At Brown and Sullivan, PLLC, we take pride in a fully prepared client and assure you that you will be informed of and prepared for all court developments, including settlement opportunities, as we take your matter through the litigation process. We will inform you of your rights, advise you as to how to proceed with your legal issues and will ascertain the best course to accomplish your objectives. It is imperative that you retain a competent and experienced attorney early to ensure the protection of your interests. At Brown and Sullivan, PLLC, we will get you through this.
A premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties to be enforceable. There are content requirements that also must be adhered to for the premarital agreement to be valid. Don’t risk your future and your property.
A premarital agreement is not enforceable if the party against whom enforcement is requested proves that:
- the party did not sign the agreement voluntarily; or the agreement was unconscionable when signed and, before signing the agreement, that party: was not provided a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party; did not voluntarily and expressly waive, in writing, any right to disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party beyond the disclosure provided; and did not have, or reasonably could not have had, adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other party.
Call 281-372-6462 to talk an attorney at Brown & Sullivan PLLC to protect yourself.
No two families are the same, which is why one-size-fits-all family law services can leave clients disappointed and discouraged. Family law attorneys Brown & Sulivan PLLC take a different approach.
Brown & Sullivan PLLC is a boutique law firm based in Pearland, Texas, that provides steadfast representation and straightforward legal advice tailored to the unique needs of each client and his or her family. This client-centered approach enables the firm to better help clients secure workable resolutions that serve their best interests.
Brown & Sullivan PLLC has been working with husbands, wives, mothers, fathers involved in divorces.
Whether you are looking for a counselor who can protect your rights while you work toward an agreement or need a zealous advocate for trial, Brown & Sullivan PLLC has the knowledge, skill and experience to help you achieve your goals.
At Brown and Sullivan PLLC, clients come first — and many are dreading the effects that litigation could have on their finances, their emotions and their children. That is why, in addition to being an accomplished courtroom advocate, Claudia Sullivan also serves as a certified family mediator.
In Texas, child custody is called “conservatorship.” Instead of referring to a parent as a “custodian,” Texas courts name a child’s custodian as a “conservator.” Conservatorship is the word used to describe the legal rights and responsibilities of a parent.
Unless both parents can agree on a custody plan, a family law judge will decide the terms of a conservatorship. You will need an attorney to guide you through this stressful process to help you receive the best results possible.
The Judge’s most important concern in deciding on a conservatorship plan is what is in best interest of the child.
There are two types of conservatorship in Texas:
Joint managing conservatorship (JMC)
Sole managing conservatorship (SMC)
What Rights Are Included in a Conservatorship?
Generally, conservatorship (custody) includes the right to:
Receive information from the other parent of the child about the health, education, and welfare of the child;
Have access to medical, dental, psychological, and educational records of the child;
Consult with a physician, dentist, or psychologist about the child;
Speak to school officials concerning the child’s welfare and educational status, including school activities; and
Consent to medical, dental, and surgical treatment during an emergency involving an immediate danger to the health and safety of the child.
Joint Managing Conservatorship
In Texas, there is a presumption that parents should be named as joint managing conservators (JMC). In a JMC both parties share the rights and duties of a parent. Even in this situation, the exclusive right to make certain decisions may be awarded to one parent only. Remember, the court uses the legal standard of what is in the “best interests” of the child. If both parents are made conservators, the judge will specify the responsibilities each parent has separately and jointly.
Sole Managing Conservatorship (SMC)
SMC means the court grants only one parent the legal right to make certain decisions concerning the child. An SMC gives that parent certain rights such as:
Deciding the primary residence of the child;
Consenting to medical and dental treatment;
Consenting to psychiatric and psychological treatment;
Being designated on the child’s records as a person to be contacted in the event of an emergency;
The right to attend school activities;
Receiving child support; and
Making decisions concerning the child’s education.
