Views on Family Law from the Bench

Do you sometimes wonder what family judges consider when your case comes before them? Here are some observations you need to consider as your case works its way through the court system:

  1. Judges will work very hard at following the law.  You need an experienced family law attorney to help you see what the basic law is on any given point in family cases.  Judges will look first to the Texas Family Code in making their rulings so your attorney can, to some degree, help predict how the judge will rule. 
  2. For example, the Texas Family Code is designed to create a preference for joint managing conservatorship.  The old law of a sole conservator and a mere possessory conservator has been replaced with a presumption that parents will be joint conservators. 
  3. A party can overcome that presumption but will have the burden of proof to convince a judge that he or she merits being named as sole conservator.  This will require a presentation of significant and material evidence in support of sole conservatorship.  It is more than a mere desire to be named as a sole conservator. 
  4. Judges are also very alert to the need for both parents to be involved in the nurture of the child. The judges will encourage the parties to create a custom possession order, but will, if necessary, impose their own access and possession order. 
  5. Next, the family judge will be very careful to consider child support.  It is rare for a final decree not to contain an award for child support.  Even in those cases where the parties agree on “no child support” the judge will often require an explanation as to why there is no child support. The Texas Family Code has a very exhaustive treatment of child support. 
  6.  The court can even order back child support, sometimes called retroactive child support to cover time periods when parents were separated and when there was no child support order in place. 
  7. And, in those cases where child support was ordered and has not been paid in full and on time, the courts will enforce payment, oftentimes with severe penalties for the party who is found in contempt of court for non-payment. 
  8. The family judge will also look very closely at how to divide up the marital estate in a manner that is just and right.   Most often the judge will divide up the estate 50/50 but the law allows the judge to allocate marital assets disproportionately as the judge sees the need. 
  9. The same goes for debt.  The court will also look at how to award debt in a just and fair manner
  10. So, in summary, have your experienced family lawyer outline what you can expect to see in your case.   Your experienced family lawyer also has the ability to recognize that no two cases are the same, that each case needs its own particular attention, but that the law provides the ultimate tools for dispute resolution in your case.