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Texas child custody case prompts Amber Alert

An Amber Alert was canceled on Friday, March 3, 2017 when a 10-month-old child was found. He was located safe in Arkansas after he was abducted by his noncustodial parents. He was taken from his grandparents’ home in Palestine, Texas.

The FBI alerted Arkansas authorities that the suspects’ cell phone pinged a local tower. The child was found in his car seat in the back of the car. He was placed in an ambulance to keep warm and then was turned over to the Arkansas Department of Human Services.

Texas authorities sent warrants of arrest for the parents. Arkansas deputies arrested the 24-year-old mother and 27-year-old-father on felony charges of interference with child custody. Both are currently in jail on $50,000 bond and awaiting extradition back to Texas.

Child custody battles are not always between two parents. In certain circumstances, children can be raised by grandparents or other family members who have a vested interest in the child when the parents have been proven unfit. A Texas family law attorney can help family members seek a resolution that is in the best interest of the children involved in the child custody case.

Source:, “Child in Texas Amber Alert found safe in Judsonia, parents arrested“, March 3, 2017

Child custody case leads to allegations against psychologist

When two parents in Texas struggle to make parenting decisions regarding their child, they often turn to professionals to help facilitate less stressful interactions between the parents. These professionals may include lawyers and also mental health workers. While psychologists, for example, should remain impartial, one out-of-state woman claims that such was not the case during her child custody struggle with the father of her child.

The woman, a former model, and the father of her 11-year-old daughter have been embroiled in a custody battle for several years. Last year, the mother’s contact with the child was severed, allegedly because the mother sniffed inhalants. Although there has been a gag order issued in the case, court records indicate that the mother has recently filed papers with the court claiming that a psychologist hired to serve as a coordinator between the parents actually conspired with the child’s father against her.

The woman says that the psychologist was hired at the suggestion of the child’s father. However, she claims that she was unaware that the psychologist was actually the father’s therapist. Instead of serving as coordinator, she accuses the doctor of abusing his power, alleging that he set up strict rules that she was expected to follow in order to keep him from making accusations of child abuse. Rules supposedly included whether or not the woman was allowed to bed share and the number of books she could read to the girl at night.

Parenting is difficult under the best of circumstances. It can be especially complicated for parents in Texas who are no longer in a romantic relationship, prompting them to seek the help of professionals to guide them through the decision-making process in child custody cases. While it is likely that each parent has an attorney, some chose to work collaboratively with professionals they consider impartial. Unfortunately, the perception that a collaborator did not act impartially as intended could prompt additional court action.

Source: New York Post, “Mom convinced shrink ‘conspired’ with baby daddy in custody battle“, Kathianne Boniello, Dec. 18, 2016

Impending ruling in contentious child custody battle

When a marriage ends, parents in Texas must often find a way to co-parent together despite their feelings toward one another. Unfortunately, some parents, for a variety of reasons, struggle to come to an agreement regarding the best interests of their children, requiring a court to make decisions for them. For example, the parents involved in an out-of-state child custody case involving two countries are now awaiting a ruling in their ongoing battle.

The couple has two daughters together. When they divorced, the father was named the primary residential parent. However, the mother requested a permit to leave the country with the children. The permit was granted, but the woman allegedly did not return after the permit experienced.

The father asked Argentina, the country where the girls were taken, to help. After several years of delays, an Argentinian court ordered the woman to return the children. Since then, they have lived primarily with their father but spend 30 percent of their time with their mother without supervision. Recent court proceedings are a result of the mother’s request to relocate with the children.

Two child experts who have observed the children claim that the move would be detrimental to them. They argue that the girls have established relationships with friends and teachers, and a move would deprive them of access to both parents. The woman claims that she left with the children because her former husband was abusive. He was once arrested for domestic abuse, but those charges were dismissed. He was later arrested for violating a restraining order when he allegedly returned to his house to retrieve his personal property; however, he claims that his ex-wife gave him permission to do so, then called the police.

Many parents are able to create a child custody plan that is agreeable to all parties. For those who are unable to do so, court intervention may become necessary. Because most people in Texas have little experience with family court, seeking the guidance of attorneys who do can help them navigate proceedings, ensuring that their voices are heard.

Source:, “Colorado International Child Custody Battle Nears End“, Jacob Maslow, Oct. 17, 2016

Soldier locked in child custody battle

Those from Texas who choose to join the military are willing to make a great deal of sacrifices. Many military members ultimately sacrifice their lives, and most have to sacrifice time with their families and friends. In fact, one serviceman has found himself embroiled in a child custody lawsuit with the mother of his daughter.

The man claims that he briefly dated the woman who would become the mother of his child in 2009. He learned of his impending fatherhood just days before he was deployed to Afghanistan. Although he claims that he struggled to make phone calls home due to his situation, he was able to go online and see pictures of his daughter.

He further claims that he and the woman exchanged letters while he was overseas but that there was a drastic change in the relationship when he returned. In fact, he claims that the woman sought a restraining order against him. Following a hearing to reverse the order, he was able to meet his daughter for the first time.

