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Meigs
Meigs, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 1344
Experience:  I am well equipped to handle any family law problem you might have.
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My original divorce date was Nov 2000. I am a 50% managing

Customer Question

My original divorce date was Nov 2000. I am a 50% managing conservator and have maintained a 12 yr healthy relationship with the children's mother and my two children, daughter 16 and son 14. There have been no further legal matters before the court since the time of the original decree. I have been remarried 10 yrs and have a 2 yr old son with my wife and stepmother of my first two children. They have maintained a healthy relationship with her as well. We live approximately 1.5 miles apart. Due to the 51/49% visitation schedule and my earnings in 2000, I presently pay full child support.

During the summer of 2011 up to the point of my daughter turning 16 in Aug, relations with my daughter began to deteriorate (this did not involve physical or verbal violence on either part). Basically my expectations regarding her freedoms and privileges being tied to school performance and a general mutual respect between us is/was stricter than at her mother's house. And although I have always provided a private room and full wardrobe for her, my level of spending was also surpassed by her mother. Things escalated after her mother purchased her a car and my spending was insufficient in her opinion for homecoming in Oct 2011.

At that point I allowed her to break the visitation schedule and spend homecoming with her mother so she could enjoy the greater freedom and spending she now expected. I also advised her at that time I was not going to force her to honor the visitation schedule and desired her time with me be desired rather than forced. She has elected to fully exercise that right until the present date.

I advised her mother that due to our daughter's continued failure to communicate with me in any form I was reinforcing my rights of visitation. This resulted in a temporary order restricting that enforcement and court hearing date.

Although I value and want a healthy relationship with my daughter I also understand she is of age to weigh in on matters of visitation. Therefore, I do not intend to fight her free will in this regard outside of wanting what is best for her including a some sort of consistent contact with me, even if below my personal desires for amount of contact.

What is your advice in how to best pursue this so the matter does not become a long drawn out legal battle with longer term negative consequences for all of us? Also, in the same regard, how do I minimize the financial burden to accomplish a quick, mutually agreeable and what's in the best interest of my daughter solution. Lastly, since a legal petition has been made to the court by the children's mother requesting financial data, does that provide opportunity from relief of maximum child support since my last 3 yrs earnings as evidenced by my tax returns are substantially less than in the prior 9 years?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Family Law
Expert:  Meigs replied 2 years ago.

meigs004 :

Hello! I can definitely assist you with this question.

meigs004 :

Allow me to read your facts more closely so that I may assist you in a more efficient manner.

meigs004 :

While I do that, please read my standard blurb about accepting answers on JA.

meigs004 :

If at anytime you feel that I have adequately provided you with an answer to your question, then if you would please click the accept button so that I may be compensated for my work that would be very much appreciated. Also, bonuses are optional, and are certainly not required, but very much appreciated. Remember, clicking the accept button does not prevent you from asking further questions on this post, and will not preclude me from continuing to answer your questions and provide you with research.


 

Customer:

Thank you.

Customer:

Please confirm your state of practice.

meigs004 :

Alabama.

meigs004 :

But I am well equipped to research and advise you on the law in Texas.

Customer:

Ok.

meigs004 :

Do you wish to proceed.

Customer:

Yes, please.

meigs004 :

Ok. Have you read my original post about accepting answers here on JA?

Customer:

yes, under your profile.

meigs004 :

The one posted in this chat. Feel free to read it at your convenience. Allow me to read your facts again so that I may advise you more prudently.

Customer:

will do, thank you

Customer:

i understand the context of our chat, that it is strictly for information purposes only, does not constitute legal advice and the overall scope of the disclaimer. please proceed, thank you.

meigs004 :

OK. Thank you for apprising yourself of the terms. You definitely have a loaded question here!

meigs004 :

Lets break it down so that we can address them in order.

Customer:

sorry, did not intend for it be

meigs004 :

(1) You desire for your daughter to adhere to the original visitation agreement, and do not want to drag it in to court and "force" her to see you.

meigs004 :

(2) You wish to have your child support lowered because your financial situation is not the same as it was when the decree was entered.

meigs004 :

Are these the two questions you want to have answered.

meigs004 :

As you are now vastly aware, family law, and the conflicts that are associated with these matters are extremely and emotionally taxing.

meigs004 :

When is the hearing date?

Customer:

1) Although I desire to see my daughter at all times as reasonably possible, I (reluctantly) understand and accept her ability to directly impact that through the court. My communication with her mother was to have her either restart normal or something close to the visitation in the decree or express her desire to end visitation as had occurred the preceding 12 years since the original decree.

Customer:

Item 2) is correct.

Customer:

Yes, I understand the conflicts and how these matters are extremely taxing to all parties emotionally. Again, although it is not my desire for her to reduce visitation, I am concerned that a drawn out legal battle to regain original visitation is more destructive long-term to the relationship.

meigs004 :

Ok I will address the second first.

meigs004 :

First, have you filed a petition to modify the current child support entered as part of your divorce decree?

meigs004 :

You said that your ex is requesting financial documentation.