In Texas, a parental relocation dispute can arise after divorce if the parent who has the right to establish the primary residence of children wants to move. Texas courts can’t keep parents from moving after divorce, but they can keep children from moving.
At Brown & Sullivan PLLC, we represent parents in Brazoria, Galveston, Harris, and Fort Bend counties who want to move children away from this area as well as parents with possession orders who are opposed to the child moving. Let us handle your legal issues.
Factors Impacting Child Relocation
When parental relocation becomes an issue in your child’s life, it may be necessary to seek a modification of your original child custody orders. Many factors need to be considered, including:
- The distance of the move
- The reasoning behind the relocation of a child
- The impact on visitation with the other parent
- Opportunities available for the child
If you are the parent who wants to move with your child, the court will want to know your reasons for wanting to move. Examples of justifiable reasons for parental relocation include:
- Your ex-spouse has a pattern of abusing or harassing you. In this case, the court may decide more separation is in the best interests of a child.
- You lost your job and your only employment opportunities are in another city or state.
- You have remarried and your new spouse has been transferred to another city or state.
The reasons for one parent wanting the move are balanced against reasons the other parent wants the child to stay behind. For example, if you are an involved parent who is always there for your child and who regularly shows up for visits, the court will consider that as a reason your child should not move.
Each case is decided on a “case-by-case” basis by the court. Therefore, you should have an experienced attorney who knows and understands each court and who can help you evaluate your chances of being able to relocate your child’s residence.
In Texas, spousal maintenance (“alimony”) is additional money (not part of a division of marital property or child support) that one spouse pays the other temporarily from future income to support the ex-spouse after the divorce. If this money is also paid before the divorce is finalized, it is called “temporary spousal support”. Whether a former spouse receives alimony is more than an economic question. It is one of the trickiest emotional issues of divorce.
Financial discussions during divorce can be difficult. A spouse who who does not make as much money as the other, lacks a college degree, or who has been out of the work force for some time raising the children and is facing a challenging job market often requests alimony. That spouse may feel deserving of compensation after divorce for sacrificing his/her own education and job to raise the family and support the other’s career. For the spouse contemplating paying alimony, it can be equally challenging to think about supporting the ex-spouse over and above child support and the divorce settlement.
The policy in Texas and the United States is it is in everyone’s best interests for as many people as possible to be employed. The theory is court ordered spousal maintenance creates a disincentive for a divorcee to return to gainful employment. That is one of the reasons the Texas legislature makes it tough for a spouse in Texas to get court ordered spousal maintenance.
If the judge finds a spouse is eligible for court ordered spousal maintenance, the judge has to decide how much to order and for how long. In most cases, the upper limit of the amount is the difference between the spouse’s monthly expenses and that spouse’s income, but that does not end the question. Determining the amount is not a simple math equation. By law, the judge must also consider:
- each spouse’s financial resources after divorce (including separate property);
- how paying child support or spousal maintenance affects both spouses’ ability to pay their bills;
- one spouse’s contribution to the other’s education, training, or increased earning power;
- the age, employment history, earning ability, and physical and emotional condition of the requesting spouse;
- each spouse’s education and employment skills and how long it would take for the spouse asking for maintenance to get education or training;
- whether either spouse inappropriately spent community funds or disposed of community property during marriage (also called “fraud on the community”);
- homemaker contributions;
- marital misconduct of either spouse; and
- family violence.
Child Support Matters
What is child support?
Child support is money that a parent pays to another person to help support his or her child. All parents have a legal duty to financially support their children. This legal duty exists even if there is no court order for child support.
In Texas, parent is a legal term. A parent is the child’s biological mother AND a man who is either:
1. Presumed to be the child’s father (married to the child’s mother when the child is born), OR
2. Legally determined to be the child’s biological father, OR
3. Signed an Acknowledgment of Paternity, OR
An adoptive mother or father.
