Under Texas law, what people generally think of as “child custody” is actually a combination of legal concepts: conservatorship and possession and access, which are very closely related. The best interest of the child is the governing standard for decisions of conservatorship, possession, and access. Child custody orders may be later modified by the court upon a showing of a significant change in circumstances by either parent.
Texas family law includes managing conservators and possessory conservators. Managing conservators can make important financial, schooling, and medical decisions, while possessory conservators have little authority to make such decisions but do have the right of possession and access.
Remember that there does not have to be one managing conservator and one possessory conservator for each child. Both parents could be managing conservators, and Texas judges will often order this arrangement (called joint managing conservatorship) unless there are reasons not to, particularly if it is not in the child’s best interest. But it is important to know that even if the court awards names both parents as joint managing conservators, there will still be one parent that has the power to determine where the child resides.
Possession and Access
Possession and access are closely-related issues that are often referred to jointly as “visitation” by the general public. Visitation schedules are ordered by the judge either according to the standard possession schedule set by law, by agreement of both parents, or by considering certain factors including: how close the parents live to each other; what the child’s schooling and extra-curricular schedules are; the work schedules of each parent; what religious holidays each parent observes; when spring break occurs; etc.
In some cases, when it is in the best interest of the child to do so, the court may limit one parent’s possession and access or even require supervised visitation. This may occur, for example, if one parent has been charged with family violence or has serious drug and alcohol addiction problems.
It is important to understand that child custody and child support are two separate issues. For this reason, one parent may not refuse to allow the other parent to see the child even if that parent is behind on child support payments. Similarly, a non-custodial may not withhold support payments because of the custodial parent’s blocking access to the child.
Child support is an obligatory monthly payment made by the parent without custody of the child. Child support payments are handled through the Texas Attorney General’s office. Any unofficial, undocumented, or informal payments not made through the AG’s office do not count towards the child support obligor’s payments.
The amount of monthly child support payments is usually determined by applying a formula outlined in the Texas Family Code. The judge may also take other factors into account to increase or decrease the child support award from the statutory amount. These factors include a comparison of each parent’s income and each parent’s obligations; whether the non-custodial parent is also supporting other children; whether either parent is deliberately unemployed or underemployed; whether the non-custodial parent is incurring a lot of travel time and expenses; whether the custodial parent has significant personal resources, etc.
The obligation to pay child support continues until the child turns eighteen or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. Furthermore, the non-custodial parent may be required to continue making monthly child support payments for longer if the child is disabled. There is no requirement that the child’s parents have been married in order for one parent to owe child support to the other. For this reason, it is possible to have a SAPCR (suit affecting the parent-child relationship) lawsuit regarding child support (or child custody) without having a divorce case.
Child Support Modification
The family law court has the power to modify the amount of child support payments on the motion of either parent. For example, if the non-custodial parent is unable to afford the support payments as ordered, that parent may request that the support obligation be modified downward. The parent must prove a significant change in circumstances in order to justify the modification. Another example would be if the custodial parent wanted to request a modification. This might happen if the child has increased expenses, such as for extracurricular activities or if the child develops a disability that requires more care.
Remember, if you are the obligor of child support and you cannot afford your payments, you should seek a modification as soon as possible because unpaid support arrearages will continue to accrue and are subject to interest.
Enforcement of Child Support
If you are supposed to be receiving child support from your child’s other parent, and that parent is not paying or not paying the entire amount, you will need to ask the court to enforce the child support order. Child support may be enforced by reducing the arrearages to a money judgment and/or by holding the obligor in contempt of court.
Furthermore, failure to pay child support could result in the court-ordered garnishment of the wages and/or checking account(s) of the obligor. An obligor who fails to pay child support as ordered may also face the suspension of his or her driver’s license or even his or her professional license.
Other Family Law
This firm also handles additional family law matters, such as:
I have used Brandon for two separate cases (5 years apart) and neither time did he disappoint! He is an absolutely amazing family attorney and you will not regret hiring him. Apart from that, his team is hard working and absolutely great to work with. I cannot image hiring anyone else in the future! (Hopefully I won't need to, BUT...)
19:00 29 Jan 21
Brandon was efficient and practical in handling my post divorce legal issue. I appreciated his honesty in getting the legal matter resolved in the least contentious and most economical way possible. He also has Jeannie- his right hand person who is awesome and always responsive throughout our work together!
