Grandparents’ Rights

            What rights do grandparents have to visit with their grandchildren? To begin with, grandparents have no automatic rights.  This is because it’s presumed that the parent of the child acts in the child’s best interests when allowing or not allowing a grandparent visitation.  Of course this doesn’t mean you can’t see your grandchildren, but you must have a parent’s approval.  However, if you are at odds with a parent of your grandchild, you can seek relief from the court.    

            In Texas, a court may order reasonable possession of, or access to, a grandchild if the following conditions are met.  At the time the relief is requested, at least one biological or adoptive parent of the child has not had parental rights terminated.  Further, the grandparent must show that denial of possession of or access to the child would significantly impair the child’s physical health or emotional well-being. 

            Additionally, the grandparent is the parent of a parent of the child and the parent of the child: (a) has been incarcerated in jail or prison during the three-month period preceding the filing of the suit, (b) has been found by a court to be incompetent, (c) is dead, or (d) does not have actual or court-ordered possession of, or access to the child.   

            A big hurtle a grandparent must overcome is proving that the parent doesn’t act in the best interest of the child and that denying possession or access to the grandparent would significantly impair the child’s physical or emotional health.   Remember, it is presumed that the parent’s choice to refuse possession or access to the grandparent is in the child’s best interest.  Simply put, it’s presumed that “parents know best.”     

            Chante Prox is a family law attorney and mediator practicing in the Dallas/Fort Worth area @ www.barnesproxlaw.com or (817) 649-2700. 

            Disclaimer:  This information should not be considered as legal advice.  Decisions should be based on consultation with a licensed attorney.  This blog is for informative purposes only. 

           

           

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Texas “Spousal Support”

A sports agent once told me that one of their marketing tools to attract athletes to Texas is spousal support. I thought about it for a second knowing well the reason; the low cap on the amount the Court can award.

Spousal maintenance (its Texas Legislative name),otherwise known as spousal support or alimony, is periodic payments made after a divorce by one spouse to another to cover the other spouse’s minimal reasonable needs.     

            The Court may order spousal support if you lack sufficient property on dissolution of the marriage to support your reasonable minimal needs and one of the two scenarios apply: 

(1) your spouse was convicted of or received deferred adjudication for family violence (committed against the spouse or child within two years of filing for divorce or while the suit is pending), or

(2) the spouse seeking support:   

(a) is unable to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs because of an incapacitating physical or mental disability;

(b) has been married for ten years or longer and lacks the ability to earn sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs, or

(c) is the custodian of a child of the marriage who requires substantial care and personal supervision because of a physical or mental disability that prevents the spouse from earning sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs.     

            What is sufficient income?  A person doesn’t earn sufficient income if they can’t afford to meet their minimal reasonable needs.  Texas courts have held that a mortgage, utilities, car payments, insurance, medical expenses, and groceries can be “minimum reasonable needs.”  But the type and amount of expenses necessary will be determined on a case-by-case basis. 

            The court has a great amount of discretion in ordering the amount of spousal support.  It determines the amount and duration of payments by evaluating multiple factors.  These can include but not limited to: each spouse’s ability to provide for their minimum reasonable needs; the education and employment skills of the spouses and the time and feasibility it would take to get education; duration of the marriage; property brought to the marriage by either spouse, and marital misconduct such as adultery.

            How long will I have to pay?  The court must limit the duration of maintenance to the shortest reasonable period that allows the spouse to get back on his or her feet.  But the maximum duration of the payments is limited to:

            (1)  five years of payments if the spouses were married for less than 10 years (with showing of family violence) or at least 10 years but less than 20 years

            (2)  seven years if the spouses were married for at least 20 but no more than 30 years, and

            (3)  ten years if the spouses were married for at least 30 years.

            However, maintenance can be ordered indefinitely if the spouse’s ability to provide minimum reasonable needs is substantially or totally diminished because of  (1) a physical or mental disability, (2) duties as custodian of a young child of the marriage, or (3) another compelling impediment to earning sufficient income to provide for the spouse’s minimum reasonable needs. 

            How much will I have to pay?  The amount of spousal maintenance the Court can award is limited to no more than the lesser of $5,000 per month or 20% of the spouse’s average gross monthly income.  

