When you go through a Texas divorce with children then the complexity of your case increase is a great deal. The first reason why this is true is that your divorce will now take on issues regarding the division of community property as well as is she’s related to child custody, conservatorships, child support, and things of that nature. All the while, you are having to concern yourself with how your property is going to be divided. This makes life more difficult for you. That does not mean but these are issues that you cannot sort through yourself. However, what it does mean is that you are going to have more work through and different components to consider.

All the while, you will need to think about what it means to go through a divorce with your children on a personal level. None of us know exactly what is going on with your family. As a result, the difference is in what your family means to you versus what your neighbors family means to him or her and their divorce can be extremely different. With that said, you need to think in advance what the major issues related to your children are and plan for them. Not planning sufficiently could mean that your family suffers both in the short and long term. Remember that what works well for your family now in terms of a position schedule may not work well in the future. For that reason, it is best to consider What your family and their needs may look like in the future in addition to considering what the needs are currently. 

For instance, think about if your child has a special need in terms of their medical or mental health care. While you may have a good idea of the needs of your child at the moment you should consider what they may be in the future. Does your child have a chronic issue that he or she is going to require care for over the long term or is there special need limited to a short period? What are the specific needs of your child as far as current and future medical care? Have you planned out how you and your ex-spouse are going to determine what care is sought and from which doctors? What happens if you all cannot agree on which doctor or kind of word treatment your child receives?

In cases like this, you and your spouse may need to name a neutral, third party who can intercede into your case and provide assistance to your family if the two of you cannot agree on a subject related to your child and their special needs. Maybe a mutual friend who they are specialized knowledge in a certain field can provide third-party resources to you. Or, it could be that a school guidance counselor at whatever school your child is enrolled in would play this role. Many spouses will insert into their final decree of divorce that the two of you must attend mediation before filing a modification or enforcement case should the need to do so arise. This will ensure that you all have an opportunity to negotiate with one another rather than to proceed to court immediately.

Additionally, with the special needs of a child comes the possibility for a need for increased child support. In Texas, child support typically means that a percentage of your net monthly income would go towards the support of your child. Conversely, if you are the custodial parent to your child and he or she lives with you on a full-time basis then you will be receiving this sum of money. Whatever your role is as far as paying or receiving the child support you need to be aware of how a special need of your child can impact hammer her. One of the major issues in caring for special needs children is uninsurable medical costs. Health insurance does not always cover every cost associated with your child in their care period for that reason, you may need to Figure out how to divide uninsured medical costs between yourself and your ex-spouse. 

For example, one of the methods that I have seen clients employ in their own lives is to divide up the costs in a proportionate manner based on their income relative to that of their Co-parent. Let’s say that you earn $60,000 per year and your ex-spouse earns $30,000 per year. In that case, you all may choose to have you pay for 2/3 of the uninsured medical costs versus your ex-spouse paying for one-third. This would allow you to pay for twice as many uninsured costs because you make twice as much money. Or, you all may choose to divide the cost up perfectly down the middle in a 50/50 fashion. 

Whatever method you choose make sure that the language utilized in your final decree of divorce is unambiguous. You do not run it want to run into a situation where you and your ex-spouse do not agree on how to interpret the language about a subject like this and then you find that a family court judge cannot enforce the order because it is difficult and unclear to understand.

Holidays and custody issues in a post-divorce world

Another issue that sometimes does not receive sufficient attention in my opinion is about holiday visitation and possession. Unlike days of the week during the school year, holiday visitation is much more even. Accounting summer break I would go so far as to say that children spend more time with a noncustodial parent during the holidays than with their custodial parent. Your family should consider what you want to have included in holiday visitation and be clear about that in your custody orders. 

Typically, you and your ex-spouse would alternate visitation over the holidays with one another. For example, in Einaudi years you would have custody of your child for Thanksgiving and in even years your Co-parent would have custody. This system seems to work better for some families but for your family, it may not. For that reason you need to be sure that do you think about what needs your family has and then consider those needs first and foremost. What works for one family may not work for yours.

Christmas holiday visitation can be even more difficult for some families. Christmas holidays are longer in duration and therefore the holidays are split between the first half of the holiday and the second half of the holiday. Just like Thanksgiving, spring break, and Easter you and your Co-parent will alternate which portion of the Christmas holiday you will have your children based upon whether this is an odd or even year. Under a standard possession order, you will be able to divide the holidays up between you and your Co-parent in a fairly even fashion. However, you should consider the needs of your child and your family both now and in the future if you feel like different Iterations need to be made.

All in all, child custody issues regarding Texas divorce cases need to be thought through with a great deal of care by you and your Co-parent. At the same time, both of you need to be willing 2 work with one another when possible. I will grant you that not every issue can be negotiated upon especially when you feel like the best interests of your children are at stake. However, you can think about other topics as opportunities to work with your Co-parent not only to better the life of your child but to also gain trust with one another. It is up to the both of you how well you work with each other and what sort of behavior you would like to begin to display for your child to hopefully mirror and mimic.

