Modification of Custody

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A modification suit is a lawsuit seeking to modify or change your current custody order. In Texas, modifying an existing order is not as easy as it may seem. You won’t be able to modify an order merely because you no longer like it.  Texas Courts will only modify orders when there is a good reason to do so – the existing order is no longer what is best for the child or when circumstances have changed so drastically from the date that the existing order was signed, the order should be modified. Many things can be modified in a custody case, including:

  • Which party pays for what expenses of the children (and how much); 
  • The amount of child support to be paid;
  • The parent with the exclusive right to designate the residence of the child;
  • Whether a domicile (residence) restriction should be modified; 
  • Schedules for possession and access to the child;
  • Conservatorship (how decisions are made for the children); 
  • health insurance obligations; and,
  • any other matter concerning a child.

When considering  seeking (or defending against) a modification suit the party wishing to modify must prove that the modification is in the best interests of the child; and, there has been a material and substantial change in circumstances of a child or parent since the last order or decree.

What is “The Best Interest of the Child”?

Courts always consider what is in the best interest of the child and Texas Courts have broad discretion related to what this means. The best interest of the child is the guiding principle for all orders impacting children. Courts do not make decisions based on what the parent wants or needs but rather are primarily focused on what will be best for the children. A Court will consider all of the circumstances of the family when evaluating the best interest of the child and will sometimes look for more information from outside sources to make that decision such as counselors and therapists, amicus attorneys, psychosocial evaluations and child custody evaluators. 

What is a Material and Substantial Change in Circumstances? 

Courts maintain the ability to modify child custody orders until children turn 18. It frequently becomes necessary to modify such orders because circumstances change for the parents, the children, or both. Some examples of material and substantial changes have included parents moving on to different jobs, relationships and homes. As children grow they can develop different needs, including special educational and therapeutic needs. It is not uncommon for parents to find themselves unable to agree on what is best for the children based on these changes.  Even parents that have great co-parenting relationships can disagree about educational, medical and psychiatric decisions for their children and need the help of attorneys, mediators and sometimes a Court to resolve their differences. 

What Should I Consider Before Trying to Modify a Prior Order?

If your family’s circumstances have changed you may be a good candidate for a modification. The Court will consider how long your current order has been in effect, the kinds of changes you desire and what addresses the children’s needs best. Contact Renken Law Firm, PLLC about your specific circumstances to determine how these factors will impact your case. 

When Can the Child Decide who to live with?

The short answer is never.  However, the Texas Family Code allows a child to speak with a judge at the age of 12. This is just one of the variables the court takes into account during a contested custody case.  When determining custody, the court will consider all factors, not just the child’s wishes.

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Can My Child Decide Which Parent They Want to Live With

Can My Child Decide Which Parent They Want to Live With?

February 1, 2023

It is the court’s primary focus to promote the best interest of all children involved in a custody case. This means, the court will make decisions they believe allow the child to develop safely even if they go against the child’s wishes. However, a child’s preference of home is one of the factors they will take into consideration when making their choice. The Significance of “The Best Interest of the Child” The previous section made reference to the phrase “the best interests of the child”. Texas law specifically states that the best interest of the child must be the court’s primary consideration in determining issues of conservatorship and possession of and access to the child. To assist judges in making that determination, the Texas Supreme Court provided a list of factors for judges to consider. These include: the child’s desires the child’s immediate and future physical and emotional needs any immediate and future physical and emotional danger to the child the parental abilities of each parent the programs available to assist parents who want to promote the best interests of their child the plans each parent has for the child the stability of the home or proposed home any actions or failures to act that may indicate that the parents don’t have a proper parent-child relationship, and any excuse the parents may have for those actions and failures to act. The fact that judges interview children doesn’t mean they have to adopt the children’s wishes as the basis of a custody decision. Will the Court Consider a Child’s Preferences? Yes, if the circumstances warrant it. Notice that the first factor in the “best interests” list above is “the child’s desires” .The Texas statutes provide some guidance as to how a judge should approach this. Texas Family Code – Chapter 153, …

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How Can I Revise My Custody Agreement

How Can I Revise My Custody Agreement?

