Safety Concerns in Texas Child Support Cases

Safety Concerns in Texas Child Support Cases

In recent times, Texas has seen a growing problem regarding the safety concerns in child support cases. This article delves into the critical issues and protective measures being implemented to ensure every child’s security and justice in the Lone Star State.

Safety Concerns in Child Support Cases: An Overview

It is not uncommon (unfortunately) to find parents like you who are concerned about the safety of your children and yourself. Families like yours will go to great lengths to ensure that they are safe from a family member or former partner who has behaved violently towards them. However, if this person is a parent to your child then you have little choice but to move forward with a child support case if you are in need of the support.

Applying for food stamps or Medicaid for your child can prompt the Office of the Attorney General to file a child support case on your behalf in your home county’s family courts. You don’t even need to initiate the case yourself.

However, remember that the Office of the Attorney General doesn’t represent your interests. Their goal is to shield Texas from unnecessary child benefit payments and to ensure your child receives basic support from both parents. While you might receive money as a result of the child support case, this isn’t the Office’s primary objective.

In a Texas child support court, the system doesn’t provide you with an attorney. You might be unfamiliar with the legal system and unsure of what to do in court. Since this isn’t a criminal case or one involving the termination of parental rights, the judge won’t assign you an attorney. The Attorney General will have a lawyer present, but remember, this lawyer represents the State of Texas, not you.

Can Visitation Exchanges Occur at a Place Other Than Your Residence?

I am writing this blog post from the perspective of the custodial parent. You are the custodial parent of your child if your child resides with you primarily and you are responsible for the day in and day out care for your child. Custodial parents have the right to receive and disburse child support payments for the benefit of their child.

Part of being the custodial parent is that your child’s non-custodial parent is responsible for the majority of the driving associated with pickups and drop-offs. In most family court orders the pickup and drop-off location will be your home. This gives things some predictability and also ensures consistency in the schedule for your child. For the most part, this is a nice thing for the custodial parent of a child. This means less time on the road and less hassle in getting from point A to point B.

However, this is not such a nice thing when you consider that if your child’s other parent is a safety threat to you or your child, you may not want him or her to be able to get near your home. If you have a significant other or are remarried this is a particularly combustible situation, to be sure. Is there any way to avoid putting yourself and your child into a situation like this?

A safe exchange spot may be agreed to or ordered by the judge. This means that a neutral, third-party location may be selected for exchanges to occur. Many folks use grocery store or restaurant parking lots as their preferred pick-up and drop-off zone. Still, others agree to have exchanges occur at police stations or substations.

I have had clients videotape all exchanges to ensure proper protocol is followed. Whether or not this will leave a mark on their child developmentally is anyone’s guess. Imagine a scenario where every time you say your parents are together they were taping the other to ensure that no funny business goes on.

Supervised Visitation as a Method to Safeguard Parents and Children

The court may order supervised visitation in your case. Facilities catering to families like yours can host these visitation sessions, where trained staff administer the supervised visits. Often, you and the other party can agree on a third party to supervise these visits. Although rare, a trusted relative of your ex-spouse could be a viable candidate to supervise visitation sessions and/or custody exchanges.

What Are Your Options as Far as Visitation Is Concerned?

Safety Concerns in Texas Child Support Cases

In Texas, the landscape of visitation schedules in child support cases is as diverse as its families. Each case is unique, with court orders reflecting this variety. A common framework is the Standard Possession Order (SPO), often adapted to individual circumstances. However, frequent visitation as per standard guidelines may not suit a child’s best interests in cases involving past violence or abuse by an ex-spouse or partner.

Coordinating visitation can pose challenges, especially when avoiding personal contact between parents is advisable due to a history of family violence or sexual abuse. In these situations, a judge must consider these factors legally when forming a visitation plan that focuses on the child’s welfare.

In cases where there’s a significant risk of violence, limiting or denying visitation could be necessary. To achieve this in court, substantial evidence of domestic violence within the previous two years is crucial. Judges must consider such evidence when deciding on primary conservatorship.

This requirement places the onus on the parent to provide convincing proof to restrict or deny visitation, with supervised visitation often being a more feasible outcome than complete denial. Yet, in extreme situations, judges may issue orders to fully deny visitation if the risk to the child is substantial.

Having a contingency plan is crucial if the court denies your request for no visitation. This includes selecting a suitable supervisor for visitation sessions and proposing safe, neutral locations for exchanges, like a public place, especially if there’s a history of violence at home. Striking a balance that considers the child’s safety and the preferences of both parents is key in these delicate situations.

What Exactly Is Supervised Visitation?

We have used the term “supervised visitation” a few times today in our blog post but I have yet to tell you exactly what it is. You can probably figure out generally speaking what supervised visitation is just by looking at the term but I want to provide you with a little more information about what exactly supervised visitation means for families in Texas.

Supervised visitation enables the other parent of your child to have visits, but a third party adult must supervise all these visits. This arrangement means you cannot serve as the supervisor, and you might not want to be in that situation in the first place. A family member, a family friend, or a supervisor at a supervision facility are all common choices for families when it comes to this subject. If you use a facility that does visitation supervision for a business, then you ought to know that these sessions are not free.

What Should You Do When You Get Your Court Date?

When facing a court date in a child support case, a well-prepared plan is crucial, especially if you’re representing yourself. Collaboration with your attorney well before the hearing is key to developing a primary strategy and a backup plan.

Your preparation should include a detailed calendar outlining the visitation schedule, including specifics of pick-ups and drop-offs. Identifying which elements of your plan are negotiable and which are not is essential. Understanding and being able to articulate your plan’s rationale is vital in case the judge inquires.

The evidence you present can range from verbal testimony to documentary proof. Text messages, emails, or voicemails that reveal violent tendencies of your child’s other parent can be particularly impactful. Written threats or aggressive communications are often compelling in court.

Additionally, consider bringing witnesses who have directly observed violent behavior or heard threats. These should be individuals with firsthand experiences, not just those who have been informed about such incidents.

Supporting your claims with photos of injuries, authenticated by your attorney, along with relevant medical records and police reports, can strengthen your case. Having multiple copies of each piece of evidence ensures you are thoroughly prepared for your court appearance.

Final Thoughts

Safety Concerns in Texas Child Support Cases

In conclusion, safety concerns in Texas child support cases require careful consideration and meticulous planning. From understanding legal options to gathering compelling evidence, each step is crucial in safeguarding the well-being of children and parents alike. Navigating these challenges with informed strategies and legal support is key to ensuring a fair and secure outcome for all involved.


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  1. Miscellaneous pieces of advice regarding your Child Protective Services investigation
  2. CPS and how The Law Office of Bryan Fagan, PLLC can help
  3. Child Custody Basics in Texas
  4. Texas Child Visitation Modification
  5. 10 Quick Tips About Parental Visitation
  6. Texas Parental Visitation – Texas Standard Possession Orders in Harris and Montgomery County, Texas – Part 1
  7. Supervised Visitation in a Texas Divorce: Can it happen to me?
  8. Texas Parental Relocation
  9. Geographic Restrictions in Child Visitation Orders in Texas
  10. 5 Things You Need to Know About Family Violence in Texas
  11. https://www.bryanfagan.com/family-law-blog/2016/december/can-i-get-child-support-while-my-texas-divorce-i/
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