A Texas court may order a parent to support his or her child until the child turns 18 years-old, graduates from high school (whichever occurs later), marries, dies, or is emancipated (declared an adult) by court order. If the child is disabled, the court may order a parent to financially support the child indefinitely.
Usually, a parent who does not have primary custody of the child is expected to pay child support. The parent who is ordered to pay child support is called the Obligor.
What if they refuse to pay?
If the obligor refuses to pay child support you will need to file an enforcement lawsuit. This can be done through the Texas Attorney General and will typically take many months before you are able to step into a courtroom. You can also hire your own representation to expedite the process and begin receiving the child support due. Call Brown & Sullivan to collect what is due to your and your children 281-372-6462.
Who pays for the child’s health insurance?
The person who pays child support usually also has a legal duty to provide health insurance or pay cash medical support to the parent who has health insurance.
· If a parent is insured through an employer, he/she may be ordered to add their children to that policy.
· If the child is insured through CHIP or Medicaid, the paying parent must pay the cost of insuring the child.
Who receives child support?
Child support is paid to the person that the children live with more than half of the time. This is usually a parent, but not always. The person receiving child support is called the obligee. The person paying the support is the obligor
How much Child Support?
The judge who signs the child support order decides the amount of child support a parent should pay. The judge’s decision about how much should be paid is based on what the judge believes is in the best interest of the child. To help make sure that children are treated fairly across the state, Texas laws provide some guidelines about how much should be paid. These guidelines are assumed to be in a child’s best interest.
Because of these guidelines, most people pay child support based on a percentage of their net income. “Income” is money from all sources, not just wages from a job. Net income is income after basic deductions for federal income tax, Medicare and Social Security.
Can we make our own agreement?
Generally, parties are allowed to make written agreements for child support. Agreements may vary from the child support guidelines as long as the parties are not receiving state benefits. If the court finds the agreement is in the child’s best interest, the court will sign an order based on the parties’ agreement. If the court finds the agreement is not in the child’s best interest, the court may ask the parties to submit a revised agreement or the court may render its own child support order.
How do I change the amount of child support?
Child support can be increased or decreased, but only with a new court order. For example, if the parent paying child support loses his job, child support may decrease. If you need to change the amount of child support, you should file a modification lawsuit right away.
What if child support has never been paid?
The court can order a parent to pay child support for time before child support is formally ordered. The statutes provide that an obligor can be made to pay child support for the entire time the obligor knew they has this child. This is called retroactive child support. This can happen when parents separate before a child support order is entered.
In determining retroactive child support, the court will consider the net resources available to the paying parent during the time before child support was ordered. The court should also consider whether or not the biological father knew about the child, and if the mother made any attempts to notify the father of his probable paternity. The court should also consider if a retroactive child support order would impose an undue financial hardship on the obligor or the obligor’s family, as well as the obligor’s previous financial support or food, clothing, or shelter before the child support action is filed.
Issues of paternity are often significant during Texas family law disputes – especially when fighting for child support or parental rights. When paternity is in doubt or when the parents are not married, it can be difficult to determine legal obligations or rights. For instance, an unwed father may need to establish paternity before he can be granted visitation or custody rights. Conversely, a mother may need to establish paternity before a court will order child support payments.
Basically, there are three ways to establish paternity under Texas law:
- Paternity by presumption
- Paternity by acknowledgement
- Paternity by court order
Presumption of paternity under Texas law
Texas law expressly states a man is “presumed” to be the father of a child if he is married to the mother and the child is born while the two are married – or born within 300 days of the couple’s divorce. However, this presumption can be rebutted through adjudication by the presumed father filing a denial of paternity in conjunction with an acknowledgment of paternity by another man.
Typically, paternity established by presumption can only be challenged within four years of a child’s birth in Texas. Although, the parties may be able to disregard this four-year time limit if they show the presumed father and mother did not live together or engage in sexual relations during the time of conception, or if the presumed father was “precluded” from determining paternity because of his incorrect belief that he was the biological father due to misrepresentations.
