Wednesday, June 04, 2008

holding parents feet to the fire

A good portion my practice in Dallas and Collin county is enforcement of the court's orders as they relate to child support and visitation of children. These occur in situations where the Court has already entered orders regarding children, for instance a Final Decree of Divorce, an Order Modifying Prior Order of the Court, or Order in Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship.

Once the court enters those orders, they expect you to follow them. If you do not, the aggrieved (pissed off) parent, can sue the other parent for contempt of court.

A suit in Texas for enforcement of a child support order is relatively simple process. An attorney must simply prove that a set amount was payable on a set date at a set place and time, and that those payment were not made. For example, Dad is ordered to pay $500 per month beginning on June 1, 2007 and each first of the month thereafter to the disbursement unit in San Antonio Texas, address 1234 Main Street. If June 2008 rolls around and Dad has not made those payments it is relatively simple to prove that he is in contempt. He knew when he was supposed to pay, how much to pay, and where to pay it. If he does not do it, he is in contempt.

Enforcement of visitation in Texas can be that simple as well, but it rarely ever is. The reason is that the ticked off parent (parent not receiving their visitation) doesn't do what they are supposed to do. Let me explain by example:

Father is awarded custody of the child. He is ordered to provide the child to the mother for her visitation on the first, third and Friday of each month at his residence at 6:00 p.m. Simple enough, correct? Let's add these facts - mom and dad do not get along (i know that is far fetched, but work with me here) and dad makes mom's visits as difficult as possible. Mom calls dad on the first Friday at about 4:00 p.m. to confirm she is picking up the child (which she is not required to do, but does because it takes her 45 minutes through traffic to get to dad's house) and dad says don't bother showing up because the child and I won't be there. The mom makes a note of this and decides to forego the traffic and mess. She'll wait until the next visitation on the third Friday. Same thing happens on third Friday, so mom makes a note of it. She decides if he does it again she is going to sue his pants off. Fifth Friday comes and dad does same thing. Mom decides to sue for enforcement or contempt for the father violating the court's order.

Ruling? Father is not in contempt! WHAT?!! He didn't provide the child, how can he not be in contempt? He is not in contempt because MOM failed to follow the Court's order too! For mom to hold dad in contempt, she needs to appear on the first, third and fifth Friday of each month at dad's house at 6:00 p.m., regardless of whether the child is there or not. That is what the court order said and that is what mother must do. If she follows the court's order, and then dad does not, dad is in contempt.

While my example references a common situation, this same logic applies to other areas of decrees or orders of the court. FOLLOW THE ORDER, NOT WHAT YOUR EX-SPOUSE OR MOM OR DAD OF YOUR CHILD TELLS YOU. If you are unclear how to follow your order or what to do, call a lawyer. Most lawyers will offer free consultations or charge a small fee to speak with them. I do divorces in Plano, Frisco, McKinney (Collin County), and in Dallas, Richardson, Carrollton (Dallas County). I also handle modifications and enforcements of orders.

Moral of the story: If you follow the decree, and ignore what people tell you, you should be well on your way to holding the other parent's feet to the fire!

The information contained in this blog is provided for informational (and sometimes entertainment) purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject matter. I can guarantee you that I am not covering every facet of the family code, and there may be hidden gems in the Family Code that could make or break your case based upon your specific fact situation. No recipients of content from this blog, retained client or otherwise, should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any content included in this blog without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice. ALL CASES ARE DIFFERENT BECAUSE OF THE FACTS PARTICULAR TO YOUR CASE; THEREFORE YOU NEED A LAWYER TO DISCUSS THOSE SPECIFIC FACTS. I expressly disclaim all liability in respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the content of this blog. Talk to a lawyer first, preferably me, it is that simple!

66 comments:

Tiffany A. said...

What if the non-custodial parent sends someone else in their place to pick up the children? I made sure in my divorce decree that it did not state that he had the right to do so, whereas in someone elses decree that I have seen, it plainly states that each parent has the right to designate someone else to pick up the child. So will I be in contempt if I do not let my children go with anyone other than my ex-husband? By the way, awesome Blog! You provide a lot of great info!! thanks-Tiffany

Chris Schmiedeke said...

Tiffany, thank you for the compliments. You have an interesting questions. The answer could possible be the subject of another post.

Let me start by saying that I cannot advise you how to act in this matter. I would suggest that you contact a local attorney and run this by them as well for a second opinion.

Part 1 - If the designation of competent adult section was removed from your Divorce Decree (or Order), then technically only the father should be allowed to pick up the children. If you deny the visitation because somebody else comes to pick up the child, I do not think that you can be held in contempt. A judge may disagree, so be careful here.

Part 2 - If you know the person who is picking up the children (i.e. his mother) and you have no concern over their reliability, then perhaps you should allow the visitation. While you may not be held in contempt, you could get yourself in some hot water and suffer some kind of punishment from the Court.

