What Are Your Rights as a Father in a Child Custody Case?

Texas child custody laws do not state a preference for one parent over the other in child custody cases. Advocates and attorneys often point to this fact when asked about fathers’ rights in child custody cases. However, as a practical matter, it can be challenging for fathers to exert their rights to equal parenting time, and even more difficult for a father to prove that he, not the mother, is the better custodial parent. These are not the only legal issues that fathers face during and after divorce.

Other common areas where fathers’ rights are challenged include:

  • Child support orders that do not accurately reflect the father’s current income (learn more about child support at the Child Support Division of the Texas Office of the Attorney General
  • The mother’s refusal to comply with a visitation or parenting time order
  • Parental alienation syndrome, where the child’s mother actively works to turn the child against his or her father
  • The mother’s failure to report changes in her own circumstances that would lower the father’s monthly child support obligation (click this link to read more about Texas child support)
  • False accusations by the mother of spousal abuse or child abuse
  • The children are being placed in harm’s way while in the mother’s custody, and the father wants to change the custody order

If you are a father worried about protecting your rights with regard to your children, it is important to seek qualified legal help. Texas family laws can be used to support your case and secure your right to parenting time with your children, but the sooner you hire an advocate to argue on your behalf, the better.

Contact Our Office

At The Law Office of Patrick O’Fiel, P.C. we have more than 10 years of practice experience. To schedule a personal and confidential meeting with an experienced Texas fathers’ rights attorney, complete our intake form or call us at 1-888-652-0370.

Writing Bad Checks: Legal Help in Kerrville, TX

Writing Bad Checks: Legal Help in Kerrville, TX

There are a lot of reasons for a check to bounce, and bounced checks have become more common since the advent of electronic check clearing. So-called “bounced checks,” also known as “rubber checks,” insufficient fund checks” or NSF checks can result in pretty serious civil and criminal penalties if you aren’t careful.

Civil penalties usually involve a requirement to pay the amount of money the check was written for, plus an additional fine. Criminal penalties for writing a bad check vary depending on the face value of the check, the number of bad checks written within a specific period of time, and whether there is evidence that the person who bounced the check did so intentionally, with “an intent to defraud.” As with other crimes, a first offender will be probably be treated more leniently than someone with multiple arrests or convictions for writing bad checks or other types of check fraud or bank fraud.

Not every person who writes a bad check needs a criminal defense attorney. However, there are some circumstances when you should seriously consider getting legal advice from an attorney with experience representing individuals who have written bad checks. Those circumstances include:

  • Writing a bad check for a large sum
  • Being prosecuted criminally for writing a bad check, rather than just receiving a civil penalty (any criminal conviction can negatively affect employment opportunities)
  • Being harassed by a debt collection company about a bad check (these companies are sometimes called check diversion companies)
  • Receiving a collection attempt on a very old bounced check
  • Being sued in civil court over a bad check (this lawsuit could show negatively affect your credit report)

For information on fair debt collection practices, check out the website of the Texas Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division.

Contact Our Office

At The Law Office of Patrick O’Fiel, P.C. we have more than 10 years of practice experience. To schedule a personal and confidential meeting with an experienced Kerrville criminal defense attorney, complete our intake form or call us at 1-888-652-0370.

The Rights of Grandparents in Divorce Matters in Texas

The Rights of Grandparents in Divorce Matters in Texas

Helpful Information from The Law Office of Patrick O’Fiel, P.C.

When marriages fall apart, it’s not just parents and children who suffer. Many grandparents have made substantial contributions to the growth and development of their children’s children, and have formed strong family ties with their grandchildren. Texas, like many states, recognizes the importance of the role of grandparents in the lives of children. This blog post identifies the ways that Texas law protects the rights of grandparents and provides them with avenues of relief in the aftermath of divorce.

In Texas, a grandparent can go into court and seek visitation of a minor grandchild, and the court will consider it, if it believes that granting visitation is in the child’s best interests. One of the following conditions must also exist for there to be a grant of visitation to a grandparent:

  1. at least one of the parent’s rights have not been terminated;
  2. the grandparent proves the remaining parent is unfit and the denial of grandparent visitation would significantly harm the child; and
  3. the grandparent is the parent of the parent and that parent
    A. has been incarcerated for 3 months;
    B. is found incompetent;
    C. is dead;
    D. does not have actual court-ordered possession.

A grandparent can also request custody of a child, which encompasses more rights than just visitation, if the grandparent can prove that both parents are unfit and that giving custody of the child to the grandparent is in the best interest of the child.

Contact Our Office

At The Law Office of Patrick O’Fiel, P.C. we have more than 10 years of practice experience. To schedule a personal and confidential meeting with an experienced Texas grandparents’ rights attorney, complete our intake form or call us at 1-888-652-0370.

Child Protective Services in the Texas Hill Country

Helpful Information from The Law Office of Patrick O’Fiel, P.C.

