The ABCs of Back to School for Divorced or Divorcing Parents

School bells will soon be ringing in Texas leading to anticipation for students and parents. For divorced or divorcing parents, the Texas Family Code references school repeatedly in regard to both parenting rights and parenting time.

The Texas standard possession order references weekends, holidays, and pick up and return times for possession in terms of when school dismisses or resumes. The family code also provides that parents at all times have the right to be informed and to confer with the other parent regarding the children’s educational decisions, to consult with school officials, to attend school activities, and to be named as an emergency contact for their children.

With that in mind, here are some ABCs for back to school:

Advance Planning: Access the school calendar online and enter on your own calendar the dates and times of school holidays, early dismissal days, etc. This will help avoid confusion and stress on both the parent and the children in regard to pick up and return for parenting time.

Be Involved: As discussed above, the Texas Family Code ensures that parents can be involved in their children’s education, but it is up to the parent to do so. Most school districts now have online portals for accessing information regarding the children’s grades and activities. Some include the opportunity for online communication with the teacher. In addition, there are other opportunities to be involved, such as Meet the Teacher Day, Parent-Teacher conferences, Donuts with Dad, PTA/PTO, etc.

Cooperation: Even with all the planning in the world, expect the unexpected. For example, a child may get sick and need to be picked up from school—and a parent may have to reach out to the other parent to pick up the child. Communication and cooperation between the parents is essential to the shared goal of giving their children the best educational experience possible.

Here’s to a happy, healthy, and successful 2016-2017 school year!

Texas Supreme Court holds payments outside the child-support registry may be considered in determining child-support arrearage amount

Child Support Hearing DocThe Supreme Court addressed a matter of vital concern for many parents in the state of Texas—whether payments other than to a child-support registry will count toward discharging a court-ordered child-support obligation. The Court held that on the facts of this case, in a child-support enforcement proceeding, payments made directly to a child’s school, rather than to the court-ordered registry, will count in the determination of arrearages. This critical family law issue yielded four separate opinions—the majority, a concurrence, and two dissents. What follows will focus on the key takeaways from the majority ruling. But there will be much discussion of all the opinions among the family law bar.

Ochsner v. Ochsner
Supreme Court of Texas, No. 14-0638 (June 24, 2016)
Justice Willett (Opinion): Justice Guzman (Concurring); Justice Johnson (Dissent); Justice Boyd (Dissent)

Read more…

A new addition to the Carrington Coleman family

Family Law at Carrington Coleman—no, your eyes are not playing tricks on you! In fact, I am wrapping up my first year as part of the family wealth group at the firm. Why family law? Because at one time or other most of us will be impacted by a family law matter—either directly as our own matter or that of a family member or close friend. Being attuned to the needs of its clients, Carrington Coleman recognizes the value of having the resources within the firm to address family law issues.

I am honored to be part of the Carrington Coleman team and to be entrusted with the representation of the firm’s clients in the most personal of areas that impact them literally where they live—issues such as where and how they and their children will move forward after life changing events. With twenty-five years as a family law specialist certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, I have dedicated myself to advocating for clients who find themselves at a crossroads in their lives. For more detail on my family law experience, please see my firm profile.

In my decades of family law practice, I have learned that an understanding of the fundamentals of the law is only the first building block in the effective representation of family law clients. That foundation must be built upon with the additional skill set of enhanced communication skills—in both talking with and perhaps even more importantly, listening to clients. In addition, I bring insight as to how the history, nuances, and dynamics of the relationship between the parties can be an integral part of the case. And of course, common sense and problem solving skills must always be included in the mix. I never forget that just as no two families are alike; no two family law matters are alike.

So, with the first year behind us, it was time to roll out the Carrington Coleman family law blog—Home Court. Please stay tuned –in future blogs, I will discuss family law in Texas, the facts not the myths, from established principles going back to the Texas Constitution to the latest court decisions and new legislation. I will also include “ripped from the headlines” breaking news in family law. Family law is one of the fastest changing areas in the law and I promise to keep you up to date with those changes and also to look past the horizon to emerging trends.

Carrington Coleman– book smart, street smart, business smart—and now family law smart!