If the person picking up the children is a stranger, of questionable reliability, or just someone you do not trust, I believe that you are within your right to deny them picking up the child. However, you may consider allowing the father to modify his pick up that day to a time when HE can pick up the child.

One thing that is really important to understand here is that a strict construction of a divorce decree or order in Texas as far as visitation is concerned can ultimately lead to grounds to have the order or decree modified to something you may not like. Bottom line, abide by the decree, but use some flexibility occasionally! And keep records!

Good luck.

Jolene said...

This is a sad case. The father has visitation rights in bowie county but becasue of a domestic violence situation in 2003 the father was restricted from seeing the child for 6 years. A couple of mishaps with probation and 2 more years were added. In the meantime the mother has wound up in gainsville womens facility for felony theft for an undertimed time. The girls mother has the child. Is there any reason the the childs father could not get custody or visitation at least since the mother is in jail and has been since August of 2008? He is now in a situation where he is paying his child support along with back child support and trying to reinstate himself as a responsible person in society. He does not have the money for a court battle and neither do his parents. In the interest of the child how should he proceed.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,
Tomorrow I will file an 'Answer to Divorce' with the Dallas Court.
Can you tell me:
May I may file a Counter-petition at a later date, if I choose?
Or must I file a Counter-petition at the same time as the Answer?
Thank you very much. (BTW, I enjoy your blog.)
J

Anonymous said...

I am currently involved with a re-defined custody decree. After fighting for more rights as the father, and our lawyer, several thousands in, no help, but how do you PROVE you show up and they are in contepmt? The mom has moved, no address, no phone, and won't pay her portion of medicial bills. Do I call the county police to fill out a report? Please give me some sortof help other than smoke screens.
Will

Chris Schmiedeke said...

you do not have to file both at the same time.

Chris Schmiedeke said...

Jolene, there are only two ways that it can go. Either the father can reach an agreement with the grandparent that has the child with regard to visitation or custody and have those agreements enter with the court...or he would have to file a lawsuit and sue for custody or visitation.

Chris Schmiedeke said...

Anonymous, I am not following your question. You ask how you prove that you show up to hold someone in contempt, but then state that you do not know where she is.

Usually your testimony alone is sufficient to prove that. It sound like you may need to also try and hold her in contempt for not giving you her new address. Check your order, there is probably language in there regarding her requirement to notify you of an address change.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I have a question. My ex wife took off with my daughter over ten years ago. She did not tell me she was leaving and gave me no forwarding address. She stil filed on me for contempt for failure to pay child support. Judge said visitation and support two different things. I couldnt file on her because i couldnt get her served I didnt know where she was. Attorney Generals office said they didnt have to give me her address. Her new husband was convicted of a sex offender crime with a minor and was not supposed to be allowed back in house with my child. Mother never notified me or the state of Texas courts as to his conviction. I finally found my daughter 10 years later and this is how i found out about his conviction. My daughter is now living with me and mother was on the run with husband until he was finally caught. Am I still responsible for back child support whe my daughter should have been returned to me upon his conviction the first time? Please help.

ssotwelltx said...

Do you know if any special consideration is given to members of the US military when dealing with geographical restrictions in Texas? My brother is in the Navy and has been stationed in Washington state. His wife has three children who are geographically restricted to Harris County, Texas. She is attempting to have the restriction lifted. Is the fact that she is married a member of the US military at all relevant to her argument?

Miranda said...

What exactly are children's rights in reference to visitation choices once they turn 17?
I have never been able to get informed correctly on this, and I would appreciate if you could possibly answer this.

Miranda

Anonymous said...

I have a question about how long supervised visitation can last? My ex (this is documented in our decree) has three birth certificates from three different Latin American countries and has threatened to kidnap our child. Also in the decree it states that he has to keep seeing his counselor to address issues (the particular issues were not stated in the decree). Is there anything I can do to keep supervised visitation and for how long (how many years) can it last? Right now it only lasts until age 2. I found an old letter in which my ex stated he would agree to supervised visitation until age 10...since I found it after my decree does that not help my case? Please help as my ex does have many issues and I do not want to ever lose my child.

Anonymous said...

My question is about SUPERVISED VISITATION. Can it be extended and for how long (how many years)? In my decree it states (Ex has three different birth certificates from three different countries, he has threatened to abduct and also tried to obtain child's birth certificate...in addition ex has to continue counseling sessions [although specific issues not in decree]). At the age of 2 ex gets unspervised visitation. Is there anyway to extend supervised visitation? Also, an old letter he wrote agreeing to supervised visitation until age 10 was found after the final decree....can that letter be used in court? What proof do I need of continued threats if they are always verbal and with no other witnesses other than our toddler? HELP!!!

Chris Schmiedeke said...

Miranda, technically the court maintains jurisdiction over a child until they turn 18. As far as a child's rights with regard to visitation, some courts say that a child that age should not be forced to go if they do not want to. Other courts say that the parent with custody should force the child to go.

There is no hard an fast answer to this question, sorry.

Good luck.

Chris Schmiedeke said...

Anonymous, unfortunately I think that you are bound for the back child support as long as the child was not residing with you.

