Expanded Visitation Clarified

Sometimes parents (and even attorneys) have had confusion when talking about an “expanded” standard possession order.  This option is found in Texas Family Code Section 153.317(a).

Before the change, a parent could choose to EITHER pick up the child from school on their 1/3/5 weekends OR drop the child off at school at the end of the 1/3/5 weekends.   This was also true for that mid-week Thursday night possession.

This was commonly interpreted (with no real decent basis) to include an AND.  So the misinterpretation would mean a parent could pick up from school and then, after the weekend, drop their child back off at school.

Now it’s been cleared up.  The pick up AND drop off option is specifically stated as a choice for both the weekends and for that Thursday night possession.  Now parents can decide to 1) pick up the child from school, 2) drop off the child at school, or 3) both.

List of School Districts in Texas

Sometimes you need to know a school districts holidays, either for possession reasons or you are just curious.  If you ever wanted a full list of school districts, which you can then interact with and get to the school websites, click HERE.

We do this sometimes in planning possession schedules or trying to help a client see options when it comes to visitation, especially if they choose to exercise possession once a weekend under the +100 miles provisions of the Texas Family Code.

Hope this helps.

Registration of an Out of State Child Support Order FOR ENFORCEMENT

In Texas, this process is outlined in section 159.601-608 of the Texas Family Code. The registration is needed to modify that prior child support order. Warning: this is a complex process and technical, so if you are trying to do this, seek the advice of an attorney.
Registration requires sending the Texas Court:

  1. a letter requesting the foreign order be registered and enforced;
  2. two copies, including one certified copy, of the order to be registered;
    1. (If the original order has been modified, send the original plus all orders modifying to be on the safe side)
  3. a sworn statement by the person requesting registration or a certified statement by the custodian of records showing the amount of any arrears;
  4. the name of the obligor;
  5. the obligor’s address and social security number, and any other source of income (if known);
  6. a description and location of the property of the obligor not exempt from execution; and
  7. the name of the obligee.

TEX. FAM. CODE 159.602(a)

The Texas Court should take and register the order at that point as a foreign order. Then, the registering party typically must send the notice outlined in 159.605, even though the court supposedly should send the notice. The reason is that without the notice, it can be easy to stall the process until proper notice is sent and the opportunity to contest passes.

TEX. FAM. CODE 159.602(b)

Notice means:

  1. Informing the nonregistering party that the order has been registered, the date of registration, and that it may be enforced as any other order issued by Texas;
  2. that a hearing to contest the validity or enforcement of the registered order must be requested within 20 days of the notice;
  3. that failure to timely contest the validity or enforcement results in confirmation of the order and enforcement as well as precludes later contesting it; and
  4. the amount of the arrears.

TEX. FAM. CODE 159.605


This is a brief overview. If you are planning on doing this, first, always consult with an attorney. Second, read the sections very carefully as this is just a brief overview.

Texas Standard Possession Order – March 2013

For those wondering about weekends the Non-Custodial Parent gets visitation this month (March 2013):

  • 1st Weekend – March 1 – 3
  • 3rd Weekend – March 15 – 17
  • 5th Weekend – March 29 – 31

And don’t forget Spring Break this month!  Look to your order to see who has Spring Break this year.

Click HERE for a blog post and year-long schedule.

What Would My Texas Child Support Be?

Ever wonder how much you would pay in child support in Texas?  The Texas Office of the Attorney General has on online child support calculator that gets pretty close to figuring out what your child support obligation would be in Texas.  The actual number may vary, but this will give you a good idea –


Contracts with Lawyers (2 of 3)

Post two of three deals with flat fee contracts.  These are the simplest contracts.  You pay the lawyer a set amount for a legal matter and that is it – no variance for how successful or not the case turns out.

Flat fee contracts are typically used for situations where the legal work/time/fees needed is easily determined.  Common cases would be a no-contest divorce or a criminal matter.

The problem with flat fee contracts is that most are nonrefundable, and the contract spells out the terms of the representation.  If your case evolves outside of the contract, you lose that money and the representation.  For example, you pay a flat fee for a no-contest divorce, then it becomes contested.  At that point, your lawyer is free to step out because the contract states his representation is only for a no-contest divorce, which no longer applies.  Should a situation like that arise, most lawyers are happy to renegotiate the contract, but do not expect another flat fee!