October 24, 2022

Are you looking for answers for how you can revise your custody agreement? Working with an experienced family law attorney can provide you with solutions to this problem to help promote the best interest of your child or children. At Renken Law Firm we provide legal advice on a wide range of family court matters including custody of a child, child custody modification process, visitation schedule, child support payment, and more. Call us today to schedule a consultation for modifying your child custody agreement. Who can file a modification case? Either parent can file a modification case. If you are not the child’s parent, you can file a modification case if: You are listed as a party in the current order, You have had actual care, control and possession of the child for at least 6 months ending not more than 90 days before the date you file the modification case with the court and you are not a foster parent. You have lived with the child and the child’s parent, guardian or conservator for at least 6 months ending not more than 90 days before the date you file the modification case, and the child’s parent, guardian or conservator has died. You are the child’s grandparent, great-grandparent, sister, brother, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew and: Both parents are dead, Both parents, the surviving parent or managing conservator agree, The child’s present circumstances will significantly harm the child’s physical health or emotional development. The Texas Attorney General Child Support Division can also file a modification case. Where do I file a modification case? You must file a modification case in the Texas county where the current order was made. If the child has lived in another Texas county for the last 6 months, you must still file the modification case …

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Tips For Handling Child During The Holidays

Tips For Handling Child During The Holidays

December 18, 2019

The holidays are a welcomed break from our usual schedule. This time of the year gives us a reason to spend more time with family and can be a time full of excitement and joy. Unfortunately, just as they can be a time that brings great excitement and joy- they also have the potential to be stressful. For many people, especially those with shared custody of their children, this time of the year can come with its own set of unique challenges. Make sure to remember to put the needs of your children first this season and spend a little extra time planning and preparing for the holidays. Listed below are some tips for parents to keep in mind for handling child custody during the holidays: Plan Your Schedule In Advance: While this rule is applicable at all times of the year, it is especially good for both parents to be communicative and plan their child’s schedule in advance around the holidays. There are many different ways parents can decide where their child will spend holidays, some of the most common options for parents sharing custody are: Alternating Custody Annually: Meaning if you have your child for Christmas this year, your partner will get custody of the child next Christmas. Some parents also find trading holidays to be the best solution for their families. Meaning, on Thanksgiving the child would be with parent 1 and on Christmas the child would be with parent 2. Split The Holiday: For some families, especially those where both parents live in close proximity to each other, splitting the holiday period between two places may be the best solution. If both parents can agree to a schedule that allows this, and the child is not being strained, this can be a good solution. Spend The …