Reports indicate that the man sought joint custody of his daughter but was shipped to Germany before an arrangement could be finalized. He claims he attempted to stay in touch by sending letters, but they were all returned, marked “return to sender.” Then, before he went back to Afghanistan, he received notice that the mother of his child was seeking to have his parental rights terminated to allow her new husband to adopt her. While he was protected from legal action temporarily by the Service Members Civil Relief Act, a judge granted the adoption request once he returned. The adoption, however, has since been delayed by an appeals court; it ordered the lower court to review whether the man did, in fact, fail to meet his parental obligations.

An attorney representing the woman claims that the man is connected to violent threats and drug abuse and that he did little support his daughter financially or establish a relationship. Unfortunately, there are many parents who differ regarding the best interest of their children. When parents in Texas cannot agree, it often becomes necessary to ask a judge to step in and make a determination. During such cases, having an experienced attorney on his or her side can help ensure that a parent’s voice is heard during child custody proceedings.

Source:, “Military custody battle and the dad fighting to see his daughter“, Kim Shepard, Aug. 24, 2016

Responding when child custody is denied by a parent

Marriage is often difficult. When most begin to struggle, many couples in Texas take actions to save their marriages. However, even the most dedicated couples often come to the conclusions that remaining together is in neither’s best interest. Despite divorces, couples with children must, in most cases, continue to work together for the good of the children. Unfortunately, co-parenting issues can arise, raising the question of how to respond if one parent refuses to allow the other access to the children in defiance of a court-ordered child custody arrangement.

Such a denial could especially be a hot-button issue in the summer when children are out of school and parents attempt to schedule vacations. Some professionals with experience in family law advise that even one instance of refusing to allow a scheduled visit should result in action. They argue that allowing a refusal could encourage a parent to continue refusing custody.

In the face of a refusal, remaining calm could help ensure that no actions are taken that are not in the best interests of a child. Afterward, however, ensuring that the instances are properly documented and filing a motion for contempt may be appropriate. If a child refuses, seeking counseling is an option. Additionally, a refusal could be an indicator that an attempt is being made to deliberately alienate a parent.

Many parents in Texas are able to overlook their differences in order to co-parent together. In some cases, however, child custody issues arise that require additional court intervention. An experienced attorney can help those experiencing such issues understand their options.

Source:, “Shared child custody refusal during summer months“, Tess Hill, July 18, 2016

Child custody ruling bans child from playing golf

Every parent in Texas hopes that their child will excel in some activity that he or she loves. According to one member of the Professional Golfers’ Association, one out-of-state little girl is an exceptionally talented golfer. In fact, he claims she is in the top 10 percent in the country. A judge, however, in the case involving child custody has recently ruled that she can not compete in golf tournaments for a year.

The case for custody of the now 10-year-old has lasted for seven years. The child’s mother currently has sole custody — both legal and physical — of the child. Her father claims that the young girl’s career is progressing, claiming that of the 33 tournaments she played over the course of the last two years, she won 23.

According to a recent ruling, she can only play one round of golf or 5 hours each week. Additionally, her father, who plans to appeal the ruling, must take anger management classes, and the ruling prevents her from taking lessons with a golf professional other than her father. He says that he believes that the judge mistakenly believes that the young girl is playing golf several hours each day, which is not the case. The judge in the case declined to comment on the rationale for the ruling, but some legal analysts claim that because judges are required to make decisions that are in the best interests of children and because the decision followed a full hearing, there is likely much more to the story than is publicly known.

While not all child custody cases in Texas are contentious, it sometimes becomes necessary for the court to step in and make decisions. Regardless of whether parents are working together to compromise or if a judge must step in and issue a ruling, an attorney with experience with child custody can help ensure that a parent’s voice is heard. Additionally, an attorney can help prevent the parent from entering into an unfair agreement that he or she may ultimately regret.

Source: ABC News, “10-Year-Old Golf Prodigy Ordered to Stop Playing Tournaments Amid Parents’ Custody Battle“, July 4, 2016

Judge upholds original child custody agreement

When a couple in Texas divorces, they are often left to decide what is in the best interest of their children. For one out-of-state man, that includes preventing his former wife’s boyfriend, a convicted sex offender, from having contact with his children. While this child custody provision was included in their original divorce agreement, the mother has recently made an unsuccessful attempt to have the provision overturned.

The couple divorced in 2015 and have two young children together. At the time, the woman was dating a man who had been convicted of criminal sexual conduct in 1994. As a result of the conviction, he is to be listed on the state registry of sexual offenders until 2020. At the time of the divorce, the woman claims that their relationship was not serious and that the man was planning to move away; however, they are now reportedly intending to marry, prompting her quest to have the provision removed, a move that has been challenged by her ex-husband.