Customer:

No. The only petition filed was one by her mother requesting modification of the visitation. In that document though I am asked to appear with the financial data to identify my net resources and ability to pay child support. I have consistently paid child support through the state system, am current and have not be in arrears on any payments.

meigs004 :

Ok. Thank you for that information.

Customer:

The CS is fully documented and verifiable within that system. I am self-employed and therefore self pay versus having any W2 earnings or deductions. All income is 1099.

meigs004 :

Have you filed a response to the petition to modify?

meigs004 :

You can do sort of an all in one in your response if you have not.

meigs004 :

Usually a respondent to a petition filed in circuit court has 30 days in which to respond.

meigs004 :

This document is known as your answer. In your answer you can address each and every assertion made by the petitioner as well as assert a "counter-petition", as well as petition the court yourself for a reduction in child support due to your financial situation. A

Customer:

No. Was served this evening. Motion filed on Thu, Jan 26 with temporary restraining order. Affidavit by mother indicating my prior actions have contributed to severe emotional trauma/distress to our daughter. Somewhat inflammatory statements, but that is par for the course. I am not a lawyer, but in my professional consulting practice work with clients on litigation matters. Therefore, understand the context of the pleadings can be somewhat exaggerated get an emotional response. Court hearing set for March 1.

meigs004 :

Ok. I can address both questions in one for you. However, I cannot address the emotional strain or the impact that these proceedings might have on the relationship you have with your daughter.

Customer:

Yes, understand the process. I will be seeking legal counsel. I found your site while Googling for attorney's specializing in father's rights. My purpose was to get some insight into where things may stand to help me in selecting counsel.

Customer:

And to go to bed with some sort of heads up of what to expect.

Customer:

Understand your response, thank you.

meigs004 :

Ok. Next in the process will be your answer and counter petition filed by an attorney of your choosing. In this petition your attorney will ask for the visitation schedule that was originally set forth in the decree to be re instituted. Also in this petition your attorney will ask that the original child support amount set forth in the divorce decree be reduced due to your reduction in personal income.

meigs004 :

After that the discovery process will begin. All the documentation you have listed, mainly 1099's, will be requested by your ex-wife's attorney.

Customer:

Why would the court not honor my daughter's request for reduced visitation if she is 16? My understanding is the age they start considering the child's wishes is 12 and she is 2 years from adulthood.

Customer:

Look, it is not what I want, but I also see no value in fighting a losing battle.

meigs004 :

The Court is hesitant to dispose of a case merely based on a teenagers wishes. It is true that a court will consider their testimony, and the older the teenager is the more weight and credibility is given to that testimony. But at the end of the day, she is still a teenager.

meigs004 :

Family courts desire to keep both biological parents in the child's life.

Customer:

Certainly understand the teenager part. Would a judge normally re-review a case that old prior to hearing a current matter similar to my own?

Customer:

Also, would it be feasible to request the judge grant mediation prior to or initially in lieu of the hearing?

meigs004 :

Absolutely, the court may even order mediation prior to the hearing. In all honesty, no matter the jurisdiction in which you sit, the court would rather the case be handled outside of the court room. This is better for reaching agreements, and for the parties involved.

Customer:

As you noted, these cases are extremely draining emotionally as well as financially. I would rather not put either strain on myself personally or the relationship. I am concerned that there are different lawyers who pursue cases in different manners and want to know understand options so I select one with our overall best interests as opposed to their own financial gain. Not that I am unwilling to pay for or unappreciative of solid counsel.

meigs004 :

Correct. Many attorney's are in the practice to make money. But the ones with the best reputations. are the ones that advocate, through whatever means, zealously for their clients.

meigs004 :

Selecting an attorney can be a difficult process as well.

Customer:

So, based on your response. There is the potential that no matter what path I try to pursue, resolving this amicably outside the court (with appropriate counsel) is feasible? I would be willing to forego or limit any claim for a reduction in child support to limit the emotional drain and possible damage to the relationship with my daughter.

Meigs, Family Law Attorney
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 1344
Experience: I am well equipped to handle any family law problem you might have.
Meigs and 8 other Family Law Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Meigs replied 2 years ago.
meigs004 :

Correct. Many attorney's are in the practice to make money. But the ones with the best reputations. are the ones that advocate, through whatever means, zealously for their clients.

meigs004 :

Selecting an attorney can be a difficult process as well.

Customer :

So, based on your response. There is the potential that no matter what path I try to pursue, resolving this amicably outside the court (with appropriate counsel) is feasible? I would be willing to forego or limit any claim for a reduction in child support to limit the emotional drain and possible damage to the relationship with my daughter.

meigs004 :

That is correct. Could not have said it better myself. Thank you for the accept

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