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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 102142
Experience:  Private practice with focus on family, criminal, PI, consumer protection, and business consultation.
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Hello i am a single mom who pays child support for my 6 year

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Hello i am a single mom who pays child support for my 6 year old son. Ive been paying since he was 3. He was able to put me on child support out of spite even though we shared an equal amount of time at the time he put me on it. I did not know what my rights were nor did i have money for a lawyer. I started paying September of 2010. The following year in April my son was back with me full time and has been since then. He stated often that he would take me off of child support as my son lives with me and continues to receive child support. He does not help with anything and im struggling very badly to raise my son. I have no complaints i just do not think its fair for him to collect money and do nothing. He has no job, no car, and no stabile home. When i went to change my status to non-custodial he didnt agree and told them my son stays with him. My son goes to school in Arlington and he lives near Mesquite. They said he dictates where my son lives. I just want to know my rights. Thank you for your time.
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 managing conservator.

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.

Gentle Reminder: Please use the REPLY button to keep chatting, or RATE my answer when we are finished. Kindly rate my answer as one of the top three faces and then submit, as this is how I get credit for my time with you. Rating my answer the bottom two faces does not give me credit and reflects poorly on me, even if my answer is correct. I work very hard to formulate an informative and honest answer for you; please reciprocate my good faith. (You may always ask follow ups at no charge after rating.)
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your response. I would definitely love leads for low cost/ pro bono legal counsel. I really just need to know what is best for my situation, i just did not know what route to go. This information really helps. thanks!


Thank you for your response.

My sincere pleasure.

I would definitely love leads for low cost/ pro bono legal counsel.

Sure - see below. No promises, but, this should at least get you started. I can recommend three resources. First, here is a list of all pro bono work in the state...

…and another list:

Finally, you may call your local law school and see if they have a legal clinic place available. The legal clinic is a free service the school(s) provide to the community. While they are often overbooked, they have openings sometimes. Here is the list law schools in your state:

I really just need to know what is best for my situation, i just did not know what route to go.

Now you know!

This information really helps. thanks!

You are very welcome. Good luck, and please don't forget to rate my answer in one of top three faces and then SUBMIT – it is the only way I get credit for my time with you – or, please REPLY to keep on chatting – I want you to be satisfied.
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