Paternity by acknowledgment in Texas
Paternity in Texas can also be established by acknowledgement, such as when the mother and father sign a document recognizing such paternity. While there are several formal requirements of a paternity acknowledgment, once executed it can be challenging to withdraw.
For instance, if a father signs a paternity acknowledgement and fails to rescind the document within 60 days, he may only challenge the acknowledgment on the basis of “fraud, duress or material mistake of fact.”
Lastly, paternity can be determined by court order, otherwise known as adjudication. It is during this process the parties ask the court to establish parentage, which is often done using genetic testing. If the child does not have a presumed or acknowledged father, determining paternity by adjudication may be done at any time. Although the four-year limitation period mentioned earlier may be applicable if a presumed father exists.
Ultimately questions of paternity in Texas often involve several complex laws and regulations – meaning this explanation just scratches the surface of what parents need to know when addressing issues of paternity. Accordingly, if you are currently involved in a paternity case, it is often best to consult with an experienced lawyer.
A knowledgeable lawyer can help you navigate complicated laws and assist in protecting your rights. 281-372-6462
For an adoption to be finalized, the parental rights of at least one of the birth parents must be terminated by the court. Once completed, a petition for adoption must be filed with the court. If the petitioner is married, both spouses will need to be on the petition.
Other requirements include:
- Typically the child must live with the adoptive parents for at least six months.
- An ad litem will be appointed for the child.
- A criminal history check for the adoptive parents must be done though DPS.
- With the exception of stepparent adoption, a health, social, education, and genetic history report must be prepared for the child.
Once those steps are completed, a hearing will be held to determine if the adoption is in the child’s best interests.
HOW ARE A BIRTH PARENT’S RIGHTS TERMINATED?
The parental rights of a birth parent may be terminated by: 1) the birth parent signing voluntary relinquishment affidavit giving up their rights, 2) an alleged father’s failure to register with the state’s paternity registry, or 3) a court terminating the parent-child relationship because it is in the child’s best interests.
BEGINNING THE ADOPTION PROCESS
Adoption can be a wonderful process that brings families together and enriches the lives of everyone involved. If you and the child’s birth parents have agreed to an adoptive placement, or if you want to begin a stepparent or other family adoption, We urge you to contact our office for assistance.
As your Pearland attorney, We will answer your questions, explain your rights and ensure the smoothest adoption process possible.
Mediation is a process whereby the parties meet with an impartial mediator to try and work out the contested issue preventing them from coming to an agreement.
The family courts in harris and surrounding counties have mandated mediation is now required prior to any trial.
Trials are time consuming and very expensive, not to mention a burden on the court system.
A one day trial can cost over $10,000.00 in attorney’s fees alone. In real life, preparation for trial is lengthy and arduous and the stress that it will bring to your life is vast. It would be great if trial in real life was as fast and painless as is is in a 30 minute television show!!
Mediation is a way to avoid those hefty costs and settle your case without trial.
A brief explanation of the mediation process:
Mediation usually takes place in an attorney or mediators office, so it is far more relaxed than a courtroom setting.
The mediator is an impartial referee who listens to both sides and facilitates communication. Rarely are both parties in the same room in a family case, for obvious reasons. Parties are in separate rooms and never see each other coming or leaving mediation.
The mediator is aware of the Laws but cannot give legal advice, and that is why your attorney must also attend the mediation.
The reason attorneys cannot simply work out the issues between the parties on their own is their fiduciary duty to you. Your attorney has a fiduciary and ethical duty to you to communicate your wishes to the other party. You, and only you can decide what offer is workable for you. The mediator is a negotiator who can work out an agreement acceptable to both parties.
Everything said during mediation is held in strictest confidence, and any notes taken during the mediation are destroyed immediately after the mediation has concluded. The mediator cannot be called as a witness at trial. If there is no settlement agreement met, then no part of the mediation can be mentioned except that the parties have been to mediation but cannot reach agreement.