The father of the young children, argued that the mother’s change of circumstance does not merit a change in the original agreement, arguing that it should only be changed if it is in the best interest of the children. Although he questioned the children’s safety, several friends of the boyfriend testified that they did not consider him a threat to their children. Ultimately, the judge ruled in favor of the father, saying there was no good reason for a change.

When creating an agreement regarding child custody and divorce, it is often important to consider the long-term implications of certain provisions. In many cases, changing circumstances can result in provisions that become inconvenient but are difficult to change. Having an experienced family law attorney in Texas provide advice regarding such agreements can provide insight into the sometimes unexpected consequences of such provisions.

Source:, “Judge upholds divorce banning ex-wife’s boyfriend from children“, Jameson Cook, June 21, 2016

Medical marijuana’s impact on child custody

Over the course of the last decade, the use of medical marijuana has received a great deal of attention. More and more states, including Texas, seem to be recognizing the potential benefits of such treatment for a variety of medical issues. However, certain child custody cases have many parents wondering how the use of a prescribed substance will impact their rights to care for their children. For example, an out-of-state veteran claims that his children were taken by the state due to his use of medical marijuana.

The man served in the Navy during the Gulf War. Unfortunately, he now suffers from chronic pain and post traumatic stress. He has been treating these issues with cannabis, claiming that this treatment is the only one that has helped his variety of symptoms, including anxiety and depression.

Nine months ago, the man and his wife were preparing to move from Kansas to Colorado where they could legally grow marijuana to help others suffering similarly. While they were making arrangements out of state, he claims that Kansas took custody of five his children. He asserts that the children were taken as a result of his use of medical marijuana; however, a representative for the state claims that children would not be removed from the home simply because of such drug use.

While child custody issues involving parents who utilize medical marijuana seem to receive a significant amount of media attention, many argue that there are no studies that support the claim that children of such parents are in danger. Unfortunately, parents could be left in limbo in a situation such as this where their child is in no harm. Because of the complexities of dealing with family law issues in Texas, many have sought an experienced attorney to help fight to protect their parental rights.

Source:, “Kansas Takes US Veteran’s Children Away Over Medical Marijuana Use“, Jonathan Baker, Feb. 11, 2016

The importance of grandchild-grandparent relationships

What sort of relationship a grandparent and their grandchild have can have significant implications for both of them. And these implications can continue well into the grandchild’s adulthood.

For example, what a relationship between a grandparent and grandchild was like when the grandchild was a kid can impact how emotionally close the grandparent and grandchild are when the grandchild is an adult. Research indicates that when a grandparent and an adult grandchild are emotionally close, it may have mental health benefits for both of them.

A study published last year analyzed data that was collected over 19 years that regarded 356 adult grandchildren and 374 grandparents. From the data, the study found that close emotional ties between adult grandchildren and grandparents were associated with lowered depressive symptoms for both grandchildren and grandparents.

Given how important a good relationship between a grandchild and a grandparent can be throughout the grandchild’s life, disruptions of a child’s relationship with their grandparents could have long-lasting effects. One thing that can sometimes lead to such a disruption is a divorce of the child’s parents.

When, following a divorce of a juvenile grandchild’s parents, a grandparent is not being allowed to see their grandchild, the grandparent may wonder if they have any legal recourse. Texas law leans towards leaving the decision of whether to let a child have time with their grandparents with the child’s parents. However, there are certain situations in which a grandparent may be able to get court-ordered access to their grandchild. Lawyers can advise Texas grandparents facing grandchild access issues on their options.

Source: The Boston Globe, “Study: Close grandparent-grandchild relationships have healthy benefits,” Ami Albernaz, Dec. 14, 2015

Children, developmental disabilities and divorce

What impact does the number of kids a married couple has have on divorce likelihood? A recent study yielded some intriguing results regarding this issue. The results indicate that the answer to this question may depend on whether or not a married couple has any children with developmental disabilities.

The study looked at data from a longitudinal study and compared the divorce likelihood of various different married parents.

The study found that, for married parents who had no children with developmental disabilities, divorce likelihood tended to go up the more children they had.

However, this trend was not present for married parents who had at least one child who had a developmental disability. For these parents, no change in divorce likelihood occurred the more children they had.

Why might having a child with a developmental disability change what effects the number of children a couple has has on the couple’s likelihood of getting divorced? One possibility is that there might be unique family dynamics within a family that has multiple kids with at least one of the kids having a developmental disability (such as the non-disabled kids helping with the care and support of the child with the disability) that could help reduce marital stress.

As this study underscores, things can be different for a family in a range of different ways when one of its members has a developmental disability.

Having a child who has a developmental disability can also pose some special issues for parents who decide to divorce. For one, some special concerns can arise regarding the issue of child custody when a child has a developmental disability. Attorneys can help parents with navigating special child custody issues, such as custody issues related to children with developmental disabilities.

Higdon, Hardy & Zuflacht, L.L.P. 12000 Huebner Rd #200 San Antonio, TX 78230 Telephone: (210) 349-9933 Fax: (210) 349-9988
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