Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight
delay between your follow ups and my replies.
I am very sorry for your situation. Allow me to explain what has happened, and what your options are.Original Set Up
The Court decides on custody based on the rule of thumb of "best interest of the child
." This includes, but is not limited to, general stability of the parent, financial stability, indoctrination of the child in the current school and environment, household condition and living condition of the child, other persons living in the house, etc. The courts generally do not like to split the custody 50/50 since this is hard on the child unless both parents agree and as for this.
One parent usually becomes the custodian and the other parent becomes the "visiting" parent which is generally one day a week, every other weekend, and alternating holidays. The nuanced points of the custody can either be decided by the parties or the Court, if the parties cannot come to an agreement.
Now here comes the caveats:
1) The managing custodian in Texas is called the managing conservator
and the visiting parent is called the possessory conservator
. These two sound the same, but they are not
. Please remember these definitions.
2) Even though your decree states that you have "joint custody
," this is a misnomer
. Virtually no decree is ever 50/50. One of you is the managing conservator and one the posessory conservator. This means even in almost 50/50 custody matters, one parent is the managing conservator. This parent normally has the right to decide on educational, medical, and other issues. They often have more time with the child. They also get child support from the possessory conservator
3) In the original decree, it sounds like you were the possessory conservator. You were (and are) paying child support.
4) What is happening is that the child has now been informally living with you, but the child support is still being paid by you because the Court does not know that the child is now living with you and you are the de facto
5) What someone in your situation has to do is file a Petition to Modify Parent Child Relationship
in the Court and have the Judge switch
custody to you (if this is what you wish to do) and name you as the FORMAL managing conservator. In doing so, you can ask that he now pay you support, AND, ask the Court to make him pay back for the time that you have paid him while the child was living with you.
Of course, an attorney is recommended. Let me know if you need leads to low cost / pro bono (free) legal counsel in Texas.
I hope this helps and clarifies. Best of luck.
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