married, have kids, or you live on a lonely island that you own out in the Bahamas, everyone needs a will. If you don’t have one, who gets the island?!

After a person dies, there are a lot of decisions that need to be made. Decisions ranging from funeral arrangements, what to do with your remains, along with who gets your property. Well, a will can take care of all of these decisions for you and give your family members time to grieve and celebrate your memory rather than making these hard decisions blindly. 

Are there different types of probate? 

When a loved one passes there are different types of applications that can be filed with the court to probate the estate. The type of action that needs to be filed will rely on whether your loved one had a will, how much time has passed, and the value of the estate. 

Muniment of Title 

What if I can’t find my loved ones will? 

Talking to an attorney about drafting your will is not the most pleasurable experience. But, as the saying goes, there are two things certain in life, death and taxes. I can’t tell you much about taxes, but I know a little about what happens to your estate after you die. Two best pieces of advice I can give you is 1. Have a will and 2. Tell everyone where the original will is! 

If your loved one has passed and you can’t find the will, you can still file to have the estate probated. According to the laws of Texas, the original will is what is needed to be produced in court when probating a loved one’s estate. Sometimes, though, the original will can be lost, so luckily, the Estates Code allows for alternatives. 

What happens at a probate prove up hearing? 

If you are proving up an estate with a valid will.  

If your loved one passed away with a will, this is the simplest prove up in the probate process. After we file our application to probate the will, the court will notify us of when we can have the will “proved up.” If there is a valid will, the court only requires the applicant (you) and attorney to show up to court. 

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