Collaborative Family Law is a process by which the decision making process in a divorce is taken away from the Court and put into the hands of a neutral third-party, the collaborative lawyer. This is a relatively new process--The Texas Legislature enacted laws that authorize this practice in 2011.
Collaborative Family Law requires many things. To start, both spouses must sign a collaborative family law participation agreement, and the agreement must have certain provisions in it. Once the agreement is filed on record with the clerk of the Court, the legal proceedings are essentially ...
Ultimately, the judge has greater authority to control a CPS lawsuit involving an allegation of abuse or neglect to a child. However, the judge's authority is limited to only address requests and evidence that are present to the Court, so many decisions get made by CPS without the judge even knowing about it.
In the context of a CPS lawsuit, the judge must ultimately determine what is in the "best interest" of the child. Those two words--best interest--are packed with a ton of meaning, which is further explained here. All of the parties to a lawsuit will try to convince the judge about what is ...
The right to a jury trial is not without limitations. The Texas Family Code provides limited circumstances in which a child custody battle can be decided by a jury. In suits involving children, a jury can determine the issues of: (1) appointing someone as sole managing conservator, joint managing conservator, possessory conservator; (2) determining which conservator has the right to determine the primary residence of the child; and (3) establishing a geographic restriction on a child.
In suits involving children, a jury MAY NOT: (1) determine whether or not to grant an adoption, (2 ...
Under certain circumstances, a foster parent may intervene in a CPS case before twelve months. The statutory and case law provisions that govern a foster parent’s ability to intervene in ongoing CPS litigation are complicated. There are many misconceptions about this based upon lawyers and non-lawyers alike oversimplifying the statutory provisions.
In some circumstances, the foster parents know the child better than anyone else, and the foster parent’s intervention in the CPS case is necessary in order for the court to hear all of the facts and be able to determine what is in the ...
A CPS case has a twelve-month deadline with several important hearings and conferences along the way. There are adversarial hearings, status review hearings, permanency review hearings, family group conferences, and permanency conferences. Each hearing or conference has specific statutory requirements that must be met by CPS or the court.
Ordinarily, the child must be returned to the parents, or the CPS case must end by some other manner, by the twelve-month deadline. The court may sometimes grant a six-month extension to a CPS case under extraordinary circumstances, at which ...
A CPS court hearing has many unique people involved, including: the Department of Family and Protective Services (“CPS” or “The Department”), their attorney (“District Attorney” or “County Attorney”), the Guardian Ad Litem (“GAL”), the Attorney Ad Litem (“AAL”), the parents and their attorneys, and the foster parents.
The Department of Family and Protective Services (“CPS” or “The Department”) is the State Agency that is responsible for protecting abused and neglected children. In CPS Court, they are the “Petitioner” because they are ...
An ICPC Home Study gets its name from the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC), which has been adopted by the State of Texas. The ICPC governs how, when, and why a child may be placed across state lines. An ICPC Home Study is an assessment of the home of a prospective placement for the purposes of placing a child across state lines.
In the context of a CPS suit, an ICPC Home Study typically occurs when Texas identifies a family member that lives in another state and would like to have the child placed with them. The ICPC Home Study process is designed to be quick (less than 60 days ...
A Standing Order typically governs the conduct of parties in a divorce or a Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship (SAPCR). Standing Orders are usually orders by county, and many counties in Texas do not have standing Orders. If the county in which the lawsuit is filed has Standing Orders, the become effective on the party as soon as the lawsuit is filed, and they become effective on the other party as soon as the citation paperwork is served on the other party to the lawsuit.
Standing Orders do not have to be requested. They automatically apply to every divorce or SAPCR filed in the ...
The Texas Family Code provides a list of twenty-seven rights and duties that a person may have to a child. Of those, most child custody disputes focus on only four of these rights:
- The right to establish the primary residence of the child;
- The right to consent to non-emergency medical, dental, psychiatric, psychological and surgical treatment involving invasive procedures;
- The right to make education decisions; and
- The right to receive, or the duty to pay, child support.
Being a parent or guardian is much more than just having possession of a child. These rights and duties will ...
Texas uses the term "conservator" to broadly include anyone with a court-ordered relationship with a child. You may hear the term "joint managing conservator", "sole managing conservator", "possessory conservator", or "non-parent conservator" - or any combination of these terms (e.g., "non-parent sole managing conservator"). A conservator may be a parent, a relative, a family friend, or even the State of Texas (CPS).