That is a parental "duty" to support the child. No other factors are really relevant, it is a duty you have as a parent. If the child was not with you then your support was in the form of child support.

Keep in mind that I am not a judge, and my answer is not the final word on this. If you would like to challenge the back child support, file a lawsuit and challenge it.

If the mother is required to pay you support now, and is not doing so, perhaps you could begin offsetting your arrearages.

Good luck.

Chris Schmiedeke said...

Ssotwelltx, it is tough to comment on these cases without all the underlying facts of the father's relationship with the kids, etc...

However, I will answer just the question posed. There is no special consideration that I know of for members of the military. Remember what the purpose of the residency restriction is...to promote frequent contact between the non-custodial parent and the child.

Technically, the only two people of concern are the child and the father.

Read my other comments as well, as there are other similar scenarios in them.

Finally, do not rely on just my words...remember that I am not a judge, and a judge may have a totally different opinion than i do. Go talk to a local attorney and get their opinion.

Good luck.

Jolene said...

Thanks Chris for your responsed. In regards to my question...so even though he is on probation he could get that order ammended so that he can see his child?

Chris Schmiedeke said...

Anonymous, yes supervised access can be extended for the child's entire childhood if the court sees fit to do so. I doubt that letter is admissible as evidence, and even if it was, I don't know that it help you as he can now say that he disagrees with that letter.

If he is continuing to threaten you then tell the court that he is threatening you when you go to the court. That is evidence. The court can put as much weight as they want on that testimony. Perhaps you can figure a way to record those threats on a recorder.

In any case, you need to talk to a local lawyer if you are considering this lawsuit. They can better help you with the specifics of the evidence you have.

Good luck.

chiela2003 said...

Ok...my girls are 12-15-and son 16.I have read and understand what is said to do....I kept times, dates, events, conversations. I have never missed a visitation. He was found to have lied on a court document he signed under oath. collected government assistance when kids were not with him till this day....Its been a year this July 17 since my girls came to stay...started off with a temporary order that was only to last two weeks then shift to general visitation...however...minus a month in november and 2 weeks in may...i have had my girls....my son is with his grandmother (ex's mom) through all this the admitting of me having them and doing for them lalalalala....the judge gave him primary....since our final hearing i have had my girls, am ordered to pay child support and medical insurance. Plus they live here....my son at his gramdmothers. I do for him as much as i can...he makes no effort to call them unless "I" upset him....then the first thing he does is picks the girls up and tells them he is going by the court orders....doesn't let me speak to them and fills their head with nonsense....how can I stop this....my faith in the system is frail and time is wasted.
Was she having a bad day?

Chris Schmiedeke said...

Chiela2003, I am sorry but i am not sure exactly what you are asking me. It is a little difficult to make sense of what you are telling me.

If you are saying that our ex has legal custody, but the kids live with you, then you need to file a motion to modify the prior order to get custody with who the children are truly with.

Good luck.

chiela2003 said...

my ex never kept my kids from me until i met this man and decided to live with him...no crimminal history...then my ex totally hid them from be saying that our divorce decree didn't have a visitation agreement on it....in july i hired an attorney to see if we could change the order...he demanded i pay chid support or he wud not agree to any tmeporary orders so i did with the agreement that he wud have to show proof that his situation had changed and there was a reason for his petition..the temporary order gave me access from july 17 until august 1st then he was to have them...My girls since then live with me my son with his grandmother....i petitioned for modification with documentation to the tee....at the final hearing he lied under oath...his demand for discovery and what he said in court contadicted itself he admitted the kids were with me...
all i wanted was to keep them together...my son and girls in one place...they were with me anyways....minus my son
then we go to court....judge states kids are better off with him...he has had them...i had dates times dr notes school notes etc...showing he did not have them...
then orders child support and medical insurance from me which wasnt justifiable because he did not prove that his income has changed in any way! and my kids are still with me...since then too....he admiited to getting foodstamps when he did not have them....I mean what happened? what did she not see or hear?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like your problems started when you made another man the center of your focus...and now you are spazzing out for answers. I wonder what in your situation you're not being clear about because courts usually favor the mother. Perhaps your children are better off with your ex. Situation is sketchy.

Anonymous said...

Hi Chris, nice blog. I am from Dallas. My case is in Houston. Regarding enforcing electronic communication or rights of a parent at all times, what can I do to get my son's mother to start communicating with me in regards to my son. She completely ignores most of my emails about our son. I will be representing myself, so is it possible to obtain any sort of "compensation" by driving all the way to Houston to enforce my rights?

Thanks. Anthony

Chris Schmiedeke said...

Anonymous, you will need a court with some teeth to be able to enforce electronic communication. When I say teeth I mean that there can be no doubt exactly what the mother is required to do and when she is to do it.

I definitely think the court would consider your expenses in having to force the mother to do what she should already be doing.

Princess Garcia said...

MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION HERE.
Please inform me on the correct procedure. How can I prove I was never served court documents from OAG or anyone else? I found out that I was the "default" parent when I had my wages garnished from my payroll check. Up until that point I didn't even know I had another child in Tarrant Co., much less getting served for that extra child. (Through me for a loop.Whew!) I wrote Tarrant Co. Court House 325th court to order the documents and it doesn't even have my address on there. I haven't lived at the address they have listed on the documents for over 10 years; even my credit file has ALL of my addresses throughout my life's history. I was never served x2 cases. I would like to know what is the appropriate steps.
By the way, I love your blog. (so helpful)I am probably going to need to hire an attorney; can you handle cases in Tarrant Co. or is that a court your not too familiar with? I will have to do a paternity and modification on my current child support cases. (two different cases)

Anonymous said...

My 5 1/2 year old daughter has visitation every wed. and sun. with her father. Each time she visits, he checks her "private parts" to see that they are clean, etc. I think it is inappropriate. Even the pediatrician agrees. He tries to use this to say she isn't clean and I'm not taking care of her. I think he is crazy and I want supervised visits. He wants to go back to court and get her every other weekend. I am really afraid for her to spend the night because I think he will continue with poor judgement.

Chris Schmiedeke said...

Princess, you can attack those lawsuits with a bill of review if the orders are less than 4 years old. I don't do a lot of family law in Tarrant County, but I can give you a referral if you like.

Anonymous said...

Custodial parent fails to show up with kids at place and time set forth by decree, the other parent does show (to cover all his bases).... he takes her to court and she is found in contempt for this and other reasons. They go to mediation, per the judges order, now she continues to do the same thing with denial of visitation by "Oh, I didn't realize you had the kids this weekend" excuse. Is this grounds for moving primary custody to the father? (Texas)

TexDad said...

Mr. Schmiedeke,
I've recently filed an enforcement pro se vs. my ex-spouse in Tarrant county for multiple violations including interference and denial of custody/visitation, failure to provide passports, failure to provide medical information and removal of children from the state for greater than 24hrs. (all of which are specifically defined and mandated in the Divorce decree as well as a Suit to Modify Possession). As this is considered criminal contempt (an affront to the jurisdiction and dignity of the court) as opposed to civil contempt, is there an reason (in your opinion) that Alternative Dispute Resolution should have been sought rather than a direct filing with the court? What sort of relief might typically be granted in such a case? Any other suggestions or comments you may have regarding this type of proceeding would be sincerely appreciated. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

What if a father does not pick up his child every 1,3, & 5 weekend of the month. And has not picked their child up since October 2008. Is there some where we can call to get full custody of the child?

Chris Schmiedeke said...

Anonymous, you have to file a lawsuit to modify the order that gives the father visitation. That can only be decided by a judge and I assure you that you cannot simply make a phone call.

Contact a local lawyer, run the fact scenario by them and see if they can help.

Good luck.

jolenedr said...

That is disgusting and if your daughter has brought this to your attention it is probably because she feels uncomfortable. I would get with my daughters pediatrician pronto! If it makes you uncomfortable it is probably a red flag.

Anonymous said...

What happens when the NCP has been following all the steps when Denied Visitation and Can not afford to hire a lawyer to enforce a motion of contempt?? My ex has violated our visitation schedule on 5 differnt occations. Our divorce was final in Upton County where she resided. Then in a four month period of time moved to OK, Then to CO, then back to TX. She keeps moving and not only have i not had phone numbers, addresses ect, but my ex has missed or denied visistations for all my major holidays. I have still shown up to our aggreed meeting spot for visitaion after she said she would not be there just incase. I have also had my current spouse there for a witness. I think I have acase on not only contempt of visitation but for moving my child to three states in four months and not telling me or telling me real late and then not providing me phone numbers or addresses. Can I petition the court to appointment me a lawyer to file for contempt??
I love your blogs I have been following them for a long time. You have great information and its very helpful.

Chris Schmiedeke said...

Anonymous, the court will not appoint you an attorney. They could appoint the mother an attorney if she is looking at jail time, but not you.

See if you can track down a lawyer that will try and collect their fees from her. If she is found in contempt chances are good that she will be required to pay your fees.

Good luck and thanks for reading.

suse said...

although my husband picked up our daughter when he was supposed to, he either gets rid of her to go to his girlfriend's, play soccer, whatever. now, he went behind my back, got me to agree to let him have her a week -- then transported her to lousiana and left her with my parents (although we are estranged, i have never denied them the grandchildren). he left her there and was going to let them do a perm cosmetic procedure on her! i stoppped this by calling the lady that does it, but do i have the right to go get her (with the police, if i have to) since he 'secreted and hid' her, and did not give me notice if he could not keep her (or in his case, didn't want her). i am just livid that they did this behind my back and will not tolerate it. what can i do?? i don't want my dad (deep pockets) to try to sue me for grandparent rights, it's not necessary. but i also cannot tolerate him dumping her whenever. i could hear my dad on the other end of her phone yelling, 'just hand up on her, you belong to your dad this week . . .' my daughter was crying because he continues to put her in the middle. do i have the right to go get her?? he had rights to her, but they certainly do not!!! HELP!!

