Custody Orders: Get Them ASAP!

Custody orders are a basic requirement for any parent who has split with the other parent. Handshake deals between parents work great until they don’t! A court order containing provisions for support and visitation helps keep conflict low between parents. Court orders work day or night, in good times and bad.  Keeping things civil and stable for the child is the real benefit of custody orders.

Youngblood Law, PLLC receives calls regularly from people with custody issues with their child’s other biological parent.  We often discover that the parents were dating or living together when they had a baby.  Now that the parents’ relationship has ended, they struggle to move on with their lives without custody orders.  Our advice is simple: get custody orders ASAP.

A typical Texas divorce decree these days contains 20 or more pages of instruction about the kids.  The custody order part of the decree contains all the information parents need to effectively co-parent.  Provisions for child support, visitation, healthcare, and more appear in divorce decrees.

If a couple never married, they still need a custody order.  Just because there is no marriage to dissolve, the co-parenting issues are just as important as in a divorce. Let’s look at some examples of typical risks:

When can the parents see the child?

Under the law both parents possess equal right to see the child. Indeed, Texas encourages both parents to play an active role in the child’s rearing. So, when do the parents see the child? What days? When does is pick-up and delivery time? What about holiday visits? These details cause many conflicts between parents, but a custody order answers these questions.

Who may possess the child?

Without a custody order, both parents share the right to possess the child.  Neither parent’s right to possess the child trumps the other parent’s rights.  So, what happens if a parent picks up the child from school unexpectedly?  What if the parent keeps the child for the whole weekend without notifying the other parent? Without a custody order, nothing prevents one parent from moving to another state with the child!

Keep in mind that despite what people think, moms don’t possess a superior right to the children over dads. Dads have equal right to their children under the law.  Custody orders address who possesses the child, and the geographical area in which the child must remain.

Child Support

Many parent couples break up, but child support doesn’t happen automatically.  A custody order addresses child support too.  Texas law says the custodial parent receives child support from the non-custodial parent. Everyone knows that.  But how much child support?  How is it paid? What about the costs of health insurance for the child?  Who pays that?

Many people fail to realize that even when parents agree on child support Texas may have a different idea. If the custodial parent applies for WIC, food stamps, TANF, CHIPs or Medicaid, the state will seek child support form the non-custodial parent.  In fact, the Office of Attorney General (OAG) will start a case without permission from either parent. The OAG will seek a custody order requiring the non-custodial parent to pay support.

Extra Risk for Non-Custodial Parent

When the OAG gets involved, their policies pose big risks.  For example, if the non-custodial parent has never paid support, the OAG seeks retroactive support.  This means they go after child support for previous years!  Even if the parents had an agreement, the OAG goes after previous years’ unpaid support.  The result is often thousands of dollars of arrears for the non-custodial parent.

Our Advice: Get Custody Orders ASAP

Many possible conflicts can arise without custody orders defining the rights, duties, and responsibilities of the parents. Additionally, any of the above issues can occur at any time during the years the child is a minor. So, while things may be coasting along now between the parents, preventing future conflict has value.

In fact, if parents are currently effectively co-parenting, this is the perfect time to get custody orders.  Why wait until things turn bad between parents to start legal action? Why wait until one parent sues the other unexpectedly for child support? Does it make sense to wait until the parents are desperate for money or angry before going to court?  No, getting orders while the parents are co-parenting and cooperating is easier, cheaper, and better.

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Our Firm

Youngblood Law, PLLC is a Fort Worth, Texas law firm dedicated to family law.  We help working people through divorce, so they can start their new happily ever after.  We also proudly offer the collaborative divorce process for our clients.   This essay is intended for educational use only and is not a replacement for competent legal counsel.  If you are facing a family law matter, we recommend obtaining competent legal counsel like Youngblood Law, PLLC.  For more information, contact us at 817-601-5345, find us on the web at www.youngblood-law.com.

Paul Youngblood #beforeyournext #lawfw #youngbloodlaw #collaborativedivorce #beingdivorceddoesntsuck

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