Children and Family Law

Perhaps the most important work of a Family Court is resolving matters regarding the parent-child relationship.

How the law might apply to a specific case should only be considered in a consultation with a qualified attorney. Please call me at 713 974 0650 to discuss the facts of your case.

A few of the basic concepts of Texas law applying to children are summarized here to prepare you for that conversation.

Jurisdiction is the authority of a court to rule on a case, which can be determined or changed by such factors as residence history, prior court action or the consent of the parties. Be prepared to discuss where the child has lived, with whom and for what period(s) of time.

Custody refers to the care and control of a child and can take any of several forms. Joint custody typically refers to sharing the rights and responsibilities of child rearing; children often live at each parent's home on an agreed, alternating schedule. (This is sometimes referred to as joint managing conservatorship.) Sole custody can be awarded for reasons such as abuse, drug dependency or incarceration. This may severely restrict or deny the non-custodial parent's access to the child but does not absolve the non-custodial parent of their financial responsibilities.

Child Support is calculated according to a formula set by Texas law, which takes into account the number of children and the payor's income after allowable deductions and offsets. While the law sets a minimum amount, the court may award higher support payments if income and certain expenses warrant it. The payment amount can be changed by court order. Support typically stops when the child reaches majority, but can be extended for reasons related to education or medical circumstances. Payments are often made through a state agency to monitor compliance. Failure to pay can result in loss of certain licenses issued by the state.

The Amicus Attorney, or Guardian Ad Litem, is an attorney appointed by the court to represent the child's interests, as they may differ from those of either parent. Recent changes in the law regarding legal services benefitting a child clarify the Amicus Attorney's responsibilities to the court, the child and the child's family.

Adoption consists of terminating a child's relationship with one or both natural parent(s) and establishing the child's legal rights and duties with the adoptive parent(s). Adopting parents are encouraged to clearly and completely understand the process of terminating the previous parent(s) rights.

Grandparents' Rights are not well-established in Texas, as they are not granted by statute and there is relatively little case law addressing the matter. Grandparents wishing to improve their access to grandchildren in a dispute are forced to either negotiate within the family or attempt litigation with small chances of success.

However, if the custodial parent(s) are abusive or the grandchild is in danger, and the grandparent has knowledge of the situation, notifying the authorities is at least prudent and may be required under the law. As this field is rapidly changing, consulting an attorney to properly determine your rights and responsibilities is strongly recommended.

Please contact me to discuss how best to proceed in your case.

 

Often, the most gratifying aspect of my work for a client is protecting or enhancing their rights to a relationship with their child. Whether it's improving safety and access in a custody dispute or quickly completing an adoption, knowing that a child's life has taken a turn for the better is a tremendous lift.

 

 

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Unless otherwise indicated, attorneys listed in this site are not certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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Ms. Asher practices Family Law and Collaborative Family Law in Harris County, Ft. Bend County and Montgomery County, Texas.