What are my child custody rights? 2 Answers as of March 22, 2011

My ex girlfriend will take my 2 kids to Virginia if I am with another women, I want to prevent that from happening! I want it to be 50/50 with the kids, please help, what can I do?

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Law Office of Tim W. Avery
Law Office of Tim W. Avery | Tim W. Avery
If you do not currently have a custody order, you will need to file a suit affecting the parent-child relationship to establish the parent-child relationship, custody, visitation and child support. In that suit, you can request the court to order a geographical restriction for the primary residence of the children.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 3/22/2011
Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
It is very common for two people to have "informal" agreements where children are concerned, particularly if they were never married. This informal system works well for some couples and filing a Suit To Establish Paternity or a Suit Affecting the Parent Child Relationship only serves to screw up a good deal. However, this is the exception, not the rule. Most informal agreements end up in court with one of the two types of suits I have mentioned and generally, it ends up there at a time that is not convenient for the party known as the Respondent. (The Petitioner is the party starting the lawsuit, the Respondent is the party responding, or answering to the lawsuit.) More importantly, using your fact scenario, if the mother of your children moves to Virginia, Texas will loose jurisdiction over the kids. She can then contact the Attorney General for VA, who will ask the Attorney General for TX to file a suit naming you as Respondent, seeking child support. You will be served, drug into court and child support will be established and locked down in Court Orders, all without her or the kids ever stepping foot in Texas. The real travesty of the issue is that she can do this, not ask for any custody orders, and you have no way to get custody orders. She gets child support, but you do not get access or visitation. You have to go to Virginia to get your rights asserted. In other words, you end up fighting two lawsuits in two States, while she only has to respond to the one occurring in her back yard. This is why I always tell Fathers, GET ORDERS IN WRITING NOW! Informal agreements are fine as long as everyone gets along. In fact, if everyone gets along, why not get "Agreed Custody Orders" in place. This is similar to an uncontested divorce, one lawyer can draft up the documents, get them established, everyone is protected in the future all at a nominal cost now when everyone agrees. If you choose to let this ride informally until a problem arises, you will regret it. It is not if, it is when the problem arises and 90% of the time, it is either when Dad gets a new Girlfriend or when Mom gets remarried and the child calls his or her step-father "daddy". These are realities that you must face. Sooner or later you will get a new girlfriend. Your ex, if she is typical, does not want you, but she does not want anyone else to have you either. Men, however, are wired differently, as a general rule, Men move on after the relationship with the mother of a child ends, but when a child calls another man "Daddy" that initiates a reaction. I call these "triggers". There are other triggers, some that are just personal, some are driven by finances (mom needs money, Dad gets a new job, kids come home and tell Mom about Dad's new car, swimming pool, etc.), some are instigated by friends/family (this one is generally, though not always, a case of Mom's friend or family member telling her she needs to get XYZ from the Father). Regardless of the trigger that starts the lawsuit, it will never occur at a convenient time. Accordingly, you can wait until you have to do something or you can do something now. Mom cannot legally stop you from having a new girlfriend. However, as you have pointed out in your scenario, she has leverage over you. You can live with that leverage and the threat she has made, or you can get a Court Order that while it may end up in you paying more (or less) child support, you get rights locked down, you get your visitation established - by the way, in Court orders, the visitation established is the minimum visitation the custodial parent must allow to the non-custodial parent - it is not the maximum, you two are free to adjust, extend, or limit according to personal schedules, conveniences, etc. Or, you can do as too many men do, wait until Mom gets up and does something then react. To put it into terms, when in Court, the best offense is not a good defense, when it comes to matters of the law, the best offense is just that, a good offense. More information is available a my websites.

I handle custody and child support issues in Collin County and Dallas County and if you live in this area, I would be happy to discuss cost and related factors with you. Also keep in mind, my firm offers a free no obligation consultation where we can discuss the specifics of your case in person, you can ask questions in private that won't result in answers posted on the internet and you can make an informed hiring decision.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 3/22/2011
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