Child custody is one of the most serious issues in many divorce or separation cases. However, child custody issues can arise even when parents are not or never were married and/or living as a family.
When child custody issues arise, the parent who has physical custody of the child is generally known as the custodial parent, while the other parent is known as the non-custodial parent. Both parents need to understand their legal rights and their legal obligations. If you are the non-custodial parent, it is especially important to know how the law applies to you. A Dallas child custody attorney has provided a list of ten essential things that non-custodial parents should know about custody and paternity.
You have the right to petition for custody or visitation if no formal custody agreement is in place. If you have a child, the other parent cannot keep that child from you- even if you were never married or your name is not on the child’s birth certificate. You can petition the court to assert your parental rights, and if the other parent is not willing to work out a custody agreement with you, a Dallas child custody attorney can help convince the court why it is in the best interests of the child to visit you.
Courts decide custody issues based on the best interests of the child. They will consider a number of factors, including who has provided primary care for the child and who can provide the most stable and supportive home environment in the future.
Custody agreements cannot be changed frequently without good cause. If you agree to a custody arrangement, you must be sure that it is something you are willing to deal with for the long-term. Typically, courts are not going to review custody agreements unless at least two years have passed or there has been a material change in circumstances.
Custody agreements can be changed if there is a material change in circumstances. While courts don’t change custody agreements often, you can petition the court if there is a material change in circumstance, meaning something has changed that would affect the court’s decision regarding how custody should be shared. One parent moving to another state may be an example of a material change in circumstance.
Custody agreements are legally binding. If you are subject to a custody agreement, and you do not live by the rules, you can be held in contempt of court or even arrested for parental kidnapping. Do not disobey the custody agreement, even if you don’t believe it is fair.
In addition to a basic understanding of custody agreements, how they are determined, and why they are enforced, it is also important to understand the relationship between child custody, paternity, and child support. A Dallas child custody attorney provides a list of some additional essential facts about child custody, paternity, and support payments.
Child support may be required even when you do not have child custody. Even if you never see your children, the court can still order you to pay support. You will be obligated to pay it if it is proven that you are the father, and the court simply won’t allow you to terminate your parental rights or obligation to pay just because you don’t see your kids.
Child support payments can be reduced if you spend more time with your children. Child support is determined based on a complex formula, but one factor is whether or not you have physical custody of your children. It is assumed that the more time you spend with your kids, the more you spend on supporting them when they are with you and the less you will need to pay to the custodial parent.
Your child’s mother can force a paternity test to obtain child support. If you do not acknowledge a child as your own, the mother of the child can get an order for a paternity test. If you turn out to be the father of the child, you can be ordered to pay support — including back child support.
Only the court that originally ordered the child support and child custody arrangement has the power to modify the arrangement. The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act establishes specific rules regarding which courts can hear issues of custody and support. This means you cannot go to court in a different state to have your custody agreement or support order changed.
Failure to pay child support can result in serious consequences. If you do not pay child support, you can have your driver’s license or professional license suspended, have your tax returns and wages seized, and even face potential criminal action.
To learn more about child custody or for help dealing with child custody matters, contact Warren & Migliaccio, L.L.P. today at 1-888-584-9614. Warren & Migliaccio, L.L.P offers quality legal services and counseling to clients in the North Dallas area. Warren & Migliaccio, L.L.P. practices law in Dallas County, Collin County, Rockwall County, and Hunt County.