School Calendars And Child Custody Schedules

tearsofjoy 300x210 School Calendars And Child Custody SchedulesWith the start of the school year quickly approaching, parents with children who are too young for school often don’t realize that the school calendar plays a big role in their possession schedule. Possession schedules and school calendars often go hand-in-hand. For instance, under a typical standard possession schedule, the parent who has possession of the child for Thanksgiving will get the child at 6:00 p.m. on the day school releases for the Thanksgiving holiday until 6:00 p.m. the day before school resumes after the holiday. It is important for both parents to know what day school lets out as that can greatly affect the amount of possession the parent has over Thanksgiving. Some school districts dismiss class on the Friday before Thanksgiving while others dismiss school the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. Not knowing when school releases could cost you several days of possession.

School calendars also affect more than just holiday possession. In a standard possession order, extended summer possession also has a provision that directly relates to the end of the school year as well as the beginning of the next school year. [Read more...]

Child Support and the Texas Attorney General

support 300x225 Child Support and the Texas Attorney GeneralThe Office of the Attorney General (OAG) becomes involved in a case in two ways. The first way is if a person has applied or is receiving public assistance.  Public assistance can be Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF), health insurance (Medicaid or Chips), food stamps or housing. When a person applies for public assistance, the State then has an interest in making sure child support is established or is being paid.

If a parent hasn’t applied for public assistance but wishes to establish child support, or enforce a current child support or medical support order, they can request assistance from the OAG. Both parents have the ability to request assistance from the OAG.

The biggest misconception with regard to the OAG is that it represents a party or the child. The truth is the OAG only represents the State of Texas; it does not and will not represent a parent or the child. The OAG is a party to the case and can become a party by either filing the case itself, or it can intervene in a case that is currently ongoing.

If the OAG initiates the case itself, whether it’s an original case or a modification, each parent may receive a letter with a date and location to attend a Child Support Review Process (CSRP). This process is one way to resolve your case without having to appear in court. If either parent refuses to participate in the CSRP, that particular party could possibly face serious legal consequences.

A lot of people believe that if they show up to the CSRP without pay stubs to document their income then child support cannot be calculated; this is false. The OAG has the ability to pull your tax records and can establish child support using those records. If you had worked a lot of overtime or made more money the year before, it would not be beneficial for you to have the OAG use those records to establish child support because the amount of support would be higher than if you used your current income.

It is important that you inform your attorney if you or the other party has applied with the OAG for assistance or if you or the other party has applied for public assistance. If you do not inform your attorney, and they do not provide the OAG notice, it can greatly affect your case and can be grounds for a new trial to be granted.

For more information on the Texas OAG, you can check out their website at https://childsupport.oag.state.tx.us/wps/portal/csi.

Background Checks

andertoons background check 300x242 Background Checks

Courtesy of Andertoons

Background checks. You have to have one done in order to get certain jobs, purchase guns, become a citizen or obtain a passport. Yet, many people do not ever consider running background checks for another far more important reason: their own or their family’s safety.

Throughout my career I have had numerous clients who did not know the person they were dating, married to or had a child with either had a criminal history or had a more extensive history than they were led to believe existed. Not knowing the criminal history of a person can have serious consequences for you or your child(ren) in the future.

For instance, I did a consultation with a person a few years ago who had a young daughter. After several months of dating a man she thought was a great guy, they moved in together. The mother did not do a background check, and he had given her no reason to believe he was anything but the good upstanding citizen he claimed to be. After a few months of living together, the child’s father filed a suit against her and asked the court to award him custody of the young girl. The father had done a background check on the boyfriend and discovered he was actually a convicted sex offender whose victim was only a few years older than his daughter. The mother was understandably distraught at the thought that not only could she lose custody of her daughter to the child’s father, but that she had unknowingly allowed her daughter to reside with a sex offender.

We would all like to think we would never be that person; that we would never unknowingly date a criminal or sex offender, let alone allow one to live with us. The unfortunate reality of today’s society is that we cannot always trust people as much as we would like. So how do you protect yourself and your family? Short of hiring a private investigator, which can cost several hundred or even thousands of dollars, there are some simple things you can do to perform a cursory background check.

  1. Check the Texas sex offender registry. This will only provide you those sex offenders that have registered. Some offenders fail to register, particularly if they are out-of-state; they will not be included. https://records.txdps.state.tx.us/SexOffender/index.aspx
  2. Check the national sex offender website: http://www.nsopw.gov/?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1
  3. You can do a criminal history search on the Texas Department of Public Safety website (there is a fee): https://records.txdps.state.tx.us/DpsWebsite/CriminalHistory/
  4. For a small fee you can use public records services such as www.publicdata.com, www.beenverified.com, or many other services you can find doing a Google search.
  5. Check the local jail records. Below are the Collin County, Dallas County and Denton County links:
    a. http://cijspub.co.collin.tx.us/JailingSearch.aspx?ID=600
    b. http://www.dallascounty.org/jaillookup/search.jsp
    c. http://justice1.dentoncounty.com/PublicAccess/JailingSearch.aspx?ID=400
  6. Do a Google search.

While the thought of digging into someone’s background may make you feel uncomfortable, your personal safety and that of your family is worth it.