Generally speaking, a "possessory conservator" is someone who has the right of access/visitation with the children, but little else. Conversely, a "managing ...
Intervening in CPS lawsuits is complicated. There are many scenarios and situations in which a relative or a foster parent may intervene in a CPS lawsuit—regardless of whether or not you have possession of the child.
Interventions are extremely dependent upon the facts and circumstances of a particular case. This is because of the complex nature of determining what is in the “best interest” of a child. Often times, the relatives or foster parents know the child better than anyone else, including the biological parents. Other times, the other parties in the courtroom do not have ...
Discovery is the formal process by which documents or other evidence can be obtained from the other party in a lawsuit. The most common forms of discovery are:
Interrogatories - a set of questions direct to the other party about any matter that is relevant to your case.
Request for Production of Documents - a set of questions inquiring as to the existence, description, condition, location, and contents of documents or other tangible things.
Deposition - informal testimony taken outside of a trial, under oath, and subject to cross-examination by opposing counsel. This testimony may be ...
No, the previous parents cannot get a child back after an adoption is complete. Adoption is a legal process by which the parent-child relationship is permanently formed. Before a child is eligible to be adopted, the parental rights of the former parent must be terminated, or the former parent must be deceased.
The adoptive parent takes on all of the rights and duties of being the parent. So, once the adoption is complete, the adoptive parent can even have his/her name added to the child's birth certificate. This cannot be undone, and the former parents can not get the child back.
The Standard Possession Order "SPO" is outlined in the Texas Family Code as the terms of possession and access between conservators and their children that are presumed to be in the best interest of the children. A court will typically order the SPO unless: (1) the conservators agree to something different; (2) the SPO is inappropriate or unworkable because of a work schedule or other special circumstances; or (3) the age, developmental status, circumstances, needs or other relevant factors.
In general, the SPO provides that the non-primary parent or conservator will have ...
If you are going through a divorce or custody dispute in Texas, you will hear the term "best interest". These two words have a lot of meaning. The Texas Family Code states that "the best interest of the child shall always be the primary consideration of the court in determining the issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child."
In 1976, the Texas Supreme Court defined "best interest" in a well known case called Holley v. Adams. The Court made a non-exhaustive list of factors that trial courts should consider when determining what is in a child's best interest. they are:
A divorce cannot be finalized any sooner than 60 days from the date the divorce petition is filed. This is because Texas law requires parties to have a “cooling off” period between when a divorce is filed and when a divorce is finalized. Typically, these 60 days are needed for the parties to come to an agreement about the terms of the divorce.
If the divorce is complicated or contested, it may take much longer than 60 days. It is not uncommon for a divorce involving children, retirement accounts, or businesses to take 6-9 months to finalize. Sometimes, a divorce takes more than a year.
In family law matters, the court may make temporary orders for the safety and welfare of a child, for the protection or preservation of property, or to govern the conduct of a party. Typically, temporary orders are given at the beginning of a divorce suit or a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship. These are not automatic; they must be requested by one of the parties to the suit.
Temporary orders only last as long as the lawsuit lasts. The court has broad power to issue temporary orders on: possession and access of the children, child support, conduct of the parties, geographic ...
In Texas, one parent typically is the “primary” caregiver, and the other parent is the secondary, or non-possessory parent. This is true even though both parents usually have the title of “joint managing conservator”. The non-possessory parent is usually obligated to pay child support to the primary caregiver.
Texas Law provides for a standard, “guideline”, amount of child support. The guideline amount of child support depends upon the number of children and the amount of income that the non-possessory parent has. The guideline amount is 20% for 1 child, 25% for 2 ...
Family law can be complicated.
This blog contains some of the most common questions that our family law attorneys receive. Search or click below to learn more about common family law issues regarding divorce, child custody, adoption, and CPS.
- Foster Parents may Intervene Prior to Twelve Months Under Certain Circumstances
- New Changes to CPS Statutes Effective 09/01/2021: Prioritization of Placement Decisions
- New Change to Child Support Effective 09/01/2021: Reduction in Support Requirements for Low-Income Earners
- What is a common law marriage in Texas?
- Can I be ordered to pay my spouse alimony (spousal maintenance)?
- Is my premarital agreement enforceable?
- What are "Initial Disclosures"?
- Should my spouse and I use the same lawyer for our divorce?
- What is Collaborative Family Law?
- Who has more power over a CPS case: The judge or CPS?