The Dallas Child Custody Site

A divorce/child custody information site. Written by Dallas attorneys, here you will find articles on child custody, child support, visitation, the standard possession order, enforcement actions, modification of orders, paternity, etc.

Earl Jackson, is Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

Child Custody
Dallas Child Custody
Jackson Child Custody Certified Lawyers
Father's Rights in the Custody Case
Child Custody in Texas

Divorce Fathers to be more than a weekend dad

The Dallas Child Custody site was developed by Dallas Lawyers practicing divorce and child custody law in Dallas, Texas. It is about Child Custody, Child Visitation, Child Possession and Access, Child Support, Child Support Enforcement and Grandparent Access. Due to the breadth and sensitivity of Dallas Child Custody, we developed the Dallas Child Custody Site as an an outgrowth of the Dallas-Divorce-Lawyer site. The child-custody information available became bigger than the Dallas Divorce Site could hold. No other family law topic like Dallas Child Custody brings forth the emotional turmoil as Child Custody, Child Visitation, Child Support, Grandparent Access and Enforcement issues. Child Custody and Visitation is emotional. 

The Dallas-Child-Custody site is a comprehensive information based site developed by Dallas Divorce Lawyers and Attorneys to help you come to terms with your Child Custody case. We are Dallas child custody and divorce lawyers and we are here to help. The links below and to the right will take you to articles discussing specific aspects of the child custody case in Dallas, Texas.

A Divorce Process

If your case involves a divorce, we recommend that you first read through our outline of the divorce process.  This page will give you an overview of a typical divorce.  Clearly, your case may very well be more complex than the outline in this article.

Dallas Divorce Process

Child Possession and Visitation - Custody

The Standard Texas Possession schedule.  It's not perfect, but it gets close to 50/50 while providing each parent frequent contact with their child.  The following page, Possession, i.e., Child Visitation, is a plain language description of the standard order.  Your order may very well be different and highly customized.  Click Possession, i.e. Texas Visitation to read this article.

The actual Expanded Standard Possession Order as promulgated in Texas is set out here.  The order has been placed in this site in order to give you an opportunity to read and study the order.  Yes, it is couched in a lot of legalize but this is necessary to make it enforcible.  An order has to be crystal clear as to what it is ordering the parties to do.  Click Expanded Standard Possession Order to read the actual State Bar of Texas promulgated order language.

Enforcement of the Texas Possession Order

Enforcement of the Texas Possession Order (visitation) Parents are all encouraged to work together in raising their child.  Unfortunately, from time to time we see a parent who for one reason or another schemes to exclude a parent from the child's life. They may enroll a child in so many extracuriclar activities that the child is unable to "go on visitation."  They may plan a family vacation during the other parents extended summer visitation.  We had a case where the mother actually booked a cruise with the teenage child's friends and their parents during the father's summer possession.  The child was then told to bring the travel abroad form to the father for signature.  In other cases, a parent just may refuse to turn the child over.  In these cases it is necessary to bring an enforcement action to hold the parent in contempt of court.  Click Enforcement of the Texas Possession (visitation) Order to learn more.

Child Support

Obligee is the person recieving child support and is the primary.  This person has "the exclusive right to receive and give receipt for child support."

The Obligor is the person paying child support and is the nonprimary.  This person may be subject to a wage withholding order.  Frankly, the wage withholding order is a good idea.  Although, it can be suspended.

Texas Child Support - A Primer:

Generally speaking only, child support is calculated based upon a percentage of net resources.  Income includes all income from any source, including but not limited to, regular gifted support payments from parents. For example, an adult child in college receives regular support payments from his or her parents.  The adult child has a child while in school. The regular support payments, although not taxable, is included in the net resource calculation for child support purposes.

Net Resources means after tax income with a deduction for one sigle payer, health insurance and union dues. For the first child in Texas, child support is calculated at 20% of net resources, the second child 25% and the third child 30%.  Click on Child Support Primer to learn more.

Child Support Greater than Texas Guideline Support?

The maximum child support under Texas Guideline Support is $1,500.00 for the first child based upon minimum net resources of $7,500.00. It is possible to get an order from the Court that orders greater than guideline support.  It is not something that occurs very often. Under §154.123 of the Texas Family Code, the court may order "periodic child support payments in an amount other than that established by the guidelines if the evidence rebuts the presumption that application of the guidelines is in the best interest of the child and justifies a variance from the guidelines." The lead case on "greater than guideline support" is Scott v. Younts which we have included here for your review. In calculating child support that "exceeds the presumptive amount established for the portion of the obligors net resources to [$7,500.00] requires that the entire amount of the presumptive award be subtracted from the proven total needs of the child. The remainder is then allocated between the parties as the court deems in the best interest of the child. In Scott the Court stated "given the broad discretion allowed to courts to determine the needs of the child, we cannot conclude that the court abused its discretion in setting the support order at $2,500.00. . . adding expenses for private school, extracurricular activities, and summer camp, the proven needs of the chide l exceed $2,700.00. Although these items are not bare necessities, we cannot say that they are contrary to the best interests of the child. Note:  trying to obtain child support greater than the presumptive guideline support is outside of most practitioner's experience (both lawyers and judges).  It is very unusual and, to be successful, will require a concerted focused effort.

Texas Child Support and Wage Withholding:

Sometimes people refer to wage withholding as "child support garnishment," it is really not a garneshment in the traditional sense.  Garnishments are used for the payment of debt.  Child support is an obligation to support a child.  Wage withholding is not required for every child support order, but it is recommended.   Note - it is not possible to pay child support directly to the the obligee/primary. It is simply not possible to do it.  For further information, click on Texas Child Support - Wage Withholding.

