Family Law - Divorce, Child Custody Disputes, Attorney General Enforcement Actions, Adoption


Family Law covers a broad spectrum of legal issues ranging from prenuptial agreements to resolving complex property settlement and child custody disputes stemming from divorce.



Can my child's grandparent(s) seek access to or possession of my child?

Answer:  It is complicated.

A grandparent must have "standing" to bring a suit.  "Standing" means the right to file a lawsuit to ask the court for possession or access.  There are many different ways to obtain standing.  Usually, standing for a grandparent arises because the grandparent has had actual care, control, and possession of the child for at least six months ending not more than 90 days preceding the date of the filing of the lawsuit.  In addition to standing, the grandparent must prove that the child's present circumstances would significantly impair the child's physical health or emotional development; or both parents, the surviving parent, or the managing conservator or custodian consent to the lawsuit.  Texas Family Code Section 156.002 defines those persons who have standing to bring a modification action.

The short answer is:  Grandma does not get to see the grandkids simply because she is the grandma.  Call me to further discuss your situation if you are a grandparent, or you have a grandparent of a child seeking access to, and/or possession of the child.

Child Support and The Tax Return

The court calculates net resources for the purpose of determining child support. TEX. FAM. CODE ANN.  § 154.062 (Vernon 2009).  The most common place for identifying the obligor's (person paying child support) employment income is from a tax return - Form 1040, Line 7, which reports the obligor's wages, salaries, tips, etc.  The amount reported in Line 7 is the gross amount of income, often reported directly from the obligor's W-2.  The Obligee (the person receiving child support payments) should not rely solely on Line 7 as the conclusive proof of gross resources.  Line 7 will not include "income" such as deferred compensation - i.e. 401k contributions.  An obligor's actual income for purposes of determining net resources is often times buried in the schedules to the tax return.  It might take some digging and investigation to fully understand (or uncover) where income for purposes of determining net resources is found in a complicated tax return.  At the minimum, in a divorce or modification proceeding, the Obligor's complete tax returns should be reviewed.  Contact my office if you have questions about whether or not you meet the requirements set out below for a child support modification.

Your child support order may be modified if:

  1. It has been three or more years since the order was established or last modified and the monthly amount of the child support ordered differs by either 20 percent or $100 from the amount that would be awarded according to child support guidelines; or
  2. A material and substantial change in circumstances has occurred since the child support order was last set.             

TEX. FAM. CODE ANN. §156.401 (Vernon 2009).

Note:  The amount of child support you are ordered to pay can only be changed by obtaining a new court order.  Informal agreements between parents do not change the child support court ordered amount.

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