What is "best interest" in Child Custody? I receive many inquiries about what does "best interest" mean in context of child custody? There is no definition in the Texas Family Code for "best interest" of a child. It is a lot like "beauty" in that its definition lies in the eye of the beholder, the tryer of facts in the case, whether it's the judge or a jury.
Enforcement of child custody and visitation should be handled by a lawyer in family court. The police will generally refuse to get involved by saying this is a civil matter not criminal. What do you do if a parent or third party wrongfully withholds a child from the parent with custody or keeps a child beyond the time allotted for visitation?
Why shouldn't you dodge process server? After all, if they can't find you, they can't serve you. If they can't serve you, you can postpone the suit. Right? Wrong. The rules of civil procedure require service of citation upon a defendant in order to give the defendant notice of the suit and an opportunity to defend it.
Why do you need a family law attorney? After all, there are forms available on line and all you need do is fill in the blanks. A problem with forms is they often need to be tailored to fit the circumstances. Another problem with forms is the forms often do not apply. I saw an instance where a person asked which forms should she take to court in 60 days when she was going to have a hearing on child custody. When you have a contested hearing, you should take a lawyer with you. There are appropriate forms such as a financial information sheet, a proposed parenting plan, and an exhibit list which may be necessary to help the judge. But, you need a lawyer to present your case.
Perils of DIY Texas child custody & visitation-- I had an inquiry from a poor sole who asked if once his rights were terminated, could he get them back--he was unprepared at trial. Child custody and visitation is not a Do It Yourself task. Once a judgment of termination of parental rights becomes final, generally 30 days after it's signed, that judgment is nearly impossible to undo. Termination of parental rights is permanent and can't be undone. Without adopting your own children, there is no way to recreate those parental rights. If you don't understand the lawsuit papers when you receive them, take them to a lawyer. Even if you do understand the lawsuit papers, take them to a lawyer if you care at all about your children. There are family law attorneys who can help you with this. Don't take the passive-agressive route. You can get easily burned.
Don't buy into the child support threat. I spoke to a young mother today who had a three year old child whose father was not paying child support. She said he wasn't paying child support and I asked why. She told me that he threatened to file for custody and take the child away from her if she "tried to put child support" on him. This fellow had three other children by two other women. He did not have custody of any of the three.
Unreimbursed medical expenses in child custody cases are considered child support and are generally owed under a child support order. If a child's parent owes you for unreimbursed medical expenses incurred in behalf of the child, don't wait too long to pursue the collection either by enforcement by contempt or reduce the unreimbursed med expense to judgment and get a court order for payment.