What Parents Need To Know About Texas Custody During Divorce
Most parents dread the custody process most of all when it comes to divorce. With Coldwell | Bowes, L.L.P., they don’t have to. We put a premium on providing the personalized and dedicated advocacy parents need during this often tough time. Our Austin attorneys will guide you through each step of the process, answering your custody questions honestly and putting in the hours to achieve the best possible outcome.
To that end, here are three things you should know about how divorce with kids works in Texas.
1. You Will Likely Go Through Mediation First
Most counties in Texas, including Travis County, require parents to attempt resolution through mediation before taking the matter to court. Mediation offers parents the chance to negotiate a workable parenting plan with a certified neutral mediator. The mediator facilitates discussions, but represents neither parent. Our firm has two mediators who regularly assist clients in this capacity.
2. Child Support Is Your Child’s Right — Not Yours
Many parents do not realize that child support is their child’s right, not theirs. By law, parents are obligated to financially support their children if they are able until the children come of age. They cannot waive child support obligations through a prenuptial, postnuptial or other agreement.
Most parents use Texas’s child support guidelines to determine what they will pay. The guidelines use a standard formula that takes each parent’s income, the number of children and a few other factors into account to determine the final monthly amount. You can negotiate child support payments with your spouse that deviate from the guidelines, but any agreement should be consistent with the guidelines and be enough to support your children’s basic needs, like housing, food and clothing.
3. You Can Make Changes On Your Own — If You Both Agree
Your parenting plan is a legally binding agreement, so in general, it must be followed to the letter. However, real life is rarely so rigid. You may need to modify your plan occasionally for specific situations or to accommodate your family’s needs in the future. The court recognizes this, and making modest, temporary changes to the plan is fine — as long as you discuss changes in advance with your co-parent and he or she agrees to them.
Whatever you do, do not make changes without the other parent’s consent or withhold visitation without seeking court approval. Doing so could result in being held in contempt of court or even having your custody revoked.
If you need to modify your parenting plan more long term — say, for relocation purposes or suspected child abuse — talk with our lawyers today. We will help you take the appropriate next steps to safeguard your child’s interests.