Updates to Texas Family Law Rules and Procedures

The law is constantly changing and updating. As a result, it is important for attorneys to stay apprised of recent changes in the law to ensure clients’ rights are not endangered by relying on out-of-date laws. This article discusses some of the recent updates in Texas family law from last year that may impact your case.

Factors Affecting Child Support for an Adult Disabled Child

LawIn a March 2018 decision without published opinion, the Texas Supreme Court issued guidance on a number of issues regarding the extension of child support for an indefinite period involving adult children with disabilities. The Court recognized that the modification or termination of child support must be supported by proof by a preponderance of the evidence that “the circumstances of the child or a person affected by the order have materially and substantially changed.”

The Texas Supreme Court identified the following threshold issues as important and in need of further guidance:

  • Should the criteria for determining whether a child has a mental or physical disability be based on a “common understanding” of the terms, or on definitions under the Social Security Act, or state and federal anti-discrimination laws?
  • Can lay testimony from a parent or legal guardian establish the issue of mental or physical disability, or is expert testimony required?
  • What other evidence is required for a finding of mental or physical disability? Should courts require the child to be eligible for disability benefits?

The “Just and Right” Division of Property in Extreme Fault Cases

Community property is not necessarily divided equally between spouses under Texas law. Texas courts must divide property in a manner that is just and right under the relevant circumstances of the case. Furthermore, courts have the discretion to determine what is just and right when it comes to dividing property in divorce cases.

In June 2018 case, the Texas Supreme Court tackled the issue of the just and right division of property where a divorce involved a party’s wrongful conduct. The court held that it was an abuse of discretion for a court to award a husband an interest in the home where he sexually abused his stepdaughter—a crime for which he was subsequently convicted.

Third-Party Liability for Interfering with Child Custody

Under Texas Family Code § 42.003, third-parties who aid or assist in an activity that interferes with a parent’s “possessory interest” in their child may be held liable for damages in a civil action. In order for a third-party to be held liable for assisting in conduct that interfered with a parent’s interest to take custody of a child, they must have known or should reasonably have known that a custody order was in effect.

An example of interfering with a parent’s right to custody is when another parent makes a false claim to law enforcement that the other parent was abusing their children. For example, when grandparents agree to monitor a parent’s contact with the children to prevent the claimed abuse, they can only be held liable under Family Code § 42.003 if the grandparents knew that doing so was violating a specific provision in an applicable custody order.

Consult an Experienced Attorney from Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers

You deserve an attorney who is current with the law to make sure you have effective counsel in your family law case. Whether your case child custody or property division, our knowledgeable attorneys at Coker, Robb & Cannon, Family Lawyers have you and your family’s best interests at heart.

Contact us online or call us at (940) 293-2313 for an initial case evaluation today.

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