In the state of Texas, the Child Protective Services (CPS) division is charged with investigating and acting in response to reports of abuse and neglect of children. CPS can place children in foster care or adoptive homes, but also provides a range of services to children and families in their own homes, as well as guidance to youth in foster care who are making the transition to adulthood.

How Do You Become a Party to a CPS Investigation?

Texas state law mandates that anyone who has reason to believe that a child has been abused or neglected must report the abuse/neglect to the CPS, which must then complete an investigation. The first step in the process is typically an interview of the child. The interview must take place at a reasonable time and place, which can include a school building or facility. CPS officials must make a reasonable attempt to notify parents of such an interview within 24 hours of its occurrence. They will then discuss the allegations with you, seeking explanation of any injuries or safety concerns. They will typically conduct an assessment of the likelihood of future abuse or neglect, and may conduct a criminal background check on a parent or guardian.

Will Your Children Be Removed from Your Home?

The Child Protective Services Division rarely removes children from a home, and generally only in circumstances where they believe doing so is essential to protect children from abuse or neglect. This typically happens only when CPS officials cannot identify any reasonable measures that will ensure the safety of children in their own home.

Contact Our Office

At The Law Office of Patrick O’Fiel, P.C., we have more than 10 years of practice experience in representing parents in CPS cases. To schedule a personal and confidential meeting with an experienced Hill Country child protective services attorney, e-mail us or call us at 1-888-652-0370.

Changing a Custody Order in Texas

Helpful Information from The Law Office of Patrick O’Fiel, P.C.

It happens pretty often. You finalize a divorce and put a custody order in place that works for you and your children, then life gets in the way. You get offered a promotion at work, but must move or take a new shift to accept the promotion. Your ex-spouse decides that it will be beneficial for your children to live near other family members. Your children’s needs change as they grow older. You don’t have to live with the same custody order until your children become adults, but there are things you need to know and be aware of when seeking post-divorce modification of a child custody order.

The first, and perhaps most important thing to remember is that the Texas courts will always give priority to the best interests of the minor children when issuing or modifying a custody decree. The accepted public policy in the Texas courts is that custody arrangements should be built to assure that minor children have frequent and continuing access to parents who have demonstrated that they will:

  • act in the child’s best interests
  • provide a stable environment when they have physical custody of the child
  • willingly share the rights and duties of raising the child with an ex-spouse

When you request modification of an existing custody arrangement, the court’s initial assessment will look at the degree to which the change will disrupt the child’s current lifestyle and lead to instability.

When assessing the parties’ qualifications to serve effectively as parents, the court must do so without regard to the gender or marital status of the parties. The old “tender years” doctrine, which held that the mother had a greater ability to nurture, has not been law or policy in Texas for decades.

Contact Our Office

At The Law Office of Patrick O’Fiel, P.C., we have more than 10 years of practice experience. To schedule a personal and confidential meeting with an experienced Texas custody modification attorney, complete our intake form and e-mail it to us or call us at 1-888-652-0370.

Understanding Child Support in Texas

Helpful Information from The Law Office of Patrick O’Fiel, P.C. in Kerrville, Texas

Whether you have been granted custody of your children or not, it is important that you understand how child support is determined, and what factors the court will consider when granting child support. This blog post addresses how child support is calculated and identifies the criteria used by the Texas courts to establish a right to child support.

In Texas, as in many states, either party may be ordered to pay child support. In some rare instances, both parties may be ordered to pay support.

To determine whether child support should be paid and the amount of child support, the courts will examine a wide range of issues, including:

  • the age and needs of the children
  • the ability of both parents to contribute to the support of the child
  • the financial resources each parent has available to support the child
  • who has physical custody and how much access each parent has to the child
  • whether there are necessary child care expenses
  • whether the child needs health insurance coverage and who is paying for it
  • any special educational needs the child may have, including college expenses
  • whether the non-custodial parent has other children for whom child support is paid
  • any unique or other special needs of the child

To determine the amount of child support to be paid by a non-custodial parent, the court first conducts a net income calculation. The court will take into account all sources of income, including wages, commissions, overtime, bonuses, disability payments, investment or royalty income, or even retirement income, as well as gifts or even alimony from a prior marriage. The court will then deduct income and Social Security taxes, as well as union dues and health insurance premium or medical expenses for the children.

Once net income has been established, the amount of support paid is determined by multiplying by a specific rate, based on the number of children for who support is paid, according to the following schedule:

  • One child-20%
  • Two children-25%
  • Three children-30%
  • Four children-35%
  • Five or more children-40%

Contact Our Office

At The Law Office of Patrick O’Fiel, P.C., we have more than 10 years of practice experience. To schedule a personal and confidential meeting with an experienced Kerrville child support attorney, e-mail us or call us at 1-888-652-0370.