Chris Schmiedeke said...

Suse, the father has the right to exercise visitation and to take the children where he likes on the visitation. The visitation is for him, however, some courts will allow a parent to leave kids with grandparents, etc...

The g-parents have about a slim and none chance of filing and maintaining a lawsuit over the children (assuming we are talking about Texas) unless there are other facts which show the kids may be in danger.

If you truly cannot take the visitation arrangement then I suggest you contact a lawyer and try and modify the visitation.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Custodial mom owes 50$ medical bills to non-custodial dad. Bills started accumulating in 2007. Mom refuses to pay dad. What are we to do? Went to court in the past regarding denial of visitaion and judge ordered us to settle. Mom was not held accountable for the denial, even with documented police reports. We were out close to 8k for nothing. Dad is not and has never been behind in any payments.

Anonymous said...

Custodial mom owes 50$ medical bills to non-custodial dad. Bills started accumulating in 2007. Mom refuses to pay dad. What are we to do? Went to court in the past regarding denial of visitaion and judge ordered us to settle. Mom was not held accountable for the denial, even with documented police reports. We were out close to 8k for nothing. Dad is not and has never been behind in any payments.

Anonymous said...

Hi I'm Mary and I have enjoyed reading this site for awhile now because it's so informative. My question is that on October 31, 2009 my son's mother brought his 8month old daughter over to him and resfused to tell him where to drop the baby off after the weekend because she doesn't want him to know where she lives. My son put child support on himself just to have visitation rights to his daughter. So long story short he wouldn't give the baby back until because he wanted to know where his child was residing and she refused to tell him. Well she went out and got an attorney and filed a writ of attachment against him and the coursts suspened his visitation rights. I know that wasn't a smart move not to give her the baby but she always threatens him with leaving the country with his child. So what appeal can he file to get his visitations back to his child. The mother told the courts that my son sells drugs for a living and that the baby was in danger which is a lie. I just didn't know that people can just lie and don't have to prove what they're saying against someone else when it comes to a child. This child is his life and there have been CPS cases against this mother but it seems as though the courts doesn't look at any of these things. Please give any feedback and thanks for listening.

Chris Schmiedeke said...

Anonymous, you need to file an enforcement for the outstanding bills. That is enforceable by contempt. It is always best to be able to document your attempts to collect the $50.

Call a lawyer and schedule a consultation.

Good luck.

Chris Schmiedeke said...

Anonymous, I think your son learned a valuable lesson that he must follow a court's order. If something needs to change in that order, then that has to be addressed in the Court, not on one party or the others sole judgment.

I suggest your son contact an attorney and schedule a consultation to help him resolve his visitation issues. It sounds by the tone of your post that your son did not have an attorney. If he did not, that is probably why the court did not hear his evidence.

I suggest he get an attorney and pursue his options.

Good luck.

Manda said...

Hi, I am just so lost at what to do. My ex has only been around for his visitation when it is convienent for him. He has gone 9 months without actually seeing her. He ocassionlly calls, but does not show up. He moves around a lot with his current girlfriend and their child. When we were divorced he was not working so his child support was set really low. That was 8 years ago he now has a very good job and makes a lot more money. I would ask him several times to help with school uniforms, extracurricular activities and he would refuse and even get angry if she called and ask him to pay for something. I took him back to court and they raised is child support by a lot. He is still only showing up when he has time. No regular visitation schedule. She is now playing softball and I contacted him to let him know she may have games scheduled on his weekends could we work something out. (Note I have been letting him get her whenever he can make time.) Now he insist that I have to meet him half way since he pays so much CS. I have other children that also play sports and I do not want to miss out on their events driving around to meet him. He may want her Friday..or maybe he will call Friday and say "it's my weekend I need you to take her here Saturday then meet me here to get her back on Sunday" He says if I refuse to meet him he will take me back to court and they will make me meet him half way. Is this true?

Chris said...

Manda, it is hard to advise you specifically on your case without knowing ALL the facts. However, let me provide a general answer to a situation like yours.

First of all, where any party is required to "meet" for the transfer of the child is set by court order. That is what you are required to do. Nothing more, nothing less. If he does not like that he can file a request to modify.

However, a parent can seek to reduce another parents visitation when they fail to exercise regularly. The courts do this all the time.

Do you reallythink he wants to open that can of worms?

Bottom line, the only thing required of a parent in your situation is what is in the order. You do not have to modify the times for visitation, the location for delivery, etc.. All you have to do is follow the order.

Good luck.

Shawn said...

My decree states that I pick my son up at 7:00 PM on friday. I live in Tarrant and my x in Sanger. 35 is fun sometimes and my x said if I am 15 minutes late she can refuse me from picking him up! I've never been late untill last night and that is when the drama started, got there at 7:11 but it was close.

Chris Schmiedeke said...