A premarital agreement can address spousal support obligations; eliminate it or provide for it even when the Court is unable to award it.

Spousal support is an area of law where the court has a lot of discretion.  If you have questions about spousal support or prenups, experienced attorney Chante Prox can help.  Call Barnes Prox Law, PLLC at (817) 649-2700 for answers. 

            This article only addresses post spousal support and not temporary spousal support during a divorce proceeding

            Disclaimer:  This information should not be considered as legal advice.  Decisions should be based on consultation with a licensed attorney.  This blog is for informative purposes only.

           Chante Prox is a family law attorney and mediator practicing in the Dallas/Fort Worth area @ www.barnesproxlaw.com

50 Random Things About Me

  1. A woman of faith
  2. Mother of 1 and a half (my niece is the daughter I always wanted)
  3. I have no middle name
  4. Youngest of 4 girls; always wanted a big brother
  5. I love the color red because it’s bold and speaks courage
  6. I am divorced and open to remarriage
  7. I am loyal; sometimes to my detriment.  But when I’m done with you, I’m done!
  8. I love spinach!
  9. Favorite nonalcoholic beverage; gourmet coffee
  10. I’m a girly girl (that’s probably obvious)
  11. Drove in a sitting President’s motorcade (White House security clearance)
  12. Coretta Scott King’s escort when she visited my undergrad school in the late ’80s
  13. Recognized by Texas Senate in SR 1022 http://www.legis.state.tx.us/tlodocs/78R/billtext/html/SR01022F.htm
  14. I can be rigid and require order; my first intern asked me “are you like a neat freak”(still laughing)
  15. Conservative values
  16. Raised by both parents in a real neighborhood; my grandmother lived several houses away
  17. I use “things to do lists” regularly; I feel accomplished when things are checked off
  18. I need adventure in my life to help balance me
  19. Sometimes I procrastinate on purpose (like the rush I get when I meet the deadline)
  20. I love having faithful cheerleaders 
  21. I get up early and get sleepy early but fight it; been fighting sleep since I was a child
  22. Was 36 when entered law school after my divorce (motivation)
  23. Even-tempered, but please don’t push it!
  24. I am content at home with a great movie, music and a glass of wine 
  25. My most over used saying “who does that?” 
  26. Favorite quiet time; writing in my journal (my peace)
  27. When I decide to rebel, I’m going to get my noise pierced (lol!)
  28. I could easily quit what I’m doing and travel the world and collect stamps in my passport
  29. I am who I am because of my parents (my favorite cheerleaders), so blame them 
  30. A favorite client quote “I like you because you’re street and office”
  31. Favorite song at the moment; “Encourage yourself” by Donald Lawrence & Tri-City Singers 
  32. I have no pets but I want a brown pug
  33. Favorite cologne; DonnaKaran Cashmere Mist or anything my oldest sister buys me
  34. Favorite holiday; Christmas and the white elephant game I play with my family
  35. Activity always wanted to do and finally got around to it; running 
  36. I smile a lot even at strangers
  37. I prefer non-fiction books; a favorite reading, Condi: The Life of a Steel Magnolia
  38. Sometimes I’m indecisive because I over analyze; I tell myself  I’m just taking my time as a justification
  39. I set goals, plan and act in that order
  40. I try hard not to sleepwalk through life but it’s easy to do when you’re routine-centered.  So, I have to shake things up every now and then.
  41.  I want a chef, driver and personal shopper #bucketlist
  42. I recently started playing golf and look forward to playing a game with my father
  43. I love taking “selfies” as vain as it is
  44. My love life is in a “holding pattern”; it’s not safe to land
  45. I like being a mediator; I have no client, no opposing counsel or Judge
  46. I like online shopping but hate paying for shipping, so I mainly shop at stores with free shipping
  47. I taught bible classes in college while other students were out partying (I know now I wasn’t missing anything)
  48. Last thing I purchased in 2013; groceries
  49. My 2013; a year of clarity and restoration
  50. Motto; “Be better because I know better and have seen better”                                                                   

Chante Prox is a family law attorney and mediator practicing in the Dallas/Ft.Worth area http://www.barnesproxlaw.com