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Divorce can be an emotionally and financially taxing process, but mediation can offer a more amicable and cost-effective alternative to courtroom battles. In this blog post, we’ll explore the critical do’s and don’ts of divorce mediation. We’ll also introduce you to experienced divorce mediator and attorney, Dawn Renken, of The Renken Law Firm in Houston, who can help couples navigate this process and make thorough and informed choices when drafting a divorce agreement. Divorce is never easy, but divorce mediation can make the process smoother and more manageable. Unlike traditional divorce proceedings, which often involve lengthy courtroom battles, mediation allows couples to work together with a neutral third party to resolve their differences and create a mutually acceptable divorce agreement. When done right, mediation can save time, money, and emotional distress. However, divorce mediation isn’t a walk in the park. It requires open communication, patience, and a willingness to compromise. To help you navigate this process successfully, here are 10 things you should never say or do during divorce mediation: 1. Refusing to Communicate Effective communication is the cornerstone of any successful mediation. Refusing to talk or listen can hinder progress and lead to a more protracted and contentious divorce. It’s essential to be open and honest about your concerns, needs, and preferences during mediation. Dawn Renken, an experienced divorce mediator, is skilled in facilitating constructive communication between divorcing couples. She can help create an environment where both parties feel heard and understood. 2. Letting Emotions Take Over Divorce is an emotionally charged process, but it’s crucial not to let your emotions dictate your actions during mediation. Outbursts of anger or resentment can escalate conflicts and hinder resolution. Instead, try to remain calm and composed. Dawn Renken specializes in guiding clients through the emotional challenges of divorce, helping them focus on their long-term interests rather than short-term emotions. 3. Failing to Prepare Preparation is key to a successful mediation. Failing to gather and organize your financial documents, legal papers, and other relevant information can lead to delays and misunderstandings. Dawn Renken can help you prepare for mediation by ensuring you have all the necessary documentation and information at your fingertips. 4. Being Inflexible Mediation involves compromise, and being too inflexible can hinder progress. While it’s crucial to protect your interests, it’s also essential to understand that some give and take will be necessary to reach an agreement. Dawn Renken has extensive experience in helping clients find middle ground and make compromises that are fair and reasonable. 5. Bringing Up the Past Dragging up past mistakes, hurts, or grievances during mediation is counterproductive. It can create tension and prevent a positive resolution. Dawn Renken can help keep the focus on the present and the future, guiding couples toward constructive discussions that lead to productive solutions. 6. Playing the Blame Game Blaming your spouse for the divorce or trying to make them feel guilty won’t help during mediation. In fact, it’s more likely to create animosity and impede the process. Dawn Renken can act as a neutral mediator, keeping discussions on track and preventing blame from becoming a roadblock to resolution. 7. Disregarding Your Children’s Well-Being If you have children, their well-being should be a top priority during divorce mediation. Failing to consider their needs, feelings, and interests can lead to contentious custody battles and long-term emotional repercussions. Dawn Renken is well-versed in helping divorcing parents create a custody and visitation plan that prioritizes their children’s needs. 8. Making Unrealistic Demands Mediation is about finding realistic and mutually beneficial solutions. Making extravagant or unrealistic demands can lead to an impasse. Dawn Renken can provide insight into what is legally and practically achievable, ensuring that both parties understand the boundaries and possibilities of their divorce agreement. 9. Hiding Assets Concealing assets during mediation is not only unethical but also illegal. It can result in severe legal consequences and damage your credibility in the eyes of the mediator and the court. Dawn Renken can help ensure full financial transparency during mediation, preventing disputes over hidden assets.

The Renken Law Firm has worked hard to earn a reputation for efficiently practicing diligent and focused legal services. During the course of our representation, you can expect expert legal advice in the areas of divorce, separation planning, custody disputes, child support cases, grandparents rights, prenuptial agreements, attorney general cases and enforcement actions. Prenuptial agreements, commonly referred to as prenups, are contractual agreements made between two individuals prior to their marriage. They establish the framework for how assets, debts, and other financial matters will be handled should the marriage end in divorce or due to the death of one spouse. Prenuptial agreements provide a level of financial security and peace of mind to both parties by outlining their rights and responsibilities. When considering a prenup, it’s essential to work with a knowledgeable Prenup Attorney in Houston, like the experts at The Renken Law Firm, to ensure that your agreement is comprehensive and tailored to your unique needs. The Importance of a Prenuptial Agreement Prenuptial agreements are not only for the wealthy or those anticipating divorce. They can be invaluable tools for protecting individual assets, managing financial expectations, and ensuring a fair resolution should the marriage end. Here’s a breakdown of what is typically included in a prenuptial agreement: 1. Property Division One of the primary purposes of a prenup is to specify how assets and debts will be divided in the event of a divorce. This includes real estate, personal property, bank accounts, and investments. The agreement can outline whether certain assets will remain separate property, and which will be considered marital property, subject to division. By clearly defining these terms, you can protect your financial interests and avoid potential disputes in the future. 2. Spousal Support Spousal support, also known as alimony, can be a contentious issue during divorce proceedings. A prenuptial agreement can specify the amount, duration, and conditions under which spousal support will be paid. This allows both parties to have a clear understanding of their financial responsibilities, reducing the risk of prolonged legal battles. 3. Division of Debts Debts incurred during a marriage can be a significant source of concern if the relationship ends. Your prenup can outline how debts will be divided, whether they are considered marital or separate, and who will be responsible for paying them. 4. Inheritance and Estate Planning A prenuptial agreement can address how inheritance and estate planning matters will be handled. It can specify whether certain assets are to be kept separate and secure the interests of children from previous relationships. 5. Business Interests If you own a business or have a stake in a company, a prenup can help protect your business interests. It can outline how the business will be managed and whether your spouse will have any ownership rights in the event of divorce. 6. Financial Responsibilities Your prenuptial agreement can include provisions detailing each spouse’s financial responsibilities during the marriage. This may cover how household expenses will be shared, savings and investment strategies, and other financial matters that will affect your day-to-day life.

