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Old 03-28-2009, 09:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Unhappy Custodial Mother In Jail

Hello all,

I am new to the site and would greatly appreciate any thoughts or information anybody can offer. I live in south Texas and I am currently the non-custodial parent of a six year old boy. I believe it is considered joint custody, but I have visitation on the 1st, 3rd and 5th weekends. The mother of my son is on felony probation for theft and as far as I can tell she has violated it with another theft charge in another county. She has been in jail since new years eve and there is no telling how long she will be gone.
Since she has been in Jail my son has been living with his grandmother (the mother was living with her mother before she went to jail) but she works a full time job so my parents are keeping him a few nights a week and I am keeping him every weekend. It is getting hard on everyone. My son is not doing well in school at all and is acting out in anger. His grandmother calls me all the time saying she cannot control him. We live 30 mins. apart so I can't really just go over there whenever I want. I would go and get him and have him live with me but I am not sure what my rights are in this situation.
I am currently on probation for DWI myself. I have been on probation for over a year and half without a problem. I have payed my child support on time every time. I am working full time and going to school part time. I would like to get a lawyer to try to get custody but I cannot afford it.
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Old 03-29-2009, 03:21 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by txjk82 View Post
Hello all,

I am new to the site and would greatly appreciate any thoughts or information anybody can offer. I live in south Texas and I am currently the non-custodial parent of a six year old boy. I believe it is considered joint custody, but I have visitation on the 1st, 3rd and 5th weekends. The mother of my son is on felony probation for theft and as far as I can tell she has violated it with another theft charge in another county. She has been in jail since new years eve and there is no telling how long she will be gone.
Since she has been in Jail my son has been living with his grandmother (the mother was living with her mother before she went to jail) but she works a full time job so my parents are keeping him a few nights a week and I am keeping him every weekend. It is getting hard on everyone. My son is not doing well in school at all and is acting out in anger. His grandmother calls me all the time saying she cannot control him. We live 30 mins. apart so I can't really just go over there whenever I want. I would go and get him and have him live with me but I am not sure what my rights are in this situation.
I am currently on probation for DWI myself. I have been on probation for over a year and half without a problem. I have payed my child support on time every time. I am working full time and going to school part time. I would like to get a lawyer to try to get custody but I cannot afford it.
The grandmother has no legal right to the child. You do. YOU already HAVE partial custody---the law would expect you to step in when and if the mother cannot. Say (for example)if she had passed away suddenly, the child would come to you. Take custody of the child, GO to court (you don't need an attorney--ask the court how to file for a hearing--preferrably an emergency hearing and they will tell you what forms to fill out---then---- inform them that the primary custodial parent (the mom) is in JAIL for felony theft and you need to amend the court order to reflect this change. Your son needs you and you have EVERY right to him--but you MUST go to court and inform them of the changes. This will also allow you to STOP paying child support, because as it stands, you must still pay child support. Having custody of him means you can provide him with some stability in his life so even if mom does get out of jail, he isn't tossed back and forth between you, at the whim of her next crime spree.

Good luck to him and you both.
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Old 03-29-2009, 06:31 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Thank you so much for your reply. Does this mean that I can just go and get him or do I need to get the order amended first? There is an issue with taking him out of the school he is in, if I couldn't get custody. I also didn't want to get into a position where they were looking at how much money I am making now as opposed to what I pay in child support without a lawyer there. From what you are saying it shouldn't be an issue. I did speak to a lawyer and she said if I were going to do it now would be the time to do it, while she is in jail and before the grandparents try themselves. The lawyer wanted to charge me a lot of money and made it sound like it was a possibility that it would be all for not. Thank you for your time!
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Old 03-29-2009, 08:10 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Thank you so much for your reply. Does this mean that I can just go and get him or do I need to get the order amended first? There is an issue with taking him out of the school he is in, if I couldn't get custody. I also didn't want to get into a position where they were looking at how much money I am making now as opposed to what I pay in child support without a lawyer there. From what you are saying it shouldn't be an issue. I did speak to a lawyer and she said if I were going to do it now would be the time to do it, while she is in jail and before the grandparents try themselves. The lawyer wanted to charge me a lot of money and made it sound like it was a possibility that it would be all for not. Thank you for your time!

From what you said, YOU ALREADY HAVE CUSTODY. JOINT custody. You have every legal right to the child. I would get the child from the grandparents---if you think they will allow you to do so. With regard to the money situation--how much money you make is secondary to the fact this kid needs a parent. AND if you have actual physical custody, then how much money you make doesn't matter---you wouldn't be paying child support to a woman in jail.