15:50 22 Jan 21
Brandon and his team were awesome. Brandon has a very calm demeanor about how to handle very emotional responses during a divorce. Brandon fought for me but also made sure I was making informed decisions and not emotional decisions to get the very best outcome I could get. By far this was the most positive experience with an attorney I have ever had. I would highly recommend Brandon and his team.
19:25 25 Sep 20
Working with Brandon and his team was the best decision I could have made to get through the hardest/lowest point in my life. I switched to Brandon midway through my divorce and I am so glad I did! Brandon was efficient and organized and was responsible with the time that he used in order to keep my fees as low as possible. I felt assured that Brandon knew the details of my case and strove to get what was best and fair for my family. I appreciated working with someone that had integrity and wasn't just looking to hurt the other side or "win" but was looking to do what is right. I also worked with Jeannie Moore through much of the process. Jeannie was kind and patient and made me feel comfortable through the entire process. Both Brandon and Jeannie kept in close communication with me to ensure I felt comfortable and knew each step along the way. I was definitely in good hands with Brandon & Jeannie and highly recommend them. Thank you!
12:44 26 May 20
Brandon Epperson is awesome! He has helped me and my child with a difficult divorce and enforcements. He is very knowledgeable and his advice through all of it has been wonderful. He is professional and caring in handling my difficult situations. Brandon and his team kept me informed of all proceedings. My questions were answered and explained in a timely manner. Brandon listened and was compassionate to my concerns. I cannot thank him enough for representing me through a very emotional part of our life so we can move on with our lives. I am recommending Brandon to anyone needing a great attorney.
21:11 22 May 20
We have been represented by several attorneys within this practice. Although the final results were not perfect they fought for what mattered our children.My children are now adults with their own families forming.If it weren't for Charles and Brandon's expertise and advice I don't know where we would be.Thank you!
01:48 22 Apr 20
I never thought I would be getting divorced. I had no idea what to expect or who I could trust. I am very fortunate I found Brandon Epperson and his team to represent my interests in this process. They answered every question and educated me on what I could expect. Brandon was always direct and honest with his answers even when what he had to tell me was hard for me to hear.Email and calls were answered promptly and If I was promised a return call I received that call every time. The best anyone can hope for in a divorce is someone who will truly represent your best interests. Brandon and his staff did that for me and I highly recommend them.
18:27 06 Apr 20
Friendly and professional, I was looking for a divorce attorney and every law firm I called made me feel like a number. Until I called Philips and Epperson, they made me feel like a person. That’s when I decided do go with them. They provided constant updates, made the process easy for me. Amazing experience, Thank you for a quick, easy and professional experience
23:23 27 Sep 19
Brandon Epperson, Attorney,Is excellent! I recommend him 100% for legal help! Very personable and educated, and heloful!
02:22 06 Aug 19
I met with Brandon and knew right away that he could help me with my divorce. I paid the attorney fees the very next day and he filed for my divorce THAT day. I had a hearing less than 3 weeks later and he handled things impressively well in the court room. So thankful that I found him and that he is the one guiding me through my ugly divorce. He’s very compassionate, transparent, honest, and fair. I would highly recommend him to anyone regarding any divorce/family/custody cases.
03:39 24 Jul 19
I made it 37 years without needing a lawyer for personal matters, but when I had to get divorced I asked my uncle, a retired COO of another law firm, to poll the attorneys he knew about who they would use in their own divorce. Mr. Brandon Epperson's name came up, and this proved to be a sound strategy for finding a great attorney.Mr. Epperson, his paralegal Jeannie, and all of the staff made me feel confident and comfortable during one of those most difficult times of my life. They were always prompt to answer my layman's questions and I always felt a sense of personal attention was given to my case despite their plates undoubtedly being full with bigger fish to fry. Knowing I was on a tight budget they even went out of their way to take small cost saving measures here and there. I felt confident throughout the whole process in Mr. Epperson's expertise, his experience, and his ethics. His guidance proved invaluable, and thanks to his negotiating skills I was able to avoid a costly mediation and trial and am now able to move on with the next phase of life. I highly recommend Philips & Epperson Attorneys.
16:13 20 Jun 19
I met and started working with Brandon Epperson back in 2012. I knew Brandon was going to be efficient, professional and someone great to work with when I showed up at 6:45AM for my first appointment with him at 7AM and he was already there ready to go.Brandon did an absolutely incredible job for me during my divorce and subsequent legal battles over the past few years. He knows the laws and legal aspects of every possible situation and is able to explain everything in great detail where you can understand it and relate it to your situation.I am in a much better situation with my living situation, my son and my divorce because of Brandon and his work and I have continued to utilize him for advice over the years because of my tumultuous situation. Brandon is fair, professional, knowledgeable, and will fight all day and night for you and that’s someone I want to be associated with. I will continue to use Brandon going forward and would highly recommend him to anyone.