Divorce is an emotionally charged, life-altering event. When a marriage reaches a point where it can no longer be sustained, the process of legally ending it can be intricate and emotionally draining. While Texas law provides for various divorce options, understanding the different types of divorce is crucial for making informed decisions. In this article, we will explore the various divorce options available in Texas, from uncontested to contested, mediation, and more. Additionally, we will highlight the invaluable role of an experienced divorce attorney like Dawn Renken from the Renken Law Firm in Houston, emphasizing how they can help make the process smoother and ensure you don’t overlook important details. 1. Uncontested Divorce An uncontested divorce is often the most straightforward option for couples who have reached an agreement on all significant aspects of their separation, such as child custody, property division, and alimony. This type of divorce is generally less time-consuming and costly than other alternatives, as it minimizes the need for court appearances and lengthy legal battles. An experienced divorce attorney like Dawn Renken can guide you through the process, ensuring all legal requirements are met. Their role is to make sure that the agreement is comprehensive and that no crucial details are overlooked, thus preventing future disputes or complications. 2. Contested Divorce Contrary to uncontested divorce, a contested divorce occurs when spouses cannot come to an agreement on one or more critical issues. These disputes often lead to court proceedings and can be lengthy and emotionally taxing. In a contested divorce, a skilled attorney becomes crucial in protecting your rights, ensuring a fair outcome, and representing your interests in court. Dawn Renken’s experience in contested divorces allows her to navigate the intricacies of Texas divorce law effectively. Her insight into the legal system can prove invaluable in resolving complex disputes and advocating for your rights. 3. Collaborative Divorce Collaborative divorce is an alternative to traditional courtroom battles. In this process, both parties work together with their attorneys to reach a mutually beneficial settlement. This approach can save time and money while preserving relationships and reducing emotional stress, especially when children are involved. An experienced attorney like Dawn Renken can help you through this process by providing legal advice and ensuring that all legal requirements are met. Their guidance can lead to a more amicable resolution, which is especially important when co-parenting in the future. 4. Mediated Divorce Mediation is another non-adversarial option for couples who wish to avoid the courtroom. In a mediated divorce, a neutral third party, often a certified mediator, helps couples negotiate and reach an agreement. This approach encourages open communication and collaboration while addressing concerns and needs of both parties. Having a divorce attorney like Dawn Renken on your side during mediation can be advantageous. Her legal expertise ensures that your rights are protected and that any agreements made align with Texas divorce laws. Additionally, her presence can provide guidance and reassurance during a potentially challenging process. 5. Default Divorce In some cases, one spouse may not participate in the divorce process or may be unreachable. In such instances, Texas law allows for a default divorce. This process typically moves forward with minimal involvement from the absent spouse, making it necessary to ensure all legal steps are correctly followed. An experienced attorney like Dawn Renken can help you navigate a default divorce to ensure that all legal requirements are met, minimizing the risk of complications down the road. Her guidance can expedite the process and provide you with the resolution you seek, even in the absence of cooperation from your spouse. 6. No-Fault Divorce Texas allows for “no-fault” divorces, which means that neither party has to prove wrongdoing or assign blame for the marriage’s dissolution. Instead, one or both parties can simply state that the marriage has become insupportable due to discord or conflict of personalities. While a no-fault divorce may seem straightforward, an experienced attorney can help ensure that this process is executed correctly and that the necessary legal documents are filed. Dawn Renken’s expertise can prevent any issues that might arise from improperly handling the paperwork. 7. Fault Divorce Although Texas recognizes no-fault divorces, some situations may warrant pursuing a fault divorce. Grounds for fault divorce in Texas can include adultery, cruelty, abandonment, or a felony conviction. This type of divorce typically requires the gathering of evidence to support the allegations of fault. Dawn Renken’s experience as a divorce attorney can be invaluable in building a strong case for a fault divorce. Her knowledge of the legal requirements and procedures ensures that your claims are well-substantiated and your interests are protected. 8. Annulment An annulment is different from a divorce, as it legally declares a marriage void or null from the beginning. Grounds for annulment in Texas include bigamy, impotence, fraud, or underage marriage. An annulment can be a complex process, and having an experienced attorney is crucial to present a convincing case before the court. Dawn Renken’s experience and legal acumen can be instrumental in successfully pursuing an annulment in Texas. Her expertise in the intricacies of the legal system can guide you through the process and ensure your interests are protected.

