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A summary of child custody and support determinations

When deciding child custody matters, a Texas court's first concern will be the best interests of the children. Judges have broad discretion to decide matters of custody and visitation. The parent who is not awarded custody will typically be ordered to pay child support, which is usually determined based upon state guidelines. To petition a court to modify a custody or support order, a parent must prove to the judge that there has been a material change in circumstances since the order was initially issues.

Parents should avoid child custody disputes, as they often can have an impact on the best interests of their children. Alienation can occur when one parent lies to the children and makes unfavorable remarks about the other parent.

Grandparents and other relatives may petition a court for court-ordered visitation. However, courts are becoming more strict on who has standing to obtain visitation rights. Judges will typically look at the relationship that person has with the child and whether the visitation would serve the best interests of the child.

Non-payment of child support can result in serious consequences for a non-custodial parent, such as suspension of the delinquent parent's driver's license. A court may order that child support should be directly deducted from the parent's check from work. Some parents try to evade child support collection by frequently moving out of state or switching jobs. Failure to pay child support can result in fines or jail time if the non-paying parent is found in contempt of court. An experienced family law attorney may be able to help a custodial parent who is seeking to enforce a support order.

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