Medical Support is Child Support:

The obligor, the person who is paying child support, generally (but not always) must provide medical support.  They will provide health insurance through employment or will have to puchase it on the open market.  If the person paying child support, the nonprimary, does not provide health insuarnce then the primary may purchase it on the open market and that expense will have to be reinbursed to the primary.  Usually, both parties pay 50% each for the payment of uninsured medical costs - copay, deductable.  For more informaitno on the duty to provide medical coverage for a child, please click on: Texas Child Support and Medical Support.

In short, the Obligor provides medical support through health insurance and in almost all cases each party pay 50% of uninsured medical expenses.

Defending the Child Support Enforcement Action:

Child support enforcement is one of the most common actions brought by the Texas Attorney General. Frankly, we don't like them very much and they very often get it wrong.  It usually takes a concerted effort to get them to correct their mistakes.  At one point, we subpoened the entired North Texas AG lawyer brigade to a court hearing in order to correct a clear error on their part.  We couldn't get their attention in no other manner.

The most common scenerio is you were ordered to pay child support and didn't for a variety of reasons.  Or, you may never have known about the child, or you paid your child support directly when you were supposed to pay it through the State Disbursement Unit. Or, you simply lost your job.

If you have lost your job, take action, get before the court to modify the child support obligation.

There are a number of legal defenses for nonpayment of child support. These include:

-- You are in actual physical possession of the child. The child now lives with you as if you were orderd primary in the first place.

-- You made direct payments to the custodial parent.

-- You do not have the ability to pay the child support as ordered because you lost your job or your business.

-- You have a mental or physical incapacity that developed after the divorce.

Child Custody

The Child Custody case is probably without a doubt the most contentious form of litigation found anywhere. It is a fact driven case.  Although traditionally, the mother was the primary care giver, this is not always the case.  Click on Texas Child Custody.

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Dallas Divorce Child Custoddy Lawyers
Practicing in Dallas, Collin, Denton, Tarrant, Kaufman Counties

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Dallas Divorce Lawyer Index

To help you get started, we recommend that you peruse the following Dallas Divorce Attorney Basics which discuss a general outline of the divorce process common to most divorce cases, myths associated with the divorce process and some common questions are answered:

Annulment's in Texas: Annulment's are about setting a marriage aside as if it had not occurred. Usually, an annulment is based in fraud. The following link discussed the annulment process. We have been very successful in obtaining annulments for our clients.

Child Custody: A lawsuit in Texas involving a child is called a SAPCR ("SAP-CER") meaning Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship. The SAPCR case can arise from the most innocuous of relationships. The sharing of DNA will create the SAPCR whether or not the relationship is by marriage, by "friends with benefits," or a one night stand. We have seen them all. In fact, the stand alone SAPCR case, in the modern society, is becoming more and more prevalent as more and more couples avoid marriage.

Child Support: Child support is about providing monetary support for the child. Although the parents are divorced or separated, the needs of the child will continue. It seems young children go through shoes about every three months. My children had clothes that never appeared to have been worn before they out grew them. There is no way to estimate how much money has been spent on buying milk for my teenage boys. Much less the costs of sports and other extracurricular activities. Then there is the costs of medical - insurance, copays, and deductible. The following links discuss child support obligations, how it is calculated, how it is collected and how to defend a child support enforcement or contempt action. Note: if you are the subject of a child support order always follow your order.

Marital Property - if you are married all property owned by either you or your spouse is considered community property. It is presumed to be community property. Both you and your spouse own it. It does not matter who's name the property is held in. Having said that, each party to a divorce action will own some separate property. It might not be much, but they will each own some. For example, a wedding ring is the separate property of the wearer. Mementos from your youth, owned prior to marriage, is your separate property. That Apple Stock certificate grandma gave you back in 1997, owned prior to marriage, is your separate property. Your father's shotgun that he gave you, is your separate property by gift. The pages linked to below, discuss various aspects of community property, separate property, tracing separate property and "community" debt.

Dallas attorney's small business primer in the Texas divorce context. Very often, the most valuable asset in the divorce / marital context is the small family owned business. It might be a professional practice, a dry cleaner, a small print shop. Sometimes, the business in the divorce family law context may be worth substantial sums of money. For example, a small party rental business started in 2001 comes to be worth several millions of dollars over time. Many factors are involved in appraising the small business. For example, the concepts of commercial good will and professional good will directly impact the value. A staging business with significant annual revenues was ultimately worth very little in the overall concept because of the sole-member's personal goodwill. Personal Goodwill, like that of the good Dr. Nail (a famous case), is not divisible by a divorce court. The following pages go in further detail in this regard:

Adultery in the Dallas Divorce. Unfortunately, the issue of the cheating spouse is arising more and more in our times. Adultery in the divorce context will have an impact upon the outcome of the case. The extent of the impact depends directly upon the facts associated with the affair. If you are involved in an affair, the best advice is to drop the lover, otherwise, you are taking significant risks in the divorce context. The very least of which will be a very angry spouse that may use the court system to exact revenge through extended litigation, trial and the attorney's fees incurred. Although case law says that adultery will not have an impact upon a child custody determination, this is not always true. The following pages discuss this issue further.

For state-by-state divorce information, we recommend a comprehensive state-by-state divorce resource.

Earl Jackson Board Certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Not all members of the firm are so certified.