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San Antonio Family Law Blog

Determining jurisdiction in child custody cases

For many in San Antonio, the first thing that they want to do after separating from their spouses is relocate. Putting distance between themselves and their exes may be seen as way of trying to move on in their lives. However, if a couple has children together, relocating after a divorce can complicate matters when determining child custody. As of 2013, the U.S. Census estimates that there are currently over 22 million children affected by custodial agreements. It is likely safe to assume that in at least some of those cases, the issue of custody agreement jurisdiction has come up.

Say that one parent chooses to move to another state immediately following a separation. According to Section 152.201 of the Texas Family Code, jurisdiction of the child custody case would still remain with the state’s courts if the children were still living in Texas at the time the proceedings commenced. Even if that parent takes the kids with him or her, jurisdiction would remain with Texas if custody proceedings were commenced within six months of the move (one parent must still be living in the state in this scenario).

Change in circumstances may justify child support modification

In Texas, the law permits modifications to child support obligations where circumstances have changed or the support guidelines would indicate overpayment, according to the official website of The Attorney General of Texas, Ken Paxton. Modification may be justified where the change in circumstances is “material and substantial” or where the amount provided under the general child support guidelines, as provided by law, differs from the amount a parent is presently required to pay under an earlier court order. Since modifications to child support are based on a parent’s current income, the total amount that must be paid can either go up or down.

There are two avenues by which a parent can seek to have a child support obligation modified; however, no matter the option selected, only a new court order may change the amount of child support that must be paid.

Man ordered to pay ex-wife for lost business assets

When married couples who have been in business together in San Antonio choose to divorce, the issues of property and asset division (which can already be quite involved even in traditional cases) become that much more complex. Business assets now become marital assets, and the conduct of each party regarding their roles with their companies may be placed under a microscope. Any alleged improprieties on the part of one that adversely impact the performance of the business may end up leaving him or her liable for additional assets to be paid to his or her ex-spouse as compensation.

A Maine man is currently learning this lesson the hard way after the state’s Supreme Court dismissed his appeal of a lower court’s decision that required him to pay his ex-wife for the depreciation of their business’ assets due to his misconduct. The dispute arose over two businesses the couple shared together, one of which controlled ownership of a fishing vessel and the other operating as a commercial lobster fishing company. Records show that he used funds from the fishing boat business to award himself large year-end bonuses, and the he also restructured the operations of the lobster fishing service to retain cash without recording it as corporate income. Additional allegations leveled against him include him using business funds to buy personal vehicles and opening corporate credit lines which he subsequently drew down. In all, he was estimated to have deprived the businesses of $800,000, which he has been ordered to pay to back to his ex-wife.

What is alienation of affection?

There are many reasons why San Antonio couples see their marriages fail. Sadly, adultery is often one of them. If an extramarital affair was the main factor behind your divorce, you may certainly be justified in your anger towards your ex-spouse’s lover. In fact, you may hold firm to the belief that without his or her actions, you may still be enjoying your marital bliss. The question is whether his or her meddling in your marriage warrants a lawsuit.

There are some states that allow you to bring legal action against a third party on the grounds of “alienation of affection.” Citing this as a reason for legal actions means you believe that party’s involvement ruined your marriage. Unfortunately, according to the Texas Family Code, the state does not recognize this as a valid right of action.

Child support for children in state custody

Family courts in San Antonio typically make keeping families together the main focus of their proceedings. However, there may be situations where state officials are called in to remove children from a home in order to ensure their safety. Such action may be accompanied by either instructions issued by the court to parents detailing steps that must be taken in order for them to reclaim custody, or a termination of one’s parental rights altogether. In either case, one question remains after children are taken into state custody: who supports them?

According to information shared by the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, there were 8,736 children in FPR custody in Bexar County in 2016, comprising a large portion of the 12,028 children in FPR in the San Antonio region overall. Typically, a child will only be removed it he or she is believed to be living in an unsafe environment. Conditions contributing to such an environment may include:

  •          Exposure to illegal drug use
  •          A lack of sufficient food or medical care
  •          Physical violence between family members
  •          Allegations of sexual abuse
  •          Failure to keep firearms safely stored

What is the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act?