Shawn, it is unfortunate that you have to deal with a parent behaves that way. For people in similar situations, it is important to communicate with the other parent. A simple telephone call or email can go a long ways.

Judges want parents to work together for the best interest of the child. In Shawn's situation, a phone call that he will be late will go a long way in a judge's eyes, especially if the mother in inflexible.

The situation the mother describes in Shawn's comment would only apply if there was no communication from Shawn. However, if Shawn contacted the mother and told her he was running 15 or 20 minutes late before his designated time to pick up the child then I think the judge would side with Shawn.

If the mother then denied access she could face future trouble with the judge.

jolenedr said...

Some people just don't get it do they. The visitation is for the whole family. The child is the one that suffers if there is a parent that keeps the drama going. Instead she or he should have been grateful that you made it. There are so many deadbeat moms and dads that just don't care to show up. I am with you on this one. There should not be a scene. Life happens. You did call right to let them know you were stuck in traffic?

Anonymous said...

What is the non-custodial parent refuses to take the given holiday visitation in full but wants to break it up into being a weekend dad as the standard schedule dictates? I have plans to go out of town to visit family and him failing to take his appropriate holiday vistation will shorten my travel plans greatly. What do you do?

Chris Schmiedeke said...

That is a great question. Technically they are supposed to take the whole thing. If they begin the vacation then I would think that you would go on yours and then he is forced to keep the child. Or if they refuse, then I guess they would forfeit visitation.

You are walking a very dangerous line here. You need to consult an attorney in your area who knows the judges and what they expect. You could very well find yourself in contempt if you fail to provide the child.

Anonymous said...

Hello, my restriction is for Dallas and contigeous counties. (100 miles)I am the custodial parent, we were never married. Our child is 4 and I only filed for child support last year. He has never been consistent with contact or visitation before or after the order was in place. He has never taken her to a doctor's appt. nor has he paid for one. He does have her insured. He is in arrears due to"accidents" at work and having to rely on workers comp for the last two years. Meanwhile I struggle to go to work and pay daycare while he sits at home for 6- 8 months. I recently was laid off (one month)before I was laid off I went to see a lawyer about modifying the restriction due to the fact that there were many layoffs and since I work in a supportive role, knew I could be next. I was trying towards a preventative measure in case of lay off. Low & behold I was Laid off two weeks later. I went back to the attorney and had an agreement drawn up for him to agree to lift the restriction. I gave him the benefit of the doubt that he would see the urgency in "my" situation to continue providing for our child, he held on to it for two weeks then told me he wasn't signing it and that I could get a job here. ( I can, if I want to take a major pay cut making what i did ten years ago)I was trying to get to williamson or Travis county since all of my immediate family live throughout both counties including my two adult daughters. "family support" a place to stay now that my lease would end the same month and help with my daughter while trying to find a job and get back on our feet. His reason... for not signing;"I don't want to drive further than I need to" the agreement said I would be responsible or meet him half way. It would change visitation from twice a month to once a month and longer visitation during summer.
Sorry, getting to real question: the language in or agreement only restricts me it does not restrict him. Language was left out! If I continue to modify how will this left out language affect the judges ruling? Have I put myself in a situation to be held in contempt for having the agreement drawn and by his refusing to sign? These legislatures in place are not helpful but in fact very damaging to the livelihood of both the custodial parent affecting the child! Thanks DALLAS ATTY GEN. for the big let down, "best interest of the child" hog wash. How do I know? These blogs exist out of necessity that these useless determinations create. LADIES, IF YOU HAVE NOT TAKEN YOUR EX TO COURT FOR CHILD SUPPORT YET, MAKE SURE YOU ARE IN THE CITY OR STATE THAT YOU WISH TO BE AT PRESENT TIME BEFORE FILING...SAVE YOURSELF THE HEADACHES HEARTACHES STRESS AND INJUSTICE.

Anonymous said...

Have been divorced for 5 years. We have joint managing convervatorship of our 16, almost 17 year old son. Question: If I am on vacation, during the period set out in the divorce decree when the other parent is supposed to have David, and the other parent does not exercise his visitation right--who is responsible for the child if something were to happen to him?

Chris Schmiedeke said...

Anonymous, I am not sure what you are asking. The parent who physically has the child is going to be responsible.

Chris Schmiedeke said...

Anonymous, after such a long post I am not sure what you are asking. The court cannot limit your residence or his residence. They can however, limit the child's residence.

Please read my new blog at

www.thedallasdivorceblog.com

kerri0808 said...

My husband and i moved to potter co 2 years ago. the child support order is from OAG and is standard. since we live more than 100 miles away he gets differect visitation. The mothers of the children will not let them come here. They say that this is too far away. the only time we get to see them is when we go there to visit every 3-6 months. They say that my husband has to prove to them that he is a good dad. How can he prove to them when we are 800 miles away. he pays his child support and carries insurance on them. When we lived in the same town we had the kids most of the time. The kids even live with their grandmother and not the mother. can we hold her in contempt of court for not allowing visitation.
Kerri (kerri08081974@yahoo.com

Chris Schmiedeke said...