04:26 21 May 19
My experience with this firm, specifically Charles Philips, was outstanding. He did an amazing job for me. I am so grateful that he handled my case so expertly and with such care.
21:23 02 May 19
Brandon Epperson was fantastic. Not the cheapest but not the most expensive. He advised me well with my interests in mind. I couldn't have asked for a better divorce. Thank you so much!
17:39 20 Mar 19
Feel comfortable visiting this law firm. They are caring and understanding just when you have a problem.
14:45 25 Sep 18
Let me first say this. Brandon and his staff are beyond amazing. Going through my divorce I used another attorney and I WISHED I had used Brandon. When things went south with my ex-husband after the divorce, I found that I needed a new attorney for custody issues. I found Brandon through a friend and she couldn't say enough nice things about him. Brandon is very consciousness of spending/charging money in your case, and what is necessary and what is not. He is like a very good chess player when it comes to your case. He will tell you the facts and what things mean and the likely results ~ I just really appreciated him and Jeannie, his assistant. I would highly recommend Brandon to anyone going through a divorce or custody issues.
14:20 19 Mar 18
While going through a divorce is a difficult process, I was definitely assured and supported by the Philips & Epperson Firm. Blake Landon (my attorney) was patient and took his time to help me understand all the steps of the process and my options. In fact, he and his entire team were quick to respond and assist me with any questions or concerns. I have visited with others who went through a divorce and all were so impressed on how fast and efficient my divorce was finalized. I truly felt as though Blake and his team were there to help me and not simply to "make money." Blake and his team also did a great job in keeping me in the know and updating me on the status of each step, which isn't necessarily the case at other firms (or so I hear). I would definitely refer anyone going through a divorce to go with Blake and his team at Philips & Epperson.
19:20 06 Feb 18
I used Blake Landon as my lawyer and he did incredible job with my case! He was always professional and on-time and communicated well with me throughout my entire case. Blake was always available and able to answer any of my questions or concerns, and he made sure that I fully understood what was happening with my case. Blake made good decisions regarding my case and I was pleased with the end result. I never had any doubt with my time working with Blake and I would highly recommend him as well as the Philips and Epperson firm for any anyone needing an attorney.
17:51 05 Feb 18
Phillips & Epperson assisted me with my divorce. Blake Landon was very professional and polite and the paralegal Jeanine was very prompt and answered any questions I had throughout the process. The paperwork was clear and was explained to me and I hardly had to deal with the court at all. If you have any legal matters, I would definitely recommend this law firm!
Jaxson-madix -JT 21pokemon
20:33 12 Jan 18
Mr. Epperson is a great lawyer. Very thorough & direct. He is a great listener and always offers options with details. He strategically plans & executes! Complexity is welcomed in this firm! I had plenty!!! LTS
15:52 18 Oct 17
Brandon got the job done! I have recommended him and will continue to recommend him to anyone needing a divorce attorney. His staff, Jeannie and Dierdra, are as sweet as can be and they are all there to help you when needed. I really enjoyed working with them and most importantly I have my son in my arms. Thank you so much!
TONY PAN MACKTOWN PROPERTIES
18:14 07 Jun 17
Thanks to my fellow Baylor Bear for helping me navigate through the minefield of divorce. Highly recommend Brandon and his team!
23:22 19 Aug 16
I can't say enough good things about Charlie Phillips. Divorce is a difficult time. Charlie is tough but compassionate lawyer. He knows every aspect of the law and will guide you through the process, so you will never feel like you are on your own. Do yourself a favor and put your trust in Phillips and Epperson.
12:03 02 May 16
If you are facing a divorce, I highly recommend Brandon Epperson and Jeannie Moore. I interviewed multiple attorneys and am so glad I chose Brandon to handle my case. He was able to get me more that what I was willing to settle for in order to avoid the process . He knows every part of the law and how it affected my case. He provided sound advice every step of the way and helped me retain all of my parental right that we trying to be taken from me. His representation in court was amazing and completely dominated opposing counsel. My ex went through two mediocre attorneys, spent more money that I did and was shut down on her deceitful tactics. Call Brandon, your children need you in their lives.