As always, read the contract closely.  Each contract can vary so pay close attention to the terms.  If you have a question, ask!  Your lawyer would rather have you understand the contract and the process up front so that both of you know what to expect.

Retainer Contracts: Contracts with Lawyers (1 of 3)

Contingency Fee Contracts: Contracts with Lawyers (3 of 3)

How to Change Contractual Alimony

First, make sure the clause you are looking to change is contractual alimony and not spousal support. You can get an idea by looking at my post here.

If it is contractual, read on!

Changing contractual alimony in Texas is not easy. It follows contract law, so typically you need the written agreement of both parties.  You need to look carefully at the terms and conditions of the payments first, and see if there is a built in way to modify or terminate the payments.  If not or the terms do not apply, you are going to need to talk to the ex-spouse.

Why would an ex-spouse agree to change the spousal payments?  Sometimes out of the goodness of their hearts… or perhaps you offer them something of value – some ideas:

  1. More money over a longer period of time so that the payments are smaller;
  2. Less money but in a lump sum payment;
  3. Other property can be used as well; or
  4. An offer to pay off debts incurred jointly or by the other party during the marriage.

We have also seen other consideration given, like the addition/modification of a geographic residency requirement or exchange points.  In the end, the deal is up to the parties, with very few exceptions.

Another method would be to attack it as you would a contract.  This is much more involved, and more difficult.

If you have a question or want advise about a particular situation, email or call – we can help!

Discovery Pleadings – An Overview

Too often, the first time someone learns about a discovery tool is when they have to respond.  I thought I would list some of the more common tools and a brief explanation.  This is by no means exhaustive, but I hope it helps!

Requests for Disclosures
This is the one discovery request that cannot be objected to and provides basic information like potential witnesses, any experts, general legal theories and factual basis for them.  Texas Rule of Civil Procedure (TRCP) 194.

Requests for Admissions
These are a lists of questions that can only be answered as admitted, denied, or in limited circumstances, explaining the reason that the responding party cannot admit or deny the question. Some attorneys use these to set the evidentiary foundations of documents or see what facts are really at issue. TRCP 198.

Requests for Production and Inspection
This pleading is used to get documents, videos, recordings or other pieces of tangible evidence.  TRCP 196.

Written Interrogatories
These are a very limited number of questions a party must respond to. Be careful with these. One you reach the limit (25 normally) the other party does not have to answer any more.  TRCP 197.

Formal question and answer sessions where your attorney asks questions of the other party or the other party’s attorney asks questions of you. Very useful, but expensive, and you get a limited number of hours.  Most attorneys like other discovery to be done first so they can ask questions to fill in the gaps and solidify their side of the case.  TRCP 199.

Standard Possession Order for 2013

Since we started a new year, I thought the most useful thing to do was post a link to a standard visitation calendar for 2013.

Click OAG’s 2013 SPO Calendar

Of course, the above calendar won’t take into account all of the summer visitation or school holidays – you will have to spend some time doing that.  Here is a good website to help.

Last, click here for a more in-depth discussion of the Texas Standard Possession Order.

What does “invasive procedure” mean?

One of the rights parents can have in Texas is the right to consent to ‘invasive medical procedures.’  But what is an invasive medical procedure?  When a parent has to consult with another parent before consenting, or doesn’t have the right to consent to an invasive medical procedure, they will want to know the definition of ‘invasive.’

Some things are clearly invasive, such as an appendectomy, where the appendix is removed.  The doctors are cutting into the abdomen to remove a part of the body.  But what about braces?  In the case here, the Court of Appeals out of Fort Worth determined that since ‘invasive procedure’ is not defined in the Texas Family Code, it was appropriate to use the Texas Health and Safety Code, Section 85.202(3).

That provision defines “invasive procedure” as a “surgical entry into tissues, cavities, or organs; or repair of major traumatic injuries associated with . . . the manipulation, cutting, or removal of any oral or perioral tissues, including tooth structure, during which bleeding occurs or the potential for bleeding exists.”