I have no idea why it would not be possible--unless you don't understand the current court order. Are you certain you share custody?
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Old 03-29-2009, 09:20 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I have told the grandmother that he should be with me and she said she would not fight me on that. I just didn't want to break some law (if there was one) by just taking him from the home. The order says her and I are appointed Joint Managing Conservators. If I can just go and get him and then. notify the court of it I think that is what I should do. Thank you for your time and information.
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Old 03-30-2009, 04:32 AM   #6 (permalink)
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I have told the grandmother that he should be with me and she said she would not fight me on that. I just didn't want to break some law (if there was one) by just taking him from the home. The order says her and I are appointed Joint Managing Conservators. If I can just go and get him and then. notify the court of it I think that is what I should do. Thank you for your time and information.

The law assumes that you, as a biological parent HAS right to the child, UNLESS forbidden somehow. I see no problem with what you want to do since 1. there is no court order to the contrary and 2. the grandmother is willing to relinquish the child. I hope that if you decide to get him, you will go to court to make it legal. If not, when she gets out of jail, she can take him back, and she MAY be able to make YOU pay child support, including back child support for while she was in jail. Crazy, I know, but stranger things have happened.

I admire you for being willing to step up to the proverbial plate and be a hero for this kid who is hurt, angry, and confused.

Good luck to you.
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Old 03-30-2009, 04:39 AM   #7 (permalink)
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One other thing--I wanted to commend you for realizing the importance of the court order in place and for taking the time to verify it BEFORE acting in a way that could jeopardize your lawful place in this childs life.

I see repeatedly in this forum where people suggest posters should act a certain way because they think it is right----or because it is their opinion and they give no credence whatsoever to what the law says. Regarding court orders, I've seen people advise others to just AGREE with the ex to violate the court order and if they do and sign a paper, it makes the court order invalid because then suddenly it isn't 'real' (whatever that means). Obviously, that "ain't" how it WORKS.

You clearly understand the import of the court order and you understand how to go about changing it and why it needs to be changed---to assure your future with this child. So, you are so far ahead of the game of many who give "advice" here.

If you want to read more about the joint conservatorship, this link may help. I found it very informative and even learned a few things in there I did not know.

My best to you.

Child Custody in Texas
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Old 04-02-2009, 05:48 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Thank you for the encouragement. Today I went to the law library at the courthouse and got a Petition to Modify Parent-Child Relationship. This whole thing is a lot more confusing than I thought. Nobody could answer any questions for me either. So, I changed the form to what information that I had and took it to the clerk to file the petition and request for service or something like that to have her served. I paid the fees and she gave me a Family Court Case Information Sheet and it says a status conference was set for 8/6/09. I asked the lady how I would know when there would be a hearing and she said, "you didn't request one." Unfortunately that was right at five o'clock and they were closing and she wouldn't have answered my questions anyway. What is a status conference? Did I miss something in my petition or is there something else I need to file to have a hearing?
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Old 04-02-2009, 06:25 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Thank you for the encouragement. Today I went to the law library at the courthouse and got a Petition to Modify Parent-Child Relationship. This whole thing is a lot more confusing than I thought. Nobody could answer any questions for me either. So, I changed the form to what information that I had and took it to the clerk to file the petition and request for service or something like that to have her served. I paid the fees and she gave me a Family Court Case Information Sheet and it says a status conference was set for 8/6/09. I asked the lady how I would know when there would be a hearing and she said, "you didn't request one." Unfortunately that was right at five o'clock and they were closing and she wouldn't have answered my questions anyway. What is a status conference? Did I miss something in my petition or is there something else I need to file to have a hearing?

Oh, listen--you PAID your money. If you do not understand, go BACK and ask to speak with someone ELSE, NICELY. I am going to assume that the status conference is pre-court to ascertain if the parties have come to an agreement of any sort ( We don't have that here so I am only guessing). I would guess that AFTER the status conference, the court date would be set. Does that make sense with what she told you? Not sure I understand entirely.

She said you didn't request a hearing? What did she think you were there for? Order a pizza? I would most assuredly go back and say, "If you are unable to assist me, is there someone else who could?" ( People, especially those in government jobs LOVE to pass the BUCK ---stand at the DMV in line for a day and you will see what I mean!! )
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Old 04-02-2009, 06:34 PM   #10 (permalink)
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This link appears to have some information about the hearing you mentioned. It is 24 pages and I don't have enough coffee to get through it all ! Maybe you can!


http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/...dcl-07-29a.doc
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