Before you can enforce the order you have to follow it to the "t". Review the order as to transfer and pick up provisions, etc... You have to fllow those exactly.

If she denies visitation after you follow the letter of the order then she is in contempt and you can sue her.

I would suggest that you contact a local attorney and have a consultation with them. They can help you prepare your case. It will need to be an attorney in the County where the order is out of.

Anonymous said...

Chris,
Thank you for your great blog responses.
My ex-wife has been keeping my kids away from me during my court ordered visitations. This happens inconsitantly but over the past year has totaled about 60 days. I am planning on filing contempt charges and I do have the documentation (e-mails, police reports, and phone records of my calls) as proof. Communication with her is practically 0%. I know that the courts have their hands full with many cases and my issue is minor compared to many others. However, I do not know how to get me visitation inforced. We have joint conservatorship and the kids reside with her. What are the chances that the court will do more than simply slap her on the wrist to force her to comply in the future? Thanks.

blaznovsky said...

I have a question... I live in Ellis County and i am the CP and My ex husband lives in Dallas County he is the NCP. I left him in June of 2006. We were divorced in April of 2007. I remarried in August of 2010. We have 2 boys now age 15 and 12. My ex did not see the kids from June 06 till August 07. He did not show up for divorce hearing.He went to jail for a couple of months in 2007 for Probation Violation. He got no visitation rights due to the Step One class he did not go to. From August 2007 till about December of 2007 he seen the kids a few times. He skipped town for a year until the police found him in TN. and arrested him for probation violation. Was there a few months and then seen the kids a few times. He filled a motion to modify visitation. Judged agreed to supervised visits. We did this for 6mths. Then he got visitation in August 2009. In August 2010 he got arrested again for probation violation. Went to state jail for 1 yr. Just got out in August 2011. He is 11,000.00 behind on child support. My 12yr old wants to go live with him. I said no. So he is taking me to court. He is getting married in 2 weeks.
My 12yr old does not have the mind of a 12yr old. He has the mind of a 9 or 10yr old. He had ADD/ADHD His Dr. would say this and his teachers from school would say this.
What are the chances of a Judge granting this??

ch00262 said...

I have a two year old. I was never married to her father but he signed and agreed to pay child support. He has not called, visited, or left any message and all of a sudden wants to see her after not seeing her for 8 months. He's a stranger to her and cried when he tried to pick her up where she couldn't catch her breath. He blamed it on me and said he would file contempt charges. What documentation do I need and is this possible?

Shannon said...

What a wonderful blog! I stumbled on this today. I am a paralegal who moved from Dallas to Amarillo recently. My question is about how a Motion to Modify is handled. I looked at the statutes, but cannot get a clear cut answer. Even though the litigation will resume in the same Court under the same Cause Number, isn't the time period still the same as general civil litigation. For example: The Peition for Modification is filed, the Respondent has the Monday following 21 days to Answer and then the discovery period would begin? Is that correct? I am trying to get a general idea of when someone would actually get to trial after a Modification was filed. I do realizd courts will vary, but my experience has been no sooner than 6 months. Thank you kindly!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to answer for you Chris...I'm in the same boat as blaznovsky. He has repeatedly violated his probation and he is behind in child support? If you are abiding by the decree the way you say, i.e. permitting dad to visit with children while not in jail, I seriously doubt the courts will grant his request to have the children live with him. A judge always tries to do what is best for the children. Your ex being the primary custodial parent doesn't appear to be in the best interests of your children.

Anonymous said...

If a parent has repeatedly not followed visitation orders and has threatened and stalked the mom and she has filed police reports as well was told by police he has open active warrant, she refused 1 visit and then tried to arrange for him to meet her at local police station he said he was there and she wasn't so he again got a lawyer to write a letter to hold her in contempt, he has a criminal background and in may was ordered to pay more cs as well as for ins, and braces/medical bills he was furious as well as his girlfriend and to date hasn't paid anything. She plans to hire an attorney this week however, per attorney general and police and a few lawyers over the phone informed she should not give him his daughter due to his open warrant, and she would be in trouble if he was arrested while she knew he had a warrant open? What is correct.

Anonymous said...

I'm a competent adult! Now my fianc├ęs ex wife won't let me pick up the child. Just because she doesn't know me and she doesn't trust me. My question is how do we get it arrangement to fix this because in the court order doesn't state anything that I could not. A matual agreement could not work so he followed court order. But she says if it's not him picking up the child its Noone. Another thing is is that he works an hour out of town so by the time he gets home it's too late to pick up the child. The reason he wants to follow court is so that way he can get holidays summer vacations etc. So how to go apond this to make it right for the child.?

Leen said...

Hello I am the designated competent adult in a Joint Conservatorship in the State of Texas,

Been researching the topic of assigning a competent adult and need some clarification on the Primary conservators rights versus the secondary conservators rights.