As a member of the military in San Antonio, you are likely well aware of the challenges that fulfilling your service obligations can present to both you and your family. One such challenge can be the potential for strain on your relationship with your significant other. If he or she allows such strain to prompt him or her to seek a divorce, your duties could make responding to such a petition in a timely matter difficult, especially if you are on active duty. Fortunately, the law does account for your service and offer you some added freedoms in such a scenario.

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act helps protect you from not being represented in any form of civil action due to your military service. According to the United States Code, the SCRA defines “military service” as:

  •               Active duty in any of the major branches of the U.S. military
  •               Working as a commissioned officer of the Public Health Service or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  •               Any time spent away from duty due to leave, sickness, wounds or any other lawful cause

Timpson woman indicted for making false claims in custody case

It is not uncommon for child custody hearings in San Antonio to become contentious. Often, the negative emotions that divorcing spouses may feel towards each other combine with the love they have for their children to create a potentially explosive mix. This may cause a parent to lash out at the other in an attempt to undermine the his or her character (along with his or her parental abilities). While some may believe such action will support their own claims for custody, the court may actually view them as antics that may sabotage a parent’s efforts. This is especially true if one goes too far in heaving accusations at another.

A Timpson mother is currently learning this the hard way after she was recently indicted by a grand jury for making fraudulent claims in hopes of improving her chances in her ongoing child custody battle. She had been making claims throughout the last year that a member of the family of her children’s father had been abusing the kids. A subsequent investigation into the accusations proved them to be baseless and untrue. The woman now faces multiple charges of child endangerment, with the district attorney prosecuting the case claiming that her actions caused a danger to her kids’ mental and emotional states.

Life insurance considerations following divorce

Those who come to see us here at The Law Office of Roland R. Esparza, P.C. as they prepare for their divorces in San Antonio often have their minds preoccupied with traditional divorce-related matters such as child support, alimony and property division. If this describes your current scenario, then your preoccupation is understandable. It is important to remember, however, to not overlook one other important aspect of your life that will most certainly be affected by your pending divorce: your life insurance. The Insurance Information Institute reports that 60 percent of all Americans are covered under some form of life insurance plan. Yet many forget to address this topic during their divorces.

You might assume that any claim your ex-spouse may have to a life insurance benefit for which you are the policy holder would automatically end with your divorce. You would be wrong. If he or she remains listed the beneficiary on your policy, he or she would be given the benefit upon your death. This is true even if you amend your will and state that your life insurance proceeds should go to someone else.

Dealing with the marital homestead

One of the first major purchases that newly married couples in San Antonio make together is a home. Sharing a residence together, however, is not always the secret ingredient to marital bliss. In fact, the Texas Department of State Health Services report that as recently as 2012, over 80,000 divorces were reported to the Texas Vital Statistics Unit. For many of those separating couples, one of the biggest issues they must deal with is what to do with their marital homestead.

The Texas Family Code states that regardless of whether a homestead is considered to be separate or community property, one spouse cannot sell or otherwise dispose of it without the permission of the other. There are, however, certain exceptions to this rule. For example, if one spouse has been declared to be legally incapacitated by the court, the other may seek to sell the marital home without his or her consent. This exception applies regardless of the homestead’s property distinction.

What if you pay too much child support?

Typically, the common complaint heard from those involved in the exchange of child support in San Antonio is that one who is obliged to pay it is not meeting that obligation. Yet what if you actually end up paying too much child support? This might seem an odd scenario given the importance that you likely place on helping to meet your kids’ needs, yet there are situations where this could reasonably happen.

According to the Texas Family Code, any of the following actions, events or milestones could prompt an end to your child support obligation:

  •          Your child dying
  •          The marriage of your child
  •          The removal of any disabilities he or she was determined to have had
  •          The formal termination of your relationship (adoption or emancipation)
  •          Him or her beginning active duty in the armed forces
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Law Office of Roland R. Esparza, P.C.
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