What Is Divorce Mediation? For couples that have come to the decision together to divorce, mediation provides an alternative method than traditional courtroom divorces. Mediation involves a neutral third party: the mediator. The mediator works to help both spouses work through divorce issues and communicate while trying to make decisions that impact their futures. Divorce mediation has become increasingly more popular because it is private, affordable, and allows both parties to have more control over the final outcome of their divorce agreement. Divorce mediation is a great option for divorcing couples where both parties are willing to put their emotions aside and work together to amicably end the marriage. Family law attorney, Dawn Renken is a licensed mediator who can provide helpful legal advice throughout your divorce case. This includes resolving disputes, creating a child custody schedule, settling on child support payments, property divisions, and much more. Why Choose to Mediate Your Divorce? Although judges often order divorcing couples to participate in mediation before going to trial, you have the option of mediating on your own—either before you file for divorce or at any time after. Mediating your divorce has a lot of advantages over litigating it (fighting it out in court). ost. Mediation is much less expensive than a trial. Settling the case. Most mediations end in settlement of all of the issues in the divorce. Confidentiality. Mediation is confidential, with no public record of what goes on in your sessions. Freedom. Mediation allows you to arrive at a resolution based on your own ideas of what is fair in your situation, rather than having a solution imposed upon you based on rigid and impersonal legal principles. Advice still available. You can go to mediation and still choose to have a lawyer give you legal advice. Control. You and your spouse—not the court—control the process. Communication. The mediation process encourages communication between you and your spouse, helping you avoid future conflicts. Successful mediation makes the rest of your divorce easier: Because you’ve done all the hard work of hammering out the details in the mediation, you can file an “uncontested” divorce. Uncontested divorces are usually less expensive and faster than litigated divorces (divorces where the couple battles in court). With an uncontested divorce, you’ll save money on attorneys’ fees and the costs of going to trial. Also, many courts fast-track uncontested cases because everything has been worked out in advance, meaning that a judge will be able to finalize your divorce faster than if you’d gone to trial. There are many reasons that make divorce mediation attractive to couples but it is not for everyone. In order to have a successfully mediated divorce, both parties must be willing to work together and compromise in a civil exchange to come to an agreement. Reaching an amicable divorce can be difficult in relationships where spouses do not share similar goals or ideas about property division, child custody, or other important aspects of their divorce. Additionally, in situations where emotions are high and discussions are strained, mediation may not be the most efficient manner to reach a divorce agreement. There are other options such as collaborative divorce, arbitration, and of course litigation for couples that mediation does not work for. Contact us today to get the answers you are looking for about divorce in Houston, TX and surrounding areas. Experienced Family Law Attorney in Houston, TX Our team proudly serves the Greater Houston area. All marriages are different, making each divorce equally unique with its own set of needs that must be addressed. Our team is dedicated to helping you and your family move forward without legal matters complicating your life. Contact our law office to explore your options for traditional marriage divorce and common law divorce, and find out how we can help you resolve any legal problems you are currently facing.

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