My boyfriend works in the refineries and drives 6 hours every other weekend to spend time with his children. Because of his work schedule and job being so far away it is impossible for him to pick up the children at 6pm on Friday. I have been designated by him as the competent adult to pick up the kids for the last 6 months or so. Recently however we received an email from the primary conservators (his sister and brother in law) advising that they refuse to allow me to pick up the children because they do not want me at their home. There has been no outbursts, no problems, and there is no reason to disrupt this arrangement for any reason, accept that they want to cause my boyfriend complications. I have nothing on my record, nor does he for that matter, and there is no reason to suddenly not allow me access to pick up the children.

Is it possible for them to deny me the competent adult to not pick up the children? I believe part of their concern and reason for this new found denial of access is that they believe that he is not spending time with his kids during his visitation times. Again he works over 6 hours away and drives up each weekend to see his kids without fail. Occasionally he is only able to come Sundays even though I pick up the kids on Fridays at 6pm, because he is required to work Saturdays occasionally. Most of the time however he arrives here at around 1 or 2am on Friday (err Saturday Night/Morning) spends time with his kids and then returns Sunday nights to go back to work.

Are the Primary custodial parents allowed to prevent me from picking up the kids and how should a situation like this be handled? Should I still attempt pick up and then document every time that they deny me access to the children? Are they allowed to choose who the competent adult is especially if there is no reason to believe that I would or have caused any harm to come to the children?

Please any help you can offer would be most appreciated.

Thank You,

Frustrated Competent Adult

Leen said...

Hello I am the designated competent adult in a Joint Conservatorship in the State of Texas,

Been researching the topic of assigning a competent adult and need some clarification on the Primary conservators rights versus the secondary conservators rights.

My boyfriend works in the refineries and drives 6 hours every other weekend to spend time with his children. Because of his work schedule and job being so far away it is impossible for him to pick up the children at 6pm on Friday. I have been designated by him as the competent adult to pick up the kids for the last 6 months or so. Recently however we received an email from the primary conservators (his sister and brother in law) advising that they refuse to allow me to pick up the children because they do not want me at their home. There has been no outbursts, no problems, and there is no reason to disrupt this arrangement for any reason, accept that they want to cause my boyfriend complications. I have nothing on my record, nor does he for that matter, and there is no reason to suddenly not allow me access to pick up the children.

Is it possible for them to deny me the competent adult to not pick up the children? I believe part of their concern and reason for this new found denial of access is that they believe that he is not spending time with his kids during his visitation times. Again he works over 6 hours away and drives up each weekend to see his kids without fail. Occasionally he is only able to come Sundays even though I pick up the kids on Fridays at 6pm, because he is required to work Saturdays occasionally. Most of the time however he arrives here at around 1 or 2am on Friday (err Saturday Night/Morning) spends time with his kids and then returns Sunday nights to go back to work.

Are the Primary custodial parents allowed to prevent me from picking up the kids and how should a situation like this be handled? Should I still attempt pick up and then document every time that they deny me access to the children? Are they allowed to choose who the competent adult is especially if there is no reason to believe that I would or have caused any harm to come to the children?

Please any help you can offer would be most appreciated.

Thank You,

Frustrated Competent Adult

Chris Schmiedeke said...

Leen, they do not get to censor who the competent adult is. If they have a problem with his designation, then they need to file a motion with the court to change that provision. Otherwise he gets to make the choice.

Your best course would be to contact an attorney in your area to enforce the order if they are denying you. In the meantime be sure to attempt to exercise all the visits and document what happens.

Good luck.

Chris Schmiedeke said...

Leen, they do not get to censor who the competent adult is. If they have a problem with his designation, then they need to file a motion with the court to change that provision. Otherwise he gets to make the choice.

Your best course would be to contact an attorney in your area to enforce the order if they are denying you. In the meantime be sure to attempt to exercise all the visits and document what happens.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

Question my husband became cp in 6/14/14 from crazy ex in dallas...we live in houston and she has sp over 100 miles n chose 1st 3rd n 5th bc she has no job to inconvenience her and someone funds her trips...we r to meet halfway in Centerville tx at 6pm but due to dismissal at school being 315 when u get thru the car rider line its almost 340 then change child in clothes she was sent home in by mom we r on the road by 4 from bw8 to 45 is 45 mins or more than 45 passing woodlands is 45 mins or more its impossible to make it by 6 we usually get there 730ish..weve pleaded with mother to change time n she refuses..although we notify her we r to b late wayy ahead and the day.of she.gets there at 6 and makes a police report and leaves before 730 without her child...she threatening contempt bc she doesnt get visitation even tho we notify her we r to be late and we show n shes not there...can we change plan to have her have 1 weekend a month like we did so we only have to take child out early once a month n can b enrolled in extracurricular activites and make weekend games..also so my hubby doeasnt have to leave work at 330 or earlier every other week shorting his check and could eventually cause problems at work? And can case be transferred to houston instead since child lives here now? We have our proof of notification and the only alternative to make it by 6 is to take child out at 2-230 bc there is no.early dismissal after 230 and.school already told us that is not what they recommended