What If The Child Does Not Want To Meet The Other Parent?
Generally, I would say that there is never a time where you should not follow a court order whether the child or children do not want to meet with the other parent. I do not care what it is pertaining to. But specifically to the visitation access of the possessory parent, you are always under an obligation to follow the court order. In today’s society the courts are typically very understanding when it comes to dealing with teenage children.
My experience is that courts are going to expect the primary parent to do everything within reason to compel children to visit with the possessory parent. However, they are not going to expect the primary parent to physically force children to visit with the other parent. They are not going to expect you to drag a child into a car or into the other parent’s house against their will, but you are expected by the court to do everything within reason to encourage your child or children to visit with the other parent. You do not want to necessarily take physical force into consideration or into play when doing so.
Can Visitation Or Custody Be Affected If Someone Is Not Paying Child Support?
No, if there are court orders in place that provides for visitation and access for the possessory parent or the parent that has the obligation to pay for child support, their access and visitation cannot be conditioned upon payment of that obligation. Even though the possessory parent or the obligor could be in arrears for thousands of dollars, the primary parent cannot condition visitation upon payment of support. The primary parent can be found in contempt for not following through with a visitation order and that contempt can result in a fine, attorney’s fees or even potentially jail time for not following through on court orders regarding visitation and access.
It does not mean that the primary parent cannot pursue their own enforcement for child support and whatever money is owed in arrears. That could also result in contempt, fines or even jail time and obviously a parent cannot visit if they are in jail, but you cannot hold the children from the possessory parent because of failure to pay support.
If Someone Has Custody Do They Automatically Qualify For Child Support?
The legislature and the statutes presume that one parent is going to pay support for a period. The parties can agree amongst themselves to any type of arrangement they want to and that may or may not include support. But in the eyes of the state of Texas Custody laws, and the legislature, one parent is always going to be obligated to pay support. Whether your order provides for access that goes above and beyond what the standard visitation agreement is, the statute presumes that someone is going to pay support. The parties can always agree to something that deviates from that if they mutually agree to that arrangement. That can go all the way to a fifty-fifty split in possession and no child support. But again, that is a full agreement between both parties. The presumption is that someone is going to pay support.
Are Children Ever Required To Appear In Court And Testify In These Cases?
Yes children are required to appear in court, depending on the circumstances. The chances have to be such that the court would believe that they absolutely need to hear from them, but in all my years of practice, I have never recalled a child or especially a child of tender years have to take the stand. I have seen a child interviewed by a judge or a representative of the court and by that I mean they have been required to come to court, but even in those situations, a court is very reluctant to have children come to court unless it is absolutely necessary.
Can Someone Navigate Their Custody Case Without An Attorney?
Yes, parties can try to litigate cases on their own all the time and with varying degrees of success. In every case that I have ever seen, it is because they certainly do not have the money to hire an attorney or are unwilling to spend money on an attorney. They feel like they are smart enough to get it done on their own fruition. The roadblocks that they run into especially in Bear County are that the county has imposed very strict guidelines on pro se litigants and because there are so many pro se litigants, they have enacted these timelines which essentially the pro se litigants have to follow.
It can take many months for a pro se litigant to fully and completely litigate their case from start to finish. I have had many cases where people come to me and say, “Look. I filed this on my own thinking that I could just get in and get out but I have to wait for many months and I don’t want to do that. So I am going to go ahead, bite the bullet and hire you to litigate this or see this case through for me because I know that you can get it done.” It is the timeframe which pro se litigants are now being forced to accept which to me has proven to be one of the biggest factors in having people hire me, even though they initially decided to do it on their own.
Why Is It Important To Hire An Experienced Family Law Attorney For A Custody Matter?
Quite frankly, family law is very complicated. It takes years of practice to be able to accumulate the kind of experience that I have which affords me the level of expertise to know how to navigate these tricky areas that come up whether it be in the custody realm, estates or possessions that the parties accumulate that they are going to be disposing of during divorce. If you are thinking that you are going to proceed as a pro se litigant, but the other side ends up retaining an attorney, you never want to try and navigate a case like that because in almost every single area, you are going to end up being taken advantage of by the attorney who is on the other side.
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