What happens if there are intrastate custody issues related to your divorce?

One of the major issues when it comes to families who may reside in different states is that if you want to file for divorce or child custody cases in Texas you first need to make sure that Texas can have a judge hear your case and make decisions regarding your family. This is known as jurisdiction. In an age where your child may have resided in multiple states in a relatively short period, it can be difficult at first glance to determine whether or not Texas has jurisdiction over your family. Unfortunately, the uniform child custody jurisdiction and enforcement act (UCCJEA) exists to help families like yours sort through issues like this.

The uniform child custody jurisdiction and enforcement act come into play when the child in your family has resided in more states than just Texas. Each of the 50 states in our country has its laws regarding how to make decisions on child custody circumstances. Understandably, it can be confusing to you and the other families who find themselves in these types of situations ask too how a state could or could not have jurisdiction over your child’s case. The uniform child custody jurisdiction enforcement act covers the ability of which state your child is lived in to make decisions regarding that child and how to determine which court can enforce child custody orders.

The UCCJEA should be used when you need to determine whether or not Texas has jurisdiction in your child custody case. Most notably, they should occur if you, your child, or their parent where your child lives in another state besides Texas. The problem for you and your family is that if you file your child’s custody case in a court that does not have jurisdiction you may lose time and money in doing so. It is possible to go through an entire child custody case only to have your Co-parent appeal based on jurisdictional grounds. If the court agrees that it lacked jurisdiction and makes decisions in your child’s case then all the time and effort put into creating a court order will have been for nothing. 

We spoke at the beginning of today’s blog post about the importance of thinking ahead and planning. This also applies to issues regarding Interstate child custody matters. So, you should consider ahead of time if there are going to be jurisdiction issues that could be raised. Understandably, these are fairly complex subjects, and once that you may readily know the answer. After all, if she is regarding jurisdiction other another type of thing a lawyer handles rather than an accountant, plumber, teacher, or someone working in any other line of work. 

As a result, hiring an experienced family law attorney to help you work on your case is extremely important. Child custody cases better covered by the uniform child custody jurisdiction and enforcement act are those related to issues regarding emergency medical care for your child, travel expenses for you or your Co-parent to visit your child, child support, and adoption. Initial custody determination is where jurisdiction issues should be handled the first period it is likely that Texas will have jurisdiction over your child’s case if Texas is your child’s home state.

We would think about a home state as the state where your child has lived with you or your Co-parent for at least six consecutive months which precede the filing of your child custody case. If your child is under six months old, Texas would be your child’s home state so long as he or she has lived here Since their birth.

On the other hand, even if your child no longer lives in Texas our state may still be your child’s home state of Texas was your child’s home state within six months immediately before the child custody case was filed. The additional requirement, however, is that you or your child’s other parent must still live in Texas even if he or she does not. 

On top of this, Texas may still have jurisdiction to make an initial child custody determination for your child if neither of the above principles applies in your situation. For example, if no other state can claim jurisdiction based on the above grounds then you may be able to assert jurisdiction in a Texas court. As with many issues regarding family law, the determination of an issue like this is extremely fact-specific. Asset, it is very important how you make arguments in pre-hearing motions and pleadings to the judge as well as how you structure arguments in a contested hearing. This is all the more reason for you to hire an experienced Texas family law attorney to assist you and your family in this endeavor.

How does the court know if the uniform child custody jurisdiction and enforcement act pertain to your case?

It is your job to show a court that the UCCJEA applies to the circumstances regarding your case and your child. Attached to your petition (initial pleading) in the child custody case you must attach an affidavit to state what your child’s current address is, a list of where your child has lived in the past five years as well as the names and current addresses of any person with whom your child lived with during that period. This takes a certain degree of planning on your part and the part of your attorney. Failing to include pertinent information in this area can have negative consequences for your case. 

What happens if you have a child custody order in place from a state other than Texas?

If you have another court order from a state other than Texas then a Texas family law court may be able to claim jurisdiction sufficient to modify or change that order. Bear in mind that the test to determine jurisdiction in a modification case is whether or not Texas would have had jurisdiction to issue a decision in an initial child custody determination. Likewise, a Texas court should be able to enforce an out-of-state court order using any methods available under Texas law. 

Finally, even if Texas does not have jurisdiction over your child’s custody case it can still exercise temporary emergency jurisdiction during certain circumstances. Those circumstances would include if your child is in Texas and has been abandoned, it is necessary for the state to exercise jurisdiction due to the risk of harm to your child or if abuse could result if Texas does not exercise temporary jurisdiction. If there are emergency-type circumstances like this that have arisen please speak to an experienced family law attorney before the situation risks becoming out of